Hong Kong Electric Football Painters “Greatest Hits”

Lineup of 1967 Tudor Electric Football players

In last week’s post we talked about Tudor’s Electric Football painters in Hong Kong. The job they did getting all those tiny NFL teams painted and ready for Tudor was amazing. It was hard work, but they were rewarded well because at the time there many American toy makers with paint “shops” in Hong Kong. After training up a painter the last thing Albert Sung wanted to do was lose them to a competitor. Sung’s deadlines were tight. He always needed the best painters he could get.

So this week we’re going to take a look at Hong Kong’s “Greatest Hits” — that is, the best work done by Tudor’s painters. And the work is truly special when you recall our photo from last week showing the stacks of player pallets sitting at each painter’s station. That the painters could impart this much detail to the players…it’s was a major factor in Tudor earning the top-sellers spot at NFL Properties from 1967-76.

We — us kids, that is — had never seen anything like this:

IMG_6044 - Version 2

Cleveland Browns triple-sleeve stripe.

Atlanta Falcons sock stripes.

Electric Football New Orleans Saints sleeve stripes

Saints triple-sleeve stripe.

Electric Football Los Angeles Rams player with helmet horn

Rams’ helmet horn.

1967 Philadelphia Eagles Electric Football player

Four sleeve-stripe pattern of the Eagles.

Electric Football Green Bay Packer with sleeve and helmets stripes.

Packers sleeve and helmets stripes.

Oilers sleeve stripes.

Oilers sleeve stripes.

Chiefs' helmet arrow.

Chiefs’ helmet arrow.

The best Tudor and Gotham had done before 1967 was this…

Lee Payne's 1964 Electric Football "Fab Five"

Lee Payne’s 1964 Electric Football “Fab Five”

Or this…

A 1961 G-1500 from our display. The toy career of Tudor's James Baum was already well underway when this game first appeared in the Sears Christmas catalog.

1961 Gotham NFL G-1500

What Tudor’s Hong Kong painters gave us were major upgrades to the Electric Football experience. It took the vision of Lee Payne and Norman Sas, the practical nuts-and-bolts genius of Albert Sung, as well as the very determined and talented hands of unnamed artisans in Hong Kong to create the painted NFL player.

It’s a concept that we’ll never forget, and one that will be on full display in our upcoming Full Color Electric Football book. Keep that finger on the switch!

 

Earl, Roddy, & MK

 

 

NFL Electric Football Player Painting in the 1960’s

NFL Electric Football Players being painted in Hong Kong

Revealed for the first time – a color photo of Tudor’s NFL teams being painted in Hong Kong during the late 1960’s. Each pallet contained over 200 players.

The “toy men” of Electric Football — Norman Sas, Lee Payne, Eddie Gluck, Joe Modica, Brian Clarke, and Don Munro —all have Hall of Fame credentials. But there’s another person who belongs on that list. He had a major impact on every single Tudor NFL Electric Football game and team that was produced throughout the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. That would be Albert Sung.

Photo of Albert Sung

Albert Sung

Mr. Sung worked on the other side of the world in Hong Kong. He was responsible for the molding of Tudor’s players, and also the much bigger job of getting all the NFL teams painted. During the peak season he had 300 workers painting millions of miniature Tudor NFL players (see photo above). Each painter would have stacks of player pallets containing upwards of 200 Electric Football players. What a daunting task it must have been to sit down in the morning and look at perhaps 1,000 tiny players stacked up at your painting station.

The day’s assignment was to paint each of these players identically…as quickly as possible. There was no time to carefully strive for “perfection.” We’ve been told that a truly accomplished painter could hold three brushes at a time in their non-painting hand, quickly pulling the brush and color they needed — for stripes, helmets, and “grass”— from between their fingers. The best could finish an entire player within minutes.

The Table of Contents from our upcoming Full Color Electric Football™book.

Some of the amazing early work done by Albert Sung and Tudor’s Hong Kong painters

Super Bowl teams, which Norman Sas had to make a “best guess” at by the end of December, always had priority. They were painted during the month of January and shipped by the end of the month so Tudor could get their Super Bowl games ready for Sears. Then Sung and his painting crew moved onto the rest of the NFL teams, with a delivery schedule that stretched from March to September. Mr. Sung recounted that it usually took a month for the teams to simply clear U.S. Customs.

Beyond the actual physical act of painting, Mr. Sung had to order all the paints in the right quantity, and make sure the colors matched those specified by NFL Properties. These were all massive issues, especially with the NFL mandating that all paint be dumped when it was a year old.

1966 Sung Card

Player painting was a monumental task — we think the painters in Hong Kong have NEVER gotten the credit they truly deserve. Even in the years when the painting was less than perfect, it was still an incredibly difficult job. Yet the painted teams were such a critical piece to Electric Football’s greatness, and a major reason why we still have such great memories of playing the game.

