Marblehead from Ideal (1969)

Company: Ideal | Release date: 1969 | # of players: 2-4 | Where to purchase: eBay

Released in 1969 from Ideal, the Marblehead game used players’ observation skills to drop marbles from a clear plastic marble head.

While Marblehead shared some similar elements with KerPlunk, the objectives were different. KerPlunk players aimed to drop the fewest marbles into their tray while Marblehead players tried to drop the most marbles.


Two to four players set up the game by placing a perforated hollow plastic head on top of a base. A cardboard jacket illustrated with the likeness of a man’s face was then slipped over the plastic head. This prevented (most of) the marbles from dropping out of the head as they were poured in.

With the marbles in place, the cardboard jacket was removed. Any marbles that escaped through the holes in the head were left out of the game.

At the beginning of their turn, a player slid their plastic tray into the space under the game’s base. Players analysed the marbles in an effort to determine which move would cause the most marbles to fall from the game and into their tray. Players poked their finger into the game and manoeuvred their chosen marble out the other side, causing a collection of marbles to fall into their tray. Unlucky players who misjudged the arrangement of the marbles could wind up with no marbles and would have to wait for their next turn to try again.

This play pattern continued for all players.

The winner was the one with the most marbles in their tray once all the marbles had emptied from the head.


A complete game included a plastic Marblehead head and base, one cardboard jacket, four marble trays (blue, yellow, green, and red), and marbles. Instructions were printed on the underside of the box top.


While Marblehead didn’t earn the same affection as KerPlunk, the game is a fun addition to a collection for its unusual concept and design. It is suitable for very young players while still having entertainment value for adults. Complete editions of the game and replacement parts are relatively easy to find through online marketplaces and secondhand stores.

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