Review: Ice Cube
Publisher: Milton Bradley
Year: 1972
Players: 2 to 4
Tagline: The game that uses real ice cubes

A young boy happily holding a Meltin Milton pawn with the game board in the background

how we met

I wrote in a past review (see Hide ’n’ Thief) how my friend Josh found a treasure trove of vintage games in a single store one fateful day. Ice Cube is part of that story.

Ice Cube is desirable for a lot of reasons. 1) It has nice resale value. 2) It was one of the games covered by Flip the Table podcast and crew. 3) Its novelty is through the roof. 4) It is rare.

This thrift shop had Ice Cube in really nice shape, just missing the ice cube tray (which is very, very common – it breaks). And to be honest, they priced Ice Cube fairly at something like $50, or just under. But for thrifters, that is a very steep price. I passed it up at that price. We all did.

Bill added this thrift shop to his typical thrifting route because in addition to awesome and weird old board games, they occasionally had really great vintage toys. Some of those toys were carded, unpunched. Bill is really savvy with toys, so he frequented this store and bought many, many items over many, many months (Josh, I probably owe you dinner or something).

One of these trips Bill determined that the profit he would make on his toy purchases would more than make up for the cost of Ice Cube, and he knew that several of us wanted it. So he surprised me by bringing it home that day. And that’s how we met!

how it plays

Ice Cube is a last ice cube standing game. The last ice cube to fully melt or fall away from the feet of the Meltin’ Milton is the winner!

The body of the Meltin’ Milton pawns is a special ice cube with a hole in the middle that lets you place the body on the plastic feet as well as put the plastic head on top. This gives you a fully-formed Meltin’ Milton.

A closer look at the Meltin’ Miltons

From here, play is very simple. On your turn you spin the spinner and find out where your Meltin’ Milton ends up. Nearly all possibilities are designed to melt your poor Meltin’ Milton body. Here are some gruesome examples:

  • You may get salt shaken over your poor, frozen body
  • You may get hot water dumped over your poor, frozen body
  • You may have to stand in a tub of what started the game as hot water
  • You may have to take a warm shower
  • You may have to wear a hot washer on your poor, frozen head

There is one space where you stand on your start space and nothing good or bad happens. There is also one space where you get to rest in some ice chips! But for the most part it’s deadly out there.

The spinner shows you these awful possibilities

The last Meltin’ Milton standing wins Ice Cube!

A closer look at a sideways glancing Meltin’ Milton, so you can see the ears, eyes, nose and moustache

how it went

I want to start off with a couple more thank you’s that made our gameplay possible. I mentioned that my copy is missing the ice cube tray, which is very common. So what do you do?

Fortunately for me, BGG user snicholson had this issue a few years before I did and solved it thoroughly. I simply followed Scott’s instructions to create my own ice cube tray. I experienced every single thing that he did when making a second ice cube tray, and I can’t recommend his instructions enough. Thank you Scott! (You can follow Scott on Twitter @snicholson or check out his board game YouTube channel where he has been live-streaming games during the pandemic)

My first ice cube tray setting
The completed ice cube tray in all its glory

I also had problems when trying to create my Meltin’ Milton positives by 3d printing at local printers. This issue was instantly solved when I reached out to Brian, one of my in-laws. Brian does really sophisticated 3d printing so I knew he could probably help me with my printing problem. But he replied to my cry for help immediately and those Miltons were printing within a few hours. And they arrived in the mail just a few days later. And they have at this point been passed onto another Ice Cube owner with no ice cube tray.

One of my four positive Meltin’ Miltons, much thanks to Brian

FAIR WARNING: If anyone here is wondering why someone doesn’t just pump out these ice cube trays and sell them to this niche market, let me tell you why. The instructions were very simple, but the silicone rubber is like $40. This is not a cheap solution.

I played Ice Cube a couple of times, once with my regular game group and once with the Thrifting Minions. The game is silly fun. I have learned to fear the Bucket of Water, which is devastating. You can actually watch your Meltin’ Milton shrink before your eyes.

A shot of our play, where the blue Milton is lucky enough to be taking an ice bath

I am generally okay with the hot head. It has an impact, but the impact is minor especially as the game goes on. The same can be said for the Bath which starts as hot water, but as you play the game water is everywhere and the Bath becomes lukewarm at best.

A hot headed Meltin’ Milton, and as you can see salt gets everywhere

The salt and warm shower are both middle-of-the-road for how terrible they are. I am sure they have impact, but they are less visible than the Bucket of Water.

Another shot of our play, nearing the end

Bill’s Meltin’ Milton was the last one standing, and Bill won Ice Cube!

This awesome slow motion video was posted by Flip the Table Podcast on YouTube and you only have to watch seconds to see the devastating Bucket of Water!

Now, if prices interest you please read on. I have three price tags on my copy of Ice Cube:

  1. I have an old, yellow price tag on the cover that appears to be from an ancient Kmart and lists the price at $26.28
  2. I have an old, yellow price tag on the side that also appears to be from Kmart and lists the price (presumably grossly discounted) at $4.33
  3. Most interestingly if you thrift, my copy has a price mark of $2.00 from a shop that almost always gives half off, so someone bought this at some point for $1.00. It can happen!

play or pass

Play, with a big nod to novelty. This game makes up for its lack of strategy with ice and salt and hot water. Ice Cube is not the most gamely of games, but it has more staying power than even the most robust Meltin’ Milton.

If you are interested in playing Ice Cube but not able to find a used version, I understand that Olaf’s Ice Adventure replicates at least some features of Ice Cube and is easy to purchase. It is also a version of Trouble, so not entirely the same as Ice Cube but might scratch the itch.