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Design Notes

Fans May See It as an Investment--in Fun

July 19, 2001|CANDACE A. WEDLAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It's a pop culture natural. After five television seasons and with 15 million viewers weekly, the "Antiques Roadshow" now has an official game for fans to play at home. Antiques Roadshow the Game was a year in the making, a collaboration between WGBH, the Boston public television station that produces the show, and Hasbro Inc., based in Pawtucket, Mass. The toy manufacturer, which also produces Scrabble and Monopoly, began selling the guess-how-much game in June. Proceeds from the sales of the $19.99 game will go the station, according to Betsy Groban, the managing director of WGBH Enterprises.

Players of the game guess the value of objects on picture cards based on descriptions of the objects. The game is packaged inside a small tin trunk (roughly 7 by 4 inches) based on the show's logo of an open trunk. (The tin lid comes off completely, unlike the stay-up logo trunk.)

Noel Barrett, one of the 200 appraisers who appear regularly on the PBS show, specializes in games and toys. He said one of the neatest things about the game is the tin itself with its embossed design. Barrett, who operates an antiques and appraisal firm in Carversville, Pa., added that the tin is both a miniature and figural, or representational, which are features that contribute to a tin becoming a possible collectible.

There is the possibility that consumers will buy the game as an investment, to stash, unopened, for 25 years in the hopes of future appreciation, one that will match or better a 401(k) perhaps. After all, the collectors craze has folks turning attics and basements upside down in search of that one valuable knickknack inherited from Grandma. (So crazed, that one prays Grandma isn't turned upside down to see what shakes loose from her pockets.)

Barrett said he bought, opened and even played the game. (In case you're wondering who would play that game with a professional appraiser, it was his wife and staff.) "I don't believe in putting things away," he said. "The stuff that people collect now was never put away. My mantra is that one shouldn't buy anything for future gain. You're better off with compound interest."

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Wedlan can be reached at candace.wedlan@latimes.com.

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