by James Masters
At a young age (7ish), I started to collect Pocketeers when they first came out in the UK. Originally there were 8 of them ("the eight great Pocketeers") but by the time I obtained my first one, Basketball, a two player spectacular requiring supreme physical finger effort, the second wave of games was upon us and although I saved up my limited pocket money I was only able to get hold of 4 of those original eight before they ceased appearing in shops. At the time they were all the rage - loads of people at school used to play them and a bit of swapping went on. However, of these original eight, I never saw Blowpipe or Crossbow either in a shop or owned by someone else. I only knew of them due to the fact that all eight Pocketeer names were listed inside each Pocketeer's green packet. Actually, these packets, for me, were half the enjoyment - each one sported the name at the top with some artistic cleverness with the letters to relate it to the game. And bottom right was a cartoon figure also designed to match the game. The fact that the games were consistently designed and the boxes maintained their standard format over several years was very appealing. The initial period was pretty exciting for a seven year old - when a new batch appeared, I would make special trips to the local toy shop just to look at them hanging from the shelves while I saved up my pocket money to buy them.....
I still have the cool green box in each case - what a weird 7 year old I must have been. Not much has changed, in fact, as my wife will validate. The UK Pocketeer list shows the Name Design and the Cartoon Character that appeared on each box.
The release chronology of the Pocketeers is pretty much as per the category numbers as far as my memory serves me. I noted the order in which I bought them and this order is shown in the UK Pocketeer list.
The original eight must have been a good success for TOMY for soon afterwards, the next batch of games appeared. I'm not entirely sure of the timescales here because it seemed to me that Basketball and Time Up appeared first, followed by Flick 'n' Spin and Rock 'n' Roll and then Rally and Poker but perhaps my memory fails me or my experience was unusual because this doesn't entirely match the category number order. Thereafter, anyway, they seemed to come out in sets of 4 or 6 at a time: Las Vegas - Drop 'n' Catch was the next set according to the category numbers - a set of seven, apparently, which seems an unusual number. I seem to remember Rebound coming out by itself but I expect it came out at the same time as the re-release Casino which I summarily ignored until later. Then there was another set of 4 followed by the Smurf set of 3 and later another set of six. At some time during this early period, the first re-release appeared - I think it was called Big Match which appeared to be different to World Cup only in name. I did anguish over whether or not to buy it but found, in the end, that my annoyance in having to pay more money for a game I already possessed won out over my natural collector's instinct. Of course, I regretted that later..... By this time my interest in the game themselves was waning but my collecting instinct drove me to keep buying. Although I can't remember the order, I can deduce that another batch of six followed and then a final batch of 3, all of which I bought.
Some time later I came across some more Pocketeer type games from TOMY in shops but with inferior packaging and with more re-releases. They were called TOMY Pocket Games. A couple of these must have caught my fancy because I bought them (Golf Game and Home Run) - both designs that hadn't previously been seen in the UK. The others didn't interest me at the time since they were only cosmetically different versions of ones already in my collection. With the help of Robert Korst, I now have the full list of these and it's now clear that the were Tomy Pocket Games originally geared towards the USA market that had been repackaged for the European market.
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