[Editor’s Note: Today we have a book review from “Collector’s Corner” columnist Brinke Guthrie. ”” PL]
By Brinke Guthrie
Timing. Timing is everything.
When you read through the book The Unforgettable Buzz: The History of Electric Football and Tudor Games by authors Earl Shores and Roddy Garcia, you realize that it was all a matter of timing. This massive, 652-page look at the game that ended up under so many Christmas trees takes an exhaustive look at electric football, and how it became a pop culture institution, hitting football-happy kids “like a blitzing linebacker,” as the book puts it. (You can get a feel for the book’s look by checking out these pages and spreads.)
Tudor got into the electric football arena in 1949, led by a visionary named Norman Sas, the son of Tudor founder Elmer Sas. Tudor already had a vibrating car race game, so Sas used that as the base for his new football game and created small players that moved around the field as the “field” vibrated and buzzed.
There was an annual event in NYC called the Toy Fair, which was held at the beginning of each year, and it was here that buyers would see what was on deck for the next Christmas shopping season. Tudor brought their initial electric football effort to the 1949 show. It would eventually take off, and the resulting success would draw competition, initially from a company called Gotham.
Tudor battled it out with Gotham over the years. (Gotham had a Namath game, and one game even had lights! I’d never seen that before.) Gotham also initially held an official NFL license, which Tudor would eventually acquire after initially declining it. This was a key to Tudor’s success, as were such innovations as the intricate player poses they were able to create and the detailed painting process they farmed out to Hong Kong. Sas was in charge, but a designer named Lee Payne was the talent behind the player and game designs. His contributions were a key component to the electric football story.
But what really made the game a success was timing. About the time electric football was catching on, the NFL and something television were also catching on. Games on the tube were initially few and far between. But as the league grew, so did the TV contracts, and the televised games were basically weekly commercials for electric football — Tudor in particular.
Big retailers had a lot of muscle back in the day, and the book devotes a lot of time talking about the big stores like Sears and Wards. Sears in particular was the 300-pound gorilla, and they had the retailing power to make or break sales, so Tudor would often make special-edition games for Sears. Gotta play nice with the big boys.
In the mid-1970s, the game took a hit from air hockey and a failing economy. But bigger competitors were looming on the horizon: electronic games, and then video games. Once they got a foothold in the marketplace, electric football was viewed as little more than a quaint novelty. Sales plummeted, and Tudor was sold in 1988. Electric football is still made and sold under the Tudor brand name, but it’s no longer the cultural force it once was.
I got my Tudor game (Colts-Cowboys) for Christmas in 1971 and remember it well. Many times I’d send off to 176 Johnson St. in Brooklyn — Tudor’s address — for different team sets. I’d then organize them carefully in a tackle box I bought just for them. I had discarded the big game and just set them up on a living room table, imagining the plays. “No. 41, Dave Osborn, Vikings — sweep right.”
If you had an electric football game while growing up back in the day, this book is a terrific look back in time. And if you’re too young for that, the book is a fantastic window into the game that energized an entire generation of football fans. Either way, it’s a matter of timing.
Paul here. Thanks, Brinke — good stuff. I had an electric football game too. Got it when I was 10, I think, although I don’t recall which teams it came with.
It’s worth noting, incidentally, that 176 Johnson St. — Tudor’s old address — is a short walk from Uni Watch HQ. Like so many Brooklyn light-industrial spaces, it has been converted to luxury residential spaces. Too bad.
New Era logo creep, continued: The logo creep era for MLB headwear begins tonight, as the Blue Jays and Orioles will be wearing the New Era maker’s mark on their caps in the American League Wild Card game. The Mets and Giants will do likewise tomorrow night, as will the six other playoff teams once we proceed to the next round of the postseason.
Here are most of the caps worn by the 10 postseason teams, so you can see which color the maker’s marks will be rendered in (if you can’t see the slideshow below, click here):
Speaking of New Era, here’s a good piece on how they’ve prepared for the postseason. One interesting detail is that players who superstitiously want to keep their existing caps are allowed to do so. A company exec travels with a portable heat-sealing machine to personally apply the postseason logo to those players’ caps.
