THREE SHOWS - 1993
by Russ Jensen
Well, once again it's time for me to report on the three pinball and
coin-op shows which are put on annually in Southern California and Arizona.
They include the "Collector's Fun Fair", the "Arizona Pinball Show", and the
new "Coin-op Super Show" now in it's second year.
This year the three shows were held in very close time proximity to each
other; the first two being only one week apart, and the last one slightly
over 2 months after the first.
THE "COLLECTOR'S FUN FAIR"
This year the "Collector's Fun Fair" returned to the location where
(except for the very first year in 1979) it had been held for many years,
until about two years ago when they tried moving it around Southern
California. I, as well as many others I know, are glad the show has returned
to the Pasadena Exhibit Center in Pasadena California.
This year's Fun Fair was held on Saturday and Sunday, May 29 and 30,
1993. I went to the show on Saturday together with my good friend, pinball
and jukebox collector/enthusiast Ron Tyler. After a pleasant freeway drive
of about 60 miles, Ron and I arrived at the show site.
The overall size of the show (number of exhibitors) appeared to be a
little smaller than it used to be, but I believe this might have been due to
the fact that some of the exhibitors had dropped out in the past due to the
show changing locations. But I think this will possibly improve in the
future if the show will just stay put.
As far as older pingames at the Fun Fairs (or any other coin-op show for
that matter) are concerned, their numbers are shrinking. Not too many years
ago pingames from the 1930's were a fairly common sight at the Fun Fair -
this year there was only one!
There was also only one pin from the Forties (but it was a real
'classic'), but games from that decade have always been fairly rare at Fun
Fairs. This year there were no games from the Fifties (also a rare decade in
past years), only two from the Sixties, and four electro-mechanical pins from
the 1970's. In addition, there were fifteen solid-state pins at the show,
outnumbering their electro-mechanical cousins by almost 2 to 1.
As far as dealers were concerned, there were only three at the show that
had more than one pingame. Herb Silvers' Fabulous Fantasies booth had a good
selection of pins to choose from as always. These included three 1970's
electro-mechanicals as well as four solid-state models.
Another dealer, Mullikin Amusements, had one 1960's and one 1970's
electro-mechanical plus five solid-state machines. Bob Nelson's Gameroom
Warehouse from Wichita, Kansas, had the only 1940's pin at the show (but more
about that later) in addition to three solid-state games.
Other dealers having one pin each were Jim Tolbert and Judy McCrory's
For Amusement Only booth (which also sold a wide variety of pinball parts, as
well as books) who had one electro-mechanical pin from the 1960's, and Metal
Form Products who had the only 1930's pin at the show.
I will next describe four of the most interesting older pins at the
The earliest game was a 1932 vintage pin called SHUFFLE BALL, which was
not totally complete (if I remember correctly part of the plunger assembly
was missing), put out by an outfit called Western Manufacturing Company
according to Rob Hawkins and Don Mueting's new book Pinball Collector's
This was a somewhat typical "pin and ball game" of the period. It is
interesting to note that, in addition to the usual holes marked with point
scores, there were several holes marked with playing card suits. Without the
instructions for the game, however, it is hard to say how these specially
marked holes figured in the play of the game.
A real 'classic' pin at the show was the famous HUMPTY DUMPTY put out by
Gottlieb in December 1947. This game, of course, was famous as it was the
first pingame to use "flippers" (or "flipper bumpers" as they were called in
the original advertisement for the game).
Flippers were invented by Gottlieb's chief game designer of the time Mr.
Harry Mabs. A few years later Harry went over to Williams and continued his
fabulous pin designing career with that company.
HUMPTY DUMPTY, as did many of the Gottlieb games to follow, had a grand
total 6 flippers - two sets of three on each side, each set operated by one
coil. This resulted in weak flipper action; but if you were lucky it was
possible to return the ball to the top of the field by flipping from one
flipper to the one above it, etc.
The artwork on HUMPTY DUMPTY I am sure was done by the great Roy Parker
and was a true "work of art". The game at the show had a new reproduction
backglass (produced by Herb Silvers, by the way) but it really made the game
One of the two 1960's pins at the show was a very nice 1968 model -
Gottlieb's DOMINO. This was not the only pin to have that theme, buy the
way, as Williams put out another DOMINO back in 1952!
The backglass artwork is interesting as it shows a young couple sitting
in a field of large dominos. A domino set-up is also shown on the lower half
of the playfield. The DOMINO at the show appeared to be in very good
The other 1960's pin at the Fun Fair was also a 1968 Gottlieb. PAUL
BUNYAN was a nice example of the two player games of the period. From the
looks of the playfield PAUL BUNYAN appears to be an interesting game to play
with it's numerous pop-bumpers, targets, rollover channels and eject holes.
