Toy Fair 2017—WS Game Company

The folks at WS Game Company were busy with buyers from store chains large and small at Toy Fair this year and it’s no wonder. The company makes high-end versions of classic boardgames. These are games that put presentation above all else, whether it’s something as inexpensive as their $25-$30 Nostalgia Tin line or their top-of-the-line Franklin Mint Collector’s Editions of Scrabble and Monopoly (both available now, $500).

Yesterday, we showcased the Monopoly Miami Edition with art from Romero Britto. Next to that game was a Scrabble set, featuring the artwork of Charles Fazzino. This set, the Scrabble 3D World Edition (available now, $500), features layered elements creating a 3D piece of artwork below the playing surface. The glass letter tiles are larger than your standard Scrabble set. Like the Monopoly set, this art edition of Scrabble is limited to 2000 copies.

Perhaps you want a simple “luxury” edition of Scrabble, Monopoly, or Clue? On April 15th, they will be available for $250 apiece. Both Monopoly and Scrabble come with gold foil-stamped play elements (the outer path, houses and hotels, and tokens in Monopoly, the raised grid, sand timer, and tile holders in Scrabble). Monopoly has the central area sunken for dice rolling on a faux-leather surface while Scrabble has faux-ivory letter tiles. Of this line, the one that really caught my eye was the Clue edition with sunken, three-dimensional mansion rooms beneath the glass surface. The murder weapons and the bases of the suspects are gold foil-stamped as well.

But then there’s the glass versions of Monopoly and Scrabble that will be available in August at a price point yet to be determined. The game art on these is printed on tempered glass. The Scrabble set’s board rotates and the tiles have non-slip coatings to keep them in place. The Monopoly board has more glass elements: not only is the board glass, but the houses and hotels are as well. These are sharp-looking games, even though they come with rounded corners.

The Monopoly Transformers Edition appears to be a piece of artwork featuring Generation 1 Transformers, but the frames swing open to reveal the themed outer track. Instead of properties, you’re purchasing transforming robots that… you place houses and hotels on to collect rent? Okay. Unlike most licensed Monopoly games, there is no Go! space — here, it’s ROLL OUT! (and collect $200). To be released in August, the price hasn’t been determined yet, but you can mortgage Megatron for $160 to help save up.

WS Game Company’s line of vintage bookshelf games did amazingly well for them last year. At a $40 price point for Monopoly, Scrabble, and Clue, these games in book-like boxes is inspired by vintage graphics. Coming out later this year (August, again) at a price point that’s unknown (but probably $40 like the currently-available batch) are Yathzee’s 1956 edition, The Game of Life’s 1960 edition, Trivial Pursuit’s 1981 Genius edition, and Scattergories’ 1988 edition.

Twister joins the Collectible Tin line, alongside Candy Land, Chutes & Ladders, Scrabble, Monopoly, Clue, Sorry!, and Mystery Date. Twister, available in August as well, will retail for $30, like the majority of the line. Candy Land and Chutes & Ladders are the only outliers at the $25 level.

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Shuffle Twister and Shuffle Subbuteo

Subbuteo ShuffleCartamundi has two new entries in its Shuffle line of app-enhanced card games. Shuffle Subbuteo is an adaptation of the tabletop flicking football (A.K.A. soccer) game in which the trick is timing card-play to beat the opponents goalie. The optional app features a scoreboard timer and stadium sound-effects.

In Shuffle Twister, players choose a card with a colored dot and then must follow the card’s instruction. Even picking a card becomes more difficult, though, as the players are further tied up in knots. The optional Shuffle Twister app adds more silliness to the game by randomly assigning additional actions.


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Score Board - Boardgame tournaments, competitions and championships results and scoresIt was Yusuke Takanashi of Japan’s fourth time winning the World Othello Championship, which this year took place in Cambridge, U.K. and earned him a $3,000 prize.

The winner of the World Scrabble Championship and a $10,000 prize was 32 year-old Wellington Jighere of Nigeria. To prepare for the event, Jighere had spent the previous 4 months in training full-time. At the tournament, he beat out 450 other players, including perennial favorite Nigel Richards, who only came in eighth.

