Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

The Game of Jaws

Back in the 1970s, before movie merchandising was such a big deal, you could count on finding three things in stores that helped promote your favorite summer blockbuster: trading cards, a movie tie-in book, and a board game. Jaws already had the book, written before the movie was released, and the first Topps cards for the film were actually for its sequel, Jaws 2. So what remained to unleash on a Jaws-frenzied public was a three-dimensional game of shark-infested suspense, created by Ideal and first sold in 1975, called The Game of Jaws.

The Game of Jaws - 1975

As you can see, there really isn’t much to it: a plastic shark with rubber-band-powered jaws, 13 plastic items representing junk that might be found in a great white’s digestive tract (a tire, a camera, a gun, a busted wagon wheel…the usual), a gaff to hook them with, and…that’s about it. Players took turns lifting the pieces one by one out of the shark’s maw using the gaff; if the jaws snapped shut, the person responsible had to return his pieces to the lower jaw, and play then continued. The first person to remove the specified number of pieces—usually four or five—won the game.

Simple and uncomplicated, but I guess it must have been a blast for kids ages 6 and up. I must admit, however, that I never owned this particular game; I remember seeing it on department store shelves back in ’75, but being 12 years old at the time, I never had any interest in playing it, much less a desire to have it abandoned and gathering dust under my bed. Instead, my after-school free time was spent with more involved games such as Battleship, Othello, Stratego, Sub Search, and my favorite, a football strategy game called, of all things, NFL Strategy. And in case you’re wondering, I still own that last one, but I haven’t played it in decades.

Perhaps if the marketing people who’d created this game had actually seen Jaws, they might have come up with a more satisfying concept, and one that paralleled the events of the movie more realistically. If I’d been involved in the game’s design, I would’ve called it Spill Onto the Dock™, and had a tiger shark lying on its side, with 2-to-4 players taking turns pulling license plates, undigested fish, and rocking chairs out of a long gash in the shark’s underbelly. The first person to drag Chrissie Watkins or the Kintner boy out of the jagged opening wins the game, and gets to keep the beaches open; fail to do so, and the shark spasms and releases bile onto your coffee table. Batteries and white fluid packets not included.

Unfortunately, Spill Onto the Dock™ is not available for purchase, but if you wish to pick up your own edition of The Game of Jaws, look no further than eBay, where a still-factory-sealed box will set you back just $350, plus $15 shipping (the original price, which I found in a catalog advertisement, was only $5.44). Not quite ready to fork over a car payment for a plastic shark game? How about another childhood favorite of mine, that also takes place on the ocean and is soaked with tension, and can be had for a mere twenty bucks or less? Yes, I’m talking about ‘the intriguing game of vanishing ships’, Bermuda Triangle.

Bermuda Triangle - photo game

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12 comments on “The Game of Jaws

  1. Dracula
    8/10/16

    Isn’t that the actual shark they used to film Jaws 2?

    • Todd B
      8/10/16

      No, this is a better one. And congrats on what has to be the fastest response to a newly-posted article I’ve ever seen!

  2. Dracula
    8/10/16

    That’s what happens when you are across the Atlantic and you post it before the rooster is up.

    • Todd B
      8/10/16

      Knowing you’re a vampire, I wanted to post this before sun-up, to keep you from burning up, or melting, or molting, or whatever happens to you bloodsuckers when you’re hit by sunshine.

      • Dracula
        8/11/16

        Please dispose of your silver bullets and wooden stakes upon our return.

      • Todd B
        8/11/16

        Done. As long as you do away with your insatiable desire to drain my blood.

  3. butterboy44
    8/10/16

    A wagon wheel? Did a drunken stage coach driver fall asleep at the wheel and plunge his entire rig into the Pacific, only to have this particular shark consume the screaming passengers headed for a new life in the Golden State at its leisure? If that’s the case then maybe there should have been a horseshoe or two in there for realism.

    • Todd B
      8/10/16

      Well, there’s no horseshoe, but besides the numerous bones and skulls, included in the collection of stomach contents is a lantern, a boot, a jug of whiskey (which explains the rig’s presence at the ocean’s floor), and a glove…all items you’d find in an Overland Stage Lines trunk. There’s also an anchor, but why a shark would swallow one of those things whole is beyond me.

  4. grandrapidsgirl
    8/10/16

    Wow! Everyone beat me to it on this one! I was SURE you were gonna say you owned the game and was very relieved to discover NOT. Nice price tag these days. Leave it to eBay. Love your take on “Spill Onto The Dock”. Did you trademark that or was it someone else? I remember a very creative TRB inventing his own game many years back that had nothing at all to do with fishes or guts. And that would be “The Invaders”. I hope you still have it b/c it was really awesome! 🙂 Good thing I saved this b/c WP burned me once again. Argh!

    • Todd B
      8/10/16

      I wondered if you might be miffed over not being first! That name and trademark is all mine…I had the ‘tm’ in my blog site list of special font characters, so I thought I’d take advantage of it. And of course I still have The Invaders game! Remember when we played it at the airport, and that idiot in the bar area hassled us because we were ‘gambling’, and he said that wasn’t allowed there? And way to go, one-upping WordPress at their own game!

      And trust me, I’d much rather pay big eBay bucks for Sub Search than I would The Game of Jaws!

  5. I remember the game but alas never found it under the tree. I do remember playing a similar game at some other kids house that must have been the same company’s product. It was a bucking bronco that would kick once enough stuff was removed from it’s saddle. Same idea as this shark.

    I probably have a card or two from Jaws 2 somewhere in a box of collectibles amassed from my years of collecting.

    • Todd B
      8/13/16

      And I remember that bucking bronco game as well; what’s funny – or ridiculous – is that Ideal came out with a ‘new’ version of The Game of Jaws after Jaws had run its cinematic course; they called it ‘Sharky’s Diner’. And thank heavens I didn’t find THAT one under my tree! And no Jaws 2 cards in my closet…just a complete collection of Three Days of the Condor iron-on patches.*

      * Just kidding.

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