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Hampden company creates set for ESPN College Football Playoff commercial

Hampden company creates set for ESPN College Football Playoff commercial
Hampden-based Custom Model Railroads created the set in this ESPN commercial, shown via screenshot. (Screenshot)

The ESPN commercial promoting the coming College Football Playoff games is quite memorable.

A sleek cityscape adorned with Jumbotrons shows highlights from the four teams that will play in the semifinals — Oklahoma, Clemson, Michigan State and Alabama — on New Year's Eve. Fittingly, Ella Fitzgerald's "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" plays throughout the 60-second commercial.

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It's probably even more memorable to Custom Model Railroads. The buildings in the commercial are actually models that come from the Hampden-based company.

Jeff Springer, owner of the company, said two months ago he sent 20 of his kits to the advertising agency Coyote Productions, which then built the set and created the commercial. Each kit takes about a day to assemble, according to Springer.

"They must have had an army of elves putting this together," the 50-year-old Baltimore resident said with a laugh.

"I thought our buildings looked great in the commercial," added Springer, whose company was formed in 1991. "It's kind of neat to see something you've built and developed on TV"

Springer, a graduate of Maryland Institute College of Art, estimates Coyote Productions purchased between $4,000 to $5,000 worth of supplies from his company to create the buildings for the set.

"They told me from the beginning that they were going for a Time Square theme," he said. "We do a lot of cool modeling. And we also sell a line of building kits."

Although railroad models and replicas account for about 80 percent of his company's business, Springer said he's provided building models to other projects that have been used for commercials in the past. Two years ago, a London-based agency used his models for a commercial for a Telecom company.

Since the ESPN commercial first aired in mid-December, Springer has posted the commercial to his company's Facebook page.

"A lot of my customers wrote in saying they saw the commercial and said it looked familiar," he said. "My clientele recognized it. The model railroad industry is a pretty small community."

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