by Russ Jensen


     For the past year or two around this time I have been reporting on two

or three pinball shows I had attended during the past year.  These usually

consisted of Roseanna Harris' COIN-OP SUPER SHOW and one of two shows held in

the Phoenix Arizona area.


     This year, however, I was unable to attend the Wild West Pinball Fest in

Arizona due to illness (but I heard from friends who attended that it was as

good as the first show last year).  I was also not able to attend the Spring

edition of the SUPER SHOW because it coincided with my vacation; but I hope

to attend the Fall show later in the year.


     I was, however, able to attend two interesting "pinball events" which I

will report on instead.  The first was an "open house" party at the home of

Las Vegas Nevada pinball collector Tim Arnold who most likely has the largest

pinball collection in the world! 


     The other event was the annual "Pinathon" held each Spring in the

Sacramento, California area - the first time I have been able to attend that

special event.


     So my article this time will cover those two highly interesting "pin





     One Monday evening in late February I called my good friend Sam Harvey

to talk pinball for a few minutes.  During the conversation Sam told me that

he was going to Las Vegas that Friday to attend a pinball "open house" party

put on by pinball collector Tim Arnold who had moved to Las Vegas a couple of

years previous.


     Tim's collection consisted of around 900 pingames (plus other assorted

coin-ops) and is probably the largest pinball collection in the world!

Having never seen Tim's collection (I had only read about it and talked to

people who had) I thought that it would be nice if I could also attend.


     I had one problem, however; due to vision problems I am currently unable

to drive.  Even though Sam kindly offered  to take me with him I still would

have had to get to and from his place which is some 70 miles from where I



     I figured the only way I could swing it was to get my wife to drive me

to Vegas.  The only problem with that was that she had not been feeling too

well at the time.  But, when I mentioned the idea to her the next morning she

agreed to try it.


     I wasn't too surprised at that, however, as her big passion in life is

gambling.  The next evening she told another gambler friend where we were

going and she offered to drive us in her van.  This was fine with us as it

relieved my wife of the driving chore so we quickly accepted the offer.


     We made plans to leave early Friday morning February 24, as the party

was that evening.  Also at that time we had a friend from New York state

staying with us who comes out each Winter for a few months to stay with us

and play bingo.  She also had no problem with going to Las Vegas to gamble.

     Friday morning about 4:30 AM our friend picked the three of us up and we

began to drive to Vegas.  On the way we were entertained by audio cassettes

I brought along of a "History of Rock and Roll" series of radio shows

produced in the late 1970's.


     When we reached the Nevada state line we stopped for breakfast (and a

little pre-Vegas slot playing) at Whiskey Pete's.  This is a much built-up

version of a famous old cafe/gas station started by a colorful character in

prohibition times.  Today it is a large hotel/casino complex.  After that we

finished our drive to Las Vegas and checked into a downtown motel.


     After we got settled in our room, my wife and her two friends went off

to the neighboring casino to gamble for the day and I called my friend Sam

who had arrived earlier at Tim Arnold's.  Sam told me he would come and pick

me up at the motel shortly.


     In about half an hour Sam picked me up and we started back to Tim's.  On

the way, however, we made a brief stop at Bally's Hotel/Casino where another

friend of Sam's wanted to stay at the "Sports Book" while we attended Tim's



     After arriving at Tim's place we went back to the special building on

the back of the property where his collection was housed.  Before entering I

looked at Tim's "bowling ball pyramid" just outside the door.  Tim has a

project of buying old bowling balls at garage sales and stacking them in this

area - an idea I am sure no one else ever thought of.


     Tim's "pinball building" was a tennis court when he first bought the

property several years ago.  He later had a building built over it and also

added an "extension" to the original tennis court area.  This resulted in a

large L-shaped building with an area of approximately 9600 square feet to

house his collection.


     Shortly after Sam and I arrived so did some pizza which Tim had ordered

for us "advance visitors".  After partaking of this snack, Sam took me on a

brief tour of Tim's storage area where most of his collection was setting on

the floor - row after row of cabinets and backboxes (all without

backglasses).  Only the fully restored games were set up for viewing and



     Before continuing with my description of Tim's "open house" a few words

are in order regarding his "history".


