Grandstand Mini Arcade Games from 1982

By Mark Nobes

Do you remember playing with one of the many Grandstand mini arcade games that were popular back in the early 1980s? Well, I have quite a few of them to show you in this post!

Now, although these bleepy tabletop and LCD games were very basic, they were for many people their first experience of playing electronic arcade games in the comfort of their own homes. The smaller, pocket-sized handheld games were also perfect for playing while out and about with your friends. No doubt, many parents found them useful for keeping the kids quiet on a long trip to the seaside! I say quiet, but the units themselves could be pretty noisy in a bleepy kind of way, of course!

Grandstand was based in the UK and New Zealand, and produced a wide range of gaming consoles and portable/handheld electronic games back in the 1970s and 80s.

Portable single game arcade units became hugely popular before the launch of the 8- bit home computers such as the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64. There were many available with built-in watches, such as the Nintendo Game & Watch series, which were eventually replaced by the Game Boy.

A selection of Grandstand Mini Arcade Games. Argos catalogue page from 1982.
I recently found this full page from an old Argos catalogue, and although the date isn't given, I believe it is 1982. Many of these games were launched in 1981, but Scramble wasn't released until 1982, and is included on the page. So let's take a closer look at some of them.


There were two versions of Munchman by Grandstand. The pocket-sized, LCD Mini Munchman version of their larger but still portable Munchman game, also included a stopwatch and alarm clock. It was based on the Namco Pac-Man arcade maze game,  (which launched in 1980) which was, of course, hugely popular around this time. The bigger Munchman tabletop unit was also distributed by Tomy as Puckman in other countries.

Pocket Pac-Man

Anyone who received Munch-Man in 1981/82, may have been rather annoyed when they discovered that Grandstand released a Pocket Pac-man game in 1983, which also included a stopwatch and alarm.

Astro Wars

Astro Wars was one of my favourite Grandstand Games, and I remember it featured an LED colour vacuum display. It was basically a shoot the alien invaders game in a similar style to Space Invaders and Galaxian. Some invaders dropped down towards your missile launcher, which could be tricky to deal with. The game was also distributed by Epoch as Galaxy 2, and the Grandstand version came out in 1981, just a year after Invader From Space.

Grandstand Invader From Space, Electronic Game. Box

Invader From Space

Talking of which, Invader From Space was the first of the tabletop games released by Grandstand, and was released in 1980. I do remember someone at school bringing in one of these units. The screen itself was very narrow with just four columns. It was basically a slower LCD version of Space Invaders and was very loud! Nonetheless, it was a great way to play an invaders style game in the comfort of your own home, or at school, of course!

Kevin Keegan: The Big Game

Kevin Keegan The Big Game launched in 1981 and was developed by Epoch. Its original title was Exciting Soccer Game, but adding the name of a football superstar, no doubt, helped to boost sales in the UK. This one also had a very narrow, 5 row horizontal LED display to represent a football pitch. I actually didn't know of its existence until today!

Tomy / Grandstand Caveman tabletop arcade game (1982)


Caveman came out in 1982 and was developed by Tomy, but distributed by Grandstand in the UK. It was a tabletop arcade game with a watch. I remember the LED display was very bright on this one, and the idea of the game was to run over to the dinosaur and grab the eggs when he was not looking at you. It was a very basic game but fun to play, nonetheless.


Also released in 1982 was Scramble, which was developed by Epoch and distributed by them as Astro Command outside of the UK. The sideways scrolling shooter was a big hit in the arcades, but this basic LED version featured a narrow display and played like a very tough version of Space Invaders, with the aliens and their missiles coming at you from the right of the screen. It bore little resemblance to the arcade game of the same name. Grandstand also produced an LCD version called Pocket Scramble.

Crazy Kong / Krazy Kong

I would imagine the Crazy Kong game would have been pretty popular, as it's obviously based on Nintendo's Donkey Kong. There were numerous clones of Donkey Kong around at the time, but I actually owned this LCD version by Grandstand, which featured a red and grey display and had 10 levels. I do remember that it was extremely difficult to make it past level 8. It also included a time display, stopwatch and alarm.
Grandstand Crazy Kong LCD Game from 1982.
Grandstand Krazy Kong, colour LCD game (1984) with green and black casing.
Interestingly, Grandstand later released a colour LCD version called Krazy Kong (in 1984) which had a green casing.

Other pocket-sized LCD games included Mini Golf and Space Flight, which could be bought for £14.95 at Argos, but had a RRP of £19.95. They also came with batteries supplied, which made them a good buy for Christmas.

The units were very basic, but if your parents were on a tight budget then they were ideal. Many people were probably earning less than £100 per week back then, so another £8 for the bigger units was quite a substantial amount. I certainly remember my Mum trying to scrape together enough money to buy me the colour version of the Binatone TV Master.

Grandstand Pocket Scramble. LCD game with red and black casing.