Toy Fair 2005 – page 3

Paul Lamond Games produces a wide range of games: children’s, family and ‘adult’. I wasn’t able to find out anything about their new titles for 2005.

I spotted an English language version of the new edition of Expedition on the Ravensburger stand. This is better known as the classic Wildlife Adventure. Apart from having a National Geographic logo on it, the game did not seem to have changed significantly from its earlier incarnations. But it’s heartening to see Ravensburger UK giving it some attention – normally they concentrate on the parent company’s jigsaws and children’s games.

I expect to see a lot of different games on re:creation’s stand, as the company handles marketing for quite a few small publishers. Chief amongst these is Cranium and its range of spin-offs. New for this year are a family edition of Cranium and Cranium Hullabaloo, a noise-making game aimed at 4 year-olds. Apart from that, re:creation had two new trivia games for us. Lifestyle is "a superb trivia game based on exclusive brands and Picture of World of Wines box and componentsknowledge of the finer things in life." Hence the questions are pretty eclectic, but all have a common theme of celebrity lifestyles. Gameplay is pretty straightforward, but players have the option of gambling on getting the answer right to win extra points. Not a game I’d do well at, but World of Wines sounds more my kind of thing. The topic of the game is pretty obvious and cards have three levels of difficulty to give everybody a chance of competing. Now if only it contained a few bottles to sample…

RTL Games already has a success on its hands as Destination London! did well over Christmas. This is a family board game in which players are cabbies delivering fares around London to earn money. While the topic is the same, it is a different game from the earlier games I know: Taxi! and The London Cabby Game. Destination has several little wrinkles, such as the need to re-fuel and random event cards. It’s bright, fun and makes a good family game.

Shannon Boardgames made their first appearance at last year’s Toy Fair with a couple of games. This year they’re back with a range of around a dozen. Designer Ewan Shannon has come up with lots of new games, which he’s packaged in the same size of box to make an attractive display. Taking them in alphabetical order, we start with Antonine. This is a dice and pawns two-player game of Picts vs Romans over the Antonine Wall. It’s a game of tactical manoeuvring, though with a substantial luck element. Crazy Golf has the players competing over a series of hazard-strewn mini-golf challenges. Dice rolls provide the impetus, but players have to use them to avoid the hazards. Dribble! is a clever football game using four- and six-sided dice to dribble and pass the ball and to tackle other players.

Moving to the countryside, Sheepdog Trials pits one player’s sheep against the other player’s attempts to round them up – and the timer. Swapping sides, the players try again to see who does better. Again, the game uses dice to control movement, but the time element adds another dimension. Similar, but different, is Showjumping Trials. Here players have to use their dice rolls to get across the various obstacles, while attempting to complete the course in the shortest time. Do you slow down to get a clear round or accept some ‘faults’ and get a fast time? In Yachting the dice show the actual movement directions as players try to manoeuvre their boats around the board. This looks rather neat and provides an interesting challenge. As if these weren’t enough, the range also includes a version of Hnefatafl, the Viking board game, and several children’s games.

I was pleased to see the return of Sibling Revelry – for the company name if nothing else! Their game is Cinémathique, a cinema-based trivia/performance game, which is now in production. Teams have to complete all five subjects – by answering a question, miming, acting or singing – in their two chosen eras. First to complete the set of 10 wins.

Artwork from Not Tonight Josephine - the Red Baron's plane crashing

Not Tonight Josephine is a good-looking trivia game from Australian company Toss Ink. The subject matter here is history, with players looking to correctly answer questions on half a dozen different aspects of history. The questions and answers provide all sorts of fascinating and entertaining trivia and the whole thing is very well produced.

Treasure Trove handles games from Tactic and Fundex in the UK, but didn’t seem to have anything new on display.

Upstarts’ new publications for 2005 include Who Wants to be a Millionaire – Gold Edition. This is another chance to pit your wits against friends and family. The latest quiz game is Bullseye, which comes complete with a velcro dartboard and darts. At least, the board game version does. There’s also a DVD version of the game and I can’t see them fitting the darts into a DVD case. Identikit has one member of the team describing a face from the picture they have. Their team-mates have to match the description by combining a top, middle and bottom of a face from a book of identikit-style features. I was quite taken with a two-player climbing game, whose name escapes me. This uses figures with pegs for hands and feet. These are moved up a vertical board by shifting the pegs. But while one player is doing this, the other player, sitting on the other side, pushes the pegs out!

Also on the Upstarts! stand was their range of adult games under the FHM brand. There were several games for younger children involving frogs. TV Bingo livens up advert breaks on the television. Players fill in a bingo-style card when they see or hear particular things. Some sort of prize is needed, I feel. Another game on show was Sequence from Nordic Games in Iceland. This has been around for a while: players build lines across the board by marking pictures of playing cards. There were DVD versions of Catchphrase and lots of other games as well.

Box art from Backpacker

Backpacker is a new card game from Wild Card Games and reminded me a bit of Grass. Players score points by playing cards for different countries, with a hefty bonus for visiting five continents in one trip. However, you don’t score anything until you get home. Which is where everybody else gets in the way, playing cards to stop you or reduce your score. There are, of course, cards to clear obstructions and get you home quicker, but your options are limited by the cards in your hand. Then again, there are opportunities to swap hands, pick up fresh cards and pass cards on. The game’s pretty chaotic, but it generates the right atmosphere and is quite fun. It doesn’t take long to play a single hand either, so this makes a good filler.

The UK Winning Moves had new regional Monopoly games and Top Trumps packs, as usual. They also had The Da Vinci Code, a tie-in to the thriller. The aim of the game is to work out what you opponent’s number is. Both players set a code. They then try to guess each other’s sequence of numbers, with each correct answer giving some clues as to what the other digits are.


I didn’t spot any noticeable trends at this year’s Toy Fair. Apart from a move to using DVDs to deliver quiz games. It was interesting, too, to see more companies opting for closed stands this year. Some years ago, it was the norm for all stands to be walled off and access controlled via a reception desk (or uniformed commissionaires in the case of Hasbro). Then companies moved to having open stands so that everybody could see all the exciting new stuff. Now we seem to be moving back to controlling who can see things. 

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