There’s much more about the Hong Kong “process” and Albert Sung’s many contributions to Electric Football in our book The Unforgettable Buzz. Many, many thanks to all of you who have already showed your support for our work.

 

Earl, Roddy, & MK

Electric Football Anniversary — 3 Years Of The Buzz Blog

Lineup of 1967 Tudor NFL Electric Football teamsIt’s hard to believe that we’ve been writing about Electric Football for over THREE years now on The Unforgettable Buzz web page. As we mentioned last year, we just didn’t think there was that much to say!

But how wrong we were. In fact, this is blog post No. 264! And without question, this past year was full of unforgettable happenings:

1) The Unforgettable Buzz and Electric Football landed on an official NFL team web page thanks to the New York Jets.

The New York Jets web page and The Unforgettable Buzz

2) The Unforgettable Buzz became a college textbook in course No. 3823/The Role of Business Entrepreneurship in Sport and Entertainment at the University of Central Florida.

3) Information and pages from The Unforgettable Buzz were used extensively by Academy Award winning director Errol Morris in his entertaining ESPN documentary The Subterranean Stadium.

Pages 82 and 138 from The Unforgettable Buzz as they appeared the ESPN Electric Football documentary.

Pages 82 and 138 from The Unforgettable Buzz as they appeared the ESPN Electric Football documentary.

4) Another Toy Fair visit in NYC getting an up close and personal view of the Tudor Games NFL line for 2015.

The Tudor Games booth at the 2015 Toy Fair

5) In January we completed our Top 20 All-Time Electric Football Games Countdown.

The 1969 Sears Tudor Super Bowl Game with Jets and Colts

At No. 2 on the Countdown – the 1969 Sears Tudor Super Bowl game.

6) And falling into the category of “upcoming,” our second book Full Color Electric Football™ will be published this fall.

The full cover of the book Full Color Electric Football

Full Color Electric Football™

There’s still plenty to write about and celebrate in this endlessly amazing hobby. Thanks for all of your support over the last three years — we wouldn’t be here without you!

 

Earl, Roddy, & MK

Full Color Electric Football Book – Cover Update

The full cover of the book Full Color Electric Football

We’re thrilled to unveil the entire cover of our upcoming book Full Color Electric Football.

This new book will tell the story of Electric Football in glorious color. That means every single page of the book will be in color…which is an Electric Football first. But what pushes the book into the realm of “stunning” is having every single page designed by Marvel Graphic Artist Michael Kronenberg. If you marveled at Michael’s work in The Unforgettable Buzz, just wait until you see what he’s done with our all-photo format in Full Color Electric Football.

Our inspiration for creating this book was simple. We all loved studying the colorful NFL inserts that came in our old Tudor Rule Books. So we’ve tried to create a Rule Book insert that’s 124-pages long, and covers not only Tudor, but also the Electric Football lines of Gotham, Coleco, and Munro.

With the design phase of Full Color Electric Football almost complete, all we can say is “WOW!” It has the best images from The Buzz, as well as hundreds of newly taken photos that truly bring Electric Football to life. In going through the pages…let’s just say we’re very, very excited.

We’ll be posting sample pages in the not too distant future. So stick around and get ready for Electric Football in Full Color!!

 

Earl, Roddy, & MK

Electric Football’s Biggest Weekend Ever? Richmond 2015

  The countdown is underway for the biggest Electric Football weekend of 2015. On July 31-August 2 Tudor Games and the Miniature Football Coaches Association are co-hosting the Electric Football World Championship and Convention in Richmond, Virginia. The event is being … Continue reading

Toy Hall Of Fame — The Answer is “YES!”

Electric Football Browns and Giants on the scrimmage line

The Electric Football community has spoken, and the consensus is clear — yes, an effort should be made in 2015 to get Electric Football into the Toy Hall of Fame. That was the reaction to our blog post last week.

So…ok, here’s the link to the Toy Hall of Fame nomination form:

http://www.toyhalloffame.org/nominate

The nomination period ends on July 31 — that gives us two weeks to make our voices heard. Everybody get typing!

Like we suggested last week, maybe there can be a “Nomination Hour” on the 31st at the Tudor/MFCA Convention in Richmond. Everybody can Check in, Log in, and Nominate Electric Football. How hard could that be?

We’ll be putting up Toy Hall of Fame reminders on all of our Social Media platforms during the next two weeks. And we’re going start working on our own nomination forms. Guess it won’t hurt to try again…

 

Earl, Roddy & MK

 

 

Toy Hall of Fame…Worth The Effort in 2015?

Tudor 1973 NFL Rule Book Electric Football

Tudor’s 1973 Electric Football NFL Rule Book

Electric Football, despite the concerted efforts of the entire Electric Football community over the last two years, is still not part of the Toy Hall of Fame. And where in past years we here at The Unforgettable Buzz entered the month of July and the final weeks of the Hall of Fame nominating process with childlike enthusiasm, this year we’re full of world-weary adult cynicism.