Also: If the Cubs win, New Era expects that to be very good for business.
(My thanks to reader David Lee for those last two links.)
Click to enlarge
By Brinke Guthrie
Ever seen these before? Three-dimensional sports diorama kits made by AMT (most famous in my mind as the creators of the Star Trek model series back then), called “Hang-Out.” They made baseball, football, and a few other versions if you check the side of the box. Obviously Johnny U. on the box art!
Now for the rest of the week:
• Here’s an assortment of 1970s NFL team stickers, including the Lions, Pats, Chiefs, and Sir Saint. There’s also a separate listing just for Pat Patriot stickers — truly the standard for 1960s NFL logo art. And notice how the facemask on this Giants helmet sticker is pointing a bit south.
• This NFL lunch box has clearly seen better days, but terrific artwork of Jim Everett and Tony Dorsett among others on the front.
• Jets fans, try this 1970s team wristband on for size. Packaging includes that classic “Officially Licensed Product” logo.
• The Atlanta Falcons were “For Real” in the 1970s, as it states on this T-shirt.
• This 1970s Cleveland Browns kids’ “Puffer Vest” was made by Stahl-Urban.
• Nice fat helmet striping on this 1970s New York Football Giants glass.
• One more glass, this time with great artwork for all the AFC teams.
• Here’s an NFL All-Pro Football Board Game.
• They did a good job on the helmet wings of this 1960s Eagles bobblehead!
• I had this one! This early-1970s Kansas City Chiefs poster shows No. 89 Otis Taylor.
By Mike Chamernik
Baseball News: The Phillies commissioned glove artist Sean Kane to paint commemorative gloves for Ryan Howard and Chooch Ruiz. … Here’s a few neat MLB jersey number factoids from the 2016 season, all from @NumbersMLB: Nine players wore three or more numbers, eight teams had three players wear the same number at different times (the Pirates had two numbers), and the Yankees had seven numbers worn by three or more players. … The Diamondbacks may make some alterations to their pants next season. … Speaking of the D-Backs, here’s how they performed in each uniform combination this year (from Edward D. Kendrick). … Tom Konecny attended the Nats/Pirates game in Pittsburgh two Sundays ago. He said that the scoreboard displayed Expos logos when showing Nats players. The Pirates wore 1979 throwbacks that day, but the Nationals wore their regular red alts. … The Buffalo Bisons revealed a logo for 30 seasons at their ballpark, which is currently named Coca-Cola Field.
NFL News: Giants RB Bobby Rainey sported a trippy mouthguard last night (from Alex Sinclair). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Cowboys WR Terrance Williams and 49ers CB Rashard Robinson both wore black towels on Sunday, instead of the usual Wilson towel. Robinson is also one of the Niners who raised their fists during the national anthem prior to that game. Could the black towels represent some kind of protest? … Here’s a big infographic that calculates the most loyal franchises in the league (from Ally Kern). … Brian Forosisky imagined full-out Pinktober uniforms for the Steelers and Browns. I’m aware of all the connotations around pink, but for what it is, black-and-pink isn’t awful, at least in my view. … Yesterday, Paul discussed how teams handle the striping tape that goes over the SpeedFlex helmet’s flex panel. Omar Jalife notes that the Cowboys use the cut tape approach during training camp while going solid striping during games. … Johnny Manziel is working to protect rights to the “Johnny Football” trademark. … In one sentence about Tom Brady’s impending return to the Pats, Comcast managed to get sooooo many things wrong (from Matt Shepardson).
College and High School Football News: Oregon will wear 1916 Webfoots throwbacks on Saturday. The school changed some of its details since the April unveiling, including switching to black helmets and pants (from Phil). … Boston College will wear uniforms that honor “The Man in the Red Bandanna” for the game against Clemson on Saturday. Welles Crowther was a BC grad who saved a dozen lives during the September 11 attacks. He was known for his red bandanna. … Nichols will wear fire department-inspired uniforms on Saturday. … The trend of players kneeing during the national anthem has spread to high school football players in Colorado and Wisconsin. … Riddell awarded $10,000 in equipment upgrades to six high schools and four youth football programs. The program “recognizes youth and high school football programs throughout the U.S. and Canada for their commitment to implementing safer and smarter playing techniques” in both practices and games. More info here. … Here’s Auburn coach Gus Malzahn’s record as broken down by vest and visor (tracking graphics by Clint Richardson, via @TonyAggie).
