Milton Bradley Company

The Milton Bradley Company was an American board game manufacturer established by Milton Bradley in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1860. In 1920, it absorbed the game production of McLoughlin Brothers, formerly the largest game manufacturer in the United States.

Milton Bradley
Division of Hasbro
IndustryGames
FatePurchased by Hassenfeld Brothers and reincorporated as Hasbro Gaming
SuccessorHasbro Gaming
Founded1860 in Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.
FounderMilton Bradley
Defunct1998 (company)
2009 (brand)
HeadquartersEast Longmeadow, Massachusetts
ProductsBattleship
Buffalo Bill Gun
Connect Four
Crossfire
Fireball Island
Hero Quest
Hotel
Hungry Hungry Hippos
The Game of Life
Simon
Twister
Yahtzee
Axis & Allies
Gamemaster Series
OMNI Entertainment System
Body Language
ParentHasbro (1984–2009)

History

Milton Bradley found success making board games. In 1860, Milton Bradley moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, and set up the state's first color lithography shop. Its graphic design of Abraham Lincoln sold very well until Lincoln grew his beard and rendered the likeness out-of-date.

Struggling to find a new way to use his lithography machine, Bradley visited his friend George Tapley.[1] Tapley challenged him to a game, most likely an old English game. Bradley conceived the idea of making a purely American game.[2] He created The Checkered Game of Life, which had players move along a track from Infancy to Happy Old Age,[3] in which the point was to avoid Ruin and reach Happy Old Age. Squares were labeled with moral positions from honor and bravery to disgrace and ruin. Players used a spinner instead of dice because of the negative association with gambling.[3]

By spring of 1861, over 45,000 copies of The Checkered Game of Life had been sold. Bradley became convinced board games were his company's future.[2]

When the Civil War broke out in early 1861, Milton Bradley temporarily gave up making board games and tried to make new weaponry. However, upon seeing bored soldiers stationed in Springfield, Bradley began producing small games the soldiers could play during their down time. These are regarded as the first travel games in the country.[4] These games included chess, checkers, backgammon, dominoes, and "The Checkered Game of Life." They were sold for one dollar a piece to soldiers and charitable organizations that bought them in bulk to distribute.

By the 1870s, the company was producing dozens of games and capitalizing on fads. Milton Bradley became the first manufacturer in America to make croquet sets. The sets included wickets, mallets, balls, stakes, and an authoritative set of rules to play by that Bradley himself had created from oral tradition and his own sense of fair play.[2] In 1880, the company began making jigsaw puzzles.

In the late 1860s, Bradley became involved in the Kindergarten movement. Deeply invested in the cause, his company began manufacturing educational items such as colored papers and paints. The company was hurt by Bradley's generosity. He gave these materials away free of charge, which cost them. Due to the recession of the late 1870s, his investors told him either his kindergarten work must go or they would go. Bradley chose to keep his kindergarten work. His friend George Tapley bought the interest of the lost investors and took over as president of the Milton Bradley Company.[5]

The Milton Bradley Company took a new direction in 1869 after Milton Bradley went to hear a lecture about the kindergarten movement by early education pioneer, Elizabeth Peabody. Peabody promoted the philosophy of the German scholar Friedrich Froebel. Froebel stated that through education children learn and develops through creative activities. Bradley would spend much of the rest of his life promoting the kindergarten movement both personally and through the Milton Bradley Company.[5]

Milton Bradley was an early advocate of Friedrich Froebel's idea of Kindergarten. Springfield's first kindergarten students were Milton Bradley's two daughters, and the first teachers in Springfield were Milton, his wife and his father.[6] Milton Bradley's company's involvement with kindergartens began with the production of "gifts," the term used by Froebel for the geometric wooden play things that he felt were necessary to properly structure children's creative development. Bradley spent months devising the exact shades in which to produce these materials; his final choice of six pigments of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet would remain the standard colors for children's art supplies through the 20th century.[5]

The company's educational supplies turned out to be a large portion of their income at the turn of the century. They produced supplies any grade school teacher could use, such as toy money, multiplication sticks, and movable clock dials. Milton Bradley continued producing games, particularly parlor games played by adults. They produced "Visit to the Gypsies," "Word Gardening," "Happy Days in Old New England," and "Fortune Telling." They also created jigsaw puzzles of wrecked vehicles, which were popular among young boys.[2]

When Milton Bradley died in 1911, the company was passed to Robert Ellis, who passed it to Bradley's son-in-law Robert Ingersoll, who eventually passed it to George Tapley's son, William. In 1920, Bradley bought out McLoughlin Brothers, which went out of business after John McLoughlin's death.[4]

Milton Bradley began to decline in the 1920s and fell dramatically in the 1930s during the Depression. Fewer people were spending money on board games. The company kept losing money until 1940, when they sunk too low and banks demanded payment on loans.[2]

Desperate to avoid bankruptcy, the board of directors persuaded James J. Shea, a Springfield businessman, to take over presidency of the company. Shea immediately moved to decrease the company's debt. He began a major renovation of the Milton Bradley plant by burning old inventory that had been accumulating since the turn of the century.

