James Hunt's Grand Prix Racing Game is another Denys Fisher Toys licensed IP curio from the mid-1970s based on the (fleetingly successful) career of Brit Formula One 'gentleman hero' (and 1976 World Champion)
Chris HemsworthJames Hunt*.
The genre is, of course, mightily-stuffed with product and seems to have developed from/morphed out of the pre-1960s obsession with animal (horse, greyhound) racing: roaring engines, testosterone and fabulous speeds being the order of a young lad's gaming day.
The wrinkle with JH is the playing out of the 'speedometer' cards which also have tie-break/forced pit-stop elements in the smaller dial combinations.
Sequential playing out of an appropriate card at the right place on the course - avoiding the clichéd snakes and ladders - and tucking inside / tactical blocking being the key.
The only BGG comment is rather cruel:
"Car boot 50p acquisition. Not very impressive"
There seems to be a little bit more than the usual roll-and-move - despite being held to the luck of one's draw - in that speed is just the tie-break for who moves between 1 and 6 spaces: so you can 'win' the round with a 60MPH 'play' and move the same as winning it with a 170mph play. And 50p is pretty good value for a smartly-presented piece of history from the UK's infamous "long, hot Summer"**.
*also, for the longest time, a key element of Cockney rhyming slang.
Life and Games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Dad, Husband and Independent UK Game Designer.
Archive for History of Games
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18 Jun 2021
A trio of fighty things for the Museum's stock this week:
Confrontation - numbered just 2341 in the BGG database, so one one of the earliest residents here - has large hex tiles and all-the-rage 1970s plastic pieces (including the 'bullets' familiar from other games in the same period):
For a fuller overview, I'll point you HERE but, in summary, it's a written order area-controller with a pre-programming element: Robo-rally meets Diplomacy!
This one has a pretty good reputation and even has an article to itself in The Games & Puzzles Book of Modern Board Games - I already have the book but a photocopy of the article came with the game as well.
More recognisable - but not the one you might think it of - is this 1980s movie tie-in from Parker:
Dune (no.680 in the db!) is a family-friendly beat-each-other-up summarised as follows:Quote:Based on the movie, this version of Dune features photos of the stars on pawns divided into teams of three. Each character has its own strength and guile values.Like Confrontation, this looks to be eminently-playable by a modern audience; indeed, 'The Contrarian' provides an optimistic review HERE.
Players can move around the outer desert spaces to harvest monetary units of spice or can move around the inner castle spaces to build up strength.
Players can use spice to buy random equipment cards, spice harvesters, or extra boosts of guile when under attack. Players can also invest in the craps-like commodity markets that pay off on certain dice rolls.
The artwork is slick, the rules are relatively simple...and games go fairly quickly since all fights are to the death
This copy is a very clean copy - likely never played - and still has a publisher's advertising leaflet (likely never unfolded!):
Look at what else the discerning sci-fi fan could get their hands on - Part 1: Care Bears?! Cabbage Patch Kids?!
Look at what else the discerning sci-fi fan could get their hands on! - Part 2: More 'traditional' on this side.
For the last item, I was pointed to an eBay auction for the board, only, for the Dennis Wheatley game I'm missing: Invasion. A second copy, sans pieces, is also currently 'on its way' to Newent (thanks to the generosity of blog reader Alexander Freudenthal), so I have a backup as well:
A deliciously-detailed map; however, the city names cheapen the "serious military atmosphere" somewhat:
Manur? Lizzie? Spit and Polish? Canobier?!
All told, here's one for the (look but don't touch) display cabinet and a couple for 'open table play' shelves in the MoBGaG.
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Yesterday, I nipped into Newent during my lunch break to finally get a look inside my preferred location for the Museum in The Shambles 'arcade':
That splendid display window:
The unit is the first thing you see when you enter the courtyard from the main street - this is a Good ThingTM - and is plenty big enough to get started. At the moment it's full of all sorts of survivalist gear and Vape refills...but that's all going to be moved out by the end of the month, making way for me to:
a) tidy up;
b) re-touch the paintwork;
c) open up the display window to be a mini exhibit room; and,
d) move my shit in!
Now the search is seriously on for some display cabinets or - at the very least - sturdy, level shelves that I can affix perspex sheets to! And, of course, I must return my attention to the Patreon pages...
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If there's one thing worse than chasing after a very rare board game, it's realising that there are TWO versions of it available! More often than not, it's a different implementation/skin for the US and UK markets though (sometimes) a tweak to the theme itself leads to the separation.
I'd already known that Astron had an aeroplane version and a space version:
Recently acquired from a recently-departed gentleman's collection with the blessing of his wife & daughter.
In the case of Ship Ahoy, it was hard enough finding the UK edition...to then discover there was a US version too:
Aside from the packaging, the boards themselves were unique:
The presence of all of the player pieces is also a scarcity measure: still retaining full sets of yachts, planes and Buck Rogers-esque spaceships after 60-80 years? Wow!
