PINBALL EXPO '97
(The 13th Year)
by Russ Jensen
Well, for the 13th year in a row Pinball Expo was held in the Chicago area. The site (as it has been for the past 10 years) was the Ramada O'Hare Hotel in Rosemont Illinois, and the show was held November 13-16, 1997. Also, as in the past year or two, Expo activities began on Thursday morning with a tour of the new Williams pinball plant in Waukegan Illinois. After the tour there was a little "get-together" party (called the "Bumper Blast") in the afternoon.
Like last year, I decided to miss the first two Expo events as it would have meant flying to Chicago on Wednesday (or taking a "red-eye" - never again!) with the additional cost of almost $100 for the extra night at the hotel! Also, like in all the years past, the Expo admission fee and the room rates increased over the previous year, with Expo admission now costing a whooping $100! (It started at $35 in 1985.)
Also, in order to save a few bucks I booked flights on Southwest Airways. I was told I would have to change planes in Las Vegas and arrive in Chicago at Midway Airport vice O'Hare. I called the hotel before making reservations and the clerk said they did not provide a shuttle to Midway, but gave me the name of a bus company which they said could provide that service. I called that company and the lady said that I could get one of their shuttles to take me to the hotel. So I made my reservation.
The day before the flight I again called that bus company to confirm that they could get me to the hotel. The lady that answered this time told me THEY COULD NOT!!! I again called the hotel and they told me there was no way - other than an $40 cab - to get from Midway to the hotel, and that I would have to get a shuttle from Midway to O'Hare and then the hotel shuttle to the hotel. They gave me the number of another shuttle company which went between the airports, which I called and they said they had hourly shuttles between the airports at a cost of $14. So I was stuck with this mode of transportation. To add insult to injury I also discovered the day before my flight that Southwest provides NO MEALS (only snacks) on ANY of their flights.
My flight left Burbank at 7:45 AM. After arriving in Las Vegas I bought a sandwich to take along on the next leg of my flight for my lunch. I changed planes in Vegas (1 hour-40 minute layover) and arrived in Chicago at 4:30 PM after a stop in Omaha. The shuttle to O'Hare was supposed to leave at 5 PM, but didn't arrive until 5:30, getting me to O'Hare about an hour later. I then got the hotel shuttle and arrived at the hotel about 6:45 on Thursday night.
Well, after getting to the hotel I checked into my room (which I shared with my roommate for the past several years, John Cassidy) and then went to the show registration area to pick up my registration packet. While in that area I was approached by some gentlemen who came all the way from Russia who I was supposed to meet at the show.
Several months before the show I received an email message from a Russian computer software producer, Andy Novikov, who said he was interested in producing a computer simulation software package of "classic" pinball machines, asking which games I would recommend for his project? I sent him a list of 10 games (made between 1932 and 1972) and he told me he would like to do them all! - but that has since changed. After that I began sending him (via email) photos and descriptions of the "play characteristics" of those games. I was later pleasantly surprised when he informed me that his company was allowing him to come to Pinball Expo!
As I said, I met him and two of his coworkers at the time I arrived at the show. We then departed saying we would see each other later, but as things turned out we never seemed to be in the same place at the same time. But, as it turned out, I found out later that they accomplished a lot at the show toward their project goals.
After my brief meeting with the Russians, I went into the Expo Exhibit Hall (which had opened at 6 PM) for a brief look around. After entering I went directly to Steve Young's Pinball Resource booth, to pick up my prepaid copy of Dick Bueschel's new book - Encyclopedia of Pinball - Volume 2 - a truly beautiful book! After a brief look around the hall I went to the first "Fireside Chat" scheduled for 8 PM. By the way, there will be more about the Exhibit Hall in Part 2 of my Expo coverage.
FIRESIDE CHAT #1
This "chat" featured pinball industry "old-timer" (although not quite as much of an old-timer as previous chat participants) Jim Patla, formerly of Bally and now with Williams. After everybody was gathered in show producer Rob Berk's suite at 8 PM, Rob introduced Jim - reading a list of the many pingames Jim had designed in the past.
