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Subject: Do the Avalon Hill Bookcase Boxes Hold Up Over Time? rss

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Brian Cox
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I am not old enough experienced enough to have played the Original Avalon Hill Bookcase Games back when they came out. After following these forums and doing research on what games I would like to play, I've found that quite a few of these older Avalon Hill games would suit my interests.

That being said, as I seek out some of these games, do the boxes of the older versions hold up well over time?

I ask because the Bookcase boxes look like they would create quite the display on my gaming shelves when paired together. However, these games are 25 - 50 years old, meaning the paper, cardboard, and colored printing on these games are also that old. Were these boxes built to last, or would I be better off seeking newer edition alternatives where available?

I also understand that the cost of finding these older Bookcase editions might be prohibitive, but if these boxes hold up over time, it might be a worthy quest.

Just let me know. Thanks.
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Leo Zappa
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I have AH bookcase games that I bought new in the 70's that still look new. They hold up great assuming the owners didn't throw them around or leave them on wet basement floors!

Here's a picture (about a year out of date now) of some of my gaming shelves with plenty of AH bookcase games - they still look great to me, and the AH games are all 30 to 40 years old!




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John Kovacs
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I agree - the bookcase boxes hold up very well especially if they are well taken care of.




Our games and shelves look almost identical, Leo - except I have only one shelf...my picture is also a few years old although I haven't added too many more.

Edit: I will update this picture soon. Stay tuned.

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They hold up great, I have many that are 30 to 40 years old that look almost new. Just make sure your source for buying stored them well, I have bought a few from people that I swear stored them in damp humid basements shake

Middle section of my collection here are all old Avalon Hill bookcase boxes. They do look impressive on display.

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Rich Shipley
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AH bookcase boxes hold up fine, depending on how they were stored. The flat boxes not as much. It also isn't hard to find most of them for reasonable prices (even unpunched). They printed a lot and many that bought them didn't get around to playing them all.

The main reason to get more recent editions of the games is for the component quality. I like the old-style mostly white background hex maps and 1/2" single-color counters, but some of the upgrades are pretty nice (like the L2 Russian Campaign).
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In my opinion they do. Wouldn't hesitate a sec. if there was a game I was interested in.
Bad storage might ruin a game, but then it's the previous owners fault, not the game.
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Brian Cox
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Thanks for the vote of confidence on this endeavor. Thanks also for showing me what my gaming shelf should look like. I like seeing that the newer GMT boxes look great stacked up next to older AH and SPI stuff. desertfox2004 I also love seeing how you organized according to size. I'm sensing a Saturday afternoon project in my future.

I did have a follow up question. These pictures show some high quality and high value games on the bottom shelves. I have a 5-month old daughter who's closer to being able to pull up and get into things than I realize. How should I account for kids messing with my top quality games? Do I have to basically set up my good stuff as if I'm preparing for a flood (i.e. everything of value is stored 3 feet off the ground or higher)? Or should I move the high quality stuff out of the main game room and into my personal office? Or do kids just get everywhere you don't want them to?
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Wargames should be treated more gently than other board games.
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John Kovacs
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Anything you don't want ruined by a possible flood or a curious three year old should be on the highest shelves, if possible. Or as you said, on shelves in a separate and locked room.

I had a game box (not in my picture) partially damaged by a flood; fortunately the contents were not damaged at all and the box is still servicable. All of my games are now off the floor or in plastic tubs.
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G. Harding Warren
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fuzzydice82 wrote:
After following these forums and doing research on what games I would like to play, I've found that quite a few of these older Avalon Hill games would suit my interests.


This is music to an Avalon Hill cultist's ears.

With regard to children, up to about 2 years, you must watch out. After that, though, the chilluns get this sense that daddy's wargames are something that they simply do not f*ck with. I think there must be something in my expression, something deep and really terrifying in my eyes, that speaks louder than my voice. It's like how they instinctively know that you don't dog-ear the pages of the Bible.

