Catalogs #21: Parker Brothers Games 1972

Before video games, before the Internet, before cable..... there were board games.  And I must admit, I fashioned myself quite the gamer back in the day.  I could go three rounds of Battleship, a full hour of Rock'em Sock'em Robots, and finish up with back to back games of Stratego and Perfection and not break a sweat.  Yeah - that's just the kinda hardcore playa I was.

But even I don't recognize some of the games contained in this 1972 Parker Games catalog.  Perhaps some of you can refresh my memory.  Let's have a look...

I never have been a big fan of Monopoly.  Maybe it's because I never win.  And I mean "never" in the strictest sense possible - as in not one time in over forty years of sporadic playing.

Anyone recall Careers or Landslide? Not ringing a bell.  Landslide seems particularly negative about US politics ("manipulating popular votes", "connive through ballots") - I thought that sort of cynicism was reserved for 2012.

Never cared for Sorry - it always made me pissed off at my friends and family for destroying me when the win was within my grasp.  "Sorry" isn't gonna get you any forgiveness from this serious gamer.

Risk is the only known board game to last longer than a Dungeons & Dragons module.  In fact, I'm skeptical that anyone has ever actually completed a full game of Risk.  You can swear up and down you finished a game, but we both know the truth.

Dealer's Choice sounds like an awful game.  Why would you want to pretend to be a used car dealer? And I've actually played Masterpiece and can verify that it is every bit as boring as you'd expect it to be.

I've played Gnip Gnop - it's fun as hell...... for the first four to five minutes.  Then it gets painfully monotonous.  Snapshot is just a variation on Concentration but with added stupidity.

I've never heard of  Square Off or But Out.  Something tells me I didn't miss much.  Correct me if I'm mistaken.

I must not have been into word games because I haven't played a single one of these.  Be wary if your neighbors invite you over to play "Probe".

I cannot tell a lie - I played the hell out of some Uncle Wiggily back in the day.  It's honestly been at least forty years since I've played it and I still remember it clearly.  How odd that it was about a rabbit with rheumatism.

I never heard of Screech, but it sounds like it would've given small children nightmares. (Twenty or so years later there would be another Screech that would give small children nightmares - the hideously unfunny boy on Saved by the Bell.)

Never played Soma.  It certainly looks cool, but something tells me the thrill of playing it would be short lived.  Odd that they would stick it on a "Card Games" page.

Fans of "Freaks and Geeks" will recall the game Pit as it is featured prominently in an episode.

This was before Nerf became the multi billion dollar company it is today, filling up entire aisles at Toys "R' Us.  We didn't have high velocity semi-automatic Nerf firearms back in the seventies - we just had balls.

Don't get me started on the Ouija board.  Laugh all you want, but I don't want Captain Howdy (aka Pazuzu)  to come ruin my life.  I've got enough to worry about without having to deal with a Babylonian demon stirring up trouble.


  1. i always lost at "the game of life", which turned out to be prophetic

    1. Does any one know about the Parker Brothers game " Pick Up Sticks" I found it in a barn this weekend and it looks pretty old but in good shape. Thanks Lisa

    2. Yeah, I loved that when I was a very little kid.

  2. I've seen Careers at a flea market or something and thought it was very odd.

    Love the old Clue board. I've taken the photos of three old clue boards and am going to do a post on them.

    Spill and Spell looks like it's a version of Boggle.

    Rabbit Rheumatism sounds like a great band name. Or a John Updike novel.

    I had something like Soma, but I don't think that's what it was called.

    Someone gave me Rook as a present when I was about 12, and I never once played it. I gave it away about 10 years later.

    I had some friends who claimed their mom threw a Ouija board in the fire and it screamed. I'd never touch the game or even look at after I heard that!

  3. Oh wow! I remember playing Clue as a kid, it was one of my favorites. Another one that I loved was the 'Match Game' game, based on the TV game show...totally awesome fun, and even as kids, we would try to get a little raunchy like the show...good times! Growing up we had a Ouija board that me and my sister had used to contact a kid who died in a terrible car accident (my brother was too afraid to touch it). Not sure if it was really working, but we had my brother ask questions that only he and the deceased boy would know the answer to, and the board answered all the questions correctly...very creepy! Years later I was telling a friend about what we did and she warned me that ouija's were dangerous and that I shouldn't use it. Sorry was also great, and I'm always reminded by that sketch on the Carol Burnett show where she plays Eunice and screams "Sorry!!" super loud and obnoxious! That was a classic!

