UPDATE (Aug. 29): Say meow! As of this week, new Monopoly board games will come with a kitty. Earlier this year, Hasbro launched a campaign to “Save Your Token” as it sought the public’s help in choosing to retire one of its eight classic game pieces. When results of the vote were revealed, we found out that the iron was heading straight to jail — for life — and would be replaced with the cat.
The change is sure to cause a bevy of mixed emotions for players of all ages. Choosing to play with the thimble over the car or the hat instead of the wheelbarrow says a lot about you. Find out what each token means by hovering your mouse over the image above.
When the game company Parker Brothers first bought the rights to Monopoly from Charles Darrow in 1935, the idea was to use household objects for the tokens. But Darrow’s niece had become fond of using charms from charm bracelets when she played the game. Darrow recommended Parker Brothers use charms.
“These were popular charms that kids, in particular, were collecting and adding to their charm bracelets,” says Phil Orbanes, president of Winning Moves Games, and a Monopoly expert who has written several books on the game. “In time, of course, people have long since forgotten that the tokens were charms.”
More than 20 tokens have been used since the game was introduced in 1935, but Orbanes says the original classics — including the iron, boot, battleship, race car (a different model from today’s car), wheelbarrow, thimble and hat — were chosen without much scrutiny.
“It could very well be that the company in Chicago, Dowst, that made them said these are the tokens that we make the most that we can give you the best price on,” says Orbanes.
Orbanes says when a player chooses a token it reveals a lot about about his or her personality. For his new book, “Monopoly, Money, and You” (to be released in April), Orbanes surveyed Monopoly fans online to determine the profile of the typical person who chooses each token. The research reveals that the most popular token is the car, chosen by 1 in 4 Monopoly players. Orbanes says people who choose the race car tend to be outgoing, friendly and versatile. The least popular is the wheelbarrow — Orbanes says he thinks that’s because it has the “narrowest appeal.”
Here is what each token says about you:
Battleship – Players who choose this token tend to be more cutthroat than other players. They tend to have a bit of artistic flair. They rely on math, not circumstance, when making their financial decisions and tend to be aggressive.
Boot – People who choose this token tend to be discriminating. 1 out of 16 people choose the boot (known to some as the shoe). They tend to be generous, but are easily riled. They have long memories and tend to remember when they’ve been crossed. More females than males choose this token.
Car – The most popular token, preferred by 1 out of 4 players. People who choose it tend to be outgoing, friendly, versatile, and adaptable. Players who choose the car tend to be male and are very passionate.
Hat – Tied for the second-most popular; chosen by 1 in 5 Monopoly players. Hat players tend to be introverted in real life, but the game is a great escape for them, where they can be a little more dominating than in real life. These players don’t mind drawing attention to themselves or being controversial in the game and play very strategically. They also tend to calculate the odds of a financial return before making an investment.
The Iron – Evenly played by both males and females, 1 out of 20 people prefer to play this token. Iron players are “pluggers” — they persist against long odds and often prevail. They handle adversity well.
Scottie Dog – Preferred by 1 out of 5 Monopoly players; tied for second-most popular token. They tend to be more female than male. They consider themselves trustworthy, loyal, and keen to play. They are mentally agile and passionate about winning. Dog players regard themselves as mild risk takers and careful in their strategy. They take more time counting their money. The Scottie was not one of the original tokens, but Orbanes says people believe it was added to the game because of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was in office when the Monopoly game was popularized and had a Scottish Terrier, named Fala.
Thimble – Mainly played by females; it’s the second least popular game token. People who choose the thimble are considered practical, sensitive and creative. Orbanes says thimbles used in early versions of Monopoly had the inscription: “for a good girl.”
“It was a rite of passage for little girls, when they became old enough, to learn how to sew at the feet of their mother. Remember, mending clothes was a part of life in the early 20th century,” says Orbanes. “When a little girl became old enough and in the eyes of her mother was qualified to be sewing, she would be given a little thimble with the inscription — ‘for a good girl.'” Eventually, the inscription was phased out from the game.
Wheelbarrow – The least popular token, only 3 percent of Monopoly players use it. Wheelbarrow players are tough competitors and tend to be male. They expect a contentious game. Orbanes says one interesting reason players may choose the wheelbarrow: they imagine it being full-sized and full of cash.
Listen to the full audio interview with Orbanes.