November 19, 2023
November 19, 2023
One of the hottest 90s mystery games, Dream Phone gets players to discover which “cute” boy has a crush on them by calling different characters for clues with an electronic pink phone. Players can use special cards to get an advantage as they try to guess who the secret admirer is before their opponents.
In 1991, Milton Bradley released the ultimate sleepover staple; Dream Phone. The game combined every 90s girl’s two perceived favorite pastimes: crushing on boys and talking on the phone. The game’s object is to find out which guy (out of 24 eligible teenage bachelors) likes you through a process of elimination. Every player tries to guess the identity of the same secret admirer, and whoever figures it out first wins the entire game.
Like Clue and other deduction games, players would gather information by calling different boys in a race to make the correct guess. The game was highly targeted toward tween girls, and it quickly flew off the shelves and into homes across the country.
From the kitchy Dream Phone commercial to the teen heartthrobs, we’re taking a look back at the 90s Dream Phone board game.
The Dream Phone board game was released in 1991 by Milton Bradley. The game’s creator, Michael Gray, is also the mastermind behind the classic 1988 game Mall Madness.
Gray came up with the concept for Dream Phone under some pretty interesting circumstances. Milton Bradley tasked Gray’s team to design an electronic game centered around a phone – but no one could develop a solid idea. The team was running out of time, and Milton Bradley expected a pitch.
Gray came up with the idea of girls calling up teen boys and getting clues to figure out who liked them. He suggested that players would have to wade through clues to determine who the secret admirer is. The team created the game board and a coordinating grid to assign features to each guy (such as what sports they enjoy or what clothing they wear). The game makers also added a score pad so players could cross out clues, narrow down their options, and make the correct guess before their opponents.
The team pitched the mystery crush game to Milton Bradley. At the time, Dream Phone fit perfectly in most young girls’ worlds. Just like in a teen TV show of the era, girls could indulge in sharing secrets about boys and speculating on who likes them.
Dream Phone is all about guessing who the secret admirer is through a process of elimination. Up to four players can play in each round.
Here’s how the game works.
To start, press the New Game button on the phone and set it in the tray in the middle of the board. Each player gets one Speakerphone, Share A Secret, and Mom Says Hang Up! Card. Shuffle the photo cards and deal three faceup to each player. Place the rest of the cards face down on the tray.
There are 24 boyfriend candidates, and one has a crush on you. To find out who it is, players “call” the guys on the large, hot pink phone to hear clues from each potential suitor.
When a player calls one of the boys, they’ll get clues to help them identify the secret admirer. The clues are always negative.
For example, a clue could be, “I know where he hangs out. He’s not at the movies.” In this case, the player must look around the board to see which boys are at the movie theatre and eliminate them from the list of potential secret admirers. Other clues could be about the secret admirer’s preferred clothes, sports, foods, or special hangouts. For example, a boy might say something like, “this guy doesn’t eat pizza,” so the players eliminate all of the guys that like pizza. Keep in mind some of the boys won’t give you any relevant information.
The boys would hang out at some very 90s cliché “cool” spots, like ‘Reel Movies,’ ‘Jim’s Gym,’ and ‘Eats Snack Shop.’ The Dream Phone guys touted the classic hairstyles of 90s pop culture (think bowl cuts, curtains and flattops) and had generic names like Spencer, Dan, Jamal, and Gary.
Three cards give players a unique ability. Each special card can only be used once per game.
Each turn consists of four steps:
When a player believes they know who the secret admirer is, they can make a special guess call to that boy’s number. Make a guess call to the boy, and if you hear him say, “You’re right! I really like you!” you win the game! The game changes each time you play. Boys give different hints, and the secret admirer changes too.
The 24 Dream Phone guys are:
Steve, Mark, Dave, Gary, Paul, Wayne, Scott, Alan, Dan, Spencer, Jason, John, James, Dale, Tyler, Matt, George, Tony, Mike, Jamal, Bob, Carlos, Phil, Bruce
There’s not a ‘Dream Phone guys where are they now’ database floating around, but there are plenty of fan conspiracy theories about what might have happened to the guys. Looking back, fans of the original game have noticed that some of the Dream Boys looked more like adult men than teenagers.
Need a refresher on the lines the boys say? Does “I know who it is, but I’m not telling! HA! HA!” or “The guy who has a crush on you doesn’t like baseball” ring any bells?
Many people who grew up in the 90s have fond memories of playing Dream Phone. If you’re looking to relive the 90s most popular sleepover game, marketplaces like Amazon and eBay have the original version for around $75 up to $250 depending on condition.
Yes! The creator, Mike Gray, admitted Clue was a huge inspiration for the electronic Dream Phone game.
The original electronic Dream Phone board game is no longer in print, but you can find derivative versions of the game today. The Dream Phone Secret Admirer board game by John Adams is very similar to the 90s game except with some different features and a more modern aesthetic (the phone is a mobile phone rather than the brick-style handset of the original Dream Phone).
If you can look past some of its outdated elements, Dream Phone can still be a fun game for young girls. However, the original game can also be enjoyed by adults who want to relive a bit of their childhood.
Lee is curator of nostalgia and a long-time collector of loveable junk. An 80s baby, 90s kid, he knows he had it good when it came to Saturday morning cartoons. Spends his life trying to recapture the dopamine hit of playing Game Boy for the first time and believes Beanie Babies will make a fortuitous comeback. Obsessed with everything (and anything) retro, he is your trusted guide to a world of 90s toys, games and collectables.
Every so often we like to send out emails letting you know what’s up in the world of 90s Toys. No spam, promise! Unsubscribe whenever you want.
Check it out!
November 19, 2023
November 19, 2023