Jim began by telling everyone that he had started working for Bally in the 1960's while he was still in High School! One of the interesting things we learned from Jim was that long-time Bally designer (who designed many of the great Bally electro-mechanical games of the 1960's/1970's), Ted Zale, once worked for Genco before coming to work at Bally.
After Jim telling about his early years at Bally, the session was opened to questions from the audience. But, as I have said regarding past Fireside Chats, a detailed account of this event is beyond the scope of this article.
THE "INTERNET GET-TOGETHER"
The other Thursday evening Expo event was the "Internet Get-Together", a feature at the past two Expo's. This is an informal meeting where all of us who are active in the "world of pinball on the Internet" get together to share information on their Internet activities as they relate to pinball. As in the past, the host of this affair was New Hampshirite Dave Marston. After everybody had gathered, Dave began by saying that he proposed a topic for the session of "what are you doing to further pinball on the Internet?" - adding that that could include "important developments since last year".
Dave started by saying that one thing that could be done was "identifying places to play pinball". Someone then mentioned the pinball "chat channel" which was used by some pinfans. The posting (on the "rec.games.pinball" ["r.g.p"] Internet newsgroup) of sightings of new prototype pingames, and also posting of "rule sheets" for new pins were then mentioned.
Someone then brought up the subject of a different kind of pinball "chat" service known as "Pinheads On-Line", which he said required you to have special software to participate. We were told that this allowed private chats with a selected person. The Pinball Arcade Preservation Society (called PAPS) was then described where pinball owners/collectors could list the games they owned in this on-line database.
After Dave remarking that r.g.p was "quite civilized" compared to other Internet newsgroups, he asked the question "how many posts are made to r.g.p in a day?. Someone answered that it was approximately 120. Dave next asked the group if anyone had anything they wanted to publicize?
Daina Pettit from Salt Lake City told a little about his "Mr. Pinball Classifieds" which he has on his website. He said he has processed over two thousand ads, most of which have a "fast turn-around". Daina then mentioned another feature of his site, the "Collectors Register" in which pinball collectors list information about their pinball interests - saying that approximately 600 people had registered so far.
After asking how many were involved in a "pinball mailing list" on the Internet, and getting a low response, Dave asked how many people used the Internet for email only? Very few people showed that they did, indicating that most read the r.g.p newsgroup. When he then asked how many there were "new" to the Internet, only a couple people raised their hand.
Dave next commented that r.g.p was originally started around October or November of 1990 and that the volume of people participating in it is still increasing. He then took a poll of the audience regarding what percentage of the r.g.p postings people read, most indicating that they read over half. Dave then asked people what they thought was the "worst subject line" r.g.p'ers could use on their postings? One answer (which I certainly agree with) was For Sale ads where the person does not indicate where they are located - someone also mentioning "one word subjects".
At that point Dave asked people to give ideas for "advice to r.g.p. users"? The first thing mentioned was "don't post binaries" (large computer files containing pictures, etc.). Someone next said that when a person describes a problem they are having with one of their games they should name the game. After a brief discussion of the expanded FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document posted monthly on r.g.p., a brief mention was made of using the "Dejanews" Internet website to locate past r.g.p. postings. The list ended with a brief mention of the old "r.g.p. archive" (which will be reopened in the future), followed by a mention of the Pinball Pasture website in Sweden.
Dave next asked each person to introduce themselves, which we did, giving our names and also having the opportunity to tell of "special" things we were doing related to pinball on the Internet. After that, Dave told of the new "Pinball Webring" (an Internet facility where people can go from one pinball website to another quickly and easily), also saying that this makes looking at websites "more user friendly". Someone next proposed that a database of "pinball sites" on the Internet be set up. The session was then formally ended with Dave suggesting that people could now meet "informally" with each other if they desired.
The session ended just before eleven o'clock. Since I had not eaten anything since the sandwich I carried aboard the plane for lunch, I decided it was time to eat! I went to one of the hotel restaurants and saw some friends eating there, so I joined them and had my dinner. That ended my Thursday evening Expo activities.
