Forgotten Realms was the first campaign world expansion for the new AD&D 2e Monstrous Compendium binder system in 1989. 32 sheets of new monsters, some specific to the Forgotten Realms (Crawling Claw, Dracolich). But mostly iconic monsters from AD&D 1e Monster Manual and Fiend Folio (Dinosaurs, Meazel, Svirfneblin).
From the outset, the Monstrous Compendium releases were labelled Volume 1, 2, 3. This “Volume” nomenclature fell apart on TSR almost immediately, as you’ll see in my post about Volume Two (x2):
The Forgotten Realms Appendix (MC3, TSR product code 2004) got its cover graphics modified for its 1991 re-release because of this Volume snafu.
In the rest of this post, I’ll show side by side photos of the two versions, with my commentary.
The 1989 set cover graphics emphasize “Monstrous Compendium” and “Volume Three”, with “Forgotten Realms” in red letters. TSR angled block logo.
1991 set adds the classic Forgotten Realms banner, de-emphasizes “Monstrous Compendium” and deletes “Volume Three” (in response to the “Volume” problem I discuss in the previously linked post). Now has the TSR Gold Badge logo – which means it could only have been released between 1991-2; this will be important later.
You’ll also note this 1991 set cover has noticeable yellowing. This occurs from humidity and heat. Don’t store your paper collectibles in the attic or garage, but instead in your living space where (presumably) your central air system will reduce humidity levels.
Inside the title sheets continue the same theme as the covers, dropping “Volume Three” adding the Forgotten Realms logo graphic, etc.
The monster sheets appear identical.
TSR was always hit-n-miss when it came to copyright and printing dates. In the MC3 it’s a 100% miss.
The later set is dated 1989, although we know this can’t be true from the TSR logo style (again, TSR Gold Badge logo 1991-2). In fact TSR stubbornly added ©1989 to all the sheets and dividers of the later MC3 set. I understand the publisher’s imperative to maintain the older copyright date… But they could have simply added ©1989, 1991 or printing notes. Ehhh.
My best guess is 1991 for the revised cover MC3, would make sense to have it available alongside the MC11 FR MC Appendix (1991).
Interestingly, the Dividers had their order changed between printings. Aside from adding ©1989 (grr) to all the later dividers, TSR also added the set codes (MC3-2104). The Moonshae divider got a “Copyright Tim Hildebrandt; used with permission” note as well.
These MC3 sheet packs soldiered on until mid-1993, when TSR abandoned the Monstrous Compendium binder system, and returned to bound monster books.
Hilariously, all the way to the end, TSR continued to stick MC3 with the core AD&D items (sans Forgotten Realms identifier) while the MC11 set correctly occupied the Forgotten Realms Backlist in the 1993 TSR Catalog!
My RPG Reference site page for the Monstrous Compendium with all of them in order. Plus the later bound books.