Electric Football Articles Part II: this a continuation of post we started last week.
We expanded our Electric Football research in the late 1990’s, talking to key players like Norman Sas, Lee Payne, Don Munro Jr., as well as the NFL’s John Carney and Roger Atkin. While putting the game’s history together we continued writing articles for the magazines…at least the ones that were left. Collecting Toys folded in 1998, and the dozens of advertising pages which supported both Toy Shop and Toy Trader were drying up thanks to eBay.
What eBay was doing was taking both buyers and sellers away from the toy mags. If you wanted a vintage toy, all you had to do was search eBay. No longer was it necessary to page through all the ads in a toy magazine, or put your own ad in the “Wanted” Section. As the ads declined, so did the profitability of the magazines. And it reached a critical point in the late 1990’s.
Still, we were able to reach both toy collectors and sports collector with our September 1997 article “Electric Packer-phernalia.” This ran in Toy Shop and Sports Collector’s Digest, which was always a nice bonus. This article is significant because it was the first time that Tudor’s Large 1967 NFL-AFL teams were mentioned in print. At the time, the common terminology used in the hobby for the 1967 teams was “large.” This has morphed over time to “big.” Our sidebar is the first written documentation of this very significant piece of Electric Football history.
Just a few weeks later our article “The Tudor Sports Class 600” appeared in the November 1997 issued of Toy Trader. We loved the heading “Electric Football’s Forgotten Hall of Famer” but were puzzled as to why they turned “Classic” into “Class.” Nevertheless, it was a great piece, marking the first appearances in print of Lee Payne’s brass master players, as well as the Drummond brothers.
Our final piece of toy magazine writing appeared in the January 1999 issue of Toy Trader. The topic was the recent No. 9 game on our Top 20 Electric Football Countdown, the Gotham G-812 Joe Namath game. Editor John Koenig gave us a beautiful layout, and at the time was working behind the scenes to get us a contract for an Electric Football book with his parent company, Antique Trader Publications. He succeeded, and in June of 1999 we had signed a contract with Antique Trader, which we quickly FedEx’ed back to their book division. Within days we received a cryptic email from John warning us that major changes were underway — in secret.
Unfortunately, John was right. Krause Publications, the parent company of Toy Shop, bought out Antique Trader and immediately folded Toy Trader. Krause also absorbed all of Antique Trader’s book projects, including ours. After months of limbo and limited communications, Krause finally informed us that they weren’t interested in doing a book on Electric Football. At that point we vowed to never write another Electric Football article for Toy Shop. And we kept our vow right up until Toy Shop folded in 2008.
But looking back, we’re proud of the work we did, corrections and all. Ultimately, all of our Electric Football writing’s led to The Unforgettable Buzz, which we published in 2013. It’s a totally different book from the one we had assembled in 1999, and looking back, we’re glad that we had the opportunity to “do it right.” And speaking of doing things right, work on Full Color Electric Football is underway — all we can say is that it looks amazing. We promise to keep you posted.
Earl & Roddy