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Archive for the ‘Toys – Boardgames’ Category

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Posted by Big Boo on July 20th, 2011

Subbuteo Table FootballI’ve never been a big fan of the “beautiful game” it has to be said, but as a kid even I wanted a Subbuteo table football (or flick football as I called it back then) set to play with. There’s something about those little men on the plastic hemispheres that stirs some inner urge in men across the country to try and flick an oversized ball past a goalkeeper on a stick.

Subbuteo was invented by a chap named Peter Adolph. He initially placed adverts in The Boy’s Own back in 1946 for the game, but it wasn’t until the following year that final sets were sent out to eager customers. Initially Adolph wanted to call the game simply “Hobby”, but his application for a trademark was turned down, so instead the game became known as Subbuteo.

Why Subbuteo? In a rather convoluted piece of logic the name comes from the latin name Falco subbuteo, which is a bird of prey more commonly known as the Eurasian Hobby, which links back to Adolph’s original choice of name.

The first sets were quite simple, with wire and paper goal posts and cardboard cut out players attached to weighted buttons. It wasn’t until 1961 that the more recognisable three dimensional plastic men would be introduced, which in turn saw various changes and refinements until we reach the Eighties, when the nicely painted “lightweight” figure was introduced.

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Posted by Big Boo on May 27th, 2011

yahtzeeMost boardgames, or at least those which are well known and advertised on television, are aimed at children, but every so often you’ll see a boardgame that is aimed more at adult game players becoming very popular. Trivial Pursuit and Mastermind are two which immediately spring to mind, and Yahtzee was another.

Yahtzee is a game played with five ordinary dice and it borrows its rules heavily from the card game Poker. Players take turns to throw the five dice, with the aim being to try and match one of the allowed scoring combinations. After rolling the player can choose to roll any number of the dice again, and then once more, in order to try and improve the combination of dice.

Each player has a score sheet on which to keep track of their total points, and at the end of each turn they must write a score in against one of the allowed combinations of their choosing. The combinations are things like four or five of a the same number (the latter being given the name Yahtzee) or a straight (a run of numbers, for example 4-5-6-7).

If they don’t match any combination, or the sequence they have achieved already has a score against it, they must choose one of the combinations and score a zero against it. When all players have scored a number in every box of their score sheets, the game is over and the winner is the player with the highest total score.

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Pop-Up Pirate

Posted by Big Boo on March 25th, 2011

Pop-Up PirateBoardgames tend to come in two varieties, those that take forever to play (yes, I’m looking at you Monopoly) and those which are over in but a few short minutes, such as the subject of today’s post – Pop-Up Pirate.

Pop-Up Pirate was created by Japanese toy company Tomy, with it’s original name being Kurohige Kiki Ippatsu, which apparently means Blackbeard in Danger. I think I prefer the name we ended up with to be honest!

As the name suggests the game features a little plastic buccaneer who sits inside a big brown barrel. Players are armed with some little plastic swords which they take turns poking into holes in the side of the barrel, a bit like a magician sticking swords into a magic cabinet containing his glamourous assistant.

One of the holes will cause the little pirate chap to leap out of the barrel, as if the sword has come into contact with his wee little pirate backside. Whichever player causes this to happen is out, and the whole game starts again until only one player remains.

I’m always reminded of games like Jaws and Buckaroo! whenever I think off Pop-Up Pirate, I guess because they all involve a sudden surprise event happening which signals the end of the game.

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Posted by Big Boo on February 16th, 2011

kerplunkYou couldn’t have given KerPlunk a better name than the one it has, could you? What would you go for otherwise? Marble Drop? Too boring. Stick Pulling Game? Dull as ditch water. Nope, KerPlunk suits the game perfectly, as it neatly conveys the idea of marbles dropping and sounds kind of cool to boot.

KerPlunk first appeared in 1967, and is another of those stalwart games which is still around today and will be around for as long as people are willing to play board games. Even when we’re all connected directly via a brain link to some virtual world, we’ll probably still be playing it then, except our virtual avatar will be wearing a sombrero, have green skin and crab claws, which would actually make the game a fair bit harder to play.

If you happen to have never played the game here’s a brief overview. A transparent plastic tube has a number of sticks inserted through little holes in its side, half way down its length. When enough sticks are inserted it forms a sort of floor, onto which a stack of marbles are placed.

