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Manic Miner For Collectors (Part 2) – First Edition, Second Release

Manic Miner – Second Release (“Lantern”)

Manic Miner for the 48k Sinclair ZX Spectrum
“Lantern” Release

One of the classics, if not THE classic game for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k, written by legendary games programmer Matthew Smith.

There are several variants of the game, which was sold in cassette format. Cassettes were the usual format for games in the 1980s, until disks became the preferred format towards the latter stages of the decade.

An Introduction to these articles and links to the other articles, are here. It also includes information about the debates about these variants, releases and editions. There has been much debate over the years, in the absence of definitive statements by Bug Byte or elsewhere.

Part 1 of these articles talked about variants of the First Edition, First Release (“Whistler”), released on Bug Byte.

This Part 2 talks about the Second Release (“Lantern” or “Lamp”), also released on Bug Byte. It is the Second Release of Manic Miner of the First Edition.

Like other parts in this series, this article does not discuss the program/game itself. For that, please see here.

Manic Miner Expert Adrian Grubb, writes about more variants for collectors…

(images used with permission of Adrian Grubb – taken from 26th July 2018 post)

The complete package – box with sticker, inlay and tape

Some time ago I discussed in-depth my findings on the first-release of Manic Miner, more commonly known, for some reason, as the ‘Whistler’ edition… he’s NOT whistling, it’s his philtrum, or cleft chin! That article concerned the differences in loading TO THE EYE, hacking isn’t my scene at all.

This article concentrates on inlay and cassette variants, the results of the study of fourteen copies.

It is perhaps foolhardy of me to state facts as regards the various releases of Manic Miner, as most have their own memories and convictions where the timeline is concerned. All I can do is try my best.

Cover Variants

The Lantern dark choc and milk choc cassette covers plus a labelled and boxed cassette

The cover of this second-release is simply known as Lantern, or Lamp. There are actually two versions of Lantern, known as dark choc and milk choc.

  1. Lantern Cover Variant 1 – Milk Choc. The milk choc is so called due to its glossy brown background, and has sharp images and colours throughout.
  2. Lantern Cover Variant 2 – Dark Choc. The dark choc has a dull brown background, and the images and colours are less distinct or faded. This has led a few to consider the dark choc inlays to be fakes.

Sticker Variant

For a limited period, the cases of the very earliest releases had a round, black sticker attached, usually to the spine, sporting the code BBS 00105 in white.

It would seem the reason these were added was due to the inlay change. The code was printed on the spine of the SO-CALLED Whistler (First Release). On the Lantern spine it was omitted, most probably by error. So the sticker was added.

Inlay Variants

  • Lantern Inlay Variant 1 – No Flap. The original Lantern came with a standard J-card inlay with the backstory and instructions on the panel.
  • Lantern Inlay Variant 2 – Extra Flap. A later version, with an extra flap, was produced in much larger numbers.

One side of the Extra Flap showed the cover art of four other Bug Byte games, the reverse carried the backstory and instructions.

On the inlay panel were various details. They included Bug-Byte game stockists and the address to send a program to them for a free, no obligation appraisal of its worth.

The first of the inlays with extra flaps had the code, BBS 105, printed at the bottom of the details panel. On later versions, the code was dropped.

  • Lantern Inlay Variant 3 – Extra Flap, With Code
  • Lantern Inlay Variant 4 – Extra Flap, No Code

Spelling Error

Without the Spelling Error on one line
WITH the error on the next line

The original backstory and instructions contained an obvious spelling error, “Undergraound”.

The error went unnoticed, still present when the inlay with extra flap was introduced. The entire sentence containing the error was removed from the backstory with the Software Projects Manic Miner (Second Edition) release, that with the mutant telephone cover.

Cassette Variants

The earliest Lantern release came on a grey cassette, “Made in England” in black print on both sides.

Grey, or light grey (some call white) cassettes with single, blue-printed white labels followed.

A small number of black cassettes received white labels with black print to both sides, these most probably the last labelled to be released.

Grey cassettes with black printed details on both sides, including the code BBS 00105, were the swan song for the Lantern. These were made in Holland, not England, and had a yellow leader as opposed to the usual red or pale blue.

Game Loader and Loading Screen Variants

In Part 1 of this series of articles, which was on the “Whistler” release, variants of the Game Loader were described. In the “Lantern” release, there is an intriguing variation in the loading screens that are displayed while the main game is loading.

  • Loading Screen Variant 1. This is the “normal” flashing attribute “MANIC MINER” loading screen, loaded to a black background.
  • Loading Screen Variant 2. Instead of the loading screen loading to the flashing attribute “MANIC MINER”, a white background is loaded which exposes the loading information. Is this genuine, or a sign of piracy? After a great deal of research and asking around, this has been confirmed as a genuine variant by Adrian Grubb. Below is my copy of Lantern Inlay Variant 2 with Loading Screen Variant 2. Please get in touch if you have more information.

This ends Part 2 of the series of PopeyMon articles on Manic Miner For Collectors.

More articles on Manic Miner will be published here on PopeyMon Games and Fun soon… Part 3 is now here.

