3D Checkers

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by SchwEnt, Jun 8, 2012.

  1. SchwEnt

    SchwEnt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2005
    So I was looking at some TOS screencaps over at TrekCore. "The Alternative Factor" Screencaps Page Five

    http://tos.trekcore.com/gallery/albums/1x27/The_Alternative_Factor_118.JPG

    A Rec Room scene with the familiar Tri-Dimensional Chess we've seen many times. But across the room I noticed a 3D Checkers game. Huh.

    Over forty years later and I'm still finding new things.
     
  2. GSchnitzer

    GSchnitzer Co-Executive Producer In Memoriam

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Location:
    Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA, Terra
    Some information about the 3D Checkers game:

    In 1965, the Pacific Game Company (also called Pleasantime Games) of North Hollywood, California began to produce and market a game that they called Space Checkers.

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    The Space Checkers game came with a large base, twelve small boards, four long spacing tubes, four small black end caps and sixteen checkers (eight red and eight black).

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    The large base is 8.95 inches by 8.95 inches and 0.52 inch high, molded in opaque red styrene plastic with a raised, gold-painted logo.

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    The spacing tubes are 8.94 inches long, with an outer diameter of 0.375 inch and an inner diameter of 0.220 inch.

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    The four black end caps are designed to fit onto the top ends of the vertical spacing tubes.

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    Each small board is 3.00 inches by 3.00 inches. Discounting the width of the narrow rims around the outer edges of the small boards, a chess or checkers player would probably consider the small boards as having one-and-a-half-inch squares.

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    Each small board has an overall thickness of 0.100 inch, including the rim around the entire perimeter of the board. The rim is 0.050 inch wide. The "white" squares are full-thickness, with a fine rounded-pebbling texture on the top. The "clear" squares are 0.070 inch thick; the top surface is slightly recessed below the rim. The hole in the center of each board is 0.375 inch in diameter.

    The bottom of each small board is smooth, with two exceptions. One is the obvious "split collar" at the center. This collar is designed to grasp a spacing tube with a "friction fit." The two halves of the collar are molded at a slight angle, narrowing the opening at the bottom of the split collar to 0.370 inch but allowing the two halves of the collar to flex apart to the full 0.375 inch when slid into a spacing tube.

    The second feature on the bottom of each small board is a small 0.185 inch diameter circular “nub” that hangs 0.050 inch down under the outer corner of one clear square, 0.050 inch from one edge and 0.070 inch from the other. There is no apparent purpose for this circle, and yet it seems to be a deliberate feature of the design, present on every board.

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    The checkers are 1.18 inches in diameter and 0.215 inch thick, with serrated 0.125 inch wide rims that nest when the pieces are stacked. Each piece is molded with concentric circles decorating one face and a crown on the other.

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    When fully assembled for a Space Checkers game, the squares alternate textured/clear in all three directions, left/right, forward/back and up/down. The game instructions indicate that the pieces play entirely on the textured squares, starting at opposing edges.

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    In the rare, early releases of the game, the twelve small boards were molded in clear styrene plastic. It is these clear, small boards that appear in the photo on the original box cover. In later releases, the Pacific Game Company switched to molding the small boards in the same opaque red plastic used for the base, even though the box cover photo continued to erroneously show the original clear small boards. (Caveat emptor.)

    At some point after that, the Pacific Game company simplified their manufacturing even further by no longer using gold paint on the raised lettering of the large red base.

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    In 1971, the box cover was completely changed to feature new "mod" artwork and the photo on the box cover was changed to reflect the all-red boards.

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    Space Checkers makes its first appearance on-camera in "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (Episode 02). It is being played by the two extras behind
    Mister Spock in the Briefing Lounge.

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    Space Checkers can be seen on-camera in all three seasons. During the first two seasons, there are occasionally two sets of Space Checkers in the same Recreation Room scene.

    It can be seen in "The Naked Time" (Episode 06) in the Recreation Room:

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    It can be seen in "Charlie X" (Episode 07) in both the Recreation Room and in the extreme foreground in the Briefing Room:

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    It can be seen in the Recreation Room in "The Conscience of the King" (Episode 12)--where you can also make out the 3D Tic-Tac-Toe set at screen left:

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    It can be seen in "The Alternative Factor" (Episode 19):

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    It can be seen in two places in the Recreation Room in "The Trouble with Tribbles" (Episode 42)—at screen left in the first shot and at screen right in the second shot:

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    Two of them can be seen in the Recreation Room in "By Any Other Name" (Episode 50), where both game sets of Space Checkers get destroyed (rather spectacularly) during a fight between Captain Kirk and the Kelvan Rojan.

