If It Ain’t Broke: Teachatot

In board games, educational toys, Holdsons games, Teachatot on February 3, 2013 at 10.46

Teachatot Game by Holdsons 1960s-1970s CROPPED

This is another recent Trade Me purchase. It was always my aim, when I started out, to share images of stuff I have acquired rather than writing long-winded articles about defunct foodstuff businesses. With a very busy year ahead – there will probably be more of the former than the latter – so here goes.

I have been considering re-buying Teachatot for quite a while since I’ve always loved the crisp, colourful retro graphics – and I’ve used elements of it a few times in my work over the years. It is getting quite hard to come by. I had a box lid in my archive but it was kind of creased, ripped diagonally through the middle with a chunk missing. All of the sides had all come off, it was quite faded and I only had two of the 96 game pieces left. In other words, completely trashed.

Teachatot Game by Holdsons 1960s-1970s EDIT 1 copy

I had this as a child and played with it often in the very early 1970s. Like anyone I had my favourites in the set which were the goldfish, moth, and clown. So it has fond memories amongst games like Junior Scrabble, Mastermind, Chinese Checkers, Old Maid, Monopoly, Hey Hey Witch Way?, Cluedo, Mystery Date, Battleships, Snakes and Ladders, Connect 4, Operation, Destination Moon, Ludo, Pick Up Sticks, Jack Straw, Haunted House, Twister, Yahtzee, Hangman, Slapstick, Barrel of Monkeys, Simon Says…and the list goes on.

Teachatot Game by Holdsons 1960s-1970s  (12)

Luckily the list did go on as they were usually requisitioned on rainy days indoors and given a thorough work out from the beginning of the list through to the end. Some of these are now very desirable to collectors like aforementioned Witch Way?, Simon Says and Haunted House, as well as Creepy Critters and Dark Shadows to a degree. Although as an educational tool for young kids, Teachatot doesn’t really fit into that classification of board games that are suitable for older children but it tends to get lumped into this category not being a toy either.

Teachatot Game by Holdsons 1960s-1970s  (9)

It was first produced by Holdson in 1961, and was probably bordering on dated-looking already when it came out – and I don’t think they changed the design for a good twenty years. It seems to be unique to New Zealand, even though it looked just about as 1950s-era American as you could get. Occasionally they crop up in Australia but I am fairly sure it wasn’t really a thing there.

Teachatot Game by Holdsons 1960s-1970s  (7)

Certainly by the late 1980s it was so out of step as to be laughable. The cover was updated (but not the game pieces) to look like something that was issued by the Burda art department circa 1979 . This game was still in production, now 144 pieces, in the first half of the Noughties albeit with an updated cover, if you can call something that looked like it was designed by Mothercraft circa 1984. Yup, I have not much good to say about everything after the original – they just never seemed to get it right.

Teachatot Game by Holdsons 1960s-1970s  (8)

It now seems to be out of commission permanently in the last few years with sites selling the game last updated between 2005 and 2009 all saying it is out of stock. I guess anything without slutty-looking brats or ultra violence and crime isn’t really in fashion any more. Even my niece needs not one, but two iPads. At the risk of sounding like a fuddy-duddy, what happened to the good old days when a piece of card, some game pieces and a set of dice were adequate entertainment?


All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2012. All rights reserved.

  1. Artwork by Bernard Roundhill, at least the box cover is. Good score.

  2. Oh, Roundhill never occurred to me, probably because it’s so iconic as it’s own entity in my head. Yes now it seems obvious. He is on my shortlist to get to an article on. Earlier you were professing your amazement that there hadn’t been something on his art published with the exhibition Frizzell curated. They did in fact put a small catalogue out for the retrospective by the way, it was called “New Zealand in Bloom”.

    • Curated by Richard Wolfe. I have some good Roundhill stuff for the new book. Yes, Te Papa produced the little exhibition flyer but I’d hesitate personally to use the ‘c’ word (catalgoue) to describe it! Missed opportunity in my view. Nice little article thanks.