     Years ago in 1969 Tim became a coin machine operator.  He began with a

bubble gum route, buying his first pingame in 1972.  By 1976 he had his own

arcade in a college town in Michigan.  When video games started becoming so

popular he started operating them also, thus making lots of money.


     Using some of this money Tim began amassing his pingame collection, even

buying several whole pinball collections.  Then a few years ago he decided to

pull up stakes and move to Las Vegas.  This was quite an undertaking since

his collection at that time numbered approximately 500 machines.


     The moving of his collection required some real logistics.  Tim decided

that in order to protect his many mostly irreplaceable backglasses that each

glass should be removed from it's backbox and individually packaged for



     The cabinets, backboxes, and packaged backglasses were then all moved

from Michigan to Las Vegas in trucks.  A vast undertaking indeed!  There were

also 180 crates of parts.


     Now back to the evening's happenings.  The event was a combination of an

"open house" party and a charity pinball tournament.  There was one long

aisle with operating pingames on each side.  A second aisle contained various

arcade games.  There were also two quarter slot machines and one antique slot

near the front entrance.


     Most of the games were operated on replays, but some (mostly "bingo"

pins and the slot machines) required coins - a supply of which was provided

when needed.  Tim and a few helpers (my friend Sam Harvey included) had keys

to the games and kept the replays available to the players as well as

supplying coins for those machines requiring them.


     Most people started arriving between 6 and 7 PM, and by 8 PM the place

was fairly crowded.  There were several families in attendance with younger

kids.  The kids really enjoy playing the pinballs and arcade games.  A few of

them also played the slot machines (with "house money", of course) something

that they could not do anywhere else in the state - a preview of "things to



     At one point in the evening I talked to our host Tim regarding some of

his future plans.  He told me he eventually wanted to start a special pinball

arcade in Las Vegas containing both new and "classic" older pins.  He then

began describing some of the "special nights" he thought about having at his



     One of these was a "tournament night" when he would hold a small

tournament at the arcade, similar I suspect to the one he was holding that

evening.  Another, Tim said, would be a "hot dog night" where each customer

would receive a free hot dog.  He also mentioned what he called a "free play

night" where each customer would get a certain number of free plays on games

of his/her choice.


     At one point in the evening Sam Harvey gave another "guided tour" of

"the back 40" of Tim's collection (the games not yet shopped and set up) to

a visitor from Ohio, pingame collector/enthusiast Richard Lawnhurst.  I

tagged along and got another look at Tim's vast collection.


     One of the walls at the back of the building's extension had most of the

older Gottlieb games (Tim currently owns all but one or two of the Gottlieb

flipper games made) lined up against it.  The bodies of the games were

sitting on end on the floor with the backglassless heads sitting atop each



     Those games were arranged more or less in chronological order I believe.

It was amazing to me how many of these games were recognized by Sam and/or



     While the three of us were touring we could hear that the tournament was

taking place.  We neither participated or viewed it as we continued our tour.

From the sound of things, however, it appeared that the tournament

participants were enjoying themselves.  There were small cash prizes to the

winners, the remainder of the money collected for entry fees going to "the

charity of the evening" - a theme of many of Tim's endeavors.


     After we finished our tour I spent the remainder of the evening roaming

around visiting with various other quests and playing a game or two

(including the slots).  I did not make a list of the games which were set up

for playing, however the following is a list of those which I photographed

(games of which I did not have a photo in my extensive pinball photo

collection) - a representative sample of the rare pins there.




GAME                          MANUFACTURER        YEAR


MAD CAP                        Stoner             1938

CINDERELLA                     Gottlieb           1948

YANKS                          Williams           1948

OLYMPICS                       Williams           1952

CROSSWORDS                     Bally              1955

TOREADOR                       Gottlieb           1956

ACE HIGH                       Gottlieb           1957

BOBO                           Williams           1961

HEAT WAVE                      Williams           1964

SHIP-MATES                     Gottlieb           1964

DIXIELAND                      Bally              1967

GUN SMOKE                      Chicago Coin       1968

YUKON                          Williams           1971

MISS AMERICA DELUXE (BINGO)    Bally              1977

VEGAS                          Gottlieb           1990


     Sometime between 11 PM and Midnight people slowly started leaving for

home.  This ended an evening which appeared to be enjoyed by all.  Sam and I

also left before midnight, also enjoying our visit to "the world's largest

pinball collection".


