PINBALL EXPO '86
-THE SECOND 'HURRAH'-
Well, they did it again! Another very successful Pinball
Expo; the second in what we hope will be an annual event for many
years to come. As with Pinball Expo '85, Expo '86 was held at
the Holiday Inn O'Hare/Kennedy in Rosemont IL, and again on the
same November weekend as the winter Chicagoland coin machine
show. A very useful coincidence for coin-op lovers.
This year's show, while quite similar in many respects to
last year's, seemed to me to be a little more oriented toward the
modern 'digital' pins than the older machines, especially in the
content of many of the seminars. But, this is as it should be
since Pinball Expo is a "pinball show", not an "antique show".
As most of you know, my personal preference is for the older
electro-mechanical pingames, but I can appreciate the new games
as well. Modern pinball is certainly vastly different from the
pingames of the past and is reflective of the space/computer age
in which it was spawned. I can see how these flashy, colorful
machines, with their complex multi-level playfields, and space
age and rock music sound effects, attract the player of today as
they rightly should. In order for pinball to live on it must
attract a contemporary following, and it looks like it may be
doing just that. Well, enough preliminaries; on with the show!
After the opening remarks by show producer Rob Burk, the
first seminar speaker was introduced. He was Don Hooker, former
designer of "bingo type" pinballs for Bally, who is now 82 years
of age. Mr. Hooker began by stating that he first joined the
games industry in 1936 when he went to work for Pacific Amusement
Manufacturing Co. (better known as PAMCO) where he worked until
1938. He recalled working on a game at PAMCO called LITE-A-LINE
which was somewhat similar to the bingo pinballs he designed
twenty years later at Bally.
Sometime later (he did not mention the exact year, but it
may have been 1938 when he left PAMCO) he went to work for Bally.
He mentioned working on the "one-ball" horserace pin CITATION,
which came out in 1949. He remembered that it had "guaranteed
advancing odds" (Author's note: It was the first "one-ball" with
that feature) like the bingos which came out later.
Mr. Hooker then said that a man named Bernie Bernside came
up with the idea of the "Reflex Unit" which was used in the later
"one-balls" and all of the "bingos". The purpose of this unit
was to 'tighten up' Or 'loosen up' the payout chances for the
player based on how well the game had been paying out in the
past. This was a marvelous invention and many people connected
with bingos don't have any idea how it works, certainly not the
He talked about bingos having very complex electro-
mechanical systems. He said they developed automatic test
equipment to test the games in the factory. He also said Bally
had quite a few years of big production of bingos (the mid 1950s)
until "the government declared bingos were gambling devices."
(Author's note: he was apparently referring to the "Korpran
Decision" of the Supreme Court in 1957 declaring bingo pinballs
to be subject to the Johnson Act.) The players, he said, still
liked the bingos but "the Government said 'no' ".
Finally he talked about testing the games in New Orleans.
He also said he left Bally in the early 1970s and he and a
partner designed a dice game which Bally bought from them. He
then went back to Bally until around 1980 when he finally
retired. He said he was the primary designer of most of the
Next on the program was one of my favorite personalities
from last year's Expo, Mr. Harvey Heiss, chief designer at Genco
from 1938 until the Fifties. Last year Harvey had said the show
was "his 'last hurrah' in the coin machine world", but, as I had
hoped, Rob Burk persuaded him to come again this year.
Harvey told how Rob had tried to persuade ("pester" is the
word he used) him to design a game. He said Rob had sent him a
Christmas card containing hints at this. Anyway, Harvey said he
did come up with a design for a new version of the old "roll-
down" games he designed for Genco in the late Forties. (Author's
note: These games were supposed to be a substitute for pinballs
in areas where pins were outlawed, since in a "roll-down" the
player actually held and rolled the balls up the playfield and
this therefore made them definitely a "game of skill"). The idea
for Harvey's new game, he said, came from the game he played as a
kid called "Baby In The Hole", which he described in his talk
He said he came up with sketches of his design, built his
own parts, and assembled his model in his carport at home. He
used a modern plastic type of material for the playfield, and
pool balls, and designed his own "rebound" at the upper end of
the playfield to cause the balls to rebound back into the field.
He did the mechanical design only and built his model without the
He developed the complete play and scoring concept, based on
"Baby In The Hole", and had the play and scoring instructions
displayed on the playfield. The scoring concepts were quite
intricate but precisely defined. The complete model of Harvey's
game was later displayed during a "hospitality suite" gathering
in Rob Burk's room at which time Harvey gave demonstrations,
complete with detailed descriptions of the game's play and
Harvey said that after he had completed his model he put out
"feelers" to the industry in hopes that someone might like this
novel idea for a game and produce it. He said he did not get
much response but still believes that a game like this is novel
enough to catch on and he hasn't given up hope that someone might
To conclude his talk Harvey told a couple stories, including
a comical incident that happened to him while at Genco. He said
as a joke a group of eight girls at the plant once grabbed him,
tied him to a dolly, wheeled him through the plant, and shoved
him into his boss, Myer Gensberg's, office. He said they also
took his shoes and he had to walk around barefoot. There was
lots of fun at the plant in those days, he said, and everyone had
a happy time. Well, I must say it was certainly nice to see and
enjoy Harvey Heiss at another Pinball Expo. Hopefully again next
The next speakers on the program were Steve Young and Gordon
Hasse discussing a subject that is certainly important to all
pinball collectors, backglass restoration.
Steve first passed out to the audience copies of his
excellent article "All Lamps Are Not Created Equal" which
discusses the various types of miniature lamps available for use
in pinballs, and describes the pros and cons of using them.
Steve began his talk with the observation that "a pinball with a
poor glass is not a pinball at all." He then stated that the two
major "enemies" of backglasses were dampness and temperature
change, plus others such as the ultra-violet rays in sunlight
which can affect certain colors of paint.
To protect the glass from dampness he suggested using a de-
humidifier or storage in a place with low humidity. He said a
most important thing to do to protect your glasses is to avoid
sudden temperature changes of 10 degrees or more, but remarked
that this probably would not be a problem for California
He then went on to say that the lamps behind the glass
constantly cause temperature changes when they are turned on and
off during operation of the game, and that this is what generally
leads to paint flaking off the glass. He recommended using the
lowest heat lamps (NEVER type '55') and even modifying the
lightbox by moving the mechanism panel further from the glass.
Steve then said that lamps which have become darkened at the top
produce more heat and should be replaced (something that I, for
one, was never aware of). He recommended using short lamps and
those which require less current (which he also mentioned results
in less load on the game's fuses.), remarking that a type '130'
lamp was "the best of both worlds." He also said that "flasher"
lamps produce less heat and might be used. Finally, he remarked
that better lighting means the game is more enjoyable.
Following Steve's remarks on the preventative aspects of
backglass care, Gordon Hasse took over with a discussion of
backglass restoration. He began by saying that as far as
pinballs were concerned, there was probably no subject more
controversial than that of backglass restoration. He then
presented a list of options available to collectors who have
games with deteriorating backglasses. The list included: 1) do
nothing - not really an option if the glass is really bad; 2)
prevention - change lamps, etc., as Steve had discussed: 3)
preservation; 4) Restoration; and 5) reproduction. He then began
discussing some of these alternatives in greater detail.
