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Monday, June 5, 2017

Electric Football

     I did not know this toy was still around. The game has become popular and there are literally dozens of electric football leagues in the US, complete with tournaments that attract EF "coaches" from all over the US and Canada! The Electric Football League, headquartered in Highland Park, Illinois, held its 17th annual Official Electric Football Super Bowl & Convention in January 2011, in Columbus, Ohio.
     Tudor Games reacquired the NFL license and their new and innovative products with better bases and better boards had resulted in the hobby growing. Video games have largely supplanted electric football, but it still thrives and has also benefited from technological progress. Players became more realistic in sculpting and appearance but there has been very limited advancement in the game play. 
      In 1947, Norman Sas, owner of Tudor Metal Products and Tudor Games, created electric football. He used a vibrating car race game made by Tudor as the base and added small players which moved down the field as the playing field vibrated rather noisily. It was an immediate hit and more than 40 million of the games have been sold since its creation. Tudor Games was sold to Miggle Toys in 1988. Miggle and the NFL stopped the working agreement around 2007 resulting in generic players being sold. Miggle sold pre-painted players from 18 college teams, including home and away jerseys. However, as of December 2011, the Miggle website did not list any pre-painted college teams. 
     The game is played on a metal field, which can range in size between 24 inches long by 13 inches wide up to full scale size of 61 long by 27.5 inches wide. Detailed plastic players on bases, which react to the vibration of the field, are placed in formations, just as in real football. When the formations are completed by the offensive coach and the defensive coach a switch is activated that turns on an electric motor which causes the field to vibrate and the players to move around. Each player is attached to a base, with prongs underneath of the base. Some modify these prongs by stretching or otherwise reshaping them to make the players faster, stronger or move in an exact route.   Special players are used to pass, kick or punt. The ball is a small oval piece of felt. The quarterback has an extended arm which the ball is placed on and on the original his arm was “cocked” and when a lever was squeezed a small spring launched the ball. If the ball touches the receiver it is considered a complete catch. Use of the throwing Quarterback is a difficult skill to master and requires practice to develop. Special players are also used for kicking and punting and have spring legs which when pulled back and released, kick or punt the ball. 
     Foto-Electric Football was a less popular game. In 1936 Scientific Football by a company called Cadaco came up with a set of see-through overlay cards with various defensive and offensive layouts. A “slider” underneath the field was moved and the ball carriers route showed up as a line. Whenever it ran into a dot that represented the defensive player the plat was over. Passes were indicated with a dotted line. To see if play calling was successful a small light bulb illuminated the results, assisted by the handy “Foto-Electric Football Chart” and a set of three dice. The game allowed 30 plays per quarter, rather than utilizing a clock. 
     All the necessary information about downs, plays left in the quarter and the score were tracked by a set of dials. To keep track of where you were on the field, a little football kept track of the progress. 

     Recent Chicago Tribune article

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