The Surgery: Board Game Repair Tips
Jack H.
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I intend this list to be a repository of all the tips I've seen around the forums and elsewhere on the web. I've found some of these tips extremely useful and I hope that someone out there will find them useful too.

This information is blatently copied from others: thank you all for sharing your expertise using the power of the internet, I hope you don't mind if I paste your words here, fully credited of course!



DISCLAIMER: If you destroy your game box/board/components/house/life following any of the advice on this page it is your own fault! Just try to avoid gluing your bits together with super glue.

This is my first geeklist and still work in progress. I didn't expect it to have so much interest already. Thanks to everyone who has made, or is going to make a comment, and sharing your experiences and expertise with all of us. A big merci beaucoup! Apologies to bomeroller, whose had the idea first, but whose similar GeekList last year went unrecognised!

A revisit 2010: Ahhhh 2007, so many moons ago! The geeklist conveived in sobriety, yet written late at nigh in a haze of gin, and with grand designs of many more to follow (to date: 0). I am, however, I must admit, somewhat pleased with myself for not having had much to add to the geeklist since it was 'published'. However, I'm sure there is more work to be done. Thank you for all the thumbs and GeekGold (are those capitals in the correct place?) and keep adding any more tips! Cheers guys!
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1. Board Game: Split [Average Rating:5.80 Overall Rank:6829]
Jack H.
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Rochester
Kent
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Split Corners

Boxes! The hard outer shell protecting the juicy gaming innards that we love, and thus the area most susceptible to damage. The classic split corner is a common problem.

Enter Mr Greg Aleknevicus! His clearly illustrated and described procedure means that we don't have to split hairs about this problem any longer. Thank you, Greg!

http://www.thegamesjournal.com/articles/RepairingBoxes.shtml
http://www.thegamesjournal.com/articles/RepairingBoxes2.shtm...

After looking at these you'll see why I haven't bothered to write any information here! Another article on box repair, though not related to board games, can be found here:

http://www.antiquelurecollectibles.com/Articles/Lure_box_rep...

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2. Board Game: Saga [Average Rating:5.65 Overall Rank:8306]
Jack H.
United Kingdom
Rochester
Kent
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Saggy & Crumpled Boxes

As time passes, gravity takes it's toll and things start to sag. Game boxes, for example. So what can you do when your box is all saggy or otherwise misshapen.

Bruce Whitehall, at www.thebiggamehunter.com, suggests "lightly wetting the entire inside of the box with a wet sponge or a mister, or even pouring a little water into the box and move it around to cover the entire surface. Pour out any excess water, place the cover on a flat surface, line it with wax paper, and place inside the cover any flat, heavy object (a heavy bookend, or a large, unabridged dictionary or coffee table book), preferably one that is nearly the same size as the cover."

Dreadnaut agrees but uses a fragrant variant:

"This will make the cardboard malleable enough to take a new shape, but not wet enough to wrinkle. I have used an alternate version of this using Febreze for many of my dished boxes, and it has worked great, no staining or wrinkled boxes."

This method does worry some, or is Windopaene just chicken?

"Are you kidding with this? Pour water inside the box? That just scares the bejeebers out of me. Hello mold, hello mildew, hello decomposing cardboard..."

Citizen k and his mono-lettered friend have another option:

"Iron the lids. Now your results may vary, but my buddy D has had success with using an iron, with steam of course, on the inside of box lids. Then leave the lid face down under a load of books or other weight until they are dry. I'd recommend practicing on old games from a Thrift store before trying this on your titles. Game on."

Game on, indeed, Mr K. and Mr D. They are not the only domestics at the Geek. So too is Aljovin:

"I thought of trying something different, let's iron it, yes, iron it! The results are fabulous! Here is how I've done it First I set the iron for Cotton, it seemed like the right choice, as it's fiber as well. I put one side on the ironing table and used a table cloth to iron on it. I steamed it a bit so that it can flatten out a lot easier. Ironed it for a few minutes and Voila! it's now flat enough to be used. I've repeated it on all sides (bottom part and top part of the box) and now it is acceptable. In my case the box was so damaged that it didn't return "as new", but good enough for storage."

