Older is not automatically better in Electric Football collecting. The first Electric Football games were made by Tudor in 1949, and although yes, the early Tru-Action No. 500’s are very cool pieces, millions were made between 1949-61. They are not that hard to find and, owing to their very basic design, not overly prized. But…they usually do work, which is more than can be said about most 60-year-old toys.
Things got a little more interesting in 1954 when Gotham Pressed Steel began making Electric Football games to compete with Tudor. Gotham models are not as common, in part because fewer were sold, but also because they were not made as well as the Tudor games. The field/playing surface on Gotham models tend to bubble and warp over time (this tendency applies to every football game Gotham ever made.) Gotham games from the 1950’s also have a very rudimentary design, and as a result, not a lot of demand from collectors.
There are some special Gotham models. The Gotham NFL G-1500 and the NFL G-1503 Big Bowl hold a significant place in Electric Football history as the first “big” games with elaborate grandstands. But despite their scarcity – in addition to warped fields, large Gotham games have an issue with broken corners – the collecting interest in these models is surprising light. If there are any bargains left in Electric Football, it’s large Gotham games in playable condition.
The heart of Electric Football collecting lies in the NFL line that Tudor began producing in 1967. That year saw the introduction of three Tudor NFL Electric Football games, as well as the introduction of Tudor’s miniature mail order NFL and AFL team figures. These games, which Tudor made from 1967-69, are Electric Football classics. They are the small 26” x 16” NFL No. 510 with the Packers-Colts; the mid-size 31” x 18” Sears exclusive NFL No. 613 with the Bears-Cardinals (this was also made as a Montgomery Ward-exclusive No. 619 with the 49ers-Rams); and the large 36” x 21” NFL No. 620 game with the Browns-Giants.
It’s the Tudor NFL No. 620 which seems to be the gold-standard for Electric Football collecting. There are other Tudor NFL games that are harder to find, but this is the game that made the biggest impact on boys of the time. Maybe it was the realistic NFL Gold single-posted goal posts, or how perfect the Giants and Browns looked on the giant “grass” field, but this is the game, more than any other, that men of a certain age want to reclaim. For so many people, their lifelong devotion to the NFL started on a living room floor with a Tudor No. 620.
620’s aren’t exactly scarce but the demand is high. And like most collectibles, condition is everything. A complete game in excellent condition – no frame or field dents, all 22 NFL players, no broken players, and all the little parts like corner flags, team scoreboard names, player bases etc. – can easily exceed the $200 mark. Throw in some extra NFL teams that a kid actually ordered from Tudor, and a No. 620 can cross the $300 mark.
Tudor used the 36” x 21” 620 template from 1967-1977, including on many NFL models that were numbered something other than “620.” Not all of these large games command the same prices as an original 1967-1969 NFL 620, but there is a line that brings in even more money. That would be the No. 633 Super Bowl games sold exclusively by Sears from 1969-1973.
The 1969 Sears Super Bowl features the Jets and the Colts on a field that looks almost exactly like the one in the Orange Bowl, including the Lombardi Trophy at mid-field. (It was not yet called the Lombardi Trophy in 1969.) As a point of reference, a broken non-buzzing Sears SB III recently sold on eBay for $280.
The 1970 Sears Super Bowl game has the Vikings and Chiefs on a field that looks like the Sugar Bowl, even down to having a team name in each end zone. (This was the only Tudor Electric Football game with NFL team names on the field.) The Lombardi Trophy is at mid-field, bordered by the team helmets of the Vikings and Chiefs. It’s a beautiful game that can hit the $300 mark, depending condition and completeness.
The last Tudor Super Bowl with a Lombardi Trophy at mid-field is the 1971 Colts-Cowboys game. Its end zones feature only an “NFC” and “AFC,” making it not quite as unique as the first two Sears games. The next two Super Bowl models – the 1972 Cowboys-Dolphins and the 1973 Redskins-Dolphins – are the “lesser” of all the Sears No. 633 games, with only an NFL shield at mid-field and generic “NFC” and “AFC” end zones. But all of these games are easy $200+ investments, with prices increasing depending on condition, completeness, and additional teams.
One non-Tudor game that routinely fetches the prices of a Sears Super Bowl is the Munro Day/Nite Electric Football game. Made from 1972-1973, this game came with battery operated floodlights, a wind-sprint track, and a field-mounted wind up timer. There was even a Joe Namath model in 1973. At 40” x 25” it was the largest commercially made Electric Football game of the time, and is quite the impressive catch today. Besides being unique, they are pretty rare. You’ll need deep pockets to land one.
There are just the highest of the “highs” in Electric Football collecting. There are so many more very cool Electric Football games out there. Some are just a bit smaller with great features – they can provide a much more affordable entry into Electric Football. People usually go after the game they grew up with often going all out to land the cleanest most complete game possible. Another collecting technique is to “part” games together with less expensive pieces that ultimately make a complete game. This can be fun, but lead to having a lot of extra games around the house (unfortunately, you can’t store Electric Football games in a notebook). eBay is the obvious place to find games, but they can still be found “locally” with some leg work. It does, however, take a LOT more legwork than it did 15 year ago. You can find games, parts, players and more on eBay here.
And Tudor Games is still in business, having designed a completely new line of Electric Football games for 2014. The games are lighter and more streamlined than the old models, and have player bases that actually run straight right out of the box. So new Electric Football parts are still available for whatever games you might have or come across.