Sunday, 13 July 2014

A Game for 2-4 Players Based on the Successful TV Series

Board games based on TV shows were a part of everyone 70s kid's childhood. Some were good, some were desperate. And by that I mean that playing them required a degree in quantum physics to understand the rules of a game that had as much to do with the TV show they were based on as they did to a cantaloupe.

I had several of these games. Mostly they were Christmas presents and invariably they were based on a love for the TV series or a particularly convincing TV ad.

There were two based on 'Doctor Who' – one was a really disappointing board and dice game in which you had to visit four planets and do something heroic to save the galaxy. It did have a nice perfunctory TARDIS shaped shaker for the dice though. The version I had also came with a giant sticker of Tom Baker on the box – evidently he hadn't been cast as the Doctor or given his permission for his image to be used when the game was first released. You do have to admire the gall of Denys Fisher.

There was also War of the Daleks. This was a rather more elaborate affair with little silver and gold plastic Daleks on a raised box-like board that spun round and knocked playing counters over. Clumsy Daleks were the scourge of the universe in 1977. I still have one of the Daleks but not the game itself. I turned it into a key chain in the 80s. Poor thing!

The board game based on the Gerry and Sylvia Anderson show 'Space: 1999' was another kettle of fish. Evidently, the creators of the game jumped in to licence their product very early on and had little more than script notes for the first episode to go on – or so it seemed. A large circular grid-like playing board on which conical playing pieces doubled for Eagle spacecraft saw players battle through radiation fields to get nuclear charges (small pegs that looked like rejects from an old Mastermind set) back to Moonbase Alpha. In fact, the only connection with John Koenig and his lunar heroes was the exciting cover art and the odd name in the instruction booklet. Disappointing in all aspects and dull beyond compare.

I also had a game based on the old ITV sitcom 'On The Buses'. This was actually quite fun. Little red buses trundled around a playing board picking up vac-formed plastic passengers avoiding the dreaded 'Blakey' card – which featured a lovely and threatening piece of artwork of the character played by Stephen Lewis in the series. When the card was played, you couldn't help but let out a “Heeehhh! I've got you Butler!!”.

Board games aren't what they used to be and the nation's charity shops contain too few of the nostalgic best. Ebay is now their rest home where prices (and postage) pay for their retirement from service. 

Of course, some board games never even made it into production...


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