Friday morning, after eating breakfast, I went to the room where the Expo seminars were to be held in time for the Opening Remarks scheduled for 8:45. Expo host Rob Berk began by thanking everybody for attending. When he commented about the good turnout, including people from Europe and Japan, that brought a round of applause.
After mentioning the plant tour that had occurred the previous morning, Rob told of the second Fireside Chat with Sega Pinball's Joe Kaminkow scheduled that evening. He then told of the Designers, Artists, and Authors Autograph Session scheduled for Saturday afternoon.
Rob next said that this year, in addition to the regular pinball tournament, there will be a special "Senior Division" for players over 45 years of age. After taking a count of how many people desired fish at the banquet, he mentioned the game auction scheduled for Saturday morning. When Rob then told us that his wife Brigit was about to have a baby there was a round of applause. He then said that she was trying to prepare a "pinball cookbook" asking for recipes. Rob then introduced his co-host, and Exhibit Hall Chairman, Mike Pacak.
After the audience finished applauding Mike, he too welcomed us to the show. After reminding us that the Exhibit Hall would be open all night on Friday and Saturday nights, Mike also mentioned the auction. He next said that a Stern pinball machine would be raffled off at the banquet. Mike then thanked Williams for hosting this year's pinball plant tour, and for providing the new games for the tournament, bringing forth a round of applause.
As a "finale" to the Opening Remarks, Rob and Mike posed for the "traditional photo" of them shaking hands. It was then time for the seminars to begin.
SOLID-STATE PINBALL REPAIR
Rob Berk introduced the speaker for the first Expo seminar, "Solid-state Pinball Repair", Tom Kahill of Williams Technical Support, telling of a few of Tom's past accomplishments at the company. Tom then began by thanking Rob and Mike for putting on such fine shows. He then said the subject of his talk would be "repair and servicing of solid-state pinball machines".
After remarking that he considers electro-mechanical pins to be "vintage product", Tom started outlining what he wanted to cover in his talk. He said he wanted to cover their various "systems", then saying that he had a few manuals/books to give away. Tom next told us that he wanted to give a list of "service needs", adding that Preventive Maintenance is a "key factor" in game servicing, then remarking that today's games use much more advanced electronics than in the past.
Tom next commented that their new "Williams Pinball Controller" (WPC) is now used in all their machines - adding that it "makes things easier for their parts people, as well as for operators". He then said that on their dot-matrix displays, such as used on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND, if they don't display properly you should first check the power supply voltage. If that is OK, Tom said, then the display glass is probably bad and the display should be replaced and not attempted to be repaired which is a time consuming and costly process.
The "time frames" of use of their various systems was next touched on. Tom said that designer Steve Ritchie had made a difference in them deciding to change their systems as his "new ideas required the use of new technology".
Tom next remarked that they noticed at Williams that most of the games coming back to this country after being used in Europe had playfields that "looked new". He commented that that was probably caused by foreign operators taking better care of their equipment because games over there were more expensive to purchase. At that point Tom went to the game he had brought for demonstration.
After remarking that three minutes play time per game was fairly standard today, Tom then showed the proper methods of raising and securing the playfield during servicing. He next said that 60 to 70 percent of game servicing time should be devoted to Preventive Maintenance - adding that old games should be vacuumed and cleaned "from bottom to top".
After commenting that the rails on today's games are made of stainless steel and not chromed, Tom remarked that the old "myth" of not cleaning playfields with water was no longer true since fields are now "sealed". Cleaning playfields, he went on, should be done in two steps: remove excess dirt, and then clean - adding that waxing is seldom necessary.
We were next told that half of the service calls on today's games are for "jammed balls", Tom adding that multi-level playfields also cause problems. He then remarked that connectors are used more and more in today's games, resulting in less soldering - adding that when a problem occurs in a game the connectors should first be checked. Tom then commented that disassembly instructions are now contained in game manuals.
After mentioning information and software which Williams had available on the Internet, Tom began talking about the components on the bottom side of the playfield, such as flipper mechanisms and switches. He then remarked that they have tried to eliminate vibration problems in their games.