With the outbreak of World War II, Milton Bradley started producing a universal joint created by Shea used on the landing gear of fighter planes. They also reproduced a revised version of their game kits for soldiers, which earned the company $2 million.[2] Milton Bradley did not stop creating board games, although they did cut their line from 410 titles to 150. New games were introduced during this time, such as the patriotic Game of the States, Chutes & Ladders and Candyland.[4]

The advent of the television could have threatened the industry, but Shea used it to his advantage. Various companies acquired licenses to television shows, for the purpose of producing all manner of promotional items, including games.[4] In 1959, Milton Bradley released Concentration, a memory game based on an NBC television show of the same name; the game was such a success that editions were issued annually into 1982, long after the show was cancelled in 1973 (similar practices were used for box game adaptations of the game shows Password and Jeopardy!).

Milton Bradley celebrated their centennial in 1960 with the re-release of The Checkered Game of Life, which was modernized. It was now simply called The Game of Life and the goal was no longer to reach Happy Old Age, but to become a millionaire. Twister made its debut in the 1960s as well. Thanks to Johnny Carson's suggestive comments as Eva Gabor played the game on his show, Twister became a phenomenon.[2] In the 1960s, Milton Bradley games were licensed in Australia by John Sands Pty Ltd.

In 1967, James Shea Jr. took over as president of Milton Bradley (becoming CEO in 1968) succeeding his father. During his presidency, Milton Bradley bought Playskool Mfg. Co. the E.S. Lowe Company, makers of Yahtzee, and Body Language.

During the 1970s and 1980s, electronic games became popular. Milton Bradley released Simon in 1978, which was fairly late in the movement. By 1980, it was their best-selling item.[2]

In 1979, Milton Bradley also developed the first hand held cartridge based console, the Microvision.

In 1983, seeing the potential in the new Vectrex vector based video game console, the company purchased General Consumer Electronics (GCE). Both the Vectrex and the Microvision were designed by Jay Smith.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Milton Bradley marketed a series of games (such as HeroQuest and Battle Masters) in North America that were developed in the United Kingdom by Games Workshop (GW) that drew heavily from GW's Warhammer Fantasy universe, albeit without explicit reference to the Warhammer product line.

Milton Bradley was sued by two men, Alan Coleman and Roger Burten, who claimed to have presented the original concept for Dark Tower to Milton Bradley in the late 1970s, at which point, MB declined to pursue it, but thereafter "independently" developed the game.[7] One of the Dark Tower game designers claims the court's decision was unfair.[8]

In 1984, Hasbro, ending 124 years of family ownership, bought out Milton Bradley.[4] Wholly owned by Hasbro, Milton Bradley continued to turn out games that capitalized on current trends. The 1990s saw the release of Gator Golf, Crack the Case, Mall Madness, and 1313 Dead End Drive.[2]

In 1991, Hasbro acquired Milton Bradley's former arch-rival Parker Brothers. In 1998, Milton Bradley merged with Parker Brothers to form Hasbro Games.[9] After the consolidation, Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers turned into brands of Hasbro before being both dropped in 2009 in favor of the parent company's name.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Milton Bradley Company". Retrieved April 1, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Milton Bradley Company Information". Retrieved April 1, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Petrik, Paula. "Exploring U.S. History". Retrieved April 1, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d e Whitehall, Bruce (2002). "Game History". Retrieved April 1, 2011.
  5. ^ a b c "Milton Bradley Company". FundingUniverse.com. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  6. ^ "Milton Bradley Froebel's Kindergarten Gifts". Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  7. ^ Lee Gesmer, Esq., Triumph v Dark Tower: How Two Inventors Won Their Trade Secrets Case Against a Game Giant
  8. ^ Jim Francis, Triumph: the Origin of Dark Tower
  9. ^ http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=68329&p=irol-newsArticlePR_pf&ID=18538&highlight=

External links

Buckaroo!