We wish with all our hearts that Electric Football would get in the Hall and gain the recognition it truly deserves. Yet it seems that our favorite game has become the Jim Marshall of the toy world. A deserving and worthy Hall of Fame contender that gets completely overlooked year after year.

Vikings Jim Marshall chasing the Rams Roman Gabriel

Is Electric Football the Jim Marshall of the toy world?

A major part of our frustration is…how many 66-year-old toys have a current modern manufacturer, not to mention a passionate and fully active community behind it? Were people really writing impassioned pleas last year about little green army men…including details down to the exact Christmas morning the miniature infantry showed up? (Let’s make it clear that we DO think little green army men belong in the Hall.)

And don’t get us started on “bubbles.” Well, since we did start, let’s finish. Bubbles are fun for about 10 minutes on a warm summer day. Then you put the container away (or mom stashed it) and you forgot about it until the next year — by which point the bubble fluid had completely dried up. This you did until you turned eight. Then you never gave bubbles another thought. Nobody, absolutely nobody, remembers their first bottle of bubbles. And NOBODY in the world can recite an address where bubbles were made. How many of us can still quote from memory Tudor’s “176 Johnson Street, Brooklyn, New York?”

As you can tell, we’re feeling pretty jaded about this whole Toy Hall of Fame thing. We think that Electric Football is being intentionally overlooked. We also think that there’s more to the nominating process than simply emailing stories about your favorite toy. If the process were that…shall we say, transparent, it’s hard to believe that everybody’s efforts last year wouldn’t have landed Electric Football into the top 12 Finalist. Perhaps if Electric Football had a corporate sponsor it would have a better chance? (Or any chance?)

So is it worth ramping up another Toy Hall of Fame campaign in July of 2015? Can we really go about doing the exact same thing as in previous years and honestly expect a different outcome?

What do you think?

Maybe the first thing everyone does after arriving in Richmond for the Electric Football Convention on July 31 is submit a Toy Hall of Fame nomination? It will be the final day of the process. Perfect timing for late and conclusive push? The third time is a charm?

Just thinking out loud and looking for a little karma. We sure could use it.

 

Earl & Roddy

 

Click Here for the Toy Hall of Fame Nomination Forum

 

 

Happy 2nd Anniversary For The Unforgettable Buzz!

The Table of Contents from our upcoming Full Color Electric Football™book.

The Table of Contents from our upcoming Full Color Electric Football™ book.

It was two years ago today that our Electric Football history book The Unforgettable Buzz was published. The long odyssey to getting published was one thing, and the odyssey we’ve been on since June 26, 2013 and been something else entirely. A humongous “thank you” to all of you have out there who bought the book and supported this web page, our Facebook page, and our other social media sites. We are grateful to each and every one of you. We sold more books than ever imagined was possible.

What we’ve experienced over the last two years has been amazingly positive. Yes, we’ve run into our share of Spinal Tap moments, but they’ve been few and far between. And we’re not finished yet. In the not too distant future we’ll be publishing our second book Full Color Electric Football.  To help celebrate the second anniversary of The Unforgettable Buzz we’re posting a Michael Kronenberg-designed sample page from Full Color Electric Football™.

We’re really excited with how the new project has all come together. We can’t wait to get it out. Just like an original Tudor NFL Giants-Browns No. 620 game, it’s going to be a Christmas present you’ll never forget!

 

Earl, Roddy & Michael

Living Electric Football History Part II — the Coleco and Munro Sites

The former Coleco factory in Montreal. Most of the companies’ Electric Football parts were made here.

Electric Football history in the “here and now” was our blog topic last week, and we continue today with the Electric Football makers that were headquartered outside of New York City. And what’s unique about toy makers Coleco and Munro Games is that they had manufacturing sites in both the U.S. and Canada.

Coleco's former corporate headquarters in Hartford, CT.

Coleco’s former corporate headquarters in Hartford, CT.

Coleco came into Electric Football in 1970 with a corporate address in Hartford, CT (945 Asylum Avenue). But most of the manufacturing of Coleco’s Electric Football games and parts took place in Montreal at 4000 St. Ambroise Street. It was there in a former textile mill that Coleco used Eagle Toys table hockey design expertise to bring its “World of Sports” to life in 1970. This stunning building along the St. Lawrence River still stands today as an upscale commercial real estate development called the Chateau St-Ambroise.

The front of the impressive Chateau St-Ambroise building in Montreal.

The front of the impressive Chateau St-Ambroise building in Montreal. Coleco once had 800 employees working here.

