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I chose this game for my oldest son's first board game when he was 2 1/2 for two main reasons. The first is that it seemed to fit in perfectly with Christmas. The second is that I had fond memories of this game from my own childhood. We had a really ancient copy of the game, God only knows where it came from, except that we did inherit some really wonderful books and games from a wealthier older cousin. I believe the edition we had was 1950's. I remember playing this with my Mother, and Grandmother, and I also remembered it was pretty easy to play.
WHATS IN THE BOX
A fold out game board - newer models fold into 1/4's making this take up less room, while the older version folded in half. I'm afraid the board design been "improved" many times since the version we have, and I think each improvement has taken a bit of the charm from the game. That said, it is still nice, if a bit sugary sweet. All of the boards feature a a rainbow path with 5 main colours of squares, and the occasional pink picture square. This path takes players past a gingerbread tree, a peppermint forest. through the gumdrop mountains, and various other sweet locations including the chocolate swamp. The design and layout has changed quite a bit over the years, but the main idea is the same. One of the biggest changes is the addition of cartoon characters such as Lord Licorice, Mr Mint and Grandma Nutt.
You get four plastic gingerbread men in red, blue, yellow and green. I do think the more modern ones are not as nice as the older ones, they are still sturdy and well made. The final game piece is a set of cards, the majority of which have one or two coloured squares. There are also six picture cards.
My son's game also included a story cd-rom, but as he did not like the story, it wasn't kept with the game and I don't know if we still have it or not.
Game play is very simple, and that is one of the main selling points of this game. You simply draw a card and move forwards ( although you can move backwards if you wish to reach a short cut ) to the next square which matches the colour of your card. If your card has two coloured squares, you move forward to the second space of that colour. If you draw a picture card - you move backwards or forwards to the matching picture. When I was young, there were 3 spaces you could get trapped - such as the chocolate swamp. If you landed on one of these, you were stuck until you drew another card of the same colour. The newer game only has you miss one turn, but we still play the old way as it's much ore fun for someone to be trapped and screaming away in a swamp. The winner is the first person to make it to the Candy Castle - which used to be a gingerbread house.
I imagine I liked this game better when I was young because we didn't have as much choice of games. Obviously this was well before Nintendo and we only owned a few board games. Having the family sit down and play was a special treat. This game has never been quite as popular with my sons as it was with me, but it has still had plenty of use. It was perfect the year my oldest received this as he really would not have been able to play many board games. This was so simple, he caught on easily, but after one game, he was finished for the night. It has come out every Christmas Eve since though, and it just wouldn't seem like Christmas Eve without Candyland now. It has also become very popular with my youngest son, now age 3 , because it is a game he can play easily. In fact the two boys can play this by themselves,and occasionally do, without any assistance at all from me. It is more fun of course when I join in, especially if I get stuck in the swamp, or in the Licorice Forest. It is not our favourite board game, but it is fun. As the boys are growing older, I may introduce a fox to chase the gingerbread men. I am looking for a small plastic fox on ebay now - if I can't find one I'll have to make one. Then the fox can chase the gingerbread men across the board - anyone who gets eaten will have to start over.
This game does also teach primary colours, although I think most children will already be well on their way to knowing these before playing this game. It is recommended for ages 3+ but both of my sons were able to play it from about 2 1/2. At 6, my oldest is starting to outgrow it a bit, but I'm sure a fox could liven things up. It isn't the type of game you can play match after match of, one game and everyone is ready to put it away, but it is fun still, especially for the very young.
I also think board games are a wonderful family activity. We do have regular game nights and I think it is great way to stay close and connected. The idea of a new board game each Christmas Eve has become a family tradition. Christmas Day may be for everything electronic , flashing lights and all sorts of noise, but on Christmas Eve we have a quiet night with board games, puzzles and a family video. I am glad I bought this game, and while it isn't quite what I was expecting, it is still a fun game for the very young.
One fault I have found in this is that the red cards are not really bright enough, looking more an orange red to me. The orange is quite light and rather yellowy as well. I would have preferred brighter vivid colours especially as this game is intended for very young children. The other issue I have with this game is the board is not as sturdy as older games. Although the game has been kept put away and well cared for, it is very easy for children to accidentally fold this wrong way. The result is that the board has ripped and required a good bit of cello tape. This board won't be getting passed about from one family member after another like our old game was.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
This is really an American game and far more readily available should you have relatives on the other side of the pond. The link to Amazon will bring you to this game for a whopping £44. 46 for this including postage - and at that price I would certainly skip it. But if you search amazon you will find the same game from a different seller for under £20. I bought our game from ebay and while I don't remember the exact price, I'm sure it was under a tenner. Looking on ebay now I see a 1962 version which looks lovely, but in the £46 range, it is well beyond my budget. New versions cost at least £20 still, but Ecrater UK has these for £9.62 + postage so it is worth shopping around. They do pop up in UK Internet based shops from time to time. I found this category already here on dooyoo, so there must be some one else here who has this already.
There are other versions of this made, such as Winnie the Pooh and Dora The Explorer, but availability is outside the USA will be very limited.