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Electric football is a tabletop American football game played on a metal vibrating field.
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 they vibrated. It was an immediate hit. More than 40 million of the games have been sold since its creation, and new editions are sold each year.
Video games of football have largely supplanted electric football in popularity. However, electric football 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.
Tudor Games was sold to Miggle Toys in 1988. Miggle and the NFL stopped the working agreement around 2007. Generic players are sold now. Miggle sells 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. Some were found on eBay. A new Rose Bowl board was sold but it is unclear what teams are offered. Leagues, clubs and tournaments continue to play the game. 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. Jamel Goodloe (Auburn Tigers) was crowned national champion, as he beat Ken Allen in the championship game. Both players hail from the Michigan-based Great Lakes Electric Football League (GLEFL).
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 on the field in formations, just as in real football. When the formations are completed by the offensive coach and the defensive coach, audibles in the form of pivots or motions are made in order to try to gain an advantage. A switch is activated that turns on an electric or battery powered counter-balanced motor which causes the field to vibrate and the players to move around the field.
As mentioned, each player is attached to a base, with "prongs" or "brushes", also known as "cleats", on the underneath of the base. These prongs can be "coached" prior to the playing of the game by using smooth mouthed pliers which stretch, shape and or flatten the prongs to get them to perform faster, stronger and in an exact route. The base in combination with a specific action figure can then be put in a on field position in the offense or defense that best makes use of the combined attributes.
Special players are used to pass, kick or punt the ball. The ball is a small slit oval piece of felt, rubberized foam or leather. The throwing Quarterback has an extended arm which the ball is placed on. The arm or the entire man can be bent backwards in order to flick the football off the arm to the intended receiver. If the ball touches the receivers figure or its base, 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. The original iconic quarterback that comes with the game is capable of passing and kicking and is known as the Triple Threat QB or TTQ.
In popular culture
- Steamroller Studios and Chillingo released their version of the classic game for the iPhone and iPod Touch in September 2009, called "Super Shock Football". In January 2010 they also released an "HD" version for the iPad.
- In the film Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, the two main characters, in a parody of The Seventh Seal, challenge Death to a series of games in order to escape Hell. One of the games Death loses is electric football.
- In an episode of the animated comedy series The Critic, a clip from a Ken Burns documentary about electric football shows an elderly man saying that "electric football is a metaphor for America: always shaking, always noisy, never really knowing where it's going" before suddenly changing his mind, saying, "Wait a minute. America's nothing like electric football. It's just a stupid game that doesn't even work!" and yelling at the cameraman to get out.
- In The Simpsons episode "Bart Star", while coaching his son's peewee football team, Homer Simpson uses an electric football table, even instructing one player to "spin around in a circle". This may be the same set that Homer received for Christmas as a boy, as mentioned in Marge Be Not Proud.
- In Bill Bryson's "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir," the author describes electric football as "The worst toy of the decade [the 1950s], possibly the worst toy ever built".
- In the Pinky and the Brain episode "Brain's Song" (a pun on the film Brian's Song), he broadcasts a tearjerker sports movie to the entire world, using an electric football game as his field, and broadcasts the movie to the entire world to make them emotionally weak and allow him to take over the world. Unfortunately, the vibrations of the game cause him to randomly vibrate when he attempts to take over the world, making him a laughingstock and foiling his plan.
- Yardley, William (2012-07-12). "Norman Sas, Inventor of Electric Football, Dies at 87". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
- hardcover version, page 113
- Miniature Football Coaches Association The MFCA is a 501c7 association with the following mission. “The MFCA mission is to assist the electric football hobbyist by providing an online meeting place for the direct purpose of discussing, promoting and educating the user about the game and hobby of electric football and provide an annual convention which promotes all levels of electric football play and interest. Our motto is: Integrity, Fellowship and Sportsmanship.”
- Miniature Football Coaches Association Forum A forum dedicated to the discussion of all aspects of miniature electric football. This site is made possible by The Miniature Football Coaches Association.
- Tudor Games - Manufacturer of Electric Football - The World's Favorite Football Game
- The Miniature Football Coaches Association - Association dedicated to the game and hobby of Electric Football
- The Unforgettable Buzz - The Complete History of Electric Football and Tudor Games
- Super Shock Football for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad
- Cool Things - Electric Football Game on Kansas Historical Society website