The creation of Guess Wu? leads Billy Langsworthy to ponder whether the biggest toy firms will ever embrace properties that aren't suitable for their usual target audience.
I can’t imagine that Ora and Theo Coster even saw their now iconic Guess Who? being given a Wu-Tang Clan makeover, but it’s happened, and it’s a glorious thing.
Yes, Guess Wu? (the name alone justifies its existence), created by Noisey and illustrated by Dan Evans, sees players try discover to identity of their opponent's mystery rapper with questions like 'Did your rapper appear on GZA’s 1999 album Beneath the Surface?' and 'Is your rapper related to another member of Wu-Tang?'
It's not the first time Guess Who? has been adapted for a more adult audience, as Joe Stone's Pulp Fiction Guess Who? can testify.
"I've had a load of people get in touch asking to buy a copy," Stone told ToyNews.
"For the first few weeks after I posted it online then I was getting requests almost every day, and even now over a year afterwards then I still get people asking every few weeks or so. The number of requests is probably in the high dozens at this point. I even had an art gallery get in touch asking if they could feature it as a exhibit, which unfortunately never amounted to anything. Never heard anything Hasbro, though (or Quentin Tarantino for that matter)."
Now obviously, neither of these have been commercial ventures. Stone created Pulp Fiction Guess Who? as a birthday present for a friend and Noisey has the Guess Wu? cards on its site for fans to print off and stick in the game spaces if they want.
It does raise the question though of whether we’ll live to see a toy or game firm take a chance on a brand that goes against the ‘family values’ of a company.
LEGO is an interesting case. When it first opened the floodgates for public submissions with its LEGO Cuusoo (now LEGO Ideas) vehicle, one of the first projects to gain traction was a LEGO Shaun of the Dead set back in 2011. It achieved 10,000 supporters, was viewed over 450,000 times and garnered around 1,000 comments (mostly supportive). Unfortunately, it was deemed inappropriate for the core LEGO audience.
“LEGO CUUSOO gives the opportunity to submit product ideas, however all LEGO products, regardless of age target, must be content appropriate for our core audience,” read a statement from the Cuusoo team.
“With this in mind we have decided that – good though the model is – the film Shaun of the Dead contains content that is not appropriate for our core target audience of children ages six to 11.”
In 2013, a LEGO Ghostbusters set landed on LEGO Ideas, swiftly reached 10,000 supporters and made it onto shelves. While I believe all kids should be forced to watch Ghostbusters at least once, the BBFC rated it a 12 when it was re-submitted for cinema classification in 2011.
(For anyone wondering why, the BBFC said: ‘Guidelines at PG' state there may be 'Mild sex references and innuendo only'. The film contains a number of sex references, both verbal and visual, that exceed this allowance. Most notable is a scene in which it is implied that a ghost is performing oral sex on a man. As the man's trousers and zip are unfastened, the camera moves to his face as he sinks back on the bed with his eyes crossed in pleasure. Later, a woman who has been possessed by a demon rolls about on a bed with a man and tells him: "I want you inside me." So there you go.)
Fast-forward to February 2014, when a LEGO The Big Bang Theory did the same. It hit LEGO Ideas, swiftly reached 10,000 supporters and made it onto shelves, despite, like Ghostbusters, maybe not being a favourite among LEGO’s core target audience of children ages six to 11.
So, has LEGO’s approach changed?
“Yes and no,” LEGO CEO Jørgen Von Knudstorp told ToyNews earlier this year.
“A good example of it is LEGO Ghostbusters. I hadn’t spoken about Ghostbusters since my childhood but that item has been extremely strong and we’ve been surprised with how popular it is. That’s an example of where we thought we’re only doing this for the adult fans but looking at the numbers, quite a few kids are into it as well.”
So, with LEGO admitting that it is open to adult properties, could other major firms follow suit.
We’ve already had official Guess Who? games featuring Disney icons, Disney Princesses, My Little Pony characters and Skylander stars.
Could Pulp Fiction and Wu-Tang Clan ever follow suit? Probably not. They're even less child-friendly than the likes of Ghostbusters or The Big Bang Theory and the audience for those two is likely bigger than those championing a cult hit like Pulp Fiction.
There is also likely a crossover between The Big Bang Theory fans and adult audiences that enjoy board game nights and buy LEGO sets.
So despite Hasbro picking up a game like Pie Face due to it becoming a social media sensation, it remains to be seen whether the online popularity of fan creations like Pulp Fiction Guess Who? (‘Does he like look a bitch?’ remains an incredible tagline) and Guess Wu? can spur them into reality.
Would the Wu-Tang Clan fan base ever opt to spend an evening playing Guess Who? Probably not.
But a game of Guess Wu? Well…
Anyway, I'll leave you to enjoy the rest of your Thursday with a dollop of C.R.E.A.M. Enjoy.