We were next told that in game maintenance one should "start with the simple things" - and that generally problems with games tended to be mechanical rather than electrical. Tom then said that they had changed from "push coils" to "pull coils" in an effort to reduce vibrations. He then remarked that one should always give a game a "visual check" to look for broken/loose parts, etc..
At that point Tom began demonstrating the built-in diagnostic features on their games. He first showed how to start the tests (including using the "help" facility) and showing how the "main menu" was divided into two major functions - "bookkeeping" and "tests". After commenting that when adjusting switch blades you should not bend the blade, but move the body instead, Tom began describing the switch tests which were available - including an "edge test" in which you manually operate the switches.
Tom next told of the solenoid tests which were provided, saying there were three types of solenoids in the games - high power, low power, and motor driven. He also showed how the game would display the wire color corresponding to the solenoid being tested.
The backbox area was covered next, with Tom first lowering the back panel and removing the glass. After saying that the flipper control circuit is now located on the Driver Board, he said that the solenoid driver circuit currently in use has been the same since 1978! Tom next commented that the "AA" batteries they use are very good, but should be changed about once each year.
After telling of the new smaller size fuses they now use, and mentioning that they are a "time delay" type, Tom stressed that you should always use fuses of the value recommended. He next warned that the "heat sinks" they use get very hot - "so be careful!" This was followed by a recommendation to check the tightness of the screws holding the boards in place, then a warning not to pull connectors off using the wires!
Tom next gave some cautions to observe when doing board repair. First he said to never use a screwdriver to remove an IC, then reminding us to make sure that removed plugs are always plugged back into the correct sockets. He then proceeded to describe a few more tests available on the game - including a test to locate a "stuck ball".
Tom ended his talk by saying "use your diagnostics" and "look for the simple things first". He then thanked us for listening and asked if we had any questions? After answering two quick questions, Tom was given a round of applause.
TIM ARNOLD AND DICK BUESCHEL
The second scheduled seminar was supposed to be conducted by pinball historian/author Dick Bueschel. But Rob Berk got up an announced that Dick would not be speaking, and as a replacement Las Vegas super-collector (with over 1000 games!) Tim Arnold would give a special talk. Rob then introduced Tim, which brought on a round of applause.
Tim began by informing everybody that the reason Dick would not be giving his scheduled talk was the sad fact that he has an inoperable brain tumor - adding that "a nicer guy you will never meet!" He then said that he was gong to talk about "how to start a pinball club".
Tim began by saying he would talk a little about pinball clubs which currently exist - mentioning the "Ohio Pinball Wizards". At that point Dick Bueschel entered the room in a wheelchair pushed by his daughter Megan which brought on a massive sustained round of applause! Dick then came up on stage and began a brief talk.
He began by saying "Boy, am I going to give you a talk today!" This brought on laughter and applause from the audience. After then exclaiming "pinball lives!", Dick told of his medical problems, saying concerning his tumor "they can't get to it".
Dick next commented "I've got to tell you what I believe - if it's not now, then when the hell when?". He next told us that pinball is "the most exciting, demanding human entertainment ever created", adding "I truly believe it is!" Dick next remarked that 1000 years from today "there will be a pinball game in which 'the ball is wild' and under control of the player", then adding "think of the last 100 years?"
After next posing the question "what is pinball?", Dick told us that all animals have a "niche", and the human's "niche" is culture. He then said we are the only animals that "make a niche in their culture, and then take it with them", giving "outer space" as a perfect example of that.
The first culture, Dick went on, was a black African culture, saying that was "the first time people faced who/what they were", adding "the big thing for them was death, and they had to have an answer for that". The next culture, Dick continued, was that of the Nubians who he said invented geometry, which the Egyptians later copied.
Then turning to Greek mythology, Dick told of Daedilus inventing the saw, hammer, and the axe. He then said that he was also the "first game designer" as he designed the labyrinth. Dick then talked of they being "perfect human beings" because they created something - games!
