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This is a fairground-themed children’s game about observation, memory and handling and making money. Players own booths at the fair and charge other players a fee when they land on them.

This is a fun fair-themed children’s game about handling and making money. It has hybrid of Monopoly and Memory where players own booths at the fair and charge other players a fee when they land on them. The game encourages player interaction, money handling and introduces basic business concepts to the young.

This review is written from the viewpoint of a parent who is teaching a fun and educational game for children.

The Components
The most striking component is the brightly-colored gameboard. It is rare nowadays to find a gameboard dominated by shocking pink, bright orange and brilliant white. These psychedelic colors and the groovy hand-written fonts on the gameboard could take the older nostalgic gamer back to the times of bell-bottoms, peace signs, first-generation smiley faces and BMX bikes. Cool, man! The gameboard has a track running around it, like Monopoly. In the center of the board is a Raffle Area with an empty space around it. There are 18 stiff cards with proper backing material depicting the various booths shown on the track. There are four playing pieces, eighty large plastic coins each with the denomination of 10 new pennies and a wooden die, typically found in Waddington's games of the era.

Setting Up
Each player is given a number of cards randomly and 20 coins. Each coin has the value of 10 pennies. The rest of the cards are spread evenly faced down on the empty space around the Raffle Area. A fee of 20 new pennies is placed by each player in the Pay Booth (start space) before commencing the game.

The first player rolls the die. If a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 is rolled, the player moves his piece that number of spaces clockwise around the track. If he lands on a booth he owns, he pays nothing. If he lands on a booth not owned by another player, he may try to get it by paying the value shown on the space and picking up a face down card. These coins are placed in the Raffles Area. If the card picked matches the booth his playing piece is on, he keeps the card. If it is not, he shows it to the other players and places it face down on the board.

If he lands on the booth owned by another player, he pays that player the value shown on the booth. If he rolls a 6, he gets a Free Pick Up. He chooses any face down card from the board and keeps it. If there are no face down cards, he takes all the money from the Raffle Area. A coin is then removed from the Pay Booth and placed in the empty Raffle Area. He then rolls the die again and moves. He is not entitled to another Free Pick Up.

There are spaces which are not booths. There is a Put A Booth Back space where the player has to put a booth back into the board. The Game of Chance spaces represents the various fun fair games like Bingo, Hoopla, Darts or Wheel of Chance. These spaces have three numbers on them and the player must roll the die again. If he rolls any of these numbers, he gets 50 new pennies from the next player. If he rolls any other number, he pays the next players 50 new pennies. The Raffle Is Drawn Space allows the player to get all the money in the Raffle Area. As in the Free Pick Up turn, a coin is removed from the Pay Booth and placed in the empty Raffle Area. There is also an Exchange Square that allows the player landing on it to exchange any one of his booths with that of another player.

The game ends when there a player rolls a 6 and there are no more cards or money left on the board. The player with the largest amount of coins is the winner. Booth values do not count.

What’s In It For Your Child?
Fun Fair was a part of the Look, Learn and Play series of games by John Waddington Ltd. The game oozes with atmosphere of the fair as the booths depict various shows and activities found therein like the Strong Man, the Fat Lady, the Hoopla stall, the Balloon Booth, etc. One can almost smell the candy floss from the bright pink Candy Floss booth next to the ice cream booth. The seventies look of the board may look dated to adults but the bright colors and hand-drawn illustrations hold the attention of children.

Children learn to follow instructions and to take turns in this game. It also assists in teaching children money skills. The use of coins to try for booths and for payment, the increase and decrease of money in a player’s hand during the course of the game and the cash-in-hand victory condition reinforces the fact that money is valuable and that it is important to count money accurately. The large plastic coins supplied in the game are just right for tiny hands and provide tactile and auditory aspects to this concept and enable the young player to get used to handling and counting coins. The high interaction level between players encourages communication and also serves as an introduction to simple business activity. The Exchange Square reinforces the meaning of value to the player since it is encouraged that a low value booth be exchanged with a higher value booth. Furthermore, the need to remember where a booth is placed faced down so that one can pick up the correct booth, or a higher value booth, depending on the game situation, stimulates the memory function of the brain. It is amazing that younger children are better at this than older children or even adults. My six-year old has the knack of remembering exactly where each discarded card is even after having a lunch break in the middle of a game.

I am aware that the currently-available Monopoly Junior has a fun fair theme as well. But it lacks great graphics found in Fun Fair that define the atmosphere and also the sterile gameplay of JM is far removed from that of Fun Fair. Here, the marriage of ideas from Monopoly and Memory are just right to encourage several requests of ‘Can we play it again?’ Another thing that I like about Fun Fair is that the whole board is used. Not a square inch of the board is wasted. Additionally, the components are of high quality, unlike most games nowadays. All in all this is a classic game with no gimmicks (like movie tie-ins or large 3-D mechanical/electronic components). Great fun for the young and it is also fun to teach the young as they learn to handle money and memorize where cards are placed. My parents taught me this game and now I am teaching it to my child. This game deserves an update and a reprint.
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