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Monopoly fans add cat, toss iron tokens
PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- The Scottie dog has a nemesis in Monopoly after fans voted in an online contest to add a cat token to the property trading game, replacing the iron, toy maker Hasbro Inc. announced Wednesday.
Results were announced after the shoe, wheelbarrow and iron were neck and neck for elimination in the final hours of voting that sparked passionate efforts by fans to save their favorite tokens, and by businesses eager to capitalize on publicity surrounding pieces that represent their products.
The vote on Facebook closed just before midnight Tuesday, marking the first time fans have had a say on which of the eight tokens to add and which one to toss. The pieces identify the players and have changed quite a bit since Parker Brothers bought the game from its original designer in 1935.
Other pieces that contested for a spot on Monopoly included a robot, diamond ring, helicopter and guitar.
Most game pieces were introduced with the first Parker Brothers iteration of the game in 1935, and the Scottie dog and wheelbarrow were added in the early 1950s. Other tokens still in use are a race car, a shoe, thimble, top hat, wheelbarrow and battleship.
"I think there were a lot of cat lovers in the world that reached out and voted," said Jonathan Berkowitz, vice president for Hasbro marketing.
The Scottie was the most popular of the classic tokens, and received 29 percent of the vote, the company said. The iron got the fewest votes and was kicked to the curb.
The cat received 31 percent of votes.
The results were not entirely surprising.
The Humane Society of the United States said on its website there are more than 86 million cats living in U.S. homes, with 33 percent of households owning at least one feline in August 2011. Worldwide, there were an estimated 272 million cats in 194 countries in June 2008, according to London-based World Society for the Protection of Animals.
The online contest to change the tokens was sparked by chatter on Facebook, where Monopoly has more than 10 million fans. The initiative was intended to ensure that a game created nearly eight decades ago remains relevant and engaging to fans.
"Tokens are always a key part of the Monopoly game ... and our fans are very passionate about their tokens," Berkowitz said.
Monopoly's iconic tokens originated when the niece of game creator Charles Darrow suggested using charms from her charm bracelet for tokens. The game is based on the streets of Atlantic City, N.J., and has sold more than 275 million units worldwide.
The original game version also included a lantern, purse, cannon and a rocking horse. A horse and rider token was used in the 1950s. During World War II, metal tokens were replaced by wooden ones, because metal was needed for the war effort.
"I'm sad to see the iron go," Berkowitz said. "Personally, I'm a big fan of the race car so I'm very relieved it was saved but it is sad to see the iron go."
Social-media buzz created by the Save Your Token Campaign attracted numerous companies that pushed to protect specific tokens that reflect their products.
That includes garden tool maker Ames True Temper Inc. of Camp Hill, Penn., that spoke out in favor of the wheelbarrow and created a series of online videos that support the tool and online shoe retailer Zappos which pushed to save the shoe, Berkowitz said.
Versions of Monopoly with the new token will come out later this year.