He next told of the American Indians playing the game of LaCrosse, and the Mexicans having a game similar to Basketball where they threw a ball through a hoop. Dick then remarked that man has been defined as a "tool making animal" - but that he liked to think of him as a "game playing animal". We were then told by Dick that games are "the height of democracy" because "everybody has a 'fair chance'if you develop your skill and talents". "That's what I truly believe", Dick said, "pinball is that game!"
Turning to his just released book "Encyclopedia Of Pinball - Volume 2", Dick said that it was now here, adding that it was "exciting to write" - then remaking that the story of the advent of electricity in pinball was an exciting story. He then told us that he wanted to tell the story of the pinball business in those days.
Dick next said that Gordon Hasse would assure that the series of books he had begun will continue - then commenting that it was "a pleasure to be here". When he then told us "I'll be back", that brought on another round of applause.
Tim Arnold then came back up to continue his talk on pinball clubs. After mentioning once attending a Christmas party put on by the Ohio club at Mike Pacak's house, he mentioned another club, the "Portland Pinheads" of Portland, Oregon, which he said eventually broke up due to disagreements among it's members. Tim then mentioned pinball clubs in Germany and Holland, as well as other small clubs such as one referred to as the "Reno Mafia".
Getting on with the subject of starting a new club, Tim said the most important thing was to have meetings, saying you should make a list of phone numbers of local pinheads and call them and say "let's get together". He then commented that Friday or Saturday nights are the best times for meetings, adding that people should "bring their own booze", quipping "no free beer for pinheads".
After mentioning the "Fun Nights" that his own "Las Vegas Pinball Club" has, Tim said that after a few meetings you should get the local newspaper to publish a "human interest story" about your club, including color photos, which he said should result in a "boost in membership". He then remarked that you should do things to try to eliminate the "peter out effect" which sometimes occurs in clubs. Tim said that later you should put on tournaments, but commented that his club finally discontinued them due to "cheating" by someone.
Getting to the subject of publicity for the club, Tim suggested that articles be submitted to magazines like the Pingame Journal, creation of an Internet website, and putting out a club newsletter. He said that a newsletter need not be too fancy and can even be done on a typewriter, adding that you could even sell ads in it to help defray the expense.
Tim next got on the subject of "fund raisers". He said that they generally follow what he called "the 90/10 rule" - 90 percent work, 10 percent people", adding "those that do, get". Tim then told us that his club has raised over $38,000 for local charities. He then told the story of a local casino employee who "put his job at risk" when he salvaged from the casino dumpster $15,000 worth of coin counting machines which he gave to the club to help in it's charitable endeavors.
The next thing Tim suggested was that you don't incorporate your new club - then advising that a special "community service" checking account be established which usually will not require a fee. He then suggested holding raffles of donated old games to raise money for charity. Tim next began the topic of operating pingames to earn money for charity.
He first suggested getting an area in a local mall where games could be set up for people to play, the money collected going to charity. Tim then suggested other locations for that type of operation, including bars and restaurants, he then suggesting that you use a "strong game" for that purpose. Other good locations, Tim went on, are "mom and pop stores" and laundromats.
Tim then gave a few suggestions for this type of operation, first saying that the game should always be in the "line of sight" of the proprietor, and that you should "beer seal" the top glass. He ended this topic by remarking that the money collected should go to charity. He then asked for questions?
When asked if the big appeal to him was giving to charity, or having the older games played, Tim answered "both". Someone then asked if he used electro-mechanical or solid-state games for his locations? Tim answered that he prefers older electro-mechanicals because he likes getting people to play them.
Tim was then asked how his charity games were labeled, and he answered with a big sign on top saying "100 Percent Donated to Charity". Someone from the audience then told of a pinball tournament he once held in conjunction with some of his friends from work where they charged an "entry fee", the winner taking the game they played on home with him - Tim remarking that that "was a good idea".
At that point a few more comments were made about some things a club could do, including: using T-shirts to advertise the club to others; using members to help other members with repair problems; and having a "flee market area" at meetings. Tim then commented on "clean" locations, and then went back to answering questions.
