The Joy of Mini Football Helmets

Many of us Gen-Xers will recall gumball-machine football helmets. For a quarter you could buy a small, plastic shell with a helmet. You didn’t know what team you would get. And you had to assemble the helmet on your own. The team logo was a sticker. A few times I placed the sticker upside-down, which was such a bummer. Due to the adhesiveness of the glue, the mistake was irreverable. The Browns sticker was plain orange, slightly off-hue and unnecessary. The goal post display set was the highlight of my collection (see photo above).

I distinctly recall ordering my own mini helmets. Here was the process:

  1. Fill out an order form, usually from a comic book or magazine.
  2. Find an envelope and stamp.
  3. Put the form and actual cash in the envelope. Many of these forms had spaces where you could scotch tape the change!
  4. Mail the form and wait 6-8 waits for your package.

I was little when I did this whole process on my own, and at no point was an adult involved. Millions of kids did this all time in the 70’s and 80’s.

As an adult, I purchased a set of more realistic mini-helmets called Pocket Pros. I don’t really collect anything, but my son and myself are starting with these. Riddell has periodically manufactured Pocket Pros over the last 20 years.

This site showcases my Pocket Pro helmet collection. For the completists, it also includes helmets not in my collection.


3 thoughts on “The Joy of Mini Football Helmets

  1. Hi Ryan, Amazing site. Where did you gather this information from? Was this from personal experience and knowledge? Or did you have any resources? Thanks!!


    1. Evan — I am so sorry for the late reply. I missed your comment! So my research is based on two areas: 1) the helmet style, logo and design and 2) Riddell manufacturing history. The helmet style and logo histories are primarily based on the Gridiron Uniform Database. They have systematic research processes and document their sources. The process for pocket pros isn’t as systematic. It’s based on the internet, frankly. I have had a lot of help from collectors. I just don’t pull random things off the internet, though. Most of the helmets have to be independently purchased by me and there has to be evidence of the item in original packaging. Of course, that criteria does not apply to the custom pocket pros. I hoped this helped and sorry for the late reply. Ryan


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