For all photos in today’s post, you can click to enlarge
[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from Karl Dentino, who’s going to enlighten us regarding a DIY modification he made to an interesting football board game. Enjoy. — PL]
By Karl Dentino
In 1967 I received a board game called Official Football Chess for Christmas. It featured unpainted football figures instead of the customary medieval chess pieces. I was 11 years old at the time, and a lousy chess player, but a huge football fan, so it was a good gift to receive.
Football chess is played like regular chess, but the number of pieces varies. For instance, the four down linemen move in the same manner as pawns. The middle linebacker is the lone knight. The two receivers move on a diagonal like bishops, and he two halfbacks move perpendicularly like Rooks. The fullback is the queen and the quarterback is the king:
Once you commit all of that to memory, you simply play chess. But to an 11 year-old, it was much more fun to create offensive and defensive formations and “dream” the players into action instead of sticking to regular chess moves. The game’s playbook encouraged the use of the pieces as a learning tool to demonstrate offensive and defensive plays and formations:
The game was endorsed by John McKay, then head coach at USC. It included a booklet depicting McKay and the game’s inventor playing with painted teams, USC vs. UCLA:
That photo was all the motivation I needed. I decided to paint the football chess pieces to showcase all of my favorite NFL and AFL players and stage my own NFL/AFL All-Star chess matches. But it didn’t turn out quite like I had envisioned, as the figures were too small and I was too impatient and unskilled to pull off such a task at age 11. But my dream remained.
In the late 1990s, the original game started popping up on eBay. Within a year or so I grabbed at least five or six of them and set out to fulfill my childhood vision of painting the figurines. The painting was done in assembly-line fashion as much as possible (i.e., I painted all of one team’s jerseys, then all the pants, etc.). I used regular flat hobby paints. If I couldn’t find a commercially available color that met my needs, I mixed my own using a toothpick to drip one color into the next until I achieved my desired result. For reference, I simply used internet photographs and books.
In most cases, a 1960s team’s home jersey color matched its base-layer socks and helmet, so that would be the first paint task. Once that dried, the pants and white socks were next. Next came the trim. I tried to get as much detail as I could into each figure — high tops for John Unitas, short sleeves and white shoes for Joe Namath. I used a cream color for things like belts, shoelaces, and pants laces. I varied the flesh tones and used eye black on some of the players.
For the logos and stripes on helmets, pants, sleeves, and socks, I used iamges from the internet, resized them, printed them out on very thin label paper, and added a touch of model glue to the adhesive side paper labels. The white numerals and white helmet features were decals. The colored details were printed and trimmed out on label paper. Trimming out tiny helmet logos, thin stripes, and numerals was the most painstaking part of the process. I always opted for paint over paper labels wherever possible. Once I was completely happy with a figurine I would apply a layer of clear coat to seal everything in.
I started with my favorite team, the Philadelphia Eagles. I chose the year 1960 and matched them up against the Green Bay Packers to re-create the 1960 NFL Championship Game:
Then I created the Cowboys, Washington, and the Giants, all representing my favorite players from the 1950s and ’60s. After I completed the Giants, I created the Baltimore Colts for the epic 1958 Championship Game match-up. Then it was on to the All-Decade All-Star teams. I wanted at least one representative from each of the 10 original AFL teams, plus Miami and Cincinnati, along with the 16 NFL teams in existence at the decade’s end.
Look closely and you’ll see that figures were sculpted from a late-1950s/early-1960s uniform perspective, with long sleeves and no facemasks. They lend themselves nicely to a re-creation of players from that era:
I ultimately created 111 individual pieces. I have no idea how many hours I put into the project, but I recall spending the better part of a year on it. I am sure there are inaccuracies, but in the end I was pleased. With the exception of a few sleeve stripes and helmet logos that need glue touch-up, everything has held up nicely.
For several years my kids and I would play the game as it was intended. I would provide the play-by-play in my best announcer voice, replacing “Checkmate” with something like “Bart Starr was sacked by Gino Marchetti to end the contest.” The kids would roll their eyes wondering what I was talking about.
Today, all 111 figures stare back at me from a Plexiglass case on my desk:
In case you missed it, yesterday’s entry was about the most perfect Uni Watch T-shirt idea ever. You don’t want to miss this — check it out here.
’Skins Watch: Some Native Americans in Idaho say that team names and mascots that supposedly “honor” Natives are actually quite offensive to them, proving yet again that the only people who care about this issue are white people (from Kenny Ocker).
