Throughout the weekend at TudorCON 14, Tudor Vice President James Baum (center) moved stealthily through the room taking in his first Electric Football Convention. His toy world experiences go back to having regular lunch outings with Electric Football inventor Norman Sas. Photo by David Hawkins
A red Honda pulls up in front of the Embassy Suites Philadelphia Airport hotel mid-afternoon on Friday, January 24…the whirlwind begins.
Okay, we need a cart to get our stuff in, oh hey, there’s Jim Davis, and that’s Adrian Baxter, and oh, we know that person…damn, what is his name? More faces we know, some with names, some without. Further in the hotel with the cart, there’s someone we know well but have never met – it’s Lynn Schmidt; and then there’s someone we know and have met, but outside of Electric Football – film maker Ray Spivey. Then a voice…”I’m taking cheesteak orders..” we turn and it’s “Mr National” Corey Johnson. Then “flash” – Lynn’s captures it all (thanks Lynn, it’s a great shot).
Roddy Garcia, Earl Shores, Corey Johnson and Ray Spivey. Photo by Lynn Schmidt.
Finally we rumble into the main room with the cart, and there’s Tudor President Doug Strohm. Earl to Doug: “Doug, we didn’t bring all the games right now, did you want them set up for tonight?” Doug pauses for a second and says diplomatically: “That might be nice.” Earl’s quickly heading back down I-95 to his house to reload the car while Roddy sets up the initial delivery of stuff. It takes another hour, but finally the entire display is at the hotel.
(Deep breath…now exhale)
The ballroom is mostly quiet and empty as we start putting games out on the tables. Then through the door comes a very distinguished man who will play a vital yet mostly unseen role in the rollout of Tudor’s new line of games – it’s Tudor Vice President James “Jimmy” Baum. Mr. Baum has been in the toy business for more than five decades, and knew Electric Football inventor Norman Sas well enough to have regular lunch outings with him. He has seen it all and done it all in the toy world, from working for Mattel, to being President of Matchbox, to remembering a time when Toy “R” Us was just a spec in the world of toy selling.
Jimmy Baum and Denise Strohm Chrystowski @Toy Fair 2013
As total toy geeks we’re entranced by Jimmy’s stories of the toy world past and present. He’s a walking toy encyclopedia, and we take this opportunity to ask him some of the questions we wish we could have asked the people in The Unforgettable Buzz who are no longer with us. And it seems fitting that we’re setting up Electric Football games from a time in the toy world that Jimmy witnessed up close and personal.
We ask him if knew Gotham President Eddie Gluck, and show Jimmy a picture of Gluck that’s in The Buzz…and it’s a moment we will never forget. Here we are standing over a Gotham NFL G-1500 game with someone who was actually in the toy business when Gluck first unveiled the game in 1961.
What James Baum brings to Tudor – his experience, his connections, his knowledge of how the toy world works, and more importantly, how it doesn’t work – will be instrumental to Tudor’s success in 2014. And his “Super Bowl” will be taking in just a few weeks at Toy Fair in NYC. There he will work his magic for Tudor, pitching and selling Electric Football for all that it’s worth.
So when you see this man at next year’s TudorCON (after what should the most amazing year Electric Football has seen in some time…) be sure to go up to him and and say “Thank You.” He’s a gem and a gentleman, and one of the last original “toy men.”
Earl & Roddy