  3. Yes a missed opportunity. That Richard Wolfe, he has his finger in every pie – Big Ben, 4’n’ 20, Irvines, Cobblestone, Ernest Adams, Famos, Buttermaid, Freshbake…

  4. Did Roundhill do cover art for The New Zealand Journal of Agriculture? It looks like his work.

    • Not to my knowledge. Most of the covers in the Selling the Dream spread are by Leonard Mitchell. Others who did covers included Pat Conly and Allan Mitchell, but i have never seen a Roundhill one … I dont personally think he did any for that Journal. I think i have most art-based covers of that Journal so would have noticed if he did one. One day I will check again tho.

      • OK. You probably know more than I do. His client list was pretty long. There was a beautiful framed print that came up for auction a few weeks back that had been done for a Four Square campaign . It was so obviously a Roundhill. First week no interest whatsoever…relisted and then frantic bidding. Still went for a song IMO. I have three or so things I think were done by Roundhill for Foodstuffs NZ.

  5. Thanks for the nice article. I liked this one as I had forgotten I had this set. For me I don’t like the art work or particulary liked playing with it 45 years ago.
    Oh, and I liked your Sally Lunn article too. Wish I could get Sally Lunn’s here in Sydney.

    • I have actually seen Sally Lunn for sale recently at Coles or Woolies, as the Boston Bun. Given some of their scandal lately over their bakery goods, I don’t know how true to form it would be, though.

  6. Thanks for reading them Ann! Cheers

  7. Been meaning to ask when you will post on a book called Selling the Dream? 😉 something belongs on your silky pages. Can u direct me to that roundhill image u mentioned pls? Cant find it. Would also love to pay you for a few stellar images for my new book …. Only after top notch stuff, every spread a “wow’. Keen to explore if u open to it.

  8. Sure thing. I have actually given Selling the Dream a brief mention in an essay I recently wrote for the Cultural Mapping Project. As for the Four Square image it was listed on Trade Me a few weeks ago. Probably in the last couple of months of last year. I didn’t buy it myself. It was a girl with a trolley accompanied by her dog and she was going into a Four Square store holding a shopping list. It was very reminiscent of his pastel hued – pin-up work like “Fissionable Material”. You may be able to track the member down who auctioned it and ask them for assistance.

  9. Teachatot. I loved iot mate. For years now I told everyone that would listen that I never learnt to read at school as I was away before I got there and it was all down to Teachatot. Awesome to see this article. I have loved packaging graphics for years as for me they are such a memory flood. Nga mihi mate.

  10. Hi, I’ve been looking into trying to date a slot car set I have that was illustrated by Bernard Roundhill and so checking out his other work. Maybe you could help clarify something for me as with this Teachatot set? I have found elsewhere that this apparently first came out in 1959 in the UK and was produced by “Philmar”, before as they put it sinking without trace only to resurface in Australia/New Zealand. The box art is the same only their image has Phuilmar logo top right on front instead of Holdson, who I assume therefore had taken over rights to the game. If this is Roundhill work, did he do it for Philmar in Britain then before it came to NZ? Not sure if you can help, Thanks.

    • Hi Clayton, thanks for your comment. I’m guessing that Philmar maybe optioned the rights to use the artwork from Holdson – as Roundhill never returned to Britain to my knowledge. Although, he certainly did do commissions for foreign companies over time but this was earlier rather than later as far as I know. Or Holdson took a license from Philmar, and then Philmar liked the art that Holdson did for the product…or perhaps “We need something done, your designer is good, can we use him?” could be a myriad of explanations – but seems to indicate it stemmed from a relationship between the two companies. I’m going with the former since Roundhill’s history with Holdson was a lengthy one. Also keep in mind the 1959 date could be the year the product was first published, not when it was actually physically manufactured. I’d love to see it though, you can email me.

  11. It doesn’t happen to be the same as this one, does it? Also artwork by Roundhill:

    • Hi, it does happen to be the same as that one, in fact it is that one, as I had posted on the Slot car forum. I still have not come up with a specific date this was produced, and if anyone knows of other sets or part sets I am also looking for a few missing pieces.

  12. I have to say, I’ve never seen it before – but it is a very cool game! Good find.

  13. Roundhill also did the artwork for the game pieces because the artwork for the donkey one was included in the Te Papa purchase of his collection.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: