14 Justifiably Forgotten Milton Bradley Board Games

Aside from Parker Brothers, few board game manufacturers have come close to Milton Bradley's track record: Millions of players across multiple generations have put in serious time playing Twister, Yahtzee, The Game of Life, and Battleship.

But while games like Simon and Connect Four have kept up brand appearances over the decades, it’s possible that founder Milton Bradley (who died in 1911) might have flinched at some of the other titles that bear his name. The next time you arrange a game night, it’s probably best to keep these in the closet.

1. TOWN DUMP (1977)

titillating treasures via eBay
It’s never too early to get a child used to playing with garbage. In this game, two players take turns winding up a miniature bulldozer that propels itself through pieces of trash and pushes them out of the way. The object appears to be to clear waste out of your dump and into your rival’s property, which imparts a valuable lesson: Let your discarded trash become someone else’s problem.

2. BREAKER 19: THE CB TRUCKERS GAME (1976)

What could be a better premise for a game than '70s-era long-haul truckers who gobbled caffeine pills and forged driving logs so they could remain on the road for dangerously long periods of time? Players begin at a warehouse and draw cards to see what kind of cargo—live animals, eggs, office furniture—they need to deliver before a deadline; CB cards can either help or hinder the job. Upon completion, they return to the warehouse to collect their pay and kiss their families goodbye for another two weeks.

3. A DAY WITH ZIGGY (1977)

davidr6582 via eBay

In a medium full of bland, inoffensive content, Ziggy might be the blandest, most inert comic strip of them all. The pimple-shaped, pants-less sad sack first appeared in 1971 and garnered enough notoriety for licensed products. Like the strip, the game is unburdened by any complications or ideas; players simply roll the dice and move forward or backward the appropriate number of spaces.

4. FEELEY MEELEY (1967)

With the success of Twister in 1966, Milton Bradley quickly caught on to the potential for party games. In Feeley Meeley, players are asked to draw a card describing an item and then fumble around in a dark box to see if they can retrieve it. While the game came with props like small forks and plastic animals, it also encouraged players to add their own. For households with cruel siblings, it’s hard to imagine that didn’t sometimes include bugs.

5. NO RESPECT: RODNEY DANGERFIELD’S GAME (1985)

Self-respect, not phony money, was the currency for this game based on the stand-up act of comedian Rodney Dangerfield. While collecting game tiles, players are advised not to "count on winning ’til you’ve won.” A sample of Dangerfield’s jokes (“As a kid … my yo-yo never came back”) are included inside the box.

6. LET’S BE SAFE (1986)

When it’s time to put away homework and settle in for some recreational time with a board game, the first thing kids look for is something with a lecture. Let’s be Safe disguises itself as a fun diversion, but before children realize what’s happening, the game is cleverly imparting lessons about street-crossing safety and stranger danger; the first player who makes it home in one piece wins. Television news anchor Joan Lunden acts as the game’s mascot.  

7. STUFF YER FACE (1982)

A variation on their own Hungry Hungry Hippos, Stuff Yer Face features two warring clowns in a race to see who can inhale the most marbles. The ravenous circus employees are controlled by two joysticks that position their hands on the playing field; a clown caught eating one of the red marbles loses. Experienced players can try to hurl the forbidden orbs into the opposing clown’s mouth.

8. SQUATTER (1962)

Some board games turn up the tension so high you practically sweat through your clothes. Squatter, an Australian import which brings home the high-stakes world of sheep-herding, is probably not one of them. Players take turns corralling sheep through buying and selling tactics: The first to wrangle 6000 pieces of wool-encased inventory is the winner—but land on the wrong square and your "stud ram" may fall victim to plant poisoning, plummeting the population.

9. DURAN DURAN: INTO THE ARENA (1985)

Thrust into the pop culture limelight by MTV in the 1980s, Duran Duran made the most of their licensing opportunities. Shoulder-padded fans could jam to “Hungry Like the Wolf” while playing this game, in which they tried to match single titles with music videos to gain entry into the “inner circle.”  

10. LOBBY: A CAPITAL GAME (1949)

gamersalliance via eBay

“Here’s your chance to be a congressman! You can pass all your favorite bills and lobby against those you oppose.” Milton Bradley felt confident a game of governmental regulations and lobbying would be a hit with anyone “old enough to read a newspaper.”