Hockey News: The Coyotes issued an apology to their fans for using taglines and slogans for the upcoming season. Of course, the letter ends with a series of clichÃ©s. … Also, the Coyotes are placing their captaincy C and A patches next to their 20th anniversary logo. Unusual to see two patches on the same side of the jersey (from Josh Pearlman). … You still have 11 days to submit your best Carolina Hurricanes poster concept (from Todd Delk). … New jerseys for Providence. The Friars switched from Gemini Athletic to Nike. This is what they wore last year (from Dan Herr). … The recently relocated Tucson Roadrunners showed off their practice jerseys and equipment (from @hockeyinthecac). … Pink jerseys for the Everett Silvertips of the WHL. … Some more details and photos emerged of the white-on-white exhibition game between Florida and Dallas the other night. The Panthers assumed the Stars were bringing their home sweaters, so the Panthers only brought one set of jerseys on the road trip (from Jerry Wolper). … Regina Pats goalie Tyler Brown wore a pink mask and pink equipment during Sunday’s game (from Wade Heidt).
NBA News: Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Yesterday’s Ticker mentioned that Warrior F David West protested the national anthem prior to Saturday night’s Warriors/Raptors game by standing a few feet behind his teammates. It turns out that West has actually been doing that for years (from Iain Landon).
College Hoops News: Yesterday the Supreme Court said it will reject the Ed O’Bannon antitrust case against the NCAA. … Bowling Green will wear a “NT” patch in memory of Nate Thurmond. The Hall of Fame center took the Falcons to the regional finals in the NCAA tournament in 1963, the furthest the school has ever gone (from Noel Blaha).
Soccer News: We noted this last week, but the Fort Lauderdale Strikers debuted their pink-themed jerseys the other day (from Derek Reese). … New road unis for the Tacoma Stars, an arena soccer team. The team is just one letter swap and two spaces away from being the Taco Masters (from Brandon Sparks). … Check out this great 1930s ad for soccer shoelaces (from Will Scheibler). … A Republic of Ireland player got to wear No. 10 as the result of a coin toss (from Denis Hurley).
Grab Bag: An auto repair shop in Wisconsin is offering pink wiper blades (from @Phathead). … At least one Bojangles has pink drinking straws. I’m assuming that George Huff wasn’t just drinking pink lemonade. … Aussie football shocker, as the Geelong Cats have unveiled a new uniform with sleeved jerseys and pocketed shorts (from Leo Strawn Jr. and Liz Day).
Picked up my logo-creep-less 59-50 Mets cap over the weekend. Figured it was a good time to replace the one I bought when Bartolo Colon was a rookie.
Does your old one have a blue squatchee?
No; I think it was the first year of the orange squatchee. I wish I hadn’t waited until ’98 to buy the road jersey….
Re: 1970s NFL lunchbox, I think that’s link, not Jim Everett.
“This NFL lunch box has clearly seen better days, but terrific artwork of Jim Everett and Tony Dorsett among others on the front.”
Jim Everett didn’t debut until 1986, and I’m pretty sure that’s Franco Harris on the lunchbox, and he retired in 1984. So I think the Rams QB is Pat Haden, who also wore 11.
The Auburn/Malzahn graphics are pulling in extra stuff in the URL code. Seems to be pulling in the title of today’s Uni-Watch post in the links to the graphics.
Should be fixed now.
last 2 links in Soccer News not working.
Should be fixed now.
Re: NFL ALL-PRO FOOTBALL BOARD GAME from Collector’s Corner
In the image with all the team helmets, it appears that the Packers’ single-bar facemask is dark green. Judging by the NFL logo and a couple of the other helmets, the game must be from around 1969. Did the NFL have colored facemasks that early? Maybe it’s just an issue with the printing? Anyone know?
The NFL didn’t have colored masks until 1974. If the mask is really green, then some creative license was taken.
