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History of tumble tower

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Tower building games, such as Jenga and tumble tower are games of mental and physical skill, needing both a steady hand and steady nerves. With Giant Jenga or Giant Tumble Tower although you don’t have to be as “delicate”, your hand has to be just as steady!


The aim of the game is to dismantle a tower made of wooden blocks by removing each block one at a time from the main body of the tower and at the same time replace the removed block to the top of the tower in an attempt to make the tumble tower taller. As the tumble tower is built higher (potentially very high with Giant Jenga and Giant Tumble Tower!), so the structure becomes weaker as more blocks are removed, causing the tumble towers eventual and inevitable collapse. This can come from any height, but for the Giant Jenga version, the tower can get to a very reasonable size!


Tumble tower is a very exciting and tense game that can be played with any number of people. It is a very unusual game which can be played competitively but more usually is played in a spirit of cooperation as all players try to build the Jenga tower as high as possible.


Jenga and tumble tower building games have fast become classic games and although have a recent history when compared to many more traditional games, seem likely to remain popular and last for a long time to come.


The original tumble tower building game was Jenga which was invented by a British student called Leslie Scott who first marketed it in 1983. Leslie Scott had grown up in East Africa, after her family moved to Ghana in the 1970’s, and the game evolved from a family game played with her five year old brother’s building blocks (not the giant blocks we have seen here yet!). Ghana had a great many saw mills and the original building blocks were off cuts from the local saw mill.


The game became popular in the Scott household and also with their friends locally and so when Leslie Scott returned to Britain to study at Oxford university she continued to play this tumble tower game with her friends. She has been quoted as saying that she was surprised that no one else had ever played it before!


Leslie Scott went to work for Intel, then a fledgling company, based in Oxford, after graduating. However by 1982 she felt that she wanted a change of direction and to become an entrepreneur. Realising that everyone that she had ever introduced to her tumble tower building game loved it, she decided to try to market it herself.


She named the game Jenga from the Swahili word meaning build because the family back in East Africa used Swahili for many day to day words so she felt this was appropriate.


She trade marked the name Jenga, and set up Leslie Scott Associates to manufacture the game. The first Jenga sets were manufactured in Yorkshire and she entered Jenga in the British toy fair in 1983.


In 1984 Leslie Scott assigned exclusive rights in USA and Canada to Robert Grebler, a Californian entrepreneur who was the brother of one of her friends. He actually holds the world record for building a Jenga tower to 40 levels , a feat accomplished on one of the original Leslie Scott Associate sets. 40 levels of giant jenga would result in an extremely large tower!


Jenga production was moved to Canada and eventually the toy manufacturers Hasbro took over the license to distribute and manufacture Jenga throughout the world.

Other tower building games swiftly followed, including some also distributed by Hasbro but also by other manufacturers who sell tower building games made from many different materials, throughout the world. Giant Jenga and giant tumble tower swiftly followed.


Tumble tower follows in the tradition of the original Jenga sets. Built from good quality hardwood , tumble tower remains true to the spirit and quality of the original game. Giant tower building has bought a new and exciting dimension to this popular classic game which has already delighted players from all over the world.


It is estimated that Jenga (and it’s offshoots such as giant jenga – or giant tumble tower) is one of the most popular games in the world and has actually outsold monopoly. Not bad, for a game invented by a young student using her kid brothers toy box!