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Crazy for Coleco

 
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Jefman
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 7:07 pm    Post subject: Crazy for Coleco Reply with quote

Not that the topic hasn't already been covered: I thought I could offer table hockey afficianados a bit of insight into the Coleco World of Sports...at least from the table hockey standpoint.

It was late 1967. Critically acclaimed film director Mike Nichols had just released his terrific comedy drama "The Graduate". A great scene from this movie and believe me there were plenty is when young graduate Benjamin Braddock newly graduated from college is attending his graduation party. Braddock is played brilliantly by noted actor Dustin Hoffman. At the party the attendees are busy congratulating him for his earning a degree. Every person at the event it seems offers him advice and questions about his future. A man comes up to Braddock and says"I only have one word for you"..."Plastics" . Appropriately that person could have been one Arnold Greenberg a law school graduate who had just joined his fathers company: Coleco.

Founded in 1932, I believe the same year that Donald Munro Sr. had introduced his first stationary table hockey game, The Connecticut Leather Company was created by a Russian immigrant named Maurice Greenberg. No not the Maurice "Hank" Greenberg who founded and built up A.I.G. into the worlds largest insurance corporation, Maurice Greenberg evolved his Connecticut Leather Company into a plastic moulding company and then into a wading pool and above ground plastic swimming pool entity. The name of the company was shortened to Coleco. In late 1966 he brought in his son Arnold to craft a new vision for the firm along with another son Leonard. It is a time in the history of the evolution of toys and games in North America that is undergoing a huge change. The markets are now being saturated with terrific new products like Johnny Eagle Toy guns, Daisy BB guns, Scalextric slot cars, GI Joe's,Aurora plastic models and lots of other cool items that are competing for top billing in retail Christmas catalogs and stores across the US and Canada. No longer are the brilliantly engineered table hockey games made by Burlington, Ontario based Munro and Montreal headquartered Eagle Toys getting top love under the Christmas tree. Munro had a huge following in Ontario with their gear driven hockey games as well as in the US due to their affiliation with Chicago based retail powerhouse Sears. Eagle counter punched in the table hockey distribution wars forging solid relationships with Canadian retail giant Eaton's as well as US based toy concern FAO Schwartz.

By 1966 Eagle Toys headed by Ben Stein and Munro owned by the Munro family were struggling. Both firms were now not only making high quality table hockey games but had begun to dabble in other sports games. But the onslaught of US based toy giants Mattel,Hasbro and Marx were consistently outmarketing the two Canadian concerns as table hockey like the NHL had stagnated into a niche six city primarily northeast US and Canada based following. A sea change in the NHL and in the world of table hockey games was on the horizon. Just at about the time the NHL had awarded six new NHL franchises and an epic six city expansion into Philadelphia,Pittsburgh,Minneapolis-St. Paul, St. Louis, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area both Canadian based table hockey makers were being courted by a couple of US based companies. Sure enough right at around the time the NHL commenced play with an expanded 12 team league for the 1967-68 season Munro was purchased by a New York based company called Servitronics and Eagle Toys was bought by Connecticut based Coleco.

The vision of Coleco CEO Arnold Greenberg was to diversify Coleco into a company that could enjoy the great profit margins of larger competitors like Mattel,Hasbro and Marx. The Barbie doll,GI Joe and Johnny Eagle rifles had helped catapult the three concerns into rapidly growing money making behemoths. A visionary like the diminutive Greenberg saw the brilliant designs of Montreal based Eagle as a prime conduit if marketed agressively and into the new US hockey markets as the type of products that could grow his purchase into a great money maker. That is what basically Arnold Greenberg did. He purchased a company that had produced a generation of well made, incredibly popular toy hockey games that lasted, had great appeal and were a fantastic interactive experience that had huge upside particularly in markets that were exploding into portions of the US that were now getting a chance to see hockey for the first time. At the same time while Arnold Greenberg wanted to utilize the great production and engineering teams at Eagle to assimilate into his plastics oriented firm he brought in brother Leonard to utilize his engineering and manufacturing knowledge to make Coleco a more lean and profitable firm. Leonard would build and Arnold would sell. When it was all over the Greenberg brothers would evolve into table hockey legends on the Mount Rushmore of the table hockey world with Don Munro,Ben Stein and the Swedes at Aristopel and Stiga.


