This is a small collection of “Belangkai” tops. These tops have 4 sides, generally a star (or flower), a fish, a king crab (although it looks more like an isopod) and a prawn. A game usually includes a throwing arena (saucer and covering bowl) and a betting mat (usually hand-drawn).
Note that these are all modern representations of the Belangkai and aren’t more than a couple of decades old. Older Belangkai tops are hand-made with a toothpick as their spinning core. Also note that there are many other similar games – Pek Bin (Hokkien for 八面, or “8 Sides”), 肆字 (or “4 Numbers”, a variety of 番摊, or “Fan Tan”), Dadu Katak Ular, Dadu Muka Enam, Dadu Belankas Mata, etc. These games were popular way back in the 1940s, through both World Wars, and can sometimes be seen nowadays. However, most Belangkai games these days are played on electronic machines.
There are numerous ways to cheat in this game – both in gaffed equipment and in the psychology of play. Some photos and information of them will be uploaded for reference later on.
The last 2 images in this post are reproductions of “Gambling Games in Malaya” by C.T. Dobree, the Assistant Commissioner of Police back in 1955. The book is commonly referenced in legal cases involving illegal gambling and can be found mentioned in several statutes in both Singapore and Malaysia.