The following is a chronological list of the pingames at the 1993 Fun
PINGAMES AT THE 1993 FUN FAIR
NAME MFG YEAR PRICE
_______________________ _____________ ____ __________
SHUFFLE BALL Western Mfg. 1932 ?
HUMPTY DUMPTY Gottlieb 1947 1,500
DOMINO Gottlieb 1968 800
PAUL BUNYAN Gottlieb 1968 395
GRAND SLAM Gottlieb 1972 795
NIP-IT Bally 1972 1,350
HOKUS POKUS Bally 1975 895
SPACE ODYSSEY Williams 1976 650
SPACE INVADERS Bally 1979 1,995
BLACK HOLE Gottlieb 1981 695
CATACOMB Stern 1981 695
PHARAOH Williams 1981 595
COMET Williams 1985 600
CYBERNAUT Bally 1985 900
PINBOT Williams 1986 995, 1,095
MELTDOWN (HEAVY METAL) Bally 1987 995
SPACE STATION Williams 1988 1,395
FUN HOUSE Williams 1990 2,195
SILVER SLUGGER Gottlieb 1990 1,195
SIMPSONS (THE) Data East 1990 1,695, 1800
TIME WARP Williams 1990 425
GILLIGAN'S ISLAND Bally 1991 1,995
TWILIGHT ZONE Williams 1993 4,295
As far as the overall presence of items at the show (other than pins)
jukeboxes probably dominated. Slots seemed to be next, followed by vintage
advertising items. There were also several dealers selling phonograph
records, and my friend Sam Harvey, as usual, could be found much of the time
looking through old Rock and Roll 45's.
On the way home my friend Ron and I made a couple nostalgic (at least
for me - I'm a very nostalgic person) detours.
First, we visited an electronic surplus store, C & H Sales, (also in
Pasadena) which I frequented when I was a young teenager way back in the late
1940's. At that time they were mostly selling World War II surplus items.
When we walked into the store it looked to me almost exactly as I
remembered it looking four decades earlier. It even appeared that there were
possibly some items on the shelves left over from the war.
After that, we made a little bigger detour to my old neighborhood in
Glendale, California. We drove past the house where I lived during the war.
It still amazes me how that neighborhood has hardly changed in fifty years!
After all that nostalgia it was time to head for home.
THE ARIZONA PINBALL SHOW
The 1993 edition of the Arizona Pinball Show was held on Saturday and
Sunday, June 5th and 6th.
The format this year was a little different than in the past when the
show was primarily a Friday and Saturday affair, with Sunday set aside for
the exhibitors to pack up. Sunday was also a time for show attendees to
attend an open house held by local operator/collector Dann Frank and his
This year, with the show not officially closing until Sunday afternoon,
there was somewhat of a conflict between show activities and the Frank's
traditional open house. And for me, this schedule change was even more
inconvenient, as I shall explain.
Two years previous I had the good fortune to be offered a ride by a fine
young man, Pat Feinauer, along with my good friend and roommate Sam Harvey.
Last year Sam, Pat, and I traveled by air and got a good economical air fare.
This year, however, Pat was unable to attend, and Sam was offered a ride
with another friend who did not have any room for me - so I was on my own as
far as transportation to Phoenix was concerned.
Driving was out of the question as my car is not air-conditioned and
traveling across the desert in June was not advisable. When I checked the
air lines I found that the only reasonable fare I could get required I leave
Friday morning (the show did not officially start until Saturday, as I said)
and leave around noon on Sunday (before the show was over and before the
Frank's party even started). Any other flights would have required one-third
as much additional fare.
I also had the problem (and additional cost) of getting to and from both
airports. That problem was solved on my end by getting my daughter Cheri to
drive me to the airport Friday morning and pick me up on Sunday afternoon.
I was told, however, that the shuttle fare between the Phoenix airport and
the hotel was ten dollars each way!
Well anyway, on Friday morning I boarded the plane for the approximately
one hour flight to Phoenix. Seated next to me was a very nice middle-aged
couple from Sunnyvale California who were on their way to visit the Grand
The man, who told me he was born in Spain, loved to converse and when I
told him I was a pinball collector he told me that someone who lived down the
street from him was building an addition to his house to house his pinball
collection - but he didn't know the person's name.
He did tell me the name of the street he lived on which I wrote down on
a piece of paper. The street name, Kenniwick, sounded familiar but I just
couldn't remember who lived there. I later asked several people at the show
who were from Sunnyvale if they knew who lived on that street, but nobody
seemed to know.
Well, sometime after I returned home I found that street name in my
pocket and eventually realized that a fellow named Michael Sands (who I had
talked to on the phone and met last year in Arizona) lived on Kenniwick.
It's truly "a small pinball world!"