Last edited by Jefman on Sat Mar 07, 2009 8:18 am; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Coleco by purchasing the Eagle Toys production facility located on Rivard Street in Montreal had bought a turn key outfit capable of cranking out tens of thousands of games per year. The key to Eagle's value rested not only in its production capabilities but also in its lucrative NHL licensing arrangement. Licensing to a marketing genius like Arnold Greenberg would guarantee Coleco could maintain Eagle's market share dominance as a product hitchhiking with a fast growing sport and league like the NHL. By late 1968 Greenberg had done all of the behind the scenes work to secure NHL licensing and he quickly embarked on crafting Eagle now Coleco games for the Christmas 1968 season with the logos and trademarks of the twelve team league. His mantra to aggressivly market and sell his products on a mass scale were keeping the Montreal based factory working as if the sale was a blessing to the Canadian based staff. The Greenbergs were quick to embrace a number of terrific table hockey design features that had been phased on in up to 1967 and were now eying a new generation of product enhancements on the test benches for possible release down the line.

Obviously the most notable of the design release was the overhead four sided metal gondola that was made of sheet metal and could double not only as a puck dropper but also as a scoreboard or keeper of standings. Another feature was the elimination of the battery powered behind the goal light feature that lit up when a goal was scored and instead a double plunger plastic net with red and green bulbs was introduced. Its only 1969 and the Greenberg's are basically imposing their background in plastics into the newly purchased company. They would cut costs by eliminating design features that were too cost prohibitive, too threatening to the bottom line... no more erosion of profits due to expensive features that could be duplicated with a similar more cost effective design that could still personify a simulated toy hockey game. The Greenbergs were raised by a tough Jewish Eastern European man who would utilize every production axiom to extract profit and still maintain the products intent and integrity.

Keep in mind that the Montreal factory was also cranking out table basketball and baseball games and after a brief trial towards table electric football, a holdover from Eagle's CFL endorsed game abandoned that line and left that market to U.S. based Tudor to dominate for the next twenty years. But it was clear that Coleco was already battling Servitronics and their Munro line in the new expanded markets. At this time Servitronics continued with their Bobby Hull and Bobby Orr and other player endorsed games to compete against the league endorsed Coleco prodcuts. From a competition standpoint the two US owners had just widened the playing field from the old Eagle vs Munro days.

Early Coleco games had a distinct Eagle flavor to their look. But they also were cutting edge in design changes as masonite surfaces were now being married to three main slot patterns: Power Play,Stanley Cup and Official. All three slot patterns have enjoyed and to some extent still enjoy mass appeal to table hockey players and collectors. Spring driven Eagle/Coleco games while maybe not as robust as a Munro/Servitronics games are just as durable and they maintain value due to the NHL endorsment lineage. The Greenbergs played this endorsment privelege to the maximum by releasing a line of Stanley Cup slot games called "City Series" Photos of some of the city series games can be viewed in the photos section of this website. I'm sure the intent was to target market fans in each NHL city and to build brand loyalty at the same time. Imagine a Minnesota North Stars City Series game circa 1972 and by this time the team is not only wildly popular in the Twin Cities but has now established a following of notable players like Bill Goldsworthy, JP Parise and Cesare Maniago. Coleco games have this look that beckons team and brand loyalty. Its almost surreal but it really explains why Coleco games to this day are so popular. They are downright timeless. As we examine various table hockey games that Coleco made until the late 1980's when they were liquidated to Ontario based Irwin its apparent that table hockey through the 1970's and 80's survived in large part due to the manufacturing of Coleco games. The Coleco line of games is what many table hockey players grew up with so I hope I can reflect on some of the games that Coleco made and how they touched us all in some way shape or form.


Last edited by Jefman on Sun Mar 08, 2009 8:57 am; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gather round folks! This is some great stuff Jeff. Keep it KrAnKiN bro!

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Jefman
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Coleco probably purchased Eagle at a good time. The Montreal based manufacturer had evolved into an industry stalwart in part due to a clever engineering staff. The games were well built and despite an attempt or two to make them part of the sporting goods department the games were sold primarily to older children and adolescents. Toys have a funny way of evolving into collectibles because of the constant changes that make the products fresh and thus get sold off the shelves. But Ben Stein had also rolled out some clunkers at Eagle and by the late 1960's he was dealing apparently with some difficult personal issues thus it motivated his desire to exit the table hockey manufacturing business. His sale to Coleco breathed some new life into the hobby.