     On the way back to my motel we again stopped at Bally's to pick up Sam's

friend who was still in the Sports Book.  Before continuing, however, we

stopped in a basement McDonald's in a nearby casino for a late night snack.

They then dropped me off a my motel.


     The next day, Saturday, I spent gambling with the ladies.  I was lucky

to find a good nickel slot (the only gambling games I play) on which I was

able to play for many hours on a small investment.  Shortly after midnight we

left the nearby casino and returned to the motel for the night.


     Also on Saturday we contacted some old friends who lived just outside of

town.  They came to the casino to play for awhile and invited us to visit the

next morning on our way out of town.


     Sunday morning after checking out of our motel we headed out of town

toward the community of Henderson in which our friends lived.  After visiting

for awhile in their home they took us to their favorite local

casino/restaurant for lunch and a little more gambling.  They played their

favorite video poker machines while we again stuck to the slots.


     After returning to their house we got in our van to begin the trip home.

After around six or seven hours of driving (including a stop for dinner) we

arrived back in our home town.


     All in all we had a very enjoyable trip and I am glad that I finally got

to view "the world's largest pinball collection".



     Eight years ago a father and son who both collected pinballs and lived

in the Sacramento, California area - Walt and Jerry Schlinker - decided to

have a weekend "pinball party".  They invited pinball players and collectors

they knew in the Northern California area to their home for a day of pinball



     Their endeavor proved to be a lot of fun so they tried it again the

following year; this time there was a larger attendance.  Well, in another

year or so their "annual event" grew too large for their homes so they

decided to rent a small hall.  I don't know the exact story of this since I

have not attended any past "Pinathons" (as they decided to call their

events), but that's about how the story goes, I believe.


     In addition to Pinathon attendees playing pinball for fun, and visiting

with each other, the Schlinkers even had a pinball tournament with prizes

connected with the event.  By this year the event had grown quite a bit and

featured two tournaments - one played on electro-mechanical games (like their

first tournaments) and one for solid-state pin players.


     So much for history; now to my attendance of my first Pinathon.  By the

way, I want to make it clear that I have always wanted to attend this event

ever since it first started (and have always been invited), but it usually

was about a month after I took my annual vacation in the same general area

(actually Reno, Nevada) and just couldn't make another trip so soon.


     This year, as I said earlier, I was unable to attend the Wild West

Pinball Fest in Arizona, so I decided that I definitely wanted to finally

attend Pinathon.  But, as I also said earlier, I could not drive there.  So

I decided to ask my good friend and "pinball buddy" Ron Tyler (who had not

yet been able to attend any such event) if he would like to go and, of

course, drive.  He agreed and we made plans to go.


     Since the show was officially scheduled to start (for exhibit set-up,

etc.) at noon on Friday we decided to leave at around 6 AM that morning.

During our trip up Interstate '5' we stopped at all it's rest stops for brief

periods and once for lunch.  We arrived at our motel at around 2 PM but our

room was not ready for occupancy.  We decided to drive the 15 or so miles to

the Fairgrounds where the show was held and get our motel keys that evening

when we returned. 


     When we arrived at the show site and checked in, the set-up of many of

the exhibitors (and games for display and playing) was in progress.  We

shortly ran into my old friend Sam Harvey and began chatting with him.  We

then began checking out the games that were set up and what the dealers who

were already there had for sale.


     I also began taking photos of the pingames I did not already have in my

large photo collection (numbering over 800 games at that time).  Before the

show finally ended I had photographed a little over 20 pins that I did not

have photos of.  It was amazing to me that there were so many I did not have.


