This article, written in 2006, lists a number of websites, some (many?) of which may have since disappeared. Until we update this article–at which point this notice will disappear–we apologize for any links given at the end which take you nowhere or to the wrong place.
Finding Spare Parts
by Bruce Whitehill
Published in Knucklebones games magazine May 2006
What do you do when your well-used SCRABBLE set is missing a letter? Sure, you can play it with only eight “A”s, but what if the dog chewed the “Z”? And what if your wonderful MOUSE TRAP is not complete? This Rube Goldberg type game made by Ideal in 1963 and re-released by Hasbro-Bradley over 30 years later had lots of plastic parts set up on the board linked to form continuous actions. What if just one piece of the complicated contraption is lost? Is it the end of the game? Maybe not. Thanks to a handful of dedicated, well-stocked game dealers, you can now replace your lost “X” tile or buy the missing cheese for a perfect MOUSE TRAP. In fact, you can find parts for thousands of games.
There are a number of websites that will help you locate long-lost parts for your games. Some cover the spectrum while others specialize in one game or type of game only. Patrick McCloskey of whichwitchparts.com, for example, handles only game parts for Which Witch?, a Milton Bradley game from 1970. His site gets an
average of 500 hits per month. (The majority of his clientele tends to be women, for whatever that’s worth.) Unfortunately, Patrick doesn’t carry parts for the Finnish version of the game, Kummituslinna, which came with a spinning wheel and a plastic (not cardboard) tower and staircase. Patrick suggested I try www.kummituslinnaparts.com, but that didn’t work, and the other “Kummituslinna” sites were in Finnish. Like many webmasters, Patrick does this not for the money (there’s not much to be made), but because he enjoys it. “Some people sound almost giddy when they write me for parts, almost like the little kid inside coming back out. I love to help their inner kids.” As for strange requests, someone once emailed Patrick, asking “if she could buy all the parts cheaper than buying the whole game.” The pawns typically sell for $10 each—but that includes “a nice, new, yellow, pawn-storage box, and postage.”
Butch & Co. are specialists in tabletop baseball games, especially games such as APBA and Strat-O-Matic. “Hundreds of individual player cards are often lost, damaged, or sold off separately,” they told me. “There’s a brisk on-line business….We’ve seen particularly scarce and desirable season sets sell for four figures.” One of Butch & Co.’s “pet peeves (is) the ‘cardies,’ or card collectors, who break up antique games to sell individual cards from the set.” As for missing parts, they went on to say that “‘Action’ and pinball-type games seem to be the most common sort of games found with missing parts—usually whatever ball, puck, marble, or other projectile was originally included.” Through the sharing of information on the internet, they found out that the ball for a 1940s Jim Prentice Electric Baseball game was a 12 mm steel ball bearing that can be purchased at an auto-parts store. If you’re looking for a missing baseball part, you might be able to score a hit at http://members.aol.com/Butch7999/Baseball.htm. They could even have a spare part for your 1920s-era Walter Johnson Base Ball Game, which they say is notorious for missing parts.
Other specialty sites include mindspring.com, where you can order play money, including those lost bills from various games; you can buy one of each bill of the seven different bills in recent MONOPOLY anniversary editions for only $3 or less—that’s $686 dollars worth for less than a fiver. Similarly, you can find parts for Mattel’s Sonar Sub Hunt (1961), at http://www.sonarsubhunt.com. At gamepart.com, which sells both new and used games, a “like-new” Bride of Dracula card from the MONSTER OLD MAID game will cost you $20; parts are also available for MYSTERY DATE, PARK AND SHOP, RISK, STOP THIEF, DARK TOWER, MYSTERY MANSION, UNCANNY X-MEN and some other board and electronic games. The site centralconnector.com specializes in “temporary” score sheets, such as those from BALDERDASH, CAREERS, CLUE, YAHTZEE, and about eight others, all in pdf, and, as the website strongly states, “…ONLY until you can get out and get some replacements from your local store.” And not only can you find spare parts for early “electronic” mechanical games such as Dark Tower (www.darktowergame.com) and Voice of the Mummy at Charlie Morgan’s Vintage Game Store (see sidebar), you can get your games repaired there as well.
If you’re looking for spare parts but not even sure exactly what you’re missing, DrakeZeus is a wonderful place to start. At www.drakezeus.com you can find a list of components for games, many of which came with instructions that didn’t say precisely how many pieces were included or what the exact card count was. DrakeZeus owner Larry McWherter says, “Some game manufacturers would include random amount of pieces and say ‘enough pieces for 4 players’.” He gives as examples Booby-Trap or Risk. “…Games with cards almost never tell how many are in the deck.” The games on the DrakeZeus parts list are not for sale, but there is a For Sale section on the site as well, offering vintage games, mechanical puzzles and jigsaws.
By the way, if you’re looking for the whole game, go to www.boardgamewebring.com; on this site you can type in a title of a game and find out what dealers have that game in stock. You can even use the phonetic spelling and still find what you’re looking for.
And if you have all the parts but don’t know how to play the game, you can get rules at various sites, including Charlie Morgan’s www.vintagegamestore.com; Darwin Beyer’s site at www.missinggameparts.com; smorgasboardofgames.com, where 40+ game rules are provided; www.BoardgamesRus.com, where “missing game instruction requests make up approximately 50% of our correspondence and approximately 20% of our total sales”; newgamebits.com; dantiques.com (www.aboardgamesdatabase.com/gamerules.mv); and the Association of Game and Puzzle Collectors archives (AGPC) at www.agpc.org. Most game companies, like Hasbro, will provide replacement copy of game instructions as well. Some sites offer rules for free; others charge anywhere from $1 to $4, plus postage for a hardcopy.
