Have you seen the new trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2? If you pay close attention to the opening scene, you'll see Starlord holding some kind of handheld scanner.
I took one look at it and knew it was an old video game. Mattel Electronics, an obvious football stadium, and a football player on the bottom? This has to be a real vintage video game. Prop makers for movies often source the parts for their props from all over the place. Since Starlord was a kid when he was abducted from Earth, it's no surprise he'd have a video game in his backpack. So it makes sense that they'd use an authentic prop. These things were all the rage back in the late 70s, early 80s. Just like the vintage 1979 Sony TPS-L2 Walkman that Starlord sported in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, this too will surely skyrocket on eBay.
I looked on eBay for one and was surprised to see more than a few for sale. While some were trending close to $100, there were several in the $30 range. I don't know if the ones in the $100 range were people already cashing in, or just because it's vintage. The trailer was only out for a day or two when I looked, so it's unlikely that it was having an influence yet.
I just had to have one. I paid $35 bucks for it.
This is an original model from 1977. The date is even on the back label.
You might, however, notice that there is a difference between the original 1977 model that I picked up on eBay, and the one that Starlord uses. The little joystick thingy was obviously added by the prop makers, but if you look closely, you'll see a SOUND ON / OFF switch. That's not on the 1977 model. So what gives?
I did a little research.
Mattel subsequently changed the name to "FOOTBALL I" on a later release. (When FOOTBALL II was released.) Is still says MATTEL ELECTRONICS on the top, but it doesn't have the sound switch. So this isn't the model they used.
Mattel re-released the game in 2000 and changed the labels around a bit. "MATTEL ELECTRONICS" was changed to "CLASSIC FOOTBALL" and "FOOTBALL I" was changed to "MATTEL". This is the model that added the option to toggle the sound on and off.
The one in the movie has the "MATTEL" logo on the bottom as well as the sound switch. But since it has the "MATTEL ELECTRONICS" at the top from the 1977 model. It seems to be a 2000 unit with a 1977 front sticker.
In addition, the 1977 model is held together with three screws, none of which are in the corners. The 2000 model has a screw in all four corners.
If you look again at Starlord's from the back, it's obviously the 2000 model.
I thought since it has "MATTEL ELECTRONICS" on the front that it was the 1977 model. I didn't even notice the back at first. Since Starlord left Earth in 1988, it doesn't make sense that he'd have the 2000 version. In other words, the prop used in the movie isn't period correct. Shame on you prop makers! So it would appear that I bought the wrong one.
In any case, let's crack it open and see what's inside!
What's this? Triangle security screws? Good thing I have a kit with pretty much every security bit ever made.
That's some sweet vintage tech right there!
Here's the front of the inner assembly.
A side shot. There's nothing under the keypad beyond a single chip, a 680 ohm resistor, and a 10 uF cap.
Here's a closeup of the vintage display.
Gotta love those calculator bubbles. The lightsaber enthusiasts go nuts for those.
Pretty cool, but I'll just have to pick up a 2000 model since that's what was used in the movie. Fast forward a week…
I found a seller on eBay who was offering a 1977 / 2000 combo. I got the high bid for only $41 bucks. What a steal. Close inspection of the below image will reveal something…interesting. Take a look at the 1977 model on the left. It has a headphone jack!
Here it is compared to the first 1977 model I purchased. Totally different. I guess there were two different versions put out in 1977.
The question is, which came first? Since the board revision on the first one I opened was "REV D", I wondered if this one would be older or newer. I decided to crack it open too.
How is this possible? How do both of these PCBs have the same revision? How can you add a headphone jack (or remove it) and not change the board revision? They are both "REV D".
The display and the button boards are the same revisions as the other one, so there's no way to know which one is older.
Another slight difference is that the case is stamped 1977. The first one that I bought only has the date on the sticker. I looked at the plastics hoping that there would be a date clock or revision, but no such luck.
On with the 2000 version.
The electronics in this one are totally different. The 1977 model uses a 9V battery. The 2000 version uses 2 x AAs.
The display board has also been swapped out for an LED backlit display. It's super cheesy.
I took the display apart to see how it worked.
It's basically six red LEDs and a sheet of glass with a film over the top.
The problem with the red LEDs is that they leak through the case. It looks horrible. The 1977 version looks so much better.
I have no idea what I'm going to do with these. I just bought them because I saw them in the movie trailer. I wanted to grab them before the movie comes out. I'm sure after everyone sees the movie and figures it out, the prices (like the Sony Walkman from the first movie) will go through the roof.