Category: Nostalgic

Nostalgic Memory: The Test Driver Game-from Milton Bradley

Back in 1956, this was the top item on my Christmas want list. I first saw it advertised in one of the Christmas catalogs and I had to have it.  I was nine years old.  Remember, this was an era, well before there were video car racing games.  Even Slot Cars were relatively new, and those cars never stayed on the track in the early days.  So, "The Test Driver Game," a truly realistic race car game, was sure to be a winner.

Well, when Christmas day arrived, I was lucky.  There, under the tree, was "The Test Driver Game."  It was the first gift I opened that year.

What I found was a game that employed magnets to move cars over a track that included a rough road, a washboard road, a hill road, a sand pit, an endurance road and a high speed oval.  Several of the roads were actually three-dimensional, with a great "feel" that I had never seen before in a board game.

The object of the game was to travel around the entire race course without going off any of the roads.  Players would take turns, each lasting no more than 15 seconds (timer included).  If a player went off any road, or a car was disconnected from the magnet, their turn would end.  The first player to complete the entire course in the least amount of time would win the game.

At that time, Milton Bradley had established a working relationship with Chrysler Motors, and was using a giant scale replica of Chrysler's actual proving ground for the game.  Even the small plastic automobiles were replicas from the Chrysler lineup of cars.  A full size comic book was also included describing the so-called "Torture Track," featuring Bill Lundigan, who was a "screen star" of the time.

My initial excitement with this game was met with total disappointment.  It was impossible to stay on the roads by simply pulling a plastic car with a magnet attached to a wooden stick.  When the car wasn't falling off the road, it was separating from the less than strong magnet.  Also, the mat used for the proving ground was impossible to lay flat.  It had bends and creases all over it, making it impossible to maneuver a car around the track. 

It was a "one day toy."  I boxed it up and never played with it again.  But, I am a toy and game hoarder.  I never threw it away.  It was always with me, even when I moved, and even when I became an adult, if I ever have. Now, 55 years later, it is stored in plain site in one of my spare bedrooms.  I checked on E-Bay recently and saw one had sold for $49.  But, mine is not for sale.  The memories of that Christmas in 1956 are worth much more.  I still smile when I walk by "The Test Driver Game," thinking maybe it wasn't so bad after all.

-- RJ Cullen

Posted in Nostalgic Announces its Best Toys and Games List for 2011


It is a difficult task to compile a list of the year's best toys and games, since it is absolutely impossible to have played with every toy and game released in 2011. So, we have prepared our "Best of the Year" list based on toys and games that we have reviewed on our website from November 2010 through October 2011.

We have excluded some older items which we reviewed this year, because the toy or game had been around for years, but at the same time we have included some toys and games that were new to us here at Toys Bulletin, but may have been available prior to 2011. And most importantly, we kept with our mission statement of providing a list of the "Best Toys and Games You've Never Heard Of."

Here we go........

TOP TOYS AND GAMES OF 2011 (in Alphabetical Order)

Automoblox- from Automoblox Company, LLC

The best wood building toy we have ever seen (see review on 11-19-10)

Flip Six Card Game- from US Games Systems, Inc.

Easy to play card game, and so addictive (see review on 6-18-11)
Jukem- from Flying Pig Games

A simple, fun and fast football card game (see review on 3-14-11)
Khet 2.0- from Innovention Toys

A chess type game with laser beams, and simply amazing to play (see review on 3-25-11)
Kid's Safety Trampoline- from One Step Ahead

Sturdy, high quality and a focus group favorite (see review on 7-30-11)
Main Event Boxing- from Downey Games

An amazing Boxing simulation that can be played in just 5 minutes (see review on 10-1-11)
Puzzle Pyramid- from Ravensburger

An astonishing 3D jigsaw puzzle (see review on 7-26-11)
Redakai- from Spin Master Ltd

The new standard in trading card games (see review on 7-9-11)
Revomaze- from Ashton Pitt Ltd

The most fascinating, yet difficult, puzzle ever created (see review on 9-24-11)

Sword and Shield Set- from Rubbabu

Soft, flexible and unbreakable, young boys loved it (see review on 5-25-11)

The Wacky Whiddles- from Wacky Whiddles and More LLC

A truly fun word game, that is witty and clever (see review on 4-30-11)
Word on the Street- from Out of the Box Publishing, Inc.

So simple and easy to play, yet so rewarding (see review on 9-17-11)

-- List by Toys Bulletin Staff

Posted in Apps and Video Games, Board Games, Building, Christmas, Electronics, Figures, Games, Girls, Information, Learning, Nostalgic, Outdoor, Remote Control, Riding, Sports, Vehicles

Nostalgic Memory: American Plastic Bricks – The Predecessor to Lego

Another Nostalgic Memory from Toys Bulletin
???????????????????????????????Back in the late 50s and early 60s, the hottest building toy around was called “American Plastic Bricks.” They were sold exclusively by Halsam Products Company, the parent company of Elgo Plastics. Kids today would not believe there actually was a time when Lego blocks were not readily available. In fact, “Lego” did not successfully crack the North American market until the 60s, and although they would eventually outsell “American Plastic Bricks,” causing them to cease production, the youngsters who played with the original “American Plastic Bricks” still have a soft spot in
their heart for such a fine quality product.
???????????????????????????????The “American Plastic Bricks” box pictured in our review is of rare set # 755, which contained a whopping 902 pieces. The bricks came in a cylindrical cardboard box with a metal top and bottom. The bricks were made of plastic in various sizes and came in just two colors, red and white. All of the bricks had bumps on the outside and small holes on the inside to allow for easy placement and connection between pieces.
The red bricks were primarily used to build the the main portion of the building and the white bricks were used for the foundation. The sets included windows, entry doors and even large garage doors, which could easily be used in most any structure. Bendable green cardboard sheets were provided to help finish things off with a great looking roof. There was also a detailed construction booklet that came with all of the sets to assist young architects in building some very impressive buildings and houses.

