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A daily look back at the toys, games, and objects that captured our attention as children and continue to fascinate us today.

Electronic Radar Search Game from Ideal (1969)

Company: Ideal
Release date: 1969
Ages: 12+
# of players: 2-4

It’s international espionage on the high seas with the Electronic Radar Search Game. Released in 1969 by Ideal, the strategy game pits two players against each other in a traditional “cat and mouse” chase scenario.

There are competing objectives to winning the game. One player takes on the role of “spy” and attempts to sail two ships from HQ into one of two locations (Grants Quay or Austins Bay), pick up some secret plans, and then return to the base of operations. The second player takes on the role of “agent” and attempts to use a Radar-equipped helicopter to intercept and capture one of the spy’s ships before the mission is accomplished.

Radar Search employs a vertical, two-sided game board that allows each player’s moves to be hidden from the other. Each side of the board depicts an identical map consisting of dotted lines (shipping lanes) running between a series of numbered holes. Players use a set of wires and plastic pieces to both move around the board and track their opponent’s movement. The act of disconnecting and reconnecting wires makes the playing surface act and feel like a vintage telephone switch-board.

Players use a Radar Scope (powered by two D-batteries) to indicate their movements on the board. As moves are made on each side, the Radar Scope is used in concert with the playing pieces to update the game board. The spy moves one ship one space at a time, while the agent’s helicopter moves twice as fast, allowing it to move one or two spaces per turn. As moves are made, a buzzer will sound if the helicopter makes contact (rests in the same hole on the game board) with one of the two ships.

At first glance, the simple fact that each player’s movements are so transparent makes it seem like it would be nearly impossible for the spy to complete the mission without being apprehended. However, the right amount of strategy and planning levels the playing field.

Electronic Radar Search was on store shelves for three years before it disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle of discontinued games.

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