What with Nintendo and other electronic entertainments, the age of the board game is almost at an end. Sure, there are still some Monopoly zealots out there and some 5-year-olds moving their way around Candyland, but you won't find a board game based on "Beverly Hills, 90210" or "Roseanne."
Not like the good old days.
By the good old days I mean the '50s and '60s when, for one thing, there was a board game based on almost every successful television show.
For instance, there was the "Leave It to Beaver" Money Maker Game (share Beaver's ingenious and often disastrous attempts at earning money), Jackie Gleason's And Away We Go! TV Fun Game, I'm George Gobel and Here's the Game ("Believe thee me, here's a good old time for everybody"), "Get Smart," The Exploding Bomb Game, "Gilligan's Island" and "Bewitched," to name just a few.
You also could test your mettle playing every quiz show game, from "Strike It Rich" to "The Price Is Right."
The highly rated Western programs also spawned a posse of board games. While you kept an eye on "Bonanza" on TV, you could, at the same time, play a round of "Cheyenne," "Johnny Ringo," "Hopalong Cassidy," "Bat Masterson," "Gunsmoke," "Wagon Train" -- or "Bonanza."
These post-World War II games, which drew their inspiration from comic books, rock music, movies and politics, as well as television, are becoming increasingly popular with collectors.
Although prices have not come near those for Victorian games -- a record auction price for a game was set last July, when the 1869 the New Parlor Game: Baseball sold for $8,250 at a Wethersfield, Conn., auction -- prices have escalated well into three figures. Here are some examples from the latest "Warman's Americana & Collectibles" (Wallace-Homestead):
Godzilla, 1963, Ideal, $250.
King Kong, 1963, Ideal, $250.
Twilight Zone, 1964, Ideal, $200.
, Three Stooges, 1959, Lowell,
Elvis Presley Game of Love, 1957, Teenage Publishing Co., $600.
Phantom of the Opera, 1963, Hasbro, $249.
The Munsters Picnic, 1964, Hasbro, $125.
The Flash: Justice League of America, 1967, Hasbro, $300.
The Phantom, 1965, Trans-O-Gram, $240.
"Spin Again, Board Games From the Fifties and Sixties," by Rick Polizzi and Fred Schaefer (Chronicle Books), offers not only a vivid presentation of these icons of the recent past but traces their history -- board games, it seems, date back more than 4,000 years -- from the moralizing games of the Victorian era to the voluptuous Barbie.
For information on and current prices of earlier games, check out vTC Warman's Antique American Games, 1840-1940" by Lee Dennis Wallace-Homestead Book Co., Radnor, Pa.), which has recently been updated.
Linda Rosenkrantz edited Auction magazine and is the author of five books, including "Auction Antiques Annual." Write Collect, c/o Copley News Service, P.O. Box 190, San Diego, Calif. 92112-0190. Letters cannot be answered personally.