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"Played Fluxx at a party a few years ago. Since then, I have been buying Fluxx and Chrononauts and giving them to friends as gifts. Everyone's somewhat addicted now. I recently picked up Early American Chrononauts and can't wait to share it with a friend who teaches American history. With any luck, she'll share it with her students." -- Patrick D of Watertown, MA

Thursday, August 5th, 2004
by the Writer's Guild of Wunderland

What's New?

What's Going On? Sorting the Phoenix Pyramids

Project eBay is off to a great start! Since the Root Beer stash attracted fierce bidding and sold for $100, I decided it was time to venture up into the attic. I was looking for the old "Reject Pieces" box, from the days of the earliest manufacturing of Icehouse pieces, to see if I could cobble together some other rare and unique Icehouse sets to sell.

Many people will recall the cube-shaped clear plastic packaging we were selling Icehouse sets in a few years ago, and think of this as the game's first edition; however, we've been making Icehouse sets for sale since 1989 and officially count The Martian Chess Set edition (i.e. the clear plastic box) as the 4th Edition. The first sets we sold contained hand-cast solid plastic pyramids, the second was the original version of Paper Icehouse (which we called "Origami" Icehouse) and the third featured wood pyramids, which we called Xyloid Icehouse. (Icehouse historians will recall that in 1995, we got about a dozen sets made with really nice high-impact solid plastic pieces, but since they were just a series of prototypes and the process didn't pan out, we don't consider that an official edition.)

Those original plastic pyramids we made were at once both a beautiful dream come true and a nightmare of unpleasant work with disappointing flaws. The system Number 12 devised for us for making pyramids at home involved mixing nasty liquid chemicals in beakers then pouring the sludge into custom-made ice-cube tray style pyramid molds, quickly. The goo hardened overnight and when it all worked properly, the results were extremely beautiful. However, little flaws were common and the reject rate was high. Worse, the task itself was extremely labor intensive and the stench of the liquid plastic resin caused friction with my landlord. As a result, we gave up this method after making only about 150 complete sets. For a long while after that, we had no sets for sale, except for the paper ones, then eventually we made a couple of hundred sets worth of wood-piece pyramids, which were also a nightmare to get made, then I made up a videogame about smashing and destroying Icehouse pyramids, and for awhile we gave up on trying to make them, switching instead to card games, until at last, in 1999, we shelled out the money needed to build an injection-mold and get pyramids made by professionals.

Anyway, back to the ancient pyramids. Stuck away in our attic these many years was a box known as the Reject Box, containing the last of the pyramids made the old fashioned way. The Xyloid pieces in the Reject Box weren't really rejects, they were just overage in unusable quantities. With the pieces in that box we could have built 5 more complete sets, if only we'd had more medium and small blues. With this in mind, I decided to create a run of 3-player sets, which come complete with one of the original black Icehouse draw-string bags we were using at the time (and which I still have a box of in the attic). Later on, I'll also be offering a few single stashes, in red and yellow, plus 100 large wood pyramids (25 red, 25 yellow, and 50 blue).

But of course the really exciting "Phoenix Pyramids" are the original plastic pieces we made in '89 and '90. As you can see from the photo at the top, showing the contents of the Reject Box, these pieces came in quite a range of colors, and while they were all considered imperfect 15 years ago, mostly they're not that bad. The real problem is that the plastic we were using is suboptimal, being brittle (the tragedy of a broken tip was terribly common) and easily scarred (even after 15 years these pieces have a slightly sticky feel to them -- they are infamous for sticking to each other).

Ironically, the original plastic Icehouse pieces proved to be so fragile that pieces rejected long ago for flaws are now no worse looking that many of the pieces that were perfect when we first put them into those original plain black boxes. As I dug through and sorted out the pieces in the Reject Box, to see how many stashes I could assemble from what remained, I found many pieces that seemed perfect. Furthermore, flaws like broken or imperfect tips aren't such an issue these days... the uniformity of the piece, and in particular of the tip, was of great importance when Icehouse itself was the only game you could play with the pieces. But nowadays, if you're playing a game like Zarcana or Martian Chess or Homeworlds, it makes no difference.

