Boomer Nostalgia, Part One: TV Cartoons

This past New Year’s Eve, the neighbors on the block where my business partner Dan and I live gathered for our annual year-end celebration. Between appetizers, main courses, and beverages, several of us who are of the Baby Boomer generation got into a conversation about the impact of television on our lives as children and teenagers, and, as would result, many of us became nostalgic about the characters and stories that informed our youth. We discussed a variety of programs we had so dearly loved, and, among the diverse themes, we chatted about television cartoon shows (from Yogi Bear to The Flintstones, from Rocky and Bullwinkle to Underdog), classic westerns (from Rawhide to Wanted Dead or Alive, from Gunsmoke to Bonanza), and, interestingly enough, science-fiction programs (from The Twilight Zone to The Outer Limits, from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Star Trek). Needless to say, we covered a lot of televised territory.

“Don’t you sell a lot of vintage card and board games that are based on 1950s and 1960s TV shows?” my neighbor Kathy asked. “I believe I’ve seen some of them on your online vintage store website.”

“Yes,” I relied. “Many of these games available through Dogbotz Boneyard are very collectible.”

“Well, I’ll have to keep an eye on them, as I have a few friends who collect games,” he husband Bob interjected. “So, what are some of the Boomer-era games you have acquired and sold.”

Because there is such a diversity of vintage card and board games that Dan and I collect and sell, and not wanting to compose a blog that goes for 20-plus pages. I have decided to discuss each of the three previously mentioned categories (cartoons, western, and science fiction) in separate blogs as these are the most requested from our buyers.

So, let’s begin with TV cartoon games! Here are three of my personal favorites.

The Flintstones

As children, my older brothers and I had a fascination for all things prehistoric, particularly a curiosity with dinosaurs. If we spotted a set of plastic dinosaurs at the local Five and Dime, we pleaded with our parents to use our allowances to buy a bag of ten or so dinosaurs. We were incessant, but I believe our parents were pleased with our interest in science. So, when The Flintstones cartoon show first aired, we kids were riveted.

The popular 1960s Flintstones TV cartoon series was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc., and the board game Dino the Dinosaur Game is based on the idea that cartoon characters Wilma and Fred Flintstone and their neighbors Betty and Barney Rubble took the Flintstones’ favorite pet dinosaur, Dino, to the Bedrock Amusement Park. At the end of the day, they could not get Dino to return home until they promised him one more trip around the park. Each player of this board game takes Dino through the park to the rides on the path of colored stones. The object of the game then becomes one of taking Dino on each ride once so they can all exit the park with Dino in tow.

The Flintstones show (considered one of the most popular children’s cartoons ever) is set in the Stone Age town of Bedrock. In this fantasy version of the past, dinosaurs (such as Dino) and other long-extinct animals co-exist with cavemen, saber-toothed cats, and woolly mammoths. Like their mid-20th century counterparts, these cavemen listen to records, live in split-level homes, and eat out at restaurants, yet their technology is made entirely from pre-industrial materials and largely powered through the use of animals. For example, the cars are made out of stone, wood and animal skins, and powered by the passengers’ feet.

The Flintstones was certainly a delightfully fun cartoon that integrated both the past and the present.

Dino of Flintstones Game 0400 A 0218

The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show

I remember my paternal grandmother, Edna, who was a full-blooded Ojibwa elder, helped monitor what my brothers and I could watch on television while our parents were out of the house. Of all the cartoon shows of which she approved, The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show was her most acceptable. After all, her tribal teachings informed her, as she explained to us, that “Moose and Squirrel are sacred beings, sacred guides.” Though not formally educated beyond sixth grade, Edna was an astute woman, and I’ll always remember her comments about the sacredness of these two creatures, for she when she spoke, she had a twinkle in her eye denoting that she was fully aware that this cartoon show one of the most satiric political television cartoons.

The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show aired from November 19, 1959 to June 27, 1964 on the ABC and NBC television networks. Produced by Jay Ward Productions, the series was structured as a variety show, with the main feature being the serialized adventures of the two title characters: the anthropomorphic moose Bullwinkle and flying squirrel Rocky. The main adversaries in most of their adventures are the Russian-like spies Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale.

The cartoon is known for quality writing and wry humor. Mixing puns, cultural and topical satire, and self-referential humor, it appealed to adults as well as children. It was also one of the first cartoons whose animation was outsourced; storyboards were shipped to Gamma Productions, a Mexican studio also employed by Total Television. The art has a choppy, unpolished look and the animation is extremely limited even by television animation standards at the time. Yet the series has long been held in high esteem by those who have seen it; some critics described the series as a well-written radio program with pictures.

Bullwinkle’s Supermarket Game was copyrighted in 1976 by P.A.T.-Ward for Whitman games and manufactured by Western Publishing Company, Inc., of Racine Wisconsin. This grocery-shopping game features the beloved characters of the cartoon show that was popular in the 1950s and 60s. Rocky, Bullwinkle, Boris, and Natasha are all here to buy their favorite groceries and to win the game by completing a row of grocery squares with their corresponding cards.

Cold War political intrigue may or may not be involved.

Bullwinkles Supermarket 0409 A 0218

Underdog

I have always had a dog (or two) that has been a loving, loyal and playful companion throughout my life: from childhood to adulthood. But, when I was a kid, I came across a cartoon show that featured a poetic superhero canine whose motto was “There’s no need to fear! Underdog is here!” I then knew that this wasn’t my childhood imagination: dogs do talk! And if we listened quietly, as my grandmother Edna always affirmed, we can hear the important messages they have to convey.

Based on the cartoon series of the same name, the Underdog Game was produced and released by the Milton Bradley Company in 1964. Underdog debuted October 3, 1964, on the NBC network under the primary sponsorship of General Mills and continued in syndication until 1973 (although production of new episodes ceased in 1967), for a run of 124 episodes. Underdog, Shoeshine Boy’s heroic alter ego, appeared whenever love interest Sweet Polly Purebred was being victimized by such villains as Simon Bar Sinister or Riff Raff. Underdog nearly always spoke in rhyming couplets. His voice was supplied by actor Wally Cox.

The object of this board game is to collect the most cards while moving around the game board, which is vividly colored, depicting the various characters of the cartoon series.

Underdog Game 0417 A 0218

There are many more examples that could be provided of wonderful family entertainment games based on 1950s and 1960s televised cartoon shows, these three are just some of them. But, if you’re interested in collecting vintage card and board games based on Boomer generation shows, come visit us at Dogbotz Boneyard.

All the best,

Patrick Price,
Proprietor,
Dogbotz Boneyard, LLC
www.dogbotz.com

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