Also, the Cowboys helmet would put the year at 1966 at the latest.
No teams had colored facemasks until well into the 70s. Also, the Steelers emblem is on the wrong side of the helmet.
Please excuse me if this has been answered in a prior posting — Other than the fact of the addition of the makers’ marks, did MLB issue a reason for the change?
Obviously, one reason is promotion, but I’m curious as if there’s any other way that MLB chose to couch the change.
They said all the other uniform components have a maker’s mark (which is true).
They did not say that New Era paid a lot more to have their logo visible, although that is also true.
Between this and the re-naming of Ralph Wilson Stadium, New Era looks to be making a little bit of a push.
Sharpie should do some guerrilla marketing aimed at all the “get off my lawn” codgers like me, who may buy a new era lid and immediately reach for colored ink to blot out the creep.
That said, while I’ll concede the logo is somewhat tasteful and restrained in scale, I’ll also echo what other folks have said: it makes the official game caps look like fashion caps. Imagine if a player decided to keep the sticker on the brim …
I remember seeing a Red Sox player wearing a cap with the stickers still on it for a pregame ceremony. Can’t remember who it was, though.
Last night’s Jeopardy! category “Baseball in Uniform” was about players in the military, not uniforms. Alas: link
I watched. I thought it would’ve been much tougher for most contestants if they hadn’t identified Reese and Rizzuto in the text of the clue.
“…black-and-pink isn’t awful.”
I agree. But brown and pink… ugh.
I find that brown only works well with dark warm colors, light cool colors and mint green. Oh, and cyan. Therefore, the Browns would be slightly less true to name (and form). Lets hope Cleveland still gets to suffer with football this year. Goddamn LeBron and his stupid BFBS sleeved alts.
Perhaps that HOT pink and brown is a fail, but regular pink and brown is a hip-ho-and-happenin’ trend right now.
we know what Penn State would have looked like if they would have stuck with their original color scheme
I’d still like to know what the process is for determining the color of the New Era maker’s mark. Do teams determine, or does New Era get to foist its preferences on the league? Too small a sample size in the postseason, but so far it looks like New Era only has orange and white thread. If a team wears orange, it might – might! – get a less-ugly orange New Era mark. If a team wears any combination of red and blue, it gets an obnoxious white New Era mark.
so far it looks like New Era only has orange and white thread.
Indians “C” cap mark is red.
Thanks – proves a point, in a way. Not my point! Contradicts that. But another point: Non-white New Era marks are sufficiently subtler that they can be overlooked. Which is a good thing. The mark is still there, so New Era gets its advertising win, but the caps look more like good old professional player hats.
I’m not sure if an individual anecdote about one’s own observation (or lack thereof) constitutes a “prove[n] point,” but I understand what you mean. ;)
Surely the Pirates will be yellow.
In almost all cases, I’d guess the New Era mark is whatever the lightest color used in the logo is.
That theory would explain why Cleveland has a red New Era logo on their blue with red block C hat, while the Nats’ navy hat with white logo has a white New Era logo
Paul — Sorry for the late reply, but I am just catching up on the last few days of Uni Watch. I wanted to comment on your observation re: how teams handle the striping tape going over the SpeedFlex helmet’s flex panel and contours.
I, too, have noticed inconsistencies on the striping coverage over the flex panel vs. accommodating the gaps. I am curious if it is a team by team approach/policy, or rather an equipment manager to equipment manager oversight. I’ve noticed that as well over the course of the last year or so, but I have noticed inconsistencies on the same team. Thus, I am presuming it’s the latter.
I am also wondering if anyone else has noticed inconsistencies as it relates to the stripes along the contour on the back side of the helmet. Most teams (or equipment managers), it appears, adhere the striping to the contours of the helmet. But occasionally I’ve noticed a few helmets that have the stripe adhered nicely up to the contour and then pulled taut towards the bottom of the back side of the helmet. This causes a slight gap between the stripe and the helmet. Just curious if anyone else has noticed this.
Hard to find too many pictures, but here’s one that, if you look closely, you can see what I’m talking about:
Anyone else notice this? and/or have pictures?
