Top Trumps was a popular children’s card game in the United Kingdom in the 1970s and 1980s, especially amongst boys, for whom it was a popular playground pastime. The topics tended to reflect this, and included military hardware, modes of transport and racing cars and, perhaps most famously, horror. The packs tended to be priced so that children could collect new packs by saving pocket money for a few weeks.
The original Top Trumps were launched in 1977, with eleven different packs published by a company named Dubreq. Dubreq was also known for the Stylophone. Dubreq was taken over by Waddingtons in 1982, and they continued manufacturing packs until the early 1990s. The packs from this period are now highly collectible.
Such was the demand, two packs of the cards were issued in 1978, 64 cards in total, both of which now command very high prices in mint condition on eBay, with even some individual cards even exchanging hands for around the £10 mark. The cards were re-issued in the 1990s in a glow-in the-dark edition.
The cards were dealt amongst the players who keep just the top card facing up; the first player picks a category and says it aloud to the next player, whoever has the highest value wins the other person’s card until one player has accrued all the cards.
Horror Top Trumps were split into four categories; Physical Strength, Fear Factor, Killing Power and Horror Rating, all scored out of a possible 100, though these scores were sometimes somewhat baffling.
To escape copyright infringement, the cards were somewhat crudely drawn and inked with felt-tip pen. The subjects ranged from the immediately recognisable, such as King Kong, Dracula and The Mummy, to the adapted (to the extent that the image of Godzilla has the creature wearing a tuxedo and a bow tie),
High Priestess of Zoltan was an artistic impression of a still from Curse of the Crimson Altar
Madman inspired by Doomwatch
to invented characters such as Slime Creature and Granite Man. The most highly-prized card was Death, due to the high ratings, though it was still possible to beat with certain other cards.