New Monopoly token will replace old piece. Is the car or thimble at risk?

New Monopoly token will be chosen by online voters, who can also vote to save their old favorites like the thimble and top hat. Will the new Monopoly token be a cat, robot, or helicopter?

This image provided by Hasbro shows a potential new Monopoly game piece, a cat. Makers of the classic game Monopoly want players to “take a chance” on a new token. In an effort to jazz up the board game, which debuted around 1935, Hasbro announced Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, it is holding a Facebook contest to eliminate one of the eight classic tokens and introduce a new one that will be decided on by an online vote.

Monopoly, everyone’s favorite game of real estate development and financial ruin, is shaking things up a bit.  And it means some players will have to make a change from their default tiny metal avatar.

In a new upgrade of the popular board game, parent company Hasbro is replacing one recognizable Monopoly game piece with a new Monopoly token, and it’s letting the public decide which one.

“In an unlucky roll of the dice, every Monopoly token has landed in jail,” a promotion on the game’s Facebook page reads. “One will be locked up forever and replaced with a new piece. Luckily, you’ll have the chance to vote to save your favorite token every day. Don’t skip your turn!”

Voters can choose to save one of Monopoly’s seven iconic tokens: the battleship, the car, the Scottie dog, the top hat, the old shoe, the iron, the wheelbarrow, or the thimble. Additionally, the public will vote in one of five new tokens. The choice is between a robot, a helicopter, a guitar, a diamond ring, and a cat.

“The tokens are one of the most iconic parts of the Monopoly game and we know that people are emotionally tied to their favorite one,” Eric Nyman, a senior vice president of Hasbro Gaming, told the Daily Mail. “We can’t wait to see which iconic piece will ‘go to jail’ and which new token the fans will choose to become part of one of the world’s most popular games.”

The voting runs until Feb. 5, and the new edition of the board game will be available later this year.

Aside from a few small tweaks here and there, Monopoly has stayed much the same since its launch in the mid-1930s by Parker Brothers. The color-coded properties, for instance, are named after streets in Atlantic City, New Jersey – some of which no longer exist. 

But there has been some variance in the game pieces, originally made companies who also made charm bracelets (many of the original tokens, in fact, were popular charm pieces as well).  Discontinued pieces from the original version include a lantern, purse, and a rocking horse. Others, including a cannon, a man on a horse, and a sack of money, have come and gone.

And losing your favorite metal avatar, be it by way of corporate forces or being out-argued by a demanding fellow player, can be rough. When my family played Monopoly, my mom was always the man on the horse, a piece no longer in the classic edition of the game.  I always wanted the dog but usually ended up with the car or the hat.

But which piece will get the axe this time around? We may have an answer already. In the forthcoming book “Monopoly, Money, and You,” author and Monopoly expert Phil Orbanes conducted an online survey to determine which game piece was the most popular, as well the personality profile of users of each piece. Orbanes, and the book, were profiled in American Public Media’s radio program, Marketplace.

According to the survey, the most popular piece was the car, used by one out of four players. Tied for second were the Scottie dog and the top hat, each used by one out of five players.

The loser, by far, was the wheelbarrow, preferred by only 3 percent of players.  A British bookmaker, Paddy Power, is placing the wheelbarrow at 4/5 odds to be the piece to go.

If you’re a wheelbarrow who wants to save your piece, you can vote on Monopoly’s Facebook page, or on Twitter with the hashtag #tokenvote. 

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