After arriving in Phoenix I found the airport shuttle service which
drove by the Safari Resort Hotel where the show was located. The bad news
was that the fare was ten dollars! When I arrived at the hotel it was about
noon and I was told that my room would not be ready for about two hours.
I then decided to go across the street to the large mall to eat lunch,
and finally went to a movie to pass the time. After the show I went back to
the hotel and checked into my room. My roommate Sam Harvey had not yet
arrived. I then went to the exhibit hall area to register for the show.
When I first tried to enter the exhibit area the lady at the
registration table told me that we were not allowed in until the next morning
as exhibitor "set up" was in progress. But, after taking pictures of the
classic pingames on display in the lobby, I managed to quietly slip into the
hall - and I don't believe I was the only show attendee to do so.
My roommate Sam arrived later that evening, and we again paid a brief
clandestine visit to the exhibit hall. Later in the evening we visited with
a nice couple from Montana, discussing pinball related items for a couple of
Saturday morning, after taking advantage of the hotel's free Continental
Breakfast, we went to the Coffee Shop for our real breakfast. Upon entering
the restaurant we ran into Steve Kordek, the Director of Game Design for
pingame manufacturer Williams/Bally/Midway and we ended up eating together.
We had some very nice discussions with Steve during the meal and sat
talking for about an hour. After that we went to the exhibit hall, this time
entering as welcomed visitors.
The exhibit hall, as it had been at past shows, consisted of two rooms -
a main room where most of the games for playing and display were set up, and
a second room containing some additional games, parts and supplies dealers,
and the tournament area for the pinball tournament connected with the show.
Tim Arnold also had an area in this second room for his 2nd annual
charity "rat raffle" with a place to buy tickets and a display of the prizes
to be given away, including a 1970's pinball machine. Unfortunately, due to
my odd-ball plane schedule I was unable to be present for the Sunday
afternoon drawings, but Tim assured me that if I won anything he would send
it to me. I didn't.
As far as the pingames on sale or for display (and playing, of course),
here is a brief run-down of the number of games representing each decade.
There were two pins from the 1930's, none from the 1940's, six from the
1950's, and nine from the Sixties.
There were also 15 electro-mechanical and 6 solid-state pins from the
1970's, 33 games from the 1980's, and 11 from the current decade.
There was only one "wood rail" pin offered for sale at the show (the
others being for display only). That was a "classic" pin, Gottlieb's 1953
game SHINDIG, which was not in very good condition (backglass, playfield, and
cabinet). My friend Sam Harvey finally decided to buy it because of it's
"play appeal" hoping to be able to restore it. It was a very hard decision
for Sam, but he finally bought it and took it to our room.
Now for a brief description of some of the more interesting pingames at
One of the two 1930's pins at the show was Daval's BLUE STREAK from
1934. This game was advertised as being entirely mechanical. It had two
mechanical ball diverting devices on the playfield referred to as "turrets"
in the original advertisement for the game. The "action" of the game was
described as follows:
"...each TURRET skill shot automatically zips right over the Next High
Score and gradually opens the gate for the BIG SCORE - "3 Cushion" skill
shot Lower TURRET. OUT BALLS RETURN to become FREE PLAYS for the
Those "turrets" worked in such a way that the first ball landing in one
goes into the lowest scoring pocket of the associated group. Each successive
ball landing in the same "turret" is diverted into the next higher scoring
hole. You must admit that for an entirely mechanical game this was quite an
intriguing play feature.
One of the cleanest early pins to be displayed this year was one of the
two games displayed in the lobby of the exhibit hall. I believe it was from
the collection of show host Bruce Carlton. It was Williams' 1953 pin TIMES
The artwork on the game, undoubtedly done by veteran pinball artist
George Molentin, depicted that famous area of Manhattan. It is interesting
to note that the "million" scoring panels were the upper windows of the large
building on the left-hand side of the backglass.
The playfield was replete with 6 bumpers (all appearing to be "pop
bumpers") as well as 5 "trap holes" which were used on some pins of the
period. Balls landing in one of these holes would score 500,000, but remain
there until the next game. Each hole also had an associated number (between
'1' and '5') which was apparently associated with the lighting of the four
"SPECIAL WHEN LIT" rollover lanes on the field.
TIMES SQUARE appeared to be in near perfect condition and I'm sure was
a very interesting pingame to play.
Another interesting game on display this year was Bally's 1970 pin SEE
SAW. What made this particularly interesting was the presence of a prototype
version (or "whitewood" as the pin designers call them) of the same game
sitting side by side.
The "whitewood" is the pin designer's playable "mock-up" of his design
on which he plays to test out the playability of his "brain child". It is
called a whitewood, of course, because there is no artwork on the playfield.
