PINBALL EXPO '89
- My wife comes along -
By Russ Jensen
Photos by Sam Harvey
Well, for the fifth year in a row the fabulous Pinball Expo was held
in Chicago. This time, prior to going to the show, two things happened.
The first was that by coincidence the dates of the Expo (Sept. 29 and 30)
and the weekend of California's coin machine show, the Loose Change Fun
Fair, occurred on the same weekend! Well, I had to make a decision as to
which show to attend, but since the Expo was "all pinball" and the Fun
Fair wasn't, the Expo of course won out.
The second thing was that I decided to see if this year my wife Jan
would come with me to see what I have been doing one weekend a year for
the past four years. I knew she would not fly (Yes Dave Haynes, another
"sky chicken") so I proposed to her that we take the train and make a
"mini-vacation" out of the trip. I was pleasantly surprised when she
agreed and subsequently made reservations on AMTRAK.
We left Los Angeles on Tuesday evening and arrived in downtown
Chicago Thursday afternoon. The trip was enjoyable, especially the wide
variety of people we met during meals in the diner. After arriving in
Chicago, we took the subway/elevated train to O'Hare Airport where we were
picked up by the hotel limo. That trip was also interesting, especially
passing through some old Chicago neighborhoods, which looked to me like
they had not changed at all since I was a small child there over 45 years
After checking into the Ramada O'Hare Hotel, the site of the Expo for
the second year in a row, we had dinner and later went to the area outside
the Exhibit Hall (no one could get into the hall until the next evening)
to visit with other Expo attendees and await the show registration, which
never occurred that evening at all. Anyway, I got to renew acquaintances
with other collectors, introducing them to my wife. We also made a new
friend, a young woman who really enjoyed playing pinball, with whom we
visited with several times during the show.
After finally getting our registration packets the next morning, we
gathered in the lecture hall for the start of the day's activities. Expo
Chairman Rob Berk began by remarking that this year the Expo had it's
largest turnout to date. He next told us that, in addition to the events
shown on the published program, there would also be three talks on
Rob then reminded us that the bus for the tour of the Premier pinball
plant would leave promptly at 12:45, and that people from other companies
could not attend. Rob next told us that this year there would be two
exhibit rooms; the regular exhibit area and a second room containing the
tournament games (Premier's BONE CRUSHER) plus a collection of older
classics brought to the show by Rob himself and Expo co-producer MIke
After mentioning the raffle, which would be giving away a brand new
Williams BLACK KNIGHT 2000, Rob introduced Exhibit Hall Chairman Mike
Pacak. Mike first told us that the tournament qualifications must end
promptly at 5 PM on Saturday. He then said that all were invited to play
the games which he and Rob had brought, but asked that they be immediately
notified if any game was mal-functioning.
Rob again got up and asked Steve Kordek and Harvey Heiss to come up.
He then asked them if there were any other ex-Genco employees still
around? They replied they only knew of one, Larry Spallita. At that
point Rob surprised them by bringing Larry out of the audience. Steve and
Harvey said they last saw Larry about 25 years earlier. They then said
that Larry was 76, Steve 78, and Harvey 82 "years young". Finally Harvey
said that Larry ran the punch press department at Genco beginning in the
BEHIND THE SCENES AT SUN PROCESS
The first scheduled talk was by two representatives of a company
calling itself Sun Process, which produced artwork for the games industry.
Rob introduced the speakers Ron Baum and Don Jarovsky, who used to work
for Advertising Posters, the long-time coin machine art company which had
been producing pinball art since the 1930's.
The Sun representatives first told us that the company had been in
business for 18 years, and had been involved with pinballs and video games
for about 8 to 10 years. He said they were going to present an "informal
presentation" followed by a question and answer session. He then said
that Sun also dealt with other industries, such as automotive and
They then started to describe what their company did for the pinball
industry. They said that they printed directly onto materials and then
cut them out. Sun printed the artwork on playfields and backglasses, they
said, and also made decals and playfield plastic parts. They next showed
us samples of their work. It was pointed out that they could also bend
plastic parts and showed us as an example some playfield parts they had
produced for the recent pingame POLICE FORCE.
The printing process was then further described. They pointed out
that each color required a "separate pass" using a nylon screen, a sample
of which they showed. They went on to say that the making of the screen
was a photographic process, with the emulsion being washed off in areas
where the color should go through. They said the screen was placed on the
material onto which the printing was to be made and a squeegee used to
roll the ink on.
The plastic parts they said were printed on long sheets of plastic,
and then the individual parts were die cut so that they could later be
separated at the game manufacturer's plant. The die they used they said
was somewhat like a "cookie cutter". They then told us that a 100 ton
press was used in that process.
The Sun representatives next talked about the two major methods used
to produce backglass art. The "conventional" method they said was "line
art" which employed 13 or 14 colors. The other method, the "4 color
process", they said used only blue, red, yellow, and black dots, with
either white or silver opaque used on the back in areas where light was
not supposed to show through.
They next talked of "screen printing" versus "offset printing". They
said that offset printing was cheaper to use when large quantities of a
glass are going to be produced. They went on to say that if a company is
not sure how well a new game will sell they will order a smaller number of
screen printed glasses. Finally the speakers told us that "color proofs"
were often used to check each color pass. They also remarked that today
more modern techniques, such as ultra-violet drying, are employed to
improve the process.
The Sun representatives then invited questions from the audience.
The first question was "is there any special order that the colors are put
on? The Sun people answered that it depended on how the final product was
to come out, and that it was different for decals, adding that the whole
thing was "very technical".
Several questions were asked regarding the "environmental controls"
required in their production facility. They answered that the right
environment was required and that their buildings were temperature and
humidity controlled using what they called "air make-up systems". They
went on to say that moisture could cause the materials on which they
printed to either shrink or grow, affecting the "registration" of the
printed pattern. When asked about getting rid of fumes, they replied that
their ventilation system was very complicated and automatically "measured"
the air in the plant, and would at certain times "replace" the air in the
building with outside air.
As a side comment one of the Sun people told us that the playfields
were produced at a wood-working facility, but that Sun did sanding,
sealing, printing, and final application of a "hard coat" utilizing a
"computerized" spray booth. They also showed us a glass they were making
for a new Williams shuffle alley. They remarked that preparing a new
backglass requires "experimenting" to determine the best method of
producing the artwork. Changes are made to improve "back lighting", etc.
Colors are also sometimes changed, they said, to blend better with other
colors on the glass.
The question was next asked "who decides on changes?" Steve Kordek
from Williams answered saying that the game manufacturers' Art and Sales
Departments were usually involved, with Sales often making recommendations
to the Art Department. When asked how "mirroring" of backglasses was
done, the Sun people replied that the glass is first entirely mirrored,
then the area which is to be mirrored on the final glass is covered with
"resist" on the back of the glass, and the mirroring of the other areas is
washed away, using a similar method to that used to produce printing
A question was then asked regarding "surface preparation" of glass.
Sun replied that they used "washing machines" to clean the glass and then
put either powder or paper between them to keep them from scratching each
other. After each printing pass, they said, the dust and lint was
removed. When asked if static electricity caused problems, they replied
that it could and that static elimination devices were used.
Rob Berk next "asked if the companies kept files of old artwork?"
Sun replied that the screens were kept for a short period, but they said
that the "original art" was retained by the game manufacturers. The final
question asked of the Sun people was what can us collectors do to help
preserve our backglasses? They suggested that we keep them in a low
humidity environment and possibly put some type of material on the back.
THE ROMANCE OF WHIFFLE
Rob Berk introduced the next speaker, Mr. Bob Froom from Youngstown,
OH, whose father was the inventor of the pioneer pingame called WHIFFLE.
Rob said he first heard about Mr. Froom when an article appeared in the
Youngstown Vindicator, on November 25 1981, containing an interview with
Bob regarding his father and WHIFFLE. Rob immediately called Bob, he
said, and they talked about his father's involvement with pingames.
Mr. Froom began by telling us that he had been talking with Dick
Bueschel for several years and that he thought Dick's book, Pinball I,
probably contained the most accurate history of pinball's early days. He
then told us that he first attended a coin machine show with his father in
Bob next introduced his wife whom he said had "lived with the story
of WHIFFLE". He then mentioned the fact that both of his daughters now
have WHIFFLE's, his one son-in-law buying one at the Expo.
Mr. Froom then began relating to us the "history" of his father's
involvement with WHIFFLE. He started by saying that his father was Earl
W. Froom, and that the story of his problems with pinball could not have
been easily told since no one would believe it! He then said that his
father invented the original "pinball machine", but not the "Swedish
He next said that over 50 years after the invention of WHIFFLE the
article about it appeared in the Youngstown paper. In Bob's interview in
that article he said he mentioned the fact that he was looking for an old
advertising film for WHIFFLE which his father had made. He said after
the article appeared in the paper he got a phone call from a man who had
the film and had been trying to sell it at Swap Meets for $1.00. This man
told Bob he could have it! Needless to say, Bob was thrilled! He said
that the film was 57 years old, was quite accurate, and was used for
"promotion" of the game.
Bob next told us that he remembers WHIFFLE quite will. He said that
in 1930 there was a great depression in the country, and that Youngstown
was in the midst of economic disaster due primarily to the closing of the
local steel mills. He said they even had "bread lines" in town. He then
went on to talk of his father's situation at the time. He said his dad
was a radio salesman and made $120 a month. He also said his father had a
Ford automobile and a nice rented home.
Bob then told of the beginnings of WHIFFLE. He said his father's
friend Bob Parks was a druggist, and his other friend Art Paulin, a
carpenter. He said Paulin built a small bagatelle type game for his
daughter and brought it to the drugstore and set in on the counter to show
to his friends.
He then said that the story goes that his dad put a penny in a coin-
op cigar lighter, which was on the same counter, and was in the form of a
miniature gasoline pump. (Bob had mentioned earlier though that he never
remembered ever seeming his father smoke!) Anyway, he said that this all
of a sudden gave his father the idea of adding a coin mechanism to
Paulin's game. He then remarked that Paulin's little girl never got the
Bob next said that his father brought the game home with him and from
it created what he referred to as "Old Jenny", the original prototype of
WHIFFLE. He said it was glass covered, had a sloping playfield, a sliding
panel to drop the balls at the start of a game, and a plunger. He went on
to say that the game used 9 white marbles, plus a red one which counted
Bob told us that when his father was finished with his prototype, he
took it to Paulin's Drug Store and watched as people put in nickels to
play the game. He said the game took in 52 nickels during this trial run.
He also mentioned that his dad saw a kid cheat the coin mechanism in some
way, but that he later corrected the problem which allowed him to do it.
As a result of this trial run he said his dad started thinking about
how much money a game like that could take in during those depression
days, calculating it to be approximately $8 per day. After that he said
his father, Mr. Parks, and Mr. Paulin decided to become partners and start
by building 10 games at first. He said each of the three men contributed
$300 to the partnership, his father borrowing the money he contributed.
Bob said that "Old Jenny" made between 50 and 100 dollars per week on
location and therefore many people wanted to buy them outright. But, he
said, the games were sold to operators on a "lease basis" only. He went
on to say that they couldn't build the machines fast enough to keep up
with the demand, saying that they built 27,000 games in one year. He
remarked that all these games brought in a "tidal wave of nickels". He
also told us that his father even travelled by air selling exclusive
operating territories for WHIFFLE.
Bob then told us about his father and his partners building a factory
in Youngstown. He said that 300 people worked on it completing it in 14
days. After it was finished, he said, over 1000 people showed up seeking
jobs. After they really got going, he remarked, production was increased
to 100 games per day, but that was still not enough! He said they also
opened a factory in Canada, but still couldn't keep up with the demand.