Canadian table hockey giant Munro Games, who actually spent a short spell making Electric Football from 1960-61, had manufacturing capabilities on both sides of the border when they reentered the Electric Football market in 1971. Their original Canadian factory was at 2442 Fairview Avenue in Burlington, Ontario. This address, once the home to the inventor of table hockey, is now the site of a Swiss Chalet restaurant. 

Site of the Munro Games factory

The original Munro Games factory once stood at this site in Ontario.

In the U.S., Munro Games was partnered with Servotronics, Inc., a company that was headquartered in Buffalo, NY at 3901 Union Avenue (technically Cheektowaga, NY). This was the address that you ordered Munro Electric Football teams and parts from. Today it’s a strip mall with a Harbor Freight Tool store and a Mexican restaurant.

Where Munro Games was once headquartered in the U.S.

Where Munro Games was once headquartered in the U.S.

The actual Munro factory that produced the famous Day/Nite Football game was on New York Route 98 in nearby Arcade, NY. This nondescript building still stands, it’s impact on Electric Football and the toy world a nearly vanished distant memory.

The former Munro Games factory in Arcade, NY.

The former Munro Games factory in Arcade, NY. The Munro Day/Nite Electric Football game was made at this site.

The legacy of all of the sites we’ve talked about over the last two weeks, and the people who once worked there, should not be underestimated. These factories were all major employers where people could make a living working in toys. When these companies shut their doors — Munro being the earliest in the mid-1970’s, Tudor and Coleco being the last in the late 1980’s — they left a major economic hole in their communities. And in terms of manufacturing none of these buildings have equaled the economic output they had during the glory years of Electric Football. It was a unique time — one we’ll not see again.

Munro's Day/Nite game

Munro’s Day/Nite game…its lights and our dreams fully turned on.

It’s a time that’s really even hard to imagine now. Electric Football was once so popular that four different toymakers were trying to outdo each other in a “features” race that brought us giant grandstands, painted NFL players, Command Control, TTC bases, and even lights. What a time it was…

 

Earl & Roddy

 

Living Electric Football History — the Gotham Factory Sites

An 1940 Playthings ad for Gotham's new factory

Gotham advertising their new factory to the toy world in 1940.

Electric Football history can still be found in the “here and now,” being scattered across a few anonymous sites in the U.S. and Canada. The skeletons of the game, or at least where the games were conceived and produced, are there to be found…if you know where to look.

The former Tudor factory in Brooklyn.

Tudor’s former 176 Johnson Street site is now a condo building called The Toy Factory.

We know that in Brooklyn, where the game was born in 1949, the old Tudor factory still stands at 176 Johnson Street. And in what seems a fitting tribute to Tudor’s long and storied history, the building has become “The Toy Factory,” an upscale condo development that helped spur the revitalization of the neighborhood.

Gotham’s former factory in the Bronx. The company  was at this site in the 1930’s, and from 1960 to 1973.

Not far away in the Bronx, two different old Gotham Pressed Steel factories still stand. One is a large building that takes up almost an entire block of Wales Avenue at East 144 Street. Gotham used this site during the 1930’s, and then moved back to the building in 1960. While it’s really remarkable that the structure is still standing, its fate seems quite the opposite of Tudor’s Brooklyn building. Having been converted into a chemical plant after Gotham was absorbed by Munro Games in 1973, the building now has a real state sign on it. It remains to be seen whether any manufacturer would find the site attractive in 2015, or whether the owner is waiting for this part of the Bronx to become the next Brooklyn in terms of revitalization.

A photo of Gotham's former factory

Another Gotham factory site in the Bronx. Gotham occupied this building from 1940-60.

Gotham’s other factory site is at East 133rd and Cypress Avenue. This is actually where Gotham was located when they entered into Electric Football in 1954 and became Tudor’s main competitor. Gotham operated in this building from 1940 until 1960. At one point in last decade this was home to an auto repair business, but the area appears pretty quiet in 2015. A far cry from the toy world bustle this building witnessed in the past.

So for anyone who wants to view the living fossils of Electric Football, they are still out there. And you don’t have to risk going to Jurassic Park to find them.

 

Earl & Roddy

Saying Goodbye To The FAO Schwarz Toy Store

The cover of the 1968 FAO Schwarz toy catalog.

The cover of the 1968 FAO Schwarz toy catalog.

It’s sad news that the famous FAO Schwarz toy store in New York City is set to close its doors in July. Even though Schwarz never took Electric Football to heart like retailers Sears, Montgomery Ward, and JC Penney, and that most of us never had the opportunity to wander those hallowed Manhattan aisles, there is something poignant about the store’s demise.

Gotham Electric Football in the 1967 FAO Schwarz catalog. For Schwarz, Electric Football was just another toy.