Whenever my 6 & 10 year old girls have friends over, they invariably tell their guests not to mess with any of Daddy's games. "Great to see you, Susie. Glad you could make it. Let's go down to the playroom. See all those boxes with Nazis and Stonewall Jackson on them? Don't even think of messing with them."
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Mark Guttag
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The biggest potential issue with AH bookcase boxes is probably "blown corners." Like most game boxes, the corners are held together by the paper covering of the flaps. However, there is a way to easily (and virtually unoticeably) strengthen the corners: white (PVA) glue applied in a thin line on the inside of the corners. White glue can even be used to repair blown corners as detailed at the link below from Greg Aleknevicus' website:

http://www.thegamesjournal.com/articles/RepairingBoxes.shtml

I've used this technique with a lot of games and, unless you examine the game very closely, you often cannot even see where the box has been repaired.

As other have indicated, the AH flatbox games are much more subject to damage than the bookcase games. However, the general heaviness of the contents of an AH game, even a bookcase game, because they contain a mounted map does seem to make them more subject to blown corners; when shaken or dropped, the weight of the contents can break the corner from the inside.

A minor issue with AH games (as with most games) is surface wear due to rubbing. The only way I know to avoid this is by bagging the boxes, but that would defeat the purpose of your display.

Mark
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There were also TWO versions for these 'bookcase' sort, with the earlier kinds having a 'slipcase'-cover of which may even have served another purpose with Charts, CRT, etc. upon the top of them. Many later editions omitted that TOP portion, and instead replaced anything as such, with a thinner sheet containing whatever used to be as/upon this. I seemed to recall seeing it occur with their mid to late 1970s editions, as well with those smaller depth, larger boxed versions. It was an attempt at reducing production COSTS at the time, with a resultant smaller increase in pricing also, to offset one another then.
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GROGnads wrote:
There were also TWO versions for these 'bookcase' sort, with the earlier kinds having a 'slipcase'-cover of which may even have served another purpose with Charts, CRT, etc. upon the top of them.

Yes, the slipcase versions are the ones to get. Overall construction is more solid, and they look better!
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GROGnads wrote:
;) There were also TWO versions for these 'bookcase' sort, with the earlier kinds having a 'slipcase'-cover of which may even have served another purpose with Charts, CRT, etc. upon the top of them. Many later editions omitted that TOP portion, and instead replaced anything as such, with a thinner sheet containing whatever used to be as/upon this. I seemed to recall seeing it occur with their mid to late 1970s editions, as well with those smaller depth, larger boxed versions. It was an attempt at reducing production COSTS at the time, with a resultant smaller increase in pricing also, to offset one another then.
:what:


In 1974, Avalon Hill announced that owing to the affect of the oil embargo, and the resulting cost inflation with regard to paper goods, they would discontinue the slip-cover box. Whereas you can find copies of Panzerblitz, Luftwaffe, Origins of WWII, France 1940, Richthofen's War and Kriegspiel (all released between 1970 and 1973) in the slip-case, the 1974 releases, Third Reich, 1776 and Panzer Leader,and all those that followed did not have them.

Why do I know this? I have spent too much time looking over old copies of The General, to be sure.
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My copy of Outdoor Survival looks almost new - my copy of PanzerBlitz has the hell beat out of it.

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UHB1 wrote:
GROGnads wrote:
There were also TWO versions for these 'bookcase' sort, with the earlier kinds having a 'slipcase'-cover of which may even have served another purpose with Charts, CRT, etc. upon the top of them. Many later editions omitted that TOP portion, and instead replaced anything as such, with a thinner sheet containing whatever used to be as/upon this. I seemed to recall seeing it occur with their mid to late 1970s editions, as well with those smaller depth, larger boxed versions. It was an attempt at reducing production COSTS at the time, with a resultant smaller increase in pricing also, to offset one another then.


In 1974, Avalon Hill announced that owing to the affect of the oil embargo, and the resulting cost inflation with regard to paper goods, they would discontinue the slip-cover box. Whereas you can find copies of Panzerblitz, Luftwaffe, Origins of WWII, France 1940, Richthofen's War and Kriegspiel (all released between 1970 and 1973) in the slip-case, the 1974 releases, Third Reich, 1776 and Panzer Leader,and all those that followed did not have them.

Why do I know this? I have spent too much time looking over old copies of The General, to be sure.



Everything you ever wanted to know about the AH SlipCase....


On my geeklist;

Avalon Hill Slipcase Games
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Jonathan Squibb
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On the other hand, if your games happen to have been stored in humid damp basements, the Avalon Hill hard-mounted board material seems to be particularly vulnerable to mildew compared to more modern printing. (The SPI paper maps also have this problem.)
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Seth Owen
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I'll just add my two cents that I've always preferred the bookcase format. They're much easier to store as well as holding up better to time and transport. Large flat boxes are just awful on both counts. The flat remained popular with publishers because of store displays, I think.

