Exploring Chutes and Ladders: The VCR Board Game

Folks, I’ve gone and done it! I located a board game I knew existed, mentioned, but could not find proof of…until a few days ago. Prepare thyself, we’re tackling the longest chutes and highest ladders of Chutes and Ladders VCR Board Game!

Previously, on Retroist…

Like everything else nostalgic that I cram into the deepest recesses of my brain, I never forgot the video and its animation. So imagine my surprise when, after thirty years, I found a short clip on YouTube after mentioning this game briefly in a past Retroist article. Alas, I didn’t find the full video until recently.

Chutes and Ladders VCR Board Game!

Milton Bradley released the Chutes and Ladders VCR Board Game in 1986. It wasn’t their first VCR-adapted board game, and it wouldn’t be their last. The VCR-based games (at least, this one and its Candy Land counterpart) were unique in that no reading was necessary, children didn’t have to push buttons on the VCR, and the video gave all the instructions one needed. Plus, it had the added bonus of turning gameplay into a fun story.

Chutes and Ladders contained four games/stories (two that relied on sounds, and two more that relied on numbers), each increasing in skill level. I actually played the Chutes and Ladders VCR Board Game, as it was the version I owned. I believe it was a birthday present for my fourth birthday. I’m not sure how long we kept it, but like any good nostalgic toy that wasn’t deemed such, it disappeared sometime during my childhood. I’m convinced it either met the trash can or a yard sale.

Either scenario is depressing, friends.

Chutes and Ladders VCR Board Game: The Details

Meet Reggie and Bobby.

Everything is a competition in their world, and they turn this allegedly healthy competition into the basis of the first of four different “story games.”

What are those games, you ask (including theirs?)

Thrills and Chills

A game of numbers. Players put the number cards on the board, number side up. When players hear the audio prompt (a whimsical chime), they are to remove a number card from the game board.

In this story, Bobby and Reggie compete at everything (scariest ride, how much junk food they can eat), as their female friends Joanie and Sally Ann watch on.

The Golden Cuckoo

A game of sounds. Players put the picture cards on the board, picture side up. Upon hearing a sound effect prompt, they are to remove the corresponding card from the game board.

Bobby and his sister, Pam (who looks suspiciously like the one girl from the previous story), are baby-sitting their brother, Baby Todd. They discover stairs beyond their front door, and explore the amazing, psychedelic world beyond that door. It’s a world chock full of strangeness – a rooster, balloons, a horse, and a train.

Ricky and Nikki vs. The Space Dragons

Another game of numbers. This one involves Bobby and Reggie’s friends, siblings Ricky and Nikki.

On a snowy day, Ricky and Nikki draw pictures with their crayons. Amidst all this, a spaceship lands in their yard (where’s the snow??), and  takes them to the stars, to a planet where they will help the aliens.

The Case of the Lost Choo-Choo

Another sound game. Sherwood and Dottie (two more of Reggie and Bobby’s friends), as “Sherwood Holmes” and “Dottie Watson” (wink wink, nudge nudge) are on the case of a lost choo-choo, but encounter many other sounds along the way.

Sherwood sounds like he’s channeling his inner Inspector Gadget/Maxwell Smart voice (one in the same, since Don Adams played both characters). They explore a farm, a carnival, store, street, car, and railroad crossing in search of the train. Will they find it? How many sounds can possibly heard at one time?

Since the purpose of this game was not giving kids an opportunity to operate the VCR other than start (and obviously stop) the video, Chutes and Ladders VCR Board Game gave players ample time to setup the board via transition segments.

These segments involved eating ice cream cones the fastest, a cuckoo clock that will signal the start of the next game once the bird pops out, and a spinning robot.

This was the clip that helped me rediscover the game in the first place!

So now that you know the game exists, and understand its gameplay, how about we actually watch it in action?

Let’s Play the Chutes and Ladders VCR Board Game!

Well, not really play, but we can watch the video…can’t we?

Work with me, folks. I don’t own the game anymore!

Upload via VCR Board Games

And If You Liked Chutes and Ladders…

You’ll love Candy Land: The VCR Game!

No lie, the conclusion of this video is an advertisement. They literally pad out the thirty-minute run time with a quick ad for Milton Bradley’s other classic childhood game given the 1980s upgrade!

Oh, and did anyone else notice during the first game that Reggie’s skin color changed, like the artists couldn’t agree on his ethnicity?


Chutes and Ladders VCR Board Game came onto the market in 1986 (the original version had been around since 1943), but very little information exists on this version of the game. I’d say it was available at least through the mid-late 1980s. As I said, I received it in 1986 as a birthday present. I’m not sure how much play-ability we got out of it, but with four different segments, one could easily fill forty-five minutes between setting up, actual game play/resetting the board, and cleanup. Not a bad distraction for the kids, right?

