“Come mothers and fathers throughout the land, and don’t criticize what you can’t understand…” So sang Bob Dylan on 1964 hit “The Times They Are a-Changin’.” That very same year a University of Illinois industrial design student named John Spinello designed the prototype for Hasbro’s “Operation,” the now-classic kids’ electronic surgery game.
The game featured an illustration of Cavity Sam (above), a rather heavy-set naked man laying on an operating table. The illustration, combined with the yellow background, red frame, and red light bulb nose, became one of the most iconic images in the history of the gaming industry, and remained relatively unchanged for more than forty years. But, after researching a post on Here Comes Honey Boo Boo‘s Mama June Shannon (click the link and you’ll see why), I ran across a recent photo of the board game that reveals Hasbro has given Cavity Sam a MAJOR makeover!
Although ol Sam has retained his signature hairdo (in essence), he has since lost a lot of weight, put on a pair of polka dot shorts, gotten a few tattoos, and apparently likes to hang out in the sunshine wearing a wife beater tank top:
In addition to the change in appearance, Cavity Sam’s operatable maladies have also changed with the times. Gone are Adam’s apple, butterflies in stomach, funny bone, wish bone, and bread basket — in their place are slightly modernized (for the most part) ailments such as headphone headache, gamer’s thumb, cranky knee, frostbite, heartburn, hangnail, ringing in his ear and rumbling tummy.
Here’s a video, um, trailer? for the new version of Operation:
Cavity Sam’s new look is actually a third step in an evolution that first saw him donning a pair of shorts in a version of the Operation game in 2008 (below) that featured silly sounds to correspond with each ailment. “After more than four decades, we felt that it was time to give Cavity Sam, and the OPERATION game, a modern look for today’s players,” said Matt Collins, Vice President of Marketing for Hasbro Games in a press release at the time. “This makeover has outfitted Cavity Sam with boxer shorts, a white sock and new ailments that have silly sounds associated with each part and contain game cues.”
I couldn’t find a press release addressing the most recent makeover, although I did run across nearly unanimous negative reviews — mainly due to the addition of “easy-grab pieces and large openings,” which were intended to result in “fun gameplay,” but instead (judging from the criticisms) made the game so easy it’s not fun at all — even for children.
Because of all the negative reviews I think I will hold off on this incarnation and just wait for the special plastic surgery themed Botched! version (endorsed by show co-hosts Paul Nassif and Terry Dubrow) and featuring such ailments as spare tire, nose bump, saddle bags, wattle and busted bags.