It was indeed interesting to see these two "versions" of SEE SAW side by
An interesting and quite rare solid-state pin on display at the show was
Stern's CUE from sometime in the early 1980's. This game was owned by ace
collector Tim Arnold (the "charity king").
CUE was supposed to be the last pingame designed by pinball legend the
great Harry Williams before his untimely death in 1983. This game, I'm sure,
had the most bumpers of any solid-state game - 15 "dead" bumpers representing
the 15 balls in a game of pool.
It also had a single "pop-bumper", labeled "CUE", to represent the cue
ball in a pool game. CUE was sure an unusual game for the period - but
Harry's designs were often out of the ordinary.
Another extremely rare (very low production) solid-state pin (also owned
by Tim Arnold) was Gottlieb's 1982 game GOIN' NUTS. This game boasted six
pop-bumpers, strategically placed on the playfield - quite a large number for
any digital pin.
The artwork on GOIN' NUTS was also quite unusual. It depicts a number
of comical looking squirrels holding acorns, fitting right into the 'theme'
of the game.
The following is a chronological listing of the pins appearing at the
show for sale/display - all available for the playing enjoyment of show
NAME MFG YEAR PRICE
----------------------------- ------------- ---- -----
BLUE STREAK Daval 1934 NFS
BEAM LIGHT Chicago Coin 1935 NFS
KNOCK OUT Bally 1950 NFS
BEACH CLUB (BINGO) Bally 1953 25
SHINDIG Gottlieb 1953 250
TIMES SQUARE Williams 1953 NFS
SWEET ADD-A-LINE Gottlieb 1955 NFS
KEY WEST (BINGO) Bally 1956
'57 BASEBALL (BASEBALL) Williams 1957 NFS
BIG INNING (BASEBALL) Bally 1958
WORLD FAIR Gottlieb 1964 350
DODGE CITY Gottlieb 1965 NFS
HI-DOLLY Gottlieb 1965
PARADISE Gottlieb 1965 NFS
BUCKAROO Gottlieb 1966 NFS
CENTRAL PARK Gottlieb 1966
PITCH & BAT (BASEBALL) Williams 1966 650
DIAMOND JACK (AAB) Gottlieb 1967 NFS
KING OF DIAMONDS Gottlieb 1967 NFS
AQUARIUS Gottlieb 1970 RAFFLED
SEE SAW Bally 1970 NFS
SEE SAW (WHITEWOOD) Bally 1970 NFS
STRAIGHT FLUSH Williams 1970 NFS
VAMPIRE Bally 1970 NFS
ROUND UP Bally 1971 NFS
UPPER DECK (BASEBALL) Williams 1973 750
BOW AND ARROW Bally 1974 295
FLIP FLOP Bally 1974 495
SKY RIDER Chicago Coin 1974 400
300 Gottlieb 1975 150
ABRA-CA-DABRA Gottlieb 1975
DYN-O-MITE Allied Leisure 1975
CAPTAIN FANTASTIC Bally 1976 700
SPACE ODYSSEY Williams 1976 395
STRIKES AND SPARES Bally 1977 650/OBO
DISCO FEVER Williams 1978 100
DISCO '79 Allied Leisure 1979
FLASH Williams 1979
SPACE INVADERS Bally 1979 525
TRI ZONE Williams 1979 300
BLACK KNIGHT Williams 1980
FLASH GORDON Bally 1980
GALAXY Stern 1980 325
CATACOMB Stern 1981
CENTAUR Bally 1981 695
MEDUSA Bally 1981 850
GOIN' NUTS Gottlieb 1982 NFS
ORBITER I Stern 1982 NFS
THUNDERBALL Williams 1982 2200
CENTAUR II Bally 1983
SPACE SHUTTLE Williams 1984 390
SPY HUNTER Bally 1984 425
TOUCHDOWN Gottlieb 1984 NFS
COMET Williams 1985 550
SORCERER Williams 1985 495
HIGH SPEED Williams 1986 550
HOLLYWOOD HEAT Gottlieb 1986 450
PINBOT Williams 1986 795
RAVEN Gottlieb 1986 500
ROAD KINGS Williams 1986 775
STRANGE SCIENCE Bally 1986 850
F-14 TOMCAT Williams 1987
FIRE! Williams 1987 795
HEAVY METAL MELTDOWN Bally 1987 495
LASER WAR Data East 1987 525
BAD GIRLS Gottlieb 1988 650
BANZAI RUN Williams 1988 1525
CYCLONE Williams 1988 795
BIG HOUSE Gottlieb 1989 695
BLACK KNIGHT 2000 Williams 1989 1375
HOT SHOTS Gottlieb 1989 750
JOKERZ! Williams 1989 895
CUE Stern 198? NFS
FUN HOUSE Williams 1990
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA Data East 1990 1350
BRIDE OF PINBOT Williams 1991
CUE BALL WIZARD Gottlieb 1992 NEW
DRACULA (BRIAN STOKER'S) Williams 1992 NEW
GETAWAY Williams 1992 NEW
WHITEWATER Williams 1992 NEW
JURASSIC PARK Data East 1993 NEW
ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE Data East 1993 NEW
STREET FIGHTER II Gottlieb 1993 NEW
TWILIGHT ZONE Bally 1993 TOURNEY
During my many hours of visiting the exhibit hall I roamed around
checking out all the games, playing a few (I'm just not much of a player
anymore) and visiting with old friends and new pin fans who I met for the
One such couple I met were from Tucson Arizona. Both the husband and
wife loved pins - in fact the lady may have even been more interested in pins
than her husband, she even seemed to be interested in doing game maintenance.
