1974 Marx Games, T.V. Tennis in Original Box

1974 Marx Games, T.V. Tennis in Original Box

By 1974 the Marx Company was on its way out. It had been purchased two years earlier by Quaker Oats and in two years following it would be sold off in bankruptcy to a holding company. The same year was a turning point for the toy industry because it marked the beginning of the revolutionary home video market with the introduction of PONG. 

To capitalize on this quickly growing market, Marx produced their own version of the super selling PONG....well, soft of. For a number of reasons, mostly financial, the Marx version of PONG did not use any digital technology. Contradictory to the current trend it was completely analog. In other words it was a battery operated mechanical PONG with gears and lights. It also was completely styrene plastic. 

Since the toy was not a digital system which connected to a TV, Marx built their toy to resemble an entire television set complete with tube, screen and housing. It had no electronic components except for a motor and a light bulb. It used a delicately balanced cantilevered plastic lever tipped with a glowing light bulb. The bulb represented the tennis ball. A small battery powered motor moved plastic gears which, in turn, moved the position of the lever and the light bulb.

As the motor changed the position of the "ball", players controlling the paddle's would hit the bulb when it approached their side. The bulb would bounce off the paddle and return it in the opposite direction. If the lever made it past the paddle it would physically strike a bell signaling a goal. Score was kept manually with a rotating wheel on the top of the set. It couldn't have been more simple. It was also big, bulky, and difficult to move without breaking unless you reinserted the shipping bolt which locks in the cantilever mechanism. The bolt was the first thing to remove when it was unpacked for the first time and was probably the first thing thrown away.

The box for this toy looks very spectacular with staged color photography and caricature illustrations drawn by Mad Magazine's Jack Davis. It gave the toy a more polished appearance, but the problem was that inside the box was still an analog system. No wiring (except for the batteries), no electronic boards, no chips, no technology. A couple of gears and a well engineered system was all it took to make it possible, but it was not PONG. 

I never even realized that Marx (under the ownership of Quaker Oats) produced their own tennis version of PONG. I doubt that it lasted very long. This is the only example of this toy I've seen. 

This example is mint in the box. It was just opened for the first time last month. Everything works great. The motor works fine, the lever, the light bulb lights up, etc. It does everything its supposed to do. It still has the original shipping bolt too.

It comes complete with large blocks of original die cut Styrofoam packing, its original illustrated instruction sheet, and inspection tag. 

Size: Toy 16" x 14" x 13".  Box 19" x 15" x 16". Weight 8 pounds.

Sold: Feb. 2005

Price Sold: $ 111


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Subject: 1974 Marx Games, T.V. Tennis in Original Box

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