He said that "reproduction" (creating an entire new glass)
was quite expensive, costing about $1000 in set-up cost for a 10
color process. Using a four color process is considerably
cheaper, he said, but not really suitable for pinball glasses as
far as he was concerned.
The subject of "preservation" was next discussed. Gordon
first outlined four methods which have been used to try and
preserve backglasses. First came "taping and spray painting" the
entire glass, which he described as "horrible!" The next was to
cover the entire glass with a clear plastic, adhesive backed,
sheet. This he said was also a bad choice since the adhesive can
actually pull some of the paint off the glass' surface. A
similar idea of attaching a thin piece of glass to the back of
the glass and taping them together was then mentioned. Gordon
said he considered that method only useful for good glasses as a
Finally, he talked about using a clear spray to "seal" the
back of the glass. He claimed this was dangerous since these
products were made for other purposes and their solvent bases
vary and could sometimes 'attack' certain colors of paint. He
also mentioned the very important fact that the force of the
spraying operation could cause loose pieces of paint to be blown
off of the glass making it even worse.
So then, what was left?, he said. He stated that there had
been one product on the market which was advertised just for that
purpose. That product he said was not very good (primarily
because it 'attacked' certain colors, as this author can attest
to) and it had been taken off the market. Gordon then went on to
describe a product that he and Steve had developed and which they
highly recommended for backglass preservation.
He said that he, Steve, and John Fetterman had been
searching for a solution to the backglass preservation problem
for years and had finally come up with a solution which "met
their standards." They call their product "cover your glass" and
they claim they have samples of glasses which were covered with
it five years ago which have shown absolutely no adverse side
effects. In fact, they had such samples at the show and they
really looked good.
Their product was described as a "slow drying polymer" which
should be applied to the glass' surface without the use of a
brush, and allowed to flow over the entire surface. The glass
should then be allowed to dry for a week to ten days. The
product is somewhat expensive, and they said one can would cover
approximately two glasses. But, if you value your glasses, the
cost of about $9.00 per glass is really not unreasonable.
As a final note, Gordon talked briefly on the subject of
actual restoration of damaged paint on a backglass. He said
there were two primary methods: "Reconstruction" by a silk
screen artist, and repainting by a "fine arts restorer." He said
that careful amateurs can do a passable job using sign or model
paints, especially on large opaque areas. He went on to say that
colors should be mixed on the front surface of the glass first to
get a good match of the original color. For "translucent" areas
(where light must show through) he said the task was more
difficult. For these areas he suggested using "tints" used in
oil painting. He said that you might either use "Cover Your
Glass" first, and then touch up the bad paint areas, or vice
That ended this interesting and informative session on a
subject that is of vital importance to most pinball collectors.
The new product described sounds very promising as a good
preventative measure, but "touching up" paint is still the most
uncertain part of backglass restoration in this writer's opinion.
The next presentation was a seminar on the subject of
pinball art featuring two important and productive people from
that world, Dave Christensen and Paul Faris, both of Bally fame.
Dave started with Bally in 1967 and was responsible for much of
the Bally pinball art of the Seventies, including CAPTAIN
FANTASTIC, ODDS AND EVENS, and more recently, DOLLY PARTON. He
even got into slot machine art at Bally starting around 1975.
Paul Faris worked for Bally from 1975 to 1984 and became their
Art Director in 1977. Some of his better known game art included
PARAGON and LOST WORLD.
The format of this seminar was questions from the audience
with answers provided by one or both of the speakers. All in
all, some 25 to 30 questions were asked and answered. I have
divided the questions into topics, and will discuss each topic,
giving a summary of the information provided by the questions and
answers. In a few cases single questions will be described
separately. For instance, Dave was asked where he got the
nickname "mad dog". He answered that it was probably because he
was an "independent Norwegian" and would often "fight back" when
The subject of some of the questions were various incidents
and rumors of art of a "sexually suggestive" nature. Dave was
asked approximately how many of the CAPTAIN FANTASTIC backglasses
were released which contained some of his secretly done
suggestive drawings (the glasses referred to by many collectors
as the "porn glasses"). He replied that he did not know,
possibly between 50 and 500. Paul was asked if the rumor that
Hugh Hefner had a PLAYBOY pin featuring "topless" girls on the
backglass was true. He said "no", but went on to say that Mr.
Hefner did get involved with the graphics and that he had to
("poor guy"!) visit the "Playboy Mansion" to discuss the artwork.
A rumor that some of the LOST WORLD glasses had a nude girl on
them was also questioned, but again Paul said it was not true.
Several questions dealt with celebrities used in pinball
artwork. Paul was asked if he interviewed Dolly Parton. He said
she got quite involved with her portrayal on the glass and
requested changes to the original art. He said when it was
finally released the girl on the glass looked more like Linda
Carter than Dolly. It was also asked if the "stars" got paid for
using their names in connection with games. They said it was
sort of a "licensing agreement" where the celebrity got a
"percentage" of each game sold. It was brought out that Bally
WIZARD was the first game of the celebrity type.
In connection with CAPTAIN FANTASTIC, it was asked if Elton
John provided any input, and did the game help Elton's career, or
vice versa? Dave said he did not meet with Elton, but Paul said
that he did on one occasion. Paul remarked that he thought there
was sort of a "cross promotion", the game and Elton 'helping'
each other to some extent. Dave was also asked why he put the
'Hitler' character on the backglass. He replied he thought it
had something to do with the proposed Nazi march on Skokie
Illinois around that time, but couldn't remember for sure.
Other questions were concerned with the general topic of
styles of, and methods of producing, the artwork. Dave was asked
who decided to use 'mirrored glass'; he replied it was his idea
to use in on CAPTAIN FANTASTIC and that he got the idea from the
Bally bingo pinballs which still used it. They were asked if in
four player machines they had to design their artwork around
locations already chosen by game designers for placement of the
score reels. Paul replied this was generally the case as the
engineers did not want to change the location for the reels to
conform to the art.
When asked to comment on the cost of producing "color
graphics" Paul replied that until around 1978 they used what was
called "line art", with each color requiring a separate silk
screen. He said that the cost of "color separations" was
expensive (2 to 3 thousand), but production cost was low (about
$5 per glass). They were also asked why ROGO used two different
color schemes. Dave replied that they started with a gray color
which looked too much like the German Army, so they changed it.
The artists were also asked for their opinion of the new
type of artwork used by Premier, which was somewhat like a
"poster" with a light behind it. Paul said Bally resisted going
to it, saying it reminded him of "point-of-purchase" displays
used in stores to advertise a product. He said there should be
more 'activity' in a backglass. Dave's only remark was that he
thought they should "put sex back into pinball art."
They were also asked to comment on their personal favorites
in pinball art; both their own creations and those of others.
Dave said his favorite of his work was probably CAPTAIN
FANTASTIC. As for other's work he said his all time favorite was
probably SPANISH EYES. Paul said of his work he liked LOST WORLD
because it represented a change in screening technology to
"printing on glass". For his all time favorite pinball art he
chose MATI HARI.
Other questions were of a more personal nature. Dave was
asked about his training and he answered that he attended an art
academy and also had one year of engineering, which he said
helped him in understanding the "engineering restrictions" in the
art. When the artists were asked if they ever worked together on
a game they replied they did on FUTURE SPA only.
