HISTORY IMAGE

.: Introduction

      If you grew up in the latter half of the twentieth century, you surely came across them at some point while you were out shopping. So many collected them, and even more were able to con their parents out of a quarter (or more) to obtain the interesting little helmets in plastic capsules which were housed in quarter gumball machines at the store. While most kids who begged their parents for quarters while at the store have long since forgotten about those little football helmets, there are plenty of us who continued to collect them all the way through adulthood, and who still do so today.

      Gumball helmets (the toy-sized plastic helmets) got their name from the very vending machines they were found in for most of their life. All you had to do was drop a quarter (or two) into the slot, turn the handle, and just wait for the plastic capsule to come tumbling out the trap door.
      It was easy, and if you were lucky, you managed to obtain a helmet you didn’t already have. If not, there’s a good chance you kept feeding quarters into the machine until one of two things happened. You either managed to get what you were looking for, or you ran out of quarters. Many kids dumped their whole allowance, or even all their birthday money into those alluring machines just trying to bolster their collection or acquire what was needed for a complete set.

 

.: Orange Products, Inc.

          In 1964, Orange Products, Inc. of Chatham, New Jersey first introduced these little toys inside small, boxed helmet kits. They were bright miniature replicas of both AFL and NFL helmets at that time. All the way up to the turn of the century, OPI would go on to produce millions of these collectible helmets.
          Not much is known about how Orange Products did business back then, but they still exist today. Located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, they produce various plastic bottles, plastic lids, and plastic balls. What is known is that they still had the injection molds up until 2012 before they were destroyed.

          Over the following three-plus decades, they produced a variety of changing helmet kits, complete sets with different types of displays, helmet cards, and helmets from several other leagues.
          OPI helmets are quite distinct in their appearance. Each helmet has a detachable facemask and decals cut in a half moon shape applied to the flat sides of the shells. Some of the helmets have appropriate stripes that have been applied over the top of the helmet shell.
          These fun little collectibles changed little over their thirty-six-year history. In fact, for the first twenty-five-years there were only minor changes to the helmet shell, while the facemask never changed from the classic two-bar style.
          1995 is when the only two major changes occurred. The shell itself went from a hard and rigid plastic to a softer, more flexible one. This was likely to reduce the likelihood that the shell would either crack or completely break. The facemask was overhauled from the iconic two-bar design to a full cage.
The facemask change was initiated by A&A Global Industries, a well-known vending distributor. This was done to update the appearance since the well-known two-bar mask had been phased out of both professional and college football by the time the AFL merged with the NFL; yet OPI continued manufacturing them all the way up into the mid 1990’s.
          In 1993, Big League Promotions of Miami, Florida began incorporating the OPI gumball helmets into their checkers board games for the NFL and NCAA. Orange Products provided all the “Old-Style” helmets Big League Promotions used in their checkers games from 1993-1998.

          For most people though, gumball helmets will always be associated with vending machines. Companies like A&A Global Industries stocked those quarter machines found in grocery stores, supermarkets, discount stores, and toy stores around the country for decades with the miniature helmet ‘prizes’ that are so distinct today. Even the capsules, with their familiar mixed color “AA” lids have become synonymous with gumball helmets among collectors.

 

.: Football Helmet Kits

      Through the years, these helmets were sold in several different types of partially unassembled and entirely unassembled helmet kits.
The originals were the “Go with the Pros” helmet kits. These kits were available for two years only (1964 & 1965) and had a box designed to be flipped around to create an easel stand to display the helmets. The stripes came pre-adhered to the helmets, the decals came on a single sheet of 8 (AFL) or 7 (NFL) sets of helmet insignias. The box came with separate colored helmet shells, white facemasks, and a sheet of team decals.

      The second iteration introduced a different box, completely unattached decals, and the white goal post display stands. These came in a simple flip open cardboard box with “All-Pro Helmet Kit” and the appropriate AFL or NFL logo printed on the top. Some were adorned with “Score with the Pros” instead, but that is assumed to have been a transitional feature from the original “Go with the Pros” boxes. The All-Pro helmet kits were available from 1966 up through 1969. Each box came with a larger decal sheet that contained anywhere from eight teams to ten teams, depending upon the year. These upgraded versions had an assembly instruction sheet included that had previously been printed more compact on the back of the easel boxes.
      The next kit was introduced while the second generation was still in production. This box was a slide on two-piece box with a base and lid. It was much more colorful and included a photo of the helmets that were contained inside. The simple title was “Football Helmet Kit” with more of a description of what was to be found when you opened the kit. These were stocked with the same blank shells, decals sheets, white plastic goal post stand, and assembly instruction sheet.
      Both second generation helmet kits had variations where individual team decal sheets with separate instructions were included due to changes in the specific team’s identity. This was most likely done to save on costs from the back stock of already manufactured sets. There were three different versions of these sets: AFL, NFL East, and NFL West (which were the same options that had been available from the beginning).

      The third generation of helmet kits used the same two-piece slide boxes with photos of the sets on the top. These sets were produced from 1970 to 1975. The major difference was that these sets were divided into two unique AFC & NFC kits with 13 teams a piece. They still maintained the blank shells, facemasks, unassembled decal sheets (two sheets per box), and white goal post display stands.
      While the third generation was available with a designer box, they weren’t the primary packaging choice for distributing these larger sets. Thanks to the newly available mail-in order forms, they typically came in a large plain brown box with no design whatsoever. The designed boxes are incredibly difficult to find nowadays and are highly sought after by serious collectors.

 

.: Introduction

Text

.: Introduction

Text

.: Header

Text.


.: Header

Text

 



Gumball Helmets - © Copyright Fusion Media, 2021 - All rights reserved.
Forum - FAQ - Contact - Store - Links - Credits
   
www.000webhost.com