Yesterday the charity shops of Gillingham turned up some vintage gems for us. If you’re not already following us on You Tube then you might want to take a look at this. I’m not sure where else you’ll find someone looking at a board game produced by Ford Tractors!
There’s absolutely no doubt that Miss UK is a board game from the 1970s. When else was it so allowed to be sexist and misogynistic in public and on television? I have to admit that I gasped with shock when I found this at a recent jumble sale. I obviously knew of Miss UK and the various other beauty pageants that used to happen in the run up to Miss World, but I had absolutely no idea that there was a board game version of it.
For anyone who wasn’t around in the 1970s or has missed it from those various nostalgia shows that have titles like “It was alright in the 70s” then let me fill you in.
Miss World and Miss UK
Miss World is basically an international beauty pageant that started in the 1950s (by a Brit, Eric Morley) and became known for the way in which women were judged in it. The whole thing started from a bikini competition at the Festival of Britain. A competition that was designed to promote the bikini initially, but went on to create something so much bigger.
The Miss World completion, and hence the national pageants that sit under it, consisted of several rounds. The most famous of which was the swimsuit round, but contestants also took part in rounds that judged their talent, their personality, and what they looked like in a evening gown. I’m delighted to say that Mis World finally ditched the swimsuit round in 2015, but you have to wonder why it took them so long!
Here in the UK there were a number of regional competitions which then culminated in a grand final and one of the regional winners being crowned Miss UK. I seem to recall these regional competitions being somehow linked to local television regions, but I might be making that up. Certainly I think some of the personalities from local television where the types who went on to host the regional competitions.
So, enough about the competition and on to the board game.
Miss UK – the Board Game
Miss UK is actually quite a long-winded board game with players having to go through six different regional finals before getting on to the grand final and the crowning of Miss UK herself. With between two and four players, each player has an entry into each regional final. As you work through these regional finals the winner of each one goes on to represent their region at the grand final. So, in terms of players in the game, you could technically end up with one player being responsible for all the entries into the grand final.
There are six regions in the Miss UK competition:
- Miss England (North)
- Miss Scotland
- Miss England (Midlands)
- Miss Wales
- Miss England (South)
- Miss Northern Ireland
Each player choses one girl from each region and places the contestant cards into their own coloured base holders. They then play a round for each of the regions in the order above, so starting with Miss England (North).
Players place their contestant somewhere on the board and then, in lieu of a die spin the TV camera at the centre of the board to determine how many spaces they should move. They then move their contestant from their starting position, in a clockwise direction and see where they land.
If they land on a Swimsuit, Talent, Personality or Evening Gown square then they need to take one of the appropriate cards from that pile. It will tell you how you did in that round and how many points, if any, you were awarded and the player has to reveal that to everyone. If you instead land on the Judge’s box square you may take the top card from any of the packs.
Play continues around all the players until one has collected at least one card of each colour (i.e. swimsuit, talent, evening gown and personality). Players tally up their points and the one who has scored the most wins the regional final and their place in the grand final. That girl’s playing piece is then placed on the relevant regional spot in the centre of the board.
Then, if you can face it, you start all over again with the next regional final – Miss Scotland.
Play continues until all the regional winners have been decided and then you move on to the grand final. At this stage it could technically be possible that you have just one player who “own” all contestants in the final. Certainly if you’re playing with four players I would have thought it possible that one may not have qualified at all.
The grand final is played in a very similar way, but this time each contestant plays one round of the board alone, in the order that they qualified, and starting and finishing at the Judges Box. As they go round they pick up cards as before, but this time what is on them is not revealed to the other players.
Once all players have been they should then in turn reveal the cards they collected during their round of the board and how many points they gained. The player with the highest score is crowned Miss UK.
Miss UK – Our verdict
I have to admit that this is in no way a thrilling game. One round alone is enough for me to lose interest, but as a bit of history it’s fascinating to think that people actually bought this and wanted to play it. But then again, I guess it was the 1970s. It certainly has a certain nostalgia value and in that way I’m glad to have found a copy. Things could have been worse though – my research into this game has shown that the year before it was published (which was 1975) the same company (Denys Fisher Toys Limited) brought out a Miss World Game that involved dolls dressed in swimming costumes! I kid you not.
