Review: Kaboom
Publisher: Ideal
Year: 1965
Tagline: Balloon Busting Game

Cover shows a contraption that you pump to blow up a balloon

how we met

I am such a sucker for Ideal games. The bigger the box, the better. And here’s how far this addiction goes: I frequently purchase more than one copy because most times they don’t even work.

I found my first copy of Kaboom at a thrift shop and could not believe my good fortune. It was in perfect shape. But, after securing water balloons, it became clear that this copy did not work. And it was clear that fixing it went beyond my skills.

A nice, clean contraption
The pretty one

Several months later I found an ugly, terrible copy at an estate sale. But it had balloons in it, and when I tested the contraption the balloon held air! So I had a working contraption I could pair with nice components.

A more colorful but less pretty one
The less pretty one, complete with electrical tape!

how it plays

Kaboom is a press your luck game involving balloons. Each player chooses a colored peg and starts at the beginning. On their turn, the player says a number between 1 and 10. This is how many times they must pump up the balloon. The rules stipulate that the pump must go all the way up and to the bottom to count as one, so no cheating, cheaters!

If the player completes all of the pumps, they move their peg that number of spaces. Then the next player goes.

The scoring track is yellow plastic rectangle, and the pegs come in various colors
The scoring track that we only got to flirt with

If a peg lands on a space with a star then they must take another turn.

If the balloon pops on a player’s turn, they move back 20 spaces!

The first player to successfully get their peg to the end of the scoring track wins!

how it went

Okay, this copy didn’t work great either. We didn’t get a full game in. Eventually the balloons started losing air, so we had to move so quickly that finishing the game just wasn’t tenable. But we played a little.

One thing I didn’t expect is that it takes about a thousand pumps for the balloon to actually pop, so that seems like another flaw – since we can no longer purchase official Kaboom balloons.

FUN FACT: One of my two copies has the instructions for Tip-It on the inside cover instead of instructions for Kaboom

Kaboom cover on left and Tip-It instructions on right
So this is how much Ideal had their shit together

The game culminated with a blue balloon that started losing air, and we all worked together to pump the contraption until it finally, finally popped. It was quite a workout. But it was a nice swan song for that copy.

Two hands gripping the balloon, one hand gripping the contraption, one hand pumping the balloon, one hand supporting the pumping hand
Two steps forward, one and a half steps back. But then it popped!

John was ahead when the game stopped working, so John won Kaboom!

play or pass

Pass. If I thought you could find a copy of this that actually worked I would recommend it all day long. But I think the hoses are all broken by this point, and they are too inflexible to try and repair. But the spirit of Kaboom is very fun. I think balloon popping is the perfect gamble in a press your luck game.

When I posted about playing this on the Flip the Table Facebook page, one user noted that it sounds like Gassy Gus. I have not played Gassy Gus, but if I see it at thrift I will definitely pick it up and let you know.