Our Electric Football Game Top 20 Countdown hits No 6 this week…the 1967 Sears’ exclusive Tudor NFL No. 613
There are so many iconic pieces to this game, it’s hard to know where to start. The easiest place is the box, with the silhouetted NFL player. It was genius on Lee Payne’s part, the design seems so simple. There are only four colors on the box: black, blue, red, and white. And compared to the Drummond box of the 1962 Tudor No. 600, there is no action at all.
But the player, who was actually Cleveland Brown’s defensive lineman Paul Wiggin, looks like he means business. Serious business. That’s amplified by the block lettering “NFL FOOTBALL,” and also the two “accenting” NFL shields. With one look you knew that there was a very serious football game inside the box. One that would be very “real” and true to the NFL.
That was backed up when you slid the game out of the box and checked out the frame. Seeming to jump out from the white enamel sides were the colorful helmets of all 16 NFL teams…in a classic single bar version no less! This is still, arguably, the most attractive frame that Tudor ever created.
And the frame completely reinforces the theme: “this is a serious football game.”
The field and game — which were completely designed by Lee Payne — were configured in a new size for Tudor. This 31” x 18” design was beginning of Tudor’s “mid-size” line, giving the company three different Electric Football game sizes. While lacking any official “NFL” designation, the field was still very attractive with a diamond pattern occupying the end zones. All the markings on the field had a realistic “grass” look — they didn’t have an artificial and opaque “painted on” look.
In addition to an all new game, Lee Payne created a brand new grandstand. This one didn’t clip onto the frame, it came with two metal Support Brackets that mounted onto the inside of frame and slanted backward. The grandstand also had a series of creases in it, and when mounted properly, it ended up with a slight curl in addition to the backward slant. This was all done to help give the grandstand a true 3-D appearance.
Being a Sears exclusive, and with Sears at the time being headquartered in Chicago, the No. 613 featured the Chicago Bears (in away white). It also featured the St. Louis Cardinals (home red), who up until 1959, had been the Chicago Cardinals. In what may not have been a total coincidence, this Bears-at-Cardinals matchup recreated a nationally televised NFL game from Halloween night of 1966.
Halloween fell on a Monday in 1966, and the game was part of NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle’s calculated campaign to convince the major television networks that Monday night NFL football games could draw viewers and be profitable. (Of course, Rozelle was right — NFL Monday Football is now in its 45th season.)
Sears featured the No. 613 on page 461 of the 1967 Christmas Book for $9.99, and used the game heavily in its newspaper advertising throughout the fall and Christmas shopping season. It was the first Tudor Electric Football game to be sold by Sears, and the giant retailer provided the game with serious visibility despite the fact that the Gotham Big Bowl was still the “featured” game in the Christmas catalog.
Of course an additional “extra” to the 1967 version of the game would be that both the Bears and Cardinals would have Big/Large players and aqua bases. The game would also have Tudor’s early press-on number sheets.
The legacy of the Sears No. 613 is immense. It’s one of Tudor’s original three NFL models from 1967, and the NFL lineman silhouette is still being used by the modern incarnation of Tudor Games. It’s also part of the Monday Night Football legacy of the NFL. The only things keeping it out of our Top 5 are the old fashioned “H”-shaped goal posts and the lack of “N-F-L” on the field. But it is a game for the ages, with the frame to end all frames.
The 1967 Tudor NFL No. 613 is a MUST have for any Electric Football aficionado.
Earl, Roddy, & MK