Author : Earl

It was 45 years ago this fall that Munro Games stepped onto the vibrating gridiron of Electric Football…

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Electric Football Has Many Great Stories

One of the stories we’re most proud of documenting in both Full Color Electric Football and The Unforgettable Buzz is that of Canadian toy maker Munro Games.

In a fortuitous turn, we were able to make the acquaintance of Don Munro Jr. in the late 1990’s. (A big “thank you” to table hockey historian Rob Raven.) Mr. Munro’s father founded Munro Games in the 1930’s, with the company establishing itself as a serious toy maker through the high-quality table hockey games that it made during the 1940’s and 1950’s.

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Munro Hockey game from the early 1963.

By the 1960’s Don Jr. and his brother Bill were running Munro Games. The company at the time was the main table hockey game supplier for Sears. It was also making table hockey games for Norman Sas and Tudor Metal Products.

Munro Games Finds A Partner

Bill eventually grew tired of the toy business, so Don partnered with a Buffalo aerospace engineering firm called Servotronics, Inc. The owner of Servotronics was looking to diversify, and toys were a profitable endeavor as the 1960’s came to a close.

The Servotronics’ owner also liked making bold decisions, thus Munro Games blitzed into electric football in 1971 with only minimal preparation. But within a year they had created the legendary Day/Nite game, which was the first electric football game with floodlights. It was also the largest electric football of the time (40” long).

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A duo of two page Munro Games spreads from Full Color Electric Football

Munro’s grand entrance into electric football happened to coincide with one of the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression – the OPEC oil embargo of 1973. Even major toy companies suffered enormously during this time, and Munro Games was quickly adrift in a sea of red ink.

Munro Games would never recover, soon joining the long list of defunct toy makers. Don Munro had a front row seat to his company’s rise and fall, which he thoughtfully recounted in several interviews for The Unforgettable Buzz.

Unfortunately, Mr. Munro passed away not long after speaking with us. So it’s been gratifying for us to tell his story in The Unforgettable Buzz and Full Color Electric Football. The Munro Games story is one that is not to be missed.

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The start of the Munro Games story in The Unforgettable Buzz

Earl, Roddy, & MK

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Happy First Anniversary Full Color Electric Football!

Our Full Color Electric Football book is officially a year old today. It’s amazing how fast time flies by, as we can still recall the thrill of releasing the book last November. All the work and sweat that was put in as we headed toward our publication date…wow, what a ride it was.

And what a ride it has been over the last year. Your reception to the book has been so positive and overwhelming. That’s what we’ll always remember most. Every second we spent putting the book together was rewarded by your awe-inspiring response. It’s amazing to have only Five-Star reviews (out of Five!) on Amazon.

Full Color Electric Football is a dream come true. It’s what we envisioned when we first started thinking about an Electric Football book more than 20 years ago. (Maybe because the first article we ever did about Electric Football in 1994 was published in color.) Anytime we pick the book up, it’s a thrill the realize how far we were able to come with the project.

So, thank you to all of you who have supported us over the last year by picking up a copy of Full Color Electric Football. We know you’re enjoying it.

And for those of you who still need to get a copy, why not help us celebrate our first anniversary by getting your copy during this upcoming Holiday season? Put it on your list, or better yet, order it now. You deserve to get exactly what you want for Christmas, right?? Make it a Full Color Holiday!

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One of the most important Electric Football games ever made is the 1967 Tudor NFL No. 510 model with the Colts and Packers. This game is of such importance that we featured it on the cover of The Unforgettable Buzz. We also devoted a full spread to the No. 510 in Full Color Electric Electric Football , and have included the game in our new 2017 Full Color Electric Football Calendar (below).

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Just how significant was the Tudor NFL No. 510 in Electric Football history?

Tudor put the game on the cover of their 1967 sales catalog to introduce the toy world to the NFL (the full cover can be seen on page 63 of Full Color Electric Football and page 258 of The Unforgettable Buzz). Tudor also gave the No. 510 the responsibility of introducing boys to Tudor’s NFL, as it was the first color photo you came across in Tudor’s 1967-69 rule books.

The photo of the No. 510 sucked you right into the action. The players were numbered after real players! Even if you had just received a Tudor NFL No. 620 or an NFL No. 613…when you came across the color photo of the No. 510 in Tudor’s catalog you wanted one!!

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The NFL No. 510 page in Full Color Electric Football.

