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Swack! from Ideal (1968)


Released in 1968 by Ideal, the Swack! game teases audiences to “Take the cheese with care…do you dare?”

Similar to other games of anticipation, such as Pie Face and Perfection, Swack! tests players’ nerves as they anxiously make their moves under imminent threat of a jump scare.

The object of the game is “to carefully take cheese pieces off the trap and be the first player to reach the finish space on the Big Cheese Scoreboard.” Players accomplish this task through a series of moves while risking triggering the giant mousetrap that is the centrepiece of the game.

Inside the game box is a supersize mousetrap, a scoreboard shaped as a half-round of cheese, four mover (player) pegs in red, yellow, green, and blue, along with large and small pieces of plastic cheese.

The cheese pieces are placed on a tray on the trap and the trap is spring-loaded in the easy, medium, or advanced position using an elastic attached to a mechanism underneath the trap. With the player pegs positioned at the start position, players take turns removing one to three pieces of cheese from the tray, hoping to avoid setting off the trap. When the cheese pieces are successfully removed, the player earns points and advance their peg towards the finish line.

When a player sets off the trap – getting their hand swacked in the process – they must move their peg back ten spaces and all players place their cheese back on the tray and the trap is reset. This cycle continues until one of the players reaches the finish line and wins the game.

Collectors looking to add Swack! to their inventory won’t have to look long – games appear regularly on eBay and Etsy. The component most commonly missing is the original elastic used to provide tension for the trap, as these degraded over time. Replacements are as a close as your nearest drawer of miscellaneous office supplies.

“If  you’re real, real careful, you’ll get more cheese than your friends and win.” Watch a vintage commercial for Swack! on the Toy Tales YouTube channel.

Explore classic toys and games that captured our attention and never let go.