"Flip Your Wig" was introduced in 1964, decades
before Beatles-themed "Trivial Pursuit" and "Monopoly"
board games appeared.
By STEVE SEYMOUR
Looking at a Beatles-themed "Trivial Pursuit" game which came out last year reminded me that the Fab Four were the subject of a less sophisticated board game decades ago.
"The Beatles Flip Your Wig Game" was produced by Milton Bradley Co. within months of the British group's "invasion" of America in 1964.
Aimed at players aged 7 to 15, the game was among hundreds of items licensed by NEMS (North End Music Store) Enterprises, a company owned by Beatles manager Brian Epstein.
While the Beatles were busy making hit records such as "I Want To Hold Your Hand," "She Loves You" and "Can't Buy Me Love," fans were snapping up all things related to the group.
Based in Springfield, Mass., game-maker Milton Bradley was quick to pursue a discretionary license for its Beatles board game, which found its way into thousands of American homes.
The company manufactured such popular games as "Candy Land," "Concentration" and "Password."
Packaged in a cardboard box, the "Flip Your Wig Game" contained a colorful playing board, die, mover pieces depicting each of the four Beatles, and 48 cards. The cards were divided into four types: faces, hit records, instruments and signatures.
In the game, each player chooses to be one of the Beatles and moves his piece around the board to collect the four cards needed to win.
The box features a color photograph of John, Paul, George and Ringo, while the same image is reversed on the inside panel containing the directions. Headshots used for the mover pieces are taken from the same photo.
An older picture of the Beatles dressed in collarless suits is displayed on the playing board.
Made in the U.S.A.,"Flip Your Wig Game," carries the product number 4404, and can accommodate two, three or four players.
The Beatles weren't known to endorse products, and licenses to use their name and images were limited to quality products at fair prices, Beatles experts say.
Dozens of products were licensed including clothing, metal trays, wigs, boots, talcum power, lipstick, blankets, wallpaper, dolls and chewing gum.
The original tag still stapled to my copy of "Flip Your Wig Game," lists the price at $2.19.
While that may have been good value for the money, my wife Sue and I paid even less for when we picked up the board game for 50 cents at a rummage sale back in the 1970s.
The game came complete with all the pieces in good condition and even contained a promotional flyer dated April, 1964. The box has one corner split and a bit of staining.
Still, it's in remarkable condition for a product meant for children to play with 46 years ago.
Whether "Trivial Pursuit: Beatles Collector's Edition" will also escalate in value in coming years is another question, but the game is considerably more elaborate than its 1960s counterpart.
Appearing in the marketplace during 2009, the Beatles' edition was manufactured by Hasbro in conjunction with the Beatles and their Apple Corps Ltd.
Geared for 2 to 36 players the set includes a game board, die, 432 question and answer cards, card holders, track pawns, tokens and scoring wedges.
Players show off their knowledge by answering 2,592 queries about the Fab Four, from how the group came together to their post-Beatles activities.
The object of the game is to be the first player, or team, to fill a scoring token with different colored wedges by correctly answering questions; then get back to the center first and answer one final question to win.
Questions come in six categories: The Beatles in America, Albums & Singles, History, Songs, On Their Own and Movies.
Beatles author and historian Bruce Spitzer wrote the questions and answers for the game.
The game's box features the group's black & white portrait from the "Meet the Beatles" album as well as other vintage photographs and album covers. The game board includes individual photos, an early band portrait, a group image taken in London on April 9, 1969, and in the center, the Apple Records logo.
Except for the die, which was made in China, the game was manufactured in the U.S.A.
All familiar properties have been replaced in the new version with Beatles albums and other points of interest.
The standard pewter tokens have been replaced by an octopus ("Octopus's Garden"), walrus ("I Am the Walrus"), strawberry ("Strawberry Fields Forever"), raccoon ("Rocky Raccoon"), sun ("Here Comes the Sun"), and hammer ("Maxwell's Silver Hammer").
Many other aspects of the game have also changed. The railroads are now concert tickets, chance is the Fab Four and community chest is Beatlemania. Houses are listening parties and hotels are concerts in the new game. Money has been replaced by 'love,' a reference to "All You Need Is Love."
The set includes a game board, title deeds, play money, banker's tray, two dice and instructions.
Introduced in 1935, the Parker Brothers-produced "Monopoly" is the most-successful board game in the United States.
As a kid, I loved "Monopoly" just like millions of other people. I remember saving the princely sum of $3.98, plus sales tax, to buy my own copy at Shoppers Town, a general merchandise store then located at 720-722 Ludington St. in downtown Escanaba.
However, on second thought, maybe the "Flip Your Wig Game" would have been a better investment.