Released in 1964 by Milton Bradley, the Fireball XL5 board game was based on the British TV series of the same name that ran on ITV from 1962-1963.
Set in the year 2062, the series documented the missions of the Earth spaceship Fireball XL5 and its commander, Colonel Steve Zodiac of the World Space Patrol. The game drew inspiration from the show’s sci-fi roots.
On a game board filled with colourful space-themed illustrations of the show’s Asteroid Training Center, players were challenged to an obstacle course-styled race from start to finish.
Before starting a game, players chose three pieces of the same colour, a control piece which corresponded to a character from the show (Steve, Venus, Professor, or Zero), and two matching Robot pieces. All players started on the Remote Control Cave space on the board.
Through dice rolls, players moved their pieces from start to finish along the large yellow circles representing Relay Stations. Each space had a unique name, such as Mountain Mesa, Lookout Ledge or Control Bunker. A series of “black lightning” arrows indicated the direction of movement.
While racing through the course, players had to keep their control piece behind the two robot pieces until all three had arrived (by exact count) at the Robot Garage. For the most part, players operated independently, relying on the “luck of the roll” to move from point to point.
However, if a player landed on the same space as their opponent, they were forced to return to the starting point on the game board — a rule that added a bit of strategy to gameplay.
The first player to secure safe passage for their crew of three was declared the winner.
IN THE BOX
A complete game included a game board, 12 cardboard stand-up pieces, 12 plastic stands in four colours, and two six-sided dice. Instructions were printed on the inside of the box lid.
The Fireball XL5 game hit store shelves shortly after the TV series finished its one-year run. The game’s limited shelf life and relative scarcity on the reseller market make it challenging to find a used copy in excellent condition.