On occasion while growing up in the 1960’s the FAO Schwarz catalog would arrive in my family’s mailbox. Compared to Sears and Wards, it was exotic, with cars you could drive and other expensive playsets and toys that where well beyond what my family could afford. I knew and accepted that, never asking for anything from the FAO Schwarz catalog. But I kept those catalogs and would still go through them from time. There was just something about the “possibility” offered by the eclectic FAO Schwarz line. It made it clear that there was “more” out there in the way of toys than I ever imagined.

FAO Schwarz "Besieged Castle" playset

The $75 FAO Schwarz “Besieged Castle” playset in 1968. The equivalent cost in 2015 would be $509.

That possibility of “more” was hammered home on a 1969 trip to Scotland when I turned a corner in an Edinburgh department store and ran smack into a Subbuteo Table Soccer Display. Within an hour we were in the store’s shipping office having a Subbuteo game — with battery operated floodlights! — sent back to my tiny house in Pennsylvania.

Subbuteo Table Soccer with Floodlights

Subbuteo Table Soccer with Floodlights – confirmation there was more to the toy world than I ever imagined.

Without a doubt it’s this “more” element that inspired us to: play tape-recored NFL television theme music before kicking-off our games; cut NFL player names out of TV Guides for the backs of our Tudor NFL players; build stadiums, keep stats, collect teams and games; make Electric Football as realistic as possible through painting, molding, and tweaking.

A collection of 1967 Tudor NFL and AFL teams illustrating the concept of “possibility” in Electric Football.

Many claim that Schwarz’ special aura has long since disappeared, along with all the other independent mom and pop toy stores that once populated the toy world. Yet it’s still sad whenever and however the spirit of “possibility” fades from view. Perhaps that’s why we work so hard to keep it alive in Electric Football.

 

Earl

Full Color Electric Football on The Knee Jerks Podcast

The full cover of the book Full Color Electric Football

Full Color Electric Football

It was our pleasure to appear on The Knee Jerks 6th Anniversary Podcast last night to talk about our upcoming Full Color Electric Football book. This was our 3rd time on the show. Hosts Greg Eno and Al Beaton are so much fun to talk to, and very much Electric Football guys. They definitely get what’s special about the game.

Our segment is right at the beginning of the show. Thanks so much Greg and Al!!!

1960’s Electric Football Competitor — Mag-Powr Football

1960 Mag-Powr Electric Football game

1960 Mag-Powr Electric Football game.

Electric Football got its first “big game” in 1961 when Gotham unveiled the officially NFL-endorsed G-1500. So when Sports Illustrated ran a column in December of 1961 recommending sports games for Christmas, it was a bit of a shock that the magazine’s top-rated action football game didn’t vibrate, and came from neither Tudor nor Gotham. SI’s action football winner was a game called Mag-Powr Football.

Like Electric Football, Mag-Powr Football offered two complete teams of 3-D players. And the players could move all over the field, just like Electric Football. The difference was, the players were controlled by a magnetic wand below the game. Sound familiar? Yes it does, and in fact Coleco’s Command Control patent cited the 1959 Mag-Powr patent.

Instructions for how Mag-Powr Football worksEach human player had two magnetic wands, and could move their miniature football players around the field however they wished, as long as it followed the rules of real football.

The teams, like Tudor, were red and yellow, and the players did come in different football poses. There was even a quarterback figure, although it’s unclear how he actually threw the ball. Each player was mounted on top of a hefty magnet, which acted as the players “legs.” While the molding of the players was a bit crude, the field was a green felt material, which added a “touch of grass” realism.

Two other Mag-Powr sports games -- Baseball and hockeyMag-Powr football and baseball were first available in 1959, with company expanding to hockey in 1960, and basketball in 1961. Although the line wasn’t carried by Sears and Montgomery Ward, Mag-Powr games can be found in other Christmas catalogs of the period. Unfortunately by 1965 the Mag-Powr line vanished from the toy world. But the magnetic wand concept lived on in the Remco Thimble City line.

As we’ve said here many times, Electric Football’s staying power in the toy world makes it one of the most amazing toys ever produced. It’s legacy as building block for NFL Properties will never be equaled.

 

Earl & Roddy

1979 Tudor Rule Book

Cover of the 1979 Tudor Rule Book

Cover of the 1979 Tudor Rule Book

Electric Football has a lot of great “pieces.” And we think some of the coolest pieces in all of Electric Football are the Tudor Rule Books. In fact, they were a large part of our inspiration for our upcoming  Full Color Electric Football book.

In this post we’re going to examine in detail a 1979 Tudor Rule Book. One of the most important things for any rule book is being able to figure out what year its from. Some of the early Rule Books make it obvious with a price list of “Fine Tudor Products” that has the year. Unfortunately, later versions aren’t so obvious. But there is one sure place where you can find the date of your Rule Book.

Look for the Copyright on the inside cover. This will accurately date your Rule Book. As you can see in the bottom left hand corner this page says “Copyright 1979.” Some Rule Books have multiple years listed. The most recent year will be the date of the Rule Book.