???????????????????????????????I personally played with “American Plastic Bricks” for many years. The most fun we had was setting up brick forts, reinforcing the strength of the structure with double layers of bricks, placing small green plastic army men inside the structures, and then trying to knock over the army guys inside with rubber tipped darts from a plastic dart gun. The bricks would fly and so would the army men if the aim was right. We usually staged things as a competition between two friends. We gave 5 minutes for each participant to set up the fort, place their men in the safest positions, and prepare to fire. After alternating turns with the dart gun from varying distances, the player with the last army man standing was declared the winner. The bricks did take a beating and many of the bricks in set # 755 are chipped and damaged as a result of the extreme attacks. { READ MORE...}

Posted in Nostalgic

Nostalgic Memory: The Game of Authors – Salem Edition – Collect the Cards of Literary Legends


"The Game of Authors" first originated in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1850s. It has been published in numerous editions with varying card designs since that time. Parker Brothers, Inc. released the game for most of the 20th century, and U.S. Games Systems, Inc. has the rights to the game now.

The version we are looking at today was released in 1943 by Parker Brothers Inc. and contains not only the 52 card deck featuring 13 different authors, but the rare yellow counters, which could be used to create another variation to the standard game rules.

Basically, "The Game of Authors" was an early version of today's "Go Fish" game. However, the big difference is that "The Game of Authors" was truly educational. Each author is represented by four cards, each highlighting one of their famous books or poems.

On a typical turn, a player might say, "I would like Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer card" to one of the other players. If the designated player has it, he must hand it over. Play continues until players are able to collect all four works by a particular author. Once that is done, the player may place the complete set in front of him. Play continues until no one has any cards left. The player with the most complete sets wins the game.

Having played this game hundreds of times in the 50s and 60s, I can attest to the fact that I did learn the names of the most famous titles from 13 of the most famous authors in history. The complete list of authors is shown below:

Mark Twain
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Sir Walter Scott
William Makepeace Thackeray
Washington Irving
Robert Louis Stevenson
Charles Dickens
Henry W. Longfellow
William Shakespeare
James Fenimore Cooper
John Greenleaf Whittier
Louisa May Alcott
Lord Alfred Tennyson

The cards themselves each contained a beautiful illustrated picture of the author, something very special to the Salem Edition of "The Game of Authors." The yellow counters mentioned earlier were used to reward players additional points depending when they placed completed sets in front of them.

All in all, "The Game of Authors" should be remembered as fun, historical and educational. It will always hold
an important place in U.S. game history.

-- RJ Cullen

Posted in Nostalgic

Zit-Zingo – Play Bingo in Your Car

From time to time, "Toys Bulletin" will take a look at a favorite toy or game from days long ago. We want to provide you, the reader, a closer look at some of these old favorites that date back to the 50s-70s. So look for the heading "Another Nostalgic Memory from Toys Bulletin."

Zit-Zingo - Play Bingo in your Car

The Game of "Zit-Zingo" was first released in 1951 by The Jay and Jay Company in Lombard, Illinois. The version pictured here is from 1954, and was well used for many years.

"Zit-Zingo" is played very much like Bingo.  There are four different scoring cards, each with 25 photos of objects you might see while driving in your automobile.  Each scoring card pictures 5 objects left to right and 5 objects up and down, including a free space in the middle.  The first person to see and mark 5 of their objects in a row, wins the game, and yells "Zit-Zingo."  There are several variations of the game, including having to find everything on the score card before you can win, or requiring each player to only find objects on a certain side of the car.  

Before a discussion of the various objects included on the cards, we must take a trip back in time.  In the 1950s, the Interstate Highway system had not yet been constructed, and four lane divided highways were rare indeed.  Yet, Americans all took vacation trips, and in most cases, they used the family car.  They had no choice but to drive on two lane roads, and travel through small towns to get to their final destination.  Thus, unlike today, trips took longer and there was lots to look at along the way.

So a game like "Zit-Zingo" made perfect sense.  It helped pass the time during those long trips, because other than reading, which sometimes caused nausea for many passengers, there wasn't much to do in that car.

The objects pictured on the scoring cards are the most fun to look at today, some 60 years later.  Here is partial list of some of the easy ones to spot and some of the hard ones, in no particular order.

Restaurant                         Rail Road Crossing
"S" Curve sign                   River
Electric Transformer       Bicycle
Hitch Hiker                       Airplane
Boy                                     Horse
Wash on Line                    Dog
Bird on Wire                      Water Tower
Motel                                  Policeman

We don't have to tell you that seeing a Hitch Hiker, Wash on Line, and Bird on Wire would not be easy while traveling on our Interstate Highways of today.  Those were some of the hard objects to spot even back in the 50s.

"Zit-Zingo" was certainly an entertaining travel game to play, long before video games, DVD players and Ipods.  It was a different time for sure, and we at "Toys Bulletin" were happy to provide you with our first in a series of "Nostalgic Memories" from dayslong ago.

-- RJ Cullen


Posted in Nostalgic