What’s in Ned’s Head? is one of the most bizarre games I have ever played, and it works very well on a level few consider for gaming. Ned’s Head consists simply of a somewhat monstrous plush folding head, a slew of weird plastic items, and a deck of cards with each card matching an item. Combining these, we get something almost magical in its weird sense of fun.
Game play is straightforward: Unfold Ned’s head, which pops up on a wire system into something of a tent with entry points at his ears and nose. The fifteen “silly things” are put into the head and shuffled to ensure randomization. Each player draws a card, and the round is then declared with everyone calling out “What’s in Ned’s Head!” sticking their hands inside the head. The game is tactile, with a few pieces of logic and skill but also plenty of luck. Hands dash about, feeling the various items until a player decides he or she has chosen the card’s match. First player to pull out his or her item correctly wins. If a player draws out an incorrect item, that person being disqualified for the round ala Clue rules. If no one gets the correct item, Ned himself is declared the winner. A short online video shows the game in play.
It sounds very simple, and it is, being a game for two to four kids ages four and up, but What’s in Ned’s Head? carries several additional layers that turn it into an impressive game. A single round can last a few minutes at most, but the rules are expanded for a longer game in which players collect cards and the one with the most after several rounds wins. Some kids might get bored after a round or two, while others would want to keep going for hours. For these reasons, What’s in Ned’s Head has won a plethora of awards, including the FamilyFun Toy of the Year for 2003.