It was Easy to Fall for Domino Toys in the 1980s with Domino Rally and Chain Lightning

Although I can’t remember exactly why, there was a fad in the early 80s that involved dominoes. Not the actual game of dominoes, mind you, but the creative art of placing them next to each other in a row and watching them fall over one by one. For some reason this was mesmerizing to me and many others. So much so that there were 2 domino stacking game sets created – Domino Rally and Chain Lightning.

Domino Rally was the more popular of these toys, while Chain Lightning was more the obscure, better quality set. I think of these sets as the VHS vs. Betamax of dominoes. Chain Lightning is so obscure that I couldn’t find a commercial on YouTube or a Wikipedia entry about it.


Both sets were similar overall as they contained bridges and contraptions that would be triggered by falling dominoes. The Domino Rally bridges were much easier to set up because the dominoes snapped into the base and were hinged on. As you can see in the commercial you just turned the bridge over and – bam – you got yourself a bridge full of standing dominoes. Chain Lighting’s dominoes were incredibly small (about the size of Pez candy) and frustrating to set up by themselves, let alone on the slick plastic bridge. The advantage that Chain Lighting had was the templates and accompanying rack that set up your dominoes in cool patterns.

It seems that Domino Rally is making a comeback, too. Go to and buy a new set for your “kids” (we all know who it’s really for). And as far as Chain Lightning goes, well, I guess just hunt for an old one on eBay (totally worth it).

Domino Rally commercial (via RobotBacon)

Chain Lightning demonstration (via DoughReally)


Martin Touhey goes by the screen name Sleepyeyed and has a passion for retro things of all kinds. One particular passion has led him to the creation of a documentary film about his favorite video game - Dragon's Lair. See the teaser at

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3 thoughts on “It was Easy to Fall for Domino Toys in the 1980s with Domino Rally and Chain Lightning

  1. Never physically saw any of these toys (maybe a few parts once), but I saw the commercials over and over and wanted to play with them so badly.

  2. vinvectrex says:

    I really wanted a set of these, but my parents gathered (correctly) that my short attention span plus general clumsiness meant I’d use a set exactly once before getting frustrated and permanently shelving it. Maybe now that I’m older…..nah. Better to just watch and admire the commercials.

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