Time for another quick trip down to the ‘Tain’t The Meat vaults…
Top Trumps was a game craze that swept the UK for a year or so in the early 1980’s, and you’d have been hard-pressed to have found a school kid who didn’t own at least one deck. Originally released by Dubreq, creators of the Stylophone, each pack contained a set of cards with a common theme – cars, planes, boats, tanks etc – with each card containing a list of statistics with a number value. Gameplay was simple: the cards were handed out to players, one of whom would then pick a category and the player with the highest number in that category won the cards from that round. The game would then continue in rounds until one player had won all the cards. The game was both easy to play and strangely addictive – lord knows how many hours I lost playing it with my mates.
The Marvel Superheroes Card Game was released in 1977 and wasn’t actually an official Top Trump game. Although game play was identical to its Top Trump counterparts this set was released by Jotastar. Whether Jotastar copied the format from Dubreq or vice versa I can’t say (although I suspect the former).
This Marvel version contained 42 cards: 40 character cards featuring some of the comic publisher’s most well known heroes and villains; a rules of play card and a card listing the characters included in the game. Each card measured 5.5 x 9cm, featured a rather wonky-eyed Spider-Man on the reverse and the deck shipped in a sturdy two piece plastic container. Each card featured three stats – Physical Strength, Special Powers and Weapons – that changed depending on the character. A short quote about the character was also included at the bottom of the card.
Most of the Marvel characters in the set would have been familiar to fans of the comics although some are a tad obscure, such as Spider-Man villain The Grizzly (I had to look him up to remind myself who he was). My strongest memory of this game was that every time I played it with my pals, who were also comic book fans, the game would always degenerate into an argument over the stats, particularly the Physical Strength category. How on earth could Goliath (an 8) be almost as strong as The Hulk or Galactus (both 9’s)? And how could Tarantula, who possessed no super-powers, be stronger than Ghost Rider, a minion of hell? Looking back I think I enjoyed the arguments more than the game itself.
Anyway, here are all 42 cards. Click for larger images.