  4. AnonymousJuly 17, 2012

    I too have never won at Monopoly after over 40 years of playing the damn thing!
    And Ouija (strange how it's spelled "wee-ja", but everyone says "wee-jee"), I never understood that game. Always hated it.
    Qubic looks like a tic-tac-toe version of Star Trek's Tri-level Chess?
    Sorry- never liked it, 'cuz I never won.
    Risk- same thing.

    In fact, I don't think I ever won a game of anything.

    Gee thanks.

    1. AnonymousJuly 20, 2012

      Whenever my Dad was losing at Monopoly he would beckon the cat onto the board to mess up the games pieces. Dad would then announce in this bewildered tone like the narrator of the Batman t.v. show: "Felis ex Machina" and declare the game a draw.

      I loved Clue, also. I would always suspect Colonel Mustard, when it was actually Herr Hunt in the drainpipe with the rifle.


  5. I played the hell out of Winnie the Pooh whan I was a kid. Instead of dice they had plastic disks in a grab bag that you pulled out to make your next move. Loved it.

    I have never completed a game of Risk either. You would gab a sandwich, come back and you cat has walked across the board or something.

    I think I could have been a real neigborhood pest with the Johnny Horizon Environmental Test Kit

  6. I too have never won a game of Monopoly but I haven't lost hope yet - maybe someday. As for Ouija, how is that even a game? What are the rules? How the heck does one WIN the game? The first to conjure up a demon wins? Never played it and never will.

  7. The trick to winning at Monopoly is to play it with people you hate. Worked for me, anyway.

  8. Different manufacturer but it's insane what some of the games I had as a kid sell for on eBay.

    "Which Witch" comes to mind. i must have destroyed four sets of that one via endless playings. I think it was $4 at Copps (a Wisconsin proto-walmart sorta store when I was a kid). "Green Ghost" was another favorite. Disney had a couple of Haunted Mansion games. Yes, there is a Halloween theme here, why do you ask?

    King oil, the Peanuts boardgames, Wild Life (zoos meet monopoly brought to you via the WWF), Bermuda Triangle....these would probably bore the hell out of a kid raised on computer games but I spent hours of my youth with games like the one in your post and the ones that i mentioned.

  9. I also had the early 70s stalwarts, like WHICH WITCH IS WHICH? and GREEN GHOST, but until I saw your post, I had forgotten all about SCREECH, which fits right into that genre of spooky games!

    Yes, the images slowly rotating thru the owl's glow eyes made quite a terrifying impression! The glow-in-the-dark "creature cards" used raised glow felt, and were also quite creepy!

    We have MASTERPIECE in our garage.

    Al Bigley

  10. I like to think that in some hotel suite, on the Las Vegas strip, there are a bunch of rich guys playing high-stakes cash games of Hungry, Hungry Hippos.

  11. AnonymousJuly 17, 2012

    Where's the classic game MushMouth?


  12. I used to play Sorry with my kids when they were little. At first there would be a lot a crying. I used to say "There's no crying in Sorry". I eventually got them to accept the losses inflicted on them as just part of the game. Maybe they learned a life lesson, you knows.

    1. AnonymousJuly 18, 2012

      ...or they'll sue you in a high-profile law suit that the media snaps up and runs for months on end.

  13. Huge Risk fan. Played this with my brothers growing up. The game of conquest and world domination. There was a bit on Seinfeld where Newman and Kramer are playing risk and they leave the game board at Jerry's so that neither of them could cheat.

  14. Paul DucaJuly 17, 2012

    As they say by the box of Cheerios, Parker Brothers (and Tonka) then were a division of General Mills, in the era exalting the diversified conglomerate as the corporate model (when ITT, the global phone company, owned Continental Baking--makers of Wonder Bread and Hostess Cakes).

    Today most of the toy brands we knew are either part of Hasbro (like Parker) or Mattel...plus items they've licensed from the fallen (Ideal, Marx). And today they stick with the knitting, but use "synergy"--extending the name into everything from publications to websites, and in Hasbro's case, its own cable TV network (The HUB).

    Gilligan...if you ever come to Boston, I can show you the place where the car dealership photographed on the DEALER'S CHOICE game was.
    Parker Brothers' long time home base was the Wtich City, Salem.

