Toy Fair 2006 - page 3

Wheeler Dealer is a game about making deals – profitably! Players get the option to buy commodities by landing on the appropriate squares as they go round the board. Once they get a set, they can sell – at a profit. They can also buy cards off other players, which can be a faster way to complete the set but means sharing some of the profit. Once they’ve raised enough capital, players can enter the inner circle of the board where the stakes are higher. Deals cost more, but the profits are bigger. And so are the risks. First to reach a set amount of money wins the game. There’s clearly a big luck element in this game, but it looks intriguing and challenging. Designed by Ken Cottingham and published by his imprint, KC Games, Wheeler Dealer made it in to the shops last year. Production (by Carta Mundi) is of a high standard and the game retails at £20. It can also be bought direct from the publisher's website.

Every few years a golf board game pops up at the Toy Fair. This year we got Matchgolf. This is a nicely-produced board game that simulates a game of golf across a 9-hole course. As you’d expect, the board shows the course. Each hole is marked out by spaces showing the distance from tee to green – and beyond. Players choose the club they want to use for each shot and draw a card that says how far that shot has gone. There is a certain skill in judging the best club to use – though the range of each is shown on the board – and in avoiding the hazards. Players also start with a hand of cards and must use these up. Making the best use of these gives some further tactical options.

The bulk of the rules of the game are, of course, the rules of golf. Which means that the aim is to complete each ‘hole’ in as few ‘strokes’ as possible. There are lots of nice touches to the game: a medal for the winner, a cardboard golf buggy that holds the cards for the different clubs. Matchgolf is a pleasant family game, but doesn’t offer much of a challenge to gamers. Designers Peter Penfold and Keith Harris have done an excellent job with the game. It retails at £25.

Another newcomer was Mentalogy, which is at heart a memory game. Players progress round the spiral track by remembering which cards are where in the four different sets. Just to confuse things, more cards appear as the game goes on – and they can be moved around. First person to the centre wins. The game is well-produced with little brains as playing pieces and lots of cards packed into the triangular box. As well as the rather challenging “International Edition”, there is a children’s version, Junior Mentalogy, which uses fewer cards and brightly coloured pictures. I might be able to cope with that. The game is published by an Irish company, who have already had some success with the game in the USA.

EleMental is the name of the two-player abstract strategy game from Minds United. Designed by Chris McCann, players’ pieces (and the layers of the board) represent the four elements (air, fire, water and wind). Each element has a speed and strength, which changes depending on the layer they’re on. There is also one piece that represents time, which must be carried by another playing piece. The ultimate aim is to get to creation – the peak at the centre of the board – and combine all five elements. Other ways of winning add an element of uncertainty to the game. The basic set costs £20 and is available (+ p&p) direct from the publisher’s website.

Mobile Intelligence Games launched the UK edition of their travel trivia game, M.I.G., at the show. The game comes in a chunky box, most of which is packed with question cards. A couple of special dice give players a choice between 2 of the five topics to answer a question on. The other die decides whether the player carries on if they get it right or have to end their turn. After this, it’s a pretty standard trivia game: first to get a question right in each of the categories wins. It’s nicely produced, but nothing special.

As far as I’m concerned, a company called Natchos Limited has to be worth a visit. Their game is The Beautiful Game, a game of World Cup trivia, puzzles and tasks. As players progress round the board (by rolling a die, naturally) they build up their team of 11 players (cards) by getting the questions right or completing the puzzles and tasks – though they may lose some to hazards and failure. This builds up to a final showdown in the “World Cup Final.” As someone who’s not keen on either trivia games or football, this is definitely not for me. Since the Toy Fair I’ve learnt that the game has been picked up by Marks and Spencers.

Another game I seem to have missed on my way round the Toy Fair is Cash Trap from New Century Games. The aim is to get your nice ‘money bag’ playing pieces across to the far side of the board. To do this you play movement cards from your hand and move your money bag. Or someone else’s, depending on the card played. While avoiding the cash trap obstacles. Another game that I’d like to try.

Playerz Games (be warned: there doesn’t seem to be any way to switch off the website's music!) is a Dutch company staffed, if the guys at the Toy Fair are anything to go by, by a bunch of nutters. I liked ’em. They have invented a cast of cartoon characters with attitude and the games revolve around them. MadWish, their first game, is happening, it’s down on the street, it’s roll the dice, move your pawn and do what it says on the square. Oh dear. This is essentially a pretty ordinary game of challenges and forfeits jazzed up (or ‘pimped’, even) for a young, urban audience. Which isn’t me. I hope the game goes down better in the ’hood. The second game, KidzWish is due out later in the year and looks to be much the same game aimed at an even younger audience. (I can say things like this now I’ve passed fifty.)