A final thought from joebelanger

"Have you considered storing it upside down? My Samurai Swords lid sagged. I removed the game components from the box. Then I placed the components in the box's top and used the box's bottom as the top. The next time I pulled the game out to play (a month or so later), the top had unsagged considerably. Don't put anything on top of the bottom of your box while you're unsagging it. Otherwise, now your box's bottom will be saggy and you'll have to unsag the bottom too."

True, Joe, no-one likes a saggy bottom.
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3. Board Game: Dirty Pictures [Average Rating:4.64 Unranked]
Jack H.
United Kingdom
Rochester
Kent
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General Cleaning

Sitting stroking your collection for long periods of time can lead to a dirty build-up on your games. Of course, there are also other ways for a game to get dirty over time, but none as common. Thankfully, Eric Arneson has produced a guide to cleaning games.

http://boardgames.about.com/cs/collectinggames/ht/clean_game...

Another brief guide has been written by Bruce Whitehill, which includes advice on how to clean up metal and plastic, as well as some useful tips for other repairs.

http://www.thebiggamehunter.com/_mgxroot/page_10766.html

How about those pesky crayon marks? Gecko23 says:

"Cheap, harder crayons leave marks that sometimes can be scraped off easily, otherwise, heat to soften the wax, then pressing it with a paper towel or such might lift most of it. There's also a commercial product called 'Crayon-a-gone' that supposedly will remove crayon marks without hurting anything else."

okiedokie has commented below and given some more helpful advice:

"Removing grease pencil used by thrift stores can be accomplished using a kneaded eraser. Knead the eraser to a soft consistency and then lightly wipe the grease pencil, constantly rotating the eraser in order to use a fresh part of the eraser. If you rub too hard you may remove the graphic."

Thanks!
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4. Board Game: Ticker Tape [Average Rating:6.64 Unranked]
Jack H.
United Kingdom
Rochester
Kent
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Tape and Stickers

As many thrift shoppers will know, some games can be covered in a pile of increasingly browning adhesive tape, the result of a past attempts to repair damaged boxes, or as protection. AndrewPetty knows this problem well:

"I sometimes spend a lot of time removing tape from boxes (sometimes ebay sellers tape the box shut), or remove tape from repaired corners so that I can glue them (or remove price tags). A really good solvent is Lighter fluid (it does however contain a toxic substance I think called Napthol, just be aware of that). The best thing to do is just soak the taped area and wait a little and slowly work the tape off from the edges, sometimes you need to add more solvent as you go and usually, much of the adhesive will remain on the box which needs to be further worked and wiped off with more solvent. This can get messy but I have successfully removed tape from a completely taped box with very minimal facing damage. If the tape was recently applied it might just come off without solvent but if it has been on there for any length of time it will tear the facing if you try to remove it (anyone that collects any papergoods knows all about lighter fluid, pretty much essential). Another thing is that it will look like the lighter fluid is staining the box, this stain in almost all cases will completely evaporate, in some cases it may leave a slight stain but this is pretty rare. I have taken some pretty beat looking boxes, all split with old tape everywhere and made them pretty solid and presentable. It's fun!!!"

We'll take your word for it, Andrew.
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5. Board Game: Warp Out [Average Rating:5.50 Unranked]
Jack H.
United Kingdom
Rochester
Kent
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Warped Board

What makes a board game a board game? (Or is that a boardgame?) Many would argue that a board does. Sometimes, however, that board can resemble the stormy atlantic more accurately than one would like. Warping! Sometimes it comes warped straight out of the box, sometimes later. So what can you do when your favourite copy of Star Trek Monopoly goes into warp?

