Token swap on tap for classic Monopoly
Published: Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 1, 2013 at 3:28 p.m.
On Wednesday, one of the classic Monopoly playing pieces goes straight to jail with little or no hope of release regardless how many doubles any player rolls.
Have a favorite Monopoly token and want to be sure it survives the cut? There's still time to vote to save it at https://apps.facebook.com/
While you're at it, help choose a new game token; online voting continues through Tuesday.
And a new piece — be it robot, ring, cat, guitar or helicopter selected by game fans worldwide — will take its place beginning later this year. How's that for gratitude for years of faithful service?
"I hope it's the top hat," said Ocala's Alli Jones. "The hat's kind of boring." In this she's joined by Barb Zimmerman, also of Ocala. "I think the top hat's going," Zimmerman said. "Nobody ever picked it."
Odd, because the top hat token is perhaps the most emblematic piece of the 70-some-year-old board game; it's the sort of thing the game's tony persona of Mr. Pennybags — renamed Mr. Monopoly several years ago — would wear. And it's one of the most popular, according to one expert of the game.
Yet, there are other game pieces fans love to love or hate roaming the streets of Atlantic City collecting $200 a circuit and sometimes going straight to jail — although it seems nobody dislikes the race car or the Scottie dog.
"I always used the race car," said Mark Stuart of Gainesville. "It's my favorite token."
Monopoly was born amid the Great Depression, its roots extending back even further to a learning game known as the Landlord's Game popular among college students of the day. Parker Brothers picked up Monopoly in 1935 from Charles Darrow, who previously sold copies of the game he made himself.
Darrow, according to histories of the game, did not include tokens, instead encouraging players to use items from around their homes. Parker Brothers included small metal charms — Tootsietoys — when it released its new version late in the mid-'30s.
Changing its game pieces is something Hasbro, which has owned the Parker Brothers flagship game since 1991, does from time to time.
"Hasbro's decision to retire one token and add a new one reflects the youthful fan base of Monopoly," Philip Orbanes, president of Winning Moves Games and a recognized world expert on Monopoly, wrote in an email. "More people under 30 play it than over 30.
"While longtime fans may be sad to see a longtime favorite go, they have a chance to vote for their favorite to assure it stays," he added. Personally, he expects the wheelbarrow to be replaced by the cat. "Imagine the fun when the dog and cat land on the same space!"
The decision since early January has been in the hands of fans via Facebook balloting, which ends Tuesday.
"The tokens that are in the game today represent household items from the 1930s when the game was first introduced," wrote Hasbro Vice President of Marketing Jonathan Berkowitz in an email.
"We wanted to introduce a new token to the game that's more representative of today's Monopoly players. One of the classic tokens will be retired for good and a new token will take its place, truly changing the game forever."
Which piece is the most likely to go? USA Today reported that Internet oddsmaker R.J. Pell of pregame.com predicted the wheelbarrow as the most likely to be exiled, followed by the iron. Running results on Facebook show these two pieces neck-in-neck in the least number of "save me" votes.
At home with Monopoly
"You can get rid of the iron," said Kathy Miller of Gainesville.
The youngest of four siblings growing up in Wisconsin, she rarely got to choose her favorite: the Scottie dog.
During visits to a family cabin at the northern tip of the state, her family would spend hours playing the game. "We didn't have TV, phones," she said. "There was nothing to do but play games. Sometimes I would get stuck with the iron."
Now, she and her husband, Steve, have "a closetful of games," many of them Monopoly. Steve, she said, is a collector. "I was lucky when I found my husband," she added. "He's even more of an enthusiast than me."
Monopoly often was the center of life for the Adamyk family in Ocala while Caleb was still alive. Born 29 months earlier with the chromosomal disorder Trisomy 18, Caleb died in August, 2011.
"When Caleb was with us, we didn't take him out much," said mom, Jeannette. So she, dad Steven, and Caleb's brothers Corey, 13, and Devin, 8, would play on the living room floor where Caleb could see and be a part of the action. "The interaction was good for him," Jeannette added.
The family hasn't played Monopoly much since Caleb left — and new daughter Talia showed up about 6 weeks ago. But when they do, and it's not just before bedtime, it's typically the Star Wars Clone Wars version — although both Jeannette and Steve said they grew up playing classic Monopoly.
Collectively, the family is pulling for the race car to remain, and chuck the iron. "We don't need ironing," Jeannette said.
Devin hopes the guitar is selected as the new piece; Corey would like to see the helicopter join the ranks. Whichever wins, however, both would like to spend more time again playing the game.
"It's fun and we have more family time," Devin said. It's something mom and dad plan to consider, "to bring back that family time," Jeannette said. "Caleb taught us that."
Gaming in groups
At least once a month in Ocala and weekly in Gainesville, there are groups that get together for a night of gaming. Typically, they play more cutting edge contemporary games, or ones that larger numbers of players can join in for laughs and socializing.
