Saturday, 21 July 2012

Presenting: The Trap Door Dungeon

It's all well and good me sitting here saying "Yep, I've got a blog now!", but it's a bit pointless if nothing's happening on it. So, as a bit of a kick-start (perhaps to get things rolling a bit?), here's The Trap Door Dungeon, in its entirity.

Now then, Trap Door. A series of forty 5-minute stop-motion cartoons about Berk the blue monster, who cheerfully carries out the daily tasks set for him by the Thing Upstairs - mostly being hindered in some way by whatever beasties emerge from the titular Trap Door in the middle of his dungeon/kitchen home. It's been on TV continuously in some form or other since 1984, and almost every episode is on YouTube (as well as all 40 episodes being available on DVD), so there's really no excuse to NOT know anything about Trap Door.

For those that for some reason DON'T know anything about the greatest television show of all time, Bogleech has done more-or-less the best article on the entire Internet about it. And he's an American! So the rest of us have no excuse really... BUT, his geographical handicap means that he doesn't have as easy access to Trap Door merchandise, ho ho! That's where hoarders such as myself come in.

Carry on by clicking on the jump...

So - The Trap Door Dungeon. It's a puzzle/activity book that was put out by Collins in 1987. My original copy - sliced to pieces and scribbled over (as in, used for what it was intended to be used for) - disappeared a long time ago. Someone on the Amazon Marketplace had an as-new copy of it for sale recently, it was re-acquired by myself, and now it's here and ready to be shared with the world. Again. Here's the front cover:

Now, the book's composed of three sections - puzzles, cut-out bits and fold-out bits. Before any of it, there's the introduction page, with Berk greeting the reader as he happily sweeps an eyeball out of the way with his broom:

And then it's onto the puzzles - all of which can be coloured in if you have some crayons handy and don't mind getting your monitor a bit grubby.

See that "Vile Pile"? I drew a picture of that once, about a hundred and eight years ago. If I ever find it (I might!), I'll upload it here for all to gander at. Oh, if those puzzles are too hard, here's the answers from the back of the book:

What you can also see on that page are the instructions for making the Dungeon, which is what you might say is the "main" part of the book. In the middle of it all you get a pull-out, double-sided, folding dungeon scene (scanned here in three parts, due to mechanical constrictions):

On the reverse of that is the outdoor swamp scene (in which Berk, Rog, Boni and Drutt enjoy regular fishing trips):

I've attempted to make a nice full-size wallpaper out of this one, using nothing more than MS Paint. The dreadful yet almost passable result of this is presented below - it almost looks okay if you try and ignore the dirty big crease down the middle of it:

Then it's onto the "fun" part! You get loads of characters to cut out and mess around with in your Trap Door Dungeon. I had all of them cut out, and they went into a basket with the rest of my monster toys. Flat bits of thin cardboard don't really stand up too well against big chunks of dinosaur-shaped plastic and rubber, so they didn't survive for very long, but long enough to remember etc. These are those things that can be cut out - double-sided, too!

Good, eh? If I ever find another copy of the book, I'll definitely be cutting it up and making another dungeon, but this one's staying in one piece for now. It's taken twenty years (and the invention of online shopping) to source it again, can't be doing with waiting until I'm in my forties to find another one (arf arf).

Stay tuned for more Trap Door-related stuff - at least two more! Oh, here's the back cover as well, for the sake of completion:



  1. That's incredible! I would have loved making that as a kid (heck, I'd love making it now, to be honest!). The character and set designs for Trap Door where rather special, I'd never taken the time to examine them with adult eyes before.

    Thanks for the nostalgia trip.

  2. Want BAD!

    Any more of these available? It's my birthday in a few weeks and if I can't treat myself then when can I, eh?

  3. There was one on eBay a few weeks ago, and they pop up on Amazon once in a blue moon... I'll be sure to let you know if I ever see it again.

  4. you sir are a fucking legend! been looking for this for YEARS - well done & thanks!!!

    1. Blimey, cheers! I got exciteable when I first "re-found" it as well.

  5. I've got 2 copies of this book, thank you ebay UK :) x

  6. I illustrated this book along with several others for Collins in the late 1980s. I've got a fair amount of original artwork for some smaller Trap Door books I did at the time. It was a great time for me, working closely with Charlie Mills and Terry Brain who created the series. I recently came across an original storyboard drawn by Charlie which was given to me as reference during a studio clear-out. I'm going to start posting a few pics of various things on my Facebook page if anyone wants to drop by and have a look some time: story

    1. "Followed", and pleased to "meet" you, Steve! I have a couple more Trap Door books which I'm now assuming you also did - one that's full of comic strip adaptations of several episodes, and another where certain pages have to be rubbed or heated in order to reveal the pictures underneath.

      Needless to say, you played a part in my upbringing, so cheers!