When serious foos fanatics like us look at all the brands and models of tables being made now-a-days, we're amazed how few manufacturers really know anything about "real foosball". Particularly peeving to us is seeing tables setup incorrectly on showroom floors, poor quality tables that are already falling apart on display, and worst of all, tables with man/ball/surface characteristics which practically guarantee that you will only be able to use the table as a toy and spin spin spin!
There have been some manufacturers over the years that appreciate the "real game" and have worked to make a suitable product to support the sport of foosball. Currently, there are 3 brands that are worthy of serious consideration for folks who want to get a table that will allow for years of enjoyment in learning a sport. Alternatively, if you buy a "spinning rods" toy type of table, once the novelty wears off ... you may find that you've wasted your money and missed out on what real foosball is all about.
Two of the top brands that we like have been involved with in one capacity or another over the last 30 years are Tornado and Dynamo. There is a new brand, Shelti, that just came out in 2001 which promises to generate some real (and likely lasting) excitement in the sport.
Tornado began in 1970, Dynamo in the early 70's. Tornado engineered a product that would survive the very demanding commercial vending business. It's this industry leading practice that allowed them to slowly gain exposure as lesser products became inoperable and were removed from service. Dynamo began manufacturing and distributing their table during the same time frame. These two companies along with another now out-of-business company, Tournament Soccer (TS), were heavily into promoting the sport. The Tournament Soccer company had only a fair quality table, but a phenomenal promotions focus that brought our sport to some of its highest highs. A $250,000 tournament in 1977 where a 17 year old and his partner took home $25,000 1st prize was pretty impressive. Recalling tournaments where victors went home with a Porsche 911, a pair of Chevy Corvettes and other "splashy" vehicles brings back smiles to some of us older foosers. Unfortunately this company (TS) overextended itself promotionally and was forced out of the industry leading to some tough times in our sports history. Fortunately, Tornado began running promotions and putting their industry-standard-setting tables out in various locations throughout the country. Dynamo was doing the same, although their product/business lost ground to Tornado which was generating the following of touring players. The Dynamo line has changed over the years, the most recent of which includes a model that is similar to that of Tornado. Valley Recreation Products (which then owned Tornado) and Dynamo merged in 1998 putting the only 2 quality table brands under the same parent company - Valley-Dynamo, L.P. Tornado is their promotional table and we don't expect promotions to be supported on the Dynamo Line. The Tornado product defines the "hard court - power" American style of foosball. Their high quality components, specifically their hard man, hard ball, and hard flat surface, make for a consistent level roll, fast speed and good control. Lateral ball control beneath the rod is excellent, too.
Shelti came on the scene in 2001. The head of Shelti Inc. was the top guy at Valley Recreation Products when they purchased Tornado in 1996. Shelti management has had quite a few years of experience in quality table construction to say the least (e.g. work with Tornado table soccer, and engineering of the Valley pool table, not to mention promotional work with Valley National Eight Ball Assoc). They started with a clean slate and engineered a product featuring the best features of the top American style tables with some play characteristics of the older super popular European style as well (TS tables). Their cabinetry is of the highest quality, and they innovated some industry firsts in their designs, most impressive of which is their new black finished steel rod. They enlarged the foot, and improved man/ball/surface feel which greatly enhanced ball control capabilities (just like oversized tennis rackets and golf clubs helped novices taste the success of the pros). We see great promise in the new Shelti design in helping bring success in learning pro style foosball to the beginner.
The current base of professional foosers is growing steadily. With a new quality manufacturer getting into the market that features a "hybrid" beginner-friendly playing characteristic that balances the power of the American style with the control of the old European style, foosball just might be in for a very exciting future.
Happy Foosing.... firstname.lastname@example.org
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