Reminder Assistant Editor
EAST LONGMEADOW Hasbro Games, a collaboration of Massachusetts-based companies Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers, is famous for the wide variety of games it provides for families around the world. Since 1935, more than 250 million copies of the classic board game "Monopoly" have been sold in 80 countries and in 26 different languages.
The game made history this year, however, as tokens from its latest edition, "Here & Now," were launched into space with the Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-117 rocket in June.
"The game has been played in some interesting places," Matt Collins, Vice President of Marketing for Hasbro Games, said, "while sitting upside down, on a balance beam and even underwater. This year, we are fortunate that with 'Monopoly: Here & Now,' the game conquered the final frontier space!"
The "Here & Now" edition features updated properties on the game board and new tokens for players to use.
"America voted on what should be included in the game in 2006," Donetta Allen, a representative of Hunter Public Relations, a firm that works with Hasbro Games. "Landmarks from 22 different cities were included. Boardwalk became Times Square and Park Place became Fenway Park. The Space Center in Houston took over for Tennessee Avenue. The city of Houston was so excited, they offered to bring pieces of the new game into space."
George Burtch, vice president of International Marketing with Hasbro Games, said that three million votes were cast in three weeks during the contest.
The tokens taken into space included a Toyota Prius, a New Balance sneaker, a labradoodle, a Motorola Razr phone, a laptop computer, McDonald's french fries, an airplane and a Starbucks mug. The astronauts brought along three sets of the new tokens.
Astronauts installed a new truss segment, unfurled new solar arrays and dismantled an older solar array during three spacewalks while docked with the International Space Station.
After two weeks in space, the tokens landed back on Earth. One set stayed at the Space Center in Houston. Pieces of the second set were given to the companies they represented. The third set was presented to Hasbro Games in East Longmeadow last week. The tokens are now officially considered space artifacts.
"Monopoly is about iconography," Burtch said during the presentation. "And no one says 'just give me any token.'" He added that Monopoly was the number one selling game in America in 2006.
"Monopoly is usually the first thought people have when it comes to board games," Burtch continued.
The president of Space Center Houston, Robert E. Allen, officially presented the tokens with the help of costumed presenters Commander Quest and Mr. Monopoly.
"We are honored that the Space Center was chosen as the most distinctive property in Houston," Allen said. "Since 1961, we've been the heart of the space program. Now we're a pop culture icon and we've made space travel history this is truly a milestone for all."
Before they were launched, Allen said NASA had to make sure the pieces were tested and safe for space travel. "We can't send anything up that could harm the astronauts," he stated. Weight limitations were considered as well, because in space flight, every ounce counts.
"This is the first time anything from the space program was included in Monopoly," Allen said. "There have been a lot of firsts with this."
To show their gratitude, Hasbro Games included a space shuttle token in the updated "Monopoly: Here & Now Electronic Banking Edition." Other newer tokens included a tin of Altoids mints, a flat screen TV, a Segue, a baseball hat, and purse with a small dog inside.
Burtch said that the tokens will be on display in the East Longmeadow offices and will also be shown at toy fairs.
As the tokens were unveiled, Mr. Monopoly said, "This shows that Monopoly, as a board game, is out of this world."