“Here’s a game for those who like wild and wacky excitement!”
Released in 1971 by Ideal, the Tornado Bowl game had players battle the frenzied forces of a tornado inside a tabletop arena.
Tornado Bowl was similar in play pattern to the company’s Battling Tops game designed by Eddy Goldfarb and released in 1968. Both games had moulded blue plastic playing surfaces, scoreboards along the edge of the game, and spinning tops providing the central action of the game.
Each player took position at one of the four corners of the Tornado Bowl arena. They selected the pins corresponding to the colour of the swinging arms affixed to the playing surface nearest to their corner. The arms served as gates to protect a player’s pins from the spinning tornado.
Each pin had a small recess on the bottom that sat atop a raised point in the arena. Pins were arranged within a player’s section of the arena.
With the pins at the ready, a player was chosen to release the tornado. The tornado launcher was positioned above the tornado top and wound until it met resistance. The tornado was then dropped into the arena by pressing a release button on the top of the launcher.
Players worked feverishly to protect their pins from the tornado. Slidable levers located at each of the four corners of the arena moved the gates. The goal was to prevent the pins from falling by bumping the tornado over to an opponent’s territory.
Two games were played in each round. When the tornado stopped spinning, players removed their fallen pins from the arena and the tornado was launched again. Players who had the misfortune of losing all their pins in the first game stayed in the game with the goal of knocking the tornado into other territories.
Once the second game was completed, players counted the pins still standing within their area and earned points for each standing pin. Pegs placed in the perforations along the edge of the arena kept track of scores.
For the next round, players again set up their pins. The player to the left of the previous starter was given the tornado launcher and top to begin the next round.
The first player to score 15 points won the game.
IN THE BOX
A complete game of Tornado Bowl included a plastic arena with four plugs for the legs, a spinning tornado top, a tornado launcher, 20 pegs (five each in red, blue, yellow, and green), and four score pegs. Instructions were printed inside the box top.
Tornado Bowl isn’t a rare game and can readily be found through online marketplaces such as eBay. As always when buying vintage games, be aware that some components may be missing or broken. Exuberant gameplay was hard on the levers, which could break with use. The mechanism inside the tornado launcher could be overwound, causing it to break. Missing pins can be replenished with parts from other copies of the game.