The artists were asked what they were currently doing, and
if their popularity led to increased pay. Dave replied that he
had not become "rich and famous" and was now doing free-lance
art, including "railroad art" and designing belt buckles. In
regard to pay, Paul remarked that Bally paid well and said that
Dave helped in getting them to pay better. Paul said he was
currently setting up a small art studio which was about 90
When asked which game designers each had worked closely
with, Dave replied Greg Kmiek and Paul said Greg also, as well as
Jim Patla. Paul was asked if he was the first artist to
autograph a backglass. He said he was the first to not do it
discreetly, but that Dave had done it 'minutely'.
Other questions dealt more with details of their work. For
instance, they were asked how much they were involved with other
game artwork, such as playfields and cabinets. Paul replied that
they started with the backglass, but did the "complete package",
including playfield, cabinet, etc. Dave then mentioned that Norm
Clark had ideas about playfield artwork and that it was important
to work with designers. When asked about the "time frame" for
designing the artwork for a game, they both agreed that 6 to 8
months was about right.
They were also asked what happened to the original art,
including the artwork for older games. Paul replied that the
artists generally kept copies of glasses, but that color
paintings were company property.
Well, that sums up what was said in this interesting and
informative seminar on the important subject of pinball art.
And, as I am sure all of you will agree, a pinball without art
would be dull indeed. At the conclusion of the seminar Rob Burk
asked that other artists present introduce themselves. They
included: Greg Freres (HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS, STRANGE SCIENCE);
Doug Watson (with Ad Posters doing art for Bally and Williams);
Tony Romunni (Williams ALIEN POKER, and Bally SPECIAL FORCE); Pat
MacMahon (MR. & MRS. PACMAN); and last, but not least, George
Molentin, one of the last years' fine speakers.
After the seminars on Friday morning, the next order of
business was the pinball plant tour. Last year we toured
Premier, and this year it was Williams' turn. We all boarded
school buses and were driven to the Williams plant on California
St. in the city. This is an old plant which was once occupied by
United Manufacturing (another company founded by Harry Williams)
back in the Forties.
When we arrived at the plant we all gathered in the
employee's lunch room and Steve Kordek (Williams chief engineer
and Pinball Expo honored guest for the past two years) got up,
welcomed us to the plant, and then introduced the company's
general manager, Mr. Rich Wilkins. Mr. Wilkins began by saying
"we make the games that make the industry." He also remarked
that they had "the best designers in the industry." He told us
that their current game was PIN-BOT, which was "on the line."
Steve Kordek then informed us that the tour would be in groups,
and that those who were waiting to start the tour could play
Williams latest games in a game room, off the lunch room, which
was provided so the employees could play pinball during their
Our tour leader, Neil Smithweck, Steve introduced to us as a
man who "really knew the ropes at Williams." We then started the
actual tour. We were told that they built everything in the
plant except the cabinets. We first saw an assembly area where
playfield production began. They had machines for punching holes
in the back of the playfield used to mount the wiring harnesses.
We then saw the fields being wired. Nearby, at another station,
parts were being assembled onto the backboards.
We next saw the "incoming area" where incoming
parts/materials were received and inspected, and then the "model
shop" which provided model services for the engineers. We were
told by our guide that all artwork was done "in-house", except
for the actual production of the silk screens. During the tour
we were also told that Williams produced video games and coin
telephones at another plant.
We saw one production area where the small 'mini
playfields', used in PIN-BOT, were being assembled. We were then
taken through a parts storage area and to a special area where
malfunctioning printed circuit boards were repaired.
The last stop on our tour was the "final test area" where
completed games were being tested before shipment. I noted that
they were also producing a solid-state shuffle bowling game which
had a "voice" capability. We were also shown an area called the
"hospital line" where trouble-shooting was being performed on
games which failed final testing.
Following the tour we returned to the lunch room until the
buses were loaded for our return trip to the hotel. All in all,
it was an interesting tour, which I'm sure was even more
interesting for those who had never been inside a pinball
manufacturing plant before.
After returning to the hotel we gathered in the lecture hall
for this year's Designer's Seminar. Last year the seminar
featured important designers from the past. This year current
designers were featured. It was another "question and answer
format" with some question being posed by Expo host Rob Burk and
others taken from the audience. Since many of the questions
dealt with modern 'digital' pinballs, I wont go into great
detail, but will report on the highlights of the presentation.
The panel of designers were introduced and consisted of:
John Trudeau of Premier (formerly with Game Plan), whose past
designs for Gottlieb/Premier included ROCKY, ROCK and GENESIS;
Barry Oursler of Williams, who designed such games as PHEONIX,
GORGAR, LASER BALL, and the current PIN-BOT; and Jim Patla from
Bally, with such games to his credit as MONTE CARLO, MATI HARI,
PLAYBOY, and CENTAUR.
Several of the questions dealt with older games, including
their impact on new designs. For instance, it was asked if
Premier's (actually Gottlieb's) idea, a few years ago, of re-
using older electro-mechanical game playfield designs on new
games might again be tried? John answered by saying that that
was done at the request of European customers and probably would
not be done again. The panel was also asked if any of the older
games had inspired them in their newer designs. Jim Patla said
that CENTAUR was inspired by the 1956 Bally 'classic' BALLS-A-
POPPIN'; the other designers said they were "too new to the
In a question regarding an older game, Jim Patla was asked
how he came up with the idea for Bally's 1969 game ON-BEAM. He
replied that it was a take-off on the add-a-ball feature for
Italy and was originally designed by Bob Jonesi. (Author's note:
Bob Jonesi was a former chief engineer for Universal/United in
the late Forties / early Fifties, and later associated with
Two questions were concerned with the designers' past
designs. Each panelist was asked which designs they were "sorry
for". John replied ATTILLA THE HUN, which he said sat for years
before being released. Barry answered JOUST (pinball), and Jim
replied FLIP-FLOP. They were also asked if any of their designs
"just seemed to fall in place". John answered GENESIS, Barry
said SPACE SHUTTLE, and Jim named MATI HARI.
Many questions dealt with the details of the actual designs
and the designing process. Rob Burk asked how the designers
could tell if a game would be popular or not? Barry replied that
"feedback" from operators and people at the factory helped.
Along those same lines, he asked if when designing a game did the
designer ever have any idea if it would be popular? Barry
replied he had a feeling COMET would be popular because "people
like amusement parks." John said he didn't think anything that
went into production would be bad.
Rob also asked if designing a game was easier now or in the
past. Jim replied that implementation of some ideas was more
difficult and time consuming in the past due to the restriction
of "single level" playfields. He said now "multi-level" fields
allow you to "design around the problem."
The designers were also asked if they had any "personal
design philosophy", aside from player appeal? John replied
"balance and action"; Jim said "balance between long and short
flipper shots", and "making the game easy for anyone to play."
When asked how closely the designers work with the artists, Jim
replied that games were designed in two ways; play design, then
art, or vice versa. He said that the play was most important,
but that a theme was required for the "final package". He also
said he worked with both Dave Christensen and Paul Faris, who he
said were "both temperamental, but really got into their work."
