Requiring only a pencil and paper, the game of tic-tac-toe can be played practically anywhere, and has served as a remedy for boredom to many a young child over the years, at least until they get old enough to realize that a match between two skilled players is apt to lead to a draw, and draws just aren’t fun. In 1969, the creative minds at Ideal Toys found a way to reimagine tic-tac-toe as a carnival game of sorts, where luck and finesse were just as important as strategy. The game was called Toss Across and it soon found its way into millions of homes, becoming a beloved toy to a generation of 70s kids and beyond.
Toss Across consists of a square playing surface containing a 3×3 grid of nine targets. Each target is a three-sided rotating block with a blank side, an “X” and an “O.” Players stand a few feet from the playing surface, each armed with three small beanbags. They take turns lobbing the bags at the board, in an attempt to line up either three Xs or Os. Sounds simple, right?
Well, not quite. An imprecise throw can have disastrous effects on your strategy, since it is entirely possible for a beanbag to change multiple blocks at a time, depending on where it lands. You can be one square away from winning one moment, and begrudgingly congratulating your opponent the next. A skilled throw can even change an entire row in the blink of an eye. It is these types of uncertainties that make Toss Across such an unpredictable and addictive game.
Toss Across became an instant hit for Ideal, who licensed many versions of the game over the years. Now produced by Mattel, there are versions with movie, television or sports tie-ins, as well as an electronic version and one that can be played in a swimming pool. No matter how you prefer your Toss Across, one thing is for certain, it is far more challenging than the simple game it is derived from, and as such, is still a popular seller to this day.
If you have fond memories of playing Toss Across, or of throwing beanbags at your siblings under the guise of playing this popular game, we welcome all of your recollections in our comments section, as we tip our hats to this beloved part of childhood, here at Retroland.