Stop Thief and Maturity

One of the perks in having children, has been to rediscover my own childhood. Playing backyard football in the mud. Scouring the forested park areas and hiking trails for critters. Setting-up insane backyard obstacle courses. Riding bicycles through 8-inch deep water puddles. Sliding down really fast slides—-backwards and upside down. These are all in a day’s fun (weather permitting of course).

Fortunately, my kids are young enough to where I am simply a good playmate and not yet embarrassing to them; as I know that day will arrive soon enough. But for now, we have lots of fun and the neighbors only point and laugh at me a little. I guess the most flattering part is that after pointing and laughing for awhile, these same neighbors have a change at heart and suddenly want to send their little ones over to join in with our outdoor goofiness.

It has been wonderful getting the oldest son interested in the stuff that I liked as a kid. He has the old style NFL plug-in vibrating board game, where the miniature players move in circles around the replica football field. Unfortunately, we had to hide that game in the closet for now as the youngest kid would break the entire set in less than five minutes.

We recreate great battles of the Civil War with his cheap toy soldiers as well as with his more expensive hand-painted models. We play chess, Stratego, and have all sorts of friendly competitions.

I think the best retro board game that we purchased was Stop Thief. Manufactured in the late 1970s, this board game was as high-tech as it got back then. The game involves players assuming the role of detectives and trying to apprehend imaginary criminals with the help of a battery-operated over-sized calculator looking device that provides audible clues as to the deviant’s whereabouts. It also helps you make the case-closing arrest.

The board features four different floorplans (with crime locations, doors, windows, and floor areas) where the thief can move. In addition, he can escape from your grasp and run—-a frustrating experience.

The thief can maneuver outside of the buildings and even hop on a subway to throw-off pursuing detectives. The game is an excellent exercise for the kids in using logic, and takes less than 30 minutes to play (average games for us require 3 to 4 rounds at about 5-8 minutes per round).

Stop Thief has been a big hit with our family since we found it on E-bay. Since I played the game in my childhood, I knew that some of the game pieces were non-essential. As a result, we got a bargain price on an incomplete game set (missing one of the detective licenses)—and the lost part has absolutely no effect on the game play.

At least when the kids become teens and my fun-filled days at the park are no more, I can still take solace in the notion that those board games will be still around—-pushed behind a pile in the attic.

Without the indoor and outdoor toys to distract me, perhaps then I’ll have more time to regain some of my credibility with those mature adult neighbors. Maybe, I’ll act as I a parent should--find enjoyment in sitting for long periods, complaining about life, and ignoring other young ones having fun. That is what we are expected to do, right?

Then again, I don’t think it will ever make me as happy as I am now celebrating a Stop Thief win or peeling a mud-caked shirt off after a few hours of real-kid play.


mappchik said...

Having lost one of my children to the eye-rolling and "Mom!" teen attitude, I am so thankful that the younger two are still enthused about water gun battles on rainy days and bombarding soldiers atop cardboard box forts with acorns fired from the trebuchet.

Fortunately, the teen is still up for game nights, with Stratego, Risk and Munchkin. And Uno, if we're playing for M&Ms

I may put a couple garage sale browsing relatives on alert for Stop Thief. It would be nice catch someone other than Professor Plum and the gang.

J. J. in Phila said...

I must admit to playing Clue as a child (and many would say I'm still playing it). :)

Being a frustrated soldier (limping into battle screws up tradition), I graduated to tabletop war games. I still have fond memories of reenacting the Battle of Bulge on my living room floor.

mrs. fuzz said...

Your kids are lucky to have a dad like you! My husband loves being one of the kids too. He recently had his mom send us all his old games from when he was little. We got one that I had never heard of called Screaming Eagles. It's a Milton Bradley. She also sent the original Gameboy with all the games, and original nintendo system and sega genesis. I'm not one for video games old or new but it is kind of cool seeing these ancient systems.

I think i'll be sad when our kids get to that phase where they think we are dorks.

mrs. fuzz said...

atari-not sega genesis

Slamdunk said...

Mappchik: The box war game is a clever one, and we have Clue as well. The modern version of Stratego really messed with me--since the higher numbered pieces are the best now instead of how it was originally designed with the 1 being the top piece. We ordered an original version after my whining.

JJ: Ha--I had a Guns of Navarone playset in which the Germans repeatedly were defeated in my Virginia bedroom.

Mrs. Fuzz--Thanks for the kind words. I'll have to look up Screaming Eagles. I have heard of it, but did not have that game. When our house got the Atari 2600 and cable tv, I think that is when active childhood officially ended and couch potatoism entered our family.

Rich said...

I love stratego. Definitely think it belongs in the 2nd tier of games, just below Chess, Scrabble, and Hungry Hungry Hippos. Ok, so maybe Monopoly instead of Hungry Hungry Hippos. But whatever.

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for the comment Rich. We bought a cheap plastic Stratego for the kids, and quickly discovered that you could see through the pieces on sunny days. As a result, we bought a more expensive one that has thick plastic and the stopped the peeking.