How to Play
After assembling the dog and inserting the batteries, place Fred on the floor or a level surface. All of the fleas are randomly placed on Fred’s back. Everyone chooses a color and takes the tweezers and the bag that corresponds to the color chosen. Each player places their flea bag at least four feet away from Fred.
When everyone is ready, the knob at the top of the fire hydrant is turned to either the slow or fast speed and the game begins. Using the tweezers, each player tries to grab the fleas of their own color. A player may only touch and move their fleas with the tweezers. When a player successfully grabs a flea, they place it into their bag (still using the tweezers). Whoever is able to retrieve all four fleas of their color, put them into their bag, and turn off the fire hydrant becomes the winner of the game.
In 1993 Tyco games created the game Fleas on Fred. Until finding the game at a thrift store I had never heard of the game before. I am guessing there are quite a few people that have fond memories of the game though. Fleas on Fred is the classic example of a 1980’s/1990’s wacky children’s’ games. The game has a strange theme and gameplay mechanics. While not a particularly a good game for adults, I can see children enjoying the game.
To preface the rest of this review, I did not play this game with any young children so there was clearly no one of the target audience playing the game. Not surprisingly I did not find the game to be very entertaining for adults. I think young children and their parents can have quite a bit of fun playing the game.
The game is made specifically for children so the rules are very easy to follow. The entire rules take up one sheet of paper. Fleas on Fred is essentially a simple dexterity games. You use the provided tweezers to grab fleas off the back of the dog while it moves around. Fleas on Fred is a perfect example of a lot of the dexterity games that were created in the 80’s and 90s’. The game has a unique theme and it is interactive enough to keep children’s attention.
Fleas on Fed is a very short game. I would say on average the couple games I played were probably two to three minutes long. For younger children the game may last five minutes. It probably takes a minute or two to assemble the game and put all pieces in the correct positions. When finished you can pack up the game pretty quickly as well. Fleas on Fred is the type of game you can get a couple games out of in about fifteen minutes and then be able to quickly put away.
I think young children will like the game quite a bit, but the game is only really a curiosity for adults. It is the type of game you may play a couple times just to try it out and then never want to play it again. The reason the game is not very enjoyable for adults is that it is way too easy. After you have played the game once or twice you devise a strategy on how to handle the tweezers which makes it quite easy to pick up the fleas. Once it becomes easy to pick up the fleas the game is no longer fun.
The biggest issue with the game is that it requires a lot of space to play it. While the instructions say that you can play the game on a table, I would recommend against it. Unless you have a very large table you will need to play the game on the floor. First you need enough space so all of the flea bags can be four feet from Fred. Also if you play the game on a table you will need to regularly keep Fred from falling on the floor. Fred moves a lot during gameplay. My group tried playing the game on a table and we constantly had to stop Fred from falling off the table.
Overall the components are of a pretty good quality. Being a children’s game Fleas on Fred will obviously take some wear and tear. Being a used copy my copy of the game had some scuff marks and the button on the fire hydrant had to sometimes be readjusted in order to work right. Being a twenty plus year old game though, it was in pretty good condition which speaks to the quality of the components. My biggest complaint with the components are that the plastic bags are made of too thin of plastic.
Like many children’s game, Fleas on Fred does not appeal to adults. The game was made for children and the only people that will enjoy it more than one or two times are young children and their parents. My final rating of the game tries to factor this in. For adults without any young children the game probably deserves a one. For young children and their parents the game is probably more deserving of a three.
If you don’t have young children or are not a child at heart, I can’t see it being worth picking up Fleas on Fred unless you can find it really cheap. If you are a parent of young children though I think they will enjoy Fleas on Fred quite a bit.