Someone asked next if Tim's club was receptive to people who do not own pingames? Tim answered "yes", then telling of one person who just came to play, and later gave him some nice old Bally pinballs. This prompted Steve Kordek in the audience to tell a story of once hearing of an old lady having an old pingame in her basement, which turned out to be Williams' first production game, SUSPENSE from 1946.
Tim ended by telling us to "take it less seriously - have fun"! After making the remark "most operators are stupid" because they don't clean their new expensive games, he quipped "the next guy's a jerk", referring to himself who was to make the next presentation. That brought a round of applause.
47 THINGS NOT TO DO TO YOUR PINBALL
Before introducing Tim again for the next seminar, Rob Berk introduced fellow Ohio collector Richard Lawnhurst in the audience who he said had 50 woodrail pingames in his collection - bringing on a round of applause! He then said he wished to introduce Tim again, first having Steve Kordek stand up and telling of Steve's 60 years in the pinball industry which brought out another round of applause!
Tim began his new presentation by saying "hi, it's me again" - then pausing while his handouts were passed out to the audience. He then began by remarking that "pinheads are cheap", saying that jukebox collectors spend thousands of dollars, but pinball collectors need to spend more money in order to get people to reproduce pinball items.
Continuing on that vein, Tim commented that "people (meaning pinball collectors) refuse to pay for things" - adding that they are interested in "more", rather than "better". Tim then commented that his handout contained many items he had talked about in his past Expo talks. (It is interesting to note that this year he changed the title of his presentation, but the content was quite similar to that of his previous talks.)
Before getting to the numbered items in his handout, Tim gave a brief warning about the hazards of lead fumes during soldering, which was covered in the handout, but not as a numbered item. He then went to the items he had numbered, number one being not to use metal tools when working on solid-state games (unless the power is off). The next item was "don't ignore the ball", Tim telling how a pitted ball can ruin a playfield in a hurray!
The third item (something I personally agree with vigorously!) was "spray contact cleaner is evil!", Tim telling how it's use can cause more problems than it cures! After next saying you should never use tape to bind game legs for storage (use rubber rings instead), Tim cautioned everyone to never ship a game with the balls still in it.
After saying he was going to skip the sixth item for now, Tim told us to never pry open a coin door on a game, advising us to drill out the lock if you don't have the key. The 8th item on Tim's list was to brace scoring reels when cleaning them. Tim next talked about how to fix poorly contacting lamp sockets - adding that you should never use steel wool while working on pinballs!
The 10th item regarded lead (which he had already covered), but the next item also was concerned with soldering, Tim advising to never buy cheap solder. He next advised us to strap a board over the backglass when shipping a game, then talking about replacing "thin flange" flipper bushings - he passing around examples of this.
Item '14' on Tim's list was to replace bad leg levelers, and to always grease them. After warning against the use of "cheap super glue", Tim said that tempered glass should always be used on games. He then said games could be stored on free wooden pallets which you could find behind many stores. After suggesting that you screw an extra game key to the bottom of the cabinet, Tim suggested replacing the "fish glue", which was used to hold most pinball cabinets together, with a good "polymer glue".
The twentieth item Tim discussed was to replace the "22 gauge" jumper wire used on flippers with a larger gauge wire. After next telling us to always tighten the hinge screws on coin doors, Tim reminded us to let a game warm up slowly "in stages" when moving it from a cold location to a warmer one to prevent damage to backglass paint.
Item '23' on the list concerned suggested modifications to the "System 1" power supplies used on early Gottlieb solid-state games. This was followed by a discussion regarding the replacing of wood screws used to attach playfield posts with machine screws and nuts. Tim next explained the difference between "A.C. parts" and "D.C. parts" used in pingames.
The 26th item on the list was regarding the replacing of batteries in solid-state games. Tim then told of the dangers of using the "prop sticks" which were provided to prop up playfields during servicing. The next item on the printed handout (which Tim did not mention) was his traditional quip "don't make fun of Wayne Newton".
