It would definitely make Clint Eastwood's day. Not to mention Charles Bronson's. And if Bernhard Goetz is on your Christmas list, have no fear: The Subway Vigilante Game is here.
The brainchild of Bethesda-based "Mad Mike" Marine, author of "101 Ways to Get Rid of a Lettuce Head Doll," the game is designed around a map of the New York City subway system, with the spaces representing the different stations. Players start at Brooklyn equipped with a gun and six bullets. The object, as in life, is to get to the Bronx alive!
Players roll the die, draw cards ("Put Gun to Punk's Head . . . Move Ahead 2 Spaces") and advance along the board. The game pieces are miniature metal snub-nosed pistols, revolvers and Saturday night specials. A player who runs out of bullets can be mugged, and therefore loses. Especially after drawing the card "Punk Shot But Still Moving . . . Use 2 Bullets."
"That's the worst card you can get in the game," says Marine, who agrees that crime is ugly, but hey, somebody's gotta make a buck off it.
"This is a game that's fun. I play it with my 5-year-old son," says the 31-year-old Marine. "It's supposed to be humorous."
But some merchants don't think it's a joke. Several stores, including Macy's, have refused to stock the game. "We have had people who say, 'We don't want this in our store.' It's a little bit controversial," Marine says.
But at the Compleat Strategist in Manhattan, sales are brisk.
"People look at it and say, " 'Wow! This is a great Christmas gift,' " says store manager Danny Kilbert.
Marine, who claims to have sold 1,500 of the games at $9.95 each, says he was inspired by the arrest last year of so-called "subway vigilante" Bernhard Goetz, who shot several youths on a New York subway after they allegedly asked him for money.
"Are you fed up with seeing punks and hoodlums terrorizing the weak and infirm?" says the blurb on the back of the game box. "Do you feel that our criminal justice system is too lenient with these troublemakers? Do you wish you could FIGHT BACK? Now everyone can be a vigilante."
The game is educational, reasons Marine, because "in real life you have to protect yourself."
A certified public accountant who is employed as director of fiscal affairs for the Washington Home, Marine says he knows the game is not for everyone:
"Some people say it's sick, it's distasteful. That limits the market some."
At the Compleat Strategist in Falls Church, manager Temis de la Pena says he has sold only one Subway Vigilante Game since August.
"It's a great item," he says. "People like to pick it up and laugh at it, but there seems to be very little demand for it."
But the real reason it hasn't sold, de la Pena says, is that it's not a very good game.
"It's very hard to win," he says. "You generally run out of bullets before the end."