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The movie Jaws was released in 1975 and set the standard for the summer movie blockbuster as we know it today! Spawning sequels and quite bizarrely a kids game based on this horrific and bloody feature film known as the Game of JAWS.
In this episode of the Dandy Fun House, I wanted to bring you the Game of JAWS but not only is it no longer made, it’s become very sought after as a collector’s item and it’s really expensive to acquire and honestly I’m too cheap to buy it and I just really don’t like you guys enough to shell out that kind of dough.
So instead I did the next worst thing. I bought a more modernized game with the same basic premise and an overall better looking design that only cost 20 bucks. It’s called SHARK BITE and I’m going to unbox it, set it up, teach you how to play and give you some fun facts and history along the way! It’s time to drop the cage into the water old chum! Let’s dive into the Fun House!
Hello and welcome to the Dandy Fun House video show podcast and blog. I’m your host Neil Dandy and this is where we explore the darkest depths of retro pop culture, toys and games and all the fun stuff. In this episode, we’re going to have some fun with the game of Shark Bite from a company called Pressman.
Pressman Toys and Games was founded in 1922 by a man named Jack Pressman who started the company with a gung hay fat choy bang by unleashing the game of Chinese Checkers upon the world. It was originally called Hop Ching Checkers.
Jack Pressman ultimately made his fortune by licensing the rights to release toys and games based on popular characters of the time like Dick Tracy and Little Orphan Annie. For the next several decades, Pressman was responsible for many of the classic Golden Age Disney toys and games and in more recent years games like Tri-Ominoes and home game versions of game shows like Deal or No Deal, Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune and Who Wants to be a Millionaire. In 2014, Pressman Toy Corporation was purchased by Goliath Games from Deutschland.
Well enough of my yammering, let’s get to the unboxing!
Here we have the game of Shark Bite. Let’s have a look at the box. Pretty neat box though, it’s got a bunch of worms and crabs and lobsters. Now I’m getting hungry, I haven’t had breakfast yet and I am filming this and recording this in the morning.
Shark Bite says, “Snag the fish and be the winner, but if the shark jumps, you’ll be his dinner!”
Good looking box. You know what, they did not skimp on the design for the outside. I like this! Even the bottom has a cool design.
It kind of gives you the synopsis really good, you roll a die, catch fish with your fishing rod, but watch out, when the shark jumps out of the water, you lose! And it tells you what all it includes. Okay, well let’s bust it open, baby!
Let’s see, what do we have in the box?
Well, we have the pieces, which you need to fish out of the shark’s mouth in a nice plastic bag, there. You have instructions. We are only going to refer to the instructions if we have no other choice, because that’s how we do it here on the Dandy Fun House.
And I think we got the star of the show coming out, “Everybody out of the water!”
Shark very nicely packaged and protected there. And it looks like it’s all ready to go. Whoa! (shark springs to life!)
It already jumped! I didn’t even start playing, and the thing already jumped out at me! Okay, it’s got kind of a cloth outside. It’s kind of a tough cloth, kind of like tent cloth, I would say. The shark is blue. There’s no eyes on the shark. Oh, you have to stick your own eyes on!
So let’s see if I can do that without it being all wonky. And then my understanding is you spread the jaws, you push the whole assembly down until it locks into place, and then if you pull the wrong game piece, it jumps out and bites you in the face. … Now, I’ve got it locked down. And how do I release this?
I guess you have to play it to release it. And it does not look like it takes any batteries at all, which is great. It looks like it’s just a spring-loaded mechanical toy game.
Game with a toy. What did I used to call it? Or toy with a game. Yes, a TWAG! So let’s dump the contents here. You know, they should have stuck the eyes on for you… oH LOOK! you have to put the stickers on the die too! I mean, come on!
I’ve got to put the stickers on the dang die!? You’ve got to be kidding me! Okay. So I’ve got some work cut out for me here.
Moving on, we’ve got the fishing pole here with the hook obviously to fish the game pieces out. You get two poles.
And you’ve got crabs, fish and more fish. It looks like it’s mainly just fish and crabs. And you got a lobster, too, in case you want to go high end. And there’s no garbage like the game of Jaws. There’s no boat wheels, license plates and things like that.
And you just kind of stick the game pieces down in these little holes here in the mouth of the shark, and you fish them out until the shark jumps up and gets you!
Now I want some seafood. I believe Red Lobster might be in my future. But if I can’t afford the original game of JAWS, I sure as heck cannot afford to visit the Cheddar Bay and get my biscuit fix!
I think they may have given me an extra game piece because I appear to be out of holes and I still have a game piece. What is up with that?
Anyway you just keep pulling out game pieces from their slots until the shark jumps out at you. Eventually one of these is supposed to make it jump. Let’s see. Yeah, there we go. And so it does! And I guess that whatever mechanism is built into the bottom of the game that triggers the shark to jump must mechanically rotate so you don’t have the same slot triggering the jump each time. It must have some kind of spring mechanism.
