Pardon Richard J. Marinaccio for waxing sentimental – and poetic – about his favorite Monopoly game token, the thimble.
Often bypassed by Monopoly players for the more popular Scottie dog, race car or top hat, the thimble remains Marinaccio’s favorite piece, the one he used to become America’s current Monopoly king four years ago.
But now, alas, the thimble could be headed for extinction. Hasbro Inc., the maker of the board game, is sponsoring an online vote to determine the least popular of the eight Monopoly tokens and replace it with another.
After all, how many people use a thimble these days?
Marinaccio, a corporate attorney with the Phillips Lytle law firm, held a news conference Friday afternoon in HSBC Tower to lobby Western New York and America for his campaign, “Thumbs Up For The Thimble.”
He explained how he became so attached to the symmetrical, dimpled token, starting in April 2009, during the national Monopoly championship in Washington, D.C.
Others went for the more glamorous pieces, such as the race car and dog.
“The thimble was just sitting there, like the underdog piece,” he said. “I chose it because it wasn’t one of the favorites. I wanted to make it my own.”
So with the thimble as a good-luck charm, Marinaccio won that tournament and also placed third in the world championships later that year in Las Vegas.
Marinaccio can rattle off all the thimble’s main advantages:
It’s the tallest token, the easiest to move around the board. It’s symmetrical, so you don’t have to worry about it facing backwards.
And younger Monopoly players can even fit it on their thumb.
Marinaccio may be a corporate attorney, but he sounded more like a politician, when he refused to say which of the eight current tokens he’d send directly to Monopoly jail, forever.
“Everybody has their own favorite piece, and everyone has memories tied to that piece, the way I’m attached to the thimble,” he explained. “I wouldn’t feel right sending those memories into extinction.”
Hasbro, maker of the board game that dates back to 1935, announced Wednesday that it would replace one of the eight pieces: thimble, wheelbarrow, race car, Scottie, boot, battleship, top hat and iron.
That losing token then will be replaced by one of five new candidates: cat, toy robot, diamond ring, guitar and helicopter.
Voting continues through Feb. 5 on Facebook, www.facebook.com/Monopoly, and fans may tweet on the subject, using the hashtag #tokenvote.
In early voting, the wheelbarrow, iron and boot seem to be in the biggest trouble, followed closely by the thimble.
This may be a laughing matter, but it’s drawn the attention of pregame.com, a sports betting news site that has offered odds on the vote.
The wheelbarrow, at 2-1, is the big favorite to be replaced, followed by the iron at 5-1 and Marinaccio’s beloved thimble at 6-1.
R.J. Bell, the founder of pregame.com which set the odds after a request from USA Today, came up with some witty lines for the various tokens.
His comment on the wheelbarrow: “Unstable board play; even less attractive to aspiring tycoons in today’s wired world.”
The thimble: “Longer odds than iron, because younger generation may not recognize.”
And the iron: “Who wants to iron [in] 2013?”
Bell cited the bittersweet nature of the vote. Some items may be outdated, like the thimble or iron, but their most avid fans may not want to let go of those pieces.
“My sense is that there’s a lot of nostalgia around Monopoly for a lot of people,” he said.
But he added that it’s a great public relations move, getting people to think and talk about the game and tweaking the product to make it more appealing to consumers.
The 30-year-old Marinaccio, patiently fielding a surprisingly large number of questions from reporters, did offer a few tips about his Monopoly strategy that helped him become national champion. He retains that ranking, because no championships have been held since 2009.
“My top advice is to play your opponent,” he said. “Learn what their interests are, find their weaknesses and expose them.”
Then he talked about his victory at the national championship, sounding more like a stock analyst than a Monopoly whiz, as he explained how he traded many of the game’s orange properties for the greens.
“I think the greens were being undervalued, and they were performing well.”
Marinaccio again urged the public to rally behind his favorite token.
“This game belongs to America,” he said. “That’s why we’re calling on America now to save the thimble.
“I think it’s great to have the opportunity to fight for the thimble,” he added. “But I can’t do it alone.”