Monday, October 29, 2007


Today, I fell in love.

With cardboard.

Like many comic book readers, I'm just a big boy at heart. And boys love their toys (like Heroclix, although this isn't a Heroclix post). Today in the mail I received one of my favorite toys from my boyhood: the Wacky Races Board Game (1969) from Milton Bradley.

Surprisingly, the game mechanics aren't bad.
It's a kind of a more sophisticated version of the game "Sorry".

Oh, how I loved the Wacky Races (and its related shows Dastardly & Muttley in their Flying Machines and The Perils of Penelope Pitstop)! A recent incident reminded of that, and in doing some on-line research about the shows, I stumbled across of copy of the board game for sale, for a reasonable price.
Muttley seems to have dyed his ears blond for this cover; must have been summer.

I didn't hesitate. I didn't even think about it. My nostalgia-ganglia autonomously caused my hand to click on the PayPal button. And, today, when I opened the package, and lifted the lid of the game, I gasped: it had never been played. The gamepieces hadn't yet been punched out of the placards they come in. A heart-stopping surprise! Fortunately, I was revived by the dog licking my face after I fainted.

Now, all this has nothing to do with comics per se, but it does lead me to some related questions.

(1) This item might have very well have been, say, a Batman toy. For example, I remember having cardboard cut-out playsets of Batman characters and props (the Red Phone and the Grandfather Clock stand out in my memory), a playset I cannot, after years of trying, even identify, let alone find a copy of. Surely, each one of you reading this has such a comic book toy you'd adore to have again, or even to know it still exists somewhere. If so... what is it?

(2) I cannot fathom under what circumstance a completely pristine copy of this boardgame sat, unused, unowned, un-anything for nearly 30 years without any damage. It's as if The Island of Misfit Toys shelters these gems for decades until the time for them to return to our world to be adored comes again. How does that happen?


Cameltrooper said...

I love that old MB sidebar on their boxes. Brings back so many memories.

So I take it you've already played a few games then?

For me the toy is the old batman mego figure that had magnetic clasps on its hands and legs. It brings me right back to my childhood visiting my grandfather in Amman :)

Cameltrooper said...

Ahhhh here it is. The toy at the top. Isn't that cute. He's holding his young ward's hand :)

I even miss the packaging. And no Scip. I took it out and played with it.

Cameltrooper said...

I took it out and played with it.

Uhm. You all realize I was talking about the toy right? Right?

Anonymous said...

You didn't... GASP... punch the pieces out?! Ack!

I'd love to have my Captain Action stuff again--my folks got me all the superhero accessories. I'm sure those turn up fairly regularly. I just haven't looked for them. Yet.

Non-comics related, the original Mattel Thingmaker and Hot Wheels Car Factory are toys I miss and can't explain to anyone under 40. The new Thingmakers stink.

Scipio said...

"So I take it you've already played a few games then?"

No, I'm just perceiving how it plays by reading the rules.

And, no, I didn't punch the pieces out; that photo is not of the one of I bought.

I wanted to play, but I can't bring myself (yet) to punch out the pieces. But as Woody the Cowboy reminds us, "Toys are meant to be played with"...

Anonymous said...

It isn't a toy, but I think it definitely counts.

Back when I was around five or six, I decided it was time to claim the turf that was my room by putting up some cool posters that would prove to anyone who came into it that I was a manly, manly little dude. Of course, I lacked the funds to facilitate my plans, so I had no choice but to ask my mother to buy me the kind of poster I had in mind.

"I want a superhero," I insisted. "Like Batman or Superman!" (Even back then I was a DC loyalist, although by "Batman" and "Superman", I actually meant Adam West and Christopher Reeve). Being a kind, caring woman, she decided to humor my request and promised that the next time she went shopping she would return with just such an item.

Unfortunately, her definition of a "superhero" was far more liberated than the one I believed in at that early age. She did indeed return with a poster of a heroic icon of the DC universe, but to my horror it was an enormous photograph of Lynda Carter decked out in full Wonder Woman regalia.

