Synopsis of Toy
"He just can’t keep his big mouth shut!"
If Pac-Man were three-dimensional and plastic, he’d look a lot like the original Mr. Mouth. This 1976 game from Tomy featured a big, bald, yellow plastic head—not quite human but not quite inhuman; not quite malicious but certainly not opposed to the occasional temper tantrum.
Using one of the four catapult ‘arms’ that came in the box, the object was simple: flip as many of your tokens into Mr. Mouth as you could. But the Mouth didn’t make it easy on you—because apparently somebody’s mom didn’t teach him to chew with his mouth closed. You had to time the length of your toss, the position of your token when it reached its target, and where Mr. Mouth was in his chewing process. On the other hand, you could just flip tokens and random, and hope for the best.
Whoever got all his tokens inside the golden jaws first won, but if Mr. Mouth wore out your patience, and you cut your game short, whoever had the most tokens inside was declared Champion of the Chops. The colored tokens matched each player’s colored tossing-arm, so don’t even think about cheating.
Later on, after Tomy was gobbled up by that hungry toy Goliath we call Milton Bradley, the game was revamped. Mr. Mouth became a green frog, because an amphibian makes for a better nemesis than a big yellow, well, whatever that thing was. Besides, the “feed-the-frog” game is a lot easier to say than the “feed the yellow thing of undetermined species.” And with this version, players tried to flip flies, not plastic tokens, into the green guy’s snapping choppers.
Game hucksters promised parents that the game would improve hand-eye coordination, and maybe that’s true. But when mom and dad turned their backs at the dinner table, we kids did our own take on the Mr. Mouth game, with one tosser and one snapping-mouthed receiver. But we did it with corn kernels and lima beans instead of tokens, and our games only lasted the few moments it took for our parents to turn back around.