For pop culture obsessed kids of the 1970s, there was many ways to celebrate their favourite TV heroes. And one of the most fun – the board game.
Debuting in 1973, the police detective series Kojak became a hit with viewers of all ages – especially since the title character took to always having a lollipop. (side note – actor Telly Savalas used a lollipop to help him quit smoking).
In 1975, Arrow Games Ltd published Kojak Detective Game, a board game for kids ages 8 and up. Created for two to four players, each participant was a detective, competing to make the most arrests in New York City as they go around the board.
Each roll of the dice brings them closer to solving four potential crimes, with an assignment given when you land on the Contact card square, with the aim to get the criminal into the Trap Card space or with a Warrant card to help you expedite the arrest. The first to solve the four crimes wins.
Other squares help in the investigation with details from an informant and a place to do surveillance from the car (of course a Buick Century Regal, just like Kojak).
And if kids didn’t want to play Kojak, there was always Barney Miller.
The series, also set in NYC, debuted on television in 1974, and in 1977, kids could channel their fave character in the Barney Miller with the 12th Precinct Gang board game, published by Parker Brothers.
The board game worked like this – each participant (from age 8 and older, maximum four players), was trying to arrest the four people on their warrant card – the Shopping Molls, the Cap Burglars, Ruffian Bears and Riding Hoods.
Kids could become Wojo, Fish, Harris or Yemana, hoping to win and tell their boss Barney they have the criminals in the cell.
With each role of the dice, a move on the board gives a player evidence cards to help pursue the criminal, and hoping for the arrest warrant card to get the criminal behind bars. The first player to arrest their four criminals wins.
And although both games only existed in the 1970s, the belief that kids would renact the tv show probably fueled the love of police shows (and perhaps encouraged many) to want to get the bad guys.