The Thirty Minute Blogger

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Retro Monday: Battleship Game Cover Art 1968

As we celebrated Thanksgiving last Thursday and avoided shopping that evening when certain big box stores to remain nameless hauled their employees away from family to stoke shopping fever, we stumbled across the 1968 version of the game Battleship. As we enter into the frantic shopping season, let's look back at a once must have game from the last millennial and see what the cover art tells us of the world advertisers wanted us to be living in.

Look over that box art carefully. There are several features I want to point out to you. Look at the background and the once extremely popular and near ubiquitous light colored wood wall paneling. Yes, those paneled walls were a rugged alternative to paint or paper. They may still be found in family rooms around the nation.

Now, look at Dad and son, playing away there at what appears to be a card table ... wouldn't want to muss the dining room table after all. They are neatly dressed, with hair perfectly barbered (no hippies playing Battleship, America's All Time Favorite Game, no sir! Button down shirts and tasteful sweaters or sweater vests for this mainstream all American family of the late 1960s.

Then there's the ever popular dumb Dad motif. Always popular with the kids who will play the games (if less so with the Dads who have to pay for it ... at least in this classic Dad is the breadwinner and Mom manages the home Milton Bradley motif ... which we'll get to in a minute). Yes, Dad has just lost the namesake ship of the game while Junior there has yet to take a single hit on any of his ships. The little scoring pieces on the top of Junior's game suggest this is Dad's third straight loss.

Then there's the classic advertising exaggeration. Look at that magnificent battleship Dad is holding in his hands! Look at that detail, reflecting the silhouette on the box art perfectly. However, the ad folks were a little more honest with Junior's game board, which shows the pieces as they truly are. I remember learning the hard way as a young, naive child of the '60s that what you saw on the cover and on TV ads just didn't match what you found when you opened the box. It was a right of passage back in the day ... one that left many a kid a little sadder, a little wiser, and a whole lot more skeptical about what companies were trying to sell us!

Finally, let's move on to the perfect finishing touch to this late 1960s cover art. There are Mom and sis smiling away in the background, relegated to the kitchen washing the dishes. Hey, but they're happy about it and thrilled that their men are having such a good time in the rec room. That or they're just endlessly amused by Dad's profound stupidity of game play. Who can tell? For me that's the perfect finishing touch to this idealized 1960s family of four in a turbulent decade long ago. Buy the game, play at naval warfare, but project the "perfect family" while selling that game to the general public. It's a very white, probably very WASP family as well ... but now we're descending into rank speculation here.

Happy retro Monday as you prepare ... or "wrap up" ... your holiday sales for the celebration you adhere to! I wonder what the gifts you buy will say on their cover art about our times some 50 years from now?

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