Q: I thought I heard that Hasbro has decided to eliminate the thimble from the board game Monopoly. Is that true?
A.C., of Millstadt
A: Come on, be honest. How many of you who wore out the classic Monopoly game in your childhood as I did ever voluntarily chose the thimble as your board avatar?
It certainly didn’t happen in my neighborhood. When my buddies gathered on a hot summer afternoon to see who would wind up as that day’s Warren Buffett, it was always the two kids last to the card table who would wind up with the — ugh — iron and thimble.
Oh, sure, they were a step above the buttons and beer caps that Monopoly developer Charles Darrow envisioned players scrounging from around their house as playing pieces in the game’s earliest days. Hey, it was the Depression, after all. But, really, are you going to choose a thimble to strike terror in the hearts of opponents as you exclaim triumphantly in your best Trumpian voice, “You’re bankrupt!”?
Well, after 78 years, gamers had certainly cooled on the iron. When Hasbro ran a contest in 2013 to determine which of its iconic pieces to keep, only 8 percent backed the iron. It may have brought a tear to the eye of Norway’s Bjorn Halvard Knappskog, who used it to win the 2009 Monopoly World Championship in Las Vegas, but for years players had been hoping Hasbro would pull the plug, so to speak. (And I for one was overjoyed to see it replaced with the cat. Giving the feline world equal standing with that yapping Scottie was long overdue.)
Now, yes, the thimble is headed to the board-game junkyard, too. In a poll last month, Hasbro asked Monopoly enthusiasts to decide which eight tokens should be included in the game’s next edition due out this fall. They were given the choice of the eight current tokens along with 56 alternatives ranging from a t-Rex and a typewriter to an emoji and a hashtag. (See them all at http://money.cnn.com/2017/02/16/technology/monopoly-tokens-vote-thimble.)
After 4 million votes, the thimble was the only one of the current eight given the boot. Its replacement will be announced March 19, which Hasbro has deemed World Monopoly Day.
“The thimble token will not pass go in the next generation of the Monopoly game,” Hasbro announced 10 days ago. “The lucky thimble has lost its shine with today’s fans and will be retired from the game.”
But if you did like the thimble, hold your head high, because you’re in good company in the Monopoly Token Cemetery. Here’s a brief history:
When the game originally was issued by Parker Brothers in 1935 it came with six tokens:
Top hat: Perhaps the most representative symbol, it was worn by the game’s mustachioed mascot, Rich Uncle Pennybags (aka Mr. Monopoly). Depending on the story, he was modeled after American financier Otto Hermann Kahn or J.P. Morgan.
Shoe: Modeled after the practical footwear of the 1930s, it was a symbol of hard work and the riches that could result.
Battleship and cannon (or howitzer): Originally used in the game Conflict, these were money-savers for Parker Brothers, which threw them into Monopoly sets when Conflict lost the popularity war with consumers.
And, of course, the flat iron and thimble, which likely were more familiar to boomers than centennials. Then, after game sales started soaring almost overnight, the company quickly added four more tokens. First came the 1930s roadster followed by the purse, rocking horse and lantern.
You’ve likely never heard of the latter three, because they turned into flops, replaced in the 1950s by the Scottie dog, the wheelbarrow and the horse and rider. Players are particularly loyal to the dog, giving it the most votes in 2013 — 29 percent. The horse and rider, however, eventually went the way of the rocking variety. And, in 2000, the cannon/howitzer was trundled off to the scrapheap as well, replaced briefly on occasion by a sack of money.
So as we await the newest piece to be unveiled, those who revere the thimble are simply going to have to save it from older games so they can pass it on to the next generation. Of course, for something completely different, you can always buy one of the hundreds of officially licensed collectors’ games, including those based on “Seinfeld,” “Star Wars,” Disney villains and the National Parks Edition, each with its own representative tokens. (Yes, you, too, could be Homer Simpson, Darth Vader or Fusilli Jerry.)
As for me, maybe I’ll dust off my unauthorized Cat-opoly version this weekend (no, I am not making this up), where you get $200 for passing Scat and pay $375 for a Maine coon and $425 for a Persian, the Park Place and Boardwalk of cats. Now, should I be the can of sardines, the bottle of milk or the ball of yarn? Hmmm, decisions, decisions ...
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Answer to Friday’s trivia: In 1955, Pat Boone took Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame” and turned it into his first No. 1 hit. It wouldn’t be his last. In 1956 and 1957, he would hit the top spot four more times with “I Almost Lost My Mind” (by black R&B singer-songwriter Ivory Joe Hunter), “Don’t Forbid Me” (by black songwriter Charles Singleton), “Love Letters in the Sand” and “April Love.” Then, after a lengthy dry spell, he topped the charts again for a final week on June 19, 1961, with “Moody River.” But it was his daughter Debby who made the biggest news in 1977 when she became the first woman to have a song that remained No. 1 for 10 straight weeks, “You Light Up My Life.” As recently as 2015, Billboard named it the No. 9 song of all time since 1958 (Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” was No. 1). Don’t forget, about 200 seats still remain for Boone’s appearances at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Wildey Theatre in Edwardsville. Tickets are $70 and $75 at www.wildeytheatre.com.