Lee Payne Magic

The work Tudor designer Lee Payne did with a basic Tudor No. 500 model to make it NFL-worthy was truly genius. There was the diamond end zone pattern with three all-white diamonds containing “N-F-L,” the grandstand “flags” of every NFL team, and the 16 removable NFL nameplates for the scoreboard.

But what he had done with frame made all the difference. On a standard No. 500 the frame was entirely white. On the No. 510, Lee made the outside edge of the frame blue. The only white was in the left hand corner where a Tudor logo and the letters “N-F-L” stood side-by-side. It sounds subtle, and when compared with a No. 620 or a No. 613, the No. 510 frame is quite sparse. Yet the effect is dramatic. The white against the blue works like a magnet to draw your eyes right to the NFL on the frame. The NFL is imprinted into your brain without a conscious thought – you just “know” that your looking at an NFL Electric Football game.

And on the border of the frame Lee made another subtle yet significant change. While three sides of the border framed the field in white, Lee made the back border that lead to Tudor’s clip-on NFL scoreboard the same green color as the field. This created a seamless transition from the field to the grandstand — it feels like a “stadium.” The game was absolutely beautiful.

We Saw The NFL

And we haven’t even mentioned Tudor’s brand new NFL players. Norman Sas and Lee Payne picked the Colts and the Packers for the No 510. In 1967 these teams were Western Conference rivals, and two the best teams in the NFL. The Packers were the defending Super Bowl champs, having won four NFL Championships since 1961. Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Jim Taylor, Tom Matte, Willie Davis, Jim Parker. Ray Nitschke, John Mackey, Paul Horning, Forrest Gregg, Elijah Pitts, Bob Vogel, Bobby Boyd, Raymond Berry, Lenny Moore….there were just so many great players on both teams.

What we “saw” on the Tudor NFL No. 510. A beautiful Neil Leifer photo.(©Neil Leifer)

The Packers and Colts had played some epic games through the years. One of their legendary battles was 1965 Western Conference playoff game. With Unitas and backup QB Gary Cuozzo both injured, Colts’ running back Tom Matte played valiantly at quarterback that day. And the Colts were leading 10-7 before Green Bay’s Don Chandler kicked a controversial game-tying field goal with 1:58 left regulation. The ball soared high over the H-shaped goal post, and appeared to go wide left — but the kick was ruled good by the single official standing under the crossbar. Chandler then kicked a field goal in overtime to give the Packers a 13-10 victory.

Besides getting teams that generated immediate NFL excitement, if you got a No. 510 during the 1967-68 period, the Packers and Colts were likely to be Tudor’s big/large teams. An extra special bonus on an already special game.

The No. 510 is truly one of our all-time favorite games. As we said back in August, a true Hall Of Famer!

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electric football calendar from Full Color Electric Football

We’re proud to introduce our all new Full Color Electric Football Calendar! It covers all of 2017 plus December of 2016 — just in time for Christmas. Included are 13 fantastic color NFL Electric Football images. All have been carefully chosen from our extensive Electric Football photo archives.

The calendar is available exclusively through Lulu.com. They do beautiful work. Lulu printed our Special TudorCon 14 edition of The Unforgettable Buzz. (Those of you lucky enough to own a copy know how good that book looks.) Pages measure a full 8.5″ x 11″ and are made of sturdy 100# weight card stock. There’s nothing flimsy about it. And the images are stunning.

Use the interactive Lulu preview below to see the entire calendar and buy your copy today!

 (Preview will not appear in mobile versions of Safari; click below to purchase calendar)

 

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We are proud and pleased to have our The Unforgettable Buzz book featured on Uni Watch.com.

The Uni Watch.com Collectors Corner, September 13, 2016

Uni Watch web site Collectors Corner Electric Football and the unforgettable buzz.

Uni Watch is such a great site, and not just because this isn’t the first time they’ve featured us there. The way they follow the “fashion of sport” is something that’s right up our alley of sensibilities. As you know, we love great looking uniforms. That’s one of the major appeals of electric football. The amazing NFL uniforms that Tudor painted through the years.

So we are long time fans, with our fandom dating back to the earliest days of our The Unforgettable Buzz web page. And of course we became even bigger fans after our Full Color Electric Football book came in at No. 3 on the Uni Watch/ESPN 2015 Holiday Gift Guide. What an unexpected gift that was!

This current feature talks about the new e-book version of The Unforgettable Buzz, which just came out over the summer. It was nice to have the new format mentioned. Certainly they type advertising we can’t buy. And to an audience that is perfect for both of our books.

So once again, our helmets are off to Uni Watch. Thank you for all the support of Electric Football!