I would think that the little gap is engineered to provide some kind of impact reduction. I have no idea how much, but taping over it has to reduce its benefit, even if quite minimally. I think it should be gapped and I think it looks better too, at least close up.
Thing I’ve noticed is that no one seems to have a consistent way of adhering the side logos, resulting in a lot of cock-eyed looking helmets.
I don’t have a photo, but the scoreboard at PNC did a similar treatment for several other teams last season, showing the logos of the past behind the current one. I remember the Padres set being particularly satisfying.
Also, thanks for the tip on the Hurricanes poster submission! That completely snuck by me!
Wonder if they flashed a Pilots logo when Milwaukee came to town…
Former WWF and WCW champion Bret “The Hitman” Hart approves of those Steelers Pinktober unis.
When the Calgary Hitmen redesigned their uniforms this year, I would have liked to see them they return to the black with pink and silver trim full time. Their new stripe design this year would have worked using the original colours instead.
I agree with you, but I think their preference is to keep the current colours and use the gray/pink sparingly as a throwback.
Jeez, reading that article, you’d think New Era makes all their caps in the USA. Of the many New Era caps I’ve bought in the past few years, only a handful haven’t been made in China.
To that, I’ve noticed that the sizing of the fitted and flex-fit caps is wildly inconsistent these past few years. I have the same model cap in three sizes and they all fit the same. I have gotten to the point where I won’t buy a New Era cap without trying it on first.
In my experience, they’ve been like that since the switch to polyester. Or maybe they were like that in wool, too, and I just never noticed. Whenever I bought a wool cap I’d always upsize to allow for sweat induced shrinkage.
I noticed the exact same thing, I thought at first the playoff hats were fashion caps because of the fact it had the logo on the side and it was made in China. Every single on field 59/50 I have ever had from the time I was a kid was made in USA, and that includes both wool and poly versions and even the original navy stars&stripes cap.
I thought MLB had a thing about unis being made in USA since Majestic is.
33 on the Cowboys in that era was Duane Thomas. The Raider is almost certainly Gene Upshaw; I can’t make out the Broncos player for sure, it’s 78 (Marv Montgomery, an offensive lineman) or 72 (Don Latimer, a defensive tackle).
I had that lunchbox and I was a child of the early-to-mid 80’s…I think that Cowboy was Dorsett, but the Ram is most likely Pat Haden.
Sorry for off topic question
Anyone out there have the link for the person that drew up the yearly world series prints?
I don’t know about anyone else and don’t really care, but I don’t have a problem with players raising a fist, otherwise known as the Black Power salute, during the anthem. In 1968 a couple of U.S. Olympians did that on the medal podium in Mexico City and were almost completely exiled for it. To me that gesture is respectful to the flag and country while saluting a person’s origin. It’s no different than someone holding up a cross and it’s not disruptive.
Tommie Smith, one of the fist-raising U.S. Olympians in 1968, later wrote in his autobiography that he was making “a human rights salute,” not a Black Power salute.
The Arizona Coyotes are such an endlessly pathetic franchise…
Just like real coyotes- cant do anything themselves, have to scavenge for a playoff spot.
Thanks for sharing that New Era article. IAs someone whose been throughly obsessed with New Era’a caps (especially post season patch and championship hats) since I was young, I really enjoyed it. I still hate that the logo creep on the authentic caps, but I digress.
I have always wondered, given that there are supersticious baseball players, how do they handle the whole season. I mean, there has been such an increase in different caps that it becomes hard to use your regular cap on a daily basis
Even curiouser, what happens now if one of those superstitious players’ team makes it to the World Series? Can they remove the “postseason” logo and replace it with the WS patch?
I remember reading a story back in ’96 about the stench when they heat transferred the WS patch onto John Wetteland’s filthy, sweat stained cap.
It looks like that Expos logo used by the Pirates was just part of a larger homage to the various logos used by the Nats/Expos. It looks like there are a few Nats logos they they used too.
Thanks for the book review. I think my first game came Christmas 1968. (“Browns and Giants Inside! All teams available at nominal cost.”) I remember sending for the Raiders and Bills (AFL teams were available in dark jerseys only) the day after Christmas and they took until February to arrive! Great memories. I’ve seen that book before and I may have to get it now.
