Strap-in for a long post. This originally was just about a couple of games that I picked up on a fortuitous find, but I expanded it out to all of the games that I found on two trips that were a couple of days apart, totaling seventeen games.
The first trip started out looking like it was going to be a bust — two spots that had yielded o.k. results in the past came up completely dry for the second or third time running; a solid performer also only produced a copy of Blokus (though wonderfully complete). As I was lamenting my bad luck, I opted to add one more stop to my route just to possibly catch one more small thing — and then I hit a seasonal jackpot. Five good titles from the late 1960s and early 1970s in excellent condition for reasonable prices. I know Savers can go a little premium when they get a vintage item in, and while these were elevated in price somewhat, they were still a good value for what they were and their condition. My only regret was that another shopper snagged a vintage copy of Bas-KET before I spotted it, but I really would have had to see the price to determine if it was a worthwhile get.
Blokus ($3) – This was the first find of the afternoon, at the third store. Somewhat of an unusual edition for the area, as this is a bi-lingual French-English edition which should be Canadian in origin (so probably not a Target pick-up). Played, with a little shelf-wear, but complete. Since Blokus is generally available at Target and Wal-Mart, these pop up occasionally, but since there are 80 loose parts in the box, it is usually a gamble as to whether the game will be complete or not. I think my overall lifetime record is around five complete Blokuses (Blokai?), three complete Blokus Travel / Blokus to go, to two incomplete Blokus, and one incomplete Blokus Trigon.
Battling Tops ($5) – At my final stop, this was the first thing that I spotted on the shelf. Not only is it an old Ideal editon of Battling Tops with the wide parabolic arena, but it is also the edition with the fantastic classic cover art. After inventory, I found it does have all four pullers (though only three have strings, and might be replacements, but also string is very replaceable), and six of the top discs with their original stickers, but there are only three top sticks. I will dig into the parts box to see if my salvaged tops from a different Battling Tops game will be suitable replacements.
Battleship ($7) – The famed “Mom and daughter doing dishes while dad and son play” cover. I had run across another one of these a couple of weeks ago, but I ultimately passed on it because it was in fair-to-poor shape, the cover had a big decades-old shipping sticker on it that I was unsure if I could remove without damage, and the store had priced it at $12(!). I would have paid $12 for this one, though, as it is in excellent condition with very little wear. From what I can tell, the only real mar to it other than a little shelf-wear is that a piece of cardboard from inside the box is missing, the one that kept the two clamshell boxes pushed to either end. Nominal, to be sure, as the real jewel of this is the cover, and the contents are immaterial. In fact, this cover is virtually the only reason I would pick up a copy of Battleship.
Jenga ($3) – Jenga is usually on my “ignore” list, but I sold one in a flea market a couple of years back, and the buyer said that she and other buyers seek out and will pay a premium for the old Milton Bradley editions like this one because of the quality of wood that is used in the blocks. This one is ultimately missing one block, but I should be able to find a replacement for it on the parts market.
Ploy ($5) – I would have had a harder decision to buy this if I had only come across it alone, but since it was along with the treasure trove, I added it as a “why not?”. Also, I have a soft spot for 3M bookshelf games, and I usually fall on the side of choosing to save one from the thrift store if it is a reasonable price (softness does not apply to Stocks & Bonds and Facts in Five, the former pops up too often and there is no market for it, and the latter is just on its own). Complete and in pretty good condition, with the ersatz Leonard Nimoy on the cover.
Manhunt ($8) – I was unfamilar with this game, but since it was with the others and is in great condition, I picked it up as well. After going through it, this appears to be a detective deduction game similar to Clue. Players are trying to solve a mystery that is generated by a punch-card that goes into the clue machine. Players gather clues by sticking a probe into the machine, and find out if their assessment is correct (hole, probe shows nothing) or incorrect (no hole, proble shows a red mark). There is also a battery-operated “computer” that seems to consist of a small engine that causes some dials to spin. There was still a 30+-year-old battery in the device that was very corroded, but I cleaned it up and I think the simplicity of the device means it should not have come to harm. Once I locate a D-cell battery and get this to the table, I’ll see if it is worthwhile to write up a review.
