Our Electric Football Game Top 20 Countdown moves to No. 11 — the 1973 Tudor No. 655 NFL Championship game.
The early 70’s were arguably the heyday of Electric Football. Four different companies were making games that seemed to get bigger and more elaborate each year. It was a time when Tudor was feeling the pressure to keep up with the competition, especially after Munro unveiled their magnificent Day/Nite model in 1972.
The company answered by creating a game with “more” of something that was exclusive to Tudor – the NFL.
The new No. 655 came not with two teams, but four. And not just any four teams, but the Redskins, Cowboys, Steelers, and Dolphins — the teams that played in the NFC and AFC Championship games in 1972. So with just a single Tudor game you could now replay NFL Championship Sunday and the Super Bowl. It was a groundbreaking concept.
Adding to the “championship” atmosphere of the game was the most elaborate Lee Payne-designed field outside of a Sears’ Super Bowl. Taking up most of mid-field was a white circle, 20-scale-yards in diameter, containing a large NFL shield. Framing this large circle were two smaller 10-yard diameter circles; the one on the left contained a red AFC logo, while the circle on the right contained a blue NFC logo. This circle theme continued with the yard line numbers, where the odd numbers sat in red circles and the even numbers in blue circles. And there were even more circles on the orange colored frame. Twenty-six in all to be exact, each one containing the helmet of an NFL team.
The final piece of the new game was a triple-decked grandstand, which had been borrowed from the Ward NFL models. Overall, the No. 655 was probably the best looking Tudor game since the Chiefs-Vikings Sears’ Super Bowl in 1970.
While it was a futuristic Electric Football game for the ages, it did have drawbacks. The first, depending on the result of your own personal playoff games, was that you could end up with a Super Bowl game of white Cowboys playing white Dolphins, or dark Steelers playing dark Redskins. Next, the grandstand, which was the most towering cardboard structure ever offered by Tudor, had a problem with gravity and wanted to lean forward over the game. And over time it would warp, becoming difficult to mount on the frame.
The final drawback was the No. 655’s price tag, which usually sat somewhere between $18 and $20. That was a lot of money in 1973, especially after the Middle East oil crisis started washing over the U.S. economy in October.
Because of its costs, and because the No. 655 was introduced on the cusp of an economic recession that lasted for almost the entire period the game was available (1973-76), the game didn’t sell all that well. (It was a devastating period for Electric Football makers — for more info see Chapters 28-32 in The Unforgettable Buzz.) So it’s always been a puzzlingly difficult game to find. After four years at the head of Tudor Electric Football line, the No 655 should be out there in numbers…but they simply are not.
Which only adds to the mystique of this stunning and unique game. A truly Tudor great at No. 11.
Earl, Roddy, and Michael