Games Gazette Logo

Klaus & Benjamin Teuber  present A Silly Putty Game for 2-4 SMUGGLERS Aged 8 Years and Upwards from KOSMOS




SMUGGLERS are renown for bringing clandestine goods and contraband through a country’s borders, hiding things in the most clever of places and objects. One of the best bands of Smugglers around is in need of a new recruit and so they have set up a series of tests for wanna-be-villains, with the brightest of the bunch being offered the opportunity to join the gang.

To become the newest member of Potato Charley’s gang the players have to be the first to collect tokens; 7 Sweet or 7 Sour or at least 5 of each Sweet and Sour tokens. To do this they have to pass the tests, locate the treats and dodge the stink bomb traps.

Players have a screen behind which they hide their intentions, their contraband (they begin with 1 of each red, purple and yellow) and their chosen ball of colourful putty.


The centre of the table has the training fence, smuggling aid and game board positioned so that all potential smugglers can reach it. These pieces are assembled as shown in the rules booklet. There is also a scale (for weighing contraband as size matters) and some smuggle tokens, the hourglass and the die. The first player (the last player to have smuggled goods into the country, or perhaps just decide by die roll) takes one Sweet treat token and the next player takes one Sour treat token, third and fourth players repeat this order. The Smuggler token sits on the Rolling track, this is so called because as the piece reaches the end you simply roll the track around and the Smuggler (st)rolls back down the line. Play then begins with the first player, playing in turns, and turns have three phases, Skill Test, Ranking and Inspection.

The die is rolled the Smuggler moves and the space he ends up on is aligned with the hole in the Fence that is to be used this turn. If a red number is rolled on the die the Smuggler doesn’t move, this is the phase where the players have to hide their contraband in a ball of putty. They are limited in time, the hourglass determines how long is available, and they are trying to create the largest ball of putty that will fit through the fence hole. Inside the putty they have to hide one, only one, of the three gems they began with; red being sweet, yellow sour and purple is a stink bomb.

When the timer stops or all players are ready they take turns to gently roll their putty ball from the start space on the rolling track towards the fence hole being used this turn. If the ball rolls through the fence okay the player picks it up and positions it on a stool in the bar (the board). If the ball gets stuck in the fence the player may take one attempt to re-shape it so that it fits through, but they may not add or remove any putty. If it still doesn’t go through cleanly it is placed in with the junk.


Of the balls that rolled through the players determine which is the largest by using the scale, the biggest being the heaviest so make sure you set the scale level (or in your favour if you are a naughty smuggler – of course we don’t advocate this as it’s cheating but then who says Smugglers are law abiding citizens anyway ?) Place the balls from largest to smallest on the comfy chairs in the lounge.

Depending on the number of Smugglers involved the players inspect each other’s putty balls by choosing one of them and stating clearly what they believe to be inside, Sweet, Sour or Stink Bomb. If they are right they receive a token of the respective colour, if they are wrong they receive nothing but the Smuggler gains the reward. Stink Bombs are either collected when guessed correctly or a Smuggle token is lost on a wrong guess.

It’s all pretty straight-forward fun and is best played with youngsters who like moulding plasticine (or putty). We play our own variant where the sculpting do not have to be round, they can be any shape, as long as they fit through the fence hole. This has meant many odd shaped dogs and horses and fat bellied people crossing through the fence but it has added to the fun a hundred-fold. When arriving at the fence the Players must push or pull but not change the shape in any way of their sculpting to get it through the hole.


Thirty-eight years ago Kosmos published Barbarossa which was another putty/plasticine based game designed by Klaus Teuber. Sculpting putty was fun then and it is still fun now especially, as I say, when you have youngsters to laugh along with. Kosmos also make a sculpting game called DOHDLES, again designed by Klaus Teuber. 


DOHDLES and SMUGGLERS can be found for £32.50 each on Amazon. Both of these games are fun but rather expensive for children’s games, which is essentially what they are, especially when you see that (also on Amazon) you can get 16 different colours of soft modelling clay for just over a tenth of the price, and imagination costs nothing. Sculpting games are lots of fun and of course once you have one of them you can let your imagination run wild. Adults can, will, and most certainly do, draw on more vivid and wilder thoughts when playing in adult-only sculpting games, that is, after all, human nature.

So my personal view on SMUGGLERS is that it contains many card pieces that are quite firm but will not stand up to being manhandled by youngsters – it bends and splits  - and it has about £4.00 worth of putty – thus you are paying for the production, design, and Klaus Teuber’s expertise as a renown games designer. From a game designer’s viewpoint I can understand the retail price because excellent artwork and graphic design do not come easy. But from a customer’s viewpoint I see a box of cardboard bits that an 8 year old will quickly discard and five small pieces of brightly coloured putty. My guess is that it is primarily aimed for the mass market stores like Toys R Us where Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents shop when they are looking for a bright, large box of fun for a birthday or Christmas present for kids.

Much as I like, we like, SMUGGLERS, even in today’s market it is hard to justify the price; for example, you could buy MONOPOLY and CLUEDO (ie both games) from Amazon for the same amount and they also have numerous and excellent game pieces, quality graphics and design. I like playing SMUGGLERS a lot with the grandkids and we’ve had some great naughty fun sessions with all-adult games (as I said, we change the rules to suit our purposes).

Available from Amazon but remember to check out your Local Game Store first

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015