These Were Your Parents' Sports 'Video Games'
It's a rainy Saturday in 1974, and Jimmy's Little League game has been postponed. What is a sports-craving 14-year-old to do? Hey Jimmy, why not fire up the PS3 and pop in MLB: The Show?
Fire up the what?
Oh wait, that's right, even the original PlayStation won't hit the market for another 19 years. Xbox? Got a 26-year wait for that one. Wii won't come along for another five years after that.
So how did a blossoming Gen-Xer get his game on with no games?
Oh there were plenty of games to choose from. Some—only the most cutting edge, mind you—were even powered by electricity.
Click forward to see these accoutrements of amusement from an age gone by.
Fisher Price Hockey
This table-top hockey set was designed for the young'uns. Sticks are attached to cords to limit reach (read: So little Howie can't knock out little Billy's teeth).
The cool "high-tech" gimmick though, was the hidden bell inside each goal. Slam a puck in the "net" and get rewarded with a pleasing ding!
Without video games like WWF No Mercy, kids in the 1970s got their virtual wrestle on with toys like Stretch Armstrong.
The corn-syrup filled muscle man could be pulled, yanked, contorted every which way and still return to its original form.
Stretch was a huge hit and "sold out nationwide during the 1976 Christmas season."
Today a vintage Stretch is such a collector's item that just an empty original box could set you back $40.
Blood Bowl: 1st Edition
Beginning with the release of edition 1 in 1986, jocks could get their full geeks on and vice-versa. Blood Bowl was (and is) Dungeons & Dragons meets the NFL...as a board game. Orcs, vampires, lizardmen and the like came in the form of cardboard cutouts.
The game churned out further editions, a "living rulebook," and video games versions.
This was a revolutionary breakthrough in sporting toys. Kids now had a ball that couldn't smash a window, couldn't break a plate, and couldn't make baby sister cry—even with a cannon shot to the face. A ball that could be used INSIDE OF THE HOUSE!
In 1970, parents across the western world shouted a collective hallelujah and bought up more than four million foam orbs.
Rock'em Sock'em Robots
If you didn't have it, your neighbor did. In the late 1970s, Rock Rocker and Blue Bomber (as the dueling 'bots are known) were nearly as ubiquitous as as R2D2 and C3PO.
Slide around your joystick-esque levers to bob and weave. Then thumb-slam the button to let loose a head shot. If it's placed just right, you'll trigger a spring-release and your opponent's robot head will pop up in a G-rated decapitation.
Pop the old noggin' back into place and have a rematch.
Fisher Price Basketball
Ah, the 1973 Fisher Price basketball set. How many of you have seen this thing wasting away in grandpa and grandma's basement? The backboard all water stained. The bright yellow posts faded and warped. The original ball and bean bags gone.
But your toddler dad and 30-something gramps had many a one-on-one battle with the set back in the day. Grandma just can't bring herself to send the old mule off to the glue factory.
WWF Wrestling Superstars
If it weren't for Stretch Armstrong (referenced in an earlier slide) kids in the early 80s would have had to use plastic army men or Sesame Street figurines to set up their own WWE matches.
But then in 1984, toy company LJN released series 1 of their Superstars action figures. Only these didn't bring much action. They were just big rubber dolls, really.
Wrestling fans didn't mind at all. This was manna from heaven. And get this: Each figure came with a clip-n-save bio card and a mini-poster. Heaven had even sent dessert!
Tetherball has been around for centuries. But it was "rediscovered" in the 1970s when General Sportcraft Company, Ltd. standardized the equipment and playing field dimensions.
If Wii Volleyball had existed back then, it's likely that the old ball and rope would never have come back.
Time Warp Vintage Toys claims this toy was very innovative for its time. The 1972 toy from Tomy Asahi Japan even had a switchable track that could be set up so that Mr. Ski Bunny, Mr. Ski Bear, and Mr. Ski Monkey could either stop at the ski hut, or just ski continuously.
Come on, tell me you wouldn't rather watch those wacky animals loop around and around for hours than play Stoked: Big Air Edition on your Xbox?
This 1971 Mattel release used "a set of 13 custom records to drive the action." The 1977 edition was called "Talking ABC Monday Night Football."
And yeah, it talked. And yeah, that was amazing at the time.
This may be hard to believe, but flipping the ping-pong ball (posing as a basketball) up and into the basket on Cadaco's 1970 Bas-Ket Basketball Game was quite the thrill back in the day.
Maybe not he's-heating-up-he's-on-fire-boomshakalaka thrilling. But close.
And let me tell you, there was barely anything more satisfying to a sports-loving kid in the mid 70s, than giving Super Jock a good open-palmed thwack on the noggin, compressing his neck, and watching him kick/throw/swing (depending on which model you had).
Mattel Electronics: Baseball, Football and Soccer
Mattel released this football handheld (other sports titles would come later) in 1977. Originally looking to be a sales dud, Mattel halted production. Then the thing went viral—Sears retailers asked the toy company to churn out a staggering half a million units per week.
Why the field on the original unit was nine yards long is an enduring world mystery that ranks up there with Amelia Earhart and Bigfoot.
Foos! The game that was a piece of furniture.
You'll still find them in dive bars and in fraternity houses, but the passion is not what it once was. This was the EA Sports FIFA soccer of its time. Sure in military terms, that might be like comparing a Sopwith Camel to a unmanned combat drone, but hey, those Sopwith's were lauded in their day.
You could always tell a rookie because he'd stand too close and take the butt end of a foos bar right in the pills.
Tudor Games Electric Football
The game, which features a vibrating playing field dates back to just after WWII. But it wasn't until the late 1960s, when the NFL began licensing the game, that Electric Football became a sport toy blockbuster.
Then, as the tale goes for nearly every toy in this slideshow, along came video games in the 1980s. Suddenly the old favorite seemed cheesy, boring, and cumbersome.
"America's favorite football game" still has its users, though. Pick up your copy right from the Tudor Games website and try out "the only hands-on game that puts you on the field."
Ice Chexx Dome Hockey
Inspired by the 1980 Olympic Miracle on Ice, "a group of table hockey fanatics in Buffalo, NY designed and created the greatest competitive sports game of it's time."
In 1982, a prototype of the coin-operated dome hockey game was built and tested at a local skating rink. The thing set revenue records.
For a while you could only engage in your own Team USA vs Team USSR epic struggle at video arcades and skating rinks.
But then the magic came in a home version and no longer was a pony on the top of kids' Christmas gift wish lists.