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Collecting the Master Mind game

Master Mind (sometimes Mastermind) is a classic strategy game that has been around for decades. The game was invented in 1970 by Mordecai Meirowitz, a Israeli-American engineer. Meirowitz was inspired by an old Chinese game called Bulls and Cows, which is thought to date back to the 12th century. He created Master Mind as a more challenging and engaging version of Bulls and Cows. In its first decade of production over 30 million copies were sold. We take a look at the history of the game and some of the variations made over the years.

Mastermind Original Cover UK Featuring Bill Woodward And Celia Fung
Mastermind Original Cover UK Featuring Bill Woodward And Celia Fung

The object of the game is to correctly guess the sequence of colored pegs used by your opponent. The first player to do so wins the game. Over the years, Master Mind has been released in many variations including Royale Mastermind, Grand Mastermind, Super Mastermind, Word Mastermind, Mini Mastermind and even an Electronic Mastermind. The games varied in a  number of ways including  the number of colours and versions for more than two people. Junior version were also released including Mastermind for Kids featuring a Jungle Animal theme.

Mastermind for Kids featuring a Jungle Animals theme
Mastermind for Kids featuring a Jungle Animals theme.

Who were the couple of the box of Master Mind box

The Master Mind box cover design is iconic and is probably one of the most recognisable of all time. The photo features a mysterious, beautiful Asian lady standing next to bearded man wearing a suit. The pair are in front of what appears to be a glass topped table, so there reflection appears at the bottom of the box. Is the man a rich, powerful Master Mind challenging people from the cover to crack his code? Is the lady an expert gazing at us with a condescending look questioning our expertise?

mastermind variations including New Original and Super
Mastermind Variations Including New Original and Super Master Mind. Most Master Mind games that are in a very fine to near mint condition are estimated at £10-£15  / $12-$18.

Or were they in fact Bill Woodward, the owner of a chain of Leicester hair salons, and Celia Fung a computer science student at the University of Leicester. They were both approached off the street for the campaign and the result is the iconic image we all associate with the Mastermind game. Bill Woodward was to appear in many of the covers of the later versions of the game.

The game was released internationally and the cover did vary in other countries with other people used, but the lady standing and man sitting remained constant for many of these releases.

The Disney Master Mind

There was even a Walt Disney Master Mind created by Invicta Games in 1978. It uses Disney characters instead of colours. The cover features a castle with Disney characters including Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pinnochio and Geppetto. Once again Bill Woodward is on the cover sitting in a chair and beckoning the Disney posse. In this cover he is a less mysterious and wear a light grey suit.

In this version we have to
Help Mickey and his friends escape
from the magic castle in the sky

Disney Master Mind valuation / price guide
A fine to near mint version in box £20-£30 / $24-$36

Today, it remains one of the most popular strategy games in the world. Thanks to its simple yet intriguing gameplay, Master Mind is a timeless classic that will continue to be enjoyed for years to come.

Cunning and Logic: The International Imagery of ‘Mastermind’
The Mysterious Origins of Mastermind, the Codebreaking Board Game