Let us heed the wise words of bookgnome:

"From my background in Bookbinding, I can tell you that any of the stiff board used for boardgames with an adhesive and a printed paper attached can have a potential to warp depending on humidity. It's a matter of one side expanding against the other side that doesn't. If you get two big thick half-inch plywood boards, about three feet by four feet, you can sandwich any game board between them using a large sheet of felt on both sides to protect the board from the wood surface, then use any heavy weights (books, concrete blocks) placed evenly across the top board and leave it undisturbed for a week or so. That will allow the humidity to dry up or even out. Some issues that may affect boards are the level of humidity in the adhesives, which may not be completely dry before they are shrinkwrapped in the boxes, or it may be that the relative humidity where you store the boards differs significantly from where they were produced. in any case, pressing between plywood boards as I've described is the same thing you do in bookbinding to straighten book board that warps for the same reason."

Putting them under a weight seems a popular solution as mvonahnen attests:

"I have "repaired" many warped boards by letting them set long term under heavy objects. I had a Gettysburg board that was soaked, complements of America West Airlines. I thought it was hopeless, so I put it under my stack of games in the closet and forgot about it. Cleaning out the closet, I found it and it was perfectly flat. Try putting it under 2 or 3 heavy games, or part of the ASL rule set and you will be fine."

However, this method is not universally popular. Enter rochs77:

"I've found that the gentle backbend a few times before each session is the best way to go. I have had no luck whatsoever laying boards under heavy objects, even for long periods of time. If you could lay the board under some heavy objects with some sort of a very slight backbend, that might work."
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6. Board Game: The Big Board [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Jack H.
United Kingdom
Rochester
Kent
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Split Board

Boards can be big! They might be so big that they have to include some way of folding to get them into that small box sitting neatly upon your shelf. Unfortunetly all that feverish opening and closing of your board can leave to a board split. So what can you do do about this, AKARed?

"What you want to do is go to a framing or art supply store and buy Lineco brand Archival quality Linen Hinging Tape. There are two kinds that will work -- the Self-Adhesive kind, where you just pull off the release paper to expose the adhesive, apply and burnish (smooth out with a flat implement or thumbnail) or the stronger, water-activated kind, where you use a damp sponge to wet the back of the tape and then apply and burnish. If the game has a very large, heavy board, you might want to use the water-activated kind because it is a coarser texture, heavier weight tape. But if it's kind of average size, the self-adhesive type will work fine. Both are pH neutral, archival quality used by professional artists and framers and should do the trick."

If you can't get hold of archival tape Arcadian Del Sol suggests an alternative:

"Find a home improvement supply shop that sells wallpaper, and get any kind of SELF-ADHESIVE black vinyl (i.e. the kind you dont have to use a bucket of paste on, just water). Cut a piece that is large enough to cover half of the entire board and apply it to the underside of the board."

GeoMan sagely suggests it may be better to use Self-Adhesive tape on older boards that are not coated as water-based solutions may cause problems (for example, paper separation from the board).
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7. Board Game: Puzzle Struggle [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Jack H.
United Kingdom
Rochester
Kent
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Layered Cardboard

In my youth I used to play Advanced Heroquest a lot, mainly by myself, as I had few friends. The lovely interlocking corridors soon began to peel apart in my grubby little fingers, especially where they interlocked. What can I do to prevent this horrifying experience reoccuring, apart from improving my social skills?

"Using a cotton swab, dab white glue around the edges. This will help seal the cardboard layers together at the edge. As a preventative measure for the pieces in the Doom boardgame, or other interlocking pieces, try this around the 'puzzled' edge as they will take the most abuse."

Thanks jstahl, but what if they are peeling apart already? Will the same technique work?

"Regular PVA glue will do the trick nicely. Some commercial names 'Elmer's School Glue', 'Aileen's Tacky Glue'. Yellow wood glue is the same stuff as well. Just apply enough in the split area to cover it lightly, press it into place, and use a damp qtip/paper towel/etc to clean up any that squeezes out. Set a book on it and let it dry for a few hours. The most important part is to apply it lightly, you only need enough in there to make sure both faces get wetted."