     While roaming the hall I met several interesting people I had never met

before, plus many old "pin friends".  At one point I overheard one young lady

telling someone how she liked the artwork of pinball artist from the 1960's

Jerry Kelley who used a modernistic art style.  I told her that I knew Mr.

Kelley (from my pinball Expo visits) and gave her his address in Chicago in

case she would like to communicate with him.

     Another person I met was a young man who liked the "bingo" gambling type

pingames.  I spent quite some time talking with him as those machines are

also interesting to me.  When he told me he was looking for bingo pingames of

1970's vintage I told him I would send him a list of some "bingo people" I

knew about who might be able to help him in his quest.


     Around 5 PM we were getting hungry and went outside to an area where

they had a small barbecue dinner to purchase.  We sat at a picnic table under

a tree to eat.  While we were eating my good friend Richard Conger from

Sebastopol California joined us.  Richard has one of the largest pingame

collections in the country, numbering somewhere over 500 machines at this

time, I believe.


     After dinner we spent a few more hours roaming the exhibit area, seeing

the new games which were being brought out, and visiting with more great

"pinball people".  My friend Ron purchased a couple new coin-op books which

were for sale there.  A little later we left the hall and drove back to our

motel for the night.


     Saturday morning after we got up Ron and I went for a brisk walk around

the nice residential neighborhood adjacent to the motel.  We then walked to

the restaurant across the street for breakfast.  After that we got in the car

and drove back to the Fairgrounds.


     We again entered the hall where the show was held.  There were a lot

more people there than the previous evening.  But, I also eventually

discovered that a few of the people I met the previous afternoon were no

longer attending, apparently having commitments elsewhere that day.


     I continued my roaming and visiting but also went on photographing the

games that had been added since we left the previous night which I did not

have photos of.  There were quite a few new pingames set up since the

previous evening.


     Around noon we discovered that there was a nice spaghetti lunch

available in an area between the main part of the hall and the other section

reserved for tournament players.  I decided to partake and the homemade dish

was pretty good.  The Pinathon promoters did a pretty good job of providing

food for Pinathon visitors!


     As far as the tournament was concerned, there were actually two going

on.  One was played on electro-mechanical games for those who preferred the

older games, with a separate tournament on solid-state pins for those more

familiar with the more modern machines.


     I am not really a player and did not participate in either one, but for

those who did (a large percentage of the people attending) it was one of the

highlights of the event - especially because the winners of each tournament

would receive a pingame.


     Now to the games!  There were just over 100 pingames on display in the

hall according to my count.  There were a surprising number of 1940's vintage

pins at this show - very different from many of the other shows I have

attended in the past several years.


     There was also a very interesting German pingame (or "bomber", as

pingames are called in Germany).  It was called GLOCKENBOMBER and made by a

company called Tura.


     GLOCKENBOMBER had 16 "spring bumpers" on it's playfield and a short

backboard containing a "score totalizer" very reminiscent of the "score

reels" used on many pins over a decade later.  This game was to me

reminiscent of the first bumper game - Bally's BUMPER from December 1936. 


     A count of the pingames from the various decades showed 7 pins from the

1930's (mostly for display only - not for sale, that is); 9 from the 1940's

(most for sale by one dealer); and only 5 from the 1950's.


     There were 19 games from the 1960's.  From the 1970's there were 32

electro-mechanicals plus 12 solid-state models.  Rounding out the solid-state

pins, there were 14 from the 1980's, and 10 from the current decade.


     The following is a chronological listing of the pingames at the show:






