In 1923 Walt Disney started his movie studio in Los Angeles. Mickey Mouse first appeared on the screen in 1928. Over the next few years the public was introduced to a number of Mickey's "family" - his dog Pluto, his pals Goofy and Donald Duck, and his girl friend Minnie.
In the ensuing years Disney introduced the public to many memorable cartoon characters such as Snow White, Cinderella, Dumbo, and the Disney studio is still doing this. Along the way, the public was also introduced to many related Disney products embossed with likenesses of Mickey's family. Then there was the Mickey Mouse Club and later the Wonderful World of Disney on Television. Untold numbers of people who have vacationed at Disneyland in California and Disneyworld in Florida, as well as the other Disney theme parks in France and Japan, have been introduced to Mickey and his "family". Videotapes and later DVDs introduced new generations to these same cartoon characters.
One of the many related products that were and are still offered to the public, which feature Disney cartoon characters, are games. A published game based upon Disney characters in their early years was the Mickey Mouse Coming Home Game, licensed to and published by the Marks Brothers Company of Boston, sometime in the 1930s. The game featured Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Horace Horsecollar, and Clarabelle Cow.
In England this same game with the name Mickey Mouse Ludo (see photograph above) was published by the Chad Valley Company of Harborne, Birmingham, England. This company was the licensee for Disney related game products in the then "British Empire". In their 1935 catalogue they list 19 Micky Mouse games and jigsaw puzzles including the "Ludo" game according to Brian Love in his book "Great Board Games" (London: Roxby Press Ltd., 1979, p7.)
The "ludo" game is a version of the game of "parcheesi", and was designed to be played by 2 to 4 players, using 4 colored counters each, and a single die. The die was used to indicate the number of track spaces a player may travel on each turn. Along the tracks on the board that a player is to follow, are a number of instructions such as "Advance 5 spaces" or "Go Back 11 spaces". The winner of the game is the player who can be the first to put his 4 counters in the central circle marked "home".
Through the years, Disney licensed a number of other companies to produce games based upon Disney Characters. The Museum holds a number of these games in its collection. The following are just some of the games in the collection that are based on Disney characters.
One type of game which features Disney cartoon characters are jigsaw puzzles.
This puzzle pictures Goofy, one of Mickey's pals, as a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman. Goofy made his film debut in 1932. Also in the picture puzzle are Donald Duck's three nephews.
The puzzle is intended for an older child and offers large pieces. When assembled, the puzzle is 46cm long x 36cm wide. There are 160 interlocking pieces, with an average size of 4cm x 3.3cm. In addition to a larger number of pieces, there are a large variety of shapes. This puzzle was made by Whitman Golden Limited for a Canadian market.
This second jigsaw puzzle from the collection features Donald Duck himself, and his three nephews - Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Donald first appeared on film in 1934 and his nephews first appeared in 1938. According to the Disney corporation history, at first it was impossible to tell the three apart, because they wore interchangeable clothes. It was finally decided that Huey would always be dressed in red, Dewey would be dressed in blue, and Louie would be dressed in green. However, as this puzzle box cover indicates Dewey appears to be dressed in orange. Perhaps the artist decided this because Donald himself is always dressed in blue.
Another type of game with Disney cartoon characters are playing cards. In the late 1940s a popular playing card game in North America was Canasta. According to Peter Arnold, The Book of Card Games, New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1995, p. 73-78:
"... invented in Uruguay after the Second World War, Canasta rapidly spread through South America and to the United States and thence to Britain, and for a period in the late 1940s and early 1950s threatened to become in all these places more popular than Bridge. The craze died, but Canasta remains a popular game. The word Canasta is Spanish for a basket, but the game Canasta is derived from the Rummy family [of card games]."
There are specific modes of play and scoring for a two player Canasta game. There are other modes of play for a three or four or six person game, a partner game, and a variation of the standard game known as Samba.
The standard game of Canasta is for two to six players and makes use of two standard decks of playing cards which include four "Jokers", making a total of 108 cards.
The photograph at the right is the double deck in the Mickey Mouse Canasta Junior box. The game was published by the Russell Manufacturing Company in 1947. (Russell issued a Mickey Mouse Library of Games in 1946. This latter package included 6 game decks: Bambi, Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Pinocchio, Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs, Three Little Pigs.)
Instead of standard playing card markings on the reverse side of each card, these cards feature Walt Disney cartoon characters. Included with the cards is a plastic double deck card "tray" - a standard piece of equipment for Canasta players. One side of the "tray" holds the unexposed cards, and the other side is for placement of the player discards. The Disney version of Canasta is a modification of the standard game.
A third type of Disney Cartoon character themed game in the Museum collection is a board game. The game illustrated is based upon the television show The Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeers. This television show appeared on the ABC Network from 1955 through 1959, and re-runs now appear on the Disney Channel.
