Thursday, June 19, 2008

History of boards

Special Thanks to "The Read-Zone" , Miggle , and Ebay for all of this wonderful information.

Tudor’s games went virtually unchanged since their inception. That was until Tudor Owner/President Norman Sas showed his brilliance by hiring Lee Payne. Payne spear-headed a new vision of electric football. His first accomplishment was introducing true 3-D poses and a new quarterback similar to the one used today! Tudor then put the model #600 on the market, blitzing EF fans with its increased size (36-20”) and new photographed crowd scene grandstand.
If it was competition Tudor wanted, that’s what it got the following season (1963) with its own improved 3-D poses and something Tudor didn’t have... NFL licensing. The top of the line Gotham EF game was the model # 1500. It had a large fiberboard field with NFL logos surrounding its frame, came with two metal grandstands, and was featured in the Sears Wishbook Christmas catalog, death to competitors!
In 1965 Gotham took the idea of a large grandstand one step longer, introducing the Gotham Big Bowl (G1503S). The game, complete with a huge playing field, featured a two tiered cardboard stadium that surrounded 3/4 of the field!
However, in 1967, the Gotham Big Bowl was missing one thing, NFL licensing. Lee Payne was instrumental in convincing the NFL that Tudor could do better, and they did! Games would now come with teams re-painted in NFL uniforms, making it possible to buy any team in the NFL or AFL. The three games released in 1967 were the #510 (Colts Vs. Packers), a mid-size 613 game (Bears Vs. Cardinals), and the flagship #620 model,featuring a large field with “chalk” lines and numbers! This game came with the Browns and Giants.
Tudor also released an AFL model in 1968 that came with the Jets and Chiefs. The battle for electric gridiron superiority did not wane. Rather Gotham went deep in 1969 with its attempted bomb, the Super Dome. The Super Dome attempted to tap into the fascination with the Astrodome!

But Lee Payne intercepted Gotham’s bomb with the invention of a better EF game, one that exactly replicated Super Bowl II, down to its trophy (later named the Vince Lombardi Trophy) and team names in the end-zones. This model #633 game came with both the Jets and the Colts, and the series of games, including Super Bowls IV and V, are perhaps the most impressive EF games ever made!

Gotham tried to compete, signing a deal with the Player’s Association and unveiling new games with NFL stars like Joe Namath, Bob Lilly, Roman Gabriel, and Dick Butkus.
In 1970 a third manufacturer, Coleco a Canadian company, entered the market. They released two fields: the larger model #5785 and the smaller #5765.

Both of the games, like the Gotham, were made out of fiberboard. Another item borrowed from Gotham was the large, accurate quarterback. The players, however, were composed of two pieces, cut at the waist, molded in two different colors.
Perhaps the most collectable Coleco games are their CFL boards. These boards include two fifty yard lines (just like the CFL) and pictures of CFL stars or team logos around the side of the fields.

One year later Coleco added a feature electric football fans of the time were crying for...control of the game when the switch is turned on. Their vision was the new “Command Control,” which featured a magnetic arm latched underneath the board to allow each team one player to move. This feature proved greater on paper than in reality, as the players would destroy everything in their path: opponents, teammates, goal posts, etc.

Tudor answered Coleco’s“Command Control” with a better, more practical idea, Total Team Control. TTC bases allowed the coach to determine the direction of a base by rotating the front prongs. The first year, 1971, featured rookie bases with red removable prongs in the front. The following year Tudor changed to the modern TTC base configuration, though the old light green ones are still in demand!

1973 witnessed the culmination of the NFL’s most dominate team ever, the undefeated Miami Dolphins. It also boasted the inclusion of fellow Canadian manufacturer Munro into the EF fraternity. Munro produced many great games, such as the Joe Namath game pictured here. Their release of the Day/Night game, however, wowed players then and collectors today! It had the largest field ever produced (40-25”), a double deck grandstand, and flood lights. The bases were similar to Tudor’s TTC bases except all four prongs were on the wheel and the front of the base was rounded. The teams came in pre-painted CFL colors and the quarterback, like Gotham and Coleco, were very large. While the game did wow players, it also wowed parents, as the game was nine dollars more than the Tudor Super Bowl model.
The competition brought out the best in all four electric football manufacturers. However, there was simply not enough room in that market to support them, and in the mid seventies, Tudor found themselves all alone in the clear.
The company started to scale back its models, producing only three. In 1977, the last of the giant boards (model #660) was made. The game came with the Vikings and the Raiders, and was the last to include felt footballs.
The following year the Super Bowl game field was smaller, had foam balls and dark green TTC bases. From then on, the Super Bowl model only got smaller and smaller.
While Tudor beat all electric football competitors, it fell,victim to the new “bleep” computerized games. In 1990, on a dark day, Tudor’s new manufacturer, Superior Toys, filed for bankruptcy. Many EF enthusiasts have memories that haunt them to this day of the trip to the mailbox and the letter inside marked "returned, company out of business."
However, a bright former salesman of Superior had a vision. Mike Landsman bought the company and started producing the greatest game ever invented once more. His new company, Miggle Toys started a renaissance in EF unrivaled by even the glorious past.

I have compiled pictures of other boards in hopes to have every board ever made. Some I know what they are, others I do not. So, any advice would help. Thanks in advance.

Jim Prentice, 1950's

Not vibrating football as we know it, but still very cool in its own right.

Board from 1960's, #500

Tudor #600, 1962

Tudor #?, 1963?

Tudor #613, 1967

Tudor #613, 1967

Tudor #520, 1968-69

Tudor #500, 1968

Tudor #660, 1976 & 1977

Tudor #635, year ?

Tudor #645, year?

Tudor #655, year?


Anonymous said...

Awesome History of the best game I played as a child...OK that may be a lonnnnngggggggg time ago LOL...

I was able to obtain 2 games a few years ago, one happens to be a Canadian Football league game with our quirky 110 yard field. Have not seen may of these games around either...

just locaed the site and will take the time to surf thru it and enjoy it.. thanks again

Greg said...

The bottom 3 boards are from my personal collection. The bottom 2, 655 & 645, are from 1974, but were also produced in 1973 & maybe prior. They both have the original shipping labels still on the box. The 1st of my 3 boards, 600, is from 1973, 1974 or somewhere in that era. The end zone rails are like the '73 & '74 versions but the side rails are like pre-'73 game boards. May have been a piece together from extra parts.

Mike in Victoria, Canada said...

Great blog! Been looking for Canadian Football vibrating games, and came across this site.

I've seen a few on eBay, so I guess I'll just have to be patient!!

Keep up the great work

Mike in Victoria, BC

Paul from IN said...

I've spent the last 2 weeks online looking to buy the 1972 SB game and done alot of research. This site was a godsend. Just wish we could get them all posted (all games).. that will be neat when it happens.

I think I'm most impressed by the games for sale on e-bay at how great of shape these games are still in as well as in tact. Some 40 plus years later, their value floors me. Thanks again for building the site.

Unknown said...

I have the 1963 version and the booklet and can verify the Tudor # are being "500" Just fyi if you still update this page.