Friday, April 1, 2016

Bored Games

When Ryan, the Community Manager at invaluable.com, reached out to me with an invitation to write a piece on a childhood nostalgia topic of my choice, something now gone that I wish could magically reappear, I thought, "Ryan who? Invaluable what?" So, I did a little research.

Invaluable.com is an auction marketplace featuring the world’s finest auction houses offering thousands of beautiful items from around the world at incredible prices. Whether you’re looking to add to your collection, decorating your home, shopping for a gift or on the hunt for a hidden treasure, Invaluable makes it easy for you to find, bid and win. Okay, I'm not gonna lie, that came straight from their welcome page. But then I dug into their site a little deeper and found out they are to real world auctions what eBay is to virtual ones. Their site monitors actual live auction offerings from auction houses around the world such as Sotheby's, Profiles in History, Swann and thousands of others. Through their site, you can participate in the auctions in real-time or, if you prefer, Invaluable will cast an absentee bid that you establish with them.  And like eBay, you can set up email alerts for any treasure you seek.  Check out their collectibles for auction and see what you can find!

So once I established this wasn't some sort of spam email, I put some serious thought into what I missed about childhood and the two things that stood out in my memory were its simplicity and freedom. And nothing represented that better to me than Summer vacation.  But the funny thing about summer vacation was that while it always began with the exuberance of no school and endless possibilities of adventure, the excitement always seemed to fade by the third week of June.  "I'm bored" was often heard by my mother. "Go play a game" was a common answer from her, her eyes never leaving the latest episode of "Days of Our Lives". Sometimes, my sister and I would get into a week-long Monopoly battle until one or both of us finally wearied of it.  Other times, it might be Clue (if we could find all the cards and pieces), Battleship, checkers or Sorry. But all of those games required thought, strategy and time, something we weren't always willing to invest in on a sleepy Summer afternoon in the basement.  During those times, we would turn to the "junk food" of the gaming world - TV Show board games.

Before the days of video games and VCRs, the closest you could come to experiencing and reliving the worlds of your favorite cartoon characters or TV shows was through board games, and the 1960's and '70's were the indisputable golden age for these.  It seemed like every show had a board game version.  Here are a few I've collected over the years.  Clearly, Milton Bradley owned this market.  This first game holds a special place in my childhood memories.

Milton Bradley Scooby Doo Where are You! 1973




My cousin and I playing Scooby Doo Where Are You! the board game Christmas Eve 1974.  I'm the one on the right with helmet hair. Dig the white turtleneck and burgundy jean combo.

 Milton Bradley The Funky Phantom Game 1971.

I can't believe this game pre-dated Scooby Doo's game.


 Milton Bradley The Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids game 1973


I wrote a post on this game previously.

 Milton Bradley Yogi Bear game 1971


 Milton Bradley Tom and Jerry game 1968


 Milton Bradley Land of the Lost game 1975


 Milton Bradley Lost in Space game 1965 

You'll note, the board layout is identical to "Land of the Lost".  It's played the same way.


 Milton Bradley Snoopy Come Home game 1973


 Milton Bradley Casper The Friendly Ghost game 1959

 Casper looks a little tubby there.

Milton Bradley The Amazing Spider-man game with The Fantastic Four 1977

This was a re-release of MB's 1966 version which was called "The Amazing Spider-man with Marvel Super-heroes".  The reissue may have coincided with the 1977 Saturday morning cartoon.  Thank God there's no Herbie the Robot in this game.


And now some notable games not in my collection, culled from the internet.

 Milton Bradley The Dynomutt Dog Wonder game 1977

Wow, Blue Falcon doesn't even rank a mention in the title!

Milton Bradley Speed Buggy game 1973

Speed Buggy completes the triumvirate of Hanna-Barbera shows that include Scooby Doo and The Funky Phantom and feature "meddling kids" solving mysteries. 

 Milton Bradley The Addams Family game 1974

 Milton Bradley The Korg: 70,000 B.C. game 1974


Korg: 70,000 B.C. was a live-action Saturday morning show produced by Hanna-Barbera.  It only lasted one season, but still warranted a game.


Arrow Games Valley of the Dinosaurs game 1977

Odd, "Valley of the Dinosaurs" was a Hanna-Barbera cartoon.  You'd think Milton Bradley would have had all their shows licensed.

