Invicta Mastermind game

Invicta Deluxe Mastermind, 1970s

The Invicta Mastermind game was a huge seller in the 70s. In spite of the name, it had no connection with the Mastermind television programme originally hosted by Magnus Magnussen, although many people bought the game thinking it did.

The game was invented by Israeli postmaster and telecommunications expert, Mordecai Meirowitz. He initially found it difficult to get a manufacturer to take on his idea, but eventually managed to persuade small UK games maker, Invicta to make it.

The game went on sale in the early 70s and was a huge success. The box depicting a bearded man and woman in Asian dress carried an air of mysteriousness about it, suggesting supreme intelligence was needed to play the game.

Indeed Mastermind was taken seriously by the academic world. In 1977, Donald Knuth, the American computer scientist responsible for some learned texts in the world of computing, published a formula that guaranteed a correct guess in five goes.

Mastermind was also recognised by the toy industry.  In 1973 Invtica was awarded 'Game of the Year' for Mastermind.  Look out for pre-1973 versions that do not have the 'Game of the Year' award on the box.

Mastermind is played by two opponents. One sets a secret code of four coloured pegs, whilst the other tries to guess it. The code setter, marks his opponents attempts with white or black pegs, indicating correct colour or correct colour and correct position.

Invicta Word Mastermind, 1970s

With such success from the original Mastermind game, Invicta made a multiplicity of different versions including:

  • Word Mastermind
  • Mini Mastermind
  • Super Mastermind
  • Deluxe Mastermind
  • Number Mastermind
  • Mastermind 44
  • Grand Mastermind

The Word Mastermind game replaced the coloured pegs with letters and Number Mastermind used numbers instead. Deluxe Mastermind offered a code made up of 5 coloured pegs chosen from 8 colours; a total of 32,000 permutations. Super Mastermind was similar to Deluxe Mastermind, but with different packaging. Mini Mastermind was a pocket version and Mastermind 44 was for four players, rather than two.

When more versions came onto the market, the original Mastermind was later packaged as 'Original Mastermind'.

Invicta Electronic Mastermind, 1977 (image TFCToys)

Electronic Mastermind

In the 70s, pocket calculators and digital watches were capturing the public's imagination. Toy and game makers were not far behind in exploiting this futuristic market. In 1977 Invicta joined the electronic games market when they launched Electronic Mastermind. Electronic Mastermind looked like a pocket calculator and it used similar circuitry. The code was now a number rather than a series of coloured pegs, but the principle was the same.

More on Invicta Mastermind

Check out www.tnelson.demon.co.uk/mastermind/images1.html if you want to see the art work on all the boxes, a great resource for collectors.

Buy Invicta Mastermind game

If you fancy indulging in a spot of 70s nostalgia or getting to grips with a serious mathematical puzzle, then Mastermind can be found on eBay for a few pounds. Pay between £5 and £10 for an Original Mastermind. Deluxe and Super Mastermind also sells for similar prices. Electronic Mastermind can be worth a bit more - £10 to £20. This is really a bargain compared to how much some electronic toys from the 70s can be worth. It is sure to rise in value.

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Add your comments on Invicta Mastermind

"where can I buy the white and black pegs for mastermind. I have lost too many of them over the years/" ellen gobin 21/04/2016
"How many pegs of each colour & type were in the original invicta super master mind packaging?" MK 27/09/2016
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