11. DO THE URKEL! (1991)

texasteacha via eBay

Only Duran Duran’s neon-geometry game board could appear more dated. Do the Urkel! focused on the Fonzie of Family Matters, Steve Urkel. In the game, players roll dice and perform an action based on a card: snorting, hiking up their pants, or, in a worst-case scenario, doing “the Urkel” by wearing glasses and making a cardboard Jaleel White dance on the board.  

12. BIG FOOT (1977)

The mythical woodland creature experienced a considerable amount of attention in the 1970s, including a memorable encounter with Steve Austin on The Six Million-Dollar Man. (Andre the Giant was cast in the fur suit.) A famous and non-copyrightable beast made a perfect premise for a game in which players assumed the roles of Alaskan gold prospectors who roll dice while trying to avoid the “footprints” made by the monster. Although Bigfoot looks affable enough on the game box, his plastic game piece appears to be anything but.

13. WHERE’S THE BEEF? (1984)

Advertising character fads tend to implode at a moment’s notice, so it’s probably not shocking that a board game based on a commercial catchphrase was destined for yard sales. Based on the Wendy’s campaign that had actress Clara Peller asking “Where’s the beef?” while in line for the competition’s burgers, this game has players jetting around tiles and collecting slices of ground meat.  

14. TETRIS (1989)

justwigged via eBay

Considering the tangled knot of licensing issues surrounding Tetris in the 1980s, it’s a wonder Milton Bradley was able to issue this analog version of the classic Game Boy title. The larger question is why they would want to. Two players try to arrange Tetris pieces from the bottom up before time expires; pieces can also be tossed in the opponent’s direction. Alternately, you can toss the entire thing out. Then everyone wins.

11 Things You May Not Know About John Lennon

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Before he was one of the world's most iconic musicians, John Lennon was a choir boy and a Boy Scout. Let's take a look at a few facts you might not have known about the leader and founding member of The Beatles

1. HE WAS A CHOIR BOY AND A BOY SCOUT.

Yes, John Lennon, the great rock 'n' roll rebel and iconoclast, was once a choir boy and a Boy Scout. Lennon began his singing career as a choir boy at St. Peter's Church in Liverpool, England and was a member of the 3rd Allerton Boy Scout troop.

2. HE HATED HIS OWN VOICE.

Incredibly, one of the greatest singers in the history of rock music hated his own voice. Lennon did not like the sound of his voice and loved to double-track his records. He would often ask the band's producer, George Martin, to cover the sound of his voice: "Can't you smother it with tomato ketchup or something?"

3. HE WAS DISSATISFIED WITH ALL OF THE BEATLES'S RECORDS.

Dining with his former producer, George Martin, one night years after the band had split up, Lennon revealed that he'd like to re-record every Beatles song. Completely amazed, Martin asked him, "Even 'Strawberry Fields'?" "Especially 'Strawberry Fields,'" answered Lennon.

4. HE WAS THE ONLY BEATLE WHO DIDN'T BECOME A FULL-TIME VEGETARIAN.

John Lennon (1940 - 1980) of the Beatles plays the guitar in a hotel room in Paris, 16th January 1964
Harry Benson, Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

George Harrison was the first Beatle to go vegetarian; according to most sources, he officially became a vegetarian in 1965. Paul McCartney joined the "veggie" ranks a few years later. Ringo became a vegetarian not so much for spiritual reasons, like Paul and George, but because of health problems. Lennon had toyed with vegetarianism in the 1960s, but he always ended up eating meat, one way or another.

5. HE LOVED TO PLAY MONOPOLY.

During his Beatles days, Lennon was a devout Monopoly player. He had his own Monopoly set and often played in his hotel room or on planes. He liked to stand up when he threw the dice, and he was crazy about the properties Boardwalk and Park Place. He didn't even care if he lost the game, as long as he had Boardwalk and Park Place in his possession.

6. HE WAS THE LAST BEATLE TO LEARN HOW TO DRIVE.

Lennon got his driver's license at the age of 24 (on February 15, 1965). He was regarded as a terrible driver by all who knew him. He finally gave up driving after he totaled his Aston-Martin in 1969 on a trip to Scotland with his wife, Yoko Ono; his son, Julian; and Kyoko, Ono's daughter. Lennon needed 17 stitches after the accident.

When they returned to England, Lennon and Ono mounted the wrecked car on a pillar at their home. From then on, Lennon always used a chauffeur or driver.

