By Rodrique Ngowi
The Scottie dog has a new nemesis in Monopoly after fans voted in an online contest to add a cat token to the property trading game, replacing the iron, toy maker Hasbro Inc. announced Wednesday.
The results were announced after the shoe, wheelbarrow and iron were neck and neck for elimination in the final hours of voting that sparked passionate efforts by fans to save their favorite tokens, and by businesses eager to capitalize on publicity surrounding pieces that represent their products.
The vote on Facebook closed just before midnight Tuesday, marking the first time that fans have had a say on which of the eight tokens to add and which one to toss. The pieces identify the players and have changed quite a lot since Parker Brothers bought the game from its original designer in 1935.
Rhode Island-based Hasbro announced the new piece Wednesday morning. Other pieces that contested for a spot on Monopoly included a robot, diamond ring, helicopter and guitar.
“I think there were a lot of cat lovers in the world that reached out and voted,” said Jonathan Berkowitz, vice president for Hasbro gaming marketing.
The Scottie Dog was the most popular of the classic tokens, and received 29 percent of the vote, the company said. The iron got the fewest votes and was kicked to the curb.
The cat received 31 percent of votes for new tokens.
The results were not entirely surprising to animal lovers. The Humane Society of the United States says on its website that there were more than 86 million cats living in U.S. homes, with 33 percent of households owning at least one feline in August 2011. Worldwide, there were an estimated 272 million cats in 194 countries in June 2008, according to London-based World Society for the Protection of Animals.
The online contest to change the tokens was sparked by chatter on Facebook, where Monopoly has more than 10 million fans. The initiative was intended to ensure that a game created nearly eight decades ago remains relevant and engaging to fans today.
“Tokens are always a key part of the Monopoly game … and our fans are very passionate about their tokens,” Berkowitz said.
Monopoly’s iconic tokens originated when the niece of game creator Charles Darrow suggested using charms from her charm bracelet for tokens. The game is based on the streets of Atlantic City, N.J., and has sold more than 275 million units worldwide.
The other tokens currently in use are a racecar, a shoe, thimble, top hat, wheelbarrow and battleship. Most of the pieces were introduced with the first Parker Brothers iteration of the game in 1935, and the Scottie dog and wheelbarrow were added in the early 1950s.
The original version also included a lantern, purse, cannon and a rocking horse. A horse and rider token was used in the 1950s. During World War II, metal tokens were replaced by wooden ones, because metal was needed for the war effort.
“I’m sad to see the iron go,” Berkowitz said. “Personally, I’m a big fan of the racecar so I’m very relieved it was saved, but it is sad to see the iron go.”
The social-media buzz created by the Save Your Token Campaign attracted numerous companies that pushed to protect specific tokens that reflect their products.
That includes garden tool maker Ames True Temper Inc. of Camp Hill, Penn., that spoke out in favor of the wheelbarrow and created a series of online videos that support the tool, and online shoe retailer Zappos. which pushed to save the shoe, Berkowitz said.
Versions of Monopoly with the new token will come out later this year.