“A long time ago and far away,” Bond author Raymond Benson created a text adventure for the personal computer that allowed Bond fans to enter the world of A View To A Kill. Recently I asked Mr. Benson about this historic piece of Bond memorabilia, not commonly seen today… see below the interview our extensive listing detailing the many other “View” collectibles sought after today…
Matt Sherman: “Do you have any insight for us on the “A View To A Kill” text adventure you authored? Could you give us a brief rundown of the creative process involved? Were there interesting tie-in considerations to the MGM film that added to the creative process? Was it ever re-issued in a format that modern MAC and IBM users could play on today?”
Raymond Benson: “Wow, that was a long time ago. I had been hired by a software firm in White Plains, New York, called Angelsoft, which had been contracted by Mindscape to develop a series of text adventure “interactive fiction” games along the lines of the Infocom games (Zork I, Zork II and III, etc.). I remember that all we had to work with was the shooting script for “A View to a Kill”. (I also did the “Goldfinger” game, and a game based on Stephen King`s short story “The Mist”.)
My job was “designer and writer” and so I came up with the plot, locales, characters, dialogue, descriptions…everything one reads in the game as text, as well as how the game was played, what the player had to do, etc. We were limited in size and scope in those days, and the game probably seems pretty crude by today`s standards. It originally was published in the fall of 1985, for the IBM, Mac, and Apple IIc platforms. I`m not sure, but if you could get your hands on an IBM format, it might work on today`s PC. I only have Apple IIc copies, myself, and of course they`re dinosaurs.
I didn`t have any communication with EON on the game…perhaps Angelsoft did. I`m pretty sure EON had approval over our final game design, but I don`t remember having any problems. As I recall, the game is pretty faithful to the final film. (We also got to see a “rough cut” in New York…the film without the score or sound effects…which was very weird!)
There was a producer working with me and a lead programmer. There were probably one or two other programmers working under the lead person, but I`m not sure now. I do remember that no one was credited at all! I think that was the standard back then unless you were Richard Garriott or one of the early superstar game designers. (Oh yeah…the president of Angelsoft was a guy named Mercer Mayer, a famous children`s book writer who created “Grandpa and Me”, “Grandma and Me”, etc. I think the company folded two or three years later and he went back to doing what he does best…writing children`s books.)
That`s about all I can remember! –Raymond Benson”
More AVTAK Collectibles Besides the rare AVTAK text game by Raymond Benson, whose different boxes await your discovery in hobby shops and in garage sales in several different, now extremely difficult to find versions, there are lovely AVTAK collectibles available, if in sparse amounts and diversity compared to say, “Goldfinger” or “GoldenEye” goodies. Look for the following while you await forthcoming Grace Jones action figures and limited edition rock salt guns from…?
AVTAK Posters It is worth noting that “View” was the last Bond film to use hand drawn, “painted” poster artwork. All following films (in fact, Hollywood films in general) switched to photo stills and computer graphic montage designs in the late `80s.
I have included an 800 x 600 graphic with some of the different designs used in the AVTAK campaign. Click on the image on this page to see a blowup rendering of the graphic to download to your desktop, featuring some of the distinctive AVTAK campaigns.
More unusual poster campaigns highlighted AVTAK tie-ins to Renault cars and Michelin tires. Michelin was the brand Bond “sucks” from while underwater beneath Zorin and May Day. Shots of The Michelin Man are also strategically placed in the scene where Sir Godfrey Tibbett (Patrick Macnee) gets his Rolls washed–again. French car maker Renault gave away a new Renault 11 Turbo along with 100 AVTAK soundtrack cassettes for runners up in their big contest.
AVTAK Books “From A View To A Kill” was one of several of author Ian Fleming`s short stories featuring James Bond. “FAVTAK” (should that be pronounced “PHAV-TACK?”) first appeared in the compendium of Bond shorts entitled, “For Your Eyes Only”. This title, first printed as a complete set of five stories in 1960, was the sole Jonathan Cape book to utilize a glossy dustjacket for Bond. (Artist Richard Chopping once explained that he was fussed at incessantly by Ian Fleming. over many “re-paintings”, until he made the color of Bond`s eye visible through the peephole on the dustjacket that just-so shade of blue and gray that Fleming imagined Bond`s eyes to be.)
Completists collecting For Your Eyes Only for its AVTAK association need to grab everything from its large print edition for libraries to the two variant paperback covers by Signet, and not less than four completely different Pan covers from the UK, including the “stamp cover” and a young Melina with bow and arrow at the ready, plus British-run children`s editions with text edited down for young readers and more salacious comments lifted or changed, and countless variant covers by Jove, Berkley, Triad Granada and Coronet, and then foreign editions in at least eight languages other than English. The dustjacket artwork by Cuthill on the British Book Club is noteworthy, as is the pretty Michael J. Fein hardback edition rendered by Christoph Blumrich. (See accompanying photo collage of many of the covers on this page.)