Unfortunately, this was not the first time I dipped into the Reject Box for a big project, and when I did so back in December 1989, it was because we decided to use Reject Icehouse pieces as Christmas Tree Ornaments. For this project I mostly used the larges, which left me with lots of smalls and mediums that could only be turned into complete stashes by including larges with holes drilled through the tips. Of course this makes them not as nice, so any stashes I offer with pieces like this will be identified as such.

Anyway, after sorting and organizing all these pieces, I found I could assemble 33 stashes! Here's a list of what I ended up with (the ones marked DD include pieces with Drill Damage):

  • Translucent Blue: 4
  • Translucent Blue-DD: 6
  • Translucent Green: 3
  • Translucent Green-DD: 5
  • Translucent Off-Green-DD: 1
  • Translucent Red-DD: 5
  • Translucent Pale Yellow: 2
  • Translucent Golden Yellow-DD: 3
  • Opaque Red: 1
  • Opaque Blue: 1
  • Opaque Yellow: 1
  • Sparkly Silver: 1

Did I mention that these pieces have a tendency to stick to each other? I needed a hammer and a screwdriver to separate some of the pieces in the box, which had been joined together these many years... and even now, as they sit freshly sorted in ziplock baggies, they are finding new ways to stick together. But they sure are beautiful!

Anyway, who wants some ancient pyramids? The first batch is available now on eBay...

Have a Great Week, and Don't Forget to Play!

the story so far

Thought Residue
"Believe it or not, I don't look in the mirror every morning and see my father looming over my shoulder. I write and speak as nothing more or less than an American citizen, one who is plenty angry about the direction our country is being dragged by the current administration. We have reached a critical juncture in our nation's history, one ripe with both danger and possibility. We need leadership with the wisdom to prudently confront those dangers and the imagination to boldly grasp the possibilities. Beyond issues of fiscal irresponsibility and ill-advised militarism, there is a question of trust. George W. Bush and his allies don't trust you and me. Why on earth, then, should we trust them? Fortunately, we still live in a democratic republic. The Bush team cannot expect a cabal of right-wing justices to once again deliver the White House. Come November 2, we will have a choice: We can embrace a lie, or we can restore a measure of integrity to our government. We can choose, as a bumper sticker I spotted in Seattle put it, SOMEONE ELSE FOR PRESIDENT." -- Ron Reagan, "The Case Against George W. Bush"

"Consider what we've seen in Bush's first term. After running a campaign based on the messages of bringing civility back to the White House and of being a uniter rather than a divider, after losing the popular vote but taking the presidency through a blatantly partisan and legally indefensible Supreme Court decision, what did he do? Did he reach across divides to create a new America, offering basic respect to his opponents as Americans just as devoted to the dream of America as he was? No, he didn't. The approach has been, tentatively at the start but locked in after 9-11, to push every agenda as far as it can go with zero compromise. Gigantic budget-busting tax cuts, secret energy policies, billions in handouts to drug companies, aggressive new powers of search, seizure and detention, and of course two wars, one of them launched with a case riddled from end to end with falsehoods against the objections of eight tenths of the world. And incredible as it seems, get your head around it -- this is all stuff Bush did when he's still holding back because he's worried about getting re-elected." -- Stephen Notley's blog, "Bush on Mars," January 23, 2004
"There is a real story here, but it's not about the dire effects of potent marijuana. The real story is the misuse of science by government officials seeking to justify current policies and hold onto their jobs. The administration's misuse of science in this area is, if anything, more blatant than in fields that have generated far more controversy, such as reproductive health. And with the administration now talking openly about shifting prevention and law enforcement resources toward marijuana and away from drugs like heroin and cocaine, which actually kill, this dishonesty is putting America's young people at risk." -- Bruce Mirken and Mitch Earleywine, "The 'Potent Pot' Myth"


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