Buckaroo! is a game of physical skill, intended for players aged four and above. Buckaroo! is made by Milton Bradley, a division of the toy company Hasbro.

Candy Land

Candy Land (also Candyland) is a simple racing board game currently published by Hasbro. The game requires no reading and minimal counting skills, making it suitable for young children. Due to the design of the game, there is no strategy involved: players are never required to make choices, just follow directions. The winner is predetermined by the shuffle of the cards. A perennial favorite, the game sells about one million copies per year.

Captain Skyhawk

Captain Skyhawk is a scrolling shooter video game developed by Rare and published by Milton Bradley Company. The game was released in North America in June 1990 and in Europe on May 24, 1994, for the NES. It was also released for the PlayChoice-10 arcade machine.

It features music by composer David Wise.

Crocodile Dentist

Crocodile Dentist is a game made for young children, first published by Milton Bradley in 1990. A smaller travel version of the game was released in 1993 and is currently being produced by Winning Moves. The game was the brainchild of Robert B. Fuhrer, who later created Gator Golf, and many other toys and games.

Elefun

Elefun is a children's game from Hasbro. The object of the game is to use your net to catch as many butterflies as possible as they fly from a plastic elephant's metre (3.28')-long trunk, a plastic chute through which the paper butterflies travel, propelled up by a motor in the elephant, called Elefun for short. It was released in 1993. It was made again in 2003 and made once again in 2009, as well as a spin-off as the "Elefun Busy Ball Popper" in 2011. A golden butterfly was added to the game in 2012. Also it released a female version called Belefun. The game is currently marketed under the "Elefun and Friends" banner, with Hungry Hungry Hippos, Mouse Trap and Gator Golf.

Gator Golf

Gator Golf is a children's miniature golfing toy from the American game company Milton Bradley. It was released in 1994. In the game, children take turns putting into the mouth of a motorized plastic alligator figure, which then flings the ball off its tail and spins around, creating a new challenge for the next player. Gator Golf's commercial tag line was "Gator Golf - what could be greater than playing a game of golf with a gator?" It was then released again in 2008.

It is currently marketed under the "Elefun and Friends" banner with Elefun, Mouse Trap and Hungry Hungry Hippos.

Hungry Hungry Hippos

Hungry Hungry Hippos (or Hungry Hippos in some UK editions) is a tabletop game made for 2–4 players, produced by Hasbro, under the brand of its subsidiary, Milton Bradley. The idea for the game was published in 1967 by toy inventor Fred Kroll and it was introduced in 1978. The objective of the game is for each player to collect as many marbles as possible with their 'hippo' (a toy hippo model). The game is marketed under the "Elefun and Friends" banner, along with Elefun, Mouse Trap and Gator Golf. The game has been referenced in The Simpsons, Mystery Science Theater 3000, the 2010 Disney Pixar movie Toy Story 3, the 2017 movie My Little Pony: The Movie and the 2001 cult film Donnie Darko. There is also a battle level based on the game in the 2016 Micro Machines game.

Jenga

Jenga is a game of physical skill created by Leslie Scott, and currently marketed by Hasbro. Players take turns removing one block at a time from a tower constructed of 54 blocks. Each block removed is then placed on top of the tower, creating a progressively taller and more unstable structure.

The name jenga is derived from kujenga, a Swahili word which means "to build".

Microvision

The Microvision is the first handheld game console that used interchangeable cartridges. It was released by the Milton Bradley Company in November 1979. The Microvision was designed by Jay Smith, the engineer who would later design the Vectrex gaming console. The Microvision's combination of portability and a cartridge-based system led to moderate success, with Smith Engineering grossing $15 million in the first year of the system's release. However, very few cartridges, a small screen, and a lack of support from established home video game companies led to its demise in 1981. According to Satoru Okada, the former head of Nintendo's R&D1 Department, the Microvision gave birth to the Game & Watch after Nintendo designed around Microvision's limitations.

Milton (game)

Milton is an electronic talking game. According to the patent, Milton was the first electronic talking game that allowed two people to play against each other. Previously released devices of this type, such as Speak & Spell by Texas Instruments, were known primarily as teaching devices rather than competitive games.

It was manufactured and distributed by Milton Bradley Company in 1980 and invented by Jeffrey D. Breslow and Erick E. Erickson. The game is a single electronic unit with colored buttons, powered by an AC adapter.

