Dig These 13 Fabulous OLD-SCHOOL BOARD GAMES

TOYHEM! Rain or shine, these games were universes unto themselves…

Welcome to TOYHEM! For the fifth straight holiday season, we’re bringing you a series of features and columns celebrating the toys of our youth, which often made for the best memories this time of year. Click here to check out the complete index of stories — and have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah and Happy Holidays! — Dan


I love board games and always have. There’s a simplicity to them that you just don’t get with video games, and in some cases, even more imagination was poured into them to create engaging play that could last for hours. Along with jigsaw puzzles, board games have provided me with some of my warmest and best childhood memories.

Unlike some of the lists I’ve created for 13th Dimension, I had virtually no trouble picking out my favorite 13 games from my childhood. They all popped into my head one by one, and every one of them made me wish I could drop everything and sit down to play them again. You’ll recognize a lot of them, I’m sure, because you probably played them yourself. Some of them are still around today and are considered classics, but I’m really hoping there may be one or two on my list that you didn’t know about or maybe even forgot.

Set out your playing piece, roll the dice, and spin the wheel — dig these 13 FABULOUS OLD-SCHOOL BOARD GAMES:

Clue. Let’s start with one of those classics. We had a pretty old set sitting around the house in the early 1970s — probably the 1963 edition — and I was utterly fascinated by the floor plan on the board and the idea of moving from one room to another, as well as the murder weapons.

The Game of Life. Another classic. I was a little young for the concepts in this one, but just like Clue, I was drawn in by the 3-D game board and the paths through it. Sometimes I even tried to play with the board as a toy without playing the game.

Mouse Trap. I consider this a classic game, but I’m not sure how well it’s remembered today. As a kid, I had no idea who Rube Goldberg was, but I loved the mechanics of all the pieces and how they operated.

The Voice of the Mummy. Now, I didn’t have this one, but a kid down the block did, and after being entranced by the TV commercials I was thrilled I knew someone who had it. As a kid obsessed with ancient Egypt and mummies, this multi-layered game hit all my sweet spots.

Masterpiece. So, yeah, I was a strange little kid. This one was also probably more advanced than my age, but my siblings liked it and I remember learning the rules as we went along. Plus, it inspired a lifelong appreciation of fine art in me.

Thing Ding. I’m thinking this 1966 Schaper game might not be well known today, but it had a working “machine” that cranked out robot parts to build a robot family complete with robot animals. What was not to love?

Dogfight! My obsession with maps and playing fields hit eleven with this one. I loved the little biplanes and the details of the battlefield, not to mention the chance to best my older brother in the game of warfare. Beyond all that, WWI was kind of odd back then, when WWII was the much better-known war.

Matchbox Traffic Game. I’m wondering if anyone else out there knows or remembers this one from the Fred Bonner Corp. in 1968? Not only did it fulfill my craving for maps and street layouts, it also came with two actual Matchbox cars (in their little boxes!). Boy, do I miss this one.

Snoopy and the Red Baron. Another classic I didn’t own myself, but the kid who lived behind us on the next street over did. Sort of a skill shooter game more than a board game, but I loved the graphics and the feeling of a little “yard” the dogfight hovers over.

Moon Flight. Avon’s 1970 shampoo-and-game spurred on my utter fascination with the Apollo space program back in the day. The shampoo bottle was also an innovative “dice roller” thingy, with the LEM an ersatz “die.” The playing board was a plastic mat!

Fingers Harry. Good Lord, the hours and hours of enjoyment I got from this 1967 Topper game. It worked by magnets being placed at random in the game board, sending your “guy’s” hat/helmet into the air when they landed on one. I was endlessly entertained by it.

Which Witch? Probably one of my most favorite games of all, if not the favorite. It combined everything I loved into one piece of toy gold. In doing research for this article, I discovered there was a Real Ghostbusters edition of it much later on, after I began playing it around 1970-71.

Camp Granada. I’m going to cheat a little with this one, but I hope I’ll be forgiven. This was one of my late wife Becky’s favorite games as a kid, and while I have been a lifelong fan of songwriter/comedian Allan “Hello Mudduh, Hello Fadduh” Sherman, I didn’t know the game existed until I met her much after the fact. Incredibly, she still had the game board and the “bus” playing piece from her childhood set, and I have those now to treasure myself.


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When JIM BEARD’s not editing and publishing through his two houses, Flinch Books and Becky Books, he’s pounding out adventure fiction with both original and licensed characters. In fact, he’s put words in the mouths of Luke Skywalker, Superman, Fox Mulder, Carl Kolchak, Peter Venkman and the Green Hornet… and lived to tell about it. His latest pop culture non-fiction tome is D20 or Die! — about classic role-playing games, available here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Jim, another fun morning coffee pleasing read. Thanks!

    The first 3 for sure but the others I can’t say I recognize any….. maybe the Snoopy Baron one. Do you recall a game with a horror or haunted house motif? It had doors you opened and would reach into a small box to pull odd things out. All I can remember…..

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  2. Two games on there I had completely forgotten about: the Snoopy one and Masterpiece. Which Witch was also a favorite of mine, as well as the Dark Shadows games. Always wanted to play Green Ghost. Don’t remember that Mummy one at all but I bet that would have scratched my sweet spot too

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  3. We (have an older brother and sister) had CLUE & LIFE. I got MOUSE TRAP (love it!) and CAMP GRANADA fir Christmas gifts. Years later when I got into toy collecting I read about THING DING and got one on eBay.

    Love CRAZY CLOCK (no board). My original Mouse Trap box doesn’t look so hot. Got a couple of the next version of the box at thrift stores and have kept the best one. Sold CAMP GRANADA. Still have my original 45.

    Have the MR. MACHINE board game (again, later from eBay). Gradually have been weeding things out…have too much stuff!

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  4. How cool! I am of a later generation (70s and 80s) so I don’t remember all of these. But I loved Clue and possessing many Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars as a kid, would have loved the Matchbox game. Has the 13th Dimension done a page on the many superhero tie-in games that have been produced?

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  5. I had Clue, Life, Masterpiece and Snoopy and the Red Baron. Like Jim, Masterpiece is where I first got my grounding in fine art. Fabulous game!

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  6. I loved Masterpiece but no one but my siblings remember it. Nice to see I wasn’t the only one who developed a love of art from that game.

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