The top trophy of the World Chess Championship for the Disabled, which took place in Dresden, Germany, went to Alexey Smirnov, representing the Russian chapter of the International Braille Chess Association. Placing 53rd but tops in inspiration was Shailesh Nerlikar of India, who has to play lying down and with the aid of an assistant to make and record his moves.

Viktor Strekalovski vs Shailesh Nerlikar Chess

Feliks Zemdegs scored four Rubik’s Cube world records on his way to the top at Melbourne Cube Days. In one, he beat the previous record (which he held himself) for solving a 5×5 by 0.28 seconds (the new record is 46.97).

A world record-sized Twister mat (27,159.616 ft2—equivalent to 1,200 standard mats) saw play by singer Thomas Rhett and fans at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas


World no. 10-ranked Chess player, Wesley So, came in first at the Bilbao Masters, ahead of Viswanathan Anand (no. 3), Liren Ding (no. 8), and Anish Giri (no. 9).

The Trinidad & Tobago National Chess Championship was won by 24 year-old up-and-comer, Kevin Cupid, who has his sights on high-level international tournaments next. The National Women’s Championship was won by Aditi Soondarsingh for the ninth time.

Seven-hundred forty-eight students of California Baptist University playing Bunko set a new world record for most individuals playing the game at a single venue.

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Twister National Toy Hall of Fame InducteeThe Strong and National Museum of Play have announced the 2015 class of inductees to the National Toy Hall of Fame. Sharing the honor with puppets and the Super Soaker is the game, Twister.

The invention of Twister dates back to 1964 but by 1966 Milton Bradley had already given up and called off further production of the game, which some considered too racy. Then in an appearance on the Tonight Show, Twister was played by Johnny Carson and Eva Gabor. In 1967, it sold more than 3 million copies.

Johnny Carson Eva Gabor Twister

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Hasbro logoUnder pressure by foreign exchange rates, Hasbro’s second quarter net revenues were down 4 percent compared to last year (to $797.7 million). The results, however, were better than expected by analysts, moving the company’s stock price to close up 6 percent on Monday.

Before the impact of foreign exchange, Hasbro’s revenues were up 5 percent. The girls category dropped 22 percent compared to the same quarter of last year, games 6 percent. However, when comparing the first 6 months of 2015 to that of 2014, the games category was flat. This difference was driven mostly by the change in Magic: The Gathering’s release schedule. In 2014 the major release was in the second quarter. In 2015 it was in the first. A “restaging” of Duel Masters in Japan was also a contributing factor.

Results in the second quarter were mixed among Hasbro’s franchise brands as well. Magic: The Gathering, Transformers, and Furby were down. Littlest Pet Shop, Monopoly, My Little Pony, Nerf, and Play-Doh were up. So were Marvel and Jurassic World.

CEO Brian Goldner said traditional board games in particular were up “a bit” in the second quarter. In addition to Monopoly, Clue, Trouble, and Twister performed well.

Looking forward, Goldner spoke optimistically about Monopoly Here and Now, Pie Face, games for the Minions and Star Wars movies, and the…

Magic: The Gathering Arena of the Planeswalkers game, which gives us a new footprint in the strategy board gaming category.

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Hasbro logoGame revenues were down 4 percent for Hasbro in 2014. According to its latest report, the company earned $1.26 billion from games in 2014, compared to $1.31 billion in 2013.

Growth by Magic: The Gathering, Monopoly, The Game of Life, and Simon was offset by a decline in sales for Duel Masters, Twister, and Angry Birds.

Overall, though, 2014 was a good year for Hasbro, with total net revenue up 5 percent to $4.28 billion and adjusted net earnings up 10%. The strongest performer for Hasbro was the boys category, up 20 percent mostly on the strength of Transformers, Nerf, and Marvel.

Benefiting from growth in lifestyle licensing, the entertainment and licensing segment was also up 15 percent.

