Sunday, December 17, 2006


Red blips! If you were a kid during the late 70's, more than likely you were entertained by little red blips of light.

My first red blip machine was none other than that electric wizard, Merlin made by Parker Brothers. I was really hoping to find this thing that looked like a futuristic telephone under our Christmas tree back in ‘79 and sure enough it was there! This hi-tech piece of equipment entertained me for hours as I had a choice of six exciting games to play. I could choose from Blackjack, Tic-Tac-Toe, Echo, Magic Square, Mindbender, and Music Machine. My favorite was the Music Machine and I’m sure as I created many electronic masterpieces I also annoyed the heck out my family. Besides being just a hand held “electronic game”, Merlin was also a prop for my imaginary adventures as it was a laser gun, a space communicator, and a red alert alarm.

1978 Montgomery Ward Catalog Page

When I was bored playing my Merlin I just traded with my brother and played his sleek Battlestar Galactica Space Alert made by Mattel. He also found this game under the tree that Christmas and was also lost for hours trying to protect his Battlestar from the Cylon armada. It was fast red blip action as you tried to shoot down the Cylon missiles and hopefully survive until the end of the game.

1979 JCPenney Christmas Catalog Page

The view screen has numbers on the side indicating how many points you would get for shooting down one of the enemy missiles. So many times you would try to anticipate where and when the missiles would be launched, trying for those 6 maximum points. Of course consequences were deadly if you anticipated wrong.

As all brothers do, we competed heavily for the high score.
This one is still fun to play, as I have one next to my computer so that I’m always ready to battle those pesky Cylons.


Mike Middleton said...

I'm shocked your brother let you play the Galactica game! Did you mom and dad make him be nice?

Kirk D. said...

Never had the Battlestar game, but Merlin was amazing, and the entire family really fought over it just like in the commercials. I remember learning each game one at a time. I started with Tic Tac Toe of course, and the rest seemed so intimidating.
Black Jack and Four Square were awesome. Boy those handheld games were lifesavers at Grandma's boring house.

Todd Franklin said...

Also, lifesavers on the any long trips to Grandma's house!

iamchief said...

I could probably still fumble my way through the Merlin jingle...I can't remember exactly who did what...

Where's Merlin? Where did he go?
He's with [someone] playing tic tac toe.
Where's Merlin? Where last seen?
He's out with [someone] playin' BlackJack Thirtee-een!

Wish I still had mine.

Paul Duca said...

I had a Merlin as well..