MLB caps became too busy after the early 90s hats when they added the MLB logo. This is much worse.
Pro sports are killing me lately.
as someone who grew up in the 80s & 90s .. the hats without the MLB logo look bland and fake to me..
So did anyone actually play electric football for any extended length of time? I had one when I was a kid, and I spent far more time painting and repainting the figures to make different teams than I ever did actually playing. It just… wasn’t fun.
I definitely played — sometimes with friends, sometimes by myself. It was while reading the rules/instrux that I learned that the offense had to have a certain number of players in the backfield, while the defense could have any alignment it wished. To this day, I still instinctively think of that booklet when thinking about that rule!
Naturally, the game didn’t work as well as I wanted it to. Blocking schemes never materialized, passes and kicks were pathetic, and there were always two players who inadvertently linked arms and ended up going around in circles together. Not really a satisfying game experience. But I kept playing!
I had an electric football game sometime around 1970. Experienced the same issues as Paul, players interlocked and circling, others ending up stuck in a corner. It took forever to line up all of the players once a “play” was actually over.
Worst of all, it was so damn loud!! Overall, an awful toy, only used it four or five times. Thankfully, I am not the least bit bitter.
I was born in 1966, so yeah, I had electric football. I too was quite dissatisfied. I wanted to run actual plays, where I knew where my players were going to go.
You’d get one player that you knew ran reasonably straight (depending where on the field the team was of course!), and milk him.
I never got the hang of passing at all down.
I soon got so frustrated with game play, i took to not turning on the vibrating thing at all.
I’d line up my players, tap on the field with my fingers several times, then re-line my players up facing forward, tap the field a few more times, re-line the players up, and keep doing this. While not “fun” really, it was better than just letting the players go all willy-nilly over the field.
Electric football was never as much fun as tabletop hockey.
That Falcons’ t-shirt is pretty cool. At first, my instinct was to declare the left-facing bird belies the position the image is an abstract “F”, but then I realized it would be a cursive “F”. All that pompous energy wasted:)
I still don’t see it.
We had the Packers – Vikings set. Mainly just set up elaborate plays/formations. Or attempt passes or kicks until the felt football was lost.
Should do a favorite sports game column. (Say before the Mattel handheld electronic football game.) My favorite was Aurora’s Roger Staubach – Monday Night Football circa 1972. Offense and defense had sliders that moved a light around under the football field. It allowed the two players to pick their respective plays and then you flicked a switch to turn on a light. The yards gained or lost showed up on the field when the light was on.
I played electric football. I had the one with the Bears and Patriots. My folks let me send away for more teams, but it has to be one of the 4 team divisions because they were cheap bastards.I picked the AFC central because of the color variety, I liked Houston being in Texas,and wanted no part of the NFC west with the 49ers.
I used dice to play. Completed pass for x amount of yards etc. Loved it.
maybe it’s the fact i own a bunch of fashion 5950 hats from my days working at LIDS. so i don’t mind that the on-field hats have the NE flag
Please, I beg you — it’s not a “flag.” That’s just their marketing term for it. Let’s not do their marketing for them.
It’s just a logo.
i was going to put NE flag logo.. but didn’t feel like typing it out at the time..
I had electric football in the mid 70s…Cowboys and Rams. Experienced the same problems that everyone else did with running plays, etc. I also had, and really enjoyed, NFL’s Talking Monday Night Football and NFL Strategy games. I still have 2 different versions(?) of NFL Strategy (same game, different looks). Haven’t played in a long time, though. Eventually I moved on to Mattel’s handheld electronic games.
I had the Super Bowl 3 Jet Colts game and tried hard to make plays but to know avail..mostly admired the unis on the players…still my favorite super bowl to this day..
Didn’t Homer use electric football to design plays for Bart’s peewee team?
“Okay, after you vibrate that way, two of you fall down, Nelson, you just spin around in a circle.”
I’m sad that I never had electric football. But there is a nice YouTube community for it, and the stuff is still selling. No word on any Color Rash figures, though.