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    It can be seen ‘way over at screen left in "The Mark of Gideon" (Episode 72):

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    Lastly, there is a "cutting room floor" appearance of the Space Checkers in an unused "Party Scene" that was filmed for "I, Mudd" but not ultimately included in the final cut of the episode.

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    There's nothing that just screams crazy out-of-control wanton revelry like Space Checkers!

    I say "lastly," but the truth is there was one other appearance. In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations," Benjamin Sisko and Dax are inserted into the scene in the Recreation Room in "The Trouble with Tribbles"--the same scene in which we've already seen two sets of Space Checkers. For these "inserted" scenes, Sisko and Dax can be seen playing Space Checkers. (A keen eye can make out that this is actually not a vintage Space Checkers set. Rather, it is a reproduction of a Space Checkers set apparently made by the studio. The sizes and colors of the various components are just a little "off.")

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    At any rate, here are my two sets of Space Checkers. The first set is the proper set, with the clear smaller boards. This is the style used in Star Trek. These are notoriously hard to come by.

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    This other set is not used in Star Trek. It has the incorrect red small boards rather than the proper clear ones. These are easy to come by on ebay (but, of course, aren’t Trek-accurate).

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    It bears mentioning that the Three Dimensional Chess Set we see throughout Star Trek was put together by cannibalizing parts from basically two different games. The larger, main boards of the Three Dimensional Chess Set are pulled from the "Checkline" 3D Tic-Tac-Toe game set. The smaller, movable "attack boards" are pulled from one of these "Space Checkers" game sets.

    For those who might be on the look out for such a Space Checkers set on ebay--beware: as I indicated above, just because the cover of the box shows clear smaller boards, the game set inside might very well contain the (incorrect) red boards. So you can’t rely on the box's artwork.

    So the next time we have a Recreation Room scene, keep your eyes peeled in the background for this prop.

    Slideshow is at:

    http://flickr.com/photos/10901121@N06/sets/72157608722638071/show/

    (My sincere thanks to CompaniaHill at the Trek Prop Zone forum for his wonderful research and write-up of this prop.)
     
  3. Ultramann

    Ultramann Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2011
    The question is, how do you play it?
     
  4. Tobin_Dax

    Tobin_Dax Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2006
    Space Checkers is not the 3D checkers game in the screencap from The Alternative Factor.
     
  5. GSchnitzer

    GSchnitzer Co-Executive Producer In Memoriam

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Location:
    Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA, Terra
    I think it actually is the Pleasantime Space Checkers game in the above shot from "The Alternative Factor." I see the red square base and the little multiple tiers of the smaller boards. What do you think it is on that back table if not the Space Checkers game?
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2012
  6. Dantheman

    Dantheman Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
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    Michigan USA
    I thought it was just a joke the creators of Futurama came up with.

    Silly me.....
     
  7. CoveTom

    CoveTom Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    CoveTom
    I feel like such a failure as a Trek fan that I did not know about Space Checkers...
     
  8. King Bob!

    King Bob! Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    BillJ
    Time to turn in your geek card.
     
  9. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    I said out, dammit!
    By a remarkable coincidence I was watching Charlie X Friday and noticed the 3D checkers for the first time too!
     
  10. SchwEnt

    SchwEnt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2005
    As I still find new things here, I see there is also 3D Tic-Tac-Toe in addition to 3D Checkers.
     
  11. GSchnitzer

    GSchnitzer Co-Executive Producer In Memoriam

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Location:
    Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA, Terra
    In 1961, the Crestline Manufacturing Company of Santa Ana, California began to make and market a game that they called Checkline: The Classic Space Tic-Tac-Toe Game.

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    The Checkline game came with four identical clear plastic boards, a custom plastic box with a lid and divided sections, twelve spacing tubes, four black rubber feet, a six-sided die and approximately 90 playing tokens in four different colors.

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    Each Checkline board has four double-sided pins molded into its corners. In the very first release of Checkline, the boards were molded with solid pins, rounded on both ends. In this mold of the board, the Checkline logo is molded raised onto the underside of the second-to-right of its bottom-row squares (as viewed from the front) and the lines indicating the separation of the squares are molded indented into the underside of the board.

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    Perhaps the indented lines made the boards too fragile. But for whatever reason, Crestline sold relatively few games in this style, and then soon changed their molds. In the new mold of the board, the Checkline logo is molded raised onto the top side of the second-to-left of its bottom-row squares (as viewed from the front) and the lines indicating the separation of the squares are molded raised onto the top side of the board. All Checkline sets sold for the remainder of its production run were molded in this style.

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    Each Checkline board is 8.00 inches by 8.00 inches and molded in hard styrene clear plastic. Discounting the width of the narrow raised lines separating the squares, a chess player would considered the boards as having essentially two-inch by two-inch squares.