Barry said that in the later games more cooperation was required
between the artists and the designers than in the past. John
remarked that it was "usually a group effort."
Harvey Heiss asked the current designers if they still had
the same problem he remembered from his career in the Thirties
through the Fifties? The problem he described was that designers
design games one after another, expecting them to be put into
production in the same order. But occasionally the company would
decide they wanted to go into production on the game you are
currently working on, just when you thought you were "ahead".
Barry answered that the same thing still happens at Williams; the
other designers agreed.
When asked where they went for "inspiration", John replied
that he usually "starts from scratch", but sometimes uses
features from previous games. Jim said he sometimes also used
ideas from older games, but often got ideas from employees at the
Jim Patla was asked two questions regarding Bally's early
'digital' pins. When asked how many electro-mechanical versions
of Bally's 1977 game MATI HARI were produced, he replied
approximately 170. When later asked what were the first games
Bally produced 'digital' versions of, Jim surprised many in the
audience by naming BOOMERANG (1974) and BOW AND ARROW (1975),
since most of us remembered NIGHT RIDER and EVIL KNEIVEL as being
Bally's earliest solid state pins, both coming out in 1977.
In regard to the more modern games, the designers were asked
for their comments on the "light and sound shows" used nowadays.
John replied he considers this part of the "total design", and
that their attractions help create a larger "player base" for the
game. Barry commented that the design group works on all aspects
of the game's design and considers these "shows" to be a definite
benefit to the games. Jim said he considered these aspects to be
"theatrics" and that they help if they are properly designed to
"help the game."
Finally, the designers were asked if they thought that a
change to 5 ball play (versus 3 ball play now commonly used)
should be reconsidered in view of the fact that many operators
were going to 50 cents per game? Of the three designers, Barry
was the only one who thought 5 ball play was a good idea in
connection with 50 cent games. John and Jim both said they still
favored 3 ball play.
Well, that concludes our summary of what was said at this
year's Designer's Seminar. After it was over, Rob Burk asked
other designers in the audience to come up and introduce
themselves, which they did. Included in the group were: Dennis
Nordman (who designed SPECIAL FORCE), Ward Pemberton (FATHOM, and
BMX), Roger Sharpe (SHARPSHOOTER, CYCLOPS), Steve Ritchie (FLASH,
BLACK KNIGHT, and HIGH SPEED), and, of course, Wayne Neyens, with
most of the Gottlieb games of the Fifties and Sixties to his
The second day of the seminars began with a talk by noted
pinball historian and author, Roger Sharpe. Roger had been
scheduled to speak last year but was unable to make it due to
last minute business commitments. Show host Rob Burk introduced
Roger as "the foremost expert and historian on pins in the
world." Rob then asked a series of questions of Roger, his
answers to which made up the content of the seminar.
Roger was first asked why he wrote his book, Pinball!, which
was published in the late Seventies. Roger replied that in 1975,
when he was an editor of the men's fashion magazine, Gentlemen's
Quarterly, the magazine was going to put out an "entertainment
issue" and Roger wanted to write something on pinball. He said
he knew nothing about the industry, but had enjoyed playing the
game since he was a kid. He went to the library to do research
but found absolutely nothing on the subject. When he told his
editor he said "why don't you write a book yourself", and that
was the impetus for the project.
Roger said that the people in the industry were impressed by
the idea of a book on pinball and that the publisher, E.P. Dutton
was very good to work with. He went on to say that writing the
book became "a labor of love."
Rob next asked Roger how he gathered information for the
book. Roger replied that he started with the distributors in the
New York area, such as Mike Munvez and Al Simon, and also Steve
Epstein, owner of the Broadway Arcade, who incidentally
substituted for Roger at Expo '85 giving a very interesting talk.
He said he also made many phone calls to Chicago.
He also said he got information from old magazines on
microfilm and was really "saturated with information." He told
of having a meeting with Al Simon and that Gary Stern of Stern
Electronics was present at the time. Gary was so impressed at
Roger's knowledge of pinball playfields that he later introduced
Roger at an AMOA show in Chicago as "the most knowledgeable
person on pinball he knew." Roger said he really wanted to do a
"chronicle of the industry", and also present the "beauty of the
art" in his book. He said he generally had the industry behind
Roger was then asked for more details on how the industry
tended to view him and his project. He said at first it was with
skepticism, because they had been "burned" in the past. At one
time, he said, Life Magazine did a story on pinball which was
supposed to be "positive", but ended up being a "smear". He went
on to say that when the industry people saw that he was genuinely
interested in their industry they began to trust him. He said
his good memory helped him gain their confidence as to his
credibility and they became convinced that he was not going to do
At that point, he said, they let him into their "back
rooms". He said when he would be at one company, in their "back
room", the people would say to him "no one else would do this."
He was told that he was the first "outsider" to be let in the
"back door". He said he always reviewed his information with the
manufacturers and this increased their confidence in him.
When asked about financing for the book, he said he got some
"advance", but had to spend much out of his own pocket. He
talked about his travel in Europe with his photographer, Jim
Hamilton, and referred to it as his "endless summer". He said
that they would always remember Europe, not for its historical
sites, but for its arcades.
Roger was then asked how he got into pinball design. He
replied that he wanted to "pay back" the industry for their help
with his book. He said while at a New York coin machine show he
met Ken Anderson from Game Plan, who at that time were
manufacturing "cocktail table" pins. He asked for Roger's ideas.
Roger replied he didn't care much for the themes of these games,
that of cigarette and liquor advertising.
Lee Goldberg of Game Plan asked Roger if he would like to
design a game and flew him to Chicago to discuss the idea. Roger
said when he explained his ideas to Wendell McAdams he thought it
would be too expensive. Mr. Goldberg then asked Roger if he
thought the game would be successful. Roger said that when he
replied that he thought it would be, Goldberg said "we'll do
it!". Roger said the game he designed, SHARPSHOOTER, used ideas
he liked from Gottlieb's SKY JUMP and Williams' SATIN DOLL; he
then went on, "the rest is history." Incidentally, the backglass
of that game featured caricatures of Roger and his wife.
Rob Burk's final question to Roger was "how do you view the
industry today?" Roger replied that he thought the industry was
not as "close" today as in the past. He said he liked the "older
generation" with their "love and devotion" to games, and who were
"not only out for the buck." He said in those days the companies
"helped each other." Today, he said, there is too much of the
"corporate influence" in the industry as far as he was concerned.
He further stated that today old friends from different
companies can't get together like they did in the past, because
of the fierce competition, etc. He thought that today's
companies are more like "isolated islands". As a final note, he
remarked that the industry today should "go out and play". He
ended by saying "you can play forever!"
The next speaker on the program was COIN SLOT'S own Dick
Bueschel. Last year Dick provided the Expo with an excellent
presentation on his favorite subject, the early ancestors of the
pinball game. This year Dick decided to discuss a subject that
is important to many pinball collectors, the pinball advertising
'flyer'. Since Dick is an "advertising man" by trade, and also a
flyer collector, this was a very appropriate subject for him
indeed. Because Dick's presentation was mostly 'visual', using
slides of many great pinball brochures, it will be somewhat
difficult to capture it in words, but I'll do my best.
