Leapin’ Letters (1969)

6 Jul

After an extended break, I return with one of the silliest games I’ve ever come across. I’ve been playing games all my life, but I’ve really made gaming a hobby in the past 15-20 years. In that time, I’ve found my favorite shopping locations to have changed dramatically. When I first started, I stuck mainly to malls, and mainstream toy stores. We used to have an awesome mall store in Columbus called Games People Play (R.I.P.) in the City Center Mall (R.I.P.). After that closed, I started to wander more to more specific hobby stores like the Guardtower and Soldiery. Until a couple years ago, they’ve been perfectly fine for me (and they still are great stores), but recently I’ve become a bit dissatisfied. Not because they don’t carry the latest and greatest…because they both do, but because the latest and greatest just aren’t exciting me right now. Even the Origins convention which recently took place in Columbus, Ohio didn’t have a whole bunch of exciting new games. I did find a booth that had stacks of 1970s games. I bought one great old board game, and one with a mechanical chicken (hellooooo future posts!)

It’s the small games, or the old games that have me interested. And that’s the main reason why my favorite places to look for games these days are antique shops. Sire, 90% of the time, all you see are old copies of Monopoly for $30…but sometimes you find the little weird games like Leapin’ Letters for $5.

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Leapin’ Letters is a very simple game. Each player is given a card, face down, containing a very psychedelic drawing of a pretend animal. Inside the animal are the four letters that spell out it’s name. On a turn, a player is to quickly draw two letters out of the box. They say to not try and feel around for the right letters.  The letters are giant, chunky plastic letters, it can be pretty easy to tell what you’re picking out, but it’s key that you don’t “try” to just pull out the letters you need.

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If the one or both of the letters appear in the name of your animal, you put it or them in front of you face up. If you have unusable letters in your hand – well, that’s when the Leapin’ comes into play. Because, as you can see in the picture below, the lid of the game is also a catapult.

IMG_2120That’s right, you load up one of your wrong letters, and then smack down on the red dot, and send that letter into the air! The other players then have to try and figure out what that letter is, and if they need it, they have to catch it before it hits the table. If you grab the wrong letter, don’t worry, just launch it on your next turn. The first player to successfully spell the name of their animal, and have no extra letters in their hand, wins. It’s all a very silly game.

My 3 year-old niece loved just shooting the letters into the air and trying to catch them. For some reason, I could also see a group of very drunk college students turning this into a full contact game. The catapult, with a solid adult strength smack, can throw these letters over 10 feet in the air. I could see people standing around the edge of a room, and then racing in and jumping for the letters like a ball in Australian Rules Football.

I will say, I did have one of those “woah” moments when I was checking the game’s contents at the store. I even turned to my friend and asked “does this say what I think it says?” Of course, it didn’t, but with the very stylized way letters are written, there was one card that at first looked like a racial slur. After I took a second, I realized it said YOOK…still, for a moment there I wondered what kind of game I was buying.

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To finish up: Leapin’ Letters was designed by Marvin Glass. The man designed tons of games over the years, and many of them had amazing “toy” value. A few of his games include Mouse Trap, Operation, Which Witch, Ants in the Pants, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, and Hands Down among many others. I know I have a couple others in my collection that I may have to spotlight another time.

Thanks for reading!

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3 Responses to “Leapin’ Letters (1969)”

  1. Matthew Bennion December 17, 2016 at 1:37 pm #

    Hi, I don’t suppose you could post a picture of the Kreg? A childhood hero of mine.

    • scooterb23 December 19, 2016 at 7:52 pm #

      I most certainly can! I may need a couple days to get to it…but I will gladly post the Kreg.

    • scooterb23 January 23, 2017 at 10:40 pm #

      Bear with me a little while longer, I had some medical things which kept me laid up for a bit, and now I can’t find the game! We hid it from my niece because she was getting to the point where she could hit the ceiling fan with the catapult. So we hid the game from her…but nobody remembers where. Sorry!

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