They told me that, among other games, they owned a Bally BEACH CLUB, a
1953 model 'bingo pinball'. When they said they needed a schematic and
manual for the game I tried to find one for them from the dealers at the
I first checked the box of schematics offered for sale by Jim Tolbert of
For Amusement Only with no avail. But, a little while later I found, in the
main room, the whole machine with a schematic and manual - the whole
"shooting match" for sale for only $25
I found the people; told them about what I had found; and we began to
search for the owner. After awhile he was located and they bought their
schematic and manual with a whole pinball machine to boot!
Jim Schelberg, publisher of the all pinball magazine PinGame Journal,
was one of the people having a booth in the exhibit hall. Jim was kind
enough to help me sell some of my "Pinball Troubleshooting Guide" books so I
could make a little extra money. Thanks Jim!
Saturday night was the annual banquet. After a nice dinner, show
producer Bruce Carlton got up and first thanked us for coming to the show.
He then thanked the people from pingame manufacturer Williams/Bally/Midway
for coming and providing their new pins for the show tournament.
Steve Kordek of Williams/Bally/Midway then came up and thanked Bruce for
putting on a fine show. He then introduced a young lady who was the
company's Western Area sales representative.
Following that, Steve praised all the company's personnel for doing such
good work and producing such great games. He then introduced
Williams/Bally/Midway's ace game designer Pat Lawlor who was to be the
banquet's featured speaker.
Pat began by thanking Bruce for inviting him to speak at the banquet,
adding that it wasn't easy to follow last year's speaker, fellow designer
He then told us that he had never been that far West before, and that it
was wonderful to get away from the Chicago weather for awhile. He said that
the sun finally came out when they reached Oklahoma.
Pat then told two funny stories about his trip. First he told about
entering a small town in Oklahoma which had a sign with a picture of a pretty
woman on it. The sign read "WELCOME TO HOOKER OKLAHOMA".
He then told of another sign advertising a cafe which read "Bob's
Restaurant - Famous For Warm Beer and Bad Service", Pat quipping "that's
really what you call 'truth in advertising'". He then added that that was
something like a pingame with a sign reading "bad shots and no fun - insert
Next Pat began telling us about himself, and how he got to where he is,
saying that his background was both sketchy and varied. He then said that he
wanted to remind us that pingames were basically entertainment devices which
"cut across several technical boundaries" - adding that pingame designers
must satisfy a world-wide audience
Pat said that at one time he was a video game designer but eventually
lost his job. For awhile after that he told us he did real-time computer
software design. He then told of meeting Larry DeMar, who he referred to as
"the unsung hero of pinball software". Pat remarked that a whole lot of what
you see in pingames today are Larry's inventions.
Pat then told about getting the original idea for his game BANZAI RUN.
He said he told Larry that he had a real crazy idea - wanting to put a
pingame in a backglass. To this he said Larry replied "when do we start?"
Pat said that they built a model of the game in his garage and when they
showed it to the people at Williams they really liked it and decided to build
it. Pat then named all of his other designs: EARTH SHAKER, WHIRLWIND, FUN
HOUSE, and ADDAMS FAMILY - adding that there will be "more to come".
Pat next told us that he first got involved in the coin-op industry
back in 1980, working for a small Chicago outfit which did work for Bally.
He then said that sometimes people ask him "did you go to school to learn
pinball design - or what?" He said he would reply "or what".
Pat then remarked that "nothing can teach you this", adding that modern
games incorporate a wide variety of disciplines.
Going back to his past, Pat said that at one time or another he has
worked in sales, did mechanical repairs, managed people, did real-time
software design, tended bar, and designed both video and pinball games. He
told us that learning about many different things helps you when you want to
Pat then said that he wanted to talk about how pingames had changed over
the years - and particularly during the past five years. He then started
describing what he called "an abbreviated history of pingames".