Baseball News: Super-tasty New York Giants sweaters on view in this shot (from Lee Wilds). … This is pretty awesome: Check out George Brett’s parking space at Royals camp (from Tyler Kepner). … Looks like 15 MLB teams will be donning St. Paddy’s Day jerseys this spring (thanks, Phil). … The Cardinals have traditionally worn their regular jerseys — not BP jerseys — for Grapefruit League games. But that will change this year, according to a small note at the bottom of this page. Bummer (from Kyle Sawyer). … See that “KMV” on one of Bryce Harper’s gloves? “Those are the initials of his longtime girlfriend,” says Alan Borock. … Here’s a cool graphic showing the 2014 travel routes of every MLB team (thanks, Phil). … Here’s more about the Lehigh Valley IronPigs’ new uni set — it’s more than just bacon (from Chris Cocca). … Texas Longhorns wore 1949-50 throwbacks yesterday (from Chris Rodriguez).
NFL News: According to this story, former Giants LB Lawrence Taylor once had “partially torn pectoral muscle and torn shoulder ligaments, and he played with a harness strapping his upper left arm tight to his torso” for a 1988 game (from Kurt Esposito). … Someone has come up with ridiculous redesigns for all 32 NFL teams, if you’re into that kinda thing (from Jerry Nitzh). … Members of a church youth group recently wore their favorite NFL jerseys while serving bread and soup during a fundraiser. … Now that the Bucs have enlarged their helmet logo, what if every NFL team did that? (From Will Hughes.) … Pretty sure we’ve seen this before, but once more won’t hurt: Check out cool old NFL-themed United Airlines ad (thanks, Phil).
Hockey News: Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is going with a Steelers-themed mask for the Stadium Series. … Bruce Menard was looking through some hockey-related stuff from Classic Auctions and found a bunch of cool stuff, including a 1947 NHL All-Star Game jersey, a spectacular 1940 Canadiens team jacket, a magnificent 1956 Rochester Amerks inaugural-season jersey, and a nice Flyers blazer and cardigan. … If you look in the background of this shot, you can see that the Penguins have the Stadium Series patch on their practice jerseys (from Ryan Connelly and Phil). … Tim Thomas was wearing an odd mask in practice the other day (thanks, Phil). … Nick Kotarski was at last night’s Sabres game, where he noticed that the butt end of several players’ sticks had the Sabres logo, sort of like those bat knob decals we’ve been seeing in baseball.
Soccer News: “NBC is doing a great job with their coverage of the English Premier League — I think everyone in the U.S. is in agreement about that,” says Sean Walsh. “But for some reason their iPhone app has an outdated photo showing Cesc Fabregas (who has played for Barcelona for the last 2 seasons) in the club’s shirt worn during the 2006-2008 seasons.” … Here’s something I didn’t know: The Chicago Fire were originally supposed to be called the Chicago Rhythm. “The owners balked at the Nike-provided team name and even stated ‘they would rather lose a year of merchandise sales than live a lifetime with a bad name,'” says Alan Bloomquist. “That ruffled feathers with Nike, which had spent a lot and time effort on the Rhythm name.”
NBA News: Iman Shumpert of the Knicks has been wearing an arm sleeve with some weird shit printed on it. According to this Reddit thread, those are the nicknames of some of his pals (from Daniel Cawley). … The NBA is making Jason Collins jerseys available for sale due to high demand. The last graf of that article also explains the reason for Collins wearing No. 98, which I hadn’t heard until now (thanks, Mike). … Some Nuggets players wear Kevin Durant’s signature sneaker. But should they wear it when playing against him? (From Ray Chen.) … Creepy new king cake baby mascot for the Pelicans.
Grab Bag: I was interviewed yesterday by a writer from The New Yorker, who wanted to pick my brain for a uni-related story he’s working on. First time I’ve been interviewed by them. Looking forward to the follow-up from their vaunted fact-checking department. … Someone on Kickstarter is raising money for a coloring book about disappointing moments in Cleveland sports history (from Jim Mason). … More and more writers are picking up on the fact that figure skating costumes, and the costumes’ connection to the judging, are total bullshit. … Speaking of figure skating, it may not be a sport, but it sure makes for a cool vintage sweater (big thanks to Sean Kane). … Redesign in the works for the nutrition-info labels on American food products. … Some high school football teams in Louisiana are using low-rated helmets. … “New 2014 kits for SupeRugby’s Hurricanes feature a significant color mismatch between the yellow on the front panel and the yellow on the rest of the uniform,” notes Brent Caruthers Archer. … The “Beanies of the Big Ten” site has added Maryland to its coverage (from Demetrios Demetriou). … Across the pond, the Tories are considering a new party logo. … Here’s a good site devoted to F1 liveries (from Carlos Ahmed Jalife Ruz). … New kit outfitter for USA Rugby. … Here are a bunch of movie title screen shots showing the evolution of the Warner Bros. logo (from Kurt Esposito). .. Here’s a bunch of new college and high school lacrosse gear (from Jared Buccola). … What if people on famous album covers were wearing Norwegian curling pants? (From Brent Hardman.) … The Richmond Tigers — that’s an Aussie rules football team — are inviting fans to design the team’s new jumper (from Leo Strawn Jr.).