Prior to starting his talk, Dick surprised the audience by
passing out to each person present an original 1950's era pinball
flyer. Dick began his talk by outlining a few of the decisions a
game manufacturer must make when preparing to advertise and
market a new game. The questions which must be answered, he
said, were: WHO needs the game?; WHAT to sell them on?; WHERE to
advertise?; and WHY should the operator buy the machine? Dick
then proceeded with a chronological illustrated history of the
pinball flyer, using slides.
He began by showing some very early game flyers from around
the "Turn Of The Century". He said that as early as the 1880's,
six color lithography was used in advertising. He then showed
some very early advertising for such games as the B. A. Stevens
TIVOLI FLAG (1899), and the famous Caille LOG CABIN (1901).
He then said that after these early games there was "a gap
in history" until the early 1930's. He next showed some 1931/32
era flyers for games like BAFFLE BALL (four color process,
without the Gottlieb name); KEEN-BALL (four page brochure,
describing a lease agreement, and with a picture showing people
playing the game); WHIFFLE (1931) and WHIFFLE ZIP (1932), which
he said "were not kids games"; and a two player game called
SWEETHEARTS, which he said was manufactured by an outfit in
Texas. For the year 1933 he showed flyers for Rockola's JIGSAW,
which was a beautiful color flyer, and Bally's first electric
payout game, ROCKET, which contained a detailed explanation of
the game's characteristics.
From 1934 he first showed a beautiful multi-color flyer for
Rockola's hit WORLD SERIES, which he followed up with one for
Daval's AMERICAN BEAUTY, featuring a color picture of a beautiful
girl. He next showed two 2 color flyers, one for Western
Equipment's HELLS BELLS (which he said was "a low cost game with
an even cheaper flyer"), and Exhibits ELECTRO, which was a
version of Harry Williams' first 'electric action' pin, CONTACT.
He also showed two other 1934 flyers; one for Bally's SIGNAL
(which had a 4 color front, containing an explanation of the
game, and a 2 color back), and Allied Amusement's MAJIK KEYS
KICKER, which he mentioned was a game that Harry Williams once
said was "a significant game of that period."
Later in the Thirties he showed flyers for Rockola's JIG JOY
(which was an electric "bumper" version of their 1933 'classic'
JIGSAW, with a jigsaw puzzle on the backglass); Mills Novelty's
popular ONE-TWO-THREE (a two color flyer); a black and white
flyer for Bally's THUNDERBIRD; a two color flyer for Gottlieb's
LOT-O-FUN; and a flyer for the "free play" version of ONE-TWO-
Going into the early Forties he began with a two color flyer
of Exhibits 1941 SUN BEAM; followed by flyers for two "wartime
conversions", SLAP THE JAP, and KNOCKOUT THE JAP. For the near
post war period he showed Bally's DOUBLE FEATURE and Marvel's
FRISCO (in black and white), both from 1946. For 1947 we saw
Gottlieb's DAILY RACES (their last "one-ball horserace" game),
and SHOOTING STARS, by P and S, which was another "conversion".
From the late Forties he then showed Gottlieb's 1948 game
BUCCANEER (black and white); Bally's HOT RODS (a 2 color flyer
from 1949), and finally a flyer for Nate Schiller's 1949 MADAM
BUTTERFLY, a "flipper conversion" of United's SINGAPORE.
He next showed a two color brochure from the Fifties,
United's HAWAII, a "bingo pinball" from 1954. He then skipped to
the 1960s saying that by 1965 four color brochures were "back for
good", and showed a flyer for Chicago Coin's MOON SHOT of 1969.
He then showed the flyer for the 1972 Bally "classic", FIREBALL.
The last brochure shown was for Game Plan's SHARPSHOOTER,
designed by previous speaker Roger Sharpe. He pointed out that
Game Plan executive Lee Goldberg's wife and dog were used in the
picture. He then stated that this type of high quality brochure
was quite expensive to produce.
Dick concluded by asking for questions from the audience.
The only question asked was "where can flyers be obtained?" He
answered simply "from the game distributors." Dick's
presentation really showed that advertising was very important in
selling pingames, and in many instances was an expensive process.
Last year the "technical session" was presented by Tom
Cahill of Williams Electronics, describing the built-in
"bookkeeping" and "self test" Features in Williams current
pingames. This year it was Premier's turn, and Premier engineer
Adolph Seitz gave a similar talk based on his company's built-in
He began by saying that games have changed drastically in
the last 15 years. The technicians who had become familiar with
electro-mechanical circuitry and trouble-shooting had to learn
electronics. He said that the advent of "microprocessors", which
made 'solid state' pingames possible, could make games do so much
more; but the problem was "servicing in the field." Servicing of
games had become "complex" he said; the technicians 'tools' now
included voltmeters, "logic probes", and in some cases, the
He went on to say that these same microprocessors also made
possible the built-in "self test" and "bookkeeping" features
found on today's games. Mr. Seitz then proceeded to describe the
special features of his company's machines, using a Premier
GENESIS, which was on the platform with him, as an example game.
He first pointed out that the latest games now employ "alpha-
numeric" displays for score indication, etc, instead of the "7
segment" numeric displays used in most solid-state games until
just recently. The use of these displays allowed letters of the
alphabet, as well as digits, to be displayed on the backglass.
He said that these displays are used to allow the "highest score
to date" players to have their 'initials' displayed along with
their scores. But, more importantly, he explained, it made
possible a better way for the self-test features to indicate
"problems" to the serviceman.
Adolph pointed out that "replays" were still very important
to pinball players. He said that the players expected pingames
to give "free games". He then said there were no replays on
video games because they have never had them, and therefore the
players don't expect them.
Next, he began describing the various "bookkeeping" features
built into Premier's games. These included, among others, total
tilts, number of specials won, "high score to date" information,
and average play time per game.
Finally, he described some of the built-in "self-test"
features. He said a "Lamp Test" was available which could test
lamps one at a time. The "Relay and Solenoid Test", he said,
could display the "location" of the "driver transistors", due to
the alpha-numeric capabilities of the new displays. He then
described the "Switch Matrix Test" in which the display would
indicate which switch(s) on the playfield were "closed". As far
as the "Display Test" was concerned, he said it tested each
"segment" of the displays.
Mr. Seitz concluded his remarks by describing the "Memory
Test", and a capability of displaying the "check sum" of the
"proms". For all you "non-computer" people, this is a test to
indicate a malfunction in the memory chips which hold the
"program" which controls the game's operation. It was clearly
evident from Adolph's presentation that as the new "digital" pins
get more sophisticated, so do there built-in features which aid
the operators and servicemen.
THE GOTTLIEB TRADITION
The final event of the Pinball Expo '86 seminar schedule was
a panel discussion dubbed "The Gottlieb Tradition". The panel
consisted of Alvin Gottlieb (son of D. Gottlieb & Co. founder
David Gottlieb, and former executive of the company), Wayne
Neyens (former Gottlieb designer of the Fifties and Sixties), and
Stan Harris (Philadelphia game operator since 1946, operating 6
to 7 thousand games, and collector of game machines with a
collection numbering some 700 pieces). Also "sitting in" on the
panel was Gottlieb/Premier designer, Adolph Seitz.
To start off the discussion, show host Rob Burk asked each
of the panelists to make some opening remarks. Alvin was first.