Inside cover of 1979 Tudor Rule Book

You can date a Tudor Rule Book by finding the Copyright on the inside cover.

Now for the good stuff, the color NFL pages. There are four pages in the 1979 Rule Book. This one unfortunately, has some water damage, but it still works!!

Tudor NFL Teams from the 1979 Rule Book

1979 Tudor nfl Rule Book

1979 Tudor NFL Rule Book

1979 Tudor NFL Rule Book

And last, but not least, the order form!!!

1979 Tudor NFL Electric Football Order Form

There you have it, the most vital parts of the 1979 Tudor Rule Book. This was actually pretty fun, maybe we’ll post some other years in the near future. Remember…look for that Copyright date!

Earl & Roddy.

1970 — Coleco Becomes Electric Football Maker No. 3

A 1970 Coleco Pro Stars 5765A model.

A 1970 Coleco Pro Stars 5765A model.

It was 45 years ago this spring that Electric Football’s third manufacturer stepped onto the vibrating gridiron. That company was Coleco Industries of Hartford, Connecticut.

Coleco’s path to Electric Football began in late 1968, when they purchased Canadian toy maker Eagle Toys. This acquisition gave Coleco a large share of the table hockey market, as well as the ability to create and mass-produce sports games. After a year of prototypes and planning, Coleco launched its all new “World of Sports” at the 1970 Toy Fair in New York City.

A 1970 toy trade ad for the Coleco World of Sports

A 1970 toy trade ad for the Coleco World of Sports

In addition to Electric Football games, this new Coleco “world” included hockey, baseball, and basketball games. Coleco was also promising a promotional push that featured television spots, as well as ads in stadium programs and Sports Illustrated.

Coleco's 1970 Pro Stars games

Coleco’s 1970 Pro Stars games

Coleco had six different Electric Football models at the 1970 Toy Fair. The Pro Stars line consisted of a large game and small game, both of which were available in American Conference or National Conference versions. Then there was Coleco’s innovative College line, consisting of the Collegiate game and the smaller College Bowl game (there are questions as to whether this line was ever actually produced).

Coleco's 1970 line of College games

Coleco’s 1970 line of College games

Toy trade ads promoting the World of Sports had appeared months before Toy Fair opened. Coleco was a major toy company — in fact, they were the world’s largest manufacturer of above ground swimming pools. So they weren’t fooling around with their entry into sports games. As a large company with a lot of “leverage” in the toy world — any retailer who carried Coleco’s very popular swimming pools would now be “asked” to also carry the World of Sports — Coleco felt it would just be a matter of time before they would be the top player in Electric Football.

Coleco Electric Football game 1970

Tudor players as pictured on a 1970 Coleco Electric Football game box lid.

The lack of regard Coleco had for Tudor could be seen in Coleco’s promotional material — posed on their Football games were thinly disguised Tudor players. Coleco also “borrowed” Tudor’s goal post and first down marker to fill out the details of their games. And finally, Coleco thought nothing of using Tudor’s players for their 1970 television commercial.

Even though Coleco’s vision of Electric Football conquest never came to fruition, the company’s debut into Electric Football in 1970 did alter the course of the game. It forced Tudor to be more competitive (see Command Control), and thanks to its heft in the toy world, Coleco ended up playing a large part in the demise of both Gotham and Munro Games.

Coleco’s own demise came in the late 1980’s, about a decade after it stepped away from Electric Football for the thrill of computer and hand-held electronic games. But ultimately, Coleco left us with some very nice games that have proven durable even 45 years out. Their fiberboard fields still vibrate and play well, not seeming to warp and bubble as readily as Gotham’s fields do. (The plastic grandstand supports, unfortunately, are another matter entirely.)

And based on our conversations at TudorCON 14, Coleco games are fondly remembered. They still have a significant amount of admirers despite never having any official NFL affiliation. Most us seemed to have quickly figured out that Tudor NFL teams looked good and performed well on Coleco games.

There are many more details about the Coleco in The Unforgettable Buzz. There’s no doubt that the company played a major role in the story of Electric Football.

 

Earl & Roddy

Toy Rarity — Gotham Shipping Box

A Gotham shipping box with 3-d hockey players

A Gotham shipping box from 1964 with 3-D hockey players.

Electric Football ephemera is something we have a special passion for. We love finding old shipping boxes, or dated invoice forms with Electric Football items checked and tallied. A special thrill came this year at Toy Fair when Tudor President Doug Strohm showed us a folder that contained 1967 Tudor price lists with Norman Sas’ handwriting on them. There’s just not much of that stuff left around anymore.

Which leads to the piece of ephemera we’re featuring on the blog today. It isn’t Electric Football related…but it’s close. It’s a Gotham Pressed Steel shipping box. If you ordered Electric Football spare parts from Gotham — their instructions and Rule Books always included a Price List — this is the type of box that you would have received.

