Barrel of Monkeys (game)

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Barrel of Monkeys is a toy game first created by Lakeside Toys in 1965. It was created by Leonard Marks and sold to Lakeside Toys. Today it is produced by the Milton Bradley Company within the Hasbro corporation. Milton Bradley's editions consist of a toy barrel in either blue, yellow, red, or green. The barrel contains 12 monkeys but can hold 24, their color usually corresponding to the barrel's color. The instructions on the bottom of the barrel state "Dump monkeys onto table. Pick up one monkey by an arm. Hook other arm through a second monkey's arm. Continue making a chain. Your turn is over when a monkey is dropped." In addition to these basic instructions, the barrel also contains instructions for playing alone or with two or more players.

The first speed record for a standard 13 monkey barrel of monkeys game was set by Dr. Gilbert Patterson on November 29 2014. The time was officially recorded by 2:01:88 minutes and has yet to be beaten.

On July 4th 2015 Sir Robert Donald of Orange County set a new unofficial record of 2:00.46. The recorded game is being sent in for review by the North American Barrel of Monkeys Association.

Knock-offs come in additional colors under the name "Monkeys in Barrel".


When Lakeside Toys originally developed the game using S-shaped hooks made from rubber and wire, they had intended to name it "Barrel of Fun," but found that both that name and "Barrel-O-Fun" were already being used by other game manufacturers. Subsequently, the company decided to name their game after the related phrase "more fun than a barrel of monkeys" and remodeled the S-hooks into plastic monkeys. Original inventor was named Leonard Marks of Roslyn, New York.

Initially sold in a cardboard tube, Lakeside quickly produced a two-piece plastic barrel that completely replaced the cardboard version by 1968. Unlike the later mono-colored Giant Barrel of Monkeys, this original version was composed of 12 plastic monkeys in three colors; 4 each in red, blue and yellow.[1]

Use in models[edit]

These Monkeys have also been used for modeling of polyhedral structures, including virus particles and other protein structures [2] In brief, a pair of monkeys can hook around each other in more than eighty different ways, forming quite stable links. The links may be either symmetrical or asymmetrical. Repetition of an asymmetric link generates a helix. A symmetric link is self-limiting, so that the structure cannot grow further unless a new link is used to join symmetric pairs. It is possible to generate structures with point, line, 2D or 3D symmetry by choosing two or three different links (from the 80 or more possibilities) and repeating them systematically. An enormous number of compatible combinations can be found by trial and error. Many are shown in the sources quoted above.

Any repeating unit can in principle be assembled in this way. The only unusual characteristic of the monkey is that its arms, legs, hands and feet are able to twist around each other to form many stable links. In this, they resemble protein molecules which can also link together in many ways. The resulting assemblies simulate biologically important structures, but their symmetry follows general geometric principles. The monkeys provide a 'hands on' approach to understanding these principles. Barrel of Monkeys is also called as BANDAR KEELA and is very famous in south Asian countries.

Other uses[edit]

  • Using a large, lidded plastic or styrofoam cup, players (sitting approximately 3 feet from the cup) take turns tossing monkeys at the cup. 1 point for landing a monkey on the lid. 2 points for getting a "ringer" on the straw. 3 points for hooking the monkey on the side of the lid. 5 points for hooking the monkey on the end of the straw.

In popular culture[edit]

  • In the Toy Story trilogy, Andy has a Barrel of Monkeys.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls Movie, some of Mojo Jojo's minions (the Go-Go Patrol), bears a resemblance to Barrel of Monkeys.
  • In May 2012, Dartmouth College student Parker Phinney led a fundraising group that built a chain of 5,990 monkeys, the longest ever.[3][4]
  • In the film Iron Man 3, Tony Stark likens a mid-air rescue to playing Barrel of Monkeys.
  • In the game show Family Game Night, one family plays the game for a prize by arranging the monkeys from least to greatest.
  • The 12 Monkeys (movie) and TV show's time travel stories borrow Barrel of Monkey's imagery and name. Thematically, the challenge of linking a chain of toy monkeys echoes the chains of causality driving the storylines.
  • In the television show iCarly, Carly's apartment is decorated with giant monkeys resembling the game pieces.


  1. ^ Rich, Mark (May 2007). "The Games We Played: Barrel of Monkeys". Knucklebones 2 (3): 66–67. 
  2. ^ Green, N. Michael. "Monkeys Ape Molecules". Nature (London) Vol.217. Retrieved 2007-06-21. 
  3. ^ Brady Carlson, "For Dartmouth Student, Record-Setting Chain More Fun Than (Yep) A Barrel of Monkeys", All Things Considered, May 14, 2012 (audio).
  4. ^ Meghan Pierce, "He's monkeying with a lifelong goal", New Hampshire Union Leader, May 10, 2012.