Finally he told us that friends started making games for them (88 friends
and neighbors in all) who they referred to as "Seller - Carpenters".
Mr. Froom next told us of the problems they had with others coping
the game which he said was easy to copy. He said the Chicago game
manufacturers began producing copies of the game, and that the "generic
name" for these machines eventually became "pinball games". He said that
one company in North Carolina actually started copying WHIFFLE, and even
went so far as to put his father's company's name, Automatic Industries,
Bob next told of racketeers getting involved with the games business
and that they would often smash up other operator's games on location and
put their own games in their place. He said that because of this type of
problem many places tried to pass laws banning pinball games which often
resulted in court decisions against the games business.
He then told us of his father going to court to try to stop others
from infringing on Automatic Industries' patents. He said this court
battle lasted for many years and that in 1937 a Federal Judge ruled that
their patents were "only 'improvements' and not an invention"; a bitter
defeat for his father after all those years. He went on to say that the
Supreme Court never reviewed that decision.
Bob ended his talk by suggesting to us that we all go out and buy a
WHIFFLE for our collections, and that we also buy a copy of Dick
Bueschel's book. He then said that he had written Dick a note after
reading his book saying "dad would have been pleased".
To end his presentation Bob showed a video tape of the 57 year old
advertising film titled "The Romance of Whiffle", his father had made.
Being that it was shown on a TV Monitor, and that I, with my rather poor
eyesight, was seated across the room, I could not see much of the film
except that it was "silent" with "subtitles" with music added to the
video. The film showed scenes in the factory, etc, but I really can't
report on its content. Anyway, I'm sure it was quite interesting.
Incidentally, I talked to Mr. Froom on the phone in December and he told
me he was thinking of selling copies of the video, with several
enhancements, sometime in the future.
"TODAY AND TOMORROW" PANEL DISCUSSION
Next on the agenda was a panel discussion dubbed "Today and Tomorrow"
featuring editors of various coin machine publications and a special guest
panelist, Mr. Clyde Knupp, the current President of the Amusement Machine
Operators of America (AMOA). The other panelists included Jim Haley of
Canadian CASH BOX magazine, Valerie Cognevich of PLAYMETER, Lou Perfido
from VENDING TIMES, and our own Dick Bueschel from COIN SLOT. Also
sitting in was Roger Sharpe, pinball author and past editor of several
magazines, and now an executive in the marketing and publicity end of
Clyde Knupp opened by saying that when he was invited to the Expo he
really didn't know what to expect. He then asked for a show of hands from
the audience asking how many of us were operators, enthusiasts, or factory
people. He told us that AMOA started out many years ago as MOA (Music
Operators of America) as operators banding together to help solve problems
in the Juke Box business.
Finally, Clyde told us that his organization had a goal of a
membership of 2000 operators by the end of 1989. He also said that their
Board of Directors had authorized expenditures to promote pinball. He
then said that he brought with him an old pingame which was made in the
early days in his home town of Omaha.
Jim Hayley spoke up to say that in Canada the pinball business is
"strengthening" with operators starting to buy more pins.
Valerie then said that there was one important thing that most
operators tended to overlook about pinballs. She said that when videos
came in they required more maintenance than pingames, and that operators
are just now beginning to appreciate the lower maintenance required of
pins. She also remarked that when she talked to pinball players they said
that they felt that pinballs were more "real" and that they had more
"control" over them than with video games.
Lou next told us that he has been playing pinball in Philadelphia for
years (since the age of 5). He then said that he thought the Expo was
"wonderful" because it combined the old with the new. He then remarked
that he had once beaten Roger Sharpe in a game of pinball. Finally he
remarked that games should be properly maintained to attract players.
Next to speak was Dick Bueschel who began by saying that Dave
Gottlieb once said that pinball was "an All-American game". He went on to
say that it is infinitely harder today for pingames to get "good press".
He said it was time for that to happen and that pinball needs attention
from the media. He ended by saying that the pinball industry should have
"a soft lobby in Washington" and that maybe in the future a commemorative
stamp would be in order celebrating the 50th anniversary of the flipper.
Clyde Knupp answered by saying that in getting good publicity for
pinball "timing is critical", remarking that it takes 5 to 10 years "lead
time" to get out a postage stamp. He went on to say that the enthusiasts
can help bring it all about by working together, and then remarked that
Roger Sharpe is involved with AMOA in a promotion for pinball. Roger then
spoke up to mention that for the first time in years a pingame won an
award at the AMOA show.
At that point Expo Chairman Rob Berk asked the panel for their
opinion on 50 cent play for pinball.
Clyde began by saying that the price per game has to go up so that
the operators can get a fair return on their investment in the equipment,
saying it takes a lot longer now for a game to pay for itself than it did
in the 1930's. He then said that it costs a lot nowadays to "develop" a
new game and that's why they cost more. He ended by saying that either 50
cents or 3 games for $1 play is coming.
Jim then told us that Canada recently introduced a $1 coin (which has
the nickname "loony" because it depicts a loon bird) and said that in
order to insure that the coins will be used the dollar bill was
subsequently withdrawn. He said the public is accepting this fairly well.
He then said that the coin machine operators put decals on their games
saying "Accepts 'Loons' Only" and gave the players 3 plays for $1 which he
said has met with little resistance from them.
Valerie next pointed out that operators have always had problems
raising prices due to coin denominations. She then told us of an operator
who used to hate pins, who got a new Williams CYCLONE with a dollar bill
acceptor. She said he asked a location if they would try it out and they
agreed. She then said that that made collections go up and now he is
"gung-ho" for pinballs. She went on to say "you'll have to try it".
She next told us that coin-op pool tables are 50 cents to play and
that the dollar bill acceptor, and 3 for $1 play for pins, should be
coming. She then remarked that the coin machine industry is lobbying for
a $1 coin, but that for that to work the dollar bill would probably have
to be withdrawn. She talked of a proposed "Christopher Columbus Dollar"
which would be larger than the old "Susan B. Anthony Dollar" and which she
said other organizations also wanted.
Lou then said that he agreed that a dollar coin would have to come
eventually, but that they would have to be larger than a Quarter.
However, he said, there is a lot of politics involved in getting a new
coin produced. He then remarked that today cigarettes cost about $2,
chewing gum 55 cents, etc, and that it was only fair to charge more for
pinball play, especially in view of the new technology involved. Besides,
he quipped, "good players get free games anyway".
Sam Harvey from the audience next brought up the problem of poor
maintenance of games on location, and how that could have an effect on
increasing play prices. He compared paying a high price to play a poorly
maintained game to buying a pack of cigarettes with one or two cigarettes
missing some of it's tobacco. He said that if operators kept their games
up properly players would probably be more willing to pay more to play
them. This drew a round of applause from the audience.
Someone else from the audience then asked Clyde Knupp if the question
of properly maintaining games was ever brought up at AMOA? Clyde said
that was a good point. He said the problem was getting the operators'
employees to "care" about the games they service. He then said that
education of operators is needed to get the maintenance situation to
improve, saying "we all have to work harder".
Another question from the audience was "what about giving the player
5 balls for 50 cents?" Roger Sharpe answered that that would make the
"game time" too long which would result in lower earnings for the
operators. He went on to say that most designers today are used to
designing "3 ball games", and that the percentaging for a "5 ball game"
would be entirely different and difficult for the current factory people
A young woman player from the audience then remarked that the panel
was primarily addressing the people in the room, and asked "what about
kids who can't afford to pay higher prices to play pinball?"
Clyde Knupp answered by saying that pinball today is competing with
home video games (Nintendo, etc) and that this type of home game is
expensive. He said that if kids could afford these expensive home games
why couldn't they afford to pay higher prices to play pins? He then
remarked that some of the older games kept on location could possibly be
set for 25 cent play until they were replaced with new machines.
Steve Kordek then remarked that people were paying 25 cents years ago
to play games that cost $600 to $800 to buy. He said it's ridiculous that
today you can play games for the same price that cost several times that
much to buy.
The daughter of long-time Philadelphia coin machine operator Stan
Harris then said that they would like to raise play prices but were
reluctant to be the first to do it. She then said that they really didn't
want to take the "flack" from players for the price increase, and
suggested that maybe the manufacturers take the first step by changing the
"coinage" of their games. Steve Kordek of Williams then spoke up to say
that all of their new games are set up for 1 play for 50 cents, 2 plays
for 75, and 3 plays for $1.00.
A gentleman from Texas next commented that in the 1940's pinball and
Cokes both cost a nickel, and today pinball is 25 cents, but Cokes are up
to 60 cents. Roger Sharpe commented that in Japan and Europe games cost
generally between 60 and 90 cents per play.
Dick Bueschel then made a comment regarding the previous pricing
discussion. He said that the games business is a "four cornered thing".
The "maker" who knows the games, the "distributor" and the "operator" who
know a lot about the games, and the "location" who knows "diddly" about
the games. He then remarked that it's ridiculous that we worry what the
location says regarding pricing for playing the game.
Dick then remarked that "if it is a good game it doesn't matter what
it costs!", and then pointed out that movies today are $5.00. Lou
Perfidio quickly noted that movies are $7.50 some places.
Someone from the audience then remarked that maybe new games should
come out with "preventive maintenance" tips (such as "time to replace
lamps", etc) being flashed on the displays. Larry DeMar from Williams
answered by saying that operators would probably be more interested in
inhibiting these messages than heeding them!
As a final comment, pioneer pingame designer Wayne Neyens remarked
that the play time of today's games is really too long. He suggested that
possibly designers should decrease the play time rather than increase the
price per play.
PINBALL MECHANICS AND RESTORATION
Next up was Expo regular Steve Young to talk on the subject of
pinball repair and reconditioning problems. Before starting on his topic
however he made a remark regarding the subject of pinball pricing which
had just been discussed, saying "why don't they charge 10 cents for 1
ball, and allow the player to buy more balls if he desires?"
Before describing the various subjects presented by Steve, I would
like to remark on the overall quality of his presentation. Steve utilized
some excellent slides which he produced from illustrations from game
manufacturers' manuals and parts catalogs. These Steve skillfully
enhanced by coloring in key portions of many of the drawings, which added
significantly to understanding the topics he discussed.
Also before I start describing the subjects covered, I would like to
point out the this discussion only "scratches the surface" of Steve's in-
depth presentation, as to describe it fully would take a book I am sure.
Steve first remarked that as old people retire from the pinball
business much of their expertise will go with them. He said that
mechanical repairs will always be required on games and that he was going
to present us with some "tricks of the trade". He then remarked that he
often repaired games "over the phone". At one point Steve said that he
was considering writing a book on the subject. I, for one, sure hope that
he will because, as far as I am aware, the subject of mechanical repair
and adjustment of pinball mechanisms has never been covered in print
before, except maybe superficially.
Steve said the items he would talk about he called "heavy hitters"
and are items which are often overlooked when people work on pingames.
The first trouble-prone area he mentioned was "fuse holders". He
said that proper spring tension between the fuse clips was essential, as
well as correcting the problem of dirty or broken clips.
He next briefly talked about transformers, saying that they very
seldom ever go bad. He then said the most annoying problems with them is
that they sometimes "buzz", saying that often this can be cured by hitting
the laminations with a hammer; not too hard of course.
Steve next discussed at length problems concerned with relays. He
started with the very important subject of adjusting relay contacts for
the proper "over-travel" required. He said always adjust the shorter
blade and make sure that all contact sets on a relay meet at the same time
and with the same pressure. He then suggested that you remove the
playfield when attempting to adjust hard to get at relay points.
Steve next talked about relay armatures and their associated springs.
