Twister was first conceived in 1965 at a time when the market was dominated by table-top board games like the quintessential Monopoly and The Game of Life. With Twister, the game board moved from the table to the floor and made the players into game pieces.
What could go wrong? Game play was simple enough, players would each be given a different colour circle to start and then have to move, over under or through other players on the board to other colour circles on the board as they took their turns. This player interaction, at the height of the Playboy Club era in 1966, was where things really heated up. It seemed this type of player interaction lead everyone to thoughts of the other “Game of Life.”
Sears, a major toy retailer at the time, threatened to pull the game from their popular Christmas Wishbook catalogue as it was deemed “inappropriate” for their catalogue. Milton Bradley, the game’s original distributor was accused of selling “Sex in Box.”
Mel Tafter, the head of Milton Bradley development at the time, arranged to get the game on national television. Not just one TV but actually played by ever-popular reigning late night host Johnny Carson. Johnny’s guest that night was Eva Gabor and the sparks between these two lit up the television sets all across the US. The next morning, stores that had stock of the game had line-ups as far as the eye could see. Twister then went on to be the hottest toy game of 1966 selling over 3 million games by the end of 1967.
Today the game is a pop culture icon. The game has been immortalized to music by “Weird Al” Yankovic in his 1988 Even Worse album. “Weird Al’s” Twister was a Beastie Boys inspired Rap parody.
The game was played by Toni Braxton in her hit music video, “Un-Break My Heart” and again in Type O Negative’s “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend” music video. MTV pitted Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana in a game of Twister while covered in Crisco. Think Twister’s version of mud wrestling…
R.E.M’s “Man on the Moon”, a song about Andy Kaufman, equates life to a game of human struggle. Among the games listed in the songs lyrics include checkers, chess, Monopoly and of course Twister and the game Risk.
In 2012, a new version of the game was launched called Twister Dance. Britney Spears, the game’s celebrity spokesperson, launched the game with a reworked version of her 2012 song “Dance Until the World Ends.” This electronic version of the game came complete with a creepy looking game speaker that more resembled an “eye”.
Twister, now distributed by Hasbro Inc., beat out a lion hand puppet, the Super Soaker & Battleship for its spot in the Strong’s National Toy Hall of Fame this year.
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