He first defined a "coin operated device" as being "a device
which does its job without requiring an attendant." For this
reason, he said, "reliability" is a big factor in the success or
failure of such a device, and therefore his father's slogan
"there's no substitute for quality". Alvin said when he once
asked his father where he got that slogan, he replied "from
Walgreens Drug Stores." He said that Gottlieb, over the years,
made a real effort to "build games that worked."
Alvin next talked about the make-up of the discussion panel.
He said he was there to provide "the manufacturer's point of
view". He then said that Stan Harris was a "test operator" for
Gottlieb in the Philadelphia area, an area that he said had a
minimum of problems in operating machines over the years due, in
part, to a good "operator's association" with a policy of not
operating games near schools, etc. Finally, he said that Wayne
started with the company even before he did and was responsible
for a great many developments. He said that Wayne had the idea
of "life testing" games, using the factory's "boiler room" in the
old days as the test environment. He then remarked that a game
that doesn't work very long is "worth less than zero."
Wayne next provided his opening comments. He started by
saying that looking back on Gottlieb games they generally were no
great success right off, but that they always seemed to make
money "over the long run." He said this fact was borne out by
Gottlieb games that were operated on location for a long time.
Wayne then mentioned the problems the games had in the past
due to gambling connections. He said that in the Thirties and
Forties many pins were used for gambling, but that Gottlieb later
"cleaned up their act" by removing replay "knock-off buttons"
from underneath the games. He also remarked that the
introduction of the flipper was very important in showing pinball
as a game of skill. Finally, he said that he thought that it was
better for the industry if gambling was kept out of it, making
reference to some of today's video games with gaming motifs.
Stan Harris next took the floor to provide some comments.
He began by discussing the "chain of events" in the life of a
game. He said it starts with the manufacturer who wants to know
"will the game make money?" Next, he said, comes the operator,
without whom "everything else does not matter." Operators buy
games, he went on, hoping they will make money. If the games
have a "good reputation" on location, he said, they will be good
money makers, but many great playing games seem to have problems
that the operator can't live with; for instance, "down time"
hurts the operator.
He next stated that he always preferred Gottlieb games for
two reasons; their earning ability and their dependability. He
said that Gottlieb games generally start off slow on location,
but increase as time goes by, taking about 10 to 12 weeks on the
average location to "catch on".
Stan then described what he referred to as the "basic
concept of pinball". He said pingames have a "built-in
challenge", that is to win replays from high score. He remarked
that he thought the games should award more than one replay for
high score. He next commented on how they tested games on
location to determine the proper "high score replay setting" for
each location. He also said that the speed of the ball was very
important and they used "patch levels" on the games to set the
proper playfield angle. He remarked that this was very
important, but that many operators don't pay enough attention to
Finally, he stated that video games were "90 day wonders"
and required little location testing, and that pinballs were "the
toughest games to operate."
Next, Alvin made a few additional remarks. He said that
"consistency of play" was very important. He then remarked that
in the early days manufacturers did not pay much attention to
materials, but that when electric games came along they started
to realize that reliability was required in pingames. he said
Gottlieb copied their original relay design from the well known
electrical equipment manufacturer, Gaurdian Electric. He went on
to tell how the early "switch blades" were not too reliable, but
when they plated them that improved their reliability.
At this point, questions were requested from the audience.
Alvin was first asked, from a reliability standpoint, where do
you "draw the line"? He replied that each component has a
predicted "life", but that playfield wear is usually the
determining factor in the useful life of a game. He said the
other game components would generally last much longer. Finally,
he estimated the average life of a game to be about five years,
but said that water and sunlight could hurt the playfield and
thus shorten that if the operator is not careful.
Next, a question was asked regarding favorite Gottlieb games
of the past. Stan replied that NORTH STAR was one of his
favorites. He then told how popular that game had been at the
University of Pennsylvania. He said two NORTH STARs were
operated there and they caught on quickly. He told about
students having tournaments on the games, complete with a "NORTH
STAR championship loving cup". He went on to say that different
games "hit" in different locations.
Stan was next asked about his personal collection; the size
of it, what types of machines were included, and the availability
of it for viewing? He replied that he had some 700 machines in
his collection, including many "three reel slot machines",
"arcade machines", etc. He said he had about 40 pingames "from
LOG CABIN up." He told of originally building a special room to
house his collection, and when it was filled, building another.
He said that his collection was not "open to the public", but
could be viewed if you first called him and set up an
At this point the panelists made a few additional comments.
Stan told of using his own metal "tilt bobs", in place of the
carbon ones usually supplied on most games. he then discussed
in more detail how his people "leveled" playfields to get the
right "pitch" and hence, the proper "ball speed".
Alvin then said that the solenoids used by Gottlieb were not
quite as powerful as those used by other manufacturers, but that
they lasted longer and made for more "consistent play". He next
said he really loved HUMPTY DUMPTY when it first came out, and
remarked that he thought the play to be "more consistent" on the
Wayne, commenting on the flyer for Gottlieb's 1957 pin
STRAIGHT FLUSH, which he had been given earlier by Dick Bueschel,
remarked that there were "18 ways to score Specials" on that
game. He said it was astounding how many ways there were to score
replays on many of the earlier pingames.
A question was then asked regarding the "Gottlieb
Tradition". It was said that Gottlieb made a wide variety of
types of games over the years, and the question was asked, did
Gottlieb knowingly do this?" Wayne answered that in the old days
(referring to the 1950 to 1960 era, I believe) business was slow,
and they had to keep the factory busy. He told of getting the
idea for a "multiple player" game in the mid Fifties. He
designed SUPER JUMBO, the first four player pin, which he said
eventually resulted in "two markets" for pingames, one for the
"single players", and another for "multi-player" games. He then
told of Alvin having the idea for the "Add-A-Ball" game. When
they started producing these games also, he said, the factory
could run "at a better rate" and they could keep the people they
Wayne was next asked about the creation of the "Add-A-Ball"
game. He said it originally resulted from a court case in
Hartford Connecticut regarding the replay "knock-off buttons"
found on some pingames. He remembered that the local distributor
there "panicked", but Alvin came up with a new idea for a pingame
without replays! Wayne said that when Dave Gottlieb was first
approached with the idea he said "no, we need replays", but Wayne
went ahead and tried Alvin's idea, and Dave liked it.
This new type of game, the "Add-A-Ball", which gave "extra
balls" for high score, instead of "free games", made it possible,
Wayne said, to operate pingames in areas where "replays" had been
ruled illegal. This included certain jurisdictions in the U.S.
and some places overseas, such as Italy. Wayne ended by saying
that eventually replays became legal again almost everywhere in
In another question concerning legal difficulties involving
pingames, it was asked to what degree this type of problem
"eroded the market?" In answer to this it was pointed out that
there were problems in some jurisdictions involving "excise
taxes". Many of these taxes were levied in "two levels", one for
"amusement games" and another for "gambling devices". It was
said that it was often difficult for the enforcement agencies to
differentiate between the two, and this caused many problems for
Alvin was next asked about the origin of the Gottlieb slogan
of the late 1950s, "Amusement Pinballs, As American As Baseball
And Hot Dogs". He replied that it came from his father. He was
then asked about the Gottlieb "double award" pingames of the mid
Fifties. (Author's note: These were flipper games in which the
player could deposit a second coin at the start of a game, which
entitled him to double the number of replays he would normally
win, if he won any.) He said these games created a
"controversy", probably because of the slight similarity to the
"multiple coin" concept of the "bingo pinballs" current at that
time, and therefore were discontinued.
