Yes, This Almost Happened: The Car Game--for Kids!

When looking back at the history of the American toy industry, it’s amazing to consider some of the toys that the industry thought would be “appropriate” for kids. Take Kenner, for example: After making boatloads of cash from Star Wars toys, it hastily picked up the toy license for Alien simply because it was a high-profile space movie without giving a second thought about how horrifying the film actually was. Along those lines, Kenner did something else based on movie popularity, with likewise questionable results. It created a game for kids based on the 1977 horror movie, The Car, about a possessed, driverless car that loves to run over people. I had no idea that this game was even an idea in someone’s head, let alone something that Kenner thought about releasing to toy stores, until I found a post about it on the Plaid Stallions site.

With Kenner's The Car game, kids can get run down by
a demonic vehicle in the privacy of their own homes.
(Photo courtesy of Plaid Stallions.)

From licensing and design perspectives, The Car game sort of makes sense. Ideal released a similarly-themed game based on Jaws that proved to be quite popular, so someone at Kenner probably thought that a game based on a Jaws rip-off would be almost or just as popular. Furthermore, toy cars and motorcycles that could be propelled from a launcher base had been reliable sellers during the 70s and 80s, so I could see Kenner utilizing such a design as part of a game, possibly based on a preexisting launcher design that could be modified and relabeled for the game at minimal cost. Nevertheless, just reading the description of the game in the picture above makes it pretty clear that the players who lose the game are killed by the monster car, thus making the winning player the survivor. Candyland this isn’t.

I’m not sure why Kenner never actually produced the game, although I suspect that it was scrapped after The Car failed to live up to expectations at the box office. It should be noted that the movie went on to become a cult classic and that ERTL released a die-cast replica of the titular vehicle back in 2003. Those replicas now go for a few hundred dollars on the collectors' market.

ERTL's replica of The Car.


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