Domino Rally

Domino Rally

While Dominoes are really nothing more than a form of playing cards stamped onto blocks of wood, they’ve become infamous for something they were never intended to do … fall over. The Pressman Toy Company took note of this in the early 80s, releasing Domino Rally – a toy that allowed you to arrange colorful falling blocks in ways you never imagined.

Domino Rally was the brainchild of a teenager named Jason Carroll who designed the system with his father, then sold it to Pressman. During the few decades of its existence, Domino Rally wore many faces, but certain features remained constant to almost every set. Perhaps one of the more famous domino displays was the Starburst, five rows of dominoes triggered by a single one spreading out from each other.

The sets also included bridges that allowed dominoes to pass both over and under. Zig Zags resembled bridges in that they had a row of stairs leading to the top. Another handy accessory was the steel ball (triggered by the falling dominoes) that wound its way down a crooked ramp and struck the next chain of dominoes.

For those who found these features a little obvious, Domino Rally took to the air with other novelties such as the rocket launcher. The chain reaction would send another steel ball into a triggering mechanism that shot a small aircraft a glorious– albeit short – distance. To top off the coolness, the fins on the rocket started not one, not two, but three more chains of dominoes.

As cool as Domino Rally’s features were, the biggest draw that tempted one to drop twenty dollars on a box was the assembly accessories. Dominoes could easily be snapped into a “pivot track” that maintained a perfect line or scaled bridges with ease. More importantly, all the dominoes could be set right back up again with a flick of a lever.

“Domino Dealers” and “Pathmakers” soon followed, all designed to help those with little patience or hand-eye coordination to fully enjoy a good domino tumbling session. These handy contraptions helped even the most inept domino assembler lay out an immaculate line of dominoes across any flat surface one saw fit.

The 1990s brought more complex assemblies. Catering to those needing a late-night domino fix, Pressman released dominoes that glowed in the dark. Some sets tried to crossover into other popular toys with helicopters, hang gliders, surfboards, etc. A “Mad Lab Set” featured an Eerie Eyeball and a vat of Bubbling Brains for those who liked their dominoes served with a generous helping of “yuck.”

By the mid-90s, Pressman had run the well dry on new innovations and Domino Rally was discontinued. Thankfully Goliath Games resurrected the concept in 2012, allowing a new generation of domino stackers the equipment needed to create dazzling displays of their own.

Were you the proud owner of any of the Domino Rally sets? We would love to hear all of your thoughts and memories of this innovative toy in our comments section below.

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