7. HE REPORTEDLY USED TO SLEEP IN A COFFIN.

According to Allan Williams, an early manager for The Beatles, Lennon liked to sleep in an old coffin. Williams had an old, abandoned coffin on the premises of his coffee bar, The Jacaranda. As a gag, Lennon would sometimes nap in it.

8. THE LAST TIME HE SAW PAUL MCCARTNEY WAS ON APRIL 24, 1976. 

Paul McCartney (left) and John Lennon (1940-1980) of the Beatles pictured together during production and filming of the British musical comedy film Help! on New Providence Island in the Bahamas on 2nd March 1965
William Lovelace, Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

McCartney was visiting Lennon at his New York apartment. They were watching Saturday Night Live together when producer Lorne Michaels, as a gag, offered the Beatles $3000 to come on the show. Lennon and McCartney almost took a cab to the show as a joke, but decided against it, as they were just too tired. (Too bad! It would have been one of the great moments in television history.)

9. HE WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO SING LEAD ON THE BEATLES'S FIRST SINGLE, 1962'S "LOVE ME DO."

Lennon sang lead on a great majority of the early Beatles songs, but Paul McCartney took the lead on their very first one. The lead was originally supposed to be Lennon, but because he had to play the harmonica, the lead was given to McCartney instead.

10. "ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE" WAS THE BEST LYRIC HE EVER WROTE.

A friend once asked Lennon what was the best lyric he ever wrote. "That's easy," replied Lennon, "All you need is love."

11. THE LAST PHOTOGRAPHER TO SNAP HIS PICTURE WAS PAUL GORESH.

Ironically (and sadly), Lennon was signing an album for the person who was to assassinate him a few hours later when he was snapped by amateur photographer Paul Goresh on December 8, 1980.

Lennon obligingly signed a copy of his latest album, Double Fantasy, for Mark David Chapman. Later that same day, Lennon returned from the recording studio and was gunned down by Chapman, the same person for whom he had so kindly signed his autograph.

Morbidly, a photographer sneaked into the morgue and snapped a photo of Lennon's body before it was cremated the day after his assassination. Yoko Ono has never revealed the whereabouts of his ashes or what happened to them.

This post originally appeared in 2012.

11 Facts About Robert the Bruce, King of Scots

Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn
Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn
Edmund LeightonCassell and Company, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

The subject of a recent Netflix original movie called Outlaw King, Robert the Bruce is one of Scotland’s great national heroes. Get to know King Bob a little better.

1. Robert the Bruce was a polyglot who loved telling stories.

He likely spoke Scots, Gaelic, Latin, and Norman French, and was an avid reader who loved studying the lives of previous monarchs. According to a parliamentary brief from around 1364, Robert the Bruce "used continually to read, or have read in his presence, the histories of ancient kings and princes, and how they conducted themselves in their times, both in wartime and in peacetime.” In his free time, he would recite tales about Charlemagne and Hannibal from memory.

2. Despite his reputation as Scotland’s savior, he spent years siding with England.

The Bruce family spent the 1290s complaining that they had been robbed of the Scottish Crown. That’s because, after the deaths of King Alexander III and his granddaughter Margaret, it was unclear who Scotland's next monarch should be. Debates raged until John Balliol was declared King in 1292. The Bruces, who had closer blood ties to the previous royal family (but not closer paternal ties) considered Balliol an usurper. So when tensions later flared between Balliol and Edward I of England, the resentful Bruces took England’s side.

3. He murdered his biggest political rival.

John Comyn is killed by Robert Bruce and Roger de Kirkpatrick before the high altar of the Greyfriars Church in Dumfries, 10 February 1306
Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux, Cassell, Petter & Galpin, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

One of the leading figures standing in the way of Robert the Bruce’s path to Scotland’s throne was Balliol's nephew, John III Comyn, Lord of Badenoch. In 1306, Robert arranged a meeting with Comyn in the Chapel of Greyfriars in Dumfries, Scotland. There, Robert accused Comyn of treachery and stabbed him. (And when word spread that Comyn had somehow survived, two of Robert’s cronies returned to the church and finished the deed, spilling Comyn’s blood on the steps of the altar.) Shortly after, Robert declared himself King of Scotland and started to plot an uprising against England.

4. He lived in a cave and was inspired by a very persistent spider.

The uprising did not go exactly according to plan. After Robert the Bruce killed Comyn in a church, Pope Clement V excommunicated him. To add salt to his wounds, Robert's ensuing attempts to battle England became a total failure. In the winter of 1306, he was forced to flee Scotland and was exiled to a cave on Rathlin Island in Northern Ireland.