Great, Gecko23!
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8. Board Game: The Playing Card Kit [Average Rating:8.50 Unranked]
Jack H.
United Kingdom
Rochester
Kent
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Cleaning Playing Cards

Tightly clenched between sweaty, sticky fingers and thumb, passed around from person to person, or maybe even forcefully discarded; it's amazing what my girlfriend has to put up with. But this also happens on a regular basis to certain components of our beloved games: cards.

thatmarkguy and Kharnik have a simple solution for some varieties:

"Any cards with a white border can be cleaned up well with an eraser."

Colorado_Jeff prefers a more advanced, and probably more successful, technique:

"Magicians use a product they call "fanning powder" which when applied, cleans the grime from cards, and makes them slick again. Talcum powder (baby powder) is not a good substitute. Magic shops sell small quantities for high prices. If you go to a pharmacy, you should be able to get a jar large enough to last a lifetime for about $15.00 or so...It's called "Zinc Stearate." I go through over a dozen decks a month, each deck getting cleaned a few times before being thrown out, and the jar I use I've had for nearly 5 years."

thoia found this information:

"Zinc stearate is insoluble in polar solvents, but well soluble in aromatic compounds and chlorinated hydrocarbons when heated. Zinc Stearate is a zinc soap that repels water, insoluble in alcohol, ether, soluble in benzene. It is the most powerful mold release agent among all metal soaps. It contains no electrolyte and has hydrophobic effect. Its main application areas are the plastics and rubber industry where they are used as releasing agents and lubricants which can be easily incorporated."

However, this method uses household products instead. generalpf wrote:

"Dryer sheets, dude. Works awesome. And if you use scented dryer sheets, your cards will smell like a spring meadow."

Thanks, that tip's just awesome, dude. Lisa (Bookworm) gave it a go:

"I tried this tonight on some of our Settlers cards. They are approximately 10+ years old and as we were packing up the game after a play, I ran my hand across a card, commented to my husband that I should really try that suggestion I saw on The Geek. 5 minutes later I'm polishing & shining the cards, picking through the deck for the worst ones and being amazed at how well this trick works. Thanks guys! I would never have thought of using dryer sheets in this manner. The things one learns on The Geek amaze me!"

Sometimes they amaze me too, Lisa.
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9. Board Game: He Broke the Mold [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
 
Jack H.
United Kingdom
Rochester
Kent
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Mould/Mold

Mould! Known as mold to our vowel deficient American cousins. The scourge of all things organic! Arggh! Panic! What do we do? Over to the State Library of Victoria, Australia:

"The most important thing to do before all else is to deal with mould-affected material as quickly as possible to limit the damage caused and to prevent contamination of other material. Isolate the material prior to treatment by moving it to a dry place. If mouldy items are dry, store them in sealed plastic bags while awaiting treatment. (Inactive mould is dry and powdery.) If mouldy items are damp or wet: remove them to a well ventilated isolated area, rest them on shelving or surfaces protected by waste paper, and allow to dry. Fans will help the drying process. Materials that feel cool or show evidence of moisture need further drying time.

When items are dry, clean the mouldy surface thoroughly with a soft brush. This should be done in a fume cupboard or in the open air. Before reshelving the treated material, make sure that the collection material and the storage area are clean and completely dry. Shelves should be cleaned with hot soapy water, rinsed and allowed to dry completely. Monitor the affected material after the mould clean-up to check for new outbreaks.

Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to remove stains caused by mould, as the stains are unaffected by 'safe' stain removal methods. Mould stains are usually permanent."