Gotham's 3-D hockey players.

Gotham’s 3-D hockey players, molded in the same red and white plastic as Gotham’s Electric Football players.

The postmark is from the Bronx on January 30, 1964. Inside were Gotham 3-D hockey players — our best guess is that they were replacement players for a Gotham hockey game that was received on Christmas in 1963. Since Gotham 3-D hockey players were only sold in 1963 and 1964, they are pretty rare. And it seems that they are pretty fragile. Only one of seven players here is intact. This adds another layer of “rare” to the players.

1964 Gotham hockey game

1964 Gotham Super Deluxe hockey game with 3-D players

But we still think the box is the rarest part of this find. Gotham’s football players, at least the 3-D versions, were almost unbreakable. And Gotham’s standard hockey players were made of metal. So how many replacement orders did Gotham ever actually receive…at least compared to all the orders Tudor received through the years for NFL teams?

Postmark on the back of the box.

Postmark on the back of the box.

For us, this box is something we never thought we’d see. It’s another “lost” piece from the puzzle we’ve spent two decades putting together. But does it have much value beyond the couple of bucks we paid for it? Probably not. As we all know, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

 

Earl & Roddy

Birthday of Electric Football Inventor Norman Sas

Electric Football Book The Unforgettable Buzz author

Electric Football inventor Norman Sas (far left) with NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle in 1971.

Electric Football inventor Norman Sas would have turned 90 this Sunday (March 29). When he took over the struggling Tudor Metal Products Corporation in mid-1948 he was only 23-years-old —  just “a kid” as he recalled to us in an interview. But he did already have degree in Engineering and also one in Business from M.I.T.

Tudor’s future rode on Electric Football. If the game Norman created wasn’t a success, the company was headed for bankruptcy. Even if it survived bankruptcy, it was likely to have new owners. And the company, no matter who owned it, would have discarded any toy that almost put it out of business. (Let’s all take a moment to contemplate a world without Electric Football).

1949 Electric Football newspaper advertisement.

Norman felt pretty good about Electric Football when he unveiled it in March of 1949 at the American International Toy Fair in New York City. The game was well received by toy buyers, and once it hit toy store shelves in the fall of 1949, it became a very popular item. Even with a $6.95 price tag ($68+ in today’s dollars). It was so popular that stores publicly announced the arrival of new Electric Football shipments after Christmas.

Tudor 1973 NFL Rule Book Electric Football

Tudor’s 1973 Electric Football NFL Rule Book

Over the next four decades Norman guided Tudor and Electric Football to some amazing heights. The NFL license, featured games in Sears, Ward, and JC Penney, and a decade as NFL Properties top money earner. An amazing track record for any toy.

And this success allowed Norman to have some pretty amazing experiences, that every so often, he would reveal. Attending over 20 Super Bowl games, getting invites to Pete Rozelle’s legendary Super Bowl parties, fishing outings with Dolphins’ owner Joe Robbie — it was stuff that made our jaws drop. But these were things that he only revealed after years of conversations. For the most part Norman was reluctant to talk about his accomplishments, even his very public ones with Tudor.

Earl Shores, Norman Sas, and Roddy Garcia, Florida 2010.

Norman sold Tudor in 1988 and retired from the toy business. He eventually moved to Florida where he passed away in June of 2012 at age 87. He truly led a life that touched millions. He was even featured in LiFE Farewell Remembering The Friends We Lost in 2012sharing a page with Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Steve Van Buren (see image below).

 

Earl & Roddy

Norman’s full page with Steve Van Buren. ©LIFE 2012

 

Images From The Unforgettable Buzz In ESPN’s Documentary

Our Joe Namath photo being animated in Errol Moriss' ESPN Electric Football documentary.

Our Joe Namath photo being animated in Errol Moriss’ ESPN Electric Football documentary.

Electric Football has never seen anything quite like Errol Morris’ recent ESPN documentary. We were proud to be an integral part of the project, providing 16 images that made it into the film’s final cut.

We make our entrance at the 0:42 mark, with a collage of turning pages from The Unforgettable Buzz. This graphic included, in order, pages 74, 15, 82, 138, 79, and 76 from our book.

page from The Unforgettable Buzz that appears in the ESPN Electric Football documentary

Page 79 from The Buzz in ESPN’s “The Subterranean Stadium.” Our caption is visible.

Next up were a series of Electric Football game boxes, which included eight images from The Unforgettable Buzz web page. The Munro Day/Nite box still has our watermark on it!

A Munro Day Nite Game from the ESPN Documentary with our watermark

Check out this image from the ESPN Electric Football documentary — our theunforgettablebuzz.com watermark is still on the box (bottom right corner).