He said that the armature and springs should always be as originally
placed at the factory. He went on to say that in the case of "Interlock
Relays" the balance of spring forces is critical and all contacts must be
properly adjusted to maintain that balance. He then said that the point
where the two armatures interact should be kept clean.
Steve then warned us against using our fingers to adjust relay
contacts. He said that that tends to break or bend the contact blades.
Well, I hate to admit it, but I've been using my fingers for that purpose
ever I was a kid. But Steve is certainly right, it's really not an
advisable way of performing that task. You should use special points
adjusting tools or "needle nose" pliers.
As a final note regarding relays, Steve mentioned the "fast acting
relays" used in many games from the late 1940's up until the early 1960's.
These relays, he said, had screws which you loosen to move the long
contact blades during adjustment, in addition to bending the tabs that
hold the other contact point.
Steve next began talking about the various problems and repair
techniques applicable to "Pop Bumpers". He began by saying that when
working on these units you should first look for loose screws, excessive
wear, and areas which require lubrication. After that he said you should
replace any worn parts.
He then said to watch for the weld coming apart in the "lever" that
moves the ball deflecting ring. Steve next talked of cleaning the switch
activating "cup" on the bumper assembly, and then adjusting it for proper
spring force as well as centering it. As a final note he told us that it
is OK to file the points on the "bumper control relay" with a fine file if
they become pitted.
Steve next tackled the extensive subject of flipper maintenance. As
with pop bumpers, he said, the first thing to do is to check for loose
parts and missing screws, as well as checking the nylon bushing which goes
through the playfield. He then said to check for broken welds, which, he
added, can be brazed if necessary.
Steve next told us that if the flipper rubs on the playfield surface
it should be adjusted, and may require the addition of a washer. He then
talked of the proper spring tension for the torsion spring around the
shaft, saying one-half turn was sufficient. He told us that this should
be adjusted with the flipper in it's "at rest" position.
Steve then talked about the flipper coil assembly, saying that it's
coil stop should be checked for wear, especially on Gottlieb games. He
then said that the coil plunger should have a 45 degree chamfer on it's
end, and if that was worn off it should be replaced.
On the subject of flipper associated switches, he first told us that
the End-Of-Stroke switch should be adjusted such that it opens only at the
very end. Regarding the switches on the flipper buttons on the cabinet,
he said you should check for contact points which are completely missing
and replace either the points or the entire blade.
Steve next talked about the large Gottlieb flippers. He said to
check for cracked flippers (you must remove the rubber first, though), and
then pointed out that for some reason the right flipper usually goes
As a final note on flippers, Steve said that stuck flippers are
usually caused by mechanical problems. Sometimes, he went on, the flipper
button sticks due to "grundge" and should be cleaned.
Steve next digressed from maintenance for a few minutes to tell us
how to modify pingames for "free-play" operation. On Gottlieb Add-A-Ball
games, he said, you should wire the "brown" and "orange" wires together on
the "Hold Relay". On replay machines he told us you can just bend the
points on the replay credit unit so they are always closed.
Following that Steve started discussing stepping switches. He began
by saying that when the "step-up coil" is energized, one full stroke of
the plunger should advance the gear 1 and 1/2 teeth. If this is not
right, he said, you should adjust the coil position by using the screw to
loosen it. He then remarked that the "momentum" of the step-up arm should
ring the associated bell, if there was one.
Regarding the wipers on steppers, Steve said that with the old style,
which used "spring-loaded" contact points, worn points can cause excessive
wear on the contact disk contacts. If these "rivets" are badly worn, he
said, they can be replaced by drilling them out and replacing them with
new rivets. To repair the spring-loaded contacts themselves, he went on,
you can cut off the contact end of a good one and solder it to the old
post, after the bad end is completely removed. To adjust the position of
stepping switch wipers he said you should loosen the screws which hold the
wiper assembly in position, move it to the proper position, and re-tighten
As to the springs associated with stepping switches, Steve said to
always use the proper spring sizes. The torsion spring wound around the
main shaft, he went on, should have 2 1/2 turns of tension on it when the
unit is "reset". He then remarked that when a stepper is properly cleaned
and adjusted (including proper torsion spring tension) that the "acid
test" is that it will properly "reset" from it's first position above it's
As a final note on stepping switches, Steve mentioned the small
stepping units used on many Gottlieb games in the 1970's. He said that in
some of these games there was a sheet describing how to service these
units. He then remarked that the major problem with these switches is
adjusting the wiper to make proper contact with the circuit board contact
After finishing with stepping switches, Steve began the subject of
maintenance of the mechanical scoring reels used on pingames in the 1960's
and 1970's (and on multi-player games in the late 1950's). He began by
telling us not to be afraid to take them apart as they were "keyed" so
that you can put them back together properly.
He then said that you should first check the coil stop. He went on
to say that these units should be adjusted with the reel in place, saying
you should not be able to move the reel itself by hand when everything is
properly adjusted. Steve then explained in detail how to take a score
Regarding the score reels used on Williams games, Steve said they
generally have two typical problems, both connected with the switch
contact sets associated with the score reel unit. One problem he said is
that the screws holding the switch stacks together often become loose.
The other problem, he went on, is the wiring coming loose from the solder
Steve next talked about "Drop-Target" problems. As he had said
regarding other mechanical units, screws becoming loose often cause
problems. He then said that rubber grommets used with those targets many
times deteriorate and need replacing. He then went into detail on methods
of taking drop-target banks appart.
Regarding Bally target banks, he mentioned the common problem of one
target falling immediately when a target bank is "reset", saying it was
caused by wear of the unit. He then advised us to use a special type of
Allen Wrench which applies extra torque when loosening certain screws on
Steve then warned us not to stretch springs to try and make a drop-
target unit work properly, but to properly clean and adjust the unit
first. Finally he said you can replace broken targets by drilling out the
rivet holding them in place, replacing the target face, and re-riveting.
On the subject of pinball "bells", Steve first reminded us that they
"take a pounding". He then said you should first make sure everything is
tight, and then look for broken brackets. As far as "chime unit" problems
were concerned, he commented that Gottlieb used an adhesive-backed piece
of rubber at the bottom of the plunger which often deteriorated and stuck
to the sides of the plunger, causing it to jam.
Steve next discussed a problem frequently occurring with Gottlieb
"ball return" mechanisms; namely that of the solenoid having to kick the
ball several times before it gets kicked all the way to the plunger. He
said that if the ball is too far down on it's support piece, too much
energy is required to kick it all the way. The ball is then pushed up,
hits the top of the tray, and then falls back to it's original position.
He then remarked that the "out-hole switch" helps hold the ball up high
enough, and therefore should be adjusted properly, which he said most
often solves this pesky problem.
Steve once more digressed for a moment from repair problems to tell
us of a simple way of improvising a "free-play button" on games, such as
Add-A-Balls, which don't have one. He said to move the "slam tilt" switch
on the front door such that the "coin return" button will operated it.
This switch can then be wired across the coin-switch and used to start the
Steve ended his very informative discussion with a brief mention of
a solid-state pinball problem. He said that the Bally "Solenoid Driver
Board" often has damaged soldering at the bottom. He suggested that you
should always inspect that board carefully, and "reflow" the solder if
PREMIER PLANT TOUR
The annual pinball plant tour this year, as it was at Pinball Expo
'85, was at the Premier Technology (formerly Gottlieb) plant. After about
a half hour bus ride to the factory, we all gathered in the employee "day
room" where we were treated to free soda pop. We were told that we would
be broken up into groups and that our tour guides would all be "old-time"
Gottlieb employees who would try to answer any questions we might have.
While in this room I noticed a "Pepsi vending machine" and thought to
myself that sure wouldn't have been there when the Coca Cola Company owned
Gottlieb a few years ago.
Well, our tour guide was Adolph Seitz, Premier's Vice President of
Research and Development, who told us he started working for Gottlieb in
1966 when he was still in High School. He then told us a story about
someone once offering to trade a "mint" Gottlieb HUMPTY DUMPTY (the first
flipper pinball) to the company for one of their new games. He said that
Alvin Gottlieb agreed to make the deal and that Gil Pollack, present owner
of Premier, now owns that prize.
Our tour of the plant began at the "dock" area where shipping and
receiving took place. There we saw some "cocktail table" pingames which
Adolph said they had made for another company. Next we went through the
"archive" area where older game schematics, score cards, etc., were kept.
Adolph told us they kept parts for games made up to five years ago. We
did notice a few schematics however as old as eleven years. They also had
some of the photographic type backglasses stored there. We also saw an
area where small parts were stored.
We next went by the entrance to the "secure area" where the game
designers had their offices, but were not allowed to go in. During a
brief pause in the tour Adolph was questioned regarding typical game
production figures. He told us that they usually produced approximately
80 games per day, except at the start of production of a new model. He
also told us that they have been coming out with four or five new games
each year, adding that their usual production run for a game was 3 to 5
thousand machines. He also told us that they owned a small factory in
Fargo North Dakota where all their cables were produced.
Adolph was also asked about their "test locations" for new games.
He replied that most of their testing was done in the plant. However, he
went on, we also have a few test locations across the country, but most of
our testing is done "close to home". When asked about the overseas
market, Adolph replied that was their largest market, adding that any
language translation required was done by their overseas distributors.
Before resuming our tour he told us that Premier would be releasing their
first video game at a later date.
We next visited the printed circuit board preparation area. Adolph
told us that there were usually 15 to 19 circuit boards in a game. We saw
a special machine which automatically inserted small components in the
boards. This machine could bend the leads on a part, insert it in the
proper place on the board, and then bend the ends of the leads in
preparation for soldering. Adolph remarked that some parts still had to
be inserted manually however.
We next saw the "wave soldering" machine which applied solder to the
boards and the washing and drying machine which cleaned the finished
boards. Adolph told us that the washer used "dishwashing detergent". He
then told us that after washing, each board went through a mechanical
quality assurance test and then was fully tested electrically.
We then were taken to an area where completed playfields were
thoroughly tested using a specially constructed electrical "test fixture".
The young man operating this device actually used a steel ball to test the
action of all playfield switches.
Our tour ended at the final assembly and completed game testing
area. Adolph told us that everything about the finished game was checked
there; mechanical, electrical, and physical. The current game in
production, by the way, was BONE CRUSHER, which was the same game used for
the Pinball Expo tournament qualifying rounds.
After the tour we boarded the busses and returned to the hotel for a
quick "wrap-up" session presented by some of the Premier personnel. This
was so short, in fact, that by the time I got back to the lecture hall it
was all over! Sorry folks!
DESIGNING A PINBALL
After the Premier "wrap-up", four representatives of Data East
Pinball began the second edition of their pinball design "audience
participation" game. Rob Berk introduced Data East designer Joe Kaminkow
and the members of his "team". They consisted of their Director of
Engineering Ed Cebula, company President Gary Stern (who again manned the
blackboard - what a job for a CEO!), and a game designer named Jerry
Joe began by telling us that the session this year would be
conducted in much the same fashion as last year, with the audience being
asked to vote on the various characteristics of the game being designed.
Gary Stern then showed us the prototype for the game, OLYMPIAD,
which we designed last year, saying it would be available for us to play
in the Exhibit Hall. He then applauded the "design team" for their
Gary next gave us a brief "history" of his company. He started by
saying that it was on the weekend of the second Pinball Expo that it was
decided to start Data East Pinball. He then remarked that during the Expo
the following year we toured their plant. He then told us that they had
just finished their most profitable year yet.
As far as Data East's future was concerned, Gary told us that they
were going to shortly come out with a "solid-state flipper" which he said
would have no "End-of-Stroke Switch". He also told us that they were
going back to "screened" backglasses, abandoning the idea of "photographic
artwork". Gary then introduced Jerry Armstrong.