If you’re interested in vintage board games then why not head over to Facebook and join our new vintage board games group.
It was back last year that we reviewed the game Baffled from Cheatwell Games here on Penny Plays. We’d picked up a copy as a raffle prize at a Blog On conference and enjoyed playing it so much that wanted to share it with you all. I’d assumed it was a new game as I hadn’t come across it before. This week I discover I was wrong when I found a vintage copy in a charity shop in Chichester.
This version of Baffled was published in 1991 by Spear’s Games. I know that board games over the years become somewhat recycled, but normally a search on the bible of board games (AKA Board Game Geek) shows this up, but in this case Baffled was only listed there as having been published by Cheatwell in 2018.
Baffled – the similarities
On the whole the game of Baffled hasn’t really changed between the two versions. You still play in the same way with four players each trying to be the one to stay in longest by memorising the positions of 12 different symbols around the board. You can decide at the start of the game as to how many “lives” each player has and as you work your way around the board the things you are asked to do remain exactly the same in terms of which positions have to swap and which combinations of positions you have to name the symbols at.
Baffled – the differences
Playing the Cheatwell Games version of Baffled
Despite the general game play being the same, there are also quite a few smaller differences between the two versions of Baffled. Both have an elephant on the box, but the 2018 Cheatwell games version majors somewhat more on the elephant theme with each of the four coloured playing pieces bearing a picture of an elephant. In the 1991 Spear’s Games version there are just four coloured pieces, one for each player.
Spear’s Games Baffled Symbols
Cheatwell Games Baffled Symbols
With the introduction of elephants as playing pieces, there has also been a small change to the symbols that you have to remember. The yellow category contained an elephant and a banana in the Spear’s Games version, but by 2018 these had become a lion and a lemon instead. I can see why there was a need to swap out the elephant (which realistically was never yellow anyway!) but I’m not sure what the reason was for the banana going.
Spear’s Games Baffled Playing Board
The board layout, and size) also differs between the two versions. In the more modern version the symbols that you are trying to remember the positions of are arrange inside the board. In the old version they are around the edges. I can see why this change has been made as it’s far easier to swap pieces around if they’re all together in the middle. You’re also less likely to knock them when playing than you would be if they were round the edge of the board. The board has also become physically larger.
Spear’s Games Baffled playing pieces and symbols
The plastic pieces with the symbols on and the covers for them have also changed between the versions. They were much smaller in the Spear’s Games version and also somewhat harder to pick up too. I’m guessing that one of the reasons begins this change is probably driven by the fact that the plastic playing pieces now cost even less to produce than they did back in 1991.
The life cards included in the game have also changed slightly. In the version we reviewed before they either had a tick or a cross on them to symbolise being alive or dead. The Spear’s Games version says “Alive” on one side and “Dead” on the other. I wonder if this move to symbols was made to make the game work better in non English speaking countries maybe?
Finally, there’s just a subtle change in the rules. It used to be the case that two players could occupy the same square on the Baffled board. By the new version this has changed so that if the square you should land on is already occupied you’re supposed to advance to the next un-occupied square. Is this to accommodate the new larger playing pieces? Or a tweak for some other reason.
I always find it fascinating to compare different versions of the same game as I love discovering what changes have been made over time and trying to work out if the changes are for the better or not. In this case it seems that design is the main driving factor for the changes in Cheatwell’s version and I can see that as a good thing. The fact that the game itself has not changed suggests that it’s a pretty good game to start with.
You can buy the modern version of Baffled from Cheatwell Games online here. If you take a look on eBay you can often find copies of the Spear’s Games version come up for auction. They seem to sell for £7 upwards.
If you’re interested in vintage board games then why not head over to Facebook and join our new vintage board games group.
Disclaimer: We bought the Spear’s Game version of Baffled in a charity shop. The Cheatwell Games version was given to us as a raffle prize at a Blog On conference. We were not specifically asked to write about it. All opinions remain our own. This post contains affiliate links.
Could a board game have a title that sounded any more Brexit than “Home you go”? The cover artwork’s not much better with a poor blue counter having a look of fear on their face as they’re kicked from behind by a red one. Whatever your views on the current political mess here in the UK, let’s turn our attentions to this vintage gem from Spear’s Games that I found at a car boot sale for a pound.
