Though the goal of the nearly 80-year-old Monopoly game is to win exclusive control of the board and all its landmarks, Hasbro is making a decidedly un-monopolistic move: The game company is leaving the fate of the game's tokens in the hands of consumers.
Hasbro has officially launched a global contest to determine which classic Monopoly piece will be replaced by a new symbol. The longstanding token with the least votes will lose its spot on the Monopoly board to a new token candidate with the most votes.
"The number one question I've been asked is: Are you serious? Are you really going to remove something from Monopoly?" said Ryan Mugford, senior director of worldwide gaming strategy for Hasbro.
"The answer is yes."
On a Facebook page called "Save Your Token," fans can vote for which piece they'd most like to "get out of jail" and prevent from being exiled, and which one they'd most like to "pass go" to join the board.
The car, thimble, boot, Scottie dog, battleship, hat, iron and wheelbarrow's fates hang on the click of a button.
The old Monopoly pieces stand in a shadowy lineup on the site, their futures looking grim in black and white. Scroll over each token and a case file pops up listing the piece's prosecution and defense.
"My friends from the U.K. were emailing me today asking if I could help them save their favorite token," Mugford said. "I told them it's out of my hands now. It's in the hands of the consumer."
Most tokens were born with Monopoly's public introduction in 1935, but the Scottie dog and wheelbarrow joined the game nearly 20 years later in 1952. Will fortune favor youth?
As of Wednesday afternoon, the page's leader board showed the iron and wheelbarrow as the most likely to be sentenced to life behind bars.
The model that will replace one of the classic tokens is not necessarily modern. Potential victors include a boxy robot, a feisty looking cat, a helicopter, a guitar and a diamond ring.
Mugford said the new tokens were chosen after internal votes on hundreds of candidates. Each token selected symbolizes a unique spot in Mr. Monopoly's life, he said.
The toy robot is Mr. Monopoly's favorite childhood toy. The cat is Scottie the dog's archrival. The helicopter shows Mr. Monopoly's passion for travel. The guitar is an essential accessory to Mr. Monopoly as what Mugford calls the "most interesting man in the world."
And the diamond ring? Mugford said that with all the money Mr. Monopoly has, he knows Monopoly has someone special in his life.
Fans can cast their votes until Feb. 5. On Feb. 15, a limited edition of the game will be released with all the old and new tokens included until supplies run out.
The new edition of the game will be released in the fall, Mugford said.
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