Jerry began by saying that a pinball designer has to be a little
"crazy", and quite possibly a "masochist". He then said that on the game
we designed last year some of the shots were impossible, saying that a
designer must always consider "ball flow" in all of his designs. He went
on to tell us that most pinball players want "bozo games" which are easy
to play. He then said that a designer must always think about how well a
game will sell, in both the U.S. and also foreign countries.
At that point our new design effort was ready to begin. We were
told to design a "1991 era game". We first voted on the size of the game,
which we chose to be the standard size. We were next asked to choose the
game's "theme". The themes recommended by the audience included "sky
jump", "pinball history", "3 for a dollar", "Las Vegas", "prism",
"skateboarding", "world travel", and "ping pong", with "Las Vegas" getting
the most votes.
When asked to vote for the artists to work on the game we selected a
team of three consisting of Kevin O'Connor, Pat McMahon, and Margaret
Hudson. We were next asked to vote on the initial "skill shot". The
suggestions included "pull down a slot machine handle", "knock down
targets", "jump over Caesar's Palace", "go around a Roulette Wheel",
"smash down a 'papier mache thing'", and "shoot for 3 spinning targets",
the latter suggestion being chosen.
We were then asked to choose the configuration of the top of the
playfield. From the suggested ideas of "a kickout hole and two lanes", "3
lanes", "2 lanes representing a pair of dice", and "Even, Odd, and Double-
Zero", the last suggestion again received the most votes. When asked to
decide on how many pop-bumpers the game should have, three was chosen.
We were next asked to select a "Las Vegas thing" to use on the
playfield. We chose "Drop-Targets to be used to try and get '21' as in
Blackjack over "having a Roulette Wheel in the center of the playfield".
When asked where the drop targets should be located, "in front of the Pop-
Bumpers" was the location chosen.
The last thing we were asked to choose for our game was some sort of
a "gadget". Suggestions for this included: "a 3-D hologram", "3 kickout
holes which kick the ball from one to the next", "a ramp with a swiveling
center section", and "a 'Fireball target'", with the "swiveling ramp"
being finally selected. That ended our design.
Joe Kaminkow then told us about their newest game, "ABC MONDAY NIGHT
FOOTBALL", which he said would be advertised the following Monday night by
the Goodyear Blimp during it's flight over the football game at Soldier
BABY IN THE HOLE
Following the pinball design session, the "continuing story" of
Harvey Heiss' BABY IN THE HOLE took another turn. Joe Kaminkow told us
that Expo producer Rob Berk had suggested that Data East Pinball try and
develop Harvey's game, and that Gary Stern agreed to try it. At that
point Data East artists Kevin O'Connor, Pat McMahon, and Margaret Hudson,
who had done the artwork for this "masterpiece", were asked to come up on
stage. We were also told that Ed Cebula "worked day and night" on the
project. At that point the entire BABY IN THE HOLE design team was
After asking Harvey to come up, the game was finally unveiled. It
was something to behold, with it's flashy artwork, brilliant colors, and
fabulous sound, including sound effects, music, and even speech. Upon
first seeing the game Harvey declared "I don't believe it". He then
proceeded to play his "baby".
Harvey then told us how Rob Berk had inspired him to build his
original "prototype" of the game, which he constructed in his carport in
Florida. He then told us how he designed the "special tool" required to
form the "saucers" on the playfield, passing the tool around for us to
Harvey next complimented the Data East design team on the wonderful
job they did on the game and said that it "brought back many memories".
He then told of his leaving Genco 35 years ago and going to work for a
fellow named Bert Lane, who had once been a Genco Distributor. While he
was working for Bert, Harvey said, he designed and built the prototype of
the coin-op puppet game PEPPY THE CLOWN, and sold it to Williams. He then
told us that he also designed a "digger game" which he also sold to them.
Harvey then told us that Harry Williams and Sam Stern made changes
to "Peppy" before they went into production. Harvey said that his
original design was better because it was "vacuum operated" and could do
much more than the "electric" version that Williams produced. He said his
puppet could even walk.
That ended the lecture hall presentations for the first day of the
Expo. That evening the Exhibit Hall was opened, but more about that
A COLLECTOR - AND BEYOND
The Saturday morning activities began with a talk by long-time
arcade operator and pinball collector, and a good friend of mine, Marc
Fellman of Omaha. Marc began by telling us how glad he was to finally be
able to attend a Pinball Expo, saying his business in Omaha, and for
awhile in Las Vegas, had kept him from attending previously. He went on
to say that he regretted that his friend and ex-partner Wade Wright, who
now runs a record store in San Francisco, could not have attended, saying
maybe Wade would be able to attend in the future.
Marc then introduced his wife whom he had brought with him and asked
her to hand out to everyone in the audience an old Bally game brochure.
He told us that Bally's long-time advertising manager (now retired) Herb
Jones had once given the brochures to him, asking him to give them to
people who would appreciate them. Well, I for one sure did, as after
making a small trade, I ended up with the brochure for my "OK Bingo"
Following this, Marc began to tell about his background in the
pinball business, saying that he started in the business in 1970, but had
his first real contact with an old pinball game quite a bit earlier. He
then told us that he actually played his first pin, a Williams FRESHIE
(1949), in his uncle's basement in 1957. He said he fixed the game for
his uncle, remarking that "once you've fixed one, you got to fix another".
He also told us that he had worked on games after that in the arcade of an
amusement park which his uncle operated. He then told us that the first
game he ever actually owned was Gottlieb's 1958 game ROTO POOL, which he
said he still owns.
Next Marc told of opening his own arcade in Omaha, which he called
"Gizmo's", in 1970 in a area which had no arcades at all. He said he
really didn't like the newer games that were out at the time and started
looking for older games. He then said he could often get older games from
distributors when buying some new ones.
Marc said he started collecting games because they were "American"
and he thought the games, and the industry, should be perpetuated. And
besides, he said, he thought that nobody collected them.
He then told us that in 1971 "the sky fell in" because replays were
outlawed in Nebraska. He said that he then went to South Carolina for
awhile and learned about bingo pinballs. In 1975, he went on, they opened
a second arcade in Omaha, a large modern place in a shopping center, which
they also called Gizmo's. He said at that time they bought $50,000 worth
of equipment from Cleavland Coin, saying that about half was 'junk' and
the other half new games. He went on to say that the 'junk' lasted, but
the new stuff made money.
Then, in 1982, he told us he and his partner took over an old
Gottlieb and Rockola distributorship in Omaha, which was founded many
years ago by the grandfather of the late Nebraska Senator Ed Zorinski.
Marc said that he and his partner Wade first went in to help the family
out, but eventually bought the company. Just after they took over he told
us that Gottlieb withdrew their product line, but they made a deal with
Gottlieb that they could buy whatever they wanted (games, parts, etc.)
from the company. He then remarked that "we really cleaned them out" as
far as getting parts was concerned.
Marc next told us that by 1983 video games were becoming "boring"
and at that time Nebraska legalized "video lottery" games for two years,
the money raised being used to build libraries and other civic projects.
After these games were stopped in 1985, Marc went on, he got involved in
setting up "gaming" on an Indian Reservation in Iowa, which he said still
Next he told us of going to what he called "the Mecca of the coin
machine industry", Las Vegas. He said that a fellow named Jackie Gahaun,
who had been involved with the Las Vegas casino business since the 1950's,
bought a run down hotel with a small casino, the Hotel Nevada, and hired
Marc to get it back in shape. Marc said Jackie told him "here it is; get
it in shape; don't call me, I'll call you".
Marc told us it took him a year and a half to re-do the place, which
finally employed a staff of 70 people. He said he then started looking
for old machines in Vegas. He told us he found an old warehouse full of
"bingo pinballs" which he could buy for $75 to $100 each, because, he
said, people had stopped playing bingos in Las Vegas".
He then said that he set up two of these machines, a LAGUNA BEACH
and a MALIBU BEACH, in the hotel lobby to see what would happen. He told
us that two days later when they opened the coin boxes they were full of
nickels which surprised him, as during the day when he was at work he
didn't see anyone playing these machines.
Then one night, he said, he monitored these games with a security
camera and the next day when he watched the tape he saw two fellows
playing the machines from about 11:30 PM until about 5 in the morning.
Marc said these guys were long-time bingo pinball players and were good
players, but a little "weird". He then told of talking to them once and
them telling him that in Las Vegas there just wasn't any place to play
these machines anymore.
Marc next told us that the next step after being a player and an
operator would have to be to make your own games. He went on to say "we
want to play 'the fun stuff'", saying "the new equipment is 'great', but
is too complicated, requiring the players to be 'geniuses' to play it".
Marc then said he would like to see good old style games reproduced, but
using all the advantages of the new technology.
He then told us about modern slot machines he saw while in Las Vegas
which used microprocessor technology to simulate the action of the older
electro-mechanical machines. Marc then said that he is "begging" today's
game manufacturers to reproduce the "old style games", saying he thinks
they would "work" in the 1990's
He then went on to tell the manufacturers not to make the mistake of
not looking at the past. Marc then said that they should make those kind
of games because that is what we want. He then said they should bring
back the screened backglasses, because the photographic ones look
terrible. He then continued, saying they should bring back single player
games, score reels (simulated by solid-state technology), etc.
At that point Data East game designer Joe Kaminkow interrupted to
make some comments from the game manufacturers viewpoint. He began by
saying that today's manufacturers are working hard to make reliable
products. He said the new machines use four color art and mirroring on
their backglasses, and scoring up into the Millions again as they did in
the 1950's. He continued by saying that the old games were fun, but that
today's players want to see "modern things", saying that "today's players
need what we make".
Joe then remarked that they still make "bozo games" too. He then
said that in the old days you got five balls with about 15 seconds play
per ball. He compared that with the modern three ball games, which he
said gave the player about 40 seconds play per ball. He next described
the quality they put into their games today.
Marc then said that the new games were too expensive and that the
operators were not making any money with them. At that point there began
more arguing back and forth between Marc and the people from the pinball
companies. Steve Kordek from Williams remarked that they would go broke
trying to reproduce the old games, saying that people today wouldn't buy
Finally Marc ended that part of the discussion by saying that he
thinks the Expo can provide the "connection" between the player and the
factory. Harvey Heiss then spoke up to say that his BABY IN THE HOLE was
a good example of the kind of game Marc was speaking about.
Marc next started giving us hints on ways to find old games today.
He said that during the time that he and Wade were building up their
collection over 1000 games passed through their hands.
His first suggestion was to "specialize" in one type, manufacturer,
or "era", and not try to collect everything. Regarding the price of games
he said don't be afraid to pay a little more for a rare game because you
might not see it again. He then went on to say that when you sell a game
you should always ask a fair price, which he said is what they always did.
As far as actually locating games, his first suggestion was to use
classified ads, both placing your own "old pinball machine wanted" ad and
looking for games advertised by others. He then said he thinks that the
majority of old games that are "out there" are in people's basements.
Marc then suggested that you look for people who have owned their
houses for many years and might have bought a game for home use in the
past. Finally he said to talk to historians, operators, etc., to find out
where the equipment was originally located. He went on to say that he
believes there are still many old games to be found in the Northeast and
the Southern states.
In wrapping up his presentation Marc suggested that AMOA, in trying
to promote pinball, should get "free advertising" by tying pinball into
the current "anti drug" campaign. He also said that the industry should
stop using violent themes for games and "get back to the fun stuff"
Marc then again got back to the subject of producing new "old style"
games for a moment, saying that in 12 to 24 months something like that is
going to happen, either with or without the current pinball manufacturers.
