Beginners Guide to a POG Collection

variety of pogs in the pog collection

Photo by Phil Shaw on Unsplash

Beginners Guide to a POG Collection

“No, I don’t want to see your pog collection.” Fans of Rick and Morty might remember this line from the first episode of season 3, The Rickshank Rickdemption.

Many younger fans immediately took to google to figure out what the heck pogs are. However, the older generation remembers this fun and collectable game well; from its humble beginnings as a milk cap game to a full-blown collectible craze.

The mention in Rick and Morty, and other cultural references, has brought a renewed interest in pogs and pog collecting. Read on to learn more about the fun and potentially lucrative hobby of pog collecting. 

What are Pogs and Slammers?

The short answer is that pogs and slammers are different pieces of the same game. Pogs are round pieces of plastic and cardboard, usually blank on one side with a design on the other, that are stacked face, or design, down during the game.

Slammers are heavier pieces, usually made of metal, which are thrown onto the pogs to flip them. The names for the pieces as “pogs” and “slammers” came around in the nineties, but the game is much older than that.

The game of pogs has an interesting history– it originated from the Japanese game of Menko which was a popular game in Japan as far back as the sixteenth century. Menko discs were made of wood or ceramics and featured Japanese warriors and wrestlers on one side, blank on the other. 

The objective of Menko was to hit the discs and flip them. When Japanese immigrants came to Hawaii in the twentieth century, they brought Menko with them and it spread across the island.

Soon children began to use bottle caps as Menko pieces, and the game of pogs or “milk caps” was born! 

When Did Pogs Come Out?

Though based on the traditional Japanese game of Menko, pogs came onto the scene in 1991. Hawaiian teacher Blossom Galbiso taught her students milkcap Menko as a way to encourage play while learning some math.

Her students collected caps from milk and juice bottles, and soon the fun game spread across Hawaii. It hit stateside in 1993, and got the name POGs because the cardboard pieces often came from a popular Hawaiian juice– passionfruit, orange and guava.

The World Pog Federation was founded, and they created a collector’s guide– adding a new dimension to the fun game of cardboard discs. By the mid nineties the pog craze was in full swing. McDonalds, Kool-Aid, and Nintendo– everyone began creating plastic pogs.

Even President Bill Clinton had a pog with his face on it! 

What is the Game of Milk Caps?

The game we know as pogs was around way before the nineties craze of colorful plastic discs. When the game was played in Hawaiian school yards it was called milk caps, because it was played with milk caps!

Looking for more game pieces, Hawaiian school kids started collecting milk caps from the local dairy– Haleakala Dairy. That’s actually where the name pogs comes from; in addition to milk, Haleakala Dairy produced a popular juice whose caps were perfect for playing with.

The juice was Passion Fruit, Orange and Guava, so kids started calling the game pogs and the name stuck! 

How to Play Pogs

Part of the popularity of pogs was the simplicity of the game. To begin, opponents contribute equal amounts of pogs, which are stacked face down, between the two players. The first player takes their slammer and throws it onto the pile of pogs, with the objective of flipping as many pogs face up as possible.

The pogs that land face up are kept by the player (maybe even permanently, if you are playing “for keeps.”) The un-flipped pogs are stacked face down in the center again, and the second player takes their turn hitting the stack of pogs with a slammer.

This continues until there are no more pogs, and the winner is decided by who has the most. 

What are the Rules of Pogs?

The game of pogs does not have a lot of rules per se, gameplay is pretty simple. The objective is to flip over as many pogs with the slammer as possible, keeping the ones that land face up.

However, this is where things can get treacherous if you are playing “for keeps,” which means the winner gets to keep all of the pogs at the end of the game. This high stakes gameplay often led to playground skirmishes.

Teachers began to express concern over the distraction pogs presented at school, and parents began to worry that pogs were teaching their children to gamble. By the time their popularity waned, pogs were banned from most schools in the US, as well as Australia, Sweden, Iceland and the UK. 

Where Can I Find Pogs and Slammers for Sale?

It depends on what you are looking for. If you just want to relive your childhood with a fun game, you can buy new pogs and slammers on Amazon or at a gaming store.

However, pogs were at the height of their popularity in the nineties, so if you are looking for the real “experience” or are interested in starting a pog collection, you are going to need to look for rare and vintage pogs.

Your best bet would be to take to the hub for all collectors– eBay. Pogs are rapidly rising in popularity as a collectible, and on eBay you can find huge lots of pogs!

Prices range from ten dollars for run-of-the-mill pogs to rare collections worth thousands! You may also be able to find collectible pogs at collectors’ shops or trade shows. 

Are Pogs Worth Anything?

What is the value of Pogs? Pogs may have fallen in popularity, but there are still a few collectors willing to pay top dollar for rare or mint condition pogs. A quick search of eBay can show you that collections of pogs can be sold for up to five thousand dollars!

But what makes pogs valuable? There are a few variables that determine price, but there are certain pogs that collectors look for, such as rare pogs or complete sets. Some examples of valuable pogs are the 1994 McDonalds promotional pogs which featured the Power Rangers.

Another valuable set are the Bart Simpson pogs, which were produced by Skybox in sets of twenty and fifty and also came out in 1994. Other things that collectors look for are pogs with obvious misprinting’s, which are valued for rarity.

There are also collectors of the original Haleakala Dairy milk caps from the seventies, and original pog merch such as towels and guides. The exact price that people will pay for pog collections varies, so remember– the best collection is one that is valuable to you! 

What is a Pog Collectors Guide?

In 1995 the World Pog Federation published an official collectors guide, with playing tips, color illustrations and information on limited edition pog collections. It was published by Random House, and written by Shane Dewolf and Sheri Brewster. The cover had removable pogs and came with a pog holding tube. 

What are Some Rare Pogs?

Pogs are valued for their rarity, and a complete set of rare pogs can make you a pretty penny. One of the rarest collections of pogs is the Star-Trek Next Generation pogs, printed in 1994 (which was a big year for pogs!)

These pogs were made specifically for collecting, not gameplay, and often were not punched out of their cards. England’s Premier League also created pogs for their players which, like baseball cards, became valuable– especially breakout teams such as Manchester and Chelsea.

Other rare pog collections are the pogs produced by extreme sports company No Fear, which had such a limited printing that they were even considered rare at the time. In 2017 a complete set of No Fear pogs sold on eBay for seven hundred and fifty dollars. 

Why Should I Start Collecting Pogs?

There are a lot of reasons to start collecting pogs. The first is that pogs are poised for a comeback! They are also one of the easiest things to collect –small and portable, pogs are easy to keep and fun to look for.

Though relatively new to the collecting scene, pogs have a legitimate collector’s community, with online message boards and meet ups to discuss and trade valuable pogs.

Most pogs from the nineties aren’t worth much, but you will still have fun finding full sets– and who knows, you might even stumble across a valuable set of pogs!

Start Collecting Pogs as a Hobby!

From sixteenth century entertainments to milk bottle caps, who knew that those little cardboard coins had such a rich history! Not to mention that they are just fun, and collecting pogs is a great hobby for anyone.

Whether you are looking to relive your childhood or just want to start to dabble in collectables, pog collecting is the wave of the past, and the future! 

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