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Store Owners Not Sure What to Make of Goetz-Inspired ‘Vigilante Game’

December 19, 1985

NEW YORK (AP) _ It may take putting a gun to people’s heads to get them to sell a new board game inspired by the exploits of New York’s subway gunman, Bernhard Goetz, some store owners believe.

The Subway Vigilante Game, designed and marketed by a Washington, D.C., accountant who goes by the name of ″Mad Mike,″ offers a lighthearted look at vigilantism for those whose sense of humor runs toward the macabre.

Reactions from store owners are mixed. Danny Kilbert, owner and manager of the Compleat Strategist, a chain of game stores headquartered in New York, said Wednesday he has sold 60 to 80 Subway Vigilante games out of one mid- Manhattan store.

″A lot of people come in and say it’s tasteless,″ Kilbert said. ″But there are a lot of games that are tasteless.″

Shelley Wolinsky, manager of Pastimes, a game store in Queens, said she ordered a few copies of the game and sold them quickly.

Still, she said, ″We don’t know whether we’ll reorder it or not. I didn’t like the idea that much ... and some of the people who were looking at it were not the type of people we’d like to have in the store.″

The originator, Mike Marine, conceded in a telephone interview that the game won’t sell as well outside New York,

That’s a point also made by Anita Lutz, manager of the Bay Company, a tourist shop in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. ″We’re not having any movement on that item and we won’t be reordering it,″ she said.

The game board includes a New York subway map, and tiny lead guns are moved around the board. Lead bullets are the currency, and players select cards labeled ″Punk″ and ″Make My Day″ when they land on the appropriate spaces.

″Put gun to punk’s head - move ahead two spaces,″ reads a typical ″Make My Day″ card. ″Punk shot, but still moving - use two bullets,″ reads a ″Punk″ card.

Marine is the 31-year-old fiscal affairs director for a Washington nursing home and hospice who wrote ″101 Ways to Get Rid of a Lettuce Head Doll,″ a sendup of Cabbage Patch Kids.

He describes himself as a liberal, does not own a gun and has ridden New York’s subways only as a tourist. He said he has sold about 1,500 games in ″a smattering″ of stores nationwide, and hopes to mount a stepped-up marketing campaign soon. The game retails for $9.95.

Marine hopes sales will pick up if Goetz goes on trial on charges of attempted murder of the four teen-agers he shot on a subway train last December. A judge is scheduled to rule next month on whether the case should go to trial.

Marine is aware of the game’s serious undertones. He is a member of the National Organization for Victims Assistance, and has strong views about the frailties of the criminal justice system.

Responding to charges that the game is tasteless, Marine says, ″I have a 5-year-old son, and we play Subway Vigilante and he loves it. I’m trying to come up with entertainment that’s fun, it’s relaxing and you don’t have to be entirely sober to play. There’s not a lot of strategy with ’Subway.‴

And if Subway Vigilante backfires, Marine has a second game ready to hit the market in January. The object of ″The Year of the Yuppie,″ Marine says, ″is to climb up the ladder of success.″

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