This game was "invented" by the Disney "imagineers", and requires not just typical board game play, but also requires the singing of the "Mouse Club Song"! This copy of the game was produced and distributed by Parker Brothers and copyrighted in 1970.
The board is illustrated in the photograph at the right. Note the "white circles" on the board. These are the areas in which the board markers and the disk inserts are placed.
The photograph at the left illustrates the game pieces used for the game. There are special cards which spell out the words of the song. Other pieces include board markers, and disk inserts.
HOW THE GAME IS PLAYED:
(These are the instructions that are included on the reverse of the game box cover.)
Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me,
You have to sing it out loud and clear when you play the Mickey Mouse Club Game. You'll be trying to be the first player to win eleven letter cards which spell out M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E.
EQUIPMENT: A Deck of Cards, A Playing Board, 12 Tokens
PREPARATION: Shuffle the cards and place the deck picture side down on the center of the game board. Make sure the round discs have been removed from the eleven holes around the board. Place a token in each of the eleven holes (the 12th token is a spare). Select a player to begin the game.
PLAY: The first player draws the top card and sings out only the letters shown at the top of the card. The last letter sung is also the letter that appears on the mouse ears. The card should always be sung to the tune of the Mickey Mouse theme song. While the card is being sung, all players should keep their hands away from the game board. After the last letter at the top of the card has been sung, the singer stops and every player except the singer tries to grab and remove from the hole in the board, the token for the last letter sung. The player who is first to grab the token, wins the card which is placed picture-side up in front of him. This player then becomes the singer for the next round.
EXAMPLE: A player draws a card and sings M-I-C. All the other players grab for the token on the letter "C". The player who removes the token from the "C" takes the M-I-C card and places it picture-side up in front of him. This player has won the letter "C" (because it appears on the Mouse Ears on his card). He then draws the top card from the deck and begins the next round.
Players should grab the token only for the letter they need to complete the name M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E. If "M" or "E" is the final letter sung and it is part of the name "MICKEY" on the board, the token must be taken from the "M" or "E" in the name "MICKEY" on the board and not from the "M" or "E" in mouse. If a player removes the token from a letter which he already has or if he removes the token from the wrong letter, he must sing the card from the next round and he loses the letter he has just won. Play continues until one player has won a collection of cards that spell out M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E. We will be glad to answer questions concerning this game, Parker Brothers, Salem, Mass.
For information about the Mickey Mouse Club CLICK HERE (You'll have to use your "back button" to return to this page.)
A fourth type of game with Disney cartoon characters is an updated version of an old battery operated quiz game in the Museum collection - The Knapp Electronic Questioner. For information about this older game from the 1930s click on the item in the left menu panel. Disney's version is a bilingual adaptation using Disney cartoon characters with Mickey dressed in his fancy outfit from the Disney landmark motion picture Fantasia. In one sequence of this film Mickey is the "Sorcerer's Apprentice".
The game was manufactured by the Milton Bradley Company and is designed as an "educational game" to teach younger children how to recognize, compare, and match images.
The photograph on the right illustrates a board in the box. Note that on the right side of the board are a column of silhouettes in black. The other columns have a number of pictures of Disney characters in full color.
The player's task is to match the silhouette to one of the colored pictures. This is suggested by the title panel on the left side of this board which features Donald Duck's nephews - Dewey (blue), Huey (red), and Louie (green).
For example: the first silhouette in the first column is of Mickey. This silhouette matches the colored picture of Mickey in the third column. The second silhouette is of Donald Duck's girl friend Daisy Duck. This silhouette matches the colored picture right next to the silhouette in the second column. The next silhouette is Goofy, the fourth is Clarabelle Cow, and the fifth is Pluto.
Other boards have different information. For example, the board on the left challenges the player to match the correct hat for the type of illustration in column one. In the first picture Goofy is cooking, so the correct hat would be the chief's hat in the first picture of the second column.
A player could just point to the right answer, but this game has the added fun of offering audible information. The plastic figure of Mickey (held in the child's hand in the photograph on the left) is wired to a battery controlled device inside the box under the boards. When the player places Mickey on the square which is the correct match - a buzzer sounds and Mickey light up!
On the right is a photograph of another type of Disney Cartoon Character game. It is a variation of the game of Anagrams. For other "Word Games", click on the item in the left menu panel.
There are a number of other published board games about Disneyland and Disneyworld, such as: Frontierland (1955), Tomorrowland (1956), Fantasyland (1960), It's A Small World (1965), Pirates of the Caribbean (1965), Haunted Mansion Game (1980) and more. There are also a number of games based upon Disney live-action films, such as: Davy Crockett (1955), Mary Poppins (1964), 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (1980). Finally, there are many board games based upon Disney's cartoon films as well as some based upon the television show Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color.
For more information about Disney cartoon characters, go to the Website for the Disney Corporation.That site includes a list in alphabetical order with a "biography" and portrait of each character, as well as information about Disney-themed games marketed today!
Last update February 7, 2010