Game Parts for the Masses
There are a number of websites that provide spare parts for a multitude of games. Charlie Morgan’s site offers a host of services from the sale of complete games to spare parts, to repairs, to rules. Check out www.vintagegamestore.com and click on “Game Parts” to get to GameParts.org.
As many of the older, classic games were made by Milton Bradley, it’s worth a visit to the Hasbro site (Hasbro now owns Bradley, Parker Brothers, and a host of other game companies). Another major producer of games, Mayfair, has its own site from which playing pieces (and complete games) can be ordered. Miggle Toys, successors to Tudor Games, carries spare parts for all its “electric” games: ELECTRIC FOOTBALL, Electric Baseball, Portable Electric Horse Racing, Portable Electric Auto Racing, and others, though “Replacement game boards are not sold separately.” See the list of websites.
One website that is a tremendous resource for anything that has to do with games—especially the playable kind—is www.boardgamegeek.com. At this site, you can also find entries for over 140 games for which parts are available or being sought after. If nobody has what you’re looking for on other sites, this would be the place to list your wants. You can get directly there by going to http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listid=3890&pageID=1
Another excellent site for information and purchasing games is Erik Arneson’s http://boardgames.about.com/. He has a small section of his web site dedicated to helping people find game parts, including a “how to” article and links to some retailers who specialize in game parts. The section gets a lot of traffic and is always in the top 20 percent of pages viewed at the site.
Darwin Beyer, webmaster of the popular darwinsgamecloset.com, also has a site dedicated to game parts, which he developed in the summer of 2003: www.missinggameparts.com. He currently has parts available for nearly 900 games, dating back to 1913. “Our prices for the various parts can range from ten cents up to $15.00, depending on the size, weight and availability of each piece.” Pawns are $3.00 for six pawns, or four pawns and two dice.
Board Games R Us had over 200 requests for game parts in the last year. Not just for one or two missing pawns, but requests for mass orders as well. “One gentleman wanted 2,000 pawn stands,” Board Games R Us owner Roxanne Lawrence told us. “Also, students and teachers use game parts in projects and presentations.”
Dwayne Hendrickson of okiedokiegames, based in Oklahoma City, explains that he doesn’t have a website or own a store, but that he swaps and sells on eBay. “Folks are always looking for Stop Thief and Survive parts,” which he picks up at thrift shops when he can. Dwayne says he normally doesn’t charge for pieces, since he’s usually swapping; and he never charges for electronic copies of instructions that he just scans & emails. Now that’s a price that can’t be beat! Email Dwayne directly at email@example.com.
Tony and Teresa Nardo don’t run their “gamewardens” site as a business, but they list spare parts they’ve accumulated and those they’re looking for. Whenever they offer pieces they have for CHALLENGE THE YANKEES, they get at least three people asking where they can find a copy of the complete game. Through their moderate trading, they learned that the 1965 MYSTERY DATE had two different styles of card backs (pink heart and purple heart), and that THEM BONES used two different styles of glow-in-the-dark bones (translucent and solid white). “It has made us generally more aware of just how many variations on parts can appear in the same game—even games with relatively small print runs.”
The variations are endless with regard to what’s available in the way of parts: game pieces, instructions, even empty boxes. The key, many of the dealers said, is patience—unless your search is for a very rare piece, eventually you’ll find the spare part you’re looking for. Then all the old favorites become as good as new.
SIDEBAR: Charlie Morgan
In the early part of 2003, Charlie Morgan, one of the country’s leading providers of games, game parts, and game information, closed up shop and shipped out to Kuwait. Lieutenant Charles Morgan is a clinical psychologist and an “O-3” in the US Navy. He deployed with the US Marine Corps 1st Force Service Support Group (1st FSSG) to the Middle East, and served in a mobile tent hospital (somewhat like a MASH unit but closer to the front line). His job was to take care of emotional problems some Marines have after being in combat, mostly Combat Stress (aka Shell Shock), and to determine if they were able to go back into combat or whether they needed to be sent home. He was gone a number of months, and his second baby girl, Liv Liberty Morgan, was born while he was away.
Charlie is now back in the U.S., and back in the game business, though very busy working a full-time job while going back to school for an MBA. He has hundreds of games for sale in his personal stock, and access to 7,000 games available from other sources. In addition, he has game & toy instructions for 6000 products, and offers a repair service for Dark Tower, Voice of the Mummy, SÉANCE, and Haunted House. And Charlie is the premiere dealer in game parts. Check out his website at www.vintagegamestore.com. Charlie provided the resource information that led to this article.
WEBSITES OFFERING GAME PARTS
(in the order in which they appear in the article)
http://homepage.mac.com/planetpm/whichwitch/whichwitchgame.html (Which witch? only)
http://members.aol.com/Butch7999/Baseball.htm (Butch & Co., Baseball Games)
http://www.mindspring.com/~japhillips/pmjack/gamepmsale.html (Play Money) http://www.sonarsubhunt.com/ (Sonar Sub Hunt only)
http://www.centralconnector.com/GAMES/scorshet.html (score sheets)
http://www.darktowergame.com (Dark Tower only)
http://www.drakezeus.com/game_parts_checklists.htm (game parts checklist)
http://www.agpc.org (Association of Game and Puzzle Collectors)
http://www.hasbro.com/pl/page.replacement_parts/dn/default.cfm (Hasbro/Milton Bradley/Parker Bros./Selchow & Righter)
http://www.coolgames.com/mfg-shop/central/cat-alpha.html (Mayfair games)
http://www.miggle.com/store/index.asp?DEPARTMENT_ID=91 (Tudor Games)
Other sites offering spare parts: