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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Operation: tweezin' for a reason

So my nieces are going to visit my parents soon, and my mother was thinking of games for them to play. She brought up the game Operation, which was in the basement. "Operation?" I said. "Yes, I got it for you and your brothers when you were kids, and I was keeping it in the basement but forgot where it was, so I ended up getting another one." So the first one stayed in the basement, for about twenty seven years, unopened.

Einstein-looking doctor's floof of white hair is obscured by the price tag:
$8.99 from TG&Y, a five and dime store that doesn't exist anymore
You might be able to guess my response-- I said "Don't open it!" and went online to do some research. I am certainly no expert on collectibles, but if there was any sort of chance that the game might be one, I needed to investigate.

In addition to being unopened, the most interesting and "collectible" (as in, weird and different) thing about this edition is the fact that the image on the box includes a doctor who is smoking. And not just smoking, but smoking a cigarette in a long holder, the end of which is actually ashing down onto the face of the patient he's operating on.
Clearly from a different time-- but I guess if he has a literal
Adam's apple, a little ash in the face is the least of his problems
If you look for Operation on eBay, you will see a number of copies of the game that market themselves as "smoking doctor" editions. At least one of these claims to also be a first edition, supposedly 47 years old-- the game first came out in 1965. However, according to this guide that particular copy isn't as old as that, and neither is my mom's:
The first Operation game was designed by John Spinello for Milton Bradley and released in 1965. In this first release there is a smoking doctor on the box. BUT WAIT! Think that if the cover has a smoking doctor it's an original? WRONG!! The original has a slanted key through the Milton Bradley Logo. It also says 1965 on both the box and the game board.  Also, on the original, the instructions are printed on the inside cover of the box, not in a paper pamphlet.  Another major characteristic of the original is that it says in green lettering; Electric Game where you are the doctor. The games that are not originals say in bold black lettering; Skill Game where you are the doctor.
Bummer. I'm not going to open it up and see if there's a 1965 on the game board or where the instructions are, because it already fails the slanted key and the green "Electric Game" tests. And I know my mother didn't buy the game before 1980.

Here's something else you might not know about Operation-- the game has been re-made for so many different things! Here are the ones of I'm (now) aware:
According to Wikipedia,
A Doctor Who version of the game was released in Great Britain, where players get to "operate" on a Dalek in order to (from the product description) "make it strong enough to take over the world. But be careful... if you damage it'll quickly tell you with one of its terrifying phrases! Whether it's the Targeting Sensor that you need to operate on, or the Manipulator Arm, you'll need a steady hand and nerves of steel!"
Who knew? I knew it was a widespread game, but I didn't know that kids would be encouraged to perform mock surgery on every popular character they'd see in movies and on TV.

No, it was never actually a favorite of mine...I was okay at it, but never properly appreciated the thrill of risking a battery-powered sudden vibration and loud buzzing noises if I failed to tweeze a plastic bit of something out of a hole just right, without touching any of the edges. I did however learn to be adept at tweezing, which is a skill anyone can benefit from. The game is still going strong, though it's now sold by Hasbro rather than Milton Bradley. So if you'd like to get your tweeze on, there are many options available for you.

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