Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The (Jaws) Shark (Game) Is Still Working



For as much as certain people and groups have complained over the years about the marketing of age-inappropriate merchandise to children, the toy industry and Hollywood have been pretty consistent when it comes to producing toys for kids that are based on an R-rated movie and/or franchise. I've seen toys from Alien, Predator, Rambo, Robocop, Starship Troopers and Terminator, just to name a few. By toys, I mean actual play-worthy, durable TOYS, not the fragile, highly-detailed plastic figures made by NECA, Toynami and others. Among the most unusual of these toys was a Terminator 2 Bio-Flesh Regenerator play set back in the early 90s, with T-800 endoskeletons that you could turn into little Arnold Schwarzeneggers for the purpose of tearing off their Play-Doh-like "skin". Why they didn't apply this idea to a Night of the Living Dead Rotting Zombies Play-Doh set, with plastic skeletons you can cover with Play-Doh organs, muscle and skin for hours of flesh-tearing, limb-severing, gut-eviscerating fun, I'll never know.

Even though they were rated PG, the Jaws movies--which are not kid films at all--also had their fair share of toys and merchandise aimed at the prepubescent crowd. (There was even a Jaws 2 Coloring Book!) Among the monster shark merchandise was a Jaws game for ages 5 and up, where players would take turns removing various pieces of junk and debries from the mouth of a toy shark with a spring-loaded jaw, and whichever player got the most out of the shark's mouth before it snapped shut was the winner. I had my own copy of the game but I eventually lost it, and by the time the 80s arrived the game was out of production and off the toy store shelves. Or so I thought.

While I was doing my online Christmas shopping this year, I saw a listing for a toy out of the corner of my eye that didn't completely register at the time but it nevertheless nagged at me. So I went back later to find it and, sure enough, there it was: the original Jaws game, but in a very different box. Read on ...


The game is called Sharky's Diner and it's made by Ideal, the same company that produced the original Jaws game. Other than the different name and the different box it comes in, it's the same as the original Jaws game: the same mold of the toy shark and the same parts to fish out of its mouth. When I looked up the Jaws game on the Board Game Geek site for reference, its entry also listed of all the different versions of the Jaws game that Ideal has produced over the years under different names. In other words, the game that I thought was long gone was actually lurking the aisles of toy stores everywhere for years. Just when you thought it was safe to go to Toys R' Us ...

What this means for Jaws fans will largely depend on what kind of Jaws fan you are. If you already have an original version of the Jaws game in the original packaging, then this means nothing. However, if you'd like to have one of these Jaws games for yourself, then this would be a worthwhile addition to your Jaws collection. You could throw out the new packaging to design your own Jaws game box packaging, either based on the original design (there's enough pictures out there of the Jaws game box to do this) or something completely different. Furthermore, the game's toy shark itself isn't bad as toy sharks go, so you might even want to pick it up to do your own Jaws diorama. It's certainly cheaper than the discontinued Jaws miniature set by McFarlane Toys, and it's close to scale with certain customized Mego versions of Chief Brody, Hooper and Quint.

Customized Mego Jaws Action Figures
(photo courtesy of Lou Pisano).

Then again, if you're just looking for games that involve monster sharks--particularly ones involving monster sharks attacking and eating game players and/or everything else in sight--there are plenty of games to add to your collection. There are other official Jaws licensed games, such as the 1987 Jaws game for the Nintendo Entertainment System and the much more recent Jaws Unleashed. If you have access to an Atari 2600 emulator, you can play Activision's Seaquest and Apollo's Shark Attack. Click here to see GamesRadar's 2009 list of the top seven deadliest shark attacks in video games today.

Me with my Jaws game,
back in the 70s.





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