In my early childhood, I was surrounded by all sorts of playground business ventures at school that mainly was, at the time a lads thing. Not one break time passed where there wasn’t some group deal going down whether it be stickers, fake tattoos, Kinder Surprise toys (Ferrero), sweets, Garbage Pail Kids cards and gum (Topps Company), keyrings and whatever else could fit in a blazer pocket.
While the girls slapped hands, skipped and giggled these trades took place, but also friendly competitions of a certain Top Trumps card game which everyone at the time seemed to own a pack of and which were very portable to carry around.
In the UK, Top Trumps was first launched in 1978 and was very popular at the time between children and young adults, mainly boys. This was a clear case during the 1970s and 1980s as you could tell by the topics used for the packs at the time, steered towards the male gender and featured the likes of vehicles, military hardware, football and racing cars.
The original Top Trumps had eleven official packs published and first released from Dubreq and priced around £0.50p per pack giving the chance that children’s pocket money could be saved quick enough to buy further packs.
Waddingtons took over in 1982 and continued the Top Trumps trend until around the 1990s, where it then had a revamp and re-launch in 1992 by Winning Moves UK. The card decks and topics have become a lot more diverse and suit all genders and ages. The topics are vast and include the likes of TV shows, movies, engineering, pets, kids themes, girls themes, space and good old dinosaurs.
There are promotional packs, international packs, exclusives and limited editions. Of course, the price has stepped up a little too since the days of £0.50p. Below I look into and review a novelty product from Winning Moves UK, that can be used with the Top Trumps card game packs and is a little spin-off idea that plays well and opens out the original statistics trumping gameplay. Enjoy.
Recommended Age – 6+
Players – 2-6
Duration – 30 minutes
Dimensions – Width = 27cm, Depth = 27cm and Height = 9cm
Weight – 1035g
Box Art & Design
Although Top Trumps is known as a card game, in general, this tournament edition does come in a box and holds all the components needed for a game set-up. The box is quite equally squared as stated in the above dimensions and is mainly of a light blue shade of colour. The front cover of the box boldly shows the yellow Top Trumps branding and logo and underneath, “tournament” is printed bold and in white.
Underneath the titles, there are images featured from some of the included cards and decks and include a Rubik Cube, a female pop star, “The Stig” from the BBC TV show, Top Gear, Darth Vader, Wayne Rooney and finally, the Tardis from the BBC TV show Doctor Who. In the top-left corner, it states that there are “six exclusive packs” included and the top-right of the box features the above playing statistics.
The sides of the box lid are a repeated affair of the branding, logo and a cropped version of the card images described above, this time only showing three characters. The addition to the box sides includes an image of the central plastic hub used in the tournament game with six original Top Trumps packs inserted into the included hub slots.
The box design has a basic look to it but is certainly colourful and I feel that an image of the central hub in play with card packs inserted would have made a better advertisement and idea. The rear of the box and sides, covered by the lid is a lot busier in design and more informative. Upon inspection, I noticed that if you lift the lid off, all four individual sides of the box show ten packs of cards and the various themed varieties and topics available under the following titles, “hottest ever,” “classics,” “around the world” and “old favourites.”
These packs are all colours and designs and the box colour scheme of light blue shading carries onto the rear of the box of which the six included packs are shown. The same central hub image from the sides of the box, but larger is to the right of the design, some game text in white to the left and at the bottom on a yellow part of the background, it mentions about the free use of any separately purchased Top Trumps card deck which is a strong plus point to this tournament game.
As this is a boxed card game product it does include a plastic inner tray for the components and appears as a glossy, white inner moulding. There isn’t too much to review or comment on here but the inlay does feature four deep recesses that could hold components the size and shape of a deck of cards.
Between three of the storage areas, there are a couple of curved cut-outs so that the components can be lifted out easily enough.
The fourth and solo compartment is adjacent to a larger recess in the inner tray, that appears to be grooved and features protruding ridges, like a rack and is more than likely the ideal place for the game score counters. The plastic inner tray is solid enough, rigid and sits snugly into the bottom of the box.
This is the part where things get really interesting as we make our way through the box contents and see what components come with Top Trumps Tournament, Starting off with the central hub.
Central Hub & Spinner
The heart of the Top Trumps Tournament card game is the central hub and spinner. It is a dark blue coloured, plastic, hexagon-shaped centrepiece that sits on the table or play area. The outer edges of the hub include six deep slots, which are where the chosen card decks are positioned before play.
In the centre is an attached piece of cardboard and a plastic yellow spinner, shaped like an arrow and which is split into six separate areas that are in line with the aforementioned slots featuring the text, “steal a peg,” “shoot out,” “my pack,” “hi-lo,” “win 2 pegs” and finally, “head to head.”
Underneath the arrow is the word “Top” taken from the branding design of Top Trumps. This wording represents mini-games that are played in the tournament and chosen if the spinner lands on its particular coloured section.
