A fabulous game made aliyoh from Rumania fifty years ago.
Ephraim Hertzano, who conceived Rumikube, settled in Bat Yam
and began to invent a game in his backyard with the help of
his family members.
Since then Rumikube has become the most exported game in
Israel and the third best-selling game in the world. (The
best-selling game is Monopoly.) Every year, some two million
sets of Rumikube are sold in over forty countries worldwide.
It is manufactured not only in Israel but at licensed
factories in India and Brazil as well.
The beauty of the game, explain manufacturers, is its
universality and the fact it is not dependent on any
language. "The rules are clear and the common language of
numbers allows the French to play with the Chinese and the
African to play with the Scandinavian." Experts estimate 20
million people around the world play Rumikube.
The game had a slow and cautious start, like a game die cast
again and again until it rolls a six. "Abba would manufacture
a few sets per week," explains the inventor's son Michah.
"Every time he would take six sets in a bag, going from store
to store and trying to persuade them to buy. He would not ask
the storeowners for money but would say, `If you sell it--
pay, if not--return it to me.' From six sets a week it grew
to sixty and to six hundred. That's how the large industry
got its start."
Thirty-four years ago, a sophisticated factory in Arad
replaced the backyard in Bat Yam. Never heard of the factory?
Perhaps because it is a successful factory that does not make
the headlines. There are no strikes and it operates three
shifts per day.
A total of 150 workers manufacture the product from start to
finish--the wood and cardboard boxes, the plastic and the
boards are all produced there. Every six seconds a new set
comes off the assembly line. "Over 90 percent of production
is directed for export," explains Michah Hertzano. "In
Israel, we sell only the surplus. The games are exported to
North and South America, to Europe, to Australia and to New
Tournaments are held in every country where the game is sold
and the local champion is sent to the International Rumikube
Championships at the company's expense. The first competition
was won by a contestant from Japan, the second by a player
from Egypt. The Dutch are the most addicted Rumikube players
in the world.
And what if the dice get lost? Distributors in every country
send the dice for free, except for shipping and handling
costs. "We had one case of a 70-year-old Dutch man," says one
company representative. "He asked for a die to replace the
one he lost. The distributor offered to send the die by mail,
but the elderly man insisted on riding his bike 35 kilometers
[20 miles] to receive the die that day. Why? He was scheduled
to play a game with friends the next day. `I'm not about to
miss the event because of one game die,' he explained."