Released in 1964 by Ideal, Hands Down was a high-energy game in which 3-4 active participants could get “slap happy.” Hands Down drew inspiration from children’s “slap” card games like Snap and Slap Jack. It included the Slam-O-Matic, a large, blue, all-plastic unit placed in the center of the play area. The unit included four coloured hands, each positioned palms-up and 90-degrees apart from each other – one per player.
To start the game, each player is dealt four cards from a deck of 42. On each turn, players draw cards and, if a player can form a matching pair, they slap down their coloured hand to “play the pair.” Other players follow suit by slapping their own coloured hands as quickly as possible. The player who slaps last loses the round and must relinquish one of their cards at random. The object of the game is to make the most pairs and score the most points.
Adding to the fun chaos is the concept of a “fake.” Upon drawing a non-matching card, a player can pretend (often with great dramatic flair) to slap their coloured hand. If an opponent falls for the trick, that opponent is forced to relinquish one of their cards. This option adds a level of strategy and certainly ups the volume of game play, lending credence to Ideal’s description of the game as, “the slaphappiest game ever!”
Hands Down has been re-released several times, first by Milton Bradley in the late 1980s, and most recently by Alex Toys under a new name, Slap Happy.
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