The six included score racks are blue coloured, plastic 3D shapes of the Top Trumps branding and logo. They feature nine holes each and is where winning pegs go to keep track of personal score throughout the tournament. These racks are positioned in front of a player during gameplay.
There are fifty simple, yellow scoring pegs also included which as mentioned above are used to track a player’s score through the game and are acquired from winning mini-games, lucky spins and stealing from other players. They feature rounded heads and are stored securely in a small dark blue cotton laced bag.
As the front of the box dictates there are six Top Trumps card packs included, all of which come in a rectangular box sleeve, similar to a pack of cigarettes, compared to the official plastic cases a deck usually is sold in. The imagery of card characters, items and themes from the box lid are presented on the box covers here. Across all these boxes the design is coloured in shades of blue and features the Top Trumps branding in yellow and other text in white.
The categories that feature as core categories in the tournament game are, “top toys,” sporting heroes,” “pop stars,” “movies,” “TV” and “wow.” Although each pack’s cards are designed and coloured differently they all feature only four statistics to choose from in play, compared to some of the other packs available. Maybe these included cards are toned down in stats or created this way because this is a family game and has a recommended player age of six.
At least if this is the case, it makes the game playable for younger players and their families and they don’t have to be a fan or a collector of Top Trumps cards and being overwhelmed with more information. Winning Moves UK has tried to keep this simple and easy to play. The cards are presented as usual with an image, a bit of information, trivia and statistics to use, obviously each pack will have different categories.
The included instructional sheet caters for a family game and young players. It’s very thin, simple to read and very easy to understand and is nowhere as complicated or as heavy as say the likes of Dojo Kun from CMON games, see here. It’s a glossy folded A4 sized leaflet that includes all you need to know about the set-up of the game, the ruling within the game and changes to the rules just for this tournament edition version. Helpfully there is also a clear break down of the mini-games and how they play out. See below.
- My Pack – All Play – This is your big chance to win two pegs with your best pack. Choose your favourite pack from the hub, and deal three cards to every player. You get the advantage of choosing the first stat.
- Head to Head – 2 Players – Spin the spinner to choose which pack you will play. Then, pick which player you’d like to take on. Try to avoid the players you think will know the pack best!
- Shoot Out – All Play – Spin the spinner to choose which pack you will play. Deal one card to every player. You get the advantage of choosing which stat to play from your card.
Hi-Lo – Solo Play – Spin the spinner to choose which pack you will play. Deal three cards face-down in a row in front of you. Flip over the first one and look at its stats. You must choose one category during this mini-game – do you think the next card will have a higher or lower value?
Say which category you’re going to play, and then the stat, and then say “high” or “low” depending on whether you think the next card will have a higher or lower value. Now flip the next card and find out!
- Steal a Peg – Solo Play – Steal a peg lets you steal a peg from another player’s scoring rack and add it to your own! But watch out, as they might try and take revenge later in the game…
- Win 2 Pegs – Solo Play – Win two pegs is a simple one – get two pegs from the supply and add them to your scoring rack.
Interestingly though, during the game as you earn and pick up yellow scoring pegs, this doesn’t mean you’ll win and is only a game-ending condition collecting all nine in the scoring rack. Once this has been achieved by a player, the final part of the game takes place. A deck is chosen by the spinner, it’s shuffled and each player is dealt cards equal to their pegs total at this point. Depending on play, tactics and any strategies a player with the least number of pegs in the final, may still come out an overall winner. This is also different, but a great addition to the tournament game.
End of the Deck
For any Top Trumps card fan or enthusiast, this product is quite the novelty item to buy. It’s great fun for children, families and all genders. It’s extremely simple to understand and play, hardly any set-up and even comes with six starter packs, so it’s not like a game or item you can buy and can’t use. Since the release of this reviewed product, there are now electronic and themed versions available. Amazon feature a selection of them as shown above.
The biggest plus point for me is the fact that you can use any pack available and put it into play, as the spinner lands on random sections there’s a possibility that the pack you choose never sees the light of day and other packs may be played continuously. There is also an interesting final section of play once a player has gained nine pegs that can change the outcome and winner.
After personally playing this I can state that I like the “hi-lo” mini-game, most likely because I grew up watching the TV game show, Play Your Cards Right (1980-2003) from ITV. Also, any spin in the game that results in an unclear section, I spin again – just for clarity. If changes could be made I’d have more categories on the included cards and more sections for the spinner to land on.
It would be nice to have a good choice of mini-games, surely more could be designed and made up. As a hardcore gamer, I have to remember that this is a simple game and aimed at anyone, it’s one that can be pulled out the cupboard quickly and played and doesn’t need a big table or a whole afternoon.
So, it’s top marks for Top Trumps tournament from me and a great idea to expand the basic, one pack play of this classic card game. Thank you for reading this article, I hope you found it of some help or interest. Please feel free to drop a comment about this title, the written content or even your own experiences with this card game brand.