Milton Bradley The Monster Squad game 1977
The Monster Squad was a live action Saturday morning TV show that has attained a cult following. It starred Fred "Gopher" Grandy strangely absent from the game's graphics.

Milton Bradley Terrytoons Mighty Mouse game 1978

And now, let's take a look at our 1970's prime time gaming options.

Milton Bradley The Partridge Family game 1971

My sister received this game as a birthday present.  I'm not sure why, we never watched the show.


 Milton Bradley The Emergency! Game 1973


Milton Bradley Buck Rogers game 1979

This game appears to be very similar to the MB "Lost in Space" and "Land of the Lost" games above.


Finally, Parker Brothers comes through with some games.

Parker Brothers The Six Million Dollar Man 1975

Parker Brothers The Bionic Woman 1976


 Battlestar Galactica (L'Astro Guerre Des Galactica Canadian edition) 1978



Parker Brothers Happy Days 1976

Milton Bradley must have realized they missed the boat on the board game, so they secured the rights to this Fonz card game.


Milton Bradley The Fonz Hanging Out at Arnold's Platform Card Game 1976


Parker Brothers Laverne & Shirley 1977


Parker Brothers Mork & Mindy game 1979

Milton Bradley The All in the Family game 1972

"Is there a little bit of Archie in all of us?" Sure, we've all got a bit of a racist and sexist dullard in us and now we can use that to our advantage in a childrens game.

  Milton Bradley Kojak The Stake Out Detective Game 1975

There's no more fun than recreating the fast-paced action of watching and waiting for illegal activity.

Ideal Welcome Back, Kotter the up your nose witha rubber hose game 1976

Hose not included.

Parker Brothers Little House on the Prairie 1978

"Be the first player to move all five members of your family into the safety of the Little House. Doing this won't be easy. You'll have to move your family past three dangerous situations: an Indian war party, a wolf pack and a prairie fire."  Well, at least you don't have to lance Ma's leg to win.  Oh, and don't choose the "Albert" playing piece. Something bad always happened to him.

Milton Bradley The Waltons game 1974

Milton Bradley Apple's Way game 1974

Earl Hamner's "Apple's Way" didn't last 2  full seasons.  I'm surprised it rated a board game.

Ideal The Dukes of Hazzard game 1981

The 1980's ushered in the digital age of home entertainment.  Game systems like the Atari 2600 won the hearts and wallets of America leaving little room for board games . There were a few exceptions, but the golden age of television board games was over.  Today, with the availability of around the clock children's programming, dvds and video games, kids don't have to go far to re-watch or reenact their favorite television shows, and yet I still hear "I'm bored" from my own kids.  I think back to those Summer afternoons and like my mother, I always answer, "Go play a game."

6 comments:

FrankO said...

great round up! i actually HAD that "battlestar galactica" game, dangit. i can't imagine what the "all in the family" game would be like -- it's not like they left the house all that often (or at least, we never saw the neighborhood much). same with "the waltons" zzzzzzzz

Tom said...

There are descriptions of the games at boardgamegeek.com and you're right, neither one sounds like much fun.
When I first found that Battlestar Galactica game, I almost threw out the "cylon raider" piece because I thought it was just a random piece of plastic. C'mon, Parker Bros, how about a little effort on the game pieces?

Caffeinated Joe said...

Such a great post! I had or at least played many of these. And when eBay was new, I found the Laverne & Shirley game and bought it. Sadly, it wasn't a ton of fun now. Great pics, thanks for the stroll down memory lane.

Tom said...

Thanks, Joe. Glad you enjoyed.

Bob Johns said...

You know every holiday we try to find a board game or card game for the girls it's an art form that needs to stay alive! I love video games but nothing beats an old board game. I would love to find a Casper game that is way to cool!

Chris Otto said...

Awesome post. So much nostalgia! Pretty much *every* TV show had a board game, didn't it. ... This post also reminded me that for many years (decades) I had snippets of The Funky Phantom theme song in my head, without knowing WHAT the darn tune actually was. Only the help of endless Google searches and the existence of YouTube finally solved my mystery last year. ... I personally didn't have much in the lines of TV Show board games. The most unique one I recall playing in the 1970s was called The Sinking of the Titanic.

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