Finally, both games are BIG buggers to store and display, even before you consider doubling each one up!
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The problem with acquiring a game that is almost 100 years old is that, oftentimes, it's going to demonstrably show its age; only on the rarest occasions will something designed for leisure - for being played with by children! - have been used carefully, stored safely and make it down the decades relatively un-scathed. More usually: corners will be impacted, flaps torn, water stains on the cardboard/layer separation, box warping, missing inserts, snapped lead pieces, creased cards and dust - lots of dust.
If you're lucky, each piece will tick some of these signs of maturity; if you're not, it'll tick the whole bloody lot:
In this instance, for my fifteen quid, I've got a shed/garage/attic-stored copy of The Game of Tilting the Bucket from Glevum Games that sadly displays all of the put-aside-and-forgotten tropes:
It's even got the wrong rules (with a layer of dried mud upon them) and those Disney character cut-outs are deffo not part of the original component list.
From a repair perspective, a good box-top wash with some alcohol/lighter fluid might bring the wonderful cover art back to life; a damp cloth to get rid of the detritus and throwing away the 'wrong bits'. The box-bottom is the wooden board, so that's unscathed but the top may require judicious pruning: save one good corner, then, and remove the rest to stop continued 'snagging' and tearing. It's not possible to save it all but, I am sure, we can save the best bits of it!
One wonders how many more lofts and outbuildings remain with items like this hidden away in them; certainly folk are more savvy nowadays when it comes to antiques - and, mortality-reenforcingly, objects that would've been regarded as modern tat (and, therefore, only suitable for the bin) when I was a child are now the realm of the 'serious collector'.
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Ah: War of the Daleks - one of the harder-to-find Strawberry Fayre (Denys Fisher Toys) 1970s outputs and, if we're honest, pretty much the only Doctor Who-franchised game that anyone gives a Timelord's Ticklish Testicle about*.
It comes in a bloody huge (rather heavy) box; most of its heft seemingly-attributable to a giant rotating disc under the board - see the video at the end!
Roll and move and spin the 'Control Centre' and exterminate your fellows and then have a pop at the CC to win.
It's Ludo with a sprinkle of Pacman's ghosts; if the Dalek's exterminating rod touches your standee, you must go back to the Start.
And, like The Fastest Gun, it's the spinning board that adds the saving wrinkle. No matter how rubbish your luck with the dice, at least you can make the whole apparatus pirouette like the Bolshoi! There's also a couple of 'gun' chits you can deploy as 'Immunity spaces' ahead of you OR, in direst need / most fortuitous circumstance, as Dalek-destroying one-shots.
The epic physicality of games of this period lend them a real affection in our memories; while millions wish to forget the ill-temper of Monopoly, many others go misty-eyed at the thought of the sinking Titanic in Abandon Ship, navigating a Haunted House, the viewer in Up Periscope or the floating weather system in Bermuda Triangle!
How delightfully-silly: a bit like Doctor Who themself.
*apart from, perhaps, the collectible card game from the 1990s that ended up in a remaindered bookshop outlet in Cheltenham. By the time I'd seen the bits in the window display someone had bought THEIR ENTIRE STOCK - we're talking a couple of pallets' worth!
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01 Jun 2021
It's been a couple of weeks since Ziggy and I circuited the fair town of Newent - preferring, instead, the sheltered-but-slippy woodland topography - so, with the sun hidden-but-still-baking behind a thin layer of cloud, we set off on a favourite course: up to Acorn Woods (at the bottom of May Hill), across to (and behind) the International Birds of Prey Centre, following the stream between the endless orchards and home again.
Obviously, the familiar paths have become trenches amid the swaying crops. Ziggy chasing a bird or an imagined rabbit into the green wheat and then yipping/bouncing his way back to me for a biscuit and/or a refreshing rollabout in the soft grass.
The bare hedgerows, the muddy ponds in the fields and the skeletonized trees have burgeoned with vegetation and present new horizons; I force-march the gradients to get the heart pumping and the legs working.
Long walks are good for the soul but, according to Chad Valley Co Ltd., they're not quite everything:
CV - like Gloucester's Glevum Games - were pretty damn huge in the early-to-mid 20th century; the tail-end of their story - the modern bit - is rather cheap and plastic-y, though. Still, I'm sure my own collection of their desirable wares us but a scratch.
The chunky spinner is a surprise - I'd have expected a die or two - and, given this edition isn't in the BGG database, it's likely it is a replacement for lost components:
A different Pilgrim's Progress entry, here, mentions a spinner with multiple results on each 'edge', which reminded me of the WW2 dice replacements you can find:
I fear I may have lost the Moral Compass necessary for successfully-traversing this map; I'll stick to fields and trees and streams, thanks.Quote:Aside: Having recently become re-obsessed with The Beatles' white album ('The Beatles'), how serendipitous that Mother Nature's Son has just popped on to play as I wind up this post!