Tip-It ($8) – A classic Ideal game, though one that has been picked up and is currently available on the market. This one is the old Ideal version — with the fantastic box graphics, and the game pieces that bridge the gap between “game” and “toy”, as so many Ideal games do. Like the others from the haul, the box was in great shape despite its age, which was a real feat here because the box is very large and has a lot of hollow space inside, which usually leads to dishing and crushing. One thing that had not fared well over time — part of the box insert made of thin vacu-form plastic was rather brittle. Fortunately, the box doesn’t really rely on the insert to keep its shape either. Though Tip-It might not be as impressive as Riff-Raff or any other large-form dexterity game when it is set up, the large form-factor of it is still pretty neat.
Chess^3 ($4) – I picked this one up mostly for the novelty. I actually misunderstood from the outside of the box just what this is, which is remarkable because I once built a list of several dozen chess variants and re-implementations where I determined the distinctions between this chess game and others. I thought this was the Star Trek set piece with the board separated out onto tiers, but it turns out that this is the variant that uses a single set of pieces but uses them across three stacked boards. Visually interesting, though the components are a little cheaper than I would have expected, using injection-molded pieces that end up with clear mold lines and have some flash from misalignment. Nevertheless, this will.probably make some chess enthusiast happy.
Waterworks ($3) – This one was another grab in the excitement of finding a lot of quality items. Like Ploy, I would have passed this over if I found it on its own, as I don’t think it is a very good game, and the nostalgia aspect of it doesn’t do much to fetch a good price. But, I still picked it up. This edition comes with the “bathtub” card tray, and the small metal wrenches. Interestingly enough, while it was missing one wrench, two more missing wrenches had been replaced by other small metal tools that share the same brassy color and are the same size as the original wrenches. Instead, the package has one small brassy hammer, and one of what appear to be a pair of pliers. Regardless, I have another parts copy from which I can scavenge wrenches, so I’ll find a good home for this somewhere.
Cashflow for Kids ($3) – I’ve read Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and I get what the author is after, but I’m not sure to what extent that translates to kids, even if you do package it up in a board game. At one time, Cashflow 101 used to fetch high prices on the resale market, mostly because the retail on it was around $200. Now, it looks like Cashflow will top out around $35 for great condition for the right buyet, and Cashflow for Kids will maybe pull $20-25, but maybe that’s the real lesson I learned from the book — know your market, buy low, sell somewhat higher.
The thrift trip on March 18 started out differently than usual. I was originally going to stop at a couple of stores on the way home on March 17, but my work schedule changed for me to stay later, but then on March 18 is changed back to normal time and gave me most of the day off. I stopped into one of my usual Kansas City, Kansas thrift stores, and not only did I find a number of games, but the cashier was having a bad day / dispute with her manager, so she didn’t ring up half of my stuff. Since the pricing information in a store is not absolute, and taking goods to a counter to purchase is merely an invitation to offer, I accepted her unilateral offer to sell me goods for lower than their ticketed price, so each of these has the ticketed price, and what I ultimately paid for them
Pass the Pigs (
$1 $1) – I have a friend who loves Pass the Pigs, and she asked me to get her a set a little while back. I already found her one, but since this edition is compact and comes in a travel case, I figured I couldn’t go wrong for $1. But, outside of this reason, I probably would not have purchased Pass the Pigs, as I don’t really care for it as a game, and I don’t think it performs well on the sale / trade market.
Ninja Burger (
$2.98 $1.98) – I do not generally enjoy Steve Jackson games when I am playing games but I do recognize that he has his fans and they enjoy the silly action of the games that he makes. I don’t know anything about Ninja Burger, but as much as I don’t like to play Steve Jackson games, I wouldn’t leave them behind at a thrift store if they are a reasonable price. I don’t really have a guiding principle here — it’s not like “rescuing” a 3M bookshelf title like Twixt, but I thought that I would be able to find a good home for this from someone who likes playing it. And, since the cards were in shrinkwrap, I was not concerned that there were lost parts.
