Mary Jo Reutter – The Games: Laundry Jumble, Flip-A-Longs, Sumo Ham Slam

Mary Jo Reutter – The Games: Laundry Jumble, Flip-A-Longs, Sumo Ham Slam

Laundry Jumble

Earlier this week I posted an interview with Mary Jo Reutter who won the TAGIE award for Excellence in Game Design in November of 2010 and you can see that article HERE.  But now it’s time to take a peek at some of her games and Mary Jo has AGAIN been nice enough to share some tidbits about how the games changed from her initial prototype – which is something I always find interesting!

First up, Laundry Jumble by Educational Insights.  While this game has roots in the 1967 game Feeley Meeley I think that the updated theme is adorable.  During the game players select a card with an image of an article of clothing on it.  They reach into the “dryer” and try to feel around to find the correct fabric item.  If they do, the player gets to keep the card.  If you pull the “Skunk’s Undies” you need to return a card you’ve already collected.  (ugh!)  Regardless, of whether you pull the correct item or not, it goes right back into the dryer so there’s always tons of stuff in there.

TumbleJumblePrototypeMary Jo:

“When I pitched Laundry Jumble I called it “Tumble Jumble” (and I think some of the older cards even still say Tumble Bumble).  We loved the name Tumble Jumble, but it was taken, so Educational Insights had to make a change to “The Laundry Jumble Game”. The prototype had a spinning mechanism and also folded flat.  Originally the child was to roll a die to see how many times they’d turn the dryer before reaching in to find the item. Unfortunately this didn’t cost out low enough so we had to lose that feature. Fortunately the play was not compromised.  I’m very pleased that Educational Insights was able to keep the fabric for the construction of the dryer — one of the sweet subtleties of the fabric construction is that the dryer begins getting warm as your hand reaches around searching for the right piece of clothing.  And I’m also very pleased that they were able to get the small details in all of the clothing items. The Skunk’s Undies are a favorite!” (See Mary Jo’s prototype at left – wow that looks just about the same!)


Second is her mini-line of Flip-A-Longs with Fat Brain Toys.  There’s a train version called “Long Long Locomotive” and a medieval version called “Knights of the Long Table” but both play exactly the same.  It’s a matching game but instead of matching the same thing, players must match two halves of the same scene.  In the locomotive version each player starts with an engine and each time they get a match they add this new car to their train.  Obviously, the player with the longest train wins.

LennysLimoMary Jo:

“The Flip-A-Long theme that was originally pitched was “Lenny’s Limo” — a long stretch limo with different sets of interesting passengers inside.  We changed that theme out for Knights of the Long Table, and Long Long Locomotive.  This game is much like a standard match game in that you can have a lot of different themes, and the twist of using your winning pieces to create a long scene.  The kids are much better at the memory and matching than most of the adults who play!  I like it when kids can genuinely beat their parents at a game.” (see Mary Jo’s prototype at left – it’s super cute!)

Sumo Ham Slam

Even though the previous two have classic game play roots, I really enjoyed them both.  I thought that Mary Jo really improved upon Feeley Meeley (especially cute fabric instead of weird plastic tchotchkes, click HERE to find out more about Feeley Meeley if you have no idea what I’m talking about.) and making memory/matching play FAR more interesting and visually appealing.

The last game I’m going to review was probably my least favorite out of the three I’m reviewing here, but it definitely gets BIG points for cute!   (But note, that I’m not entirely sold on games action games like Rock’em Sock’em that are essentially toys with rules that are designed for kids — I’m sure skews my rankings.)  Sumo Ham Slam is a game about Sumo hamsters, which in itself is hilarious.  Players battle their hamsters using a wand that goes underneath the plastic board and magnetically attaches to their hamster.  It’s a battle of the bulge with each hamster trying to push the other out of the ring.  Along the way you earn food which are little white discs that adds to your hamster’s bulk when you shove it down their gullet.  The funny theme mixed with the cute characters really makes it a great birthday party gift for any kid 6-9.

SumoHamSlam_02Mary Jo:

“Sumo Ham Slam was originally called Masu Masu (which means More! More! in Japanese). The brilliant addition of the hamsters goes to Jason Schneider at Gamewright!  The game play and mechanisms stayed the same, and the hamsters and fantastic name just take it over the top in wacky.” (see her prototype at left, click to enlarge)

Thanks again to Mary Jo for all of her help and the great prototype pics she was awesome enough to send along!

Laundry Jumble Stats:

~$25 at Amazon,, mom & pop retailers
2 to 4 players
~5-10 minutes
Ages 6 and Up

Flip-A-Longs Stats:

~$13 at Fat Brain Toys ONLY
2 to 4 players
~5-10 minutes
Ages 4 and Up

Sumo Ham Slam Stats:

~$20-25 at Amazon, Fun Again Games, mom & pop retailers
2 to 6 players
~10-15 minutes
Ages 6 and Up