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Buckaroo: The Bad Tempered Bucking Mule Game

Updated: Mar 17, 2023



This much loved two-player board game hit the toy shop shelves in 1970, and Buckaroo has been enjoyed by children and their parents for over 50 years.


Buckaroo’s success was instant, but it ran into problems when production stopped abruptly following an unfortunate turn of events. The Games Hut takes a deep dive into the mule bucking children's game playing sensation that is known as Buckaroo.


The Game Creators & Their Concept


Buckaroo’s game play is set during the Yukon and Klondike Gold Rush era of 1896 to 1900, and its creators based the game on a mule.


The mule is an equine hybrid between a donkey and a horse, and was used during the gold rush because of its hardy nature. But it was well known for its stubbornness, bad temper and willingness to buck out at passers-by when angered.


So with this in mind Buckaroo’s visionaries created a game where the Prospectors - the game players - load up their mule with objects and tools used during the Yukon and Klondike Gold Rush.


Sounds simple, but there was a twist, and Buckaroo The Saddle Stacking Game With The Moody Mule was released by Ideal Toy Company in 1970.


Game Play


The original game version featured a white mule with a two dimensional head, a saddle and eleven objects.


The game was set by holding the game base with one hand, using the other hand to push the mule’s head back as far as it would go, then gently releasing. This action engaged the patented spring mechanism.


The first player places the saddle on the mule’s back, and the two players then take turns to carefully place the objects - of different sizes and weights - one at a time onto the mule’s saddle. The objects and tools used during game play are: shovel, water bottle, pan, lamp, bed roll, rope, dynamite, hat, holster with gun, guitar and rifle box.


The mule’s spring mechanism is triggered by vibration. If a player stacks the objects unevenly, or too roughly, the moody mule bucks out his hind legs, and throw the loaded objects into the air.


The player to successfully place the last remaining object onto the mule is the winner, but if a player causes the mule to buck they were the instant loser.


The rules for playing Buckaroo! are straightforward, a steady hand is needed, and this was sometimes very frustrating for young players.


Production And Setbacks


Although an instant and continued success for over 35 years, the game of Buckaroo suffered a serious setback in 2006, and production halted.


Press and television media reported a 8 year old boy from North Carolina, USA, had received a serious eye injury when playing the game. The poor lad was struck in the eye when one of the objects was thrown from the bucking mule, and he required emergency surgery. Buckaroo was now considered a dangerous game and production stopped, and it was thought this might be the end of the Buckaroo.


Buckaroo was not down and out for long though, and the moody mule made a return two years later in 2008, with modified instructions to include safety warnings.


Buckaroo Evolved


The game has evolved over the years, the mule has changed from white to brown and moved to a refreshed 3 dimensional cartoon like creature in the early 2000’s. The new mule with the grinning face looks more cheeky than moody, but this look has remained the same for almost 20 years.


Buckaroo now has three sensitivity settings, so younger players with less dexterity can fully enjoy the game. The sensitivity switch located on the side of the mule adjusts the location where the blanket is attached on the mule’s back, making it much easier to play on the lowest setting.


The Games Hut


The Games Hut is one of the world's largest suppliers of original replacement board game parts.


We stock over 10,000 individual original recycled game parts – taken from over 700 board games.


We have helped more than 4,000 customers from over 30 countries worldwide find the game parts they had either lost or broke.


If you’ve lost or broken a game part from Buckaroo, or any other game, get in touch.


If you liked this Blog Article why not take a look at The Fascinating History Of Monopoly or Don’t Let Missing Board Game Pieces Ruin Your Fun.

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