At No. 8 on the Countdown — the 1968 Tudor AFL No. 520
Our Electric Football Game Top 20 Countdown moves further into the single digits with No. 8 — the 1968 Tudor AFL No. 520.
The No. 520 holds the distinction of being the ONLY official AFL Electric Football game ever made. This alone would put it on our Top 20. But it also had a number of intangible features going for it. Yes, it’s only a small game, but for many of us, it’s the most exotic Electric Football game ever.
“Exotic” because lots of us had grown up as NFL fans, and this was the “other league,” the one on NBC, the one with all the passing and vibrant uniforms. And the charismatic quarterback with the big contract and the white shoes — Joe Namath. So this “other-ness” made it very desirable to those of us with NFL leanings.
The box of the Tudor AFL No. 520.
Of course, if you lived in an AFL area, you had to have the game because it validated your league. The AFL logo was on the front of the box and there was a bright orange “A-F-L” in each end zone. Finally, your league had its own Electric Football game!
It was such a brilliant move on Tudor’s part to create an AFL game because they really didn’t have to bother. With the NFL and AFL set to merge in 1970, why put time and energy into a game that would only have a two year lifespan?
Because they could, and because they really wanted to. Tudor Product Design Director Lee Payne was at the height of his creative powers, riding a wave of Electric Football inspiration that would never be equaled. Designing a brand new AFL game was all in a day’s work.
AFL dreams came true on Tudor’s 1968 AFL No. 520.
And actually the game board isn’t that much different from Tudor’s NFL No. 510 game — replace the blue on the frame with orange, replace the white “NFL” with “AFL,” then darken the end zones slightly and add “AFL.” But it IS a different game. One of the things that makes the game shout “AFL” is something very subtle. It’s the orange yard line numbers. Somehow that seems very AFL. And it looks really cool, too.
A 1968 Tudor first – “away” New York Jets.
The grandstand is essentially an orange-themed No. 510 grandstand with AFL team pennants, but again, just the subtle color change makes is seem like something totally different. On the field is where Tudor put the game into Electric Football lore. First you had the Kansas City Chiefs, who were just a season removed from a Super Bowl appearance. They were wearing their home dark uniforms. Then you had the New York Jets…in white!! They were the ONLY Tudor AFL team to ever have away uniforms. White Jets uniforms, alone, sold many an AFL game.
The game was a hit from the first day it landed on toy store shelves. By late October Tudor was out of Chiefs and Jets, and other AFL teams were being substituted in (a popular pairing seemed to be the Bills and Dolphins). This led to some disappointments, but didn’t stop the game from being a sellout. And a Bills-Dolphins AFL game in 2014 — make that LARGE Bills and Dolphins — is a pretty cool game to have.
Helping the game sell during the fall of 1968 were the Jets themselves. Namath led the team to the AFL Championship game, where just after Christmas they beat the Raiders 27-23. Namath and the Jets then made history a few weeks later with their victory in Super Bowl III.
It was just another case of Tudor’s knack for incredible timing. Putting the Jets on the first-ever AFL Electric Football game the same season that the team wins the Super Bowl… guess what game the toy buyers couldn’t wait to get their hands on at the 1969 Toy Fair? The one with Super Bowl Champion Jets. 1969 was barely underway and Tudor already knew that the AFL No. 520 was going be in greater demand than in 1968.
And by the time the final AFL No. 520′s rolled off the Brooklyn assembly line in the fall of 1969, Tudor had established itself as the unquestioned “champions” of Electric Football. The AFL No. 520 is a true Electric Football landmark, and a “must have” for any Electric Football collection.
Earl, Roddy & MK