Games and Toys

Yep, we did those, too! It was the 1980s and enterpreneurism was at an all-time high. I was a big board game player while growing up–Risk, Battleship (we used to play it before it was a manufactured game. We drew our own square grids on notebook paper and marked them with the different ships. It played about the same as Battleship, but we called it PT109 for the boat U.S. President John F. Kennedy had been on during World War 2. His Patrol Torpedo Boat 109 had been split in half by a Japanese destroyer). We also played Checkers, Dogfight (a World War 1 airplane “ace” game), and Chess.

While attending college at Brigham Young University, I created the board game that became “Battle Command.” I wrote the 14 pages of instructions and typed them up as an English class term paper. Later, the rules of play were whittled down to 3 small pages and a summary page. Believe it or not, we used regular typewriters back then with eraseable paper!

Photo of 1989 board game Battle Command by Presicion Toy of Julian, CA
Picture of 1988 Battle Command board game box back

I made my own plastic injection mold out of DME tool steel using graphite tank, airplane, and cannon piece designs I whittled by hand. The pieces–actually made in halves–were glued to a steel rod and chucked up into an EDM–Electro Discharge Machine–in the BYU Crabtree Technology Building Shop. As each spark from the graphite prototype blew away a corresponding speck of the tool steel mold plate, it would also erode the graphite a little. It took about 3 graphite carvings to make and finish a single mold cavity. I had to carve the graphite electrodes accurately to finish the cavities and repeat the process for the corresponding other half of the gamepiece in the matching mold plate. It was quite a proect!

After my wife and I graduated from college, we had changed the game so much that we had to hire someone to make new mold plates for the more futuristic gamepieces I had designed. We no longer had access to a metal shop where I could make the mold.

Creating the artwork was another big challenge. I could draw out what the different spaces were–rivers, trees, mountains, fords, plains, and air bases–but I didn’t have the skills necessary to create the finished artwork. A graphic artist helped us find Linda S. Nye. Linda Nye is an extremely talented artist. She did the finished paintings for the cover and gameboard. Linda Nye has since focused much more on the science fields but we are so grateful she did the artwork for our Battle Command board game. And we love the vibrant colors. Years later, while touring the Air & Space Museum in Balboa Park, San Diego, CA, we saw a beautiful piece of airplane artwork on the wall that immediately drew us in. As we studied it, there was Linda Nye’s signature. Thank you for your beautiful artwork, Linda Nye!

The pieces were injection molded in El Cajon, CA, the box and board were printed in Los Angeles, and we assembled the games in our hometown of Julian, CA. Battle Command sold nationwide for several years. We had many other toy and game designs we wanted to produce. Being able to use creativity is very rewarding and a lot of fun!

Picture of brightly designed Battle Command board game from 1989