For example Coleco introduced a line of trophy's that they sold to table hockey buffs both young and old. The miniature circa 1970 trophy's were exact replicas of the Stanley Cup,Calder,Art Ross,Hart,Vezina,Conn Smythe, Norris and Lady Byng. At any rate this was another Greenberg merchandising coup as the trophy line celebrated the rich history of the NHL. Next with the advent of the expansion and subsequent addition of the 13th and 14th NHL franchises into Buffalo and Vancouver Coleco would sell complete sets of both the East and West division of NHL metal and later plastic teams that comprised the league. Its safe to say at this juncture that Eagle may have innovated the games but that Coleco enhanced the appeal with clever marketing of the other products from a packaging standpoint. While the metal hockey flipper was under assualt from toy safety advocates Coleco and Munro both nimbly made and transitioned into white plastic flat and banana blade flippers that could transform a plastic flipper into an NHL team by simply affixing some printed stickers onto the surface. Voila... again the Greenbergs use plastics to their advantage. By 1972 they begin to phase out the metal banded games and begin to make the end plastic while keeping metal sides to the games to reduce costs and thus widen the margins or reduce the games costs: take your pick on that account. Playability however is not compromised and play stands as well as larger games like the famed Game Room and a few rarities like Baby Game Room and Trophy Hockey become part of the Coleco line for sometimes just a year sometimes for a few but by 1975 the games are only being made in three slot paterns: Stanley Cup,Power Play and a smaller version of Power Play.

The grand experiment games circa 1971-1975 are left in the dust as Arnold Greenberg perceives the future to be electronic games, some hand held and others to be plugged into the television or as free standing units and taking the 3 dimensional experience and seeing it more as a niche product than a mainstream one. Too bad but it also explains and underscores the rich Coleco history of 1968-1975: That era is too cool to just capsualize: miniature trophies, metal and plastic team packs, games with metal and plastic puck dropping gondolas. Big games with painted 3 dimensional players, unique player stands and logo sided games that follow the tumulutuous 70's from the expansion to 12 and on to 18 franchises as well
as a conclusion to the decade with some franchise shifts and the addition of four teams from the failed and merged World Hockey Association.

Imagine games with the logos of the failed Seals, Rockies,Atlanta Flames and Cleveland Barons as wells as three WHA add on's Hartford,Quebec,and Winnipeg that no longer exist. Coleco captured the changes:the uniforms, the franchise shifts and that helps track the leagues rich and storied lineage as well. So lets examine some of the games that were part of the Coleco World of Sports. Table Hockey On!


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Its January 1968 and Coleco is about ready to start selling NHL endorsed games to the US and Canadian public. But wait...its discovered that NHL licensing is not transeferable. Coleco can't piggyback off of Eagle licenesing...Arnold Greenberg is a savvy attorney he is going to have to get league approval from the 12 franchises before he can affix the league franchised logos and trademarks to the boxes, games and player flippers. So Coleco employs Plan B and releases three generic games: Power Play called Regulation Hockey, Stanley Cup called Playoff Hockey and Official Hockey (two versions) under the same name. To boot they release some generic Toronto vs Montreal metal players until the league sorts through the Greenbergs request for licensing the games. It would appear on the surface that money or how much would decide the impasse.

I'm speculating on some of these points but being an ardent collector and purchaser of the games the last fifteen years or so a lot of this conjecture fits the issue dates for the games. It takes simple observation to make the conclusions and I stand corrected on some of the salient points of this era. I look at some of my assertions as speculation others as educated guess. Take your pick... its a tough call. Needless to say at some point the league does grant Coleco licenesing priveleges and the window of non licensing is thus a short one but one that is easiliy explained and the proof lies in the games made in that time period.

By Christmas 1968 all is forgiven and a splendid three game series of a yellow banded Power Play game, red banded Stanley Cup game and a blue banded Official game hit the market along with some plastic cased Eastern and Western division team sets complete with all twelve teams dye printed in their home dark jersey's in metal. It is indeed an impressive start to the Coleco era.

For winter 1969 the metal gondola overhead hits along with the changes to the goal nets. The blue banded Official game gets a slight makeover by getting an orange band around the game complete with referee graphics of various player infraction signals. OK guys I'm running on fumes lets continue later. Peace Out!


