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10 Funny Variations of the Game of Operation


(Photo: Vintage Toys for Sale)

Do you remember Operation? I had a lot of fun playing that game when I was a child. It's an electrical game from the company Milton Bradley that debuted in the 1960s. It's been popular ever since.

The object of the game is to remove mythical body parts (e.g. Butterflies in the Stomach) using tweezers. If you touch the sizes of the holes with the tweezers, an alarm buzzer sounds. Cavity Sam's red nose lights up and you have lost that turn.

The game has inspired people to create alternate versions or fun crafts. Let's look at 10 of them.


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YouTube user FlippyCat, a domino artist in Winnipeg, made this version with thousands of carefully arranged dominoes. Doctor, you must be careful during the surgery. If you slip, you'll trigger a domino collapse.

Virgil Dodson made this costume that is a functional version of the game. When you touch the electrical clamp to the aluminum foil, it activates the buzzer. As you can see from the blood stains, although Dodson is an excellent craftsman, his surgical skills need some work. 

Instructables member magicgolddogs loves to dress up her retrievers, Aladdin and Phoenix, in creative costumes. She made this Operation costume for her pups for one of their birthday parties.

Usually, it is enough to simply give Bender beer when he's feeling ill. At other times, you'll need to cut him open and go to work. Instructables member Icbo1234 used a laser cutter to make this custom Futurama game out of a sheet of acrylic. To play, use the tweezers to remove 5 objects: Fry's stolen wallet, a bottle of beer, a lit cigar, a Robotology symbol, and a gear.


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Would you like to make your own Operation game? Jason Poel Smith of Make has step-by-step instructions that don't require a laser cutter or other complicated and expensive equipment. It looks quite achievable, even for someone as unskilled as myself. So I'm considering making my own custom Operation game for my next project.

Donald Kennedy, who is known on the internet as Kody Koala, is a remarkably creative and precise custom toy maker. He made this beautiful Operation game that looks like Gutsman, a character from the Mega Man franchise.

Sarah Gaskill of London made this wedding cake for two friends who are doctors. What a perfect theme for a wedding cake! It was playable, too.


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The da Vinci Surgical System is a revolutionary robotic interface that performs surgeries. So it's perfect for Operation! Carol Reiley and Tom Tantillo, doctoral students at Johns Hopkins University, used the da Vinci robot at the university's Laboratory for Computational Sensing and Robotics for just that.

Perhaps you can't afford a da Vinci Surgical System. That's okay. There may be an alternative. Russ Martin is the founder of Florida Robotics. He made this giant version of Operation that is played with a robotic arm.

If you've gone to medical school, then you may have noticed that Milton Bradley's original game has an inaccurate depiction of the human body. Artist Jacob Freeny responded by building this anatomically correct version of the game.


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