The Game of Jaws is a 1975 board game by Ideal. The game is based on the blockbuster film of the same name.
Similar in many ways to the game Buckaroo, this was a game of skill and involved the participants (two to four or one, if you were desperate) attempting to remove various pieces of flotsam and jetsam from the shark’s mouth with a plastic hook device, a bit like a dental tool.
However, beware! One wrong move and the shark’s mouth will slam shut, causing chaos and derision from your friends. The winner was the player who retrieved the most items without incurring the wrath of the sea beast.
Ideal certainly pulled off a massive coup in securing the rights to Universal’s mega-hit, borrowing not just the name but also the iconic poster art, albeit cropped. Over the years the game has survived in a similar form but under different guises; Shark Chomp, Sharkie’s Diner, Sharky’s Diner and Sharky’s Dinner. Beyond slight colour changes (from grey/light blue to darker shades) the main changes are the now more gaudy, ‘fun’ packaging and the omission of the gun as a part of the junk to put in the shark’s mouth (fierce killer shark – good! tiny 2D pistol – bad!)
The shark itself was, in retrospect, disappointing. At the time I displayed it proudly but there can be no doubt that though pleasingly moulded, the creature was not going to fool any shark biologists. His mouth was clamped open with elastic bands, inevitably the part of the game that was first to give way to the rigours of repeated play and virtually impossible to replace. The items of junk consisted of part of a ship’s wheel, the offensive gun, an anchor, a handbag, some rope, a thigh bone, a fish skeleton (sometimes a skull), a camera, a lantern, a boot, a glove and a walkie-talkie. Different objects were interchangeable in the various incarnations. They were all royal blue or yellow, apart from the white bone and skull/fish.
Like Buckaroo, The Game of Jaws had the remarkable ability of scaring you half to death. There was no real indication as to when the jaws would slam shut and no prisoners were taken – if your fingers were in the way, it bloody hurt. One imagines more recent versions have tamed it down a bit, no-one wants to go to A&E and admit they’ve fallen foul of a fish toy.
The game was soon cast aside once the elastic bands gave way or you were sick of getting bruised fingers. The game can now achieve (boxed) around the £100 mark on on-line auction sites, which should make everyone concerned have a word with themselves.
Ideal wheeled out the same format in 1980 to tie-in with the release of the film Alligator and also had success with the King Kong board-game of 1976 which related to the fated remake of the classic film.
Daz Lawrence, Horropedia
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