Fu Manchu's Hidden Hoard —
the board game

   

Sax Rohmer's great creation, the insidious Dr. Fu Manchu, remains a cultural fixture familiar world-wide even to those who have never read one of the books. When someone finally gets around to reading a couple of the books, they may be surprised that the young-old Chinese physician in fact never had that mustache. So cinema & pulp illustrations cemented the character in popular imagination. Even though that image was rather at odds with Rohmer's own portrait, the publishers were swift to put the popular image, rather than an accurate illustration, of Fu Manchu on the covers of the books themselves. If it annoyed Sax, it was annoying him all the way to the bank.

   

The Doctor's Game

   

The Fu Manchu mustache may never have belonged to the books' clever doctor, but it certainly does belong to the associative objects that have so greatly extended the public's affection for him. You could doodle two slanted eyes & the long curved mustache & no matter how bad an artist you are, just about anyone would know who you intended.

Along the decades this mustachioed visage has graced or been made into mugs, teapots, magic novelty puzzles, matchbook covers, buttons, jewelry, coloring books, comic books, a cartoon book, a Fu Manchu doll, a candy product, a halloween costume for kids . . . a list that skims the surface of how deeply this image of the doctor has penetrated popular culture. There is even a slipper orchid called the Fu Manchu because it appears to have that mustache.

"Fu Manchu's Hidden Hoard by Sax Rohmer" is just one more example. It was manufactured in 1967 by the Ideal Toy company, in their series of Famous Mystery Classic Series of game boards which included three other games, one for Ellery Queen, one for Agatha Christie, & of course one for Sherlock Holmes. The box's lid is shown above. The folding game board, which is a treasure map, is shown immediately below. The arrangement of the game's components underneath the folded board is shown near the bottom of this page.

   

The Doctor's Treasure Map

   

Two to four people can play. The object of the game, as the game's pamphlet of instructions says, is as follows: "The sinister Fu Manch is playing a wily game of deception! Somewhere on the large trasure map he has hidden his hoard of wealth -- but he has left 5 clues to its location. However, he has concealed the 5 true clues among many false clues. The player must first find the 5 true clues -- & then by following their directions on the large map, step by step, locate the Hidden Hoard."

The instruction pamphlet is six pages long & the play is somewhat elaborate. It's actually a combination of a logic-game & (via the die) a game of chance, so quite good for adult as well as young adult play.

   

The Doctor's Game's pieces

   

The pieces for this game, besides the treasure map on which the game is played, include 40 individually illustrated clue cards, a die, 8 plastic figures who are the Treasure Hunters, a single die, & a note pad of "map description records" that help direct the play. The 40 illustrated clue cards are especially nice with little portraits of such items as the rickshaw, the skull, the anchor, the junk, the tree, the gong, the mountain, the scimitar, the tombstone, the dragon, the pagoda, & so on.




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