A lucky find at a garage sale sent me back to 3rd grade…and it was great.
Summertime means garage sales and I’m always looking for toys. Sometimes toys for me, sometimes toys for my kid (sometimes both). For the most part, yard sale toys are far from gems. Most of the time it’s stuffed animals, beat up board games and some Barbie…overall, pretty weak.
Maybe this is because people hang on to their toys as they now deem them “collectible” and worth more than the $2 they’ll get at a garage sale. Or maybe it’s just purely emotional and nostalgic. But every so often you’ll find someone that’s giving something up that really is a gem among a bunch of other junk.
Recently while at a garage sale in my neighborhood, I saw something among the plates, clothes and other typical offerings that took me back to 3rd grade. I had not seen this game in more than 30 years.
Back in 3rd grade I didn’t know the game was called Skittles made by the Carrom Company. We just called it “the top game”. The whole point of the game is to spin a top inside a maze and hope it knocks over tiny wooden bowling pins. It’s a ridiculously simple game that is almost completely absent of skill but it was the most popular classroom game during indoor recess.
Looking back, I think it was popular because it was different. None of us had seen a game like it before. I mean, we were 8-years-old so our experience was pretty limited, but still…it was the age of He-Man, GI Joe, Transformers; and it was the dawn of the home console age so we had a lot of great toys at our disposal. But here was a game that didn’t look like anything we had at home.
Skittles is a physical game in that there’s a lot of action and commotion that comes with it. You have a top and then you rip the string to start it spinning. It whizzes around (loudly) banging off of the walls, all the while you’re whooping and hollering at it trying to make your top go the right direction…not unlike what you do when you’re bowling and use your arms to will the ball in the opposite direction.
When I saw the Skittles board at this garage sale, I assumed they’d be asking a lot for it but at that moment, no price was too high. But much to my surprise, the sticker said $5. This game was in pristine condition too…it looked barely used. All the parts were there shy of a bit of string. I handed over my Abe Lincoln and just like that, I was ready to go back to 3rd grade…only this time, I had a child of my own and I couldn’t wait to share that excitement with her.
And she loved it. We played Skittles all afternoon. Here’s a kid with more toys than I ever had, including an iPad and such, but this old game kept her attention better than anything. I imagine it’s the same reason it captured my attention all those years ago…it was different. There was action and it’s barrier of entry is super low. All she had to do was pull a string and then was the thing spin around. However, she did have to augment the game a little bit by adding some action figures to knock over and such, but either way it was fun. Seeing a spinning top bash into Princess Elsa was surprisingly joyful for me. I’m hoping she continues to enjoy it and Skittles can become a family game night staple.
I did spend a little time looking up the history of Skittles and games like it. It came as no surprise that the game is hundreds of years old. But what really made me smile was seeing that new Skittles tables run upwards of $50 depending on where you find it and what it includes. So the $5 I paid at the garage sale has certainly made this one the gems you rarely find.