Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Game Show Board Games: Tic-Tac-Dough (1950s version)

I've featured a few game show board games on this blog in the past, and it's high time I got back to doing a few more. This time, I'm going to feature the oldest such game in my collection: a 1956 or 57 (my sources differ on the year) edition of the game created for the original Tic-Tac-Dough. Jack Barry (later known to my generation as the host of The Joker's Wild before his death in 1984) is featured on the cover, and was indeed the original host of Tic-Tac-Dough. But since Barry was only host of the show for a few months in 1956, it seems reasonably likely that he had already moved on by the time this game would have been available.

Tic-Tac-Dough was a quiz show built on (as the name no doubt makes obvious) Tic-Tac-Toe. The game board features nine categories, a different one appearing in each square of a 3-by-3 grid. The returning champion, playing as "X," selects a category (and its corresponding square), and the host reads a question from that category. If the contestant gets the correct answer, an "X" is placed in that square, and the cash value of that square is added to a game pot. If not, the square remains unclaimed. The "O" contestant may then choose one of the remaining categories/squares to capture it in the same way. After both contestants have had a chance to answer a question, the categories would shuffle around the board, a feat done by virtue of a series of rollers on which the categories have been written. As in Tic-Tac-Toe, a player wins the game (and the accumulated pot of money) by capturing three squares in a row.

The board game really captures the feel of the actual show rather brilliantly. I'm especially impressed by how the board game duplicates the mechanism for shuffling categories, almost precisely scaled-down from what was done on the 1950s-era set. The categories are shuffled by pulling down on the blue lever to the right. The questions are contained on a series of cards held in a blue stand. While this means a lot of potential parts to be lost, it is much closer to how an actual quiz show host gets his questions than the standard "question book" that most game show board games of a later era would have.

The box proudly calls itself a "First Edition," but I do wonder just how many variations of this edition were made, as the images I've found elsewhere on the web of early 1950s-era Tic-Tac-Dough games use the form "1st Editon," rather than spelling the ordinal number out. Either way, it seems clear that the game comes from the time before the show was investigated for game rigging (as many game shows of that era were, most notably Jack Barry's most well-known show of the time, Twenty One). The board game continued to be released after that, but with all references to Tic-Tac-Dough removed, going by the name 3 In-A-Row Home Quiz.

Being born in 1974, I of course never actually saw the 1950s version of Tic-Tac-Dough when it was originally on. I've had to rely on the wonders of You Tube for that. I grew up with the 1970s/80s version, which had its own board game version released. I'll feature that next week, along with some of the differences between the two.

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