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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

AFICIONADO CLASSIC REVIEW (2009): 'STAR WARS/INDY' TOP TRUMPS BOOKS



STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES - THE TOP TRUMPS SERIES BOOKS

Both books and the TOP TRUMPS games from WINNING MOVES UK LTD

Published by HAYNES PUBLISHING


Reviewed by Scott Weller


Darth Vader fighting Jawas, Han Solo versus the Rancor, Wedge versus Wicket!! (I’d pay to see that one!!) Unlikely combat scenarios in the STAR WARS Saga you may think, but not in the wonderful world of TOP TRUMPS gaming! I’ve always loved the TOP TRUMPS statistics card game since I was about seven years old, where you pitch your set of the best and the brightest characters against your opponents set in the ultimate one upman-ship challenge. Growing up in the school playground I had the MARVEL SUPERHEROES ones and I played it with my friends ALL THE TIME!!! My favourite card to have, pretty much capable of whooping everybody else, was The Vision (Marvel Comics answer to Mister Spock from STAR TREK-superior intellect and ass-kicking physical strength!). By the time of STAR WARS original theatrical release, I always wondered why there wasn’t a set on the films-I mean, DOCTOR WHO had cards and that was just a TV show, and so did animals and tanks, so why didn’t STAR WARS? Well, it seemed that the game disappeared from kid’s collectiveness through most of the eighties and nineties as home computers and other electronic worlds of wonder took over the market, and mums and dads soon found themselves penniless for years to come!! But by the release of the STAR WARS SPECIAL EDITIONs in the late nineties, and the subsequent Prequels, retro games of all types had become cool again and were starting to make a welcome, some would say inevitable, return. Some games were more successful than others, but all of a sudden TOP TRUMPS was back and it seemed to have captured the kid friendly, accessible and nicely priced market as fast as the Falcon could make the Kessel Run. The STAR WARS universe, and now INDIANA JONES, would soon thrive within the TOP TRUMPS publishing peak and now the company diversifies further, into new means of pleasurable exploitation, with the release of two companion books to each film series, all full colour and lavishly illustrated to accompany their prior released cards sets. And boy, these books are beautiful, too. Nicely packaged with stunning selections of pictures (many of which are rare-with never been seen or different out take images to the kind of ones you always see in magazines (we assume downloaded from the Lost Ark-I mean, the STAR WARS PHOTO ARCHIVE section at LUCASFILM!!), the information prose on all the characters within both universes, by author/respected DC comics scribe Benjamin Harper, is expertly written and nicely presented, with a zest that is nice to read, and, whether you’re a TOP TRUMPS fan or not, its fun looking at all the statistics for the numerous characters-you may not always agree with them but you can have a damned good laugh looking at such iconic entries as Max Reebo and Salacious Crumb from STAR WARS.

The INDIANA JONES book is equally as good as the STAR WARS one, and also boasts some more photos I’d never seen before, and focusing further on some of the lesser characters we didn’t see much of in the films, especially the first three, like the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword from LAST CRUSADE, Major Eaton from RAIDERS (we miss you, William Hootkins!!) as well as more modern ones like the love ‘em or loath ‘em Inter-Dimensional Beings from the under-rated KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL. Heck, even Herman Mueller, the annoying boy scout from LAST CRUSADE, gets a look in...

Only one slight criticism and that is some of the terrific spread pics- designed for both books with note and love by Lee Parsons, especially some of the rarer ones, get a little lost and are located too near the edge of the books middle/spine area- you often have to spread open the book to look at them-on a personal level, and as a collector, I don’t like to damage the spines, but hey, these lovely items are more aimed at casual buyers than anything else: the kids who won’t mind thumbing the book ‘till its pages fall out, taking the books to school and on the bus, etc… showing them to their friends and saying, “Wow, look at this picture!,” and reading it until they have literally got it committed to memory. That’s how it should be. I should know about these things-I was one of ‘em!!

The success of TOP TRUMPS, with such good production values, is now undisputed and well deserved, especially in Britain where THE WINNING MOVES company that owns the game rights have released their own statistics revealing that a pack is bought, just in this territory alone, every six seconds-LUCASFILM LICENSING must have been very happy when they were made aware of that information!

AFICIONADO RATING: Superb quality books, with well selected and printed photography, and engaging accompanying texts. Nicely priced and worth the money, these are must have books for any STAR WARS/INDY fans collections, especially if they love great photography from both film series. 9 out of 10

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