  15. I'd never heard of Screech, but I'd love to have one of those little owls.

    1972 - was the whole Ecology thing in full swing yet? Just wondering if that's why they came up with the Environmental Test Kit. Remember the groovy Ecology flag? Many comic books had ads for clothe patches, and that flag was usually among the patches. I always wanted one.

  16. WOW! I completely forgot about that Winnie-the-Pooh game that I had. I mean I have saved a LOT of stuff from way back when, but that one must have made it to the garage sale pile along with my Happy Days game and my cool Colorforms I wish I had kept.
    Oh, and Probe still haunts my mom's shelves...my grandmom, aunt, and cousins played it after we would go out for Sunday lunches. Fun for large groups who like guessing words.

  17. I was a whiz at Mastermind, though I don't know if that was a 70s game I inherented from my brothers or an early 80s game. My "secret" was to start out with all the same color and just narrow it down from there.

    I bet Mike Mozart from Jeepers Media has heard of some of these, he might even have them.

  18. AnonymousJuly 18, 2012

    Gnip Gnop I got shit to pop
    I'm an exceptional professional that just don't stop
    So pack up your bag and your mic and don't wait
    E.T. phone home now get the fuck out my face

    -Beastie Boys

  19. I used to play the hell out of Clue. I loved that game. I have vague memories of Winnie the Pooh, but could be mistaken. Mille Bornes, on the other hand, is a game I remember well. I don't recall ever actually playing it, though.

  20. I remember "Landslide" quite well. Remember, this was the time of the Nixon administration and Watergate, things got really cynical around '72 (and then got spooky once the Watergate scandal really took off). The movie "The Candidate" came out around the same time.

    Avoid Ouija boards at all costs; not something to play around with when you don't know what your doing.

  21. "Landslide seems particularly negative about US politics ("manipulating popular votes", "connive through ballots") - I thought that sort of cynicism was reserved for 2012."

    How quickly we forget 2000.....

    I used to have a game called Voice of the Pharoah. Very cool multi-level Egyptian-style board. And when you landed on certain squares, you pressed a lever and a spooky voice told you what to do. And there was an actual record player inside the plastic sarcophagus!!! Ah, that pre-Apple technology!

  22. "Landslide"... I think one or both of the Parker Brothers were really annoyed about Nixon (and who wouldn't be?). There's a modern version called Rocketville, where the players compete to become Mayor of a city. It's a hell of a lot of fun, and the retro-futuristic art draws you into the game atmosphere.

    We had a few of these growing up: besides the ubiquitous Monopoly and Risk, we were big Milles Bornes players. I especially enjoyed it because my Mom couldn't cheat like she did at Boggle.

    "Johnny Horizon Environmental Kit" - Dammit, Nader!

  23. I use to play "Landslide" with my father. It taught me the electoral count of all 50 states, which has made me a real hit at cocktail parties.

    Try learning things like THAT from a video game.

    Great post. Lots of memories.

  24. I ALWAYS beat my siblings at Risk. The secret was ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK. I usually won Monopoly. The secret is to buy every property you possibly can.

  25. Imagine the fun if you combined Screech and Ouija. My sister believes her son ate his Nerf Football when she was in the room. He is 33 years old now, so either he didn't eat it or it didn't do him any harm.

  26. Mille Bornes is boring game...my parents had it back in the day. My grandma had Masterpiece and I dont think my cousin and I ever followed the actual rules when playing...what kid cares about fine art? I think the screech game sounds kind of cool.Monopoly and clue are classics! Wecould never let my brother be the banker in monopoly as he liked to take out personal loanes when no one was looking. I still have my old ouja board in the basement. We used to try it out at slumber parties and someone always got accused of moving the planchette. After reading some articles about the dangers of ouja boards I would never treat it as a game or toy now! We were lucky we did not ever encounter anything paranormal then! From what I have seen of my husband's old Risk game in the basement,it sounds(and looks)extreamly complicated! Great Post!

  27. We played Careers all the time growing up. They re-released it when my kids were young. (80s)

  28. AnonymousJuly 29, 2012

    My Dad bought Landslide for me when I was a kid, because I was always riveted by Richard Nixon whenever he was on TV and I LOVED THAT GAME. I also has Spill & Spell and I loved it because you could play it by yourself. No, I wasn't a popular girl at school... why do you ask? ;D