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 7:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The marketing strategy of Munro Games from the mid 60's onward and into the Servitronics era was to promote the sale of their games by having the products endorsed by current NHL players of that era. The most well known player endorsed Munro games are the Bobby Hull and Bobby Orr games. I believe NY Ranger great Vic Hadfield had a game or two named after him. Their is probably others in the mix but I never played or collected Munro so I'm out of my league on that issue.

Coleco, however, upon their purchase of Eagle also began to embrace this marketing strategy. Circa 1967-68 a game endorsed by Montreal legend Jean Beliveau hits the market. As the 1970's unfolded various players would lend/sell their endorsement and or likeness to the sides of the games and box covers. Noticeable is the omission of NHL team logos on a number of Coleco games. The point I'm making is Arnold Greenberg's marketing philosophy to sell his table hockey games at Coleco was multi faceted and despite the fact that he had NHL licensing to market his games he used other means as well. From 1968 until about 1975 therefore various NHL players likenesses were instrumental in Coleco's marketing programs.

Keep in mind when the World Hockey Association was formed in 1972 the NHL was thrown into a bidding war to retain its top talent. The new league had formed with two missions: penetrate existing NHL markets in the Montreal (actually Quebec Nordiques), Toronto (actually Ottawa Nationals), Minnesota (Fighting Saints),Los Angeles (Sharks), Philadelphia (later Vancouver Blazers), New York (Raiders/Blades) , Boston (Whalers) and Chicago (Cougars) areas as well as establish new markets in Cleveland (Crusaders), Edmonton, Alberta (Oilers), Winnipeg (Jets) and Houston (Aeros). From a table hockey standpoint it stands to reason that Coleco and Munro would have to see that the leagues were on a collision course to either destroy each other or merge (which they ultimately did seven years later). The problem was 8 of the 12 markets were in direct competition and the NHL was facing its first competetitive challenge since the mid 1920's. Munro quickly aligned itself with the upstart league. Coleco would have to stay with its NHL league marketing strategy as well as their player deals to keep its image intact.

Along the way Coleco had tapped into the large archive of games that been preserved from its Eagle purchase. Prototype games featuring slot patterns of Eagle's 1962 Official game, 1966 Finals (unveiled circa 1970 as "Baby Game Room"), Big Time Club Hockey (unveiled as Game Room Hockey) and some short games: 32 and 28 inch long models patterned after Eagle's circa 1964-65 Three Stars and PeeWee Hockey were rolled out some on a prototype basis others for mass marketing. Coleco would marry its plastic imprints onto the games and freshen up the look to make them appear to be part of a newly expanded lineup. Candidily its not too unrealistic to assert that Coleco was short on innovation. That they never really developed their own slot pattern games. No! All of their slot patterned games were designed by Eagle's teams in the 1960's.

Coleco did make a solid effort to go after an older crowd with its Game Room hockey game of the 1971-1975 era. They sold the game with 3-d players painted in the likenesses of five of the six original six NHL franchises (no Detroit) as well as Vancouver. But the games flaws were apparent as the game was too wide and large to enjoy a real table hockey feel lacking behind the net passing, no ability to check the opponents compounded by the overtly out of scale large size of the game and the players sized just too small and out of scale to create enough realism to capture the older players competetive juices.

Coleco thus relied on its its three main stand bys to generate the bulk of its table hockey game sales: Official Hockey now being sold as an orange ended game that would meet production cancellation in 1973, and its only two slot patterned holdovers: the S slot defense Stanley Cup game and Power Play. White plastic players had become the norm in 1971 after the metal hockey player met its fate like the pet rock. Metal players were taken off the market perhaps a victim of child safety concerns, high production costs maybe a little bit of both. But the table hockey flipper in white plastic or black plastic with holes form would become the norm for Coleco for the last 15 years or so of its existence or until Irwin bought the remains of the firm. Coleco was about making money. If the Grensberg's couldn't see the writing on the wall they were the ones reinventing or destroying the culture of table hockey at the same time. They were going into a new direction...an electronic direction and were comfortable with a simple conclusion that table hockey sales were declining and that kids were more apt to enjoy and embrace electronic games that took up less space and that the 3-dimensional experience would have to be relegated to a niche hobby. Like it or not they were right and thats why table hockey games are sold today by distributors (like Stiga) small manufacturers (Benej etc) and Asian toy makers.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Coleco had a nice marketing niche: NHL endorsement. Yes they survived the WHA onslaught that resulted in Edmonton,Winnipeg,Quebec and Hartford merging into the NHL. The sold their Stanley Cup and Power Play slot pattern games into the late 1980's. A whole generation of youth enjoyed playing the plastic flipper games and affixing the factory produced stickers: the non helmeted versions until about 1980 or so and then the helmeted and splendid goalie mask versions as well. The games despite their plastic ends were fairly well made and resilient witness how many Coleco games are still played today.