Here on the Geek Chrysophylax offers this advice:

"We repair books damaged by mold/mildew in this method. should work for most game boards and give you ideas of what to do with any other game pieces that are damaged. If it's damp or wet, use blotting paper or paper towels. (For a book, we'd put 2-3 between each page.) Find some heavy books or bricks and wrap them in an absorbent cloth (or towel with as little texture as possible.) Place these wrapped weights on top of the game while it is drying to prevent warping. Some warping will still occur, but this will at least minimize it. Actually, whatever drying method you use (be it hairdryer or sun), if it is a paper or board surface you are drying you should weight it down with this method after drying to help prevent that warping. Once dry (or if it was already dry) then dust any loose mildew residue or mold off with a brush. As others stated, you would want to use denatured alcohol or hydrogen peroxide of some sort to kill the mold/mildew. Don't pour it on, but apply it to a cloth or cotton swab and lightly brush the area. Have another dry cloth ready to blot the surface dry.. and dry as above with weights again. Now, you probably still have some dark mildew stains which can be further removed with lemon juice or a dilution of peroxide bleach. Apply these very sparingly, as they can further damage the surface.. but if used properly, they can revitalize it back to good condition. Dry again.. use direct sunlight if you use the lemon juice, but don't let it sit too long or you will get further bleaching damage from the sunlight."
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10. Board Game: Frag Miniatures [Average Rating:6.87 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.87 Unranked]
Jack H.
United Kingdom
Rochester
Kent
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Snapped Miniatures

Swords, spears, halbards, billhooks, etc... all these pointy things look just great when we're playing with our toys games. But these great looking protuberances love to snap off rather quickly as soon as the kids get their hands on them.

Luckily the web provides a huge amount of information on repairing broken miniatures. First of all there's glue to consider:

http://www.stephane.info/show.php?code=glue_guide

Super glue, or Cyanoacrylate, is probably the most popular option, certainly the favourite of KakarisMaelstrom:

"Having built somewhere in the range of 25,000 miniatures, I recommend regular (not gel) superglue. I'd suggest just going to Wal-Mart and getting the cheapest regular superglue you can find. Duro is generally what I use but as long as it's not gel, it'll work fine for you."

Whatever glue you use, the general message is apply it carefully!

If your miniature's appendages keep falling off and you have the time and equipment you could try pinning it. This complicated surgical procedure is outlined here:

http://www.totalmodels.co.uk/workshop/pages/workshop_324.sht...
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11. Board Game: Bent Outta Shape [Average Rating:5.75 Unranked]
Jack H.
United Kingdom
Rochester
Kent
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Bent Miniatures

You've opened the box, examined the rules in minute detail, but something just ain't right. Perhaps it's just you, or maybe it's those heavy cavalry miniatures, with impossibly flexible legs.

Due to their over-enthusiastic packaging of a recently released game, a certain company saw fit to release their own guidance on this issue.

English: http://blog.battlelore.com/bent/en
Français: http://blog.battlelore.com/tordu/fr/
Deutsch: http://blog.battlelore.com/verbogen/de/

If you're lucky, like kvn299, you won't even need to bend your figures.

"As I started the process, I noticed something I hadn't expected: simply placing the figures into the hot water fixed the problem. With only about 4 exceptions, I didn't need to take each figure, bend it into shape, then hold it in cold water. The figures REMEMBERED their original form! Simply placing them into very hot water, waiting for a few seconds, then putting them into cold water fixed the problem. No fuss no muss."

dakarp offers some more helpful tips and a variation on the method:

"You'll know that the figure is getting hot enough because you won't have to "over-bend" it much--you should be able bend it where you want it to go, and it should stay, with the help of the cold water. The other way to do this is by heating the figures with a hairdryer. This may be more dangerous--I've never had anything melt on me, but I could imagine it happening if I wasn't careful. Check all of the figures, and pay particular attention to figures leaning near the bases. If you miss one, you can also straighten it later in the process with a hairdryer and no cold water, but that won't work as well."

Some of you brave fellows may want to try this method. Personally I think it's a recipe for disaster.

"Use the same idea with the Microwave also. Nuke 'em for about 25-30 seconds depending on the output of the unit. Then pull them out and dunk 'em in cold water and that should do it. Although I did use it once on a lttle longer time scale and had pile o' trooper."