Moving on, I apparently have got some stickering to do… We’ve got the green eyes here… And then we have the stuff we need to stick on the die. So I will start with the die and end with the eyes because I think the eyes are going to be the more dramatic thing.
The die stickers tell you how many fish you’re supposed to retrieve from the shark’s mouth. You have five single fish stickers and one double fish sticker obviously indicating that you get to pull two fish if you roll that.
So while I’m here stickering, let’s briefly talk abou the Game of JAWS…
The game of JAWS was a game / toy (TWAG) marketed to kids back in 1975 about the horror movie JAWS where a Great White Shark goes crazy and eats everything and everyone!
I played the game of JAWS when I was a kid. It was an ugly looking plastic shark. It was kind of gaunt, actually. You had to put the stickers on for the eyes like we’re doing here with Shark Bite, if I recall correctly. So every kid I knew with this game had an ugly, skinny shark with eyes stuck on all wrong. Then you had to hook these rubber bands into its mouth to make it open and close.(…) And keep the mouth open, you piled garbage into its mouth to weigh down the jaws.
And then you’d fish stuff out until the weight got light enough in its mouth to where the rubber bands would close the mouth. And if it closed on you, it was game over man, game over! You lose!
Years later, this very same game was rebranded and sold as Sharky’s Diner. See I told you you’d learn something new today!
… And it appears that the die is all ready to go here. And yeah, I did a not so great job either, but they’re easy to peel off and reposition if you don’t like the quality of how you’ve done. But I’m just gonna leave it funky. I just don’t care.
Okay, now you’ve gotta be careful with the eyes. It’s easy to get the eyes wrong here. You kind of look at the at the way the eyes are formed and then you can figure out the correct one. I have learned with stickers, you want to do them very, very lightly at first in case you need to adjust.
I think I did an okay job on that eye. It’s kind of glaring at me right now. One more eye to stick and let’s see how I do on this one… It’s kind of clunky to do.
Come on, Pressman Toys! How hard would it have been just to just to stick the eyes on for us? I have it adhered now. It’s not perfect, but I don’t think anybody could tell the difference.
All right. We’re going to pry open the mouth and press the entire body of the shark down until it locks into place. It’s just a big spring like an accordion. The whole game is just one giant spring loaded contraption. It’s kind of like a bear trap almost.(…) And then just take all the fish and you shove / lock them down into these holes. And there’s little ball ends on the part you stick down into the mouth. So it kind of sets into the triggers.
This game appears to be one of those that just could not possibly be simpler. And I like simple. It doesn’t need to be complicated. It just needs to be fun!
All right. Let’s roll this die and make it happen! I rolled one fish. You’re not allowed to grab two. You’re not allowed to double hook or anything like that. Just one single fish is all you’re allowed to do and kind of pulls up a little sleeve up there in the mechanism. And I guess if the sleeve is the one that triggers it off, then it sets off the shark and you just don’t know which one it will be. And this fish goes flying!
…But it didn’t trigger the shark bite.
(…) Roll again.
(…) One fish. Let’s try for a crab here. They, they don’t stay on the hook very well and fly off when you pull it from the mouth.
Little kids will enjoy this. I think adults will like this too for a little while. They’ll play it with their kids and have fun. It couldn’t possibly be easier to do.
(…) Well, let’s roll again. Maybe I’ll get the two fish. Nope. I just keep getting the one fish. It’s okay.
SHARK JUMPS! The shark bites me! The game stops now and everybody counts their fish / game pieces.
One important note: If it bites and the shark catches the fish before you get it out of the mouth, you can’t sit there and force it out. If it bites and catches your fish, then you don’t get that fish and it doesn’t count.
AND THAT’S PRETTY MUCH IT!
So there you go. The game of SHARK BITE! Inspired by the game of JAWS.
I like it! It’s got a great look. It’s built simply, built solidly. This is not cheapy plastic that if you drop it, it’s going to break. No batteries. How nice is that to have a game or a toy that springs to life for you without needing batteries?
You got something you can really hold in your hands and have fun with and play and you can chase your brothers and sisters around the room and scare the heck out of them!
Although you’ve got to put the stickers on the die and eyes which is kind of a hassle. I mean, come on. 20 bucks for the here. It should come with the decals already stuck on. You know, I get a lot of games with toys that are like $14 and things like that buzz and do all sorts of things and I never have to put stickers on anything especially the die!
But on the other hand, this also makes it kind of a fun project as well. So I don’t want to complain too much.
I’ll tell you what, I’ll give it a solid eight and a half here because I think everyone can have fun with this. Adults are going to get bored with it pretty easily, but kids are going to have a whole lot of fun. And when you’re sick of playing the game, you got this cool shark toy that you can chase people around with.
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