For a long time as a child I was quite puzzled by exactly what Top Trumps was. Apart from the slightly giggle worthy name (trump being a childish word for the passing of wind) I wasn’t sure why I had what appeared to be a pack of playing cards that just had a lot of different pictures and a load of numbers on.
I remember having a pack depicting various sports cars, and I used to enjoy flicking through the set looking at the pictures and reading the statistics and picking out my favourites. Then, one day a friend of mine said did I want to play Top Trumps. “Play?“, I thought, “I didn’t know it was a game!”
Turned out that those statistics were actually the core of the game. The cards are divided equally between all the players, and the lead player chooses a statistic on their top most card that they think will “trump” their opponents card. For example, it might be the top speed of a car. Whoever has the best card wins all the other cards from that round, and gets to choose the next statistic. You are out of the game if you lose all your cards, and the game ends when one player has all the cards.
From that day on I had a renewed interest in my Top Trumps cards, and even got myself a couple more sets with my pocket money, including a set of dragsters and another of dinosaurs, which quickly became my favourite as like most kids the world of dinosaurs seemed fascinating.
Top Trumps cards first appeared in 1977 and were manufactured by a company called Dubreq. In 1982 Dubreq were bought out by Waddingtons, who continued to produce the cards into the nineties. After disappearing from shop shelves for a while they reappeared in 1999 under the auspices of Winning Moves, and are still available today.
The original Top Trumps cards tended to be about particular general subjects, such as sports cars, motorbikes, military hardware (yep, there was a pack on tanks I believe) and so on. These topics made the game more popular with boys unsurprisingly, although there were some more girl friendly packs available such as one on horses.
Modern day Top Trumps are far more likely to be tied into a license of some sort, so you can expect packs on The Simpsons, Star Wars, Harry Potter and anything else that kids find interesting today.
The game has proved extremely popular and has travelled all over the globe, from the US to Japan. Most countries also have packs released which are specific to their country. For example, in France there are packs for Asterix and in Japan for Ultraman. Packs aligned to particular sporting teams are also available, such as for the All Blacks in New Zealand. If you want to find out more, pay a visit to the official Planet Top Trumps website.