Back in the 1960s there was an explosion of bizarre and creative toys available. The Baby Boom was still in full swing and toy safety laws were still a decade away.
Some of the weirdest and most memorable board games of the era came from a toy company known as Transogram. Among their most gimmicky games were Green Ghost and Ka-Bala (yes, a board game based on Jewish Mysticism and Tarot). Transogram was also a pioneer of pointless licensing, releasing board games based on almost every television show from the 1960s that you can think of…Dragnet, The Monkees, Hogans Heroes, Jonny Quest, Perry Mason…the list in endless. Transogram is a topic for a whole future edition of The PopCult Toybox.
But it was those funky weird games with three-dimensional boards and oddball gimmicks that stick with people. It wasn’t just Transogram. We had Mousetrap, Voice of the Mummy (early 1970s, but still cool), Mystery Date, Tip-It, Ka-Boom, Rock-em Sock-em Robots, Connect Four..the type of games with loads of visual appeal (and maybe not so much play value after the novelty wears off).
While many of those games still exist, it seems like it’s been quite some time since we’ve had a boom in this type of gimmicky board games with big plastic components and an appeitite for batteries. One company seems to be intent on bringing back the era of goofball plastic board games.
Fotorama is a toy company that’s been around over fifty years, but they didn’t enter the US and Canadian toy market until 2011. After decades as one of Central America’s most successful toy makers, they decided to take on the world’s largest consumer market, and they’re doing it with toys that are a throwback to an earlier time, when everything looked really cool in the TV commercials.
This year Fotorama has the following games in US stores:
Zed The Zombie has been heavily advertised during the Halloween season. Basically, kids race against the clock to reassemble the pieces of Zed, who just can’t seem to keep himself together. If you don’t get all the pieces on Zed before the timer runs out, he shakes apart.
Hey, what kid doesn’t like to play in the commode? FLUSH, “a game full of fun and surprises,” according to the sales literature lets kids race against the clock and other players picking up creatures with your magnetic plunger before the toilet flushes. Yes, folks, it’s the game of toilet-fishing, only in reverse. You’re flushing creatures down the toilet. Teaches kids valuable lessons. .
BRAINWASHED is a game where kids wear a water-filled brain cap, which is attached to a pump. They take turns pumping until one of the “bursts,” showering the player with water. With a little licensing, this could be called “Scanners: The Game.”
JOHNNY THE SKULL, according to the Fotorama website, is “an arcade-like game, for kids of all ages who enjoy shooting at ghosts that are projected on the walls and ceiling.” Aside from teaching the rather iffy skill set of shooting at visions, this electronic game sounds like fun. A spinning skull projects “ghosts” on the wall, and then you shoot them with the provided light pistol. Not for use with real guns.
DEMOLITION SMASH CARS is a game where you smash cars into each other and watch the parts fly off. It’s sort of like the old SST Demolition Derby cars. I sorta want this.
PIGOUT PETE, a bizarre-looking character who moves around the room making gross and funny sounds, before he throws up. Kids then have to play a matching game with the vomit before he throws up again. And parents, before you ask, yes, this game does make judicious use of plastic “gunk” slime.
This is just handful of the games offered by Fotorama. While I’m poking fun at them here, the idea is fun. It’s great to see new, yet old-school board games being offered to warp the minds of today’s youth. You can find these games at local toy stores or at Amazon.