Sunday, June 18, 2006


Bored? How about a board game?! One with science-fiction TV/film themes? That's the subject for this, the blog's 40th retro toy flashback.

TV/Film board games are probably somewhat out of fashion today, since we all have great video game platforms like PS2, X-Box and Game Cube, not to mention DVD box sets, to occupy our time. But let me bring out that broken record again: when I was a kid, we didn't have that stuff! We didn't have air conditioning, or automobiles either...

Just kidding. We did have those things. But as far as sci-fans were concerned, if we wanted to re-capture at home the glory of Star Wars or Star Trek, we had to weave a complex tapestry of interesting, ancillary collectibles. Model kits, comic books, photo-novels, color forms. Blah, blah. Yeah. All right.

Anyway, kids of the 1970s had great fun with board games. I know I did. But then, I liked to cheat.

One of my personal favorites, naturally, was the board game from the Gerry/Sylvia Anderson 1970s classic, Space:1999, a "game adapted from the television series." Produced by Milton Bradley, the goal of this board game is to be the first "commander" to fly his Eagle fleet to a planet on the far side of a rotating galaxy. The game came with little Eagle markers, and a board with a spinning cosmic center. Very, very cool. I played this one with my nephew about ten years ago. I think he liked it.

In 1974, just a few short years before the Space:1999 craze, Hasbro released a Star Trek game for ages 4 - 10. The box art is kind of Gold Key comic-book style, and the game promised "action and adventure in outer space." This game came equipped with two spinners, one for impulse drive and one for warp speed, and involved players racing to complete a spiral path through the final frontier, deep space.

By 1979, the Star Trek movies were upon us, and Milton Bradley had acquired the license to Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The company consequently released a board game (in an oversized box...), one which enabled two-to-four players to complete three space missions, return to Earth, and get promoted to the rank of "Starfleet Commander." Each player for this game would move a starship Enterprise icon across the board and select mission types ("Explored Stars," "Advanced Civilizations" and "Hostile Aliens.") This is actually a really fun game to play, and when my son is old enough, I intend to share it with him.

The same year, Milton Bradley introduced kids (ages 7 - 14) to a Buck Rogers in the 25th Century board game, one based on the NBC Gil Gerard series.. The goal was to get Buck and Twiki aboard Princess Ardala's mothership. Funny, I always wanted to land on Ardala's mothership...

Probably every science fiction series and film worth its salt has seen a board game version. Parker Brothers introduced a Battlestar Galactica game in 1978 (goal: to lead the rag-tag fleet out of Cylon space), and Kenner was all over the Star Wars property with games called "Escape from the Death Star" and "Destroy the Death Star."

In the 1980s, there were games for the Transformers, Escape from New York, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and many more. I had to have them all. The Escape from New York game was especially cool. For a while there, I really wanted to be Snake Plissken.

By the time of the 1990s, even Star Trek: The Next Generation was resurrected in board game form (by Cardinal; for "Game of the Galaxies.") The goal was to make Captain Picard stop talking and actually do something. No, that's a joke. I kid Captain Picard...

The last board game I got (received as a gift...) is one I'm particularly thrilled with. Yep, it's a Buffy the Vampire Slayer Board Game.

Finally, I've got Sarah Michelle Gellar right where I want her.

So, any favorite childhood board games? Which one? The one I always wanted (but never had...) was the one from the 1970s Planet of the Apes TV series. It had a "cage" or something that humans would get trapped in.

One of these days, I'll get my stinkin' paws on one.


  1. But, have you actually played the Buffy game?

  2. Actually, I haven't played the Buffy the Vampire Slayer game.

    Truth be told, I left the Buffy game sealed sealed in plastic - in mint condition.

    I just stare longingly at it. Buffy...Buffy...Buffy...

  3. I love games and couldn't stand the thought of not playing it. With that said, it's actually a really fun game on top of the very pretty things to look at.
    Though I do catch myself chanting Willow...Willow...Willow!

  4. Anonymous3:14 AM

    The buffy game is surprisingly EXCELLENT. It is very playable, like a little "dungeon" with combat and adventure and items. A real find.