GAME                               MANUFACTURER   YEAR      PRICE

WORLD SERIES                       Rockola        1933      NFS

CONTACT JR.                        Pamco          1934     

DROP KICK                          Exhibit        1934      NFS

BUILDER UPPER                      G.M. Labs      1935      NFS

CHICAGO EXPRESS                    Daval          1935      NFS

GLOCKENBOMBER  (German)            Tura           1938      325

JUMPER                             Exhibit        1939

SKYLINE                            Chicago Coin   1940      150

FIVE AND TEN                       Gottlieb       1941      150

MIAMI BEACH                        Gottlieb       1941      375

SURF QUEENS                        Bally          1946      175

HONEY                              Genco          1947      150

SILVER STREAK                      Bally          1947      175

TORCHY                             Williams       1947      225

TORNADO                            Williams       1947      450

COLLEGE DAZE                       Gottlieb       1949      600/TRADE

BE-BOP                             Exhibit        1950      1400

CIRCUS  (BINGO)                    United         1952      NFS

QUARTETTE                          Gottlieb       1952      OFFER/TRADE

AUTO RACE                          Gottlieb       1956      NFS

BALLS-A-POPPIN'                    Bally          1956      NFS

KING PIN                           Williams       1962      NFS

RACK-A-BALL                        Gottlieb       1962      NFS

SUNSET                             Gottlieb       1962      375

TROPIC ISLE                        Gottlieb       1962      1095

BEAT THE CLOCK                     Williams       1963      600/TRADE

SQUARE HEAD  (AAB)                 Gottlieb       1963      1125

STAR-JET                           Bally          1963      200

SAN FRANCISCO                      Williams       1964

BANK-A-BALL                        Gottlieb       1965      625

KINGS AND QUEENS                   Gottlieb       1965      NFS

SKYLINE                            Gottlieb       1965      1050

CAPERSVILLE                        Bally          1966      600

FULL HOUSE                         Williams       1966

SING ALONG                         Gottlieb       1967

SURFERS                            Bally          1967     

DOMINO                             Gottlieb       1968      NFS

ROYAL GUARD                        Gottlieb       1968     

SPIN-A-CARD                        Gottlieb       1969      795

TARGET POOL                        Gottlieb       1969     

AQUARIUS                           Gottlieb       1970      NFS

CARD TRIX  (AAB)                   Gottlieb       1970      950

DOUBLE UP                          Bally          1970      NFS

FLIP-A-CARD                        Gottlieb       1970      500/OBO

JIVE TIME                          Williams       1970      250

2001                               Gottlieb       1971      NFS

LAWMAN                             Gottlieb       1971

SOLIDS AND STRIPES                 Williams       1971      345

FLYING CARPET                      Gottlieb       1972      PRIZE

NIP-IT                             Bally          1972      NFS

HIGH HAND                          Gottlieb       1973

KING PIN                           Gottlieb       1973      NFS

AIR ACES                           Bally          1974      NFS

BOW AND ARROW                      Bally          1974      350,OBO

DUOTRON                            Gottlieb       1974

SKY JUMP                           Gottlieb       1974      500/OBO

SKY LAB                            Williams       1974      395/OBO

TRIPLE ACTION                      Williams       1974      NFS

WIZARD                             Bally          1974      1100

HIGH DEAL                          Bally          1975      600/OBO

KICK OFF                           Bally          1975

STAR POOL                          Williams       1975      795

TOP SCORE                          Gottlieb       1975      295

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC                  Bally          1976      795

