I got given this original Battling Tops game by a customer who was clearing out their garage and were about to throw it away.
Generally speaking, I don’t have much interest in playing board games, but I do find myself drawn to the packaging, especially if it’s got some nostalgic painted artwork.
The game, made by the Ideal toy company, originally appeared in 1968. It was invented by Eddy Goldfarb, who also created the ‘Yakity Yak Talking Teeth’ wind-up toy, KerPlunk and Stompers to name but a few. He also designed spy gadgets for ‘The Girl from UNCLE’ TV series.
Over time Battling Tops has had repackaging and rebranding make overs, including different coloured plastic arenas, and tops. Around 1975 it was re-named The Battling Gladiators with a different coloured plastic playing arena.
In 1977, Ideal repackaged the game and called it Battling Spaceships, incorporating it into their S.T.A.R. Team toy range. This range was particularly notable as Ideal simply gave some of their already existing toys a ‘Star Wars’ make over to cash in the film. Lucasfilms famously sued and lost the case.
The object of the game is points are gained by the last top standing in each bout, and the first player to reach ten points is the winner.
Each top has a different name – Hurricane Hank; Dizzy Dan; Super Sam; Tricky Nicky; Smarty Smitty (later replaced with Cyclone Steve); and Twirling Tim – and come in six colours – blue; red; white; yellow; orange; and green. (I’m missing a green top and some scoring pegs). Only four can enter the Battling Top Arena at any one time, spun into action by the Battling Top puller.
Marx bought the rights to the game in 1982, but it was discontinued towards the end of the eighties.
However, you can’t keep a Battling Top down as Mattel re-introduced the game in 2003.