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From 'the Pedia':Quote:Dennis Yeats Wheatley (8th January, 1897 to 10th November, 1977) was an English writer whose prolific output of thrillers and occult novels made him one of the world's best-selling authors from the 1930s through the 1960s. His Gregory Sallust series was one of the main inspirations for Ian Fleming's James Bond stories.
Not content with churning out fiction - which, in my memory, had photos of animal skulls, dribbly candles and satanically-robed virgin on the covers - he also signed his name to a trio of board games: Invasion, Blockade and Alibi.
Copies of two, of the three, are now in my possession:Quote:Blockade is played with multi-shaped wooden pieces representing Naval Formations, Air Units, Submarines and Cargo Ships on a six-color map. Victory consists of capturing or sinking all enemy Merchant Shipping so that the enemy is completely blockaded and cannot obtain further supplies from Neutral sources.
The Map shows four countries (two sets of paired enemies). The land war between them is considered to be locked in a Maginot Line type of stalemate so the battle hinges on the war at sea. The map has 32 ports (5 in each warring country and 12 on the coasts of the neutrals).
Each country has a different starting mix of units (for example Leoland is high in Naval Formations and Adlerreich has the most submarines). The player round consists of moving all your cargo ships 1 space then rolling the dice and moving your units. A player may make a single air attack instead of moving any naval units. The air units have unlimited range and the number required to make an attack is based on the target. Losses are also based on the target and are automatic (for example it takes 4 air units to attack a naval formation and 2 air units are automatically lost).
A merchant ship can join a naval formation and create a convoy for more protection. Naval combat consists of a surprise attack (by submarines) and open attacks between naval formations. The surprise attack can be triggered by a roll of 8 or higher and an open attack requires the player to spend 1 or 2 pips of the dice roll.Quote:The Alibi rule book outlines a detailed scenario in which a murder has taken place and one of six infamous criminals must be to blame. The players are detectives and move around a map of Britain and in various towns get to look at one of the cards which may help provide an alibi for one of the suspects, advance the investigation further or merely cause a delay. When enough information has been gathered a player can race back to the town the murderer is in and arrest him to win. Nice system which ensures it plays differently each time. Includes metal detective figures.
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A year ago now, I snagged myself an 1880s delicacy and was ever so pleased to have done so: HERE
Last week, I found another copy of Betts's Tour Through England and Wales but, this, time it was much more than just the map: it was the whole dang package!
The pot and some bits for it's sister game Betts's Tour Through Europe (curr. about 350 quid on the web)
And, of course, the map itself:
Still a thing of beauty and a joy forever:
Of course, I don't have a copy of 'Europe' but I've got the most perishable/lose-able bits of it so that's positive; ultimately, I'd better start saving up now - eh?
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This kind of things snags my attention IMMEDIATELY and pushes the "I must have it!" button: so hard that it often figuratively pops out of it's metaphorical housing:
A lovely addition to my now-significant Train Games Exhibit*.
As a brief sojourn into ogling another pretty box, this is all well-and-good but if I'm going to run a museum then I'm going to need a little more information...cue: this week's additional (essential) acquisition:
Geographically, Glevum Games - makers of the above - are practically my neighbours: the locations mentioned in this biography/catalogue entirely familiar to me!
This 500+ page tome is rich in archive materials, photographs, scans and assorted appendices BUT the history bit is remarkably sparse: very little is actually known about the Roberts brothers! For a company that operated at the height of its powers - nationally and internationally - for 60 years, the biography barely stretches to 20 pages!
In, perhaps, the most interesting section of the Intro, there is a long discussion about how Glevum products might be identified/verified: though the 'Logo' only occasionally appeared on the box, more often than not all you'd get was a "Made in England" motif and a tell-tale 'shiny red paper-covered box'.
Of course, nothing escapes 'credit' on a game nowadays: the publisher, the designer, the artist, the DTP operator, the bloke who tops up the ink on the print rollers, 'God' and so on. Not for us the pleasure of 'Detective work' or 'Research' or 'Just not knowing at all'!
Back to Railway Race: the book makes my heart simultaneously sing and sink because there isn't just 'one' RR product but many variations on a theme - box size, box art, box colour, map layout and player pieces. Even the print colour of the rule sheet that gets pasted on the inside of the lid can vary between editions!
And MY copy - square box, blue paper - isn't shown in the book at all!
Of course, as a document of the output of a significant player in Household Recreation for the British Empire (!), the book taunts me as a checklist of stuff I still need to find.
*It is still a source of great bewilderment that my local heritage railway doesn't even return my emails when I offer them stock for ludological exhibition: go figure?!
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