NIGHT RIDER                        Bally          1976      NFS

PLAYBOY                            Bally          1976

SPIRIT OF '76                      Gottlieb       1976      400

BRONCO                             Gottlieb       1977      550

CENTIGRADE 37                      Gottlieb       1977      800

LIBERTY BELL                       Williams       1977

POWER PLAY                         Bally          1977      500

SUPER SPIN                         Gottlieb       1977

TARGET ALPHA                       Gottlieb       1977     

DISCO FEVER                        Williams       1978     

DRAGON                             Gottlieb       1978     

HIT THE DECK                       Gottlieb       1978      NFS

JOKER POKER                        Gottlieb       1978

KISS                               Bally          1978      NFS

SINBAD                             Gottlieb       1978     

STRANGE WORLD                      Gottlieb       1978     

WORLD CUP                          Williams       1978      500

ASPEN                              Brunswick      1979     

FLASH                              Williams       1979      75, 550

GORGAR                             Williams       1979     

ALIEN POKER                        Williams       1980

BLACKOUT                           Williams       1980      500

FIREPOWER                          Williams       1980      550

NINE BALL                          Stern          1980

CENTAUR                            Bally          1981     

BABY PAC MAN                       Bally          1982

BMX                                Bally          1982      NFS

WARLOCK                            Williams       1982      1250

FIREPOWER II                       Williams       1983     

HIGH SPEED                         Williams       1986

PINBOT                             Williams       1986

FIRE!                              Williams       1987      1000/OBO

LASER WAR                          Data East      1987      650

HOT SHOTS                          Gottlieb       1989     

DINER                              Williams       1990

FUN HOUSE                          Williams       1990

PHANTOM OF THE OPERA               Data East      1990      1300

ADDAMS FAMILY (GOLD)               Bally          1991     

U.S.A. FOOTBALL                    Alvin G.       1992      NFS

CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON     Bally          1993

GUNS 'N ROSES                      Data East      1994      NFS

STARGATE                           Gottlieb       1994      SHOW

BAYWATCH                           Data East      1995     

NO FEAR                            Williams       1995?     NFS


     During the show a sad incident occurred.  The dealer who had most of the

1940's pins at the show (including the German "bomber") ran out of bolts when

attaching the backboxes to his games.  As a result one game, Chicago Coin's

1940 pin SKYLINE, had to sit on the floor - both the main cabinet and the



     Sometime on Saturday one of the people at the show accidentally bumped

into the backbox standing on the floor, knocking it over and shattering it's

beautiful, probably non-replaceable, backglass.  This glass had a great "city

of the future" type scene reminiscent of the artistic favorite of mine in my

collection, Genco's METRO from same year.  A very sad event indeed!


     Now to a much more pleasant subject.  When I attended the Wild West

Pinball Fest in Arizona over a year ago I met a young couple, Larry and Terry

Stathatos of Escondito, California, who brought their then 10 week old baby,

Jennifer, to the show with them.  Well, that family was also at the Pinathon

and Jennifer was now over a year old, walking and talking a little - quite a

change from the first time I saw her.


     On Saturday afternoon the winners of the best pingame restoration for

various age classes of pingames were announced - all attendees having

previously had a chance to vote on ballots provided them when they registered

for the show.  The prize for the best 1950's class went to Jim Tolbert of For

Amusement Only of Berkeley, California for his fine restoration job on

Exhibit's BE-BOP of 1950 - a game I once owned many years ago.


     After announcement of the winners of the best restored games, Ron and I

talked it over and decided that we had seen everything there was to see in

the past two days.  I then suggested that since we were so close to one of my

wife and I's favorite cities, Reno, Nevada, that maybe we could take a short

diversion and spend a short evening there.


     Ron, having never been to Reno, I believe, agreed to the plan and we

left the show around 4 PM.  We then got on the Interstate '80' freeway and

began the approximately 100 mile drive across the Donner Pass to Reno.


     When we later stopped for a few minutes at the Donner Summit (Elevation

approximately 7200 ft.) rest stop we noticed that we were walking by 10 to 12

ft. high walls of piled up snow to get to the rest stop building from our

parking spot.  We then continued down the hill to Reno, arriving between 5

and 6 PM as I remember.


     I decided that we would go to one of our favorite Reno casinos,

Fitzgerald's, for dinner and a short spree of slot machine gambling.  After

having the car parked in their valet parking, we proceed upstairs to their

restaurant (Molly's Garden) and had a nice reasonably priced dinner.


     When we finished eating I got twenty dollars in nickels, giving each of

us half.  We decided to play the slots until these were gone and then go back

to California.  It took about an hour to play our money (not really bad for

a little "coin operated amusement") at which time we went downstairs to

retrieve our car.  We both enjoyed this little interlude.


     After we got our car (around 9 PM) we began the return trip over the

pass to the Sacramento area.  We arrived back at our motel around 11 PM and

retired for the night.


     On Sunday morning we got up around 8 AM to begin our trip home.  Before

breakfast we again took a walk in the nice shady neighborhood nearby.  After

breakfast we started the drive home.  With another stop later in the

afternoon for lunch, we arrived home around 6 PM that evening.


     In conclusion I would like to say that both Ron and I had a real

enjoyable visit to our first Pinathon and I was glad I was finally able to

attend one of these fine get-togethers.  I hope I will be able to attend

Pinathon '96 next year!