The cool aspect of this game is not needing to read instructions, and only needing to hit play. However, after watching the video, I’m not entirely convinced that kids wouldn’t need to hit pause while resetting the game board. That’s the only part of this that bothers me. I’m thirty-five years old and of reasonable intelligence. And I don’t think the transition scenes give enough time to put all the cards back on the board. Another thing about the board – the chutes and ladders side.  Does that seem superfluous to you? This isn’t traditional Chutes and Ladders, you’re removing cards based on numbers and sounds. Why do you need a “Chutes and Ladders” side…unless this is two versions in one? Because based on what I’ve gathered from the video, this version of Chutes and Ladders is nothing like the original game.

Nevertheless, the video is thoroughly entertaining. If someone handed this version to me and told me to have fun (again, I’m thirty-five years old), I would enjoy it. I don’t recall having the original version, just this one. And I’m glad I only had this one, I’m betting I had a blast with it!

But Wait, There’s More!

Chutes and Ladders wasn’t the only Milton Bradley game to get the traditional board game to 1980s VCR Game treatment. Candy Land also got the distinction. And guess what? I found that video too!

Didn’t think you were getting off that easy, did you?

Until next time, farewell from the land of tallest ladders and twisting, turning slides…until our next adventure!

Broots - Super Brutes

Remember The Mighty Broots…I Mean Orbots?

It’s been kind of a slow day, down here in the Retroist Vault. So I was going through a collection of old computer magazines. Which is how I came across an article in Enter about Saturday morning cartoons. One of the cartoon series listed was called Broots. It says it was about five crime-fighting robots. Who are in turn led by a computer programmer, a teenager named Rob. That’s when it clicked friends. While I may not have heard of Broots I certainly know of The Mighty Orbots!

Now the great thing is someone on YouTube has graciously upload the pilot for Broots. Personally I would actually call it an animated pitch reel. The basic plot for what would be 1984’s The Mighty Orbots is still there. Although one of the greatest changes is between the form of Super Broots and Mighty Orbot.

Although having said that there are a few more differences.

For one thing the animation style of the Broots pitch has a 70’s vibe to it. Which makes a little sense as the character design was handled by Akio Sugino. Who you might know from the likes of Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion and Gaiking. With the Director of animation being overseen by Osamu Dezaki. Both would end up working on The Mighty Orbots as well.

[Via] Lunar Archivist

There are minor differences with characters such as Bort. Who in The Mighty Orbots is grey and blue. Where in the animated pitch he is a kind of yellow or possibly faded gold. Tor, the strongest of the robots besides some slight coloring remains the same as in Orbots. With Rob and Ohno likewise being the same as in the 1984 series. It is the remaining three robots that are physically different from Orbots. That is of course Crunch, Bo, and Boo.

Crunch is no longer an obese robot, although he still is able to eat his weight in metal. Furthermore he kind of looks like he has been crossed with Shockwave or Soundwave from The Transformers.
Broots - Crunch

Bo in the Orbots cartoon is able to manipulate all four of the elements. However, in the animated pitch she appears to possess ice or water based powers.
Broots - Bo

Boo much like Bo in the pilot looks very different from their Orbots version. In particular the way their faces are set up. Boo in Orbots can work with light and energy. Creating protective fields, become invisible and even teleport. In the animated pitch it is said she has all dynamic power of a dozen cyclones.
Broots - Boo

While there are a few other changes, it is high time you check out the Broots pilot!

[Via] Chris J

Read Along With Rainbow Brite!

Rainbow Brite opened up her world not only through cartoons, but also through reading along with Rainbow Brite Read Along books and records/cassettes!

Read Along With Licensed Characters!

Growing up, I loved reading. Even before I read, I would flip through books. My Teddy Ruxpin books were a valuable way to learn sight words.

So was the newspaper, since I knew what the Macy’s logo looked like at two years old, but I digress.

The instructions at the beginning of the tapes gave the prompts to turn the page, which was indicated by a cute chime or noise. So while I couldn’t always read the words, I always knew where Teddy Ruxpin was in his story. I also had a Cricket doll book-and-tape set Around the World with Cricket. This read along book-and-tape set even had an animated counterpart that I covered as part of my blog’s 1000th post.

Upload via Allison Venezio / Allison’s Written Words

Listening to me sing 1-2-3 in Chinese is hilarious, trust me!

That’s the face of someone who had the song subconsciously buried in their head since 1987 and recently rediscovered it.

Records and tapes featuring licensed characters were great merchandising tie-ins during our 80s childhood. Whether the licensed character spoke via an oversized animatronic doll with built-in tape deck, or your everyday cassette tape deck or record player, licensed characters gave us plenty to listen to. And once we could read, we really put those books to use!

