Mattel's Lie Detector Game, 1960
(some of the photos are interactive depending on your web browser)

Every amateur detective in the 1960's desired this toy. There are 24 cartoon criminals and one of them has committed a crime. You need to solve this mystery by interrogating all the suspects with the Lie Detector machine.

To begin with, all these suspects not only look guilty, but they look familiar! If you acquire this game, notice how many real people that you know actually resemble Lie Detector suspects.

Lie Detector still holds up as a very fun game, and I personally feel that it is because of the superb artwork. Mattel re-issued this game as Spy Detector with different artwork, and it did not sell nearly as well. Pressman released an updated version of Lie Detector in the 1980's, also with different artwork, and some different suspects.


To play Lie Detector, the Suspect Cards are divided among the game players. One of the six red and black square "Guilty" cards is inserted into the back of the Lie Detector machine with all players unaware of which card and which suspect's name is inserted into the machine.

One by one, each player questions the suspects by taking their suspect cards, placing them over the front of the Lie Detector and inserting the Lie Detector's wand through the hole in the suspect card and into the Lie Detector itself. The Teacher's testimony is that the guilty person has a "moustache". Her card is placed over the machine and tested by inserting the wand though the hole in the card. If her testimony is false, a bell rings and the needle on the Lie Detector machine points to false. If it is true, no bell rings and the needle points to "True".

Included in the game are special "Secret Information" cards. These cards have testimony that is known only to the player that has those cards.

By process of elimination, the suspects are narrowed down. When a player feels he knows who has committed the crime, he can declare that he would like to "make an arrest" and can state who he thinks is guilty. He looks at the guilty card in the Lie Detector machine. If he has named the correct person, he pulls the card out and shows the other players that he has won that round. If his guess is incorrect, he pushes the guilty card back into the Lie Detector and is eliminated from that round of play.

Lie Detector sold very well in the early 1960's. There are still many of these games to be found. When you find it, the price is usually around $50. The problem is that there are so many cards that it is difficult to find a complete game. The complete set of cards are as follows; 24 Suspect Cards, 10 Secret Information Cards and 6 Guilty Cards. There are also 4 Arrest cards and 8 Summons cards, but these are not absolutely necessary in order to play the game. I had to buy three of these games by mail order before I finally had a complete set of cards!

If you would like to view or print the ORIGINAL instructions for playing Lie Detector, CLICK HERE.

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