Good Game, Good Game…

6th Feb 2019

I think one thing that transcends every era and time is the family games cupboard. That special place where the games would be stored. This may have been under the stairs, in a fitted wardrobe somewhere, in a drawer under a bed or maybe just on a shelf but almost all houses had that sacred spot. Maybe in later years as children grew up, times change  and technology develops the family games would be boxed up and stored in the loft awaiting the next generation, which in may cases never happened and eventually the games found their way to a recycling plant or landfill. I am certain that most people will remember their games and the memories shared of them

Below are 5 games that may have been a bit more unusual, of course everyone remembers classics including Monopoly, Cluedo, Scrabble, Operation, Mouse Trap and Connect 4 but what were the more unusual games out there that people had, those titles that should have been more popular the they were.


Buccaneer by Waddington’s (1930’s – 1970’s)

The blurb on the 1970’s version of this game says “Yo ho ho and a barrel of rum! Sail the high seas with the strongest crew you can muster. But beware! Other buccaneers are spoiling for a fight – ready to seize your loot. This swashbuckling game calls for daring, cunning and ruthless determination.”

There are a number of different box designs of this game, my favourite being the 1970 gold and black version. The thing that struck me about this game is the detail of the playing pieces, the gold bars and gems felt real and the barrels of rum looked brilliant. It’s a shame that the pieces are often missing from these games, however it is well worth looking out for these sets, especially the earlier versions, they would look fabulous in any collection and it also has great game play.


Totopoly by Waddington’s Games (1930’s – 1970’s

This game is based on the events leading up to and during a horse race, the playing board is double sided and each side represents a different half of the game. I always found this game quite difficult to play. It does have some really nice box artwork and the playing board is also very colourful and well designed. These are really worth keeping an eye out for, especially the earlier versions with the metal horse playing pieces

Like all games this evolved over the years with small changes to the rules, playing pieces and box designs. If you are going to buy one, make sure you know what should be included with the game and check whether all of the pieces are present.


Purple People Eater by Waddington’s (1982)

I have not included this game because of high quality playability but because I received it for Christmas in 1982 and I loved it. This game was basically a monster head on a plastic tripod, the monster had a motor inside that made it vibrate and it also had a lightbulb as an eye! It always struck me that this looked like the decayed Master from Doctor Who.

This game had between 2 and 4 players and the aim of the game was to reach inside the monster whilst it was sleeping and rescue one of the small ‘purple people’ that were actually red. If the monster awoke you were in big trouble, the monster would vibrate and your person would be gobbled up.

This game is quite scarce now, like all vintage toys and games with motors it is possible the motor has seized up and no longer works. If you can, test it. It is also good practice to check battery compartments for old decayed batteries and corrosion. If it does have issues, most can be easily fixed so don’t be put off. If you are looking to buy one of these also check the rubber eye cap is present, this fits over the lightbulb in the eye socket and is often lost.

Instructions for vintage games are often printed on the box but if they are not have a look on the internet, there are loads of places you can download copies from.


Whirly Wheelers by Palitoy (1970’s)

This is a battery operated cycling game, there are 4 different coloured cyclists who line up on the track and when the timer starts they rapidly pedal around the track for a specified number of laps until the race is won. At the start of the race you have to move your cyclist to the start line until you can feel his magnet engage with the track, at this point it’s ready to go..

This game is brilliant, the mechanical action is very noisy but the game play is exciting as the cyclists literally pedal around the track at speed. I can picture families gambling on the outcome of races on Christmas morning.

It is very difficult to find one of these complete and in full working condition, if you do it is quite a valuable game. Often the cyclists and accessories would break or get lost and the cardboard crowd scene would become damaged. Check the cyclists have their magnets intact and as I have said before check the battery compartments, these often hide severe damage. It may be the case that the motor has seized up or that the toothed band that drives the cyclists has become damaged or come away from the tracks inside the game. This is fairly easy to fix so don’t be put off if you see one for sale needing repair, if nothing else you will have some fun trying to get it working again.

This game was produced by the great Palitoy in the UK and as usual with games from this era featured a really colourful box with some interesting photography of kids playing the game and having great fun.

If you get the chance to own one of these, do so. It’s fantastic!


War of the Daleks by Denys Fisher (1970’s)

In the 1970’s the market was awash with games themed around popular television series of the era. There are lots of examples including Dad’s Army, Colditz, It’s a Knockout, Swap Shop, The Six Million Dollar Man, On the Buses and of course Doctor Who. There will be many more that I have not mentioned. One of the best Doctor Who themed games was produced in the UK by Denys Fisher and was called War of the Daleks.

In essence you had to go round a board avoiding the Daleks in an attempt to reach the pale blue Control Centre in the centre of the board, if you made it this far you had the chance to destroy it and wipe the Daleks from the face of Skaro!

I never owned this game at the time, although I was always desperate to. It was only later in life that I finally got my hands on one. Until that point I had to wait for someone to bring one to school on the last day of term or I could visit a neighbours house to play it. In all honesty the game play wasn’t brilliant but the Dalek game pieces were amazing and I thought they looked great. I remember swapping some old toy for a couple of these Daleks with a school friend. I would guess there are many sets out there with missing pieces where these Daleks were removed for play purposes and subsequently lost or swapped.

The box artwork on this game is awesome and features the famous Denys Fisher red topped Dalek. There is a very rare Denys Fisher toy Dalek that has the same colour scheme which was also seen on a Weetabix breakfast cereal card in the early 1970’s.

I would always advise anyone to get one of these, the artwork is cool, the font is big and bold, you get the small Dalek playing pieces and you can have great fun playing the game. These can be acquired for a reasonable price in the UK and are well worth the investment but please check all of the Daleks are included as well as the Control Centre.


In the famous words of Bruce Forsyth “Good Game, Good Game” can definitely be said about these 5 not so familiar favourites of mine…

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