Never before has cardboard caused so many arguments. Pogs were a playground craze during the mid 90s where competitors would stack brightly coloured cardboard discs and using a plastic “kini” attempt to knock down the tower and flip the discs over.
With such a simple concept and also pocket money friendly the game took off big time. There were many different designs meaning you could also collect the discs, with the ones featuring Pogman being the most valuable. Whilst all this sounds fun and simple enough, it was when fans started playing for “keeps” that all hell would break loose.
“Keeps” was when players would agree that however many Pogs were flipped over would be kept by that person, meaning that if you were a poor player you could have your whole collection taken off you by a Pog hustler in a few games. I was a prime example on my housing estate, looking for weaker players to beat to boost my stack.
This mild form of gambling was frowned upon in the States, but here in Britain the real problem was the verbal or physical confrontations that often followed a game of Pogs. You could tell who had been playing in school because their face would be stained by the tears of losing their prized collection, or mugged as they’d tried to collect their winnings.
Controversy also occurred in my estate thanks to my attempt to bend the rules. I invested in a metal kini called a Shredder which was so effective it could flip over a stack of 10 Pogs with ease. It was the equivalent of me hitting a golf ball with a driver and someone else using a baguette. Involved in a couple of scrapes myself, the Shredder was banned and I went back to hunting down my poor Pog player prey.
At the height of their popularity I bought myself a Pog maker, where you could cut out pictures from magazines and stick them onto a piece of cardboard, meaning I could make entire collections featuring Newcastle United or the Welsh rugby team.
But as my passion for the stars on these discs developed, my interest in the game decreased and Pogs died out just as quickly as they arrived on the scene, and never to be remembered for the great game that it was but the incredible amount of playground degeneration that it caused.