Marc then thanked the Expo producers for a wonderful show and
thanked all the collectors, etc., who attended for making the Expos
successful. He ended by saying "I have never had so much fun with pinball
people; I will come now forever!"
This year at the Expo we had presentations by two great pinball
artists; one older established artist who is still active in pinball art,
and the other one of the newer young talents.
Joe Kamindow first introduced veteran artist Mr. Paul Faris, who he
referred to as "a legend in pinball art". He told us that Paul was
responsible for the art for the Bally games: NIGHT RIDER, EVIL KNEVIEL,
LOST WORLD, EIGHT BALL, PARAGON, XENON, and CENTAUR, plus Game Plan's
Joe then told us that he called Paul several times "begging" him to
do a game for Data East. Paul finally agreed, he said, and he was given a
theme for the game. He went on to say that the game wouldn't be out for
awhile, but that we were going to get a "sneak peek" at this forthcoming
game, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Joe then commented that this was the "best of
Paul's artwork" except, he added, "for his next one". He then said that
Paul was going to do BATMAN for them.
Paul started by telling us that he worked for Bally for 10 years,
starting at the beginning of the "solid-state era", first doing EVIL
KNEIVEL for them. He then said that he started with Bally as a "staff
artist" and later became their Art Director. He went on to say that he
had a group of great young artists working for him who produced "some of
the best pinball art ever done".
Paul then told us that when he left Bally he started his own Paragon
Studios, which had pinball art as 30 to 40 percent of it's business. He
then remarked that he thought that violent art on games is on the way out.
Paul then told us that he had brought some of his original paintings
with him so we could compare them to the finished backglasses. He first
showed us his painting for PARAGON. It was beautiful! He told us this
was his first "wide-body" game, and said it took between 2 weeks and a
month to produce the painting. He went on to say that he and his wife
were the "models" for the main characters. He then remarked that the art
for the playfield of games also required much effort to produce.
Paul next showed the painting for LOST WORLD, saying this was his
first use of "4-color art", and that as a painter he loved that type of
art. He then showed XENON. At that point he remarked that "pinball is
the greatest place to display an artist's work".
Paul then told us that he once did a game which never made it to
market. He said it was his first work after leaving Bally and was done
for Williams. Steve Kordek then remarked from the audience that "Paul was
a delight to work with".
Next Paul showed his original painting for PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, the
audience applauding when this masterpiece was unveiled. He first told us
that he originally read the novel as "research" for his painting. Paul
then said that when the player first sees the game the phantom is masked,
but that during play of the game he can become unmasked. He then showed
us the finished backglass which received more applause.
At that point Paul thanked Data East for their cooperation in the
project. He then told us that the painting took him about three weeks to
complete. He ended by telling us that it took a lot of research to make
the game realistic to the story, including the great organ music which it
Paul then offered to answer questions from the audience. Marc
Fellman first asked if they had to pay any royalties to use the Phantom of
the Opera theme. Paul answered no, saying that the novel was in public
domain. He then remarked that the novel was much more interesting than
the movies (except possibly for the original silent film) adding that in
the novel the phantom is deformed from birth. Joe Kaminkow then remarked
that the playfield art on the game was "phenomenal".
When Paul was asked if he planned to continue doing pinball art, he
answered "I'd be crazy if I didn't". Dan Kramer then ask Paul if he had a
theme idea which he would like to do? Paul replied that he liked doing
Phantom, saying he had become a "fan" of the story four months before he
was asked to do the game. He added that he would like to do other themes
that he felt comfortable with.
When asked the name of an electro-mechanical Bally game which was
never released, he said it was called KICKOFF and had a soccer theme.
Paul then commented that "pinball was a great medium for an artist",
adding that pinball artists were great people to work with.
Marc Fellman then asked Paul if after doing the original painting
did he get involved with producing the screens. He said no he didn't like
to get involved with that, adding that Margaret Hudson could do that and
often did. He was then asked if he had to consider the locations of the
score readouts, etc., in doing his artwork. He replied that he did, but
added that the designers would sometime change these things to suit the
The final question asked of Paul was what, if any, outside
influences affected his art? He replied that his paintings were somewhat
influenced by "fine art". He also said that the work of other pinball
artists often have some influence on his work.
Joe Kamindow introduced the other pinball artist to appear, Kevin
O'Connor, saying that Kevin was "the most valuable pinball artist to come
along in the past 10 years". He then gave a partial list of Kevin's games
including Bally's STRIKES AND SPARES, STAR TREK, SUPER SONIC, VIKING,
KISS, MYSTIC, and SILVER BALL MANIA, plus Data East's LASER WAR, SECRET
SERVICE, PLAYBOY, ROBO COP, and ABC MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL. He then
remarked that Kevin went to California to show PLAYBOY to Hugh Hefner.
Joe went on to say that creating the PLAYBOY backglass was very
complex, involving an "18 shot composite", with each shot taken at a
different time. He added that it also required extensive "air brushing".
He then told of Kevin attending a "pajama party" at the Playboy Mansion
while doing research for the game. Finally he said that it cost almost
$60,000 to make the PLAYBOY backglasses. Joe then said that ABC MONDAY
NIGHT FOOTBALL was Kevin's biggest challenge yet, adding that Kevin was
"their main man" and that he was currently working on two other games.
Kevin began by saying that he much preferred "painted glasses" over
"photographic" ones, but that preparing photographic glasses was both
stimulating and challenging. He went on to say that it was like "shooting
a movie", but without the "action". Although, he went on, you try to give
your audience "the feeling of action".
Kevin then told about producing the glass for SECRET SERVICE, saying
that it was supposed to give the illusion of a car chase in Washington
D.C., although it was actually filmed in Madison, Wisconsin at 3 AM. He
then said they used a "story board", had to have "sets" designed and
built, had to hire models, as well as getting costumes and props. He then
said that they sometimes have problems with the weather, and even once
were attacked by bees while on a "shoot". He then remarked that because
of the high cost of producing photographic glasses they would probably go
back to painted glasses, which he prefers anyway.
He next showed us examples of some of his older work. When showing
STAR TREK, he remarked that the uniforms were reproduced from those used
on the TV show, then saying that violence was not allowed back then.
Kevin next showed us his oil rendering and the final glass for VIKING,
saying that in those days you could keep your original paintings.
When Kevin showed us KISS he said that at the time he was working on
it the group was touring the country, and that they worked closely with
Bally to insure their "heroic image". Finally Kevin told us that the
Playboy party "was all work".
At this point questions were invited from the audience. Kevin was
first asked if he also did art for the game cabinets and brochures? He
replied that he did all the art for the games, including the cabinets, but
that the Data East brochures were done by an outfit in California.
However, he continued, I did work on the brochures while I was at Bally.
Kevin was then asked who owns the original artwork for a game? He
replied that he did when he worked for Bally, but at Data East the company
owned it. When asked to tell us what was his favorite of the art that he
had done, he replied FLASH GORDON and SILVER BALL MANIA from his Bally
days, and ABC MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL from Data East.
Finally he talked briefly about the car on TIME MACHINE. He said
that it was his wife depicted in the passenger seat, that fellow artist
Margaret Hudson was the "hippie girl", and that he himself was the driver,
although many people thought it was supposed to be John Travolta.
ABC MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
During the Saturday morning presentations Data East's Joe Kaminkow
gave a presentation on their latest game, ABC MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL. He
began by telling us how that game originally came about.
Joe said that when the TV show of the same name first started using
a pinball scene in their introduction, there was much curiosity about what
game they were using. In fact, he said, he got several phone calls that
evening from people asking if he knew. He said he taped the scene and
played it over and over, but still couldn't figure it out.
Joe said he next called ABC to ask about it, and that his call was
finally transferred to the Director of ABC Sports who told him that it was
created for them by a production company in Oregon. He went on to say
that they were thinking of having an actual game produced. At that point
Joe said that he told him that Data East was already working on a game
like that. When this person told him that he was coming to Chicago and
would like to see it, Joe said "we had to do something quick", and added
that Data East hurriedly made up a prototype game.
When the ABC Sports Director came to Chicago Joe said they took him
out for lunch and drinks and then showed him the plant and the prototype
of the game. He said after that they became good friends, and that they
came to an agreement with ABC that same day to do the game.
Joe went on to tell us that it took three months to get a contract,
but that it included rights to home cartridge games as well as the coin-op
pingame. Joe then told us that when ABC started to use the game for
promotions for the TV show, they used four machines which they shipped by
van to the various cities all over the country where the football games
were played. He then mentioned that a local Chicago TV station did a
presentation on the game, showing shots in the factory, and also that it
was mentioned in USA Today.
Joe than told of ABC using the game in connection with the 20th
Anniversary of the TV show. He told us that on May 8th there was a dinner
at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles to celebrate that anniversary
where the game was shown, and that the Goodyear Blimp flew over flashing a
sign reading "HAPPY BIRTHDAY ABC MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL".
He then told us that the original "game" used for the TV show used a
SPACE INVADERS cabinet, and a modified NIGHT RIDER playfield, adding that
it cost about $700,000 to produce the "TV spot".
Regarding the design of the Data East game, Joe told us that their
mechanical engineer "busted his buns" trying to make the goal post go up
and down. He then told us that NFL President Pete Roselle owns one of the
games, as does ABC sportscaster Frank Gifford. He also said that when
Barbara Walters first saw the game she "went crazy over it".
Before showing us two "videos" regarding the game, Joe ask if there
were any questions. When asked if the NFL had any inputs to the game Joe
replied "none, only ABC was involved". When next asked when Data East was
coming out with their "solid-state flipper", he said soon, remarking that
it used one coil winding and no "End-of-Stroke Switch".
Joe then showed us the first "video" which lasted about 8 minutes.
It was mostly about the football games themselves, showing scenes from
various ones, but had a brief mention of the pinball with Frank Gifford
talking about it. This video was used at the AMOA show where the game was
first introduced. It ended with Country and Western star Hank Williams
Jr. singing his song "Monday Night Football".
The second video lasted about a minute, was all about the game, and
featured the voices of the TV sportscasters. This promotional video ended
with the announcer saying "Pete Roselle has played the game and likes it".
That ended Joe's presentation.
Incidentally, I played the game later in the Exhibit Hall, and it is
quite something to see and hear!
USING A 'LAPIDARY TUMBLER' IN CLEANING PINBALL PARTS
The final talk Saturday morning was presented by pinball collector
John Rausch, telling how he used a device called a "Lapidary tumbler" to
clean pinball parts during restoration of a Bally FIREBALL.
John began by saying that when he once showed Rob Berk some parts he
had cleaned using this method that Rob was fascinated by it and thought
that other collectors would be interested in knowing about the process, so
Rob invited John to speak at the Expo. John told us that this method of
cleaning is also used by collectors of toy trains and other toys to clean
parts. He then told us that he was going to show some slides showing how
he restored his FIREBALL using this cleaning technique.
John told us that the tumbler was originally developed for use by
rock and gem people to clean those items, although he added, it usually
took them 6 to 8 weeks to clean their items, vice the 1 hour (2 hours for
very bad items) required to clean pinball parts. Another difference, he
went on, was that the gem people used water and "grit" to clean rocks,
whereas water and "steel shot" were used to clean game parts.
The first slide John showed us showed his game parts before
cleaning. He pointed out to us the surface corrosion present on most of
the parts. He then said that almost any pinball part could be cleaned,
including relay armatures, small springs, screws, and even rusty steel
John next described the actual cleaning process. He said that to
clean pinball parts you should use 5 pounds of "chrome-plated steel
'shot'" which you can buy from a lapidary supply store. This should be
put in the tumbler, along with the parts to be cleaned, and it should then
be filled 3/4 full with water, mixed with a little hand soap. That
mixture, he went on, should then be tumbled at approximately 20 RPM for
about 1 hour.
