Toy Fair 2005 – page 2

Box art from Disx

Bored No Longer is an exception to my categorisation of companies at Toy Fair, being a fairly small, fairly new company which has a range of toys and games. Two of the games caught my attention. The first is Blanko, a word game along standard board-and-tiles lines that incorporates forfeits/tasks. The second is an abstract game called Disx. This uses rings dropped over pegs on a square board. Adding the fourth ring to a peg scores the player a point. S/he then has to re-distribute those rings to the four pegs next to them. Which may trigger further scoring and re-distribution and so on. The game clearly has some tactical options and looks rather good.

Bright Sparx were again showing Going Underground: Zoo Edition, which premiered in 2002. It’s a family board game of capturing animals that have escaped from London Zoo and are loose in the tunnels of the Underground.

Britannia Games had more board game versions of television shows: The Vault and I’m a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here were launched at the end of last year. The first is a quiz game where all the contestants can earn money (by selling answers to whoever’s in the hot seat) and potentially win the game. The latter has players using their action points each turn to travel round the board and collect things to earn the votes that could win them the game. There are, of course, hazards around the board and players have to remember to eat from time to time or they’ll run out of energy. This is quite a clever game with some interesting tactical options. Coming up this year are Countdown and Concludo, an original word game. No details are available on either yet.

BV Leisure is best known for its murder mystery games, but didn’t appear to have anything new for this year.

Abstract game Cirondo was on display in the stylish black stand that was also prominent at Spiel. I first saw the game in 2003 and it’s been doing well around Europe since then.

Another attractive abstract game is Cubi-Cup from Hungarian publisher CubiTeam. The game is somewhat reminiscent of Pylos, in that players build up a three dimensional shape – a tetrahedron in this case – and win by placing the last piece on top. The key tactic is setting up a three-cube ‘cup’, which forces the next player (2-3 can play) to play twice and lose the initiative. The game is simple, plays well and comes in an attractive wooden version and a colourful plastic version.

It was good to see Drumond Park back at the Toy Fair again. This year they are re-launching their verbal challenge game (originally called Spit It Out) as Don’t Panic. You take a card, read out the subject and then name things that fit the subject. Against a timer. Succeed and next time you have to name more things – and there are different levels of difficulty, too. At the centre of Butt Out! is a clockwork mountain goat. Players move their people round the edge of the board, trying to get to the top of the mountain. But that goat keeps butting people off! Very silly, good fun. Also new is a junior version of Bedlam, which features squeaky chickens for players to grab – or go out of the game.

Flying the flag for ‘hobby’ games and in line with their status as a distributor for Hasbro, Esdevium Games had a smart stand next to their big partner. The display cases at the front were full of CCGs and other fantasy stuff, but there were plenty of board games at the back of the stand – including Settlers, Ticket to Ride, War of the Ring and others. However, I couldn’t find anything there that was actually new.

Falcon Games is the UK arm of Jumbo, but concentrates on jigsaw puzzles. Other than various Bob the Builder-themed games, the only game on display was Stratego in its various forms.

There aren’t many games amidst Feva’s range of toys, but they do have CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – the board game. Yes, it’s a TV tie-in, but it looks more interesting than most. This is a deduction game with some eight cases included. Players have to emulate the characters in the television series in working out who carried out a crime from the forensic evidence. The game sounds pretty challenging and I, for one, would like to give it a go.

Picture of Blag! box and components

Blag! is, quite simply, Fictionary Dictionary (or Call My Bluff) with pictures. One player shows a picture to the others, who write captions for it. All the captions, including the original, are read out and players vote on their favourites. Players score votes for their caption as points. The first game from Futurus Games, this is a nice variation on an old favourite.

Nowadays the venerable Gibson’s is more about jigsaw puzzles than games. They did have one new arrival for 2005: a travel version of Pass the Bomb. This has the timer mechanism in just half the ‘bomb’ so that the other half can hold the cards. My only worry is just how well this will go down with airport security!

Hobbygames was the other hobby games distributor at the show. Their stand seemed a bit sparse with the emphasis on fantasy games and figures.

Hasbro is the biggest presence at the Toy Fair. Most of its stand is about toys, of course, but the company does show its new games. Heading the list was Monopoly Here and Now, an updated version of the classic. The idea of this is that it’s Monopoly as if it had been designed today. Thus we have debit cards instead of cash, different locations and, of course, rather different prices. Hasbro has a lot more updated versions of old games this year. The other noticeable feature was several DVD versions of Trivial Pursuit. CCGs got a mention with new expansions for Duel Masters and Magic: the Gathering later this year.

Imagination Entertainment is UK distributor for Canada’s University Games, best known for Battle of the Sexes and its range of Dr Seuss games. The new Dr Seuss game is Rhyme Time and there’s also a new quiz game, Blast from the Past. This is kind of a nostalgia trivia game with questions on each decade from the Sixties to the Nineties.

Knowall Games is a new publisher with its first game, Knowwhere. This is a good-looking Memory game with an educational slant. Instead of finding identical pictures, players have to match countries and their capitals. Each card shows the country’s national flag and highlights it on a map, helping players who don’t already know the capitals. The first version, of European countries, appeared last year and has been a big hit in classrooms. Coming up is an Americas edition, featuring the countries and capitals of North, South and Central America. The game is nicely produced and its educational content is sufficiently well disguised not to put off potential players. 

Click here for the next page of my Toy Fair 2005 report

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