BY JOE TYRRELL
Making “Monopoly” more like real-life Atlantic City, Hasbro has announced cats will wander the game board.
In an on-line contest, a cat token beat four other contenders to become the newest playing piece in the game, whose iconic American version still uses street names and other features of the New Jersey resort city as its setting.
“I think there were a lot of cat lovers in the world that reached out and voted,” said Jonathan Berkowitz, vice president for Hasbro gaming marketing, in making the announcement. The kitty beat a robot, diamond ring, helicopter and guitar.
See an Associated Press story on the contest here.
The vote followed news that Atlantic City’s long-established colony of boardwalk cats survived the terrors of Hurricane Sandy. Led by NPR, media outlets and animal advocates began reporting that story immediately after the storm here.
Long established under and around the boardwalk, the cats were threatened with death by animal control officers in 2000. That’s when Alley Cat Allies stepped in to establish a trap-neuter-return program to vaccinate and neuter the cats. Supported by the city, boardwalk businesses and local volunteers, the program vaccinates and neuters animals in the colony, controlling their numbers.
An ACA profile of the project, which serves as a model for others, can be viewed here.
The cat-city connection was immediately noted by New Jersey News Common’s comment on the contest, asking, “And could we have gotten a more Jersey-ish token for the new Hasbro Monopoly, which after all depicts Atlantic City?”
The contest attracted voters from more than 120 countries, and included some organized efforts to save the existing tokens, according to the company.
Alas! To make room for its new feline friend, Hasbro will eliminate the iron. Although it was the current token that received the lowest amount of support in a separate vote, the iron is the most functional of the pieces, sliding easily around the board.
The other seven tokens survived: racecar, Scottie dog, a shoe, thimble, top hat, wheelbarrow and battleship. Most date to the first Parker Brothers versions of the game in 1935. The Scottie, which drew the most votes of the current pieces, and the wheel-barrow came aboard in the 1950s.
The wheel-barrow and shoe were the other low-rated pieces, but both found deep-pockets corporate angels. Garden tool maker Ames True Temper Inc. of Camp Hill, Pa., created a series of on-line videos to support the wheel-barrow, while and on-line shoe retailer Zappos which campaigned to save its icon.
Existing versions of Monopoly with the iron will remain available for several months, and all the pieces, current and proposed, will be available later this month at Target stores in a special “Golden Token” edition, according to Hasbro.
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