Alvin also mentioned that in the mid Fifties there was an
attempt to "stimulate the pinball business." He said the
"turning point" was the removal of the infamous "knock-off
button". He told of an industry association, called the Coin
Machine Institute, that was established with Harry Williams as
President. He said that organization was "amusement game
oriented" and some manufacturers, such as Williams and Gottlieb,
"separated" themselves from those which also made "gambling
The final question of this panel dealt with "copies" of
Gottlieb games made in Italy. Alvin was asked if they were
"licensed". He replied that Europe has different patent laws
than we do and that people in Italy actually "patented" Gottlieb
That ended this very interesting discussion of D. Gottlieb
and Company and their many great pingames. Even though the
company by that name no longer exists, the name "Gottlieb" has
been acquired by Premier and will probably be used in connection
with fine pingames for years to come.
This year's Expo banquet was again held on Saturday evening,
but in a smaller room than last year. The room was completely
filled with tables with little room for standing around and
mingling during the pre-dinner cocktail hour. The food again was
quite good for "banquet food", and even featured a delicious
The first highlight of the banquet proceedings was the final
"play-offs" of the Expo's pinball tournament, which was dubbed
"Flipout '86" by the Expo promoters. The "qualifying rounds" of
the tournament had been played in the Exhibit Hall during the
past two days on several new PIN-BOT machines provided by
Williams for that purpose.
The highest scorers in the qualifying rounds "squared off"
against each other in the final "elimination rounds" played at
the banquet. These were also played on PIN-BOT, except for the
"final play-off" which was played on a limited production
Gottlieb KRULL provided by Mike Pacak. Video cameras were
pointed at the machines during the play-offs enabling the banquet
guests to watch the action on video monitors. When all was over
the "Grand Champion" turned out to be Mr. Steve Engle from
Connecticut, who won a brand new PIN-BOT which was donated by
Williams. One of the "finalists", who ended up in "third place",
was Alvin Gottlieb's son Mike, so you can see that the Gottlieb's
are still very much "into" pinball.
When it came time for the guest speaker to be announced
everyone was curious, since all Expo publicity had only indicated
"a surprise mystery guest". Then, Rob Burk surprised us all by
announcing that Alvin Gottlieb, last year's fine speaker, would
again address the group. What happened to the "mystery guest"?,
Alvin then came up and began talking about some of the
important coin machine industry people of the past, such as Lou
Walcher (owner of San Francisco's large coin machine
distributorship, Advance Automatic Sales), and Nebraska Senator
Ed Zorinsky (who was also involved in the industry, and once
operated the large Omaha coin machine distributorship, H. Z.
Vending, which was founded by his father.).
Then, when Alvin started to talk about Gil Kitt of Empire
Coin (which we later discovered was a pre-arranged "signal"), a
strange thing happened. Alvin was interrupted from the audience
by industry figure Stan Levin, who came up to the podium and got
Alvin to sit down. It was then announced that we were going to
be treated with a "roast" of the "one and only", Mr. Steve
Kordek, in recognition of his 50 years in the coin machine
Next, came former Williams designer, and Steve's close
associate and long time friend for many years, Norm Clark. Norm
first made a few comical comments about Steve's golf game.
(incidentally, the only hint of "roast" in the whole affair were
"cracks" by the various speakers about Steve's golf playing,
because who could say anything bad about such a fine fellow as
Steve Kordek.) Norm next told the story of how he had once
scared Steve "almost to death" by blasting him with an "air
horn". He then praised Steve for his contributions to coin
Next to speak was Williams' sales manager, Joe Dillon. Mr.
Dillon proclaimed 1986 to be "Steve Kordek Year" and presented
Steve with a new $50 "Gold Eagle" coin to represent Steve's 50
years of service to the coin machine industry.
The next two speakers to get up and praise Steve for his
accomplishments were Williams designer Steve Ritchie and pinball
author Roger Sharpe.
At this point, the next speaker was announced as being
Steve's daughter Donna. A lovely, well dressed lady then came up
to speak, who we discovered later was a model by profession.
Donna then proceeded to put on a "slide show" depicting the life
of her father and family, using family photos and many brochures
of games Steve had designed, cleverly working the names of the
games into her story.
She told one story of being in grade school and the teacher
asking each student to tell what their fathers did for a living.
When it was her turn, she said, she told the class that her
father "made adult toys". All in all, Donna's talk was very
enjoyable and it was easy to see that she, her father, and all
the family, enjoyed a fine, loving, relationship.
The final speaker in the "Steve Kordek tribute" was Expo
host Rob Burk. Rob put on his own "slide show" tribute to Steve.
After that Rob got Steve up on stage and presented him with a
plaque commemorating Steve's "50 years in the industry", the "50
years" actually being completed in April 1987. Steve said that
the whole thing was a total surprise to him, and that even his
wife, who incidentally he introduced to those present, had been
equally surprised. Donna had apparently kept the secret very
Rob Burk next presented awards to others in connection with
their contributions to the Expo. He presented the visitors from
Canada and England with small momentos of the show and then gave
out "awards" to the seminar speakers and others who assisted in
presenting the show.
Then, as a final surprise, Steve Kordek was again called to
the stage and presented with a pinball playfield "mock-up"
commemorating Steve's participation in Pinball Expo '86.
THE EXHIBIT HALL
This year's exhibits were displayed in a much larger hall
than last year. Located in the center of the room was a large
area occupied by Expo co-hosts Mike Pacak and Bill Kurtz, who
buy, sell, and trade pinball brochures. In addition, Mike Pacak
had on display examples of some rare "limited production" digital
pins, such as the KRULL machine used for the final round of the
pinball tournament. Also in this center area were located the
PIN-BOT machines used for the "qualifying rounds" of the
tournament. All of the other booths were located along the four
walls of this large room.
Exhibits of new pingames were provided by the three major
manufacturers, Bally, Premier, and Williams, each showing their
latest games. The Bally booth, manned much of the time by Bally
designer Jim Patla, caused a small "commotion" on two occasions
by bringing out boxes of "freebies" and letting everybody dig in
and help themselves. One of these "grab bags" contained lamp
sockets, while the other held plastic playfield parts. It was
really something to see the crowd of people all digging into
these boxes at the same time.
There were no old parts for sale this year. New
parts/materials were again displayed by the long-time coin
machine "parts house" Wico, and a plastics outfit also had some
items on display. Steve Young and Gordon Hasse had a booth to
promote their new backglass sealant, Cover Your Glass, which was
discussed earlier, but they had none actually available for sale
at the show. There was a limited number of backglasses for sale,
mostly by Mike Pacak.
Several booths had old pingames for sale. Dennis Dodel of
St. Louis, publisher of the fine newsletter "PINBALL TRADER", had
several postwar pre-flipper pins for sale, as well as original
bingo pinball schematics and manuals. Some 1950s era "wood
rails" were offered for sale by Canadian Dave Currie at his A-1
Amusement Games booth. The outfit called Hi Tech, from New York
state, who had a large number of games for sale both this year
and last, had several machines from the Sixties and Seventies,
plus Bally's 1940 "remake" of their 1934 classic FLEET.
