Sonar Sub Hunt
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Undersea warfare during the Cold War made fun!

Updated May 14, 2019

Harken back to the early 1960's and thrills and fears of the USA's Cold War with Russia!

As the threat of nuclear proliferation grew stronger and the mutual mistrust between the two lone superpowers of the world increased, Mattel Toys introduced an early electronic toy that would allow kids to stage mock undersea battles and save the world.

Based on the old paper and pencil game of "Battleship", Sonar Sub Hunt added the wonderful twist of an underwater conflict with the bonus of sound and light. Now somewhat passè in the 21st Century, it was new and exciting at the time of its premier.

When I was very young (more years ago than I care to admit) I saw and played Sonar Sub Hunt a single time at the home of family friends. I had never before seen a periscope, and was fascinated at how it could "see around corners". The lights and buzzer were simple electric devices, but they were something totally new in a world of toys that had previously known games with little more than wood dice and paper money.

Many years later when I was 14, I saw it again. I looked it over and spent some time pondering the inner workings.
With the advent of the internet, and the opening of the world's largest garage sale known as Ebay, I rediscovered the game and was able to finally purchase an edition for myself and my kids to play.

Boy, was I in for a shock.....

Fourty years can put a lot of wear and tear on a game made from brittle plastic and housed in a cardboard box.

My game was not in working condition and many of the parts were missing.
Instruction booklet? It was long gone!
Grid markers? What are those?
The buzzer and light are suppose to work??

I rolled up my sleeves....
I spent many evenings in the next couple of weeks doing all I could to carefully disassemble the game and trying to determine the failure points. The first thing I discovered was that the game board was never intended to be taken apart for repair. The pieces are glued tightly together, and plastic is hard and brittle. The case does not lend itself to being dismantled without damage.

With a great deal of time and effort I managed to get it back together in working order. Many remedial efforts were needed to make it playable.

I then had to buy a second game for parts to complete the inventory. In the end I had a working game that only looked as if it had been taken apart with a chainsaw....
Since then, my time with the games has taught me a lot about what it takes to restore them to great working condition, while still preserving the case. In the years since my first encounter, I have been successful in restoring more than 95% of the games that have come my way. (A few have so much corrosion or damage that they are just beyond hope).

Out on the World Wide Web, I was unable to find any resources or references for the games, so I decided it was time to start one!

If you are interested in obtaining an edition of the game, please check my sale and auction links.

If you are in need of spare parts or repairs, or would like to have your game restored, please visit the "Fix It" page.

Your comments and suggestions are welcome!

Please contact me via email at:

Several new games are available for purchase. Please check the Games Available for Purchase page for information and pricing.

Game Information
Picture Page
Plus Mattel's original 1961 TV commercial
Parts Inventory
All those little pieces that were lost to mom's
Kirby vacuum cleaner
Buyer's Guide
What to look for when purchasing a game
Care and Feeding of Sonar Sub Hunt games
What about those pesky Grid Markers?
Reviews and Recommendations
Sonar Sub Hunt games available for purchase
Own one again!
Spare Parts, Repairs and Restorations
Get your old game working again!
What's under the hood?
Sonar Sub Hunt Technical Data
Communications with Mattel
Can't I just get a little information?
Historical Perspective at the game's release
- Christmas 1961 -
Being a kid living with the spectre of the atomic bomb
Clones and Rip-offs
Sonar Sub Hunt Wanna-bes and Johnny-Come-Latelys
Life in the "PAST" Lane
Tales and memories of Sonar Sub Hunt Game of the past

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Copyright © 2019
Jeff Popp
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Copyright © 2000
Jeff Popp

Sonar Sub Hunt ™ 1961
Mattel Inc.