ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – The collapse of the mortgage and banking industry, the downturn in the housing market and the high price of gas has forced Hasbro to downsize the popular board game, Monopoly. “We were blindsided,” says Henry Pazgough, vice president of Monopoly marketing for Parker Brothers. “One day bankruptcy is fun … the next day it’s worse than being in jail without a ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ card.”
High gas prices began causing problems for Monopoly two years ago. “No one wanted the race car as their playing piece,” says Pazgough. “We had to replace thousands of them with little bicycles. Then we had to recall the bicycles after the doping scandal at the Tour de France. We’re using little scooters now, but I’ve got the assembly lines ready to switch to skateboards or golf carts.”
This year, the cost of gas forced Parker Brothers to downsize the entire board. “Travel is down,” said designer Penny Baggz. “We got rid of half of the streets. Nobody ever went to Baltic Avenue anyway.” There was talk of adding a commuter railroad, but players who traveled Amtrak said they’d rather go to jail instead.
The mortgage and banking fiasco was a double whammy for Monopoly. “Everyone quit buying houses,” explained Pazgough. “We replaced them with mobile homes, but that wasn’t much better.” Games shipping today have only half as many houses. The rest have been replaced by little buckets, which can be traded in for a mortgage bailout after passing Go.
“Forget about the hotels,” says Baggz. “We shut down the hotel molding machine last year. I got an offer for it yesterday from a guy in China who makes little villages with Bonsai trees.”
Worst hit is the Monopoly bank. “There’s too many $500 bills and not enough singles and fives,” says Noah Liphe, five-time national Monopoly champion. “What good is a $500 when there’s no convenience store on the board that will take it?” Liphe nearly lost his title this year when the bank closed for three days and he was forced to sell his own clothing to pay rent on Boardwalk. “I’m talking to Parker Brothers about making it into a special edition called Strip Monopoly,” says Liphe. Pazgough likes the idea. “If we can get college kids to buy it, our troubles are over.”