Players take it in turns to remove a stick, being careful to not drop too many marbles, as the player with the fewest marbles after all the marbles have dropped is the winner. It’s a bit like a more nail biting, and potentially noisier, version of Jack Straws.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Posted by Big Boo on January 10th, 2011

TwisterThere can’t be many households that haven’t owned a copy of MB Games’ Twister board game. It was the kind of game that you usually received as a Christmas or birthday gift from a relative when you reached that awkward age where relatives aren’t quite sure what to buy for you any more.

Twister is a simple enough game to play. A plastic sheet with a four by four grid of dots is laid on the ground. The dots are in lines of red, green, yellow and blue. A spinner is also included which when spun instructs the current player which colour dot they have to place a particular hand or foot on.

At first things are pretty easy, but as the game progresses the players end up in a contorted mess of limbs as they struggle to reach the correct coloured dot. If any player falls during all of this, they are out of the game, and the winner is the last one left standing, if standing is the right word to use that is.

Since it becomes pretty near impossible to use the spinner whilst playing, normally one person not taking part in the actual game does all the spinning. Whenever a game of Twister is suggested there is funnily enough never a shortage of people (especially adults) who are more than willing to take on the task of spinning the spinner.

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Posted by Big Boo on October 8th, 2010

KensingtonThe Eighties was a time when it suddenly seemed to become acceptable for adults to play board games, and by that I mean playing board games with other adults as opposed to playing them with kids.

Sure, there have always been more adult board games, just take a look at the likes of Monopoly, Cluedo and of course Chess, but the late Seventies and whole of the Eighties brought a new wave of games aimed primarily at adults because they either required a broad base of knowledge to play (e.g. Trivial Pursuit) or were a bit more strategic, like Chess.

Kensington fell firmly into the latter camp of strategy based board games, though unlike Chess its rules were actually very simple. Two players each have fifteen counters in either red or blue. They start by taking turns to place counters onto the game board, which was made up of adjoining triangles, squares and hexagons. Once all the counters were on the board players could then slide one counter along a line of the board on their turn.

The object of the game was to form a hexagon using six of your coloured counters. There were three white hexagons in the middle of the board, and two red and two blue on opposite sides, and you had to form a hexagon around either one of the white ones, or one of your own colour.

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Posted by Big Boo on August 11th, 2010

operationThere are some board games that everybody must have played, if not owned, at some point in their lives, and Operation is one such game.

The workings of the game are derived from one of those steady hand testing games, where you have to pass a loop of wire around another bent piece of wire without the two touching, which will complete a circuit and make a buzzer sound.

Operation took this concept and changed the wire loop into a pair of tweezers and the bent wire into little holes lined with metal. The playing board had a picture of man being operated on, and the little holes were dotted about the body of the man. Each hole had a little plastic bone (more on those in a moment) which the player had to remove with the tweezers. If the tweezers came into contact with the side of the hole they caused both a buzzer to sound and a red light to come on, which was strategically placed to be the man’s nose.

The little plastic bones all had humourous (or should that be humerus?) names such as Funny Bone, Broken Heart and Spare Ribs. In actual fact, one of the bones wasn’t made of plastic, it was instead a rubber band which stretched between the ankle and the knee, and it was called The Ankle Bone Connected To The Knee Bone.

The game also came with a set of cards and some money, and this was supposed to guide how the game was actually played, but personally I just played it by having all the players take turns at trying to remove a piece of their own choosing.

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The Game Of Life

Posted by Big Boo on June 30th, 2010

Game Of LifeI’ve mentioned various toys in the past on this site which were on my Christmas list but which the red suited one failed to bring, but today’s post is about one request which did turn up in my stocking come Christmas Day morning.

The Game Of Life is, as the name suggests, based around the story of a person’s lifetime. The idea is as you travel around the game board different events will shape out a fictional life history for each player. Each player chooses a different coloured car, and inserts into the driving seat a little pink or blue peg, depending on whether they are a girl or a boy (though I suppose there was nothing stopping you living out a life as the opposite sex, as the choice of male or female was largely irrelevant).

You car is your playing piece, and as you spin the rainbow coloured spinner to travel around the board there are certain squares you can land on which then add further little pink or blue pegs to your car. First you get married (nope, no choice in the matter on this one) and then further round the board certain squares would present you with a child (or possibly even twins) to build up your family.

Going back though, your first decision in the game was whether you should go to University or jump straight into the world of work. Going to college meant you could get a better paid job, which since the ultimate aim of the game was to be the player with the most money at the end meant this could well be the better route to take. As with life itself though, there was no guarantee this would be the case…

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