Yet nearly all started out playing this classic game.
The son of a hotel chef, Stuart was introduced to Monopoly when his father was assigned to Atlantic City — 49 years ago when he was 7. The streets on the playing board were within walking distance, and he occasionally visited them.
But it was in Waterbury, Conn., where he learned to play Monopoly with "real money." His favorite piece is the race car.
Stuart runs a Gainesville gaming group that meets at 7 p.m. every Saturday at the Krystal restaurant on Newberry Road. "Our youngest (member) is 23, the oldest is in her 70s," he said.
Sometimes Monopoly is the night's choice. And if they don't finish by closing time? General Manager Dan Wolfe lets them play on even after the doors are locked.
"I hate to interrupt any game in the middle for them to pack up and leave," he said.
The Ocala Meetup Group devotes one Saturday a month to gaming, which tends to feature more contemporary games like Truth Be Told and Cranium — "games where everyone can participate," said Alli Jones, who oversees the group's activities. Gaming night can draw up to 20 of the Internet group's nearly 300 members.
She personally prefers the "car and the shoe, the ones that represent mobility." And from the new bunch? "The helicopter, of course. And the ring; it represents what the game is about."
Fellow group member Bette Reese grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, one of six children. "We'd play Monopoly for hours in the basement," she said, adding she hopes the cat joins the crew.
"I do love board games," Reese added. "Maybe I should get one."
Neil Edge of the Gainesville Gamers that meets Wednesdays on the University of Florida campus, said his group typically plays "designer board games" — not the type found on the shelves at Target or Walmart — rather than classic games like Monopoly.
"Monopoly was created in 1935," he said. "You don't watch movies from 1935 on a regular basis, so why play their board games?"
But he doesn't mind "a token change or two. Board games are, after all, marketed toward the younger generation and I'm sure Hasbro has done extensive market research and seen a distinct drop in sales/growth for the title and are looking to prevent and further decline and, in fact, raise sales."
The game goes on
And much like the full game itself, Monopoly's popularity goes on and on. More than 275 million copies have been sold since 1935. More than 1 billion people have played the game.
"The main reason Monopoly endures, generation to generation, is not due to its playing equipment (as iconinc and charming as are the cards, tokens, money and buildings)," Orbanes wrote, "but rather the new dynamic brought to the game by the players currently gathered around the board.
"Since the game is a reflection of real life finances and negotiations," he added, "whatever is current in the lives of these players enters ‘the game' and keeps it fresh."
Rick Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Personality of the tokens
Battleship: Aggressive and more cutthroat, yet with an artistic flair; typically relies on math when making financial decisions.
Shoe: Generous yet easily riled with long memories; selected by more females than males.
Race car: Outgoing, friendly, versatile and adaptable; the most popular token, selected by one of four players, usually male.
Top hat: Introverted in real life, but more dominating in the game, they play strategically and calculate odds of return; tied for second-most popular token.
Iron: Persist against long odds and often prevail, handles adversity well; evenly selected by males and females.
Scottie dog: Trustworthy, loyal and keen to play, mentally agile and passionate about winning. Tied for second-most popular, typically selected by female players.
Thimble: Practical, sensitive and creative, typically selected by female players; the second least popular token.
Wheelbarrow: Tough competitors expecting a contentious game; typically selected by male players, it's the least popular token.
Source: "Monopoly™ Money and You," by Philip Orbanes
More than 275 million games sold worldwide; available in 111 countries and 43 languages
Used to smuggle escape maps and tools to Allied soldiers held in German POW camps during WWII.
Longest game lasted 70 days.
11 tokens have been used in the classic version; they include a cannon, horse and rider and a bag of money. Nearly 100 tokens have been used in various specialty editions of the game.
During World War II, when metal was needed for the war effort, tokens were colored pieces of wood.
Specialty editions include .com, Here & Now, Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr. Who, Pokemon, Sonic the Hedgehog, Disney Villians; most cities and universities have an -opoly version.
The amount of money in the classic game is $15,140.
World Monopoly champions have come from 11 different countries.
During the 1970s, a Braille edition of Monopoly was created.
In 1978, the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog offered a chocolate version of the game.
Tokens from 2006's Here & Now edition were flown on Space Shuttle Atlantis in 2007.
"Under the Boardwalk," a documentary about Monopoly, debuted in 2010.
Sources: Hasbro, Monopoly.wikia.com, imdb.com, "Monopoly™: The World's Most Famous Game" by Philip Orbanes
Gaming group contacts
Gainesville Gamers: Meets 6 p.m. Wednesday at Reitz Student Union food court, University of Florida; www.facebook.com/groups/GainesvilleGamers/
Gainesville Board & Card Games Meetup: Meets 7 p.m. Saturdays at Krystal's Hamburgers, 7700 Newberry Road; www.meetup.com/boardgames-548/
Ocala Meetup Group: Meets Saturdays for various activities, game nights once a month; www.meetup.com/ocala-active-adults