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December 2014 Retro Gaming Article


December 16, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I was surprised to find Mattel (Basic Fun) Electronic Football & Basketball at Toys R Us tonight

When I was in middle school a kid brought in a Mattel Electronic Football game. Most of us had seen such handheld games in stores or catalogs, but they were so new, I didn't expect to hold one in my hands. It wasn't long before it was the focal point of the classroom and our teacher was mere minutes from confiscating it.

Within a week several kids had these electronic wonders. School was never the same. Handheld games seemed to be exploding onto the market into the early 80's. It was the beginning of a new era for kids bound for the digital age.

Basic Fun's Electronic Football Basic Fun's Electronic Football.
Basic Fun's Electronic Basketball Basic Fun's Electronic Basketball.

Although reminiscent of Mattel's electronic games, these units are from Basic Fun. The bottom of the packaging acknowledges the game and trademarks are being licensed from Mattel with a 2014 copyright. Aside from that, the Mattel name is not used on the packaging with the exception of the manual that refers to the product as Mattel Electronic Football.

Mattel's original football game came out in 1977 and I found these units today in 2014. We're all accustomed to seeing retro games , like Flashbacks, appear around the holidays, so I assumed the same was true of these Basic Fun handhelds.

However, I found no mention of them on the TRU website, although they have been selling on eBay for between $25 and $50. Mine was $15 - new in box! I imagine they've been on the market for a while as they don't appear on Basic Fun's site either.

Keep an eye out for these games, if you want to relive a bit of childhood magic in the palm of your hand. I didn't own these as a kid. I had Parker Brother's Merlin which came out in 1978. There have been reissues of Merlin as well as Simon. With the recent passing of Simon's creator, Ralph Baer, I imaging Simon many make a wider comeback than some other games of this era.

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