Home you go! is a game that was actually completely new to me, yet when I shared a picture of us playing it on Facebook loads of people remembered playing it as children, often with their grandparents. I believe this box artwork dated from 1968, but there’s nothing on the box I have to tell me exactly how old it is.
The copy I picked up is certainly in good condition though. There’s a previous owner’s name on the box, and it’s very slightly scuffed, but inside everything is laid out exactly as it would have been on the day the game was bought.
Home you go! – Aim of the game
The main aim of Home you go! is to get to the other side of the board. As a game for 2 or 4 players (slightly overlooked when we tried playing for the first time with three of us!) players sit opposite each other, and the aim is to get your five playing pieces across board, rather than round it.
Playing pieces can only move forwards, staying in their lanes, and how many spaces they can move is dictated by the roll of the die. If you land on a square occupied by an other piece then you say “Home you go!” and that players piece has to return to its starting square. You are able to move over and past opponent’s pieces if you throw enough to do so.
To get to the other side you have to roll the exact number, and the finishing position can not be already occupied. This would be the case if the opposing player had been sent home. What you can do though is get a larger number and “bounce back” off the last square.
How to win
The winner of the game is the first player to have his five men on the opposite side of the board.
We read what the winning criteria where before we started playing and it all sounded quite straightforward. Then we started playing…
What really confused us, and then confused us more when we looked at the (rather brief) instructions, was what happens if the finishing position that you are sat on then becomes occupied by another player’s piece. So if you are already sat there and someone else in the game, coming at them at right angles, sends then home. Do they then send you home? Are you aiming to get to the other player’s coloured squares, or the row in front of them?
Home you go! – our verdict
I’m going to be honest and say that we didn’t exactly fall in love with Home you go! The game just didn’t really flow for us, and I found the forceful nature of concentrating on trying to send the opposition back home not really the sort of thing I wanted to do with the kids. It was as if that distracted from the aim of trying to get across the board. Maybe that’s just the way my two were playing it? The confusion about exactly where you were supposed to be getting to didn’t help either. Or maybe we were just all being a bit dim when playing?
Home you go! – the facts
The vintage version of Home you go! that we played was published by Spear’s Games. It is designed for children aged 6 up and two or four players. A modern version of the game is available online.
If you’re interested in vintage board games then why not head over to Facebook and join our new vintage board games group.
Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link. All opinions remain my own.
Finding vintage board games in charity shops can be a bit hit and miss. Some days there is nothing at all. Other days you don’t have arms big enough to carry everything you find. The latter was the case when B and I went on a recent trawl round the charity shops of Upminster. We were there to tick off a few District Line stations on our Tube Stop Baby Challenge but decided to use the opportunity to see if there were any vintage board games to be had and I’m so glad we did. Mainly for finding The Cooking Game.
We’d found a variety of games in the charity shops and were feeling very pleased with ourselves when we agreed to just go in one last shop before catching the tube home. That particular shop had one game in that we wanted, but as I walked towards the till I quickly cast my eye over where the jigsaws were as experience has shown me that charity shops often end up confusing the two and there are sometimes games to be found nestling between 1000 pieces scenes of the English countryside.
My mini-detour paid off when I spotted The Cooking Game on sale at a bargain price of just £1.99. Published in 1984 by the The Garden Game Ltd this has the subtitle of “the delicious new family board game” and my interest was immediately piqued. The box shows a variety of outdoor landscape scenes and also a load of food ingredients.
What is The Cooking Game?
Other than a note saying “with recipes by Jane Grigson” the front of the box doesn’t really give away much of what the game is about. Turn it over though and you get a black and white picture of the game board and a bit more information. As a game for 2 – 6 players it is described as “fast-moving, funny and informative” and I can see why.
Aim of the game
The aim of the game is to be the first player to collect all the ingredients for at least two courses of a dinner – a main course (consisting of 12 ingredients) and either a starter or a pudding (each consisting of 6 ingredients). The recipes that you are collecting ingredients for are created by Jane Grigson, at the time one of the country’s best loved cooks. The recipes all come from different parts of the British Isles, and to add an educational angle to the ingredients on the cards are written in several different languages.