The Coleco line of table hockey games had a great marketing history: The City Series games, all the games that had metal,plastic and cardboard overhead gondolas, the Game Room products, the Official slot pattern games (so adopted by Gary Leverence and the Chicago Table Hockey League), enough lineage to carry onto Irwin for Power Play slot games, the S slot games that have been adopted by French Canadian craftsman Martin Labelle and others including the Bossio brothers into the Carleco games, a whole cottage industry of incredible graphic artists and computer users who create throwback and modern NHL and WHA sticker versions of teams for adult adolescents like myself to play simulated games from times gone by. I could go on and on.

I don't have a problem with seeing and reading other participants from adding to this thread with their own recollections and thoughts on the Coleco era. I'm not as informed about Coleco particularly its later years as others. My passion has always been Eagle games and the original six era but I delved into the Coleco era because I own four Coleco games and I like to track the history of the NHL through its table hockey licensing eras. It just so happens that Coleco held that moniker from 1968 to about 1990 when the Kevin Sports/Buddy L Wayne Gretzky endorsed game took that distinction and with it the 20-22 year run that Coleco had was over.

Coleco games are still a part of the table hockey mainstream and will stay that way until its memories fade away. There are guys like AJ Sarma in the LA area, John Power and Steve Dowell in New York/Pennsylvania area, Carlo Bossio in the Montreal area, Gary Leverence and Jim Rzonca in the Chicago area, the Vancouver guys like Dominic and Warren and many others who I am unaware of who preserve the Coleco experience. So have at it guys. Correct me if I'm wrong on some points, contribute all you want and keep the spirit alive. Remember its all about the thoughts, its all about the experiences, its all about getting behind the rods and challenging each other!
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jeff,

Super job of relaying the Eagle/Coleco story. I was right there in the middle of the nostalgia as I read your hitory.

By the way, yesterday was one of the most enjoyable days of table hockey playing I can recall. We played the game that was the Rolls Royce of Eagle/Coleco's golden years. Metel Men...plastic sticks...diamond pucks....wowwowweewow!

Maybe John Power can post some pics?!
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 8:25 am    Post subject: www.nyctha.us Reply with quote

I agree . . . .

Len and all other interested folks: there are photos from the Vintage League (yellow stick hockey) on the website: just click on PHOTO ALBUMS, then click on NYCTHA Vintage League and choose whatever date you want to see
www.nyctha.us




--two dates have no photos as I did not have a chance to take photos (too busy playing, making the schedule, working on the games, recording the match results, etc-I organize in addition to play,remember).

It was a wonderful thing that Eagle made the investment in the early 60's and created these wonderful players and puck (diamond puck). That you can still find them on the ebay or from other players is fortunate and great for the sport of Vintage Table Hockey which is still alive (albeit gasping and wheezing and in need of additional support Neutral ).

Thanks Jeff and Len for your support of NYCTHA and of Vintage Table Hockey. The "Bad Boy" of Organized Table Hockey (Vintage games, leagues and tournaments) will never die, and that is a GREAT THING Clapping
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2009 4:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that Jeffman Clapping Clapping Clapping

Enjoy reading your table hockey history. I still find it hard to believe that someone isn't mass producing those Coleco style games today (beating a dead horse here). I'm sure the demand would be there.

Too bad Munro didn't follow Coleco's example when they had the W.H.A. Rights and put crests on their sweaters. The Jets vs the Cowboys would have been good for sales.

Interesting to hear your comments on the Coleco Game Room. I liked those 3D players and thought they were a big step forward for the time. It was fun to play with four players, not with two. If this was Coleco's attempt at a slot pattern I'm glad they stuck with the Eagle pattern for the rest of their games. The center had a breakaway every time he had the puck. This would have been a fantastic game with the Stiga slot pattern. The Game Room was solidly built, the players didn't fall off and the surface didn't warp like some games do today. The score counter, 3D players and the goalie on the side were quite similar to the Stiga.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2009 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

" still find it hard to believe that someone isn't mass producing those Coleco style games today " Actually they are being produced by the Bossio brothers in the Montreal area. The S-cup s slot defense game. The games are sold on Ebay as Carleco games originally based on a technique perfected by Martin Labelle. Also the Power Play slot game is still being made by Irwin I believe.