Answering questions after the presentation, Hasbro’s president, Brian Goldner, revealed that sales of Magic: The Gathering are divided roughly 55/45 percent between large retailers and other outlets (specialty, hobby, etc.). The Friday Night Magic program has grown to 7,000 gaming sessions each week. And by next year, sales of Beyblade are expected to have pretty much evaporated.

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Twister PatentChuck Foley, one of the inventors of Twister, died July 1st at the age of 82. Foley also invented many other toys and gadgets and held 97 patents.

Neil Rabens, one of Foley’s collaborators on the design of Twister, told the Los Angeles Times that the pair had trouble convincing the Patent Office to issue a patent without a mechanical device. Foley had to go to Washington to demonstrate how the game was played. Eventually, one was issued for an “Apparatus for Playing a Game Wherein the Players Constitute the Game Pieces“.

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Toy Fair 2013 Logo

Robert and I had a blast playing with the Transformers, KRE-O, and Nerf toys in Hasbro’s showroom. There may still be some Nerf darts stuck up in the rafters!

In terms of Hasbro’s games, though…

Magic Jinn is an interactive, electronic, guessing game. The magical-cat-like device asks the questions and you answer “yes”, “no”, or “it depends.” One version will guess Animals; another Food & Drinks.

Part of the Elefun line for preschoolers, Chasin’ Cheeky is a monkey figure that scrambles around the floor while the kids try to toss rings over its tail. Or if someone is able to grab the banana from its mouth, Cheeky will shake his rear end.

For 2013, Hasbro plans a series of Twister-branded dance and activity games. One is Twister Rave Skip-It, which spins around the ankle. Another is Twister Dance Rave, which includes colored pads and a device that lights up to music, indicating where to put your left and right feet. (Thank goodness they didn’t make me try either of those!)

The Bejeweled Classic and Bejeweled Frenzy games, which we’ve mentioned before, were on display.

As were two additions to the Angry Birds Star Wars Jenga series: Angry Birds Star Wars Jenga Rise of Darth Vader and Angry Birds Star Wars Jenga Tie Fighter. The former includes Sith pigs.

Tetris Jenga adds quite a bit of challenge to the original Jenga game. Instead of straight blocks, they’re shaped like Tetris pieces.

To coincide with the release of the Despicable Me 2 movie this summer, Hasbro is planning Despicable Me 2 Monopoly and Despicable Me 2 Operation. Each comes with a set of miniature Minion figures. Additional Minions, to complete the full set of 50, can be purchased separately.

World Series of Yahtzee is a frantic game of simultaneous dice rolling. The first player to match a pattern on one of the cards takes it and presses a button. Then the rest of the players have seconds to roll better.

Scheduled for release in the fall is the Game of Life Fame Edition. In this version of Life, instead of building a family, players are gathering an entourage. Instead of a nice four-passenger sedan, players travel the board in a limousine. Also, the board is pentagonal and made of five sections, each of which can be flipped over to vary play.

Another fall board game release planned is Monopoly Empire. While no prototype was on display, Hasbro explained that the basic concept is buying and selling iconic brands instead of real-estate—a better fit, I think, for the modern business environment.

A prototype of the new Monopoly cat token, though, was on display.

And a whole range of Transformers Bot Shots Battle Game products. The Transformers Bot Shots Battle Game Dragon Track especially looked fun! Two bot shots race in from opposite sides while the center pit spins.

Beyblade had a stronger showing than expected with a new Beyblade Shogun Steel line. Shogun Steel is Hasbro’s version of the Zero-G series from Japan. These Beys come to the United States with little-to-no modification, except some really nice recolors. The new stadium, on the other hand, was a bit of a disappointment. Takara Tomy’s Zero G Beystadium features a rounder bowl and three holes for ring outs. Hasbro’s Beyblade Cyclone Stadium has a flatter bottom, so it rocks less, and has 2 pockets near the top for ring outs. This also can affect the rocking motion of the stadium if they hit the table.

Last but not least, Hasbro’s plans for 2013 include a major push for a new product line, B-DAMAN. It’s a competitive marble-shooting toy with collectible shooters and an online game tie-in.

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