He began by quipping "pinball starts - and Steve Kordek is there". This
drew a round of applause. He said the early games did not have flippers -
the ball only bouncing around - and came from the Nineteenth Century game of
Pat then said that the first pingames seemed "revolutionary" to the
public. Shortly after the introduction of pins, he went on, the designers
decided they had to come up with "new challenges" - an example of which, he
said, was the introduction of lights.
He then remarked that when a person comes up to a new pingame he should
be made to say to himself "what will it do?" Pat said that throughout the
history of the game "building blocks" were created by designers to improve
During the 1950's and 1960's, Pat went on, there was an influx of
mechanical devices on pingames - including animation in backglasses. This,
he said, gave the people "new things to look at".
Going back to his past once again, Pat told us that he was born less
than four blocks from the Williams plant, but moved away, never knowing at
that time that Williams even existed. When he was young, he went on, he
liked pingames because he always looked at a new game and wondered "what does
Getting back to history, Pat remarked that in the 1970's pins began to
change from emphasis on a lot of mechanical parts to more emphasis on ball
kinetics - ie. "how does it roll?" He told us that fellow designer Steve
Ritchie was "the master of kinetics".
Then, Pat said, in the latter part of the Seventies, the micro-processor
came into pingames. This, he said, allowed pins to have "complicated rules".
Electro-mechanical games, Pat went on, could only employ relatively simple
logic, space and power considerations severely limiting their logic. Pat
then added that he has a high regard for those games.
Micro-processors, Pat told us, could run at millions of cycles per
second, and the memory they employ allowed for almost unlimited game rules.
After awhile, he remarked, "rules took over for awhile". He said that this
might have resulted in a potential player thinking to himself "I don't see
what it does - and i don't want to know."
By 1980, Pat told us, pingames had become extremely convoluted. He said
that dedicated pinball players love the game "because it's pinball". This,
however, he said is not so with the average player.
Pat then told of video games almost killing pinball. He told of a court
case where Bally tried to keep all other pingame manufacturers from using
micro-processors. If they had won, he remarked, Williams and other pin
manufacturers might not be in business today - adding that modern pinball
history hinged on the outcome of that court case.
On the subject of "why video was king?" Pat told us there were several
main reasons. First, he said, the game was "revolutionary" - you could
actually "play your TV!" He then said that video games could "grab hold of
This was, he continued, primarily due to the fact that video games could
"tell a story". Pat said that they had "a limited story line" that the
players could relate to. Pins, on the other hand, were missing that
Pat told us that during the period between 1981 and 1983 the video game
manufacturers could not produce machines fast enough; players could not
deposit coins fast enough; and the operators couldn't empty the coin boxes
He then told of Bally once setting an industry record by producing 1200
Ms PAC MAN video games in one day!, the plant running 24 hours a day at that
time. Pingames, at that time, Pat said were essentially "in a vacuum"
created by the inrush of video games.
Then, Pat continued, came SPACE SHUTTLE which he said was "a throwback
to the past" and again inspired the question "what does it do?"
After that, he said, came Steve Ritchie's HIGH SPEED which Pat told us
had a "story line" everyone could understand. Next came PINBOT which he said
had "lots of mechanical things on the playfield" and was very popular in
After again mentioning his own first game, BANZAI RUN, which he said got
him a permanent job with the company, Pat started talking about his next
design, EARTH SHAKER. He said that when he first told of his idea of making
a game with an earthquake theme management seemed a bit nervous. Pat then
told us that he has said a hundred times "our great strength at Williams is
that management leaves us alone".
He continued, saying that once you tell management your idea for a new
game they'll usually let you alone - adding "they always give you just enough
rope to hang yourself".
Pat ended that subject by remarking that he has great respect for
Williams' management, adding that at most other companies management holds
meetings and assigns tasks when they want to produce a new game.
Getting back to EARTH SHAKER, Pat told of it's first test in an arcade.
He said it was on the 2nd floor of a two story building and when the game was
first started the whole floor shook. When this happened, Pat told us, all
the kids started running for the game so they could put money into it. He
then said that EARTH SHAKER was "fun to do".
When he came up with the idea for his next game, WHIRLWIND, Pat said the
company's lawyers were afraid that someone might get something in their eye
from the fan on top of the game.
Pat then said that his next game, FUN HOUSE, took "one more step" toward
allowing the player to interact with the machine. He told of Larry DeMar's
first seeing the model for the dummy's head (called "Rudy") used on the game
and commenting that it seemed "too big".
Pat then quipped that with FUN HOUSE, if a bar patron was to ask "what
do you do with it?", the answer should be "hit him!" - referring to "Rudy".
He then told us that the game was a great success and had a large production
At that point Pat said that he would like us to think about something.
