In honor of the new monopoly update, I’d like to wax nostalgic about a game that I had as a kid, the “Ice Cube Game,” manufactured by Milton Bradley. I tried to find info about it online and found a wonderful blog post by a woman named Tracy. According to her biography she is a “library director with a background in museums” with an appreciation for kitsch, antiques, and books (wow, perfect E-Verse type!).
I was going to describe the game myself but she did such a wonderful job that I just cut and pasted from her blog. It’s a really bizarre game but I loved playing it. By the way, my mom used to heat up the washer for “hot head” on the stove burner! How dangerous is that? a kids game that involves burning hot metal–well, it was the 70’s! You’ll understand when you read her full post. Here is the direct link. Let us know about your little known board games.
1972 Milton Bradley Ice Cube Game
Recently acquired: the holy grail of vintage board games! The now oh-so-rare-and-insanely-pricey Ice Cube was made by Milton Bradley in 1972, and is one of the most sought and most expensive vintage board games in existence. How expensive? Well, a mint example recently sold for as much as a brand-new iPad . . . so if you spot one at a yard sale, snap it up!
|Inside the box.|
Here’s what happens: basically, players take turns torturing ice cube men (made of real ice) with devices like “The Salt Mine,” “Warm Shower,” “Hot Head,” and “Bucket of Warm Water.” The last ice cube man to melt wins the game, although this is a short-lived victory at best.
The game has elaborate prep: first, the tray of specially molded ice men (called “Meltin’ Miltons”) has to be filled with water and put into the freezer. It takes a couple of hours for the ice men to solidify, and, speaking from experience, you’ll be sorry if you try to rush it. If the player’s interest hasn’t waned by the time the ice men are ready, they are popped out of their tray and . . . oh, look! They have cute little faces! They’re even smiling at us! How adorable! Of course, the cheery, trusting faces of the ice men make their ensuing tortures even more horrible to behold.
Turns out taking a photograph of an ice cube’s facial features isn’t easy. If you look very closely, you may be able to make out an ear on each side, a big nose, 2 eyes, and a smiling mouth. It’s a little clearer in the box illustration:
The newly molded ice men are inserted into little stands, which enable the players to move them around the board. The stands consist of a pair of plastic feet and a dapper little hat with a bow. A spike attached to the feet slides through a hole in the center of each ice man and sticks out the top of the hat, holding the assembly together and providing a handle for each player to grasp.
Each ice man is placed at his starting position on the board, then it’s just a matter of spinning the wheel o’ tortures to see which fate will befall each one. Will he have to stand under the hot shower? Take a bath in a tub of warm water? Be doused with a sprinkling of salt? Have a bucket of water dumped upon him? Or perhaps the most dreaded fate awaits him: the “Hot Head,” in which a heated metal washer is placed atop the ice man! The game instructions cheerily call these possible spin outcomes “mission events.”
|The wheel o’ tortures with icicle spinner.|
|The Salt Mine sprinkling.|
|The Hot Shower.|
|The infamous Hot Head torture. Poor ice cube man…he’s melting fast!|
Whichever he spins, the ice man remains there, slowly melting away, until either his next turn or until another player spins that fate. If he’s very lucky, he’ll spin “enter Deep Freeze,” which gives him a brief respite in a chamber of comforting crushed ice. The tortures continue until only one ice man is left standing.
Ice Cube is, as you may imagine, an incredibly messy game. Melted water, crusty salt, and flaky rust from the heated metal washer eventually coat everything if not carefully cleaned off after each game, and, if not dried thoroughly before packing away, the result is stinky mold. Countless spring-cleaning mothers tossed these games out in disgust. Consequently, Ice Cube is hard to find today, especially in good, complete condition, and when found, it commands high prices. Sure, you could buy an iPad for what you’ll pay for an Ice Cube game…but would you have as much fun? I don’t think so.