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.
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.
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.
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