"Mr. Ree! The Fireside Detective!" was the first board game of its kind. Touted by Selchow and Righter as a "total thriller", this who-dunnit was the game that inspired an entire genre of mystery games, including "Mr. Who" and "Clue"!
Originally the game was packaged in a 12-inch square indigo blue box with gold edges that housed the eight character tokens made of colored cardboard tubes (one version had wooden tubes) with removable caps, the 4 metal weapons, (apparently these were changed to cardboard during the war years), instructions, and a deck of 102 playing cards.
The pack of 102 game cards went to 100. The character tokens and the weapons remained virtually unchanged. The Game board underwent only minor changes, still signed under the title seal with the artist's name, William Longyear. Again, the game took off in popularity, readily embraced by a new generation of board game lovers.
Once again, in 1957, Mr. Ree had another makeover, making the package more busy and colorful, to attract the eye better than the outmoded plain green packaging. The game board went from a somber dark 1920's Victorian manor house to a brightly colored 40's style California rambler with a souped up jalopy in the driveway in place of the sleek 1930's Rolls that had graced the drive in the 1937 and 1946 editions. The title seal showing the game's name, the patents pending, and the signature of Mr. Longyear was now gone.
The tokens were changed to meet the demands of a more sophisticated game playing generation, who wanted more realism. The cardboard tubes were replaced by plastic stand-up cutouts of each character, with a plastic hollow base to hold the weapons. The metal weapons were the same, but the paper and the pictures on the playing cards were now changed. Mr. Ree was now a snappy Sherlock Holmes dude with a pipe and a British multi-caped top coat.
The "thriller" game of the 30's and 40's was now the "fun and exciting" family game of the 50's. But Mr. Ree still remains one of the most rare and sought-after vintage board games since it went out of print in the late 50's, paving the way for other who-dunnits like Clue. If you can find one, buy it. It is still a great game for the family, and there are still enough out there that you can find them on eBay from time to time. Enjoy!