The Electric Football Game Top 20 Countdown moves forward with No. 9 — the 1969 Gotham Joe Namath G-812 Electric Football Game.
In 1969 the New York Jets shocked the football world by defeating the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. The game not only altered the course of pro football — the AFL was now “equal” to the NFL — it altered the course of Electric Football too. From the Jets’ Super Bowl victory came the first-ever player endorsed Electric Football game: the Gotham Joe Namath G-812.
How Gotham landed an endorsement deal with the most famous football figure of the time is still a mystery. Gotham’s financial condition in 1969 was not particularly strong because Tudor’s NFL games and teams were dominating the Electric Football market. But the signing of Joe showed just how determined Gotham was to remain relevant in Electric Football.
Although there would be no official AFL or Jets insignias anywhere on the game, Gotham got the Jets and the AFL in addition to Namath. That’s because in 1969 Namath’s name alone = Jets and AFL. For the first time in a number of years Gotham had a unique Electric Football feature that Tudor did not.
Gotham worked hard on the Namath model, and it really showed when the games finally began arriving in toy stores in the fall of 1969. The box was colorful with a drawing of Namath, white shoes and all, ready to fire off a pass. The uniform Joe wore was obviously a Jets uniform — minus the Jets logo on his helmet. There was also a black and white picture of a smiling Namath on the box, which served to validate his endorsement. A shopper or young boy would have a tough choice when a Namath game sat next to a Tudor NFL game on a toy store shelf. The Super Bowl MVP and the World Champion AFL Jets…or the NFL?
Inside the box was a new 12”-tall Gotham grandstand that went 2/3 of around the game. Also new was a 30” x 17” game board, which gave Gotham its first “midsize” model. Sitting at midfield were Joe’s image and signature, while a collage of Namath images decorated the frame.
While these new features were nice, THE main selling point of the game was the new magnetic Namath quarterback figure. Made of lithographed metal, it was an action image of Namath taken directly from the Super Bowl, complete with wristbands, white shoes, and grass-stained pants. Even the face mask was the same. It was the best looking quarterback figure in Electric Football history!
The Namath passer might have been MVP worthy, but the unpainted Gotham players included in the game were not. Gotham’s 3-D players were never as well molded or detailed as Tudor’s players, and they now looked like ghosts when compared to the magnificent Namath passer. No amount of paint was going to change that fact. Also not helping the cause of the game were the ancient H-shape goalposts. A Super Bowl MVP wasn’t worthy of modern sling-shot style goalposts?
Despite it’s flaws, the Namath model helped Gotham stay afloat in 1969, although the company would soon be facing major challenges from Coleco and Munro. (Munro absorbed Gotham in 1972.) But 45 years later, the Gotham Joe Namath quarterback is one of most unique and treasured pieces in all of Electric Football. The great image lets you “see” Broadway Joe leading your team to victory.
So despite the fact that many aging Namath G-812’s have warped fields and grandstands that are too fragile to be reassembled, we’ve put the game at No. 9 on Top Countdown. That’s because the metal Namath quarterback figure is one of the coolest Electric Football items ever produced!
Earl, Roddy, & MK