Congratulations, dawldrguy1010 from the WOTC boards, you are a madman.
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12. Board Game: The Art Game [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Jack H.
United Kingdom
Rochester
Kent
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The Bad Paint Job

I added this item to the Geeklist after reading petegrey's comment below, about the removal of paint from miniatures. I recently opened my copy of tyranid attack after many, many, years and, oh boy, my paint skills were not as I remembered. Those miniatures have enough blotchy acrylic paint on them to cover the Eiffel Tower.

Luckily, with the help of this link, I know how to remove this lurid mess. A sordid evening of stripping awaits.

http://www.paintingclinic.com/clinic/guestarticles/removingp...

Also on the same site are two experiments relating to chemical paint strippers:

http://www.paintingclinic.com/clinic/guestarticles/removingp...
http://www.paintingclinic.com/clinic/guestarticles/removingp...

These people have far too much time on their hands.
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13. Board Game: Dark Tower [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1810]
Jack H.
United Kingdom
Rochester
Kent
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The Tower

Boys! Problems with your tower? No need for pills with this site, offering advice on how to solve any "towering" problems you may have!

http://gamepart.com/articles/html/Repair_Your_Dark_Tower_Hel...
http://gamepart.com/articles/html/Dark_Tower_Flag_Repair.htm...

Thank you, folks at gamepart.com.
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14. Board Game: Smokey [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Jack H.
United Kingdom
Rochester
Kent
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Close your eyes and imagine, just for one second, that exquisite excitement when you receive an eagerly awaited E-Bay delivery. The doorbell rings, and your friendly local postman stands there with a tightly wrapped parcel in his manly grasp. You thank him kindly and, with sweaty exuberance, rip your purchase from its protective layer. With baited breath you open the lid. Suddenly, horror upon horrors, a horrifying stench overpowers you. The game reeks of the devil's weed. Yes, that precious game comes from the abode of nothing less than a.... SMOKER!

Okay, now you're stuck with the sordid stench, what can you do about it?

Gecko 23 suggests, "If just airing it out doesn't work, try baking soda. Just find an airtight container big enough for all the bits to be spread out in (a trashbag will work as well), toss in some baking soda, cover with paper towels, put in the bits and close it up. It can take a couple of weeks if the bits are really stinky."

I reiterate, if your bits are really stinky, it may take a couple of weeks to get that smell away. WalkeRedEye agrees:

"yup baking soda or even common or garden salt at a pinch"

Another suggestion from skelebone:

"I don't have any experience with this myself, but I believe others have said that dryer sheets in the box can help with musty and smoky smells. Perhaps if the box can hold it, could you perhaps put a box of baking soda in it (one of the refrigerator/cabinet boxes with the cloth sides that allow you to expose more baking soda to the environment)"

Although this didn't work for Bop517:

"I tried the dryer sheets in the box with my musty smelling copy of Logistico. Didn't really work for my situation. It had the dryer sheet smell with an underlaying smell of must. Ug. Reminded me of a person who doesn't bathe and just drowns themselves in perfume/cologne."

And even more ideas (thank you mrbeankc):

"The smoke smell will actually go away in time. if you want to quicken the process up I've heard of a number of home remedies over the years that are suppose to help. Some of these are remedies in dealing with collectable items suffering from smoke smells but can be tried with games I'm sure. These include...

(1) Crumple up newspaper inside the box for two days.

(2) Spray the inside of the box very lightly with Fabreeze

(3) Put a used fabric softener sheet inside the box for a day or so

(4) Put a slice of apple in the box for 24 hours

(5) fresh coffee grounds (don't get them wet)"

And some links from various sources:

http://www.hoteldesigns.co.uk/industrynews/news_1932.html
http://www.ehow.com/how_3764_remove-odors.html
http://www.88stink.com/
http://www.bookdeodorizer.com/

If these don't work, why not take Billtje's advice and, "start smoking yourself and you'll never have this kind of issue again."
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