"Interesting to hear your comments on the Coleco Game Room. I liked those 3D players and thought they were a big step forward for the time. It was fun to play with four players, not with two. If this was Coleco's attempt at a slot pattern I'm glad they stuck with the Eagle pattern for the rest of their games" Actually the 3-d players are a slightly downsized rendition of Eagle's circa 1966 second generation 3-d players. The 1st generation 3-d players were on the circa 1964 Eagle Olympic/Stanley Cup game. On those 3-d figures the leg stuck out. (I have a great copy of that game for sale if interested) That game is just like the Stiga except the right winger goes behind the goalie as opposed to the Stiga where the left winger goes behind the goalie.The Coleco Game Room slot pattern is the same as the 1963-64 version of Big Time Club Hockey that Eagle made. Closely examained that slot pattern resembles Rick Benej's first slot pattern game as well. In its rudiments a shortened more narrow (36x 20) version of the slot pattern first hit the market in 1960 as Eagle's National League Electric game. Definetely a cool slot pattern game as one can push your defensmen to the opponents blue line to play a true power play not that it matters but in real hockey when an offense is controlling the puck in the opponents end the defensmen pinch into the play at the opponents blue line as that feature makes that pattern extremely realistic to the flow of real hockey.If you go back and examine Coleco's circa 1972-74 Game Room game they only released the game with six 3-d painted teams...primarily red Blackhawks vs white Bruins in the US markets, white Canadiens vs blue Maple Leafs in Canada, a set of blue NY Rangers and the Canucks in blue with green trim. So its obvious they were not focused to introduce the game as a full blown seller witness the small number of teams made and its subsequent cancellation in 1975.

Game Room was well built as it possessed the bridges underneath the game on each sides blue line that aided greatly the level and rigid surface that was larger and needed this extra support. Always remember that Coleco was not the developer of one original slot pattern game. Every game they marketed was based on designs developed by Eagle Toys the firm that Coleco purchased in 1968. Coleco was a plastics company that incorporated their plastics oriented production onto Eagle slot patterns and sold the games on a mass scale through the 1970's and eighties.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2009 8:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Too bad Munro didn't follow Coleco's example when they had the W.H.A. Rights and put crests on their sweaters. The Jets vs the Cowboys would have been good for sales": Thats an interesting point. Years ago Steve G., a fellow table hockey game collector sent me a stack of photos of his prized collection of games. One of his favorites is a smallish (32 inch long) game that Munro (Servitronics) made circa 1973 or so. The logos of the WHA's original 12 franchises are stamped onto the games sides. The players are not presented with any teams logos rather just the word WHA ala the city name as Munro was known for. It makes sense to question why Munro would not affix the teams logos to the player stickers with appropriate uniform colors to boost sales of the teams stickers as they used their WHA rights to put the logos onto the game but not the players. However as I document in this thread as well as other threads the marketing of the teams and depicting them accurately and timely has never been a central focus of table hockey game manufacturers. Munro is as guilty as Coleco on that end. I mean ask yourself why Coleco never sold a game with the logo of the two year wonder Kansas City Scouts. However there are a number of artists and computer graphics experts who have made cleverly reproduced renditions of not only Coleco but Munro teams in sticker form where you can get yourself a remake of yes even a Winnipeg Jets vs Calgary Cowboys game. I think Warren Klotz had a set of Cowboys made for a game not sure if its Coleco or Munro that he shared with us some time ago but I'm sure a re creator can accomadate your requests.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2009 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Earlier in one of these threads Jeff mentioned how the NHL marketed itself by it's association with table hockey. My own introduction to hockey came through table hockey and I wonder whether many others had a similar experience.

Growing up in the 50's in the Philadelphia area, my earliest memory of the word "hockey" came as a 7 year old. We had gone sleding along the banks of the frozen Cooper River in Camden, NJ and some kids were whacking a frozen rat with sticks and were calling it "hockey"

We moved to Lancaster, PA in 1958 and friends of our, The Rowans, hosted a snow day and had a NOk Hockey game. We played for hours and asked for the game for Christmas. My sister and I were so dissapointed to see a "rod" hockey game under the tree. We tried playing this clunky, stiff-geared, magnetic puck game with the stars on the player's chest and the goofy "howdy doody" faces. Over the years, everybody seemed to get a different version of a table hockey game for Christmas, and I heard the words "Montreal Canadiens" and "Toronto Maple Leafs" for the 1st time.