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    Each Checkline board has an overall thickness of 0.090 inches, with the raised lines having a width of 0.110 inch and a height of 0.022 inch for a total thickness of 0.112 inches. The raised lines stop just short of the edges, and do not frame the perimeter of the board.

    Each pin has an outer diameter of 0.250 inches and a length (from the board to the end of the pin) of 0.38 inch on both sides. Each pin is molded 0.250 inch from the edge of the board, which puts its center point 0.375 inch from the edge. It's important to note that each board and its four pins is one single piece of molded plastic. The pins are molded hollow, with an inner diameter of 0.150 inch, and because of the way they are molded, each pin is open at one end (square) and closed at the other end (rounded). The four square ends of the pins are on the "top" side of the board, the same side as the Checkline logo and the raised lines separating the squares. When properly assembled for a Checkline game, the four black rubber feet go on the rounded pins on the underside of the bottom-most board.

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    The additional boards are held apart by the spacing tubes. Early releases of Checkline used hollow acrylic spacing tubes with an inner diameter of 0.250 inch, an outer diameter of 0.362 inch and an overall length of 3.00 inches.

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    When Crestline changed the cover of the Checkline box, the new artwork featured a photo of the new new boards with the original acrylic spacing tubes.

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    The original acrylic tubes proved stiff and difficult to remove, often breaking its pin off the board, or even snapping off the entire corner of the board. Crestline soon addressed this problem, first by moving to 3-inch opaque brown tubes molded from a softer vinyl plastic, then to 3-inch solid spacing stems molded from a softer milky-white vinyl plastic in a shape with a solid cross-section for most of its length and only open on its ends. Although the cover photo continued to feature the original acrylic spacing tubes, the solid white vinyl spacing stems are by far the most common, and continued to be sold for the remainder of the game's production.

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    The playing tokens all seem to have been produced from the same molds, but the number and colors of the playing tokens (as well as the color of the die) varies from set to set. Each playing token is 1.125 inches in diameter and 0.080 inch thick, molded in colored vinyl with the Checkline logo on both sides. A complete boxed set will have tokens molded in four different colors, typically 30-32 pieces each of two colors and 15-16 pieces each of two additional colors. Checkline playing tokens were molded in at least fifteen different colors: white, three shades of pink, red, two shades of yellow, tan, three shades of green (including one that is mottled with red specks), aqua, two shades of blue, and black. It would not surprise me if there were more.

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    It is a Checkline game that is sitting on the table in The Making of Star Trek Recreation Lounge publicity photo.

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    This is the Checkline game that can be seen on-screen in the pilot episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (Episode 02). Two extras are playing the game behind Captain Kirk, using red, yellow and blue tokens.

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    The Checkline game also makes appearances in two first-season production episodes, although its colorful tokens seem to have become lost as the extras are playing using red and black checkers.

    "The Conscience of the King" (episode 12):

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    "The Alternative Factor" (episode 19):

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    And here are some shots of my Checkline: The Classic Space Tic-Tac-Toe Game sets:

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    Here's the set with the original colored playing tokens (like in "Where No Man Has Gone Before"):

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    Here's the set using standard checkers tokens, like in the two later Star Trek episodes:

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    And here's both side by side:

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    It bears mentioning that the clear Checkline boards were cannibalized to create the three dimensional chess set. (You can see the Checkline logo on the clear plastic three dimensional chess board in some shots--once you know where to look.) Here's the Checkline logo on one of my boards:

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    And you can (just barely) see the Checkline logo on the red painted square on the three dimensional chess board in this shot from "Charlie X:"

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    Obligatory slideshow is here:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/10901121@N06/sets/72157605485753077/show/

    (My sincere thanks to CompaniaHill at the Trek Prop Zone forum for his wonderful research and write-up of this prop.)
     
  12. erastus25

    erastus25 Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2006
    I would guess the creators of Futurama thought it was a joke too! haha
     
  13. Green Lantern

    Green Lantern Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Unrelated question, why is Sisko wearing the origional uniform?
     
  14. King Bob!

    King Bob! Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    BillJ
    30th Anniversary Episode

    The page has spoilers for the episode. :techman:
     
  15. GSchnitzer

    GSchnitzer Co-Executive Producer In Memoriam

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    Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA, Terra
    Did you read the paragraph above the picture with Sisko and Dax?
     
  16. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    3D Checkers was the name of Earth President Nixon's pet dog.

    :lol:
     
  17. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    Oct 25, 2009
    Who would want to play checkers while chess exists?
     
  18. KobayashiMaru13

    KobayashiMaru13 Captain Captain

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    I know what I'm buying, now.
     
  19. Green Lantern

    Green Lantern Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Thanks, you see, I only realy watch the origional series and TNG. Also the movies.
     
  20. Ultramann

    Ultramann Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2011
    And again I ask how is it played?