After that, he went on, the mixture can be run through a French Fry
strainer and then rinsed with clean hot water over again until the parts
are clean. At this point, he continued, the parts can be dried using a
John then remarked that this method of cleaning pinball parts is
great for a collector who wants to totally restore a game, but he didn't
recommend it's use by game operators.
He next showed slides showing the cleaning of a stepper unit,
remarking that it should take less than 5 minutes to disassemble such a
unit to remove the parts to be cleaned. He went on to say that
reassembling a stepper after cleaning should take about 10 minutes.
Someone from the audience then asked John if there was any way to
keep cleaned parts in that condition? John replied that you could use
clear lacquer on some parts, but said that keeping the game in a good
environment was probably best. Someone else from the audience then
brought up the idea of having parts "cad plated". John agreed this might
be a good idea for some parts, but warned us not to do that on parts where
size tolerances were critical to proper operation of a unit.
John next talked for a few moments about playfields. He first said
that to clean dirty playfields he often used nylon pads and soapy water.
He next remarked that most playfield parts can also be cleaned by the
tumbler except, he warned, never try to clean painted parts that way or
the paint will be completely removed! He went on to say that it was a
good way to clean metal and plastic playfield "posts", as well as all the
screws. He then remarked that metal plates which have name labels glued
onto them can usually be tumbled and the labels will not be damaged.
To clean very delicate parts John said that crushed Walnut shells
could be used in place of the steel shot. He then warned us never to try
to clean Allen Head Screws with shot because some of the shot could become
imbedded into the screw head and would be impossible to remove.
Someone from the audience then suggested that you might look for
used lapidary tumblers advertised for sale in "want ads". John then told
us that the retail price of a new tumbler is about $110, and that 30
pounds of shot would cost about $30, but he added, the shot will last
forever! He then told us that the shot was in all different shapes, each
shape designed to do a specific cleaning job.
John told us that his restoration of FIREBALL took approximately 42
hours. He then said that if a batch of parts are extremely dirty, you
might want to change the wash water after about the first 15 minutes of
Finally John suggested that this method be used for cleaning the
parts on the coin door, which he said should take about 15 minutes to tear
down, and about an hour to reassemble. To sum up, John told us "if you
want to do a nice restoration job on your game, this is the 'ultimate time
saver' for cleaning small parts."
John then asked if there were any questions? He was first asked,
"how much force or pressure does the process exert on the parts being
cleaned?" John answered saying that the process was "very gentle", adding
that the reason that it worked so well was that the cleaning action was
repeated over and over hundreds of times. He then said that the tumbler
has 8 sides which causes the parts to tumble much the same way as in a
Finally John was asked, "how many games have you done using this
method?" He answered that he doesn't clean all parts in all games this
way, only the parts that need it. He then said that he had restored about
15 games in all.
As usual, the Expo banquet was held on Saturday evening. Prior to
the banquet itself, we had the usual cocktail hour, during which the play-
offs for the "Flip-Out '89" pinball tournament took place. The play-off
game, as it has been in the past, is always a surprise to the
participants. This year the game was none other than Data East's yet
unreleased new game PHANTOM OF THE OPERA!
This game was something to behold, with it's fabulous Paul Faris
artwork, and the fantastic sound system which played unbelievably
realistic organ music. Well, when the smoke finally cleared, the
survivors of the tournament were Larry DeMar of Williams for the
manufacturers, and a young man named Dave Hegge from California for the
When the dinner was served it was delicious again this year.
Following the meal the quest speaker was introduced by Expo Chairman Rob
Berk. This year it was Data East's President Gary Stern.
Gary began by saying that this group was an interesting forum for
him to talk to, as he usually talks to operators and distributors. Here,
he went on, we have a "mixed group" that includes people who love pinball
as an "art form", as well as the factory people who know pinball as a
business. He then remarked that pinball design is sort of a cross between
art and business.
Gary then said that he learned that pinball was both a business and
an art form from his father Sam Stern, who had been in the industry from
the 1930's up until his death a few years ago. He said that his father
used to say that a pinball machine is like a movie - an "entertainment";
having a theme, action, a climax, art and sound, and that it also requires
production and distribution.
Gary continued saying that a pinball must have art, but must also
make money. He then told us to notice that all the factories participate
in the Expo. He said that this is an interesting forum for us because we
can all meet here on a "level ground" with others involved with games,
saying it is a real pleasure to participate and that they always will.
Gary next said he would give us a little of his "history" in the
pinball business. He said he came into the business through his father
Sam. Sam he said was the son of an immigrant and originally was a "rag
man", who started out as a foreman in a coat factory.
He then told us that Sam once bought a couple small counter-top
games in the 1930's and put them on location in a tavern, only to discover
shortly that his games were "replaced" by other games operated by "the
Mob". Sam then put his games in a drug store, Gary continued, and this
time had better luck.
He then said that one night Sam got a call from the drug store
telling him his games wouldn't work. Upon checking on this he found out
that they were only clogged with coins. At that point, Gary said, his
father decided that he liked the coin machine business and founded an
operating company which he called "Scott Cross".
Gary told us that in those days when his father was on a date he
would often stop by a location and get money out of the machines. He said
one of the best money makers Sam operated in those days was the console
game PACES RACES. A little while later, Gary told us, his father started
a distributing business in Philadelphia.
Gary next said that after World War II two important things
happened. First, he said, was that he was born (which Gary said was very
special to him) and second was that Sam went to see Harry Williams.
He said that Sam was sitting in Harry's office at his desk one day
and said to Harry "why don't you sell me the company?" Harry said that he
would have to go flying and think that over, which he did, and then
decided to sell Sam 49 percent of Williams Manufacturing.
Gary said that at first Sam was not too successful in his new role
and was often "disruptive" at the plant. In fact at first, he went on,
Harry would not even let Sam come into the plant. After awhile he said
Harry moved to California and would fly back and forth in his private
plane between his new home and Chicago.
Gary then told us how Harry used to fool Sam into thinking that he
was really a help in the business. Harry he said would design a game
while in California and bring a drawing of it to Chicago to discuss it
with Sam. He said that Harry would always purposely put an "error" on his
drawing (always in the upper left-hand corner) and Sam would always say
that something was wrong, which Harry said he would correct. The next
day, Gary told us, Harry would return with the drawing as he had
originally designed the game, and Sam would think he had really helped by
pointing out the problem. Gary then remarked that Harry always knew how
to take care of his father.
Gary next told us that the business was easier in those days. He
said that Harry would come up with an idea for a game, make a sketch,
prepare the prototype ("whitewood"), do the electrical and mechanical
design, and fix the game on the line. He compared that with the way
things were much later at Stern Electronics in the 1980's where they
needed engineers, technicians, programmers and sound people to design a
game. He then said that even then Harry would still draw out the
playfield, and was the only one he knew who could always do that perfectly
In connection with Harry Williams' love of flying, Gary told us that
Harry once bought a "Link Trainer" (an early airplane flight simulator
used during World War II to train pilots) and put it in his office at the
plant. He said that Harry, and Williams' chief engineer Gordon Horlock,
would "fly" this simulator every afternoon. He then said that after Harry
got out of the game business in the early Sixties, he tried to sell
private jets for a French outfit.
Gary then started talking about himself, and his connection with the
pinball business. He said that he liked the business ever since he was a
kid when his dad used to take him to the plant on Saturdays, which he
remarked, was in a bad neighborhood where thiefs would even sometimes
steal batteries out of Police cars at the Police Station. He then told us
that he often played with bumper caps, etc. He next told us that he also
liked it when Harry Williams would take him to the Museum of Science and
Industry to watch the toy trains, because Harry was even thinking about
making a coin-op electric train. He also said that he had a "slot car",
and that years later Harry was in the slot car business for awhile.
Gary then told us that Harry was like a "second father". to him and
his brother, telling us that for Bar Mitzvah Harry once gave his brother a
gasoline powered model airplane and gave him a chemistry set.
He then said that at the age of 16 his father gave him a job at the
plant working in the stockroom, which he said taught him the importance of
the "business side" of the pinball business (inventory control, etc.).
When he was 18, he went on, he attended college in New Orleans
where, he said, the legal drinking age was also 18. During this period he
told us that he learned that the "gin mill" was "the backbone of the
pinball business", saying that he once told his dad "I started one step
below you; you started as an operator and I started in the "gin mills"".
Gary then told us that when Harry Williams designed a new game Harry
would tell him how much he thought the kids would like certain features.
He said that he would then tell Harry that half of the games they made
would go to bars, and their business was "to get people drunk, and keep
them that way." Later, Gary continued, I owned bars and discovered that
the purpose of games was to keep people in them drinking.
In 1964, Gary then told us, Sam sold Williams Manufacturing to
Seeburg, and shortly after that United Manufacturing was taken over from
Lyn Durrant. At that time, he continued, the Williams plant was moved to
the United factory on California Ave., where it is today.
He told us that the new plant was interesting. First, he said, the
roof leaked. He also said that Lyn Durrant had his own apartment and a
ballroom on the second floor, a bar for the plant foremen downstairs, and
a barber shop in the "guard shack". He said that Lyn used to spend half
of his time at the plant, and the rest downtown. All these areas he said
were later turned into offices by his father.
Gary then told us that he finally got his college degree in
Accounting and did not want to go back to school anymore. His father,
however, had other ideas and eventually persuaded him to go to law school.
After getting his law degree, he told us, he went to work for Bally
where his father had also gone, becoming an Executive Vice President.
Gary said he worked for them as a law clerk working with Bally's lawyers,
specializing in "slot machine law".
Then in 1973, he continued, he went back to Williams when they
decided to start making slots, and ran their slot department because of
his knowledge of the law. But, he said, they were "outclassed" by Bally
and didn't do so well with their slots.
In 1976, he told us, he left Williams with "a combination of
laughing and crying" because, he said, he would always have a special
place in his heart for that company. At that point, he went on, he had to
find something new to do, and ended up buying and selling slot machines.
Canada at that time, he told us, passed a law which was supposed to
legalize "free play pinball machines". But, he continued, in Canada the
laws are first written in French, and then translated into English. He
told us that the French said "coin in the slot games", but the English
finally read "slot machines". As a result, Gary said, "free play slot
machines" became legal in Canada, and he sold over a quarter million
dollars worth of them to Canada in three months, which worked out very
well for him he said.
He then told us that around the same time his father needed
"something to do", as he was spending most of his time playing golf, which
he said, he didn't do very well anyway.
Well, he continued, at that time Chicago Dynamic Industries
(formerly Chicago Coin) was going through bankruptcy. Gary said that he
knew something about bankruptcy being a lawyer, and the banks knew
something about his father, so they ended up acquiring that company, plus
Seeburg (also having financial trouble), and a couple of other outfits
including a cabinet company, forming Stern Electronics.
The problem for the new company, Gary said, was that they were set
up to produce electro-mechanical games right at the time when Bally, and
the others, were coming out with solid-state pinballs. However, he went
on, since Bill O'Donnell of Bally was a good friend of my fathers, he sent
us one of their new solid-state games for us to use and copy their
"system". Therefore Stern's digital games used the same system as Bally.
There was only one problem, he continued, and that was that I put
out a letter to the distributors saying our system was "an improvement
over Bally's". But, he said, his father somehow got him out of that one!
Our first solid-state game, Gary told us, had a appropriate name; it
was simply called PINBALL. He then said that once the company got going
they could put out about 170 pinballs and 400 video games a day, and that
they did very well for a time.
Gary next told us that working with his father was a "different
experience" and that most people could not do that successfully. He went
on to say that he got to know Sam's strengths and weaknesses, and
therefore knew him a lot better than most people know their fathers.
