How to Play "Statue" (Hybrid Children's Game)




When I was in elementary school in Northern Ontario, Canada, a group of friends would get together sometimes and play a game we called "statue". This was a sort of hybrid between another freezing-in-position game called [ "statues"], a game called "swing the statues" and charades. Unlike the other games, this one focused on role-playing and did not have a competitive aspect about it (i.e. no one was "out"). It does not appear anyone has documented this version of the game, and it may have been a local invention.

Overview: The game is set up as a store scenario. There is a dealer (or curator) who has a collection of statues (actually, they are more like role-playing machines) and a customer who is interested in buying one of the statues. Each "statue" gets a chance to demonstrate his or her abilities at the cue of the "dealer", and the "buyer" chooses whichever statue he/she likes best, and then the roles are switched around. The game can be played in about 10 minutes, or however long the players want it to last, and the game can be also be a good ice-breaker at adult events. You need at least four players - one two act as the "spinner/seller (or curator)", one to act as the "customer", and the remaining players are the "statues".

Note: It is possible that there is a French-Canadian version of this game under a different title, as it was played in a bilingual area of the province, but I have never heard of the game referred to any other name than "statue". I would be interested to know if anyone else played a similar game.

(Map of Northern Ontario from Wikipedia - created by user Vidioman, public domain.)

Step 1: Players and Location

As a children's game, I would say that an ideal minimum age to play is around 6 years old, as it requires role-playing and taking turns. It was played up to the ages of 11 or 12, but there are really no age limits on the game. For adults, it would be good a good icebreaker at conferences.

Minimum Players: 4

Roles: Spinner/Dealer, Buyer, Statues

Suitable locations: A grassy lot or backyard, Gymnasium, large rec room free of obstacles and fragile items

Step 2: The Spin

This part of the game most resembles "swing the statue", which is why I think this game may have been made up of other children's games at some point.

The player designated the "spinner/dealer" takes each of the "statue" players by hand and spins him/her around a few times, and then lets go. The "statue" player then falters off and freezes in a unique position. He/she then thinks up an imaginary role based on that acquired position. (Example, land in a crawling position and become a cat.)

The "spinner/dealer" continues until every "statue" been made.

Step 3: The Spiel

Once all the "statues" have been formed, the "spinner/dealer" goes around to each of them and asks what they are supposed to be (i.e. they are now the merchandise). The "buyer" now comes along and the "spinner/dealer" makes the sales pitch. He/she takes the "buyer" to each "statue", explains what it is supposed to be, and then turns it on for a demonstration with a tap on the shoulder.

The "statue" then goes around and acts out his/her role with great exaggerations, sometimes even going out of control. When the "buyer" has seen enough of the demonstration, the "spinner/dealer" turns the "statue" off again with another shoulder tap. (This may not be easy if the "statue" is pretending to be out of control.)

Once the "buyer" has had a chance to see all the demonstrations, he/she then picks the "statue" to buy, and the next round begins.

Step 4: The Next Round

The purchased "statue" is now the "spinner/dealer", and the "spinner/dealer" from the last round is now the "buyer", while the "buyer" is now another "statue", and the game begins again. Depending on the group of players, there may be preference to keep the same spinner over and over, with only the "buyer" and "statues" changing places.

The more I look over this game as an adult, the more I'm certain this had to be made up on the playground at some point, as there is really no objective in the game, except for it being a great opportunity for make-believe. I always enjoyed the game for this aspect, and I would think it would be quite enjoyable for imaginative children who don't necessarily like to be competing all the time on the playground.



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    7 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I thought this game was the brain child of my mother. We grew up playing it in Florida and she recently told me she played it in the 60's as a child in Pennsylvania. I just googled the game to see if I could find an origin. Crazy so many other people have played this silly game. Thanks for the article. Wonder if anyone knows where it originated. :) My mother is an eccentric and quirky so I definitely had thought for years this was her genius. If anyone knows tho please share.


    4 years ago

    I grew up in Calgary, Alberta and we played this at camp.


    4 years ago

    I played this very same game and I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. Crazy!

    Zuzana 'Q'K

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, I'm from Bratislava, former Czechoslovakia, and I used to play the very same game called statues here in the 1960s. I just wanted to know what it was exactly about respectively where was the point as I have forgotten this. Now it's clear, thank you for posting it!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    oh my god this was EXACTLY the game i loved loved loved as a child!! i played it i swear a gazillion times with my friends- i grew up in winnipeg, manitoba- so it was not a local invention- just to elaborate more on your rules, what we did was the dealer spun us around and however we landed in, we had to think of what kind of statue we could be- the dealer would give us time to think and then the customer would walk in his store and ask him if he had any statues for sale- he would take the customer around to each statue and bend down and ask the statue what they were and then press a button on the statue's head to see a demonstration of what the statue could do- the customer would ask how much the statue was and i forget who determined the price- either the dealer or the statue- i forget- and then the customer had to decide which one to buy- all 3 roles were very fun and we all took turns playing every role- thanks for posting!!

    1 reply

    It's amazing what you can find online. I still haven't found the orgins of the game, but there are definitely people that recall playing it!


    I'm originally from Northern Michigan and grew up playing this game in my rural area. I have no idea where I learned it, but we spent our summer vacations in Canada and it's possible I learned it there.

    This was one of my favorite childhood games. It's creative and goofy, and there is no 'losing'. The details here are exactly what I remember, right down to the seller spinning the statues.

    I recently taught this game to the kids in my neighborhood: it's a huge hit! The game can easily be played by a group of children of varying ages. It's one of the few games that can happily be played by both a four year old and a fourteen year old concurrently. Everyone enjoys the goofy and creative statues and the funny comments the buyer and seller make as they role-play their parts.

    Once everyone catches on to the game, the statues begin to get very creative and often hilarious. Today, for example, we had "Darth Vader Unicorn", "The Distressed Maiden", and "The Over-enthusiastic Salesperson". Often, when the statues are animated to show their ability, the statues end up chasing the buyer. As the buyer runs from the statue, the seller will usually chase after in order to turn the statue "off". So portions of the game often turn into miniature episodes of tag.