 

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Set to square off in this Sunday’s Pro Football Hall of Fame game are the Colts and the Packers. These NFL teams are obvious choices because of the Hall Of Fame inductions of Brett Favre, as well as former Colts’ player Marvin Harrison. In addition, former Colts’ coach Tony Dungy is also a 2016 inductee.

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The Tudor NFL No. 510 page in Full Color Electric Football.

This Hall Of Fame Game pairing contains so much NFL history. In the 1960’s these teams were bitter rivals who played some epic games. One of those games is the 1965 Western Conference Championship, which we feature in our Full Color Electric Football book.

And this rivalry is why Tudor put the Colts and Packers on their new NFL No. 510 Electric Football game in 1967. They were two of the best teams in the NFL, and would help sell Tudor’s brand new line of NFL games. Lee Payne’s careful photography also would help sell games (see page above).

The Tudor NFL No. 510 model is a first ballot Electric Football Hall Of Famer

Just like Favre, the Tudor NFL No. 510 is a first ballot inductee into the Hall of Electric Football games. It was a top seller for Tudor, and in addition to the NFL No. 620 game, helped make NFL Electric Football a featured toy in the late 1960’s.

The Tudor No. 510 is one of the most noteworthy games in all of Electric Football. So we didn’t hesitate to put it on the cover of The Unforgettable Buzz in 2013. 

cover of the unforgettable buzz book

It’s truly an Electric Football Hall Of Fame Game. Not just for 2016, but for all-time!
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It was four years ago today that Electric Football Inventor Norman Sas passed away.

Were were truly saddened, but we knew that Norman had not been well for some time. So his passing wasn’t completely unexpected. What we didn’t know was that the Sas family would put both of our names and the tentative title of our still unpublished book into Norman’s obituary. It was an honor that we’ll always treasure, and it sent us on our way to getting The Unforgettable Buzz into print in 2013. Here’s a video we put together back in 2013 remembering the amazing things Norman accomplished Electric Football.

 

 

 

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Sample page from Full Color Electric Football book

 

Not only was Joe Namath a star and Hall of Famer in the AFL and NFL, he was exactly that for Electric Football too.

The 1969 Gotham Joe Namath model pictured above was the FIRST player-endorsed Electric Football game ever made. It’s a game we feature prominently in our book Full Color Electric Football, and discuss in great detail in our first book The Unforgettable Buzz.

No other player had the commercial appeal of “Broadway Joe,” especially after the Jets upset the Colts in Super Bowl III in 1969. He was the perfect player to have his own personal Electric Football game, and actually helped keep Gotham Pressed Steel viable in the hyper-competitive Electric Football world of the early 1970’s.

So here are birthday wishes to one of the all time greats — both in the NFL and in Electric Football!

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fcef neb mag

Electric Football truly has a knack for ending up in surprising places. We were amazed to find our new Full Color Electric Football book in the December 30, 2015 edition of Hail Varsity, the alumni magazine for the University of Nebraska.

In a full color and nearly full-page feature, Editor Brandon Vogel gave our book an emphatic “thumbs up.” It’s such a thoughtful and thorough review, we were absolutely thrilled to read it.

What’s rewarding about this review up is that Mr. Vogel is a “millennial” who never actually played the game. He was exposed to Electric Football through his father’s old Tudor Games NFL set. But yet, he was still enthralled by the Electric Football concept, particularly the painted NFL teams and the tiny details that were imparted on them.

So here’s someone from the electronic generation who can “see” the grandeur of Electric Football pretty much as we did 30 years earlier. It’s seems a little thing, but it’s heartening to know that Tudor’s “vision” of the game is still clear to see all these years later. It also helps us think we weren’t totally crazy to publish two books about Electric Football.

So…thank you Brandon Vogel — we appreciate your kind words about Full Color Electric Football! And thank you Lynn Schmidt for letting us know the review existed!

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Top row: The 1996 Chicago “teaser”; 2009 “Sas draft.” Bottom row: A 2012 test copy; 2013 The Unforgettable Buzz; 2015 Full Color Electric Football.

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.

Cover of the 1996 Chicago book "teaser."

Cover of the 1996 Chicago book “teaser.”

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.

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Page 3 of the 1996 teaser featuring the Tudor NFL No. 613 and Gotham Joe Namath game.

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.

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Sample page from Full Color Electric Football book

Michael Kronenberg’s work in 2015 on the Tudor NFL No. 613 model and the Gotham Joe Namath game for our Full Color Electric Football book.

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.

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Earl and Roddy, Chicago 1996.

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   

 

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