Sunday, April 27, 2008

Speculation about the new Scrabble board

Posted by Brad Mills

(Note: This article was originally posted April 27, 2008 at the WV Scrabble website. It has been moved to our blog and backdated to that date as part of a site redesign.)

Hasbro has issued a press release promising new Scrabble boards this year in celebration of the game's 60th anniversary. Diligent research, hidden messages in advertisements, and some graphical manipulation clearly leads to this conclusion:

The new Scrabble boards are round.

Here are the items of evidence.

Item 1: Round racks

The aforementioned press release clearly states:

"The SCRABBLE Brand Crossword Game Diamond Anniversary Edition features a redesigned game board that keeps the letter tiles in place, a rotating base and curved tile holders - so players can keep their letters a secret. The new game board also folds for easy portability."

Rotating Scrabble boards are nothing new - in fact, they've been around almost since the game's commercial debut. A rotating board which also folds is a novelty, however, at least for Hasbro.

Since one of the goals is to fit everything snugly into the box at the end of a game, it's reasonable to conclude the curved racks would follow the contours of something to hold them in place. Since the board folds by Hasbro's own admission, the best place is inside the cavity formed inside the folding board. And since the racks are round, also by Hasbro's own admission, it's very likely they'll rest along a contour of the board - there may even be some sort of plastic retainer in place for this purpose.

Item 2: The Zapruder image

Recent advertisements across the country have included an image which reveals a section of the new board.

The image here shows an ellipse placed over what appears to be the new board. Note the perfect fit. Given the perspective of the image, an ellipse makes sense. Most likely, the image on the actual box features the board in a tilted position - an "action shot", if you will. If the board pictured on the box were flat, we'd be able to lay a circle over top of it instead.

This doesn't appear to a be a Scrabble box any of us have seen in a store, but again, quoting from the press release:

"Additionally, the classic game will be refreshed with a modern color palette and a new box design."

The different coloration and the different Scrabble logo (note the lowercase e) in this image match the press release perfectly.

Item 3: Modus operandi

It's important to note that Hasbro has been experimenting with its classic games quite a bit over the last decade. For example, in recent years, there have been "express" editions of Scrabble and Monopoly® - not to mention renamed Monopoly® streets. This year's release of the new Scrabble boards will be the third change in the last ten years. And finally, there have been unusually-shaped Scrabble boards commemorating everything from sports teams to Shrek. It's easy to imagine Hasbro would continue this trend by making a round board.

Conclusions and disclaimer

Based on the gathered evidence, Hasbro has created a folding, rotating, round board with a purple, red, and yellow color scheme. It has curved racks which fit inside the cavity of the folded board, and the Scrabble logo has been changed as well.

The preceding article is complete speculation. All trademarks mentioned here are the property of their owners - no harm or infringement is intended.

Update - April 27, 2008

Pictures of the new deluxe boards have been leaked, and we've got one on our shopping page. Here's how the predictions above fared.

  • Round board: Not completely. Two of the four edges are round, very similar to the folding Ossie Mair boards.
  • Curved racks: Yep.
  • Folding board: Yep.
  • Racks fit inside the folding board's cavity: Unknown so far, but still a fair assumption.
  • Updated logo: Yes.
  • Purple, red, and yellow color scheme: No, but the premium square colors have changed (again!), and the overall coloration is much brighter than before. The purple, yellow, and red is an update to the Scrabble logo. Here is a much better image of the new logo (as well as the new standard board), copied directly from Hasbro's website.

Overall accuracy of the speculation: Good. Changing the shape of the deluxe boards wasn't mentioned anywhere in the press release, and the jury is still out on whether or not the curved racks fit inside the board. Probably not worthy of an Oliver Stone film.


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