Legend has it that as Robert took shelter in the cave, he saw a spider trying—and failing—to spin a web. The creature kept attempting to swing toward a nearby rock and refused to give up. Bruce was so inspired by the spider’s tenacity that he vowed to return to Scotland and fight. Within three years, he was holding his first session of parliament.

5. He went to battle with a legion of ponies.

For battle, Robert the Bruce preferred to employ a light cavalry of ponies (called hobbies) and small horses (called palfreys) in a tactic known as hobelar warfare. In one famous story, a young English knight named Sir Henry de Bohun sat atop a large warhorse and saw Robert the Bruce mounted upon a palfrey. Bohun decided to charge. Robert saw his oncoming attacker and stood in his stirrups—putting him at the perfect height to swing a battleaxe at the oncoming horseman’s head. After slaying his opponent, the king reportedly complained, “I have broken my good axe.”

6. He loved to eat eels.

Robert the Bruce
iStock.com/fotoVoyager

Robert the Bruce’s physician, Maino de Maineri, criticized the king’s penchant for devouring eels. “I am certain that this fish should not be eaten because I have seen it during the time I was with the king of the Scots, Robert Bruce, who risked many dangers by eating [moray eels], which are by nature like lampreys," de Maineri wrote. "It is true that these [morays] were caught in muddy and corrupt waters.” (Notably, overeating eels was considered the cause of King Henry I England’s death.)

7. His underdog victory at Bannockburn proved that quality could defeat quantity.

In 1314, Robert the Bruce defeated King Edward II’s army at Bannockburn, sending England (as the popular anthem Flower of Scotland goes) “homeward tae think again.” It was a surprising victory; the English had about 2000 armored horsemen and 15,000 foot soldiers, compared to the Scots's 500 horsemen and 7000 foot soldiers. But Robert the Bruce used geography to his advantage, forcing the English to attempt crossing two large and boggy streams. The victory was a huge turning point in the Scottish War of Independence and would help secure Scotland's freedom.

8. He’s firmly intertwined with the Knights Templar mythology.

Treasure hunters speculate that in the 14th century, the Knights Templar fled to Scotland with a trove of valuables because they received support and protection from King Robert the Bruce. Thanks to his help, they say, the Knights were able to hide gold and holy relics—from ancient Gospel scrolls to the Holy Grail—in secret spots across the country (including in Rosslyn Chapel, of The Da Vinci Code fame). But there is little evidence to support these colorful myths. Templar scholar and medieval historian Helen Nicholson said that any remaining Knights Templar were likely hanging out in the balmy climes of Cyprus.

9. He’s still donating money to a Scottish church.

Robert the Bruce and Elizabeth de Burgh
Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux, Cassell, Petter & Galpin, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

After the death of his second wife, Elizabeth de Burgh, Robert the Bruce decreed to give the Auld Kirk in Cullen, Scotland—now the Cullen and Deskford Parish—a total of five Scots pounds every year. That's because, in 1327, Elizabeth had died after falling off a horse, and the local congregation generously took care of her remains. Robert was so touched by the gesture that he promised to donate money “for all eternity.” To this day, his bequest is still being paid.

10. Parts of his body are buried in multiple places.

Robert the Bruce died on June 7, 1329, just a month before his 55th birthday. The cause of his death has been a source of much discussion, and disagreement, but most modern scholars believe that he succumbed to leprosy. His funeral was a rather elaborate affair that required nearly 7000 pounds of candle wax just for the funerary candles. Following the fashion for royalty, he was buried in multiple places. His chest was sawed open and his heart and internal organs removed: The guts were buried near his death-place at the Manor of Cardross, near Dumbarton; his corpse interred in Dunfermline Abbey; and his heart placed inside a metal urn to be worn around the neck of Sir James Douglas, who promised to take it to the Holy Lord.

11. His heart was the original “Brave Heart.”

Unfortunately, Sir Douglas never made it to the Holy Land: He got sidetracked and took a detour to fight the Moors in Spain, where he was killed. Before his attackers reached him, Douglas reportedly threw the urn containing the king’s heart and yelled, “Lead on brave heart, I’ll follow thee.” The heart was soon returned to Scotland, where its location was forgotten until a team of archaeologists discovered it in 1921. It’s now interred in Melrose Abbey.

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