Do people play conkers elsewhere in the world or is it a peculiarly British thing? No matter - the second half of the post dictates that the post shall exist, so further assuming that at least some visitors to the blog may be interested, I will introduce you to the world of conkers!
The conker is the fruiting body/seed-container (a nut) of the Horse Chestnut tree, and it comes packed in a spiked, hard-foam, shell which you don't want dropping on your head! You can also see clearly where the colour 'chestnut brown' comes from, although they lose the shine after a day or two.
My mother believes they keep spiders out of the house so my Brother or I dully get dispatched to collect enough for a small tray in every room! Whispers: It doesn't work - the fault of all belief systems!
In the best traditions of modern sport - think: English football, World cycling or Russian athletics, cheating has reared its ugly head, with people found artificially hardening their conkers in a low-heat oven (which actually make them brittle), or applying various unguents and potions, oils or secret preparations handed down the generations by word of mouth; to hopefully extend the life of the conker.
Once you are happy with your conker, you take it out and challenge other conker-owners to a game which basically aims to destroy at least one of the conkers, by bashing them, with each other, until one fails! 'Accidentally' catching the opponent's knuckles, is not only accepted, but actively encouraged in some quarters.
Rules vary in different regions, with some having a turn-for-turn play, some having three shots in a row each, while others play hit gets another shot, miss passes the turn to the opponent.
The receiving conker is held at arm's-length, and arm/hand movement is hawkishly looked-out for (lower left pose). The hitter being flicked downward (lower right pose), the string tensed over the thumb for 'aiming' - one-eyed, binocular and temper-tantrum techniques are all employed!
Victorious conkers accrue points (again in some parts of the country this is made more rewarding by adding any points the conquered conker [there's a lot of wordplay in this post?] possessed to the winner's total), and the trick is to retire a beloved favorite conker before it is smashed to smithereens.
Some aficionados favour larger size; some believe in lumpy, misshapen conkers, while others - smooth, rounded ones; some think a small one is better . . . I chose a nice round one for the photo-session!
Those familiar with British slang will realise there's a second play on words going-on here as another name for the nose is a conk, and the Konka, has a 'nose' as its primary mechanism.
I've never seen these in action (although a vague memory of the odd one kicking around mate's houses when we were young was triggered by Brian's sending the shots), however, I see a built in flaw, if both conks come into contact with speed and vigor; then surly both Konka's will explode, releasing all accrued points from both Konkas to the realms of ghosts and the mythical 'ether'?
Presumably a mail-away offer/premium from Eagle comic or Eagle annual, and marked to an Eagle, so possibly connected to the whole Eagalwall thing in Dorking, Surrey? The red-yellow-blue thing, while being a common combination of primary colours is also similar to the Eaglewall Dan Dare figure packaging, ship kits and Design-a-plane set.
I wonder if the design isn't actually/originally from someone like Potter's Bar's Merit? I can't search the patent databases at the moment, but if someone would like to? Meanwhile; many thanks again to Brian for contributing another classic old toy to the blog.
Of course you need more - Wikipedia!
30 minutes ago