The new square box that seems to be becoming the new standard also seem to hold up and store pretty well, while also being good for retail display, so hopefully they'll drive the flat box into extinction.

The bookcase games will stand up very well depending upon how well they are taken care of. I have some 3M bookshelf games from the 1960s that look almost store new.
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The bookcase boxes, both slipcase and later top/bottom conventionals, hold up very well; as has been noted, surface wear, especially black areas, is something of an issue, but this doesn't affect the box's structural durability.

Another plus for the "old" AH games is the boards. They Do Not Warp! Exception noted for the Very Heavy Cardstock (my description) boards in their Arnhem and Struggle of Nations game (though for some reason, the "Civilization" board did not evidence panel warping), which curl a bit over time (though not unplayably so).

AH's mounted boards hold up wonderfully. I have noticed some counter wear along the edges when the varnish starts to wear off from handling, but this is only when the games are played very heavily (like my first wargame, AH "Waterloo).

The biggest drawback, in my mind, was the box dimensions; they were half an inch too narrow to accommodate 8.5" wide paper, so things like reviews, downloaded errata, and supplemental scenarios printed on US-sized standard paper either must be trimmed, or will have a curl to them after storage in an AH bookcase box. Never quite understood that; Victory Games boxes were the same way (common printer, Monarch).

Unless an old AH game was in a flood or stored in a damp basement, you should be in good shape buying used copies. And most of them are worth hunting down and owning if you're interested in ther subject (I'd stay away from "UFO," though).
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Nice shelves, Leo and John.



But, yes, my AH collection (which is 19 games larger since this photo was taken) and I are in agreement.

The Bookcase Games tend to hold up well over time if treated well.
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fuzzydice82 wrote:
I did have a follow up question. These pictures show some high quality and high value games on the bottom shelves. I have a 5-month old daughter who's closer to being able to pull up and get into things than I realize. How should I account for kids messing with my top quality games? Do I have to basically set up my good stuff as if I'm preparing for a flood (i.e. everything of value is stored 3 feet off the ground or higher)? Or should I move the high quality stuff out of the main game room and into my personal office? Or do kids just get everywhere you don't want them to?


Games, books, comics, guns and liquor should be kept in your library, well out of reach from children, animals and drunken guests. Also; never in a basement prone to flooding or similar places.
Preferably a bricked up room with soft lightning, green cloth and a sturdy locked door.
Never compromise and aspire for anything less. You and your games deserve only the best!
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Alright all you Grognards. Your comments, and mostly the pictures of your game shelves, have peaked my interest. I've been patroling eBay all weekend for good AH Bookcase games that I'd like to have and play and last night I won two eBay auctions for PanzerBlitz and Panzer Leader. They look like they're in excellent condition, so I hope they ship well. I'm on the lookout for many more. Maybe this time next year, I'll have an amazing game shelf to show off along with some great gaming experiences from yester-year.
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fuzzydice82 wrote:
Alright all you Grognards. Your comments, and mostly the pictures of your game shelves, have peaked my interest. I've been patroling eBay all weekend for good AH Bookcase games that I'd like to have and play and last night I won two eBay auctions for PanzerBlitz and Panzer Leader. They look like they're in excellent condition, so I hope they ship well. I'm on the lookout for many more. Maybe this time next year, I'll have an amazing game shelf to show off along with some great gaming experiences from yester-year.


Good ones! The progenitor of every wargame that uses scenarios played on modular boards .
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I've got no holes in my old AH boxes, but plenty of holes in those old rules ...
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fuzzydice82 wrote:
Alright all you Grognards. Your comments, and mostly the pictures of your game shelves, have peaked my interest. I've been patroling eBay all weekend for good AH Bookcase games that I'd like to have and play and last night I won two eBay auctions for PanzerBlitz and Panzer Leader. They look like they're in excellent condition, so I hope they ship well. I'm on the lookout for many more. Maybe this time next year, I'll have an amazing game shelf to show off along with some great gaming experiences from yester-year.


If you're going for these, be sure and grab AH's "Arab-Israeli Wars" too, the final AH iteration of the system.
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