By the late 60's I had done so many renovations to this old Munro game. (It was actually distubuted by "Deluxe" in Kingston, NY, I decided to buy a new game. I went to a toy store with $15. in my pocket and saw 3 "Coleco" games on the wall. There was a small game(Powerplay) a medium game (Stanley Cup) and a large game (National Hockey) I bought the largest game for $13.99 (no sales tax in 1967 in NJ)

That game was the G155, the foreunner to Coleco 5340. In retrospect, I lucked out and purchased arguably the best playing table hockey game of all time. 40 years later we are still playing modified versions of this same game. To this day I feel my hands are tied and my creativity is compromised when I play Stiga, Benej, Chexx, Munro and Coleco 5380.

But, as I had become a Flyers fan once they expanded the NHL to include Philadelphia my senior year in high school, my interest in Ice Hockey continued to grow. We could go to a Flyers game and pay $2.00 for general admission seats. After the 1st period we'd move down "rinkside"

The Flyers were becomming annual contenders for the Stanley Cup and I would go up on my roof and turn our antenae towards channel 9. We'd watch the Flyers beat up on the Rangers and it was time to get another table hockey game for between periods, as the Flyers got ready for Boston and the Stanley Cup.

My buddy and I went to Kiddie City and in April of 1974, for $49.95 we acquired a Coleco Gameroom hockey. Now 4 could play table hockey at a time, and often we'd miss a little Flyers action we'd be so caught up in our "doubles" Gameroom was too big to play 1 on 1 and the goalie was on the right side. We modified our Gameroom by putting on smaller nets, cutting out the area under the nets to reduce in and outs, adding plexiglass and shorteniong the height of the game so we could play seated. The solid hard rubber puck was also replaced with a "diamond' puck.

When my wife and I teamed up to defeat all of my buddy combinations when we played "doubles," enough was enough. Nobody wanted to lose to a chick. My Coleco Gameroom has had it's contols replaced, and I've purchased new players on Ebay. But my wife and I don't even kiss anymore! So we are no longer "the team to beat"

I still play ice hockey 2X a week and a "million" table hockey games later, I wonder if I would have become a hockey fan without table hockey?
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ruffie
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 6:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I know of the Bossio game and I've read all of the positive reviews on this forum. If it wasn't for customs and shipping it would be very tempting. If a game like that were mass produced I'm sure it would sell. I think if Stiga had some competition they would improve the quality of that game as well.

I thought the 3D players on the gameroom were the first. Thanks for clearing that up. That must have been a fun game to play. I didn't know that the Stiga slot pattern was simular to what Eagle had made. Found a picture:


Was there warping on that board or did they have a brace or support for the slots that ran behind the net?

My cousin had the Hawks vs. Bruins on his gameroom so a few were sold in Canada. Looking at your history I'd say it was 74-75. I know it took a long time for him to get it so it could be they pulled a few games intended for the American market to fill out orders for Canada.

Len mentions playing mixed doubles with the girls and this is what made the gameroom one of the all time greats. You had to concentrate on impressing your partner and winning the game at the same time. When you got a goal you could always give her a pat on the bum and a win was always good for at least a hug. Loosing led to arguments
Boxing Boxing

I'm sure a lot of people bought the Coleco instead of the Munro simply because there were crests on the sweaters. Munro made some great games but having a city's name instead of a crest sure didn't help get them off the shelves. Yes, I've seen some of the work on uniforms and surfaces and used some of those ideas to make my own.

Interesting read how you were introduced to table hockey Len. I remember playing table hockey in the intermission during „Hockey night in Canada“ on Saturday nights. I also think the N.H.L. And table hockey fed off one another for quite a few years. Seems how you play so often do you see a lot of interest from the younger generation or is it mainly the pre- videogame generation?
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Rodwarn
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I sell a Stiga I usually find it's to a baby boomer dad for his son (or kids) The dad has experienced the great joy of playing table hockey and wants to share the experience. Keep up the good work ! Laughing
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Jefman
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2009 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anybody up for some Coleco Hockey might want to brush up on the history and evolution of those games. Here is a thread that we have been working on and I thought I would bring it back for review and input. Enjoy!
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Jefman
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2010 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since some of the overtly vulgar mavens are arguing Stiga vs Coleco over on the Yahoo Table Hockey Tavern board like old hags getting their blue hair rinsed at the beauty parlor I thought I would bring the history of Coleco thread out of the bullpen. It helps put into perspective that before Stiga and after Eagle, Coleco was the gold standard of table hockey games from 1968 until Kevin Sports/Buddy L marketed the Wayne Gretzky game in the early 90's. So enjoy this thread and add your thoughts.

