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neil dandy holding mouse trap game box

Rube Goldberg was an American author, sculptor, inventor and cartoonist who lived from the late 1800s through 1970. He was perhaps best known for his very elaborate drawings and cartoons of very convoluted machines doing very simple tasks such as operating a napkin or striking a match. These drawings were the inspiration for the world’s first 3-dimensional board game which is still a hot product to this day. I’m talking about the game of MOUSE TRAP.

back of mouse trap game box

Mouse Trap was invented in 1963 by Marvin Glass and Associates who made no secret about drawing inspiration from the drawings of Rube Goldberg although they had no deal with Rube nor did they ever pay him a penny. It is believed that Goldberg protested a bit but never pursued legal action mainly because he didn’t feel he had a winning case. General ideas are unfortunately not copywritable.

Rube did eventually strike a deal with the Modern Toy Company to protect his remaining drawings and intellectual properties that were able to be protected.

Ok, onto the game. The box has a modern, updated blue design which touts an easier setup. The back shows children playing with the game and having a great time.

mouse trap game unboxed

Upon opening the box, there are many various plastic pieces along with a smaller box to hold the smaller pieces including a metal ball which I’m pretty sure would be considered a choking hazard for very young children. This is probably one reason the game is rated for ages 6 and up.

In earlier versions, (from my research) the object used to be working with your opponents to put the machine together while playing the game, but in the modern version you apparently erect everything first before game play. Then the object is to collect 6 pieces of cheese while keeping your opponents from collecting cheese and catching them in the trap.

mouse trap game board

mouse trap board with first piece being inserted

I started trying to put it all together by just looking at the outlines on the board but quickly found that to be nearly impossible, but nowhere near as impossible as trying to fit the pieces into the slots on the board which I was never able to accomplish after many attempts. I finally started following the instructions which weren’t always very clear but I did eventually manage to finish putting the contraption together.

mouse trap game completely set up

I tried several times to trigger the chain reaction by snapping the stop sign against the boot which is supposed to kick the bucket over sending the choking hazard metal ball down the stairs, blah blah blah. But no matter how many times I snapped that dang stop sign, the boot simply would not kick the bucket over. I readjusted and readjusted with no luck.

Finally I just knocked over the bucket by hand and as the metal ball got about halfway through the various chain reactions, it would always bounce off the side forcing me to chase it, lose it, find it, catch it, etc. and all this action on the board would sometimes cause the basket trap at the end to fall prematurely. Getting the basket back to the top was a frustrating challenge as well.

Eventually I did get the entire chain reaction (with the exception of the stop sign kicking the boot) to successfully complete and by that time I was pretty much done with this frustrating mess of a game. I can’t imagine giving this thing to a kid and expecting them to put it together. I promise they’ll be calling for your help almost immediately.

The fact that they would tout this as having an easier setup right on the box is a complete joke. If this is an easier setup, I would hate to see what it was before.

throwing the mouse trap game

So I’m guessing by now, you know how I’m going to rate this product. I give it an absolute THUMBS DOWN! If you want an exercise in frustration, this one’s for you! I personally gave myself some post-Mouse Trap therapy by beating the entire contraption against my kitchen table and throwing the whole mess across the room. Then I carefully boxed it all back up and donated it to the youth group at my church! Bwa-ha-ha!

neil dandy giving a thumbs down



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Neil Dandy is the creator of The Dandy Fun House and the alter-ego of Neil Smith, the Big Cheese at Neil Smith Entertainment and Productions, musician, DJ, Emcee and author. Aren’t you impressed?