RTL Games was back at the Toy Fair to report more success for their Destination… taxi games. Destination Brighton & Hove and Destination Delhi (now there’s a strange juxtaposition) launched in 2005. This year kicked off with Destination New York (for which the company’s yellow colour scheme seems well matched) and Destination Las Vegas, Destination Orlando and Destination Dublin are set to follow. Also due out this year is Destination World, a junior version using a map of the world and aeroplanes (rather than taxis).

Box art from Where is Moldova?

The first thing you notice about Seager GamesWhere is Moldova? is the sheer size of the box. It’s easily the biggest game box I’ve come across. Hang on … a little work with the tape measure tells me the box is 63 x 50 cms (or over 2 x 1.5 feet in old money). The reason for this is that one of the chief components is a metal-backed map of Europe. With the addition of a couple of feet, this stands up so that players can mark the countries they control with magnetic markers. Get five in a row and you win the game.

The second board – which goes flat on the table – is where the game play takes place. This is a classic roll the dice and move your pawn around the Monopoly-style track along the edges of the board – there’s a second track on the inside, which you get to by paying a ‘strategy card’, that provides some tactical options. Not surprisingly, if you land on a square representing a country you get the chance to ‘buy’ it. This you do not with money, but by answering a question (or rolling the dice and getting lucky).

The questions vary between complete trivia and Europe-related trivia, some of them being multiple choice (“What nationality was Ivan the Terrible: Latvian, Russian or Polish?”). A neat touch is that there are 12 questions on each card and you roll dice for which question you get. Two 6-sided dice means more of questions 6, 7 and 8, which are easier than 1, 2, 11 or 12. Using the 12-sided die gives an even chance. This provides a handicapping system – though we are also promised some “Kidz Kwestions” (sic, very) as an expansion to the game.

The game provides further tactics by allowing the ownership of countries to be challenged for. This is a way of getting the crucial link in a chain when an opponent has got there first. Of course, to do this you have to land on the right square, so the luck of the dice still controls the game. Essentially, designer Peter Seager has given us a trivia game where you need to roll the right numbers on the dice as well as knowing it all. And it comes in a big box. Huge. (Ivan the Terrible was Russian, but you knew that. And Moldova fits neatly in between Romania and Ukraine.)

Somehow I managed to miss Shannon Boardgames’ stand this year. I shall chase them up to find out what’s new for 2006. In the meantime, take a look at

Disqualified! comes from Tucker Enterprises and is described as “an action packed family board game which capitalises on Britain’s excessive speeding penalties.” Hmm, do I detect that designer Andrew Tucker has been caught speeding a few times? The aim of the game is to complete a journey of 100 miles while evading the hazards of speed cameras and traffic cops. Except for the police player, who’s trying to get 12 penalty points on everybody else’s driving licence. The game has Formula 1-style dashboards to record speed, fuel and damage for each player – a neat touch. The demo games used some nice model Minis, which are available as an add-on. It looks good and I’ll be interested to see whether the game play matches up to its looks. Advance orders can be placed on the publisher’s website.

Vickers Holdings is a property development company and the publisher of Housebuilder, a game about building houses. The board has a figure-of-eight track, which allows players to raise funds and buy the raw materials they need to build their house. This is carefully done in several stages, ending with the roof (seems logical!). The game is clearly intended to be realistic – go past your overdraft limit and you’re out! However, there’s a strong luck element in what movement around the track lets you do. Production is of a high standard, with little hard hats as the playing pieces. As family games go, this is an interesting one. It’s been available since May 2005 at £30 and can be bought direct from the publisher's website.


Looking over the Toy Fair as a whole, I didn’t spot many trends. Though there were a lot of Sudoku games and quite a few football games (must be something in the air). And, on the toy side, no end of Daleks! As always, the games on show were almost all aimed at a family market, but there were several that will be of interest to hobby games-players.

Top of page / Page 2 / Page 1

Page created 21st March 2006. last updated 19th May 2014.
This website produced by Paul Evans. © Copyright Paul Evans 2006-2014. All trademarks acknowledged.
Problems, comments and feedback to the Webmaster.


About Pevans

To Win Just Once magazine

Reviews and articles

Games from Pevans link

Les Petites Bêtes Soyeuses

Swiggers games club

Postal games

What's new