Which brings me to actally reading…

The Joy of Reading…And Listening!

My brother, the reluctant reader, had Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle book-and-tape sets once he was reading. I remember him listening to the tapes on his tape deck…without headphones. I never minded that, as I was into the Turtles too! Before we read, we had Teddy Ruxpin books and tapes, as well as a record player that played film strips that had accompanying records and books.

That product, by the way, was the Show-and-Tell, which was manufactured in the 1980s by Child Guidance (formerly by General Electric in the 1960s).

Upload via Genius

The Show-and-Tell, I should add, is another article for another time!

As for myself, I never had any read along sets for myself, aside from the one Cricket book and tape set. But if I knew Rainbrow Brite read along sets existed, I would have wanted all the sets!

Read Along…With Rainbow Brite Read Along!

(Image source: My Comic Shop.com)

Western Publishing (Little Golden Books) published Rainbow Brite read along books and audio in 1984. From what I’ve gathered via research, Rainbow Brite had eight audio adventures:

  • Rainbow Brite and the Big Color Mix Up
  • Happy Birthday Buddy Blue
  • …and the Brook Meadow Deer
  • …Saves Spring
  • …and the Color Kids
  • Happy Birthday Twink
  • Rainbow Brite Saves the Day
  • Rainbow Brite and the Blue Lake

About Rainbow Brite saving the day…doesn’t she do that all the time? Was the creativity well dried out when the story needed a title?

Rainbow Brite also had something else equally interesting…See and Read VIDEOS!

Rainbow Brite Read Along…Meet SEE AND READ!

The See and Read videos were released in 1986 by KidStuff/KidVids in 1985.

These stories were actual video adventures, but in storybook format. Four stories were made.

  • The Risky Rescue
  • The Sprite Emergency
  • Gloom Over Rainbow Land
  • Twink’s Surprise

As an avid reader, and like I said, one who learned sight words from the Teddy Ruxpin books, I can imagine these videos provided valuable ability to teach sight words. As someone who benefits from visuals and seeing information, I would have loved these videos!

Perhaps a future article/let’s watch for this new discovery?

I do only have on Action Max video left…

Anyway, how about the real reason you came here?

YouTube Videos!

Rainbow Brite Read Along: The Complete Collection!

Compiled (and uploaded) by a trusted Rainbow Brite source, RainbowBriteCo, this is a great YouTube Channel for all things RainbowBrite…including these books AND See and Read!


Upload via RainbowBriteCo

I think we’ll be revisiting Rainbow Land soon, don’t you think?


Coleco evolved mini arcades - Rainbow Brite - Robotech

Coleco Evolved Mini Arcades – Rainbow Brite & Robotech?!

Friends, the other day the Retroist Vault was all abuzz with the news of the Coleco evolved mini arcades Kickstarter. Gary Burton was kind enough to drop on by for a visit with the news in fact. The Coleco evolved mini arcades are a retro throwback to the classic early ’80s tabletop games. Although this time it isn’t the likes of Pac-Man and Frogger that we will be playing. This go around we are getting games for both Rainbow Brite and Robotech!

[Via] Scottith Games

As far as I know, Mr. Arcade, the spokesman for the original Coleco tabletop won’t be returning. However at the very least the designs of the plastic shell are staying 100% the same. Well, the housing is the same. The Coleco evolved mini arcades will feature:

  • Full Color LCD Display
  • Powerful new gaming chip set
  • Revamped joystick and accurate action buttons
  • Rechargeable Lithium Ion battery pack
  • Highly-detailed, colorful Rainbow Brite and Robotech art wraps

Coleco evolved mini arcades - Kickstarter

First of all I did indeed say the units will feature these because with 26 days to go, they’ve already reached their goal. At the time I submit this post, Coleco has netted $56,674 on a $30,000 goal. There is of course a stretch goal, a whopping $180,000 one at that. It is however a mystery to everyone…I hope though it’s an new Smurfs game!
Coleco evolved mini arcades - 180,000 stretch goal

How about we take just a moment to talk about the games? Rainbow Brite: Journey to Rainbow Land is an RPG style offering. Judging by the video below, it has most certainly been inspired by the likes of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. In this game you will attempt to help Rainbow Brite and Starlite thwart the plans of Murky and Lurky.
Coleco evolved mini arcades - Rainbow Brite

With Robotech: The Macross Saga you will get to pilot a legendary Veritech fighter. Standing as the ultimate and probably last defense for the Earth from alien invaders. Besides looking like you can switch between pilots, your Veritech can transform into Guardian, Fighter, and Battloid modes.
Coleco evolved mini arcades - Robotech

If you want to support the Coleco evolved mini arcades, you can follow the link to their Kickstarter. Now then, how about checking out the pitch video and the games in action?