We didn’t have video games like Mortal Kombat or Grand Theft Auto back in the 1960s, but that doesn’t mean that we didn’t get our whacks in during play time. We just used board games and our friends and family members as real-life targets for our beat-downs. I think the moral of the story is that no matter what the era and how limited the technology, kids just plain love to smash and blow up things. How many of these games do you remember?
The object here was to remove a piece of plastic cheese without the spring-loaded mousetrap snapping shut on your fingers. The winner was the player with the most cheese and all his fingers intact.
2. Booby Trap
This was another remove-a-piece-without-triggering-the-thingy game. Usually your fingers didn’t get caught when the Booby Trap snapped, but those little pieces ejected with some impressive velocity. It was all good clean fun until someone caught one in the eye.
Players took turns slicing away at the column of round and square plastic disks that separated the head from the feet. The objective was to knock the pieces out one at a time to eventually make the head and feet meet. If you knocked the whole stack over, you were out. But no one really cared about the official rules—it was more fun just to see how far you make all the pieces fly at once. Once you got bored with picking up and re-stacking the disks, you could always just use that plastic hammer to play “one lump or two?” with your unsuspecting younger siblings…
This game by Ideal involved placing a balloon on the inflator gizmo and slowly inflating it, one pump at a time. Again, very few kids I knew actually played this game according to the official rules; it always became a contest of just experimenting with the pump to see how loud of a “pop!” you could make with the balloon.
5. Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots
Back in the day when Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots were all the rage, if you complained to a parent that your thumbs or wrists hurt after playing a game for hours on end, you’d get a shrug and an “it’s your own darned fault” chastisement. In more recent years, concerned moms have consulted the pediatrician about their children’s finger pains so frequently that “Texting Tendontitis” and “Blackberry Thumb” eventually became bona fide medical diagnoses.
6. Fang Bang
This odd little game came with scary face masks for each player to wear, presumably for the dual purpose of intimidating your opponents while also protecting you from losing an eye while everyone flailed about with these plastic snake-headed balloons. Allow me to clarify—each player inflated an elongated balloon, affixed the serpent head on the end, and that became his “weapon.” The snake’s tongue was abrasive enough to pop a balloon if it struck just so. Sort of like a lightsaber fight with the added bonus of bursting balloons.
7. Slap Trap
Talk about a broken finger waiting to happen: The object of this game was to successfully retrieve a specific “beetle bug” from the platter before the big ol’ bully in charge of the domed cover slammed it down in an attempt to hoard all the bugs in order to earn points.
8. Dynamite Shack
Apparently even in the 1960s the word “dynamite” in the title of a kids’ game prompted a safety disclaimer on the box to reassure parents that no actual explosives were included with the game tokens. This game was an exercise in manual dexterity—you had to don oversized plastic thumbs and use them to pick up tiny plastic bundles of dynamite and deposit them in the tiny chimney. The object was to drop in all of your dynamite before the roof of the shack blew off.
9. Cold Feet
I know my Dad would laugh in a good-natured “Aw, you got me!” fashion if he got squirted in the face with water during a friendly board game—NOT! And I know my Mom would’ve made us play this outside so we didn’t get water all over the ... (fill in the blank). So, anyway, that’s why my parents never bought us kids a board game that featured a water gun as its centerpiece.
10. Bang Box
Anyone else beginning to wonder if some executive in the balloon industry held a lot of stock in Ideal and Milton-Bradley? Bang Box is yet another balloon-based game, in which small, inflated balloons are stuffed inside a plastic container perforated with random holes, much like a magician’s box. Players must hammer a prescribed number of plastic nails into the holes of their choice in the hope that they don’t burst any of the enclosed balloons. One “pop!” and you’re out.