Monopoly adopts a kitty and axes the iron

The clear winner: the cat

The clear winner: the cat

Animal lovers are certain to applaud Hasbro Gaming’s announcement on Wednesday to welcome a cat as the newest token to be added to its classic Monopoly board game.

“Yeah! Cats rules! So I’m gonna need the new version of Monopoly to purr my way to victory,” crowed fan Nadia Didone Baldrighi on Monopoly’s Facebook page after the decision.

A close race lands the iron in jail.

A close race lands the iron in jail.

In an promotional campaign designed to both update the 78-year-old board game and attract new players, last month Hasbro threw open voting to its 10 million Facebook fans. In the “Save Your Token” poll, fans were able to vote for their most and least favorite tokens for the game, with the winner being added to the game and the loser being sent directly to Monopoly “Jail.”

The cat received the highest number of votes (31%) amongst five potential new tokens, clawing its way to the top over a robot, guitar, helicopter and diamond ring. It will now replace one of the longest-lived tokens, the iron, which has been in use since the 1937 edition of the game.

The race for which game piece would get the sack was a close one, with the iron, wheelbarrow and shoe each garnering only 8% of the total vote. Although Hasbro has not released exact vote tallies, the Monopoly Facebook page reveals that “the wheelbarrow and iron were separated by only about 200 votes.”

During the month-long campaign, several marketers jumped on board to either promote specific tokens or petition for additional choices that reflected their products. Online shoe retailer Zappos lobbied to save the shoe, while Jolly Time Pop Corn Company launched an unsuccessful campaign to get a popcorn piece added to the ballot.

The campaign also attracted attention from PETA, who appealed to Hasbro Gaming to replace the current Scottie dog token with one altered to represent a shelter pup.

The standard edition of Monopoly containing the iron will be available throughout 2013. Credit: Hasbro

The standard edition of Monopoly containing the iron will still be available throughout 2013. Credit: Hasbro

Hasbro Gaming Senior Vice President and Global Brand Leader Eric Nyman responded to PETA, saying, “Among the options for the new token is a cat. This token and its design was inspired in part by a cat named Shadow, who was rescued by one of our employees. Shadow recently passed away, so we are thrilled to pay homage to her by using her as inspiration for one of our potential new Monopoly tokens.”

After the votes were tallied late Tuesday night, Vice President of Marketing for Hasbro Gaming Jonathan Berkowitz announced that the game maker will immediately cease production of the iron, although the iron token will still be included in original Monopoly Classic games sold throughout the rest of the year.

A limited edition Classic Golden Monopoly with all of the tokens will be available on February 15.

A limited edition Classic Golden Monopoly with all of the tokens will be available on February 15. Credit: Hasbro

The new edition of the board game, in which the iron replaces the cat, is scheduled for release in the summer.

Not all fans were over the moon about the poll’s results. “Got rid of one of my favorite pieces and added my least favorite out of the choices … Thanks a lot!” complained Blake Robertson on Monopoly’s Facebook page.

Those disappointed to see that their choice for new token did not win will be happy to learn that Hasbro plans to release an exclusive limited edition of the game that includes golden versions of all of the new and classic tokens on February 15.

Today’s standard edition of Monopoly sports a car, thimble, boot, Scottie dog, battleship, hat, iron and wheelbarrow game pieces, but the game has undergone several token changes in the past. Other playing pieces retired over the years include the lantern, purse, rocking horse and a sack of money. The sack of money was the winner of a 1998 fans’ choice contest, winning out over a piggy bank and biplane, but was later ousted in 2007.

“Tokens are always a key part of the Monopoly game … and our fans are very passionate about their tokens,” Berkowitz said. “We’re going to keep listening to our fans,” he added, “We’re going to make sure we keep Monopoly current and exciting.”

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Monopoly to give one iconic game token the boot

Monopoly Save Your TokenIn a game-changing move (literally), board game manufacturer Hasbro has announced plans to give one of its current classic Monopoly game tokens the boot.

Let’s just hope that it won’t be the shoe. That’s always been my favorite.

monopoly_token_shoeHasbro has officially launched a Facebook contest to determine which of its current Monopoly game pieces will be retired this year. The company’s “Save Your Token” campaign lets fans cast a daily vote to save either the race car, Scottie dog, wheelbarrow, shoe, top hat, iron, thimble or battleship from extinction. The token with the least total votes will be given a one-way ticket to Monopoly heaven, presumably to commiserate with other retired game pieces, like the lantern, rocking horse and trolley car.

Personally, I’ve cast my vote to save the shoe and introduce the robot to the lineup.

monopoly+robotFans can also vote for the potential replacement token that they find most appealing. These choices include a toy robot, helicopter, cat, guitar or diamond ring. Each new token has its own brief but descriptive profile on the Hasbro site, for example, the robot “can vacuum and mow lawns; hasn’t taken over the world yet” and the cat was “once worshipped in many parts of the world; still worshipped on the Internet.”

For the Monopoly player, the first decision in the game is usually choosing a favorite token for moving around the board. It may surprise modern players to know that in the original Parker Brothers game, there were no tokens! It was suggested that players use any small household objects, like buttons, as markers. Later, wooden tokens shaped like chess pawns were included.

The first metal Monopoly game tokens, produced in 1937, were the thimble, battleship, shoe, hat, cannon, and iron. When demand for metal was at a high during World War II, wooden tokens re-emerged, and tokens made out of Bakelite plastic were produced as well.

monopoly_token_dogThe Scottie dog appeared after the war, along with the horse and rider, wheelbarrow, car, and airplane. A public token campaign in the late 1990s resulted in the moneybag token being added. It appears that over 20 different tokens for the classic game have been cast since Monopoly was first released, not including the ones for licensed, localized or custom editions of the game, such as the Metallica Collector’s Edition of Monopoly or Futurama Monopoly.

To show you how long it’s been since I last played Monopoly, I didn’t even remember that there was a wheelbarrow token, but as a child in the 1950s I often played the game (I was always the shoe). I thought I knew all of the tokens by heart, but when I dragged my own dusty 1973 Monopoly box out of the back closet I found that my more modern set lacks the battleship token of my youthful memories. Instead, it sports a horse and rider token — and that long-forgotten wheelbarrow, for good measure.

Thus far, the two pieces with the most support by a wide margin appear to be the Scottie dog and the race car, while it seems that both the iron and that luckless wheelbarrow have a lot to worry about.

Fans are encouraged to vote once everyday in the “Save Your Token” campaign, which ends on February 5th, 2013. Hasbro will announce the results on February 6.

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