You know how sometimes there were certain toys which no matter how many times you added them to your Christmas List, Father Christmas (he was still Father Christmas when I was a kid, not Santa Claus as he seems to be called these days) never seemed to bring them?
One such toy for me was Screwball Scramble, which I must have asked for several years running. Sadly I never got one of my own, and had to be content with playing on the ones they sometimes put out in the shops in the run up to Christmas.
Screwball Scramble was an obstacle course for ball bearings, the aim being to get your ball bearing from the start of the course to the end as quickly as possible. You controlled the game via a series of buttons and switches at the front of the maze which were all mechanical in nature – no batteries required here.
Stabbing the buttons and flicking the switches caused various parts of the obstacle course to be activated, so with careful timing and a modicum of good luck you could move your ball bearing about without actually touching it. That is assuming the ball didn’t jump off completely and you had to replace it!
The first obstacle was a tilting walkway which comprised of three see-saw like sections, which led to a little arm which could be rotated whilst holding the ball. The arm dropped the ball onto a wire ramp which deposited the ball onto a wobble table with little pegs sticking out of it, intended to deflect the ball the wrong way.
At the end of the “unstable table”, as it was known, was a chute which took the ball to the next challenge, a series of little crater like holes. Pressing a button caused a rod to push up out of the hole, so if you pressed it hard enough it could flip the ball up onto the next crater.
From the final crater you had to flip the ball through a hoop and into a covered maze, which you tipped from side to side in a similar manner to the pegged table. After negotiating the maze to another arm the ball bearing ended up in the final contraption, a catapult, which could launch the ball into the finish cup, if you pressed the relevant button hard enough.
The game had a built in timer for just sixty seconds, which was quite a harsh time limit, although a master can achieve some quick times. Check out the video below for a storming 8.5 seconds attempt. If you fancy having a go at beating this time then the good news is that Screwball Scramble is still available now, and doesn’t appear to have changed a great deal other than in a few colour tweaks. Perhaps I should try asking Father Christmas for it this year?