However, he went on, his father also knew him better. He then told us
that they often fought over games and that sometimes he would get mad and
After a while, Gary said, videos "went stale" and their business
started falling off. He said they also tried "pinball conversion kits",
but they just couldn't compete with new games, such as William's SPACE
SHUTTLE. Gary then admitted that he didn't always understand the
complicated playing principles in the later games they made at Stern,
adding that in those days you didn't make any "bozo games". Gary then
said that today's games are easier for the player to figure out.
Gary next started talking about his current company, Data East. He
said that he first put together a "business plan" for a new company, which
would be located in Chicago, the only place where games can be made
successfully, he added. He said that he raised some private capital, but
that they had to finally get help from Japan.
Gary then said that normally when a Japanese company starts doing
business in this country they get a Japanese General Manager, do their
engineering and design, as well as their part "sourcing", in Japan, but
sell their product in the U.S. In the case of Data East Pinball, however,
he said they have an American running it (himself), do their engineering
and design and part sourcing in Chicago (except for some printed circuit
boards made in Japan), and export about 50 percent of their product. He
then said that they have been successful using this system, and that he
thinks this is the way that Japanese and U.S. industry should work
He went on to say that they started three years ago in a 350 square
foot building, and without any drawings, but they knew were the parts they
needed were to be found. He said that getting their first game, LASER
WAR, ready for the AMOA show resulted in a "long night" for Joe Kaminkow
and their people.
Gary then told us that by May 1989 they had a 21,000 square foot
factory which we will tour during next year's Expo. He next told us that
their method of producing games is different from the other companies, as
they only design and assemble games, buying all sub-assemblies from
subcontractors. He said this requires less investment, less overhead, and
less training for their workers. He then said that they are capable of
producing up to 60 games per day, but usually about 45, except for limited
run games such as PLAYBOY and ABC MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL, which he added,
will probably become collectors items in the future.
Gary then said that their goal was to "design great games" and he
thinks they have shown that they can do that, adding that their "digital
stereo sound" was certainly very good. He said that the Japanese
tradition of taking quality very seriously is certainly practiced by Data
He went on to say that they are constantly making improvements to
their games, such as their forthcoming "solid-state flipper", adding "we
are doing things that nobody else has done". Gary then quoted his father
who always told him "I'd rather build a 'good game' that works than a
'great game' that doesn't". He then added that their job was to make
"creative" games, but also make them reliable so that the operators can
make a living from them. Gary then remarked that he believes that his
company has helped the industry by "pushing others to make a better
product". Adding, "after all, isn't competition the 'American way'".
As to the future of Data East, Gary said that they have "a number of
people to serve". First, he said, we have to make the player happy, and
to do that we must look at the types of players, which are primarily
teenagers and bar patrons. Next, he continued, we have to keep the
locations happy by keeping people in their establishments. He continued
saying that they must help the operator by providing better play pricing
and also must help the distributors by not over-producing.
Gary then told us that the manufacturer also has to make money,
therefore the designers must always keep production costs in mind when
designing a new game. He then told us that he got into the business
because of his father who gave him three things to help him. First, he
said was his name; second, a good education, both formal and informal (by
listening to what his father and his friends had to say) and, lastly, a
love for the business.
Finally he said he founded Data East to "prove a point", that a new
pinball company could be successful today. He then said that with the
help of his people he put Data East into a meaningful position in the
industry, and he thanked them for helping him "prove his point".
When Gary concluded his talk, Expo Chairman Rob Berk presented him
with a plaque "in recognition of his achievements and contributions to the
pinball industry, and for his participation in the Expo".
After that Rob told us that it was "a tradition for the Expo to
honor people", and that this year they were going to start honoring
individuals. He then started talking of Alvin Gottlieb and how he has
helped the pinball industry. Rob then called Alvin up on stage and
presented him with a plaque. Alvin started reading the inscription which
supposedly said something about Rob Berk winning on "Bowling for Bucks".
Alvin then said that there were many people in the industry over the
years who should be acknowledged. He then continued, saying he would like
to pick someone to give an award to, someone who he said "deserves
recognition for contributing more good games to our industry than anybody
I can think of".
At that point he asked old-time Gottlieb designer Wayne Neyens to
come up. Wayne was sure surprised, finally realizing that this whole
thing with Alvin was "staged" to honor him instead.
Alvin then told us that he had started working with Wayne in 1947,
Wayne having started with the company many years earlier in 1939 however.
He then said that he worked with Wayne in the Engineering Department in
1948 and 1949 when Harry Mabs (inventor of the flipper) was Chief Engineer
and Wayne his chief understudy.
He went on to say that Wayne developed the 'art" of pinball design
into a "science". He then said that Wayne's attributes are unmatched,
having a high degree of sensitivity and knowledge, and a "mind set" such
that when he had an idea he "stuck to his guns".
Finally Alvin talked of the long list of games Wayne had designed.
He then said that Wayne was not just an employee of D. Gottlieb and Co.,
but was "a part of the family". He then thanked him "on behalf of the
family and the industry", and wished him a long healthful life.
At this point Premier/Gottlieb President Gil Pollack was invited to
pay tribute to Wayne. He began by saying that we all recognized designers
such as Wayne, Steve Kordek, Norm Clark, etc., but reminded us that they
are not "gods", only normal human beings. He then told of Wayne having
arguments in the plant with a fellow named Bob Smith years ago over Bob
keeping the furnace too low, saying that Wayne often got mad and went
home. He said that when Wayne retired he left his sweater at the plant,
then presenting him with an old sweater.
Continuing in this "gag gift" mode, Gil also presented Wayne with a
nickel he said Wayne once lost in a bet, a hockey "shin guard" which he
said Wayne used to keep from hurting his legs when he got mad at a game,
and an old fishing pole which he said Wayne once lost while trying to
teach him to fish in Arkansas. For his final gift Gil presented Wayne
with the backglass for the ill fated two player Gottlieb game CHALLENGER,
saying that the company was finally through with that game, having sold
the 300 they once built over and over again.
Finally, Gil mentioned a long list of names of people that Wayne had
worked with over the years at Gottlieb. He ended by saying that Wayne was
"a great member of the industry", that he taught them a great deal, and
that he surely deserved recognition, then thanking him for his
Next up to pay tribute to Wayne was Donal Murphy, pinball collector
and owner of Electrical Windings, Inc., the supplier of coils and
transformers to Gottlieb since the 1930's. Don started by saying that his
first contact with Wayne was in 1963 when he started working for his
father at Electrical Windings. He went on to say that their company
always tried to meet Wayne's needs with their products.
Don then said that he started collecting pinballs in 1974, and that
his two all-time favorite games were KINGS & QUEENS and SLICK CHICK, both
designed by Wayne, saying that's why he appreciates his work.
Don then thanked Wayne for the fine games he designed starting in
1949 with COLLEGE DAZE. Finally, he presented Wayne with a large coil
which he said was "the extra powerful flipper coil he always wanted".
Rob Berk then invited pinball player, collector, and author Dan
Kramer up on stage to present the final "tribute" to Wayne Neyens. Dan
began by saying that he had known Wayne personally since 1985, but had
grown up playing the games he designed at the old boardwalk in Santa Cruz
California, and other locations nearer his home. He then remarked that he
had never had a better time doing anything in his life than playing
Dan next said that it's hard to say what he likes most about playing
pinball. He said that when he was a kid he didn't care how much it cost
to play, and that any money he got a hold of went into the coin slot. He
also said that he would travel to the game locations any way he could, by
bicycle, hitchhiking, or on foot. He then remarked that he liked the
thrill of "snatching victory from the jaws of the outhole".
Dan then spoke of his enjoyment of the hobby of pinball collecting,
saying "it is the greatest hobby I could ever have". He went on to say it
provided the "adventure" of hunting for games, plus the enjoyment of
making new friends year after year; always learning about new people who
collect and enjoy pins.
Dan next said that the hobby also increases his "technical skills",
and that he enjoys discovering new concepts put into the games by the
designers. He then remarked that he loved the symmetry of the playfields,
and the various arrangements of the bumpers, targets, etc., on them. He
said that a few games are "dogs", but that these were far outnumbered by
memorable games, which he said "captured his soul". The games, he said,
to which he kept coming back.
Dan next said that in the old days he really didn't think about
these games being designed by specific people. He went on to say that
after all these years he was fortunate enough to have met and talked to
one of these designers, the person that was responsible for some of the
best games he'd ever played.
Dan then said that Rob Berk asked him last year to get together a
tribute to Wayne for the Expo because Rob felt that he had a strong
feeling for Wayne's work. He then said that Wayne not being able to
attend last year's show gave him an extra year to prepare. Dan then told
us that his presentation would be a "whirlwind tour" of some of the best
games Wayne has done. He continued, saying that he would give us a look
at the "Gottlieb heritage", to which Wayne was a strong contributor.
At this point Dan asked Wayne to stand up so he could shake his
hand, and then prepared to set up the equipment for his slide
Dan started by reminding us that Wayne started his career early, at
16, when he was almost out of High School, getting a job as a draftsman at
Western Products coin machine manufacturing plant. Dan then paused for a
moment to thank those people who contributed to his slide presentation.
He then talked briefly about Western's flamboyant owner Jimmy Johnson, and
showed a few slides of brochures for some of their games. Dan continued
by saying that Wayne soon advanced from drafting to helping fix some of
the games in the factory.
Dan next began telling about D. Gottlieb and Co., where Wayne moved
in the late 1930's, and their wartime efforts, showing pictures of their
war theme game KEEP 'EM FLYING. He then showed the first flipper game,
HUMPTY DUMPTY, talking of it's new flippers, mirrored backglass, and
"light animation". Dan then mentioned the other "fairy tale" theme games,
the idea for naming them he said was Dave Gottlieb's.
After showing Gottlieb's 1949 game BUTTONS & BOWS, which he said was
not designed by Wayne, but that he helped with the prototype of, he began
showing slide after slide of the fabulous games Wayne designed during the
As each game's playfield was shown, Dan provided in-depth comments
regarding the game's various features. Space does not permit me to go
into these details, but maybe some day Dan will honor us with a COIN SLOT
article describing these games.
The games Dan showed included BANK-A-BALL, JOKER, and KNOCKOUT from
1950; NIAGRA from 1951; HIT-'N-RUN, CROSSROADS, HAPPY DAYS, CHINATOWN,
CORONATION and QUEEN OF HEARTS (which Dan remarked that Wayne feels was
"his best") from 1952; FLYING HIGH, GRAND SLAM, POKER FACE, MARBLE QUEEN,
and SHINDIG of 1953; DRAGONETTE and HAWAIIAN BEAUTY from 1954; and
SLUGGIN' CHAMP and FRONTIERSMAN from 1955.
At that point Dan's fine presentation had to be curtailed due to the
lateness of the hour, but he told us that it might be concluded at a
future Expo, reminding us not to forget that Wayne's fine games continued
into the 1960's.
Rob Berk then got up and told us about how much he enjoyed once
visiting with Wayne and his wife at their home in Arkansas. He then
presented Wayne with a plaque "commemorating his 30 years in the
industry". At that point Wayne got up to speak.
He began by thanking Rob, saying he really appreciated the tribute,
adding that he was "speechless". Wayne then told us how nice it was to
see so many of his old Gottlieb cohorts at the show, telling us that he
was sure happy to be there.
He continued, saying that he felt he was fortunate to have started
in the industry back in 1936, because it enabled him to associate with so
many outstanding people, mentioning other industry greats like Harry
Williams, Sam Stern, and Lyn Durrant. He added that when he first started
at Western he worked with Lyn, who he said, treated him like a son.
