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Toy Fair 2007 – page 2

This brings me to Re: creation, which distributes games from a number of companies and includes several games in its portfolio. The only thing of note this year was The Golden Compass, a tie-in to the film of the first book of Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy (I’m slightly confused, but apparently this is the American title of the first volume, Northern Lights). No details were available (and the game doesn’t feature on the company’s website – but then, this shows the “Latest News” as being from 28th February 2006!). Otherwise, re: creation had various trivia and TV tie-in (Lost, The OC et al) games that I’d seen before.

Tactic Games UK is the British branch of Scandinavian publisher Tactic. The company is best known for producing licensed editions of other publishers’ games for their native market. As far as I could see, the new games this year were all for young children.

I only spotted one new game on the Upstarts! stand this year: The Really Nasty Golf Game. This is an interesting combination. Upstarts’ previous ‘Really Nasty’ games have been good, fun family games, so this should be a good game. On the other hand, I have yet to see a good board game based on golf. The problem is that golf doesn’t seem to have an appeal outside golfers. While there are lots of them, they’re much more likely to be playing golf than playing board games. I didn’t get the chance to find out more about the game at the Toy Fair, so I shall be interested to see how this goes down.

However, Upstarts also has CSI: Senses. According to the company’s literature, this is a “multi-sensory board game.” I presume this means there are things to sniff and feel in the game, though the components seem to be mainly cards – plus nice little models of the CSI characters. There are six cases to solve and each case involves a series of challenges – pick the right insect out of the bag without looking, sketch an item for other players to guess and so on. There’s also an ultra-violet light that reveals the answers to some of the puzzles. Sounds like fun.

Winning Moves is another company whose UK incarnation is less interesting than its American and German counterparts. Winning Moves UK produces lots of Top Trumps and regional/city Monopoly games and not much else.

Old friends

These are smaller companies that have been around for a while. The alphabet brings Burley Games to the top. Peter Burley was showing Take it to the Limit! to a UK audience after its earlier exposure at Spiel ’06. This is a development of Peter’s earlier Take it Easy! and you can find more about it in my report from Spiel ’06.

Box and components of Luck of the DrawCoiled Spring Games is a distributor that aims to sell the “very best award winning fun, educational board games, card games and puzzles.” In practice, they distribute an interesting selection of children’s, family and abstract games. The highlight for me is that Coiled Spring is now handling US publisher Gamewright’s range of terrific children’s games. But Gamewright doesn’t just publish children’s games and one of its latest titles is Luck of the Draw. This is a family/party game that invites an immediate comparison with Pictionary. However, the aim here is not to communicate to other players. Instead, everybody draws whatever the current subject is. Then players decide which drawing best fits the (random) category: most embarrassing, least artistic, the “squiggliest” and so on. Bad drawing may be an advantage! It sounds like my kind of game.

I got the chance to learn more about Cuberty this year. The brainchild of Nigel Newberry, the game is published by Game Ideas and I first saw it at last year’s Toy Fair. It’s a word game that uses cubes, rather than tiles, with letters on. Words can be built vertically up as well as across the table and can even be stacked on top of each other. As each cube has blank sides, they don’t have to be included in every word. It’s an interesting variation on word games and is due for a full commercial launch this year (after some test marketing last year).

Ken Cottingham is the man behind KC Games and its game, Wheeler Dealer, which were back at the Toy Fair for the second year.

Minds United was also a first-timer last year with EleMental, an abstract strategy game based around the four classical elements (air, earth, fire and water). Since last year, the game has been taken up by the Science Museum (the only board game to carry the museum’s logo) and by chemicals firm DuPont for its innovative use of materials. (Specifically, Corian, which is used for the board and pieces in the different versions of the game.)

The company also has two new games this year. The first is a pocket-sized version of EleMental using dice with the same elemental symbols as the original game. Designer Chris McCann describes it as Yahtzee-like, so it’s about rolling the dice to make different sets of symbols. The second is Fight Dice. This is a neat little game. Like the first dice game, it consists of a few dice in a tube that fits neatly into a pocket. The first player rolls the first die and then others according to their initial roll. The aim is to make successful ‘attacks’ against your opponent, but the dice may give them the opportunity to counter. It is pure luck, but good fun. The game is based on Karate, using the correct technical terms for different attacks and blocks, and the rules introduce the philosophy behind this martial art. Fight Dice is explicitly aimed at the playground and the plan is to produce further editions based on different types of fighting. I just hope you can mix and match the different sets – boxing versus taekwondo, say.

The latest additions to RTL Games’s line of Destination games are Disney (Destination Animation, featuring characters from Pixar animations) and Harry Potter (Destination Hogwarts) titles. A more conventional new setting for this taxi driving game is Destination Paris!¸ which is bilingual.

Sibling Revelry – my favourite name for a games company – returned with Cinematique. The game has players pitting their wits, performances and knowledge of films against each other. The game launched with a parade of movie stars at Hamleys in July 2006, sold out over Christmas in the stores stocking it and will be more widely available this year.

Continued on the next page

Plastic and wooden versions of Solomon's Stones

Two versions of Solomon's Stones from Solbenk (see next page)

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