An overview of how to play
The game board is a plan layout of a house. Think Cluedo style, but with a kitchen as the centre of the house. All the ingredients you need for your recipes (plus a few other cards that I will come along to later) can be found in six different places on the game board:
- Front Door
- Back Door
- Kitchen Cupboard
You basically go around the board collecting cards when you land on the doorways to these places. You either collect an ingredient, or in the case of the Front Door you find Front Door Arrivals. These are helpful people that can help with some of the chores that you find as you go around the board. This means you could get a fetching you man delivering a Dishwasher, or a Niece who will dry the dishes. The Front Door can also mean the arrival of various extras to enhance your meal. Possibly a bottle of Campari, or some After Eight Mints.
Between the doorways on the board are a variety of chores and hazards which might involve you having to miss a go whilst you sweep the floor, or possibly even climb up on to the kitchen table to avoid scuttling mice!
Going to the loo
This has to be the only board game that I have encountered that involves going to the loo! Yep, you read that right. If you land on the bathroom doorway then you have to miss a turn whilst you “go to the loo”.
Making phone calls
The real twist in the cooking game is the fact that at certain positions on the board a player is able to make a telephone call. You can make a call to ask any other player if they have ingredients that you need for your recipe. It’s not as simple as just asking and getting though. You can only ask if you already hold two ingredients for that recipe yourself. Also, whilst on the phone, if successful with your first request, you might ask for ingredients for a second recipe. If they don’t hold what you need this time round though the person you telephoned may instead ask you for up to two sets of ingredients.
In other words telephoning someone can be risky business as it might actually result in you losing some of the ingredients that you hold. Phone at your own risk.
End of the game and scoring
The Cooking Game ends when one player has all the required ingredients to make one main course and one starter or desert. You then move on to the scoring stage of the game when I think everyone playing hopes that they haven’t consumed so much wine that they can’t do the maths involved.
With points allocated to completed recipes as well as for each ingredient in a complete recipe players can also get additional points for extras they may have picked from the Front Door like After Eights or Flowers.
Things then get really complicated though with points for “impure recipes”. In other words, if you can convince the other players that ingredients you hold can be combined into an acceptable course then it can score you points!This could be something as simple as Strawberries and Cream, or something much more complicated, with no limit on how many ingredients an impure recipe can contain.
It’s therefore quite possible that the person who finishes first isn’t necessarily the winner.
It’s obvious that The Cooking Game wasn’t a big budget production, yet the finished result, although dated, was a quality product. The playing pieces in particular are really weighty and made of metal, rather than the plastic that you might get today.
One of the reasons for this touch of quality is probably the fact that the game had a number of sponsors. The instruction booklet has five pages devoted to them and they also appear throughout the game. I’ve already mentioned cards bearing After Eights and Campari, but all domestic appliances in the game are from Zanussi, the luxury vinyl flooring in the kitchen is from Amtico and the house’s cellar seems to be sponsored by Roberts & Cooper wine merchants.
Even the playing pieces are linked to the sponsors with a bottle of Piat D’Or wine, a tin of Tate and Lyle Golden Syrup and an Oxo cube as playing pieces.
The prize for most obscure sponsor though has to go to the Halifax. At the time proudly still a Building Society, and sponsors of the two spare cards in the game. Random!
Taste of the 80s
We actually had great fun playing The Cooking Game, but it really was like being back in the 80s in so many ways. The style of recipes, the cards and game design, and the whole notion of having elaborate dinner parties. If that weren’t enough the instruction book tries to explain how the telephone call part of the game works by giving examples of two couple playing the game – Charles and Diana, and Paul and Linda!
Play with us on the Podcast
If you want to experience The Cooking Game for yourselves then why not join Bonn and myself as we play on the Hobbies and Interests podcast? Look out for the new episode that will be released very soon.
Kensington was a bit of a chance find in the charity shop. Bonn collects vinyl, so he always keeps an eye open for it and when he first picked up Kensington that’s what he thought it was. Kensington is certainly packaged differently to any other board game I’ve come across. The board is inside what looks like an LP sleeve and as it was a game from the 70s I’m guessing that this was done so that it would just slip inside a record rack, which most people seemed to have then. You could almost imagine someone pulling it out with a flourish after deciding what record to put on after dinner.