The next item ('29') was a brief mention of "coil satiation", Tim warning never to put power to a coil with it's plunger removed because this could damage the coil. The next item concerned how to interpret the part numbers used on pinball coils, and how to use that information in selecting a coil to replace a bad one. Tim then suggested that Bakelite "flipper links" should be replaced by nylon or steel ones.
Item '32' on Tim's list had to do with "equalizing grounds" on solid-state games. After suggesting that an old toothbrush be used to clean playfield posts, Tim warned us to keep sunlight off of games as it damages the painted surfaces, including the backglass. He then told how to tighten the screws which hold the "knocker" assembly to the cabinet. Items '36' through '38' on Tim's list were: how to re-ink bumper caps using a "Sharpie" pen; a reminder to "beer seal" playfield glasses; and a suggestion to oil only metal gears in pinball motors - leaving fiber gears and the motor armature alone.
The 39th item mentioned was the fact that "coin lock-out coils" were unnecessary on home games and can be disconnected. This was followed by Tim recommending that we buy only American-made fuses, avoiding those rated at only 32 volts. He then suggested that when picking replacement diodes for solid-state pins you should choose those with the highest "Peak Inverse Voltage" (PIV).
Item '42' on Tim's list was a suggestion to rotate parts in a game's chime unit. There was no item '43', with the next item being a suggestion to lower the voltage to the game's lamps to prolong their life - Tim describing a special circuit you could use to accomplish this.
The next item ('45') was a suggestion to make a notch in the flipper links on newer pingames. Another solid-state tip was next given regarding how to "zap" older Gottlieb displays. After then explaining how to make "master keys" for games, Tim ended his numbered list by explaining how to clean and adjust the "home switch" on the score-motor of electro-mechanical games.
Tim ended his presentation with a brief discussion of various chemicals which could be used for cleaning pingame playfields, etc.. He also talked very briefly about the various types of "surfaces" encountered in pingames. Finally, he said that if we had any questions we could ask him later. Tim then received a round of applause!
THE MAKING OF "GO-GIRL"
The next seminar involved something a little bit different - a pingame with a "homosexual" (or more precisely, "drag queen") theme. Rob introduced the speaker, San Francisco artist Michael Brown, which drew a round of applause.
Michael began telling of his background. He told us that he does sculptures now, but studied "film" in college. After telling us that pingames have always intrigued him, Michael commented that he has done things for a science museum in San Francisco and for the "Exploratorium", ending his personal comments saying that he does "kinetic signs" and "public art" for cities - then adding that he once designed a "swatch watch" with a Christmas theme.
When Michael then hollered "Go Girl!", it brought on a round of applause. He then said that on his machine you can expect to see (on a video screen in the backbox) faces of the players wearing various wigs - an idea he said which came from one of his friends. Michael then told us that he and his friends decided that a "gay theme" pingame was needed, which he said would be both "political" and "sarcastic". Michael then told of the "political things" to be found on the game's playfield.
The game's drop-targets, Michael went on, represent famous "homophobes", which when knocked down pup up again. He then told us that they originally wanted to design the game "from scratch", but eventually decided to modify an existing game instead of "reinventing". After then saying that they decided to use a "Ken Doll" dressed in "drag" on their game, he told us that a friend did the software programming in Visual Basic.
After telling of the "switch matrix" used in their game, Michael told us that they decided to use Williams' 1989 pingame EARTHSHAKER as the basis for their game. He said that they used the input/output circuitry of the original game, and that their game had two computers - the "game control" computer, and a "486" computer which (among other things) was used to create the game's sound. He then added that music was stored on a CDROM, with speech (phrases) stored on the hard drive.
A friend, Michael then commented, told him that it was easier to use the Visual Basic language for programming the game, and also came up with the idea of placing a computer monitor in the backbox. This, he went on, was used in conjunction with a miniature video camera which would capture the image of the player, with the computer adding the wigs, etc. to the image for display on the monitor.
Michael next told us that they would like to produce approximately twenty more of the games, then telling of Bill Ung (a frequent user of the rec.games.pinball Internet newsgroup) helping them a lot with their project. He then began telling how the game's graphics were produced.
