Crash was a magazine dedicated to the ZX Spectrum home computer. It was published from 1984 to 1991 by Newsfield Publications Ltd until their liquidation, and then until 1992 by Europress.
Crash was initially launched in 1983 by Roger Kean, Oliver Frey and Franco Frey as a mail order software catalogue that included several pages of reviews. It then launched as a magazine in February 1984, maintaining its focus squarely on Spectrum gaming. Kean and the Frey brothers would continue to be involved with the magazine throughout its lifetime.
By October 1986, Crash boasted regular sales of over 100,000 copies. Its ABC figure of 101,483 copies a month for the period of January to June were claimed by the magazine to be "more than any other computer magazine in the country by all accounts".
Much editorial content (for example, the previews and responses to readers' letters) was credited to Lloyd Mangram, a fictional character, although written by members of the editorial staff. Mangram was depicted visually in the magazine by a sketch of a man wearing a paper bag over his head with holes cut for eyes. This was in stark contrast to the magazine's practice (more common in later years) of accompanying each review with a small likeness of the writer. Lloyd Mangram's contributions made frequent references to his ancient Hermes Typewriter.
Crash included the occasional column which seemed unusual for a computer magazine. Its first year saw the launch of both the Lunar Jetman strip (written and illustrated by John Richardson, based on the character from the games by Ultimate Play The Game) and The Terminal Man, an original piece of fiction written by Kelvin Gosnell and illustrated by Oliver Frey. Later years would see a brief revival of The Terminal Man, as well as Mel Croucher's comic story Tamara Knight, both of which ended mid-run due to poor reception. After the closure of Newsfield's short-lived lifestyle magazine LM, Crash also featured video reviews for a period, a strongly debated move.
Starting in 1984, the magazine published an annual readers awards article, based on votes from the readers.
The genres were replaced in 1989 with categories such as Best Coin Op conversion and Best Budget Game.
The August 1985 issue of Crash featured "Unclear User", a spoof on rival magazine Sinclair User. This led to a successful injunction being taken out against the magazine, with copies withdrawn from newsagents and an apology published in the following issue. Many issues had already been sent to subscribers, however.
By 1989, Your Sinclair regularly came with a free covertape containing a complete Spectrum game plus demos. Crash, which had included occasional demo covertapes but still lagged behind in circulation, relaunched in June of that year, including a free covertape with a number of complete games as a regular feature. This came at the expense of page count and editorial content, both of which fell dramatically in 1989. (The December 1988 issue had 212 pages; by June 1989 this was down to 36 pages, although some of this reduction is attributable to the seasonal release nature of games.)
The final issue published by Newsfield was October 1991. Following their liquidation, the magazine was relaunched by Europress in December, continuing until the final issue in April 1992. After this, Crash was bought by EMAP, publisher of Sinclair User, who merged the two magazines. In practice, this meant little more than the appearance of the Crash logo on the front cover of Sinclair User for several months.
Crash was notable for its distinctive cover art, mostly by Oliver Frey. The magazine Retro Gamer has acknowledged this by reprinting Crash's first cover as a poster and a selection of Oliver Frey artwork as a calendar. Much of his work was published in book form for the first time in 2006.
The cover of issue 18, July 1985, which depicted a female warrior with a man on his knees in collar and chains was considered a bit racy by some shops who moved it to the top shelf. The cover of issue 41, June 1987, was a particularly violent image depicting two barbarians fighting, with one about to slit the throat of another. The picture was deemed too strong by W H Smith and that issue was relegated to the top shelves.