Vintage Geek Games: Chutes Away

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In the mid-’70s, I received a Christmas gift that I, to this day, think is the coolest thing ever. So much so that, as an adult, I went on an extensive search to find one in mint condition and purchase for myself. The game: Chutes Away, by toy maker Gabriel. The design was simple and gameplay easy to learn but difficult to master.

A wind-up platter rested on a mechanism connected to a tower to which a mobile rescue plane was attached. This plane held a number of weighted parachutes that players were challenged to drop at “rescue sites” (cone-like recesses in the platter), where all manner of carnage had taken place. Stranded campers, injured hikers. etc.

The objective: Land as many successful rescuers before time ran out (i.e. the spring-loaded platter stopped turning).

I played the daylights out of this game. As did my friends. Competitions arose, and for hours we’d take turns trying to beat each other. The site within the plane would sometimes shift, requiring adjustment, but it was a minor inconvenience for us. This was in the time just before the onset of the family video gaming console, but even when Atari came along, we appreciated the real feel of this type of gameplay.

I don’t know what happened to my old Chutes Away. I am sure it was removed from the household under cover of darkness. Maybe I broke the damn thing. But my memories of the game were fond, so I sought one out, paying an unreasonable sum to acquire it from eBay. But I have it. It’s mine. And it works.

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My kid loved playing it, too, but I may have introduced it to her too early. At the time I received the game, she was a mere 3-years-old. She loved it, but she manhandled the poor thing. For the game’s sake — and the sake of my own personal nostalgia — I retired the game and its box to the attic. There it resides, but I wonder if it’s time to bring it back down. My daughter is 6 now, more aware of herself and the value of such items.

Yeah, I think it’s time.

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