Twenty years ago we had an Electric Football dream. We wanted to write a book about Electric Football. It seemed like a no-brainer idea. We had already published several Electric Football articles, the hobby of toy collecting was being covered by 3 different publications, and Miggle had just brought Electric Football back from bankruptcy and the graveyard of dead toys. Not only that, bookstore shelves were overflowing with slick looking books about any and every sort of collectible — except Electric Football. We were sure it was a “niche” that needed filling.
To promote our book idea we came to the 1996 Miggle Electric Football convention in Chicago with a four-page full color “teaser.” That teaser looks so crude today, which belies just how difficult it was to put it together. Since only the most expensive computers of the day were powerful enough to run any type of graphics programs — not that the average home user could even afford a graphics package in 1996 — we had to enlist the help of our talented friend Christine Kirker and rent computer time at a local Kinko’s to create it. It was a painful process, with any little move of the text or photos seemingly unleashing a cascade of changes to the file. And what those four measly pages cost to print in 1996…using the same price scale today would put the cost of our 124-page Full Color Electric Football book at about $200.
In the late 1990’s we continued moving through the “channels” of the collectable publishing world, finally, thanks to a giant assist from Toy Trader Editor John Koenig, landing a contract in early 1999 for an Electric Football book with Antique Trader Publications. Specified in the deal was a 200-page color book. We eagerly signed the contract and FedEx’d it back to Antique Trader for their final approval.
This last step never took place. At the same time we were in negotiations for our book, secret negotiations were going on between Antique Trader and Krause Publications for a merger. Their merger moved forward, but our book didn’t. Krause editors weren’t interested in Electric Football, although it took them six months to let us know.
It was a BIG blow to us, and it was painful to have to explain the situation while manning tables at the 2000 Miggle Convention in D.C. The official “no” had come just weeks earlier, so it was a very hollow weekend. Looking around it was great to see the hobby moving forward, but we weren’t sure where or how we fit anymore. We had been talking about a book for 5 years…without producing one.
Through the ensuing years we purposely took a lower profile while continuing work on the project. Dozens and dozens of letters were sent to agents and publishers (all rejected), while we continued to do research and interview people like Norman Sas, Lee Payne, Roger Atkin, Albert Sung, and Brian Clarke. Finally, Norman Sas asked us to write up what we had and print it so he could give his company’s history to his family. This took place in 2009, with us meeting Norman Sas during Super Bowl weekend of 2010.
To say we were inspired was an understatement. Things took off from that point, with the final piece in the book puzzle being designer Michael Kronenberg. With his Lee Payne-like artistic vision added to the project, we published The Unforgettable Buzz in 2013 and Full Color Electric Football in 2015.
In looking back two full decades into the eyes of those ambitious young dudes standing there in Chicago, it’s pretty stunning to realize that, although it took a while, we accomplished all that we set out to do.
In The Unforgettable Buzz we told the story of Electric Football, pretty much creating “the definitive history” we were talking about twenty years ago. And in Full Color Electric Football we were able to show the true grandeur of the game with page after page of the best Electric Football photos we’re ever taken. Why this game captured our imaginations — for a lifetime — is clearly on display for any reader to see.
The last two decades have truly been one helluva of ride. There were many (many, many, many) bumps and setbacks along the way, but we kept persevering, finally completing the vision we had long ago. It’s something we didn’t realize until we started contemplating the 20th anniversary of that first Miggle Convention. So we want to sincerely thank everyone for encouraging us, sticking with us, and ultimately supporting both our books when we finally got them published. All we can say is that sometimes dreams DO come true. Many, many thanks!!
Earl & Roddy
The Rams have played a prominent role in both of our Electric Football books. There is a 1967 Tudor Rams’ receiver on the spine and back cover of The Unforgettable Buzz (below). And for Full Color Electric Football™, we used a Rams’ running back for our Introduction spread (above). They are true teammates, having arrived in the same Tudor bag that said “RAMS (D).”
We used these players because they capture all that we dreamed of when we first sat over an Electric Football game. They were painted so well – almost too perfect it seems. But they were painted by somebody’s very talented hand in a very busy painting factory in Hong Kong. Painted with the detail and near perfection that we wished for in every Tudor player we owned.
The blue is almost a exact match for the blue the NFL Rams used at the time, even if their dark jerseys were something that only came out on those occasions when they visited the Browns, the Cowboys, or the Saints (or Cardinals in 1966). And there’s just something about the Rams in dark jersey, an “elusive” quality, that combined with the excellent painting, makes these players and this 1967 team extra special. It goes without saying that these players will always be “seen” through our eyes as the Los Angeles Rams.
So when the news came out this week that the Rams were moving back to Los Angeles, it stirred up a lot of mixed feelings. For those of us of a certain age, it’s nearly impossible to remove the “Los Angeles” from in front of the “Rams” when thinking about the team. From there it’s an easy jump to the conclusion that the Rams should have never left LA. But they did, making a home in St. Louis for two decades while replacing the Cardinals, who had fled to Arizona (after originally coming to St. Louis from Chicago).
It’s impossible not to feel bad for the fans and the city, who have now been used and abandoned twice by the NFL. Almost everything surrounding the Rams move – as well as the Chargers – leads us too the emphatic fact that the almighty dollar is king in the NFL. And we’re talking billions of $$. There’s just no way to ignore it in 2016.
But back in 1967, the NFL was different (most players had 2nd jobs!), the world was still full of wonder, and our dreams of perfection could be satisfied by a little blue Electric Football player with precisely painted “horns.” That’s the type of wonder we wanted to recreate when you turn the pages of Full Color Electric Football. We hope we’ve succeeded.
Earl, Roddy, & MK
Media exposure for Full Color Electric Football expanded to television last week when co-author Earl Shores paid a visit to the Beyond The Game show in White Plains, New York.
This was the second time that Shores had the pleasure of sitting down with host John Voperian in front of the cameras and bright lights. The result was a vibrant and wide ranging conversation that covered not only Electric Football’s past, but also its present and future as well.
John started the interview by asking about the story behind the black helmet Saints section of Full Color Electric Football, then moved onto the the AFL, Greatest Games, Player Endorsed games, and many other Full Color highlights.
One of unique things about the conversation was having pages from the book up on screen as Shores explained them to viewers. The interview wrapped up with two back-to-back 50-yard touchdown runs by a Tudor quarterback sporting a green rub-on #12.
Shores came off the set thinking it was one of the best Electric Football conversations he’d ever had. “It’s just very comfortable to sit down with John,” said Shores. “He makes sure you’re relaxed and then asks great questions — the answers just flow.”
Click on here — Beyond The Game with Full Color Electric Football — to see the entire conversation! It’s not to be missed!
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