Getting two full-length movies from one short story set including FAVTAK and FYEO is not bad, as good as even Stephen King has managed, and perhaps someday we fans can thrill to “Risico,” “The Hildebrand Rarity,” and “Quantum of Solace” on screen, lifted from the For Your Eyes Only collection. I can hear the script in my head now…”I`m going top kill you, Mr. Bond, to help ensure my quantum of solace for the afternoon.” “Not quite yet, Maximillian Risico. I was always better concerning the Hildebrand rarity.”
AVTAK Magazines and Comics Comics fans and completists can grab the two-part serial of the FYEO movie or the countless magazine tie-ins to AVTAK from the Bond fan clubs and popular media. Sharper Image catalogs of the `80s featuring Melina`s crossbow from the FYEO film and AVTAK related items are especially noteworthy.
In comic form went original artwork and fun for the four-part “Find Your Fate” AVTAK series of children`s books. You only need any one of the four movie tie-in books to fantasize and role play as Bond to help him destroy Zorin`s master plans. A very rare French version went to print of these books using a different color palate on the cover, making it look as though Roger Moore has had way too much carrot juice to drink on the set!
AVTAK Toys and Vehicles Corgi issued no Bond goodies between the release of their “Octopussy” and “GoldenEye” lines twelve years apart, but Matchbox fans can still find both the Renault taxi that Bond sliced and then diced and also the Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II he used for “deep cover” with “Sir Godfrey Tibbett” assisting. Matchbox also created prototypes of a full vehicle set, an “Action Pack” with a Russian helicopter and San Francisco police car thrown in, which went unreleased.
Lone Star Toys produced a gun and holster set , sold in Europe, to tie in to the new movie. The set featured a cap shooting Walther PPK, with AVTAK shoulder holster and strap.
AVTAK Locations The Chateau Chantilly in the French countryside may be visited today by the fans desperately seeking Zorin, and no trip to Paris is complete without a spin up to the top of the Eiffel Tower where May Day caused a sensation (or should we say cause celebre instead?). Marvelous atmosphere shots and exteriors were lensed all over the San Francisco area as well. (Bond Weekend 2001, anyone? Iceland, which doubled for “Siberia” in the pre-credits sequence, is out for sure.)
AVTAK Props I don`t know how I would feel about owning a rock salt gun redo in my house or Q`s snooper pet, although a trick jockey`s whip could come in handy around the office (for keeping the British end up? Loud groan!) but “Bedlum” has some astounding AVTAK props in his catalog this month online at The Williams Collection.
Other Collectibles Chevron gasoline got into the Bond XIV act also. When Bond “protests” Zorin`s oil pumping station, in deleted scenes, (see photo and related story elsewhere at 007Forever) guess which brand of hat he wears? And when Stacey accidentally swings the fire engine ladder, with Bond on top, into a gas station, guess which corporate franchise is demolished in spectacular fashion, sign crashing down onscreen?
AVTAK scored in a box as “role playing on Her Majesty`s Secret Service module/game from Victory Games.” The artwork is fun, though I am not sure if it is a horse or the Tour Eiffel which is meant to be exploding!
A fun 45 record was run of the popular title song, which opened to reveal bullet holes inside.
The summer of ’85, of course, had Duran Duran claiming the pinnacle spot of BILLBOARD`S Top 100 Singles. The song lasted three weeks at the #1 spot, the first time a Bond tune had reached #1 in the United States (though other songs including Goldfinger came close on the charts). Duran Duran fever hit an all time high–and James Bond in our zeitgeist was all the better for it.
Some of the more unusual AVTAK LP`s and tapes are sought after, especially foreign versions. AVTAK artwork has also graced countless CD, VHS, Beta, Criterion LaserDisc and DVD versions to date with more in the works.
**In an article entitled “Hot Resurgence” by Tom Conroy and Rob Sheffield for the August 20, 1998 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, AVTAK was credited with the resurgence of snowboarding worldwide. Chris Ernst, founder of California’s Lord of the Boards series, concurred:
“The troubles started around 1985, when the James Bond film A View to a Kill featured a Grecian Formula-slickened Roger Moore busting down the slopes on a single plank. Ever since, snowboarding has been jammed down our collective throat and has brought with it such scourges as tongue studs, tattoos, baggy parkas and any number of bad bands. Though no one asked, they’ve begun to rap.”
Even musical artists have gotten in on the AVTAK action. “Shadz” of “Lingo” released the 1994 album “A View To A Kill”, while the punk/new wave band “Gob” did a thoroughly forgettable remake of Bond XIV’s title song, released in 1997.