He said that everything he had been describing is "evolutionary" - built on
something that had come before. Pat then remarked that pingames can no
longer be revolutionary, only evolutionary. The only risk in designing
something evolutionary, he went on, is the risk that people might not think
Pat next talked about the difference in play characteristics between
wide-body games and smaller size playfields - adding that Williams is "on a
roll" with the current playfield size they were using.
At that point Pat started discussing the economic side of game
production. He said that in addition to the approximately 6 people who are
part of the game design team, there is also a support staff of about 50 more
involved with the assembly line, etc.
He then said that there were large tooling costs involved in the
production of the molded plastic parts used on the playfield. After telling
us that Williams has about 1600 employees, Pat told us that a conservative
estimate of the overall cost of getting a new game into production (design
through getting onto the assembly line) is approximately ONE MILLION DOLLARS!
Pat said that because of that the designers have to be careful what they
do - and have to be somewhat conservative. He then remarked that every
designer is charged with the partial welfare of the 1600 employees, because
if he makes a mistake in judgement (a bad design) it could result in people
being laid off.
At that Point Pat presented a short slide show showing various stages of
the production of a game - from initial drilling of the playfield at the
start of the assembly line to the finished games sitting on the shipping
After the slide show Pat asked for questions from the audience. When
asked why "Rudy" (the dummy's head on the playfield of his hit game FUN
HOUSE) has an obnoxious voice, Pat answered that he usually uses pleasant
voices on his games but he wanted Rudy to sound like a real ventriloquist's
dummy. He then quipped that he wanted Rudy to be "the kind of guy you
wouldn't want your sister to go out with".
Pat was next asked how much lighter the "power ball" (a special ball
used in one of his latest games) was than the standard ball? Pat replied
that it was only slightly lighter. He then said they instituted a world-wide
search for that ball and that it was machined from a special ceramic material
like is used on valves in the NASA Space Shuttle.
A "Twilight Zone" enthusiast from the audience asked Pat why a gum-ball
machine was used on the game TWILIGHT ZONE when he knew of no episode on the
TV show which used one? Pat replied that he took some "creative license",
adding that many show episodes dealt with "everyday objects" such as the gum
When asked if the dummy Rudy every scared people, Pat told of a lady at
the plant who, after hearing him over and over during game testing, said it
sounded "nightmarish". Pat then told of the impersonator they used to do
many of their game voices. He also mentioned the fact that the "game rules"
for many new pingames are "posted" on computer bulletin boards.
Pat was next asked if new pinball ideas ever get canceled? He replied
"yes", saying that sometimes the designer himself cancels it if he determines
that his idea was just not as good as he thought - or in rare cases when
company management gets "nervous" about a design. Pat then added that in any
case canceling of a design in progress is never done "lightly".
Pat's talk ended with him answering a few more questions regarding how
things are done at Williams/Bally/Midway. During these discussions Pat again
emphasized that the company's management was always cooperative when it came
to new game designs.
After Pat's talk Bruce got back up for a few minutes for some final
remarks. He encouraged show visitors to participate in Tim Arnold's charity
raffle. Finally, Bruce reminded everyone to fill out the "ballots" they were
given when they registered for the show to vote for the "best game" and "best
game restoration" at the show.
When the banquet was over the exhibit hall was reopened for awhile and
we all roamed around some more visiting with other pin people and playing
Sunday morning when the exhibit hall opened again I went back for one
last visit before having to leave for the airport for my early flight home.
I was also very disappointed that this same flight problem caused me to miss
the annual open-house at the Dan Frank's, a highlight for me at the past two
Reluctantly I finally left the show, after saying farewell to all my
good friends, and boarded the shuttle bus for the airport. This time it only
cost me $7.50 (vice $10) because another hotel guest shared the ride with me.
My return trip to Burbank airport was quit uneventful. After landing my
daughter picked me up in my car and we drove home. All in all, I enjoyed the
show very much even though it was somewhat cut short for me due to the
transportation problems I mentioned earlier.
THE "COIN-OP SUPER SHOW"
The final show I'm going to report on is the second edition of the
"Coin-op Super Show" put on by COIN SLOT ex-publisher Roseanna Harris. This
year the show was held in the Pasadena Exhibit Center (the same location as
the Fun Fair which I previously described) which, as I said earlier, is in my
opinion a very good location for such events.
This year the Super Show was held on Saturday and Sunday, July 31 and
August 1. The evening before the show I all of a sudden got the idea of
contacting an old friend of mine who I hadn't seen in over 10 years and see
if he would like to accompany me to the show. My friend, Nat Ross, was not
a coin machine enthusiast, but was a record collector and old movie buff and
shared my interest in things from "the good old days".
Saturday morning, before leaving home to drive to Pasadena, I tried
calling Nat who lived in Los Angeles but he did not answer. But, after
driving part way to Pasadena, I tried again and this time go a hold of him.
