Released in 1975 from Mego, Them Bones drew gameplay inspiration from Milton Bradley’s Operation, albeit in a spookier setting.
Running on two D-cell batteries, Them Bones challenged players to use tweezers to extract “bones” from a mysterious skull without touching any of the metal contacts.
Them Bones was easy to setup. After unfolding the 17 ½-inch x 17 ½-inch playing board, the plastic skull was placed in the middle and 16 tokens were placed in its mouth. Each player selected on of four “bone” token styles: T-bone, Ham bone, Trombone, or Funny Bone. The player who selected the Funny Bone started the game.
Each turn began with a spin of the spinner. If the spinner landed on the player’s token, they could attempt to remove one of the tokens from the skull’s mouth. A successful extraction allowed the player to place the token on their Start space. Accidentally touching one of the sides caused a buzzer to sound or the skull’s red eyes to light up and the player had to return a token on the playing surface into the skull’s mouth.
As the game progressed, players continued to spin and move around the board and remove any remaining tokens from the skull. While Them Bones’ play pattern was primarily individualistic, players could impact each other’s progress by spinning and landing on a space on the gameboard that already contained a token. In that circumstance, their opponent’s token was placed back into the skull’s mouth.
To add a degree of difficulty, Them Bones could also be played in low light, as the skull, tokens, and skeletal hand on the spinner glowed in the dark.
Regardless of whether the lights were on or off, the first player to get all four of their tokens from Start to the Home square was declared winner.
IN THE BOX
A complete Them Bones game included the playing board, skull, 16 tokens, and a spinner. Printed instructions were included in the box.
Mego was primarily known for its action figures and playsets, which makes a board game like Them Bones an anomaly in their catalogue. For this reason, the game can be challenging to find on the secondary market, especially with all of the pieces and functionality intact.