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Manic Miner For Collectors (Part 1) – First Edition, First Release

Manic Miner – First Release (Whistler) – 1983

An awesome collection of Manic Miner and its sequel Jet Set Willy
(image courtesy of Adrian Grubb)

There are collectors of classic games. They love the games, and the variants of those games. The variants are many, especially of games that sold a lot, and which were released several times including by different software houses.

Manic Miner is one of the classic, if not THE classic game for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k, written by legendary games programmer Matthew Smith.

Manic Miner Expert Adrian Grubb, passionate collector and one of the Admins of the Facebook Group Central Cavern, has written and researched a great deal on the topic.

This is Part 1 of a series of articles on PopeyMon Games and Fun, about Manic Miner. The series looks only at the Spectrum editions, versions and variants. It is aimed at collectors. Collectors love variants and as is shown in the articles, and the photo above, there are lots of variants of Manic Miner. For a summary of the differences between the program/game itself, see here.

An Introduction to the articles and links to Part 2 and Part 3, are here.

The Introduction (Part 0) here includes an important Footnote about how these articles hope to lead to a definitive statement of all the variants of the Spectrum releases of Manic Miner, and the spirit in which Adrian Grubb originally wrote the Facebook versions of the articles, and the spirit of the Spectrum community which will be maintained here.

The articles are edited versions of the results of Adrian’s research on the variants of Manic Miner for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

The Introduction (Part 0) here includes an important Footnote about how these articles hope to lead to a definitive statement of all the variants of the Spectrum releases of Manic Miner, and the spirit in which Adrian Grubb originally wrote the Facebook versions of the articles, and the spirit of the Spectrum community which will be maintained here.

Adrian writes…

In response to much debate concerning first and second-release Manic Miners, here are my First Release findings, obtained using nine copies of Manic Miner.

Three different types of tape for the WHISTLER release…
Showing 3 Cassette Variants of the tape. Collectors LOVE variants.
(image used with permission of Adrian Grubb)

The inlay above shows the Whistler release by Bug Byte. This is the First Release of Manic Miner and the First Edition.


TO THE EYE there are three different headers used to load the game. The header is the first part of the loading of the game, before the game itself is loaded. But there are variations in them in the Whistler version of Manic Miner.

  1. Game Loader Variant 1. Screen turns black with thick white bar at foot of screen. Bar covered over with black when alternating (flashing using the Spectrum’s flash attribute) Manic Miner appears.
  2. Game Loader Variant 2. Screen turns black. When alternating Manic Miner appears, a thick white bar appears at foot of screen also and stays during load. (This would suggest alternative code in the loading program).
  3. Game Loader Variant 3. Whole screen turns black and stays that way until alternating MM appears. (Again, suggesting different code).

In other versions of Manic Miner, there are other versions of the Game Loader. These will be documented in future articles.

Four copies of the nine copies in this test were identical in every way – see the photo above for the versions of the tape described below:

  1. Cassette Variant 1 (top of photo). A black cassette with red lead-in, label to one side only. Game Loader Variant 1 used on both sides. Two more copies of the black cassette had identical contents to Cassette Variant 1 but:
    – Variant 1a? One with a label applied to the opposite side. Should this be classed as another variant (1a)?
    – Variant 1b? Black cassette with red lead-in, label to one side only. Loader Variant 3 used on Side A, Loader Variant 1 on Side B. Should this be classed as another variant (1b)?
  2. Cassette Variant 2 (middle of photo). A grey cassette with red lead-in, label to one side only. Game Loader Variant 1 used on Side A, Loader Variant 3 on Side B.
  3. Cassette Variant 3 (bottom of photo). No labels, printed onto a lighter grey. The cassette has small tulip in centre of pattern on top edge of cassette on both sides, yellow lead-in. Cover logo printed on both sides of cassette.All three printed light grey cassettes had an identical loader, Game Loader Variant 2.


ALL cassettes of all three variants are marked Made in England either on label or printed.

In conclusion, there’s three types of the first-release of Manic Miner (Whistler).

Printed cassettes come in light grey, labelled cassettes come in a darker shade of grey or, more commonly, black.

There are even more variants of Manic Miner, including releases on the Software Projects label.

More articles on Manic Miner will be published here on PopeyMon Games and Fun soon… Part 2 is now here.

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Welcome to PopeyMon Games and Fun!

PopeyMon Games and Fun blogs about games, toys, entertainment and fun. We also hope to sell you some stuff too, so that you can experience the games, toys, entertainment and fun for yourself, your friends and family!

Here is an example of what we write about, and what we sell.

Manic Miner is seen as one of the classic games for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k. Indeed, it’s one of the classic games of all time. Almost forty years after it was released, there are huge fans and enthusiasts of Manic Miner and its sequel, Jet Set Willy.

The game is still played by people on their original hardware, and on emulators. You can even play the game directly on the web.

One of the game’s greatest enthusiasts, and a regular poster on the Facebook group – Adrian Grubb has done a huge amount of research on the game.

On this website, Adrian explores the game in great detail.

There are a whole host of other games and fun explored here too. Please have a look around and feel free to get in touch!

Andrew Pope

PopeyMon Games and Fun