Nat told me he was in the process of moving but would be glad to spend a few
hours with me at the show.
I picked him up at his place and we headed for Pasadena, Nat even
showing me a "short cut" to get there from where he lived. Along the way we
had a good time getting re-acquainted with each other and reminiscing about
When we finally arrived at the show site we parked in the convenient
parking garage and went to the show area. The exhibitors' booths took up
most of one large room, and the number of exhibitors seemed to be
approximately the same as were at the Fun Fair earlier in the year. There
were quite a few more exhibits than were at the first Super Show the previous
year in Pomona.
As we started walking down the aisles viewing the many items offered for
sale we also continued our reminiscing. We also ran into many of my "pin
friends" who I introduced to my old buddy. Nat did end up buying an old 78
RPM phonograph record, which, as I said earlier, was one of his passions.
As far as pingames were concerned, there were only two dealers at the
show with more than one or two pins. Herb Silvers had his usual booth which
this time featured two electro-mechanical pingames and five solid-state
machines. Another outfit, "Home Jukebox" of Lawndale California (a Los
Angeles suburb) had four electro-mechanical pingames for sale.
As far as the decades were concerned, there was one pin from the 1930's,
none from the 1940's or 1950's, and only three from the 1960's. There were
also four electro-mechanicals from the 1970's and eight solid-state games.
The only 1930's pingame at the show was Gottlieb's early entry into the
pingame field, BAFFLE BALL, which came out at the end of 1931. In all the
years I have attended coin machine shows I have very seldom seen any BAFFLE
BALL games being offered for sale.
This little game was quite well built with nice castings being used for
the 'scoring pockets'. The "pins" on this "pin and ball game" were quite
tall and added to the attractiveness of the game. In addition to the four
large scoring pockets on the field, small compartments at the bottom of the
field provided additional scoring opportunities.
A very interesting 1960's pin at the show was Gottlieb's 1966 classic
HYDE PARK. This was one of the games that Gottlieb produced especially for
export to Italy. This is the first time I believe that one of these "Italian
versions" has appeared at a coin machine show.
Another interesting and beautiful pingame at the show was Williams'
'classic' SPANISH EYES. The backglass art on this game is quite unusual and
the artist who did it still seems to be unknown.
The playfield featured four pop bumpers - three near the top (a fairly
usual arrangement) but with a fourth between the flippers which could send
the ball up to the kickout hole just above the center of the field. All in
all a very interesting little pin.
The following is a chronological listing of all the pingames appearing
at the Super Show.
NAME MFG YEAR PRICE
------------------------- -------- ---------- ----------
BAFFLE BALL Gottlieb 1932 875
THREE COINS Williams 1962 500
CROSS TOWN Gottlieb 1966 950
HYDE PARK (ITALIAN) Gottlieb 1966 400
OLYMPIC HOCKEY Williams 1972 400
SPANISH EYES Williams 1972 700
WIZARD Bally 1974 825
OLD CHICAGO Bally 1975 675
SILVER BALL MANIA Bally 1978 550
CHARLIE'S ANGELS Gottlieb 1979 500
NINE BALL Stern 1980 850
LADY LUCK Bally 1986 995
TAXI Williams 1988 1350
TIME MACHINE Data East 1988 1695
JOKERZ! Williams 1989 1575
SILVER SLUGGER Gottlieb 1990 1195
Ever since we entered the show area I tried to locate show producer
Roseanna Harris to say "hello". Finally I was able to locate her and I
introduced her to my friend and congratulated her on the quality of the show
and the turnout of both exhibitors and visitors.
Roseanna asked me if I had heard of the upcoming change in the
California antique slot machine ownership law. I told her I had not. She
then proceeded to tell me that effective January 1, 1994, it would be legal
in California to collect slots which were 25 years old or older - as opposed
to the current pre 1954 law. I told her I was glad that our state finally
had come around to a reasonable law!
Before leaving the show I stopped by the booth of one of the local slot
machine dealers and picked up a flyer which stated the new law. My friend
and I then left the show and returned to my car for the drive home. All in
all I felt that the show was very good with a nice variety of items for sale.
My friend Nat also seemed to enjoy the show, even though coin machines
were not "right up his alley". His love of the "good old days" like mine
made the items at the show interesting to him as well however.
On the way back to Nat's house we took a detour to his favorite meat
market in South-Central L.A. so he could buy some good German sliced ham.
After arriving back at this place we spend a little more time reminiscing
about old times and old friends. Finally, I took my leave and started the
drive of about 50 miles back home.
Well, there you have it, the 1993 edition of my article on three of the
coin machine shows in the West. Next time, for the 9th year in a row, I will
report on the events at the greatest of all pinball shows - Pinball Expo