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THE INSIDE TRACK | THE HOT CORNER

A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, played, heard, observed, worn, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here.

October 11, 2000|ALEX KIMBALL

What: Fanatics Talking Smashers

Price: $6.99-$7.99 in stores or at www.fanaticsonline.com

Opened my mail the other day and heard a familiar sound, but I couldn't quite place it:

"Touchdown, Chargers!"

It was a San Diego Charger Talking Smasher, a small stuffed football that plays sound bites on impact. In this case, the first sound was gibberish, but the next two hits yielded "Charger Power!" and the Charger fight song.

Each Smasher plays three sounds, usually "Touchdown, [team nickname]!", a second slogan or sound--barking dogs for the Cleveland Browns, "Just win, baby!" for the Oakland Raiders--and the team fight song. The sound quality is decent, but the same person does many of the calls, so "Touchdown, 49ers!" sounds just like "Touchdown, Rams!" It's too bad they couldn't use the radio announcers from the teams, but the licensing probably would have been too costly.

Check out the Web site--www.fanaticsonline.com--for previews of all the sounds and available teams.

Fanatics also makes college football Smashers for about a dozen Division I teams--no USC or UCLA--but they only have two sounds. The NHL Smashers come out in November, but versions for the Kings and Mighty Ducks aren't planned. Major league baseball Smashers are due in February.

There are Smashers available for 15 NFL teams, though the Green Bay Packer and Minnesota Viking editions are sold out, according to the Web site.

And sorry, Charger fans: The Chargers are not among the NFL teams available now. Guess you'll have to wait a while longer to hear "Touchdown, Chargers!" again.

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