Tomy was a Japanese company that put out a lot of toys and games. I say “was” because a few years ago it merged with another Japanese toy company, Takara, to form Takara Tomy. In the days before handheld gaming systems, handheld games came in analog format. You had games filled with water where you pressed a button and tried to get a ring or ball into the right spot. Then you had the Tomy Pocket Games. While they started coming out in 1975, it appears that it wasn’t until the last 70’s and early 80’s that it really became popular.

Above you see the four I still have. (Actually I had one more, a game called “Time’s Up“, but the timer broke and the game became unplayable. That was pretty fun. Get the ball through the maze or at least into a scoring spot before the time ran out and the ball became stuck.) My tripod broke before taking these pictures, so this is the best one of the group. Luckily I found a site that has better pics of most of them, so click the links for those.

I lost the green faceplate thing.

Pocket Poker” is an odd one for me to have now much less as a kid who knew nothing about poker. Even now I don’t really know the rules. I can’t tell a full house from a royal flush. I’m more of a Blackjack person. I just had fun playing a matching game, spinning the wheels, and then when I had the one I thought I wanted, locking it into place. How close that is to actual poker or even video poker, well I’m the wrong guy to ask.

As of this writing, the site doesn't have a better picture.

Wow, that one came out bad. “Mouse House” is a game that uses ball bearings that you spin around on that little dick on the top. The goal is to get your ball bearing mouse into the 10 or 5 point spots by pushing the button on the bottom. If you hit it at the right time the lift will shoot it into the points. Otherwise you go “out”, where the cat is waiting for you. Hope he has a strong digestive system.

First poker now horse racing. Is Tomy trying to corrupt the youth?

Horsing Around” requires the honor system. You spin the wheel and the pink part stops on a certain number (using a stopper button) and you move your horse forwards or backwards that number of spaces. This was more fun with someone else, as there was a horse on both the inside and outside of the track. Therefore, unlike the other games you didn’t have to wait until the other guy finished his game, just his turn. (Or her.) You could also race yourself. Sometimes I would see which hand could move their horse the faster. 🙂

It's cracked, but it still works.

Finally we come to “Tomy Pac-Man“, based on the video game. Since having him run from ghost monsters was pretty much impossible with these kinds of games they didn’t try. Instead you used the same ball bearing wheel as Mouse House only this time you played Pachinko (or Pac-hinko, and yes I hate myself for that pun) and tried to catch the ball by moving Pac-Man left or right. You only had one score center and one out center. Get more into score than out and you win. It isn’t as fun as the video game, of course, but pre-Game Boy it was the only way to play Pac-Man on the way to grandma’s house.

Nobody produces these kinds of games anymore, since most kids have a Nintendo DS or Play Station Portable, but they’re still fun to play today, requires no batteries, and doesn’t require earphones. (Although the spinner on Horsing Around is a tad louder than dad may like by the second hour–luckily my grandparents were pretty close by.) They don’t take up a lot of space (they were designed to fit into your pocket) and I still enjoy breaking them out on occasion.

Decision: keep