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High Gear from Mattel (1963)


This commercial for High Gear alluded to the game’s complex rule set.

In 1963, Mattel released High Gear, the “mechanical maneuver game.”

The 16-inch by 10-inch plastic playing board housed 10 interlocking gears in multiple colours. Once set up, two to four players, ages seven to adult, spun and dialed each move on the new gear. Players had to guess which way all the gears would whirl to advance each of their four pegs and to send back “enemy” pegs. The object was to be the first player to race all of one’s pegs from Gear No. 1 to High Gear.

According to advertising at the time, the gears in High Gear could whirl in 35,568 different patterns. The number of combinations led Mattel to develop a fairly complex rule set for the game, which included a variety of strategic maneuvers with fun names like “Hold the Clutch” and “Turn High Gear.”

Remember the toys and games of years past through vintage advertising – for better and for worse!