Milton Bradley

Milton Bradley (November 8, 1836 – May 30, 1911) was an American business magnate, game pioneer and publisher, credited by many with launching the board game industry, with the Milton Bradley Company.

Mr. Bucket

Mr. Bucket is a tabletop game and toy published by Milton Bradley and released in 1992, which was discontinued but re-released in 2007. It was discontinued again and re-released again in 2017. The game features a plastic, motorized bucket which ejects differently-colored balls from its mouth. The players use plastic shovels to scoop up the balls and place them back inside Mr. Bucket.

Mystery Date (game)

Mystery Date is a board game from the Milton Bradley Company released in 1965, conceived by Marvin Glass and created by Henry Stan. Marketed to girls 6 to 14 years of age, it has been reissued in 1970, 1999, and 2005. It is popularly referenced as an icon and a trope in TV and film.

Operation (game)

Operation is a battery-operated game of physical skill that tests players' hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. The game's prototype was invented in 1964 by John Spinello, a University of Illinois industrial design student at the time, who sold his rights to the game to renowned toy designer Marvin Glass for a sum of USD $500 and the promise of a job upon graduation (a promise that was not upheld). Initially produced by Milton Bradley in 1965, Operation is currently made by Hasbro, with an estimated franchise worth of USD $40 million.The game is a variant on the old-fashioned electrified wire loop game popular at funfairs around the United States. It consists of an "operating table", lithographed with a comic likeness of a patient (nicknamed "Cavity Sam") with a large red lightbulb for his nose. This could be a reference to classic cartoons, where ill characters' noses turn red. In the surface are a number of openings, which reveal cavities filled with fictional and humorously named ailments made of plastic. The general gameplay requires players to remove these plastic ailments with a pair of tweezers without touching the edge of the cavity opening.

Perfection (board game)

Perfection, originally produced by the Pennsylvania company Reed Toys, is a game by the Milton Bradley company. The object is to put all the pieces into matching holes on the board (pushed down) before the time limit runs out. When time runs out, the board springs up, causing many, if not all, of the pieces to fly out. In the most common version, there are 25 pieces to be placed into a 5×5 grid within 60 seconds.

The Game of Life

The Game of Life, also known simply as Life, is a board game originally created in 1860 by Milton Bradley, as The Checkered Game of Life. The Game of Life was America's first popular parlour game. The game simulates a person's travels through his or her life, from college to retirement, with jobs, marriage, and possible children along the way. Two to four or six players can participate in one game. Variations of the game accommodate up to ten players.

The modern version was originally published 100 years later, in 1960. It was created and co-designed by toy and game designer Reuben Klamer and was "heartily endorsed" by Art Linkletter. It is now part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History and an inductee into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

Time Lord (video game)

Time Lord is a side-scrolling action-platform video game developed by Rare and published by Milton Bradley Company for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was released in North America in September 1990 and in Europe in 1991.

Trouble (board game)

Trouble (known as Frustration in the UK and Kimble in Finland) is a board game in which players compete to be the first to send four pieces all the way around a board. Pieces are moved according to the roll of a die. Trouble was developed by the Kohner Brothers and initially manufactured by Irwin Toy Ltd., later by Milton Bradley (now part of Hasbro). The game was launched in the United States in 1965 and is based on the English game Ludo and the German game Mensch ärgere dich nicht, both derived from the classic Indian game Pachisi. The Hasbro game Sorry! (originally marketed by Parker Brothers) has a similar game mechanic but uses cards instead of dice. The classic version is now marketed by Winning Moves.

A similar game called Headache was also produced by the Milton Bradley Company.

Twister (game)

Twister is a game of physical skill, produced by Milton Bradley Company and Winning Moves, that has been inducted into the American National Toy Hall of Fame. It is played on a large plastic mat that is spread on the floor or ground. The mat has six rows of large colored circles on it with a different color in each row: red, yellow, green, and blue. A spinner is attached to a square board and is used to determine where the player has to put their hand or foot. The spinner is divided into four labeled sections: left foot, right foot, left hand, and right hand. Each of those four sections is divided into the four colors (red, yellow, green, and blue). After spinning, the combination is called (for example: "right hand yellow") and players must move their matching hand or foot to a circle of the correct color.

In a two-player game, no two people can have a hand or foot on the same circle; the rules are different for more players. Due to the scarcity of colored circles, players will often be required to put themselves in unlikely or precarious positions, eventually causing someone to fall. A person is eliminated when they fall or when their elbow or knee touches the mat. There is no limit to how many can play at once, but more than four is a tight fit.

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