Some fine machines from the Sixties, mostly "Add-A-Balls",
were also offered for sale by Chicago coil manufacturer and
pinball and backglass collector, Donal Murphy. Other dealers
also had pins for sale, mostly of later vintage. A complete list
of all pinballs displayed at the Expo appears at the end of this
The COIN SLOT was also represented at the show at a booth
operated by collector/author Dan Kramer. Dan's booth also
featured, in a "hands-on" display, his rare Atari pinball
prototype NEUTRON STAR, which was the subject of an article by
Dan appearing in the Fall 1986 issue of this magazine. This
machine was available for play and many Expo participants had a
rare opportunity to play a real factory prototype pinball.
Copies of back issues of COIN SLOT were available at this
booth, and people could also subscribe there as well. I
personally directed several potential new subscribers to Dan's
booth, some of whom subscribed. Dan had also prepared a list of
all pinball articles appearing in the magazine (since it went
quarterly) which he gave out at the booth.
Expo host Rob Burk also had a booth which, among other
things, contained two quite interesting machines. The first was
a 1931/32 era counter-top pingame called DOUBLE PLAY, which was
actually manufactured in Rob's home town of Warren, Ohio, by an
outfit calling themselves Warren Manufacturing. This was a "two
player" game with a playing card theme (in fact, it appeared that
actual small playing cards were glued to the playfield). The
machine had "ball lift" and "plunger" mechanisms at each side of
the front of the cabinet, one for each player.
Two sets of balls were contained in the game, each set being
a slightly different color, and apparently having a slight
difference in size, which allowed the machine's ingenious
mechanism to return the proper balls to the proper player's "ball
lifts" at the start of a new game. The apparent object of the
game was for each player to shoot balls to land in playing card
holes, thus forming a "five card hand". The two players could
thus play against each other to see who could get the "best hand"
in either Poker or Twenty One. A very rare, interesting, and
novel pingame indeed.
The other interesting game in Rob's booth was a Genco "roll-
down" game from the late Forties with a baseball motif, and
called simply, BASEBALL. This was an example of the "roll-downs"
designed by Expo guest Harvey Heiss, and mentioned by him in his
talks for the past two years. It was also the type of game that
Harvey designed recently which he showed at this year's show as I
mentioned earlier. I remember playing that type of machine in
the Los Angeles area as a kid; in fact, this was the closest
thing to a pinball in many areas of Los Angeles county for many
years, due to "anti-pinball" ordinances. It was nice to see one
of these games displayed at the show so that others could see
what Harvey had been talking about.
There was also a booth selling Pinball Expo '86 souvenirs.
For sale were various pinball bumper stickers, including one that
said "I 'Love' Pinball", the 'love', of course, replaced by a
'heart'. Also available for purchase were "Pinball Expo '86"
caps, and some very nice satin jackets with "Pinball Expo '86"
emblazoned on the back. Even Expo napkins were available at the
To conclude my description of the exhibits I have decided to
include a list of all the pingames on display in the hall, an
idea which was suggested to me several months ago by my good
friend Jack Atkins from Utah. I will first list all the new
games displayed by the manufacturers present at the show, then
list the rare "limited production" solid state games exhibited by
Mike Pacak, and finally all the other games offered for sale at
the various booths.
The games shown by the manufacturers included:
From Bally: STRANGE SCIENCE, SPECIAL FORCE, MOTORDROME, and
HOT SHOTZ (a very interesting "pool game" using pool balls and
having large flippers. Also on display was a midway pin from
1964 called RODEO.
From Premier: GENESIS, and GOLD WINGS; and also displayed
was the rare two player, two playfield, Gottlieb game from 1971,
From Williams: PIN-BOT and ROAD KINGS
The "limited production" digitals displayed by Mike were:
Gottlieb's KRULL, Stern's ORBITOR, and AF-TOR, produced by Wico,
and a small "counter top" (shades of the Thirties) pin called
the other games, shown at the various booths (in chronological
GAME MFG. YEAR
DOUBLE PLAY Warren Mfg. 1932?
ONE-TWO-THREE Mills 1938
SNAPPY Chicago Coin 1938
FLEET Bally 1940
BIG HIT Exhibit 1946
SURF QUEENS Bally 1946
HAVANA United 1947
HUMPTY DUMPTY (ROLL DOWN) Gottlieb 1947
RIO United 1947
VANITIES Exhibit 1947
SHARPSHOOTER Gottlieb 1949
JUST 21 Gottlieb 1950
MINSTREL MAN Gottlieb 1951
FOUR CORNERS Williams 1952
MARBLE QUEEN Gottlieb 1953
BIG TIME (BINGO) Bally 1954
LADY LUCK Gottlieb 1954
SKYWAY Gottlieb 1954
TWIN BILL Gottlieb 1955
WISHING WELL Gottlieb 1955
STRAIGHT FLUSH Gottlieb 1957
SUNSHINE Gottlieb 1958
CORRAL Gottlieb 1961
FOUR ROSES Williams 1962
VAGABOND Williams 1962
GIGI Gottlieb 1963
SLICK CHICK Gottlieb 1963
SQUARE HEAD Gottlieb 1963
WORLD FAIR Gottlieb 1964
SKYLINE Gottlieb 1965
BIG STRIKE Williams 1966
HURDY GURDY Gottlieb 1966
PALACE GUARD Gottlieb 1968
BRISTOL; HILLS Gottlieb 1971
FIREBALL Bally 1972
POP-A-CARD Gottlieb 1972
MONTE CARLO Bally 1973
NIP-IT Bally 1973
BIG SHOT Gottlieb 1974
MAGNOTRON Gottlieb 1974
AIR ACES Bally 1975
KNOCKOUT Bally 1975
SUPER SOCCER Gottlieb 1975
WIZARD Bally 1975
CAPTAIN FANTASTIC Bally 1976
GRAND PRIX Williams 1976
SPACE MISSION Williams 1976
TARGET ALPHA Gottlieb 1976
EVIL KNIEVEL Bally 1977
FREEDOM Bally 1977
JACK'S OPEN Gottlieb 1977
JUNGLE QUEEN Gottlieb 1977
LIBERTY BELL Williams 1977
WORLD CUP Williams 1977
KISS Bally 1979
METEOR Stern 1979
SOLAR RIDE Gottlieb 1979
STELLAR WARS Williams 1979
SUPERSONIC Bally 1979
ALI Stern 1980
SILVERBALL MANIA Bally 1980
BLACK HOLE Gottlieb 1980s
BLACK KNIGHT Williams 1980s
BLACKOUT Williams 1980s
BUCK ROGERS Bally 1980s
FIREPOWER Williams 1980s
GOIN' NUTS Gottlieb 1980s
JOUST (PINBALL) Williams 1980s
Well, that concludes my coverage of this fine show, Pinball
Expo '86. The number of attendees was about the same as at the
previous show, but there were a lot of "new faces" who did not
have the pleasure of attending last year. I'm sure all who were
present are hoping that there will be a "Pinball Expo '87". So
lets hope that we can attend another fine Expo next year.