Sunday, June 08, 2008


Top Trumps was and still is I guess a very popular card game, essentially all they are is a set of cards of a certain subject [usually cars, planes, boats, ships, bikes etc] which has a picture of whatever car, plane etc, the name of the subject and a list of categories such as MPH [miles per hour], HP [horse power], etc for cars, then it gives those sums for that category. You deal the cards out among the players who keep just the top card facing up and the first player picks a category and says it out loud to the next player, who ever has the highest wins the other person's card and you just carry on until one person wins all the cards. Simple but addictive, plus you learn something that may or may not impress someone. Whenever we played Top trumps it was always the way you asked if you wanted to play 'Do you wanna game of Top Farts?' or a game of Top [followed by a raspberry noise].

The Horror Top Trumps were 2 sets [Dracula and Devil Priest], obviously the same format as other Top trumps but this time we had cool monsters such as The Fiend, The Beast, Thor, Creature from the Black lagoon, Lizard Man, Death, The Ghoul, Man eating Plant, Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein, Headhunter, Circus of Death, The Risen dead, Maggot, Wolfman etc. Some of the monsters were made up, but others were familiar horror characters or monsters from horror films. Some of the images taken from horror films were sometimes called something else on the cards such as The Reptile from the Hammer film was called here The Freak, or there is an image of Lon Chaney snr as the Vampire from London after midnight, here he his called The Mad Magician, not that it really matters. The categories for the Horror top trumps are Physical strength, fear factor, Killing Power, and Horror Rating.

Above we see the 2 covers of both sets, examples from both sets and the back of a card.


Jack said...

Nice blog. I'll keep reading. Check out mine here

Ursa said...

Seriously awesome, though the art direction and naming makes me laugh sometimes. "Mad Magician"

Anything involving "London After Midnight" can open up a whole can of worms. There is a lot of interesting trivia to do with that movie, including the actual film reel itself.

Interesting that Quasimodo is wearing a crown on his head. Some kind of depressing aspiration or insane delusion of grandeur?

Quite cool to see Mr Lee as Dracula instead of our usual widow peaked pal Bela.

Also the common mistake of calling the monster "Frankenstein" but now I probably just sound pompous... ;)

I still play with trump cards!

Karswell said...

Yeah, the art here is strangley cool yet scratchy / flimsy at the same time, not quite as slick as you'd normally see on a trading card set. I do like them all very much though. I guess for the made up cards you mean Devil Priest and Killer Rat... I find it interesting they'd pull out some odd characters like "Prince of Darkness" from Onibaba, or "Madman" from Doomwatch '72.

Paul said...

Hi Jack,
Glad you like it and continue to. Thanks for the link to your blog, I'll have a look.


Hi Ursa

Yes it is quite funny the names that some of the monsters were given, I suppose it was either down copyright in some way or they changed the names to go more with the game. Still it makes them a little bit more fun in a way.

There does seem to be a lot of trivia on London after Midnight, but its the lost film itself that seem to create claims from some people claiming that a copy as been found, but nothing comes of it, Whats the point?

I think Quasimodeo is wearing a crown in the picture because he wore one in one of the film versions during the Festival of Fools.


Hi Karswell
The cards here are not trading cards these are from a popular card game.

Yes I agree the artwork on these cards are strangely cool.
I think there are some other made up monsters/characters as well as The Devil Priest and killer Rat, I love the idea of a giant Rat in trousers.
Yes there raeally is some unusual choices for the monsters that were used which also makes the cards more interesting and a nice change from just sticking to the more familiar ones.

niki said...

I adored my set of these. Never could work out why King King scored so highly though. Also, seem to recall a Fu Manchu card...?


I love your site, it's one of the most interesting I have come across. So many things here which I used to have and that have since been wiped from my memory, including these cards.
I didn't realise Horror Bags have such a cult following! I was also quite astounded to see the Radio Times cover with Night of the Demon on it. I distinctly remember this being the start of the summer season of double bills and poring over that particular cover.

Paul said...

Yes there is a Fu Manchu card, I can't remember if he is named different in the set.

Hi John

Thank you so much for the very kind comments,its very much appriciated. Its nice to know that I am bringing back many fond memories, it also does the same for me in some way.
Its a shame that they don't do these horror bills on TV like they used to do and the same goes for double bills at the cinema. It's great that the Radio Times covered 'Night of the Demon' and 'The Ghoul'double bill, its a rare occasion that the Radio Times would have a horror themed cover.

Anonymous said...

About 1977/78, shops like WH Smiths were stacked with "pocket money" stuff like Top Trumps. They were everywhere and these horror ones can't have been popular because they were later seen in the bargain bins. Cheaper rip off sets appeared, but part of the lure of the real Trumps were that they came in a special clear plastic case.

Call Family said...

I was doing a search trying to locate these particular cards. I had both sets when I was a kid growing up in Suffolk. I had all of them well through my teenage years, except Thor which I lost shortly after I got Set 2. I love the artwork, and as a kid I was petrified of the high Priestess of Zoltan to the extent that when I handled the card I couldn't bring myself to touch the picture. I thought that the first set was superior to the second and it was clear to me that the art was slightly different between sets, the lines on the second being thinner. You can see the complete sets at this website, no idea whose site it is: the second set links at the bottom.

Notice that the vampire Bat from the first set is the only card whose Fear Factor is not exactly 10 points less than Physical Strength, so I always thought the Fear Factor was a useless category. Also The Freak from Set 1 is exactly the same stats as the Zetan Priest from set 2. I think this is the only identical stats.

Very interesting to see a blog on this. These cards were an integral part of my childhood.

Personal favorites: Man-Eating Plant, Prince of Darkness, Venusian Death Cell

Paul said...

Yes I remember that W.H.Smith was a great place for buying all sorts of stuff like the Top Trumps. I remember buying the Ladybird horror classic books which were Dracula, Frankenstein, Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde, and The Mummy, great books with wonderful illustrations. The ones I bought also had a dramatized version of the Ladybird books on cassette.
I wish I had bought a few packs of the Horror Top trumps at the time, probally didn't have much pocket money at the time.

videotime said...

I have these!
Wow I got them when I was a little kid and have treasured them ever since. I love the artwork.

Matt C said...

Why is Fear factor always 10 points lower than Physical strength(except for the vampire bat)?

Anonymous said...

Check out this screen print

Gordon said... Here's the cards and the films that inspired the art work. There's a link to the second pack. I tried to track down the artist but had no luck...maybe it was Rolf Harris since he worked for Dubreq? Any help on this would be great.

yiorgos said...

i have these cards. do they have a resale value?