Wayne ended by saying that many of the great designers are still
around today, mentioning Steve Kordek and Norm Clark. Finally he thanked
Rob for "keeping the names of these wonderful people alive".
Rob Berk then got up and said that this was a "special year" for the
Expo in that Harvey Heiss' BABY IN THE HOLE finally became a reality. He
then presented trophies to all at Data East who participated in that
Rob next made a presentation to Clyde Knupp, President of AMOA.
Clyde then thanked Rob for what he is doing for the industry with the
Expo, and then added "what I've seen here makes me want to come back -
this is certainly more fun than AMOA!" Clyde then told us that at first
he didn't know what to expect, but that he really met some nice people.
Clyde then mentioned Harvey Heiss' 1948 game SCREWBALL which was the
"Game Of The Year" that year, again pointing out that a pinball also won
that award in 1989 for the first time in many years. Finally he told
Harvey that the people in the industry appreciate the contributions made
over the years by people like him.
Rob Berk next presented a special award to Data East's Director of
Engineering Ed Cebula for his achievements in pinball engineering and
design. Rob then thanked Gil Pollack and the people of Premier for
allowing us to visit their plant, and then presented Gil with an award.
At that point Gil presented the keys to a brand new Premier BONE
CRUSHER pinball to the winner of the Flip-Out '89 pinball tournament, Dave
Hegge. Following that, Expo Exhibit Chairman Mike Pacak presented the
award for the "best exhibit" to an outfit called "Futuretronics" because
of the wide variety of items they had on display in their booth.
Rob Berk again got up and thanked all his people who helped him put
on the show. He then presented gifts of candy to the English visitors,
and also a box to Mike Pacak. Rob then thanked all the game manufacturers
for participating in the Expo.
At that point Rob called Marc Fellman from Omaha to the stage to
make a very special presentation to Harvey Heiss. Marc then presented
Harvey with a 1948 Genco SCREWBALL, the game Harvey had won the Game Of
The Year award for, saying it had come from his collection. Rob Berk then
got up again and presented Joe Kaminkow of Data East a "loving cup" for
his contributions to pinball.
Following that the raffle drawing was made, the winner receiving a
brand new Williams BLACK KNIGHT 2000 pingame. The lucky winner happened
to be seated at our table. The final event of the banquet was the
awarding of a myriad of door prizes. That being completed the banquet
festivities ended, but the Exhibit Hall was re-opened for those who wanted
to roam around there during the "wee hours".
THE EXHIBIT HALL
As it always has been, the Exhibit Hall this year was really the
"heart of the Expo". It was the place were people could congregate, meet
and talk to each other, play games (both old and new) and do a little
"shopping". The hall first opened on Friday evening, was open most of the
day Saturday until just before the banquet, and reopened after the
banquet, staying open for awhile giving players their last chance to play
Since most of the Expo attendees are pinball players, this was a
great place to play pinball. One could try out the latest games by the
current manufacturers, play many of the older games they used to enjoy in
past years, or try out some "classics", some even made before some of the
players were born. Even my wife, who hasn't played pinball in many years
(even thought we have quite a few at home), started playing some of the
newer solid-state games, apparently enjoying their flash and excitement.
This year the Exhibit Hall was actually two rooms. One room was the
area where most of the games were for sale, along with parts and
associated items, and also where the current manufacturers displayed their
latest machines. The other room was where the Premier BONE CRUSHER
machines were set up and used for the Flip-Out '89 tournament qualifying
play, but also contained a very special array of classic pingames for
exhibit and play only; games brought for us to enjoy from the private
collections of Expo co-producers Rob Berk and Mike Pacak.
These great machines were in excellent condition and were a real
treat to behold, as well as for old-time pinball players to play, reliving
their past for a little while. The following is an alphabetical list of
these great pinball machines.
GAME MANUFACTURER YEAR
300 GOTTLIEB 1975
A-GO-GO BALLY 1966
ARMY AND NAVY WILLIAMS 1953
BIG TOP GOTTLIEB 1964
BLAST OFF WILLIAMS 1967
BRONCHO GENCO 1947
CARNIVAL MIDWAY 1963
CIRCUS BALLY 1957
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS GOTTLIEB 1978
COLORS WILLIAMS 1954
CUE BALL WILLIAMS 1956
CYCLONE WILLIAMS 1947
DUDE RANCH (BINGO) BALLY 1953
FLIPPER GOTTLIEB 1960
FLIPPER POOL GOTTLIEB 1965
FOUR STAR WILLIAMS 1958
FUN CRUISE BALLY 1966
GRAND PRIX WILLIAMS 1976
INCREDIBLE HULK GOTTLIEB 1979
LIGHTNING BALL GOTTLIEB 1959
LOOP THE LOOP BALLY 1966
MAJORETTES GOTTLIEB 1964
METRO WILLIAMS 1961
MOTOR SHOW ?? 198?
MOULIN ROUGE WILLIAMS 1965
MR. CHIPS GENCO 1939
NAGS WILLIAMS 1960
PAT HAND WILLIAMS 1975
POKER FACE KEENEY 1963
ROCKET SHIP GOTTLIEB 1958
ROYAL FLUSH GOTTLIEB 1957
SCREWBALL GENCO 1948
SEA WOLF WILLIAMS 1959
SHOW BOAT UNITED 1952
SKI CLUB WILLIAMS 1965
SPACE MISSION WILLIAMS 1976
(AMAZING) SPIDER MAN GOTTLIEB 1980
SPOT POOL WILLIAMS 1959
STRUGGLE BUGGIES WILLIAMS 1953
SUPER FLIPPER (PIN VID) CHICAGO COIN 1975
TEMPTATION SEGA 1977
TEN SPOT WILLIAMS 1961
TRADE WINDS WILLIAMS 1962
TRAFFIC BALLY 1935
UNIVERSE GOTTLIEB 1959
VAMPIRE BALLY 1971
VIKING WILLIAMS 1960
WIGGLE JIGGLE ?? 1932?
WING DING WILLIAMS 1964
Many thanks to Rob and Mike for going to the trouble and expense of
bringing their treasures to the Expo for all to enjoy!
In addition to being a place for viewing and playing pinballs, for
many the Exhibit Hall was a place to do a little "shopping". If you were
in the market for one or more pinball machines, either old or new, this
was a good place to come. About a half-dozen outfits and private parties
were there offering a wide variety of pingames of most all vintages for
sale. Most of the prices asked were fairly reasonable too.
While looking at the games displayed, I saw a machine that I had
only remembered working on when I was a kid. In all my pinball research I
had never come across an ad for it, but I knew it existed because I
remembered both it's name and the configuration of it's backglass. The
game was Bally's CROSSLINE, and from it's appearance I think it must have
been made in 1940 or 1941. The only Bally CROSSLINE I have ever seen
advertised was an entirely different game which they put out several years
earlier in 1937. Anyway, I really enjoyed reliving my remembrances of
this neat "art-deco" pingame ( I LOVE "art-deco") which I had not seen in
over 40 years but still remembered. See, I was right all along, that game
The following is a chronological list of the pingames for sale in
the Exhitit hall:
NAME MANUFACTURER DATE
WHIFFLE AUTOMATIC AMUS. 1931
RICOCHET STONER 1937
ABC BOWLER GOTTLIEB 1941
HIGH STEPPER STONER 1941
CROSSLINE BALLY 1941?
SOUTH SEAS UNITED 1945?
SEA ISLE CHICAGO COIN 1947
MONTEREY UNITED 1948
ROUND UP GOTTLIEB 1948
WISCONSIN UNITED 1948
YANKS WILLIAMS 1948
HAPPY DAYS GOTTLIEB 1952
EASY ACES GOTTLIEB 1955
CROSSWORDS WILLIAMS 1959
LIGHTNING BALL GOTTLIEB 1959
TIC-TAC-TOE WILLIAMS 1959
SUN VALLEY CHICAGO COIN 1963
SWEETHEARTS GOTTLIEB 1963
WORLD FAIR GOTTLIEB 1964
FLIPPER POOL GOTTLIEB 1965
KINGS AND QUEENS GOTTLIEB 1965
PARADISE GOTTLIEB 1965
CASANOVA WILLIAMS 1966
HOT LINE WILLIAMS 1966
KING OF DIAMONDS GOTTLIEB 1967
DIXIELAND BALLY 1968
PLAYMATES GOTTLIEB 1968
HEARTS AND SPADES (AAB) GOTTLIEB 1969
MIBS GOTTLIEB 1969
2001 GOTTLIEB 1971
FIREBALL BALLY 1972
POP-A-CARD GOTTLIEB 1972
FUN FEST WILLIAMS 1973
NIP-IT BALLY 1973
ODDS AND EVENS BALLY 1973
FREE FALL (AAB) GOTTLIEB 1974
BUCCANEER GOTTLIEB 1976
OLD CHICAGO BALLY 1976
SPIRIT OF '76 GOTTLIEB 1976
EIGHT BALL BALLY 1977
MATA HARI BALLY 1977
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS GOTTLIEB 1978
HOT TIP WILLIAMS 1978
LOST WORLD BALLY 1978
SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN BALLY 1978
(NITRO) GROUND SHAKER BALLY 1980
ASTEROID ANNIE GOTTLIEB 1980
ROLLING STONES BALLY 1980
SILVERBALL MANIA BALLY 1980
VIKING BALLY 1980
BARRACORA WILLIAMS 1981
CENTAUR BALLY 1981
LIGHTNING STERN 1981
SPLIT SECOND STERN 1981
THUNDERBALL WILLIAMS 1983
CYCLOPS GAME PLAN 1985
LITTLE CHIEF WILLIAMS 1985
HIGH SPEED WILLIAMS 1986
In addition to the games for sale in the Exhibit Hall, there were
several booths which had various pinball parts for sale (both new and
used), including the commercial outfit Wico. These parts also included
fine new reproductions of pop-bumper caps produced by Donal Murphy.
For those interested in "pinball paper", of course we again had Expo
Exhibit Chairman Mike Pacak's booth featuring a wide variety of pinball
flyers, always a popular item at all the Expos.
Several pinball publications were also available in the hall. Mike
Pacak was selling both Dick Bueschel's new book, "Pinball I" and the fine
new color book "Pinball - The Lure of the Silver Ball" by Gary Flower and
Bill Kurtz. Dennis Dodel also had a booth where, in addition to having
some nice games for sale, he was taking subscriptions for his great
pinball-only periodical PINBALL TRADER, as well as having available for
sale copies of yours truly's book "Pinball Troubleshooting Guide". Steve
Young, of course, was also there selling his fine Silverball Amusements
Finally, there were of course, the new pinball machines by the
current game manufacturers. From Williams we had LASER CUE, MILLIONAIRE,
BIG GUNS, F-14 TOMCAT and POLICE FORCE, plus the Ballygames SPECIAL FORCE
and LADY LUCK. Premier was showing their Gottlieb game RAVEN, in addition
to their latest game BONE CRUSHER which was used for the tournament. From
Data East we saw TIME MACHINE, LASER WAR, PLAYBOY, and of course ABC
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL, also seeing a preview of their forthcoming
masterpiece, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, in the banquet hall during the
tournament playoffs. In addition to these new games, Game Plan's
SHARPSHOOTER and ANDROMEDA were also displayed.
Well, there you have it, a pretty complete run-down of what went on
at the 1989 version of the now famous Pinball Expo. The show was GREAT,
as usual, and the "good news" is that Pinball Expo '90 has already been
planned. Rob Berk informed us at the banquet that that show will be
presented at the same location on November 9th and 10th 1990. For
additional information you can call Rob at (216) 369-1192. SEE YOU