History of the game
Kensington is described as an abstract strategy game and it was devised by two British guys who, according to the blurb on the back of the game, seemed rather proud of their creation.
“Kensington is the brilliant outcome of arduous research by two eccentric British friends to develop a game of pure skill that can be easily learnt and as enjoyably played by children and adults in each and every country of the world.”
The Kensington board is supposedly based on a design found in flowerbeds in London’s Kensington Gardens, and that’s where the name of the game comes from. It is a geometrical board based on a rhombitrihexagonal tiling pattern, which means that it contains hexagons, surrounded by alternating triangles and squares. All these patterns interlock. The board has a total of 7 hexagons on it. Three at the middle coloured white, two red ones at one side and two blue ones at the other side.
Set up of the game
The two players (or the two teams) in the game are allocated either red or blue and are given 15 counters of their colour. The game starts with all counters off the board. Once play is ongoing counters are positioned on the corners of the triangles, squares and hexagons on the board.
Aim of the game
The aim of Kensington is for you to surround one of the hexagons (either a white one, or one of your colour) with one counter on each corner.
How to play
Play falls into one of two phases. In phase 1 each player takes turns to position one of their counters on the board. Once this stage is complete you move on to the imaginatively titled phase 2.
In phase 2 players take it in turns to move one counter at a time on the board. To move a counter you can slide it along one of the green lines to an adjacent corner position.
The twist in the game is that if you make a move that means you take control of either a triangle or a square on the board (by occupying all three or four corners) you can then move one (or two if you’ve taken control of a square) of your opponent’s counters. The rules sounds a bit vague here, but having checked online, you are allowed to pick up any counter(s) and put them on any unoccupied position anywhere on the board.
What we thought of Kensington
At first we were a bit bemused by the whole game. We started off by putting our counters on the board, without really knowing, or understanding, where was “good” to position them. We also then went on to make the mistake of forgetting about what happens when you take control of a square or triangle. The game’s quite dull if you do that!
Once we’d checked the rules again, and realised what we were doing wrong, we understood better the advantages of positioning yourself so that you can keep taking triangles and squares, and the advantage that gives you in the game. Suddenly you go from something quite pedestrian, to a much more challenging and tactical game.
We can certainly now see why it was compared to chess and draughts in terms of the strategic gameplay needed to try to win.
Online research (thank you BoardGameGeek) suggests that the version of Kensington we found was actually the second one released. The first came in a traditional board game box and also included 20 of each colour counter, rather than the 15 we have. I understand that made the game even harder, as there was less space on the board to move, or reposition, counters to.
I also came across a Commodore 64 version of the game (on cassette, of course) which vaguely rang some dim bells from childhood. Although I seem to recall it being quite dull and I’m pretty sure that playing against a computer (who would be making their moves following very specific rules) would be somewhat harder.
The game’s instructions include variants for four and six players. In each case you still have a total of two teams, with each player being allocated a certain number of counters (8 in a two player game and 5 in a three player game). Players then work in a team, but do not communicate with their other team members. Based on my experience of needing to concentrate on what you are doing in Kensington I can’t imagine it being a very sociable game to play with six players. More of a strange silence descending on a dinner party.
As I touched upon at the start of this post, the version of Kensington we have is in a record sleeve design. Whilst the board fits nicely inside, this it does mean that the playing pieces are rather strangely attached to the back cover. To be honest they are a complete pain to get out of here, and if you were playing it regularly I can see the packaging getting quite damaged by repeated attempts to get the counters out.
Kensington – the facts
Kensington was published in 1979 by Whale Toys Ltd, and was designed by Brian Taylor and Peter Forbes. It is for either two players, or two teams, which can each have either two or three players in them (so four or six players in total). The recommended age range on the packaging is 7 – 107. I’m not convinced that all 7 year olds would get the strategy aspect of the game, but they certainly would understand the rules of play.
A secondhand version of Kensington is currently available on Amazon here, with further copies available on eBay. Interestingly, Amazon also have available a book with the title Winning at Kensington. Priced at £48 I’m not going to be rushing out to buy a copy, but I’d certainly keep an eye open for it when doing my usual trawls of charity shops and secondhand book shops!