I was shocked that my mother didn't realize that I couldn't put up a picture of a...a...girl in my room. What would my friends say? They might think I was a girl! But despite my protests she insisted on taping it up on my wall and there the voluptuous Amazon spent the next two years staring at me while I slept, waiting for enough time to pass before I could "accidentally" rip her off the wall and have her replaced with something that wouldn't make my peers question my gender.

Now that I'm an adult, I still haven't completely abandoned the notion that posters are the perfect decorative shorthand to define my personality to any stranger who might happen into my home--although now I insist that these posters are "art" and waste an unfortunate amount of my spending money obtaining them. And having grown to become a man who appreciates the aesthetic value of photographs of voluptuous brunette Amazons who enjoying fighting for our rights in their satin tights, I have often wondered how expensive a replica of that old poster would have to be for me not to immediately add it once again to my collection if I happened to come across it somewhere in my travels.

My bank account withers at the thought of it.

hypocritical_kitten said...

how such things happen is easy as the still wrapped spiderman playset my mother bought my daughter for her birthday lays pristine in its wrapping under the stairs, whilst batman continues to be blu-tacked to her bedpost at night and schoolbag by day, I'm sure spidey will find its way to ebay eventually to help pad her university account and fill some deluded otherside fanboy's heart with glee.
Grandmas not understanding the nature of fandom is my solution to how some an amazing relic came to be intact this day, it's probably been stashed under the stairs of some poor child who preferred Josie and the Pussycats, or as I did, captain caveman.
My most missed childhood toy was a Jem doll, but that's only because next to he-man she and her magnificent sisters made excellent amazons in a world far less understanding of the girl geek, and a fistful of jem dolls stamping over my kid brother's castle greyskull is a thing of beauty.

Anonymous said...

I'm a tad too young to have had the Wacky Races board game, but I did have tghe Monster Squad board game (remember that show? A pre-Love Boat Fred Grandy bringing wax figures of Frankenstein's Monster, Dracula, and the Wolf Man to life to fight crime? Ahh, those were the days!)

Anonymous said...

I too was a Wacky Races fanatic in my youth. I even posted once on the overall standings (the Slag Borrthers had the most points based on order of finish).

If I ever knew about the game I had long forgotten it. You will be modifying it to give each car a dial with powers right?

SallyP said...

Heehee. I remember the Wack Races, oh Saturday mornings, I miss you so. I actually used to practice being able to laugh like Muttley.

Enjoy your game, Scip.

Anonymous said...

One thing always bothered me about the Wacky Races. Dick Dastardly (just imagine how he looked in the phone book)had a self-destructive obsession with Rube Goldbergish traps.

Think about it: in order to set all those fiendishly clever traps for the other drivers, he had to be far out ahead of them! If he had just forgotten about setting up the 900-lb bags of flour and molasses with a magnifying glass focusing the sun to slowly burn through the rope holding them, put the pedal to the metal and just drove, he'd have won every time!!

Ol' Dicky would have made a great villain in TV's Gotham City. "Let's see, I've captured Batman and Robin and they're utterly within my power! Should I unmask them? Shoot them in the back of the head? No, I know; I'll submerge them in giant snow cones!!"

Anonymous said...

Dick Dastardly is so much more awesome than the Phantom Claw.

lou said...

OH LORD. I was just trying to remember the name of this cartoon. I was talking to my friend about it but I really could not remember the name of it. THANK YOU.

Anonymous said...

It's small miracles that preserve these things from childhood, I think.

Half my good stuff (micronauts, GI joe with Kung Fu grip, Megos) was thrown out over the years by my mother, and the other half were destroyed and forgotten by myself when I didn't know better. It's the beautiful nature of toys (and comics). They are ephemeral, meant only to live and breathe for a small time, and then be gone. If we are lucky we can occasionally get a little of that magic back, as you have done Scipio. Well done!