Then at the 3:37 mark, page 15 of The Unforgettable Buzz appears. This page has the 1961 Gotham Rule Book on it, and the comic-like images of the Rule Book receive a nice bit of animation showing how the grandstand would be assembled.

Page 15 from our book The Unforgettable Buzz as seen in ESPN documentary

Page 15 from The Buzz, coming to life in the documentary.

Finally, just a few seconds later, our 1969 Gotham Joe Namath game shows up shows up with some very cool animation of the grandstand setting up…all by itself!

1969 Gotham Joe Namath Electric Football Game

Our Gotham Joe Namath photo that was brought to life in ESPN’s Electric Football documentary. (See top photo.)

It was thrilling to have an Academy Award-winning filmmaker consider our artwork to be good enough for his documentary. And it was totally stunning to watch all our images go by and see the wonderful end credit for The Unforgettable Buzz. As we’ve said all along, it was a complete honor to be part of The Subterranean Stadium.

Credit for The Unforgettable Buzz at the end of the ESPN documentary.

The great credit we received at the end of the film.

This gives us great confidence as we move forward with Full Color Electric Football. If our art is good enough for an Errol Morris documentary we must be doing something right!

 

Earl, Roddy, and MK

Recap: Errol Morris and ESPN’s Subterranean Stadium

John DiCarlo and ESPN's Subterranean Stadium

It’s really been a busy couple of weeks, so we’ve just recently had the opportunity to fully soak in Errol Morris’ sublime Electric Football documentary “The Subterranean Stadium.” We’re not even sure where to start — it gets better with each viewing.

There are so many layers to the story, and Mr. Morris captures them all thoughtfully and with total respect. That’s probably what strikes us more than anything. The respect Mr. Morris had for every piece of the story. John DiCarlo, Cindy DiCarlo, the “eccentric” group that plays in the league…everyone has a story. From Wayne Palumbo’s time in Sing Sing and Attica, to the hippie past of the free spirited “Hotman,” to the poignant back story of John himself — these are all stories worth hearing.

And that’s pretty much how we all feel about Electric Football. The game has a fantastic story that is worth telling and cherishing (not to mention writing a book about). It seemed that Errol Morris felt the same way and respected our hobby in much the way that we do ourselves.

It’s just an amazing work. And it is a “work” — it was art, both in how the film looked and how the story was told. It was the work of a great filmmaker taking our hobby, with great care, to the mainstream.

Photo of John DiCarlo's Basment Subterranean Stadium

The Subterranean Stadium

We don’t think anyone could have done it better. As we said in our post previewing the documentary, we hoped it would be something that we’d talk about for a long time. It lived up to that and then some. The story of The Subterranean Stadium is now a living breathing part of Electric Football. It’s part of Electric Football history — part of our history.

So…many, many thanks to Errol Morris and his entire staff for creating this amazing work. Thank you John DiCarlo for your dedication to Electric Football, and your ability to share the game with equal parts passion and humility. And thank you to the entire Charlotte Crew for letting us into your Electric Football universe. You’re what Electric Football is all about!

 

Earl, Roddy, & MK

If you haven’t watched the documentary yet, here’s a link: The Subterranean Stadium

Toy Fair 2015: Tudor Games Electric Football Recap

The Tudor Games booth at the 2015 Toy Fair

Toy Fair is always a unique and overwhelming experience. The 2015 event was no different, and even carried the additional factor of near zero degree temperatures on the streets of New York City. But it was business as usual inside the massive Javitz Center. And somehow it was actually hot in lower level of aisles and displays.

It has been an eye-opening pleasure to watch Tudor Games expand and grow at Toy Fair over the last 3 years. From a small booth in the back that buyers seemed to quickly pass by, to a more prominent location where buyers eagerly stopped to talk about the NFL, to this year, where Tudor’s success was illustrated by a spacious 20’ x 10’ booth.

Tudor Games 2015 NFL blister pack

Super Bowl Champion Patriot in a new Tudor Games hang tag pack.

This was twice the size of the previous years, and allowed Doug Strohm and Team Tudor Games to spread out in a most professional way, even to having a dedicated center demonstration table that provided a focus for all toy buyers. The table looked fantastic, including a Deluxe Tudor NFL game and the new NFL clamshell team packaging.

This year the Tudor Team had a different challenge than in previous Toy Fairs. Thanks to Doug’s hard work during 2014 toy buyers were well aware of the reestablished NFL -Tudor Electric Football relationship. Last year’s Fair carried the buzz of the the NFL being “back.” That was old news in 2015 — buyers this year wanted to know “what’s new.” And it was obvious that the hang-tag clamshell NFL teams were a popular answer.

It looks like another winning year for Tudor Games. There’s no question it will be a busy one. Just as soon as the Toy Fair booth was broken down, Doug was readying for a trip to the NFL Licensee gathering in Houston. A very special reunion for the toy, that according to Norman Sas, “made NFL Properties.”

 

Earl