Munchkin Fu (
$2.98 $1.98) – Same thing I said about Ninja Burger, except that the Munchkin franchise has far more adherents. This one did have one pack of cards in shrink but one pack of cards opened and were bagged up, and I had confidence that everything was included.
$1.98 $1.98) – I would have passed on this one, even at a price of $2, just because I don’t play much trivia, and I’ve never had much luck in trying to sell trivia games in the secondary market. While I appreciate trivia for what it is and how it operates in an environment where you can sit down and play a game with friends, I generally find that trivia is too all-over-the map for my taste, or you are invariably saddled with a category in which you have very little information (for me, sports) and it will be an albatross around your neck toward game completion. To go a little further off the rails on trivia with an personal anecdote — I played in a trivia tournament among friends back in law school. There were eight or twelve of us (I don’t recall some of the details) and we were each playing Trivial Pursuit, and the top two finishers from each table would face off at a later date for the Ultimate Trivia Challenge. I did very well at my table, filled up my pie wedges (even in the dreaded sports category), and then could not roll the right number to hit the center space for 20+ consecutive turns. I did end up finishing in the top two for my table, as I had picked up the pie wedges pretty quickly, but I was completely soured on the whole affair because the whole game hinged on the arbitrary die roll.
Anyway, Bezzerwizzer is actually a trivia game I would play. The whole of the game is about progressing linearly around a track, so you don’t have to deal with any silly die rolls. What I really like about it is that each trivia card has 20 categories, and before each round you pull three category tiles from a bag, and those are the categories you will answer for the turn. I think there is some jockeying where you can say what category you think you will perform best in. Also, as an added bonus, each player has tiles that they can use as side bets when they think they will know the category better than the person being asked the question, and they can jump in and answer the question if the original person gets it wrong. I think that this twists up the traditional action of trivia games and makes them a bit more dynamic and interesting. Bezzerwizzer actually comes from Denmark, though Mattel picked up the production / distribution rights for North America. In Denmark and other Scandinavian countries, Bezzerwizzer (which roughly means “better knower”) is similar to Trivial Pursuit in the number of editions and expansions. But, Bezzerwizzer didn’t seem to catch as much fire here in the US (despite at least two television commercials) so this is the only package available in English.
Risk 2210 (
$2.98 $1.98) – This was a bit of a nostalgic score, as my roommate and I bought a copy of this back in 2001 (for $50 retail!), and before I discovered a wider world of games, this was the only board game that I played often for a couple of years. I revisited it a couple of years ago and I don’t really care for the “take that” actions of the game and the tremendous per-player downtime (10 minutes on, 40 minutes off), but I know it has a following, and would also probably be a hit with my young nephews. When I opened the package, most everything seemed complete, except that the game was missing the moon playing board, the score and turn table, and the instructions. Fortunately for me, I had thrifted a different copy of Risk 2210 a couple of years ago that was missing a lot of parts, but it did have these. So, with a little bit of scavenging in my own parts department, I turned this into a complete copy.
Trains and Stations (
$2.98 $0.00) – This was a game that I had never heard of, but since it came in a nice linen-finished box, was produced by WizKids!, and had a train theme with dice, I figured that I would probably be o.k. to buy it for $3 (and even better that I apparently got it for $0). The components look good, and the game appears to have been played once or only a few times. The reviews on it are middle-of-the-road, but I figured that this could be something I can play a couple of times, or I’ll just add it to the sale pile and see what I can get on the secondary market. What also catches me on this one was that this was just a 2013 release, so whomever donated it to the thrift store either received it from a friend who plays hobby games but missed the mark on what a friend would like a gift, or someone decided to winnow their collection but went for the donate-to-thrift route rather than trying to sell or trade.
Five Finger Severance (
$4.98 $0.00) – This one was an odd find, partly because it fits squarely in the hobby genre like Trains and Stations, and I don’t think Minion Games has very wide distribution, but also because this is still in shrinkwrap. I don’t know much about this game, and the reviews of it say that it’s a bit crass and doesn’t use a lot of finesse in its mechanisms, but I figured that a $5 mid-sized box game can usually sell for $10 as long as it isn’t total trash, but since this one ended up at $0, whatever I get for it is gravy money.