Last edited by Jefman on Sat Apr 03, 2010 3:27 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Hoop27
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2010 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's a great read. Thanks for posting it!
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Jefman
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 04, 2010 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With Christmas Day being just three weeks away it's a good time of year to go back to the games of yesteryear...the games placed under the Christmas tree for young and old alike to enjoy. The Coleco thread is one that I have omitted to clarify in specific regards to a rather popular era of games that were target marketed to certain area consumers in the early 1970's.

The Coleco City series games were games that specifically were marketed for the regions following. No less than 11 games that I am aware of were made under this moniker. The most common were games made to gather interest amongst the fans of the NHL's original six franchise cities: Detroit,Chicago,New York, Boston, Toronto and Montreal as well as at least four of the expansion six teams: St. Louis, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and a city series game matching the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers. Pictures of most of these games are located in the photos section of this site under games and the Coleco heading. Not mentioned in this set of games...all S slot, white plastic stick flippers with stickers and distributed with early 1970's plastic gondola overhead puck droppers/score boards are games for the Los Angeles Kings and the Oakland Seals. I will not definitely assert that a game was not made for either team but I have never seen one for that matter 1970's vintage expansion teams: Vancouver,Buffalo, the Islanders or Atlanta Flames. Limited run productions are very expensive and need to justify any manufacturing and printing costs to compel their production.Consider during that era the west coast of the US being new to live NHL hockey might not have had devoloped a large enough fan base to warrant the production of a targeted game to area fans. Sales figures of league endorsed games may have given some indicator of the viability to distribute in a more target specific median. I am sure that the survival of existing games gives us a reasonable glimpse of the availability of the games. Most commonly seen is city series games of the original six teams, the two eastern US expansion teams and the two midwest teams (Blues and North Stars) as occasionally appearing on Ebay or a Craigslist for re-sale. The two elusive games in that matrix are LA and Oakland. If they are out there I suspect collectors and players are holding onto those two games. If you have one don't hesitate to upload a photo or two to clarify their existence. Likewise the four 1970's expansion teams: Buffalo,Vancouver,New York Islanders or Atlanta Flames. I also don't believe that city series S slot games were made for the other NHL expansion teams of the 1970's: KC Scouts or Washington Caps., or the two transfer franchises the Colorado Rockies and the Cleveland Barons. Table hockey afficinados would drool over the thought of those teams being depicted in a target specific type game. Instead most of those franchises were acknowledged in generic S -Cup and Power Play games with the inclusion of their logos on the side of the games except for the two year wonder KC Scouts...I don't believe Coleco ever acknowledged their existence relative to their appearence of a logo on the side of a game or a plastic flipper/sticker player set.

The Bruins/Rangers City series game was a unique rollout that aimed to capture the intense rivalry between those two teams particularly on the heels of their battle for the Stanley Cup in the 1972 Finals. The splendid battle between Esposito,Orr Cheevers and company vs Ratelle,Gilbert, Park and the rest of the Blueshirts was probably great incentive to sell a red hot money maker considering the massive hockey crazy population of that busy northeast US corridor. As for other matchups like St Louis vs Minnesota, Toronto vs Montreal, Pittsburgh vs Philadelphia or Chicago and Detroit I am not sure if that type dual series games were made. When you ace out other potential rivals or teams it may have diminished appeal for customers to purchase that specific of matchups.

Being close to forty years since their rollout the Coleco target market specific boxed S-slot games are now a quality collectible on par with any other early Coleco product or late era Eagle Toys games of the late 1960's and 1970's expansion era's of the history of the NHL. Fans in any city I am sure treasure these historical games for their quality and their homage to the cities hockey history. Being S slot games adds to their collectibility as that slot pattern enjoys to this day wide spread admiration and appreciation as a true, fair and quality representation of a good table hockey challenge. Would love to see photos of any of these jewels particularly games of NHL franchises previously thought of as being not represented in this unique line of early 1970's games. Happy Holidays!
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