Miniaturizing the Monster: Sid Sackson’s ‘Acquire’ and the Capitalist Board Game

By Ben Schwartz

Ultra-prolific board game designer Sid Sackson made his first game when he was six years old; he militarized Uncle Wiggily, a 1916 children’s game based on a series of children’s books. In it, players race from the titular rheumatic-yet-cheerful rabbit’s house to Dr. Possum’s office, for reasons not elaborated upon in any rulebook I can find. It’s cute, in a turn-of-the-century, butterscotchy kind of way—calming, quaint, woefully unbalanced, and entirely luck-based…

Gender Roles Included: The Unreal Estate of 1980s Playsets

By J.E. Anckorn

In the 1980s, the action figure ruled the toy store shelves. Some kids were loyal to one franchise (I was a strictly My Little Pony girl, myself). Some children’s affections and parental pursestrings could stretch to several different brands, but whatever flavor of molded plastic you were hooked on, the pinnacle of aspirational toys was always the playset. These big-box behemoths offered a fantasy local where our toys…

“21st Century Global Guardians”: Corgi’s X-Ploratrons, 1979

Billed as “global guardians,” the X-Ploratrons were four toy vehicles, each equipped with its own novelty tool—mirror, magnifying glass, compass, and magnet—and charged with protecting humanity in the “fictitious disaster-wrecked world of the 21st century,” where “the elements rebel against man!” They were long-established die-cast toy brand Corgi’s attempt to adapt to the wave of SF-driven commerce that followed the unprecedented success of Star Wars

Diaclone Television Commercials, 1980 – 1984

Having become an aficionado of YouTube compilations of television commercials from the ’70s and ’80s, being introduced to this particular collection was a real treat. And such an uncanny one! Here are the Transformers I played with as a kid—Optimus Prime, Wheeljack, Ratchet, Sideswipe—in their original context as members of the Diaclone (ダイアクロン Daiakuron) line of toys from Japan…

Avalon Hill’s Occult Ritual Kits, 1974

Avalon Hill, known for historical wargames like Blitzkrieg (1965) and PanzerBlitz (1970) at this point, released the Witchcraft Ritual Kit and Black Magic Ritual Kit on the heels of The Exorcist, the occult blockbuster that saw demon “Captain Howdy” enter the material world (and eventually a 12-year-old girl) via a Parker Brothers Oija Board…