The graphics of the EARTHSHAKER game, Michael then told us, was first photographed. Then, he went on, the new playfield graphics were laid out, then tested using computer printouts. After sanding the playfield, Michael continued, the graphic printouts were glued down to the field, a mylar coating then being applied. For the backglass, he told us a large "translite" was used, which was taped to the back of a piece of clear glass.
Michael next told us that the music used in the game was composed by another of his friends. He then commented that they received two grants of funds for the project, one of which was $12,000 from the San Francisco Arts Commission. After remarking that the large backbox which housed the monitor was built by his team, Michael said that their game has been displayed in several museums.
We were next told that there is a GO-GIRL website on the Internet where the game could be viewed, etc. - adding that the site has already received over 25,000 'hits'. Michael then told us that one person who viewed their website found out about the Expo on it and was in attendance.
Michael next told how GO-GIRL won the contest for "Best Custom Pingame" at Herb Silver's Pinball Fantasy '97 show in Las Vegas in July - adding that Joe Kaminkow of Sega Pinball and Larry DeMar of Williams were two of the judges. He then told of the Los Angeles Times doing a "sidebar story" about GO-GIRL right after that show, and also of it being mentioned on the radio.
At that point Michael told us that he would like to have a "limited production run" made of GO-GIRL, saying that the estimated cost would be eight to ten thousand dollars. He said if this happened the game could probably be shown in a "Gay/Lesbian Catalog", possibly even on the cover. Michael then told of once trying out the game in a gay bar one night, at three games for one dollar, and making $25 for the night, adding that the players "laughed hysterically".
"Dressing in Drag" Michael then commented, is done "just to have fun" - calling what his machine does "virtual drag". He then said that his machine also has a "makeup feature" which adds makeup to your image on the screen, in addition to the wigs. After telling us that his game in the Exhibit Hall was set on free play and he expected everybody to try it, Michael asked if there were any questions?
The first question asked involved the type of software used, and how the playfield graphics were printed? Michael answered that the graphic artist used a Macintosh computer and scanned the images in, and then used Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator software to work on the images.
When next asked if he was going to go to the existing pinball companies to try and get them to produce his game, Michael answered that he would like to work with the pinball companies - adding "Chicago is the place were pinball was born, and still exists". When then asked if GO-GIRL had ever been shown on TV, his answer was "no, but almost on German TV".
Michael was next asked what the price of a GO-GIRL machine would be - he answering 8 to 10 thousand dollars. When someone asked if a production model would use a "flat panel display" vice a TV monitor, Michael answered "yes, which would be part of the game's high cost, unless a cheaper substitute can be found." Michael then told about his young nephews enjoying playing the game, even though they did not understand it's theme.
The next question asked was where did he get the name "GO-GIRL", Michael responding that it was a common phrase used by the "drag queen community". When then asked how the graphics were glued to the playfield, Michael told of problems they had in that area, adding that mylar was eventfully placed to cover the field graphics. The last question asked was what the "time frame" was to produce the game - Michael answering three to three-and-a-half years. That ended the seminar. When Rob Berk then shouted "Go Girl!" it brought on a round of applause.
Rob Berk next introduced the speaker for the next seminar, Steve Young, whose presentation was titled "Gottlieb East". Rob then exclaimed "talk about parts - he's got 'em". That drew a round of applause.
Steve began by welcoming everybody and thanking us for attending the show. He then said that he was going to tell us about moving parts, etc., from the Premier Pinball plant (maker of Gottlieb pinballs since the 1980's) which had gone out of business, to his "Pinball Resource" facility in New York state. Steve then remarked that he had some "interesting stories" - some funny and some sad because the closing of Premier was "an end of an era", then adding that he is trying to "keep it alive". Steve then began a slide show.
The first slides Steve showed were taken inside the Premier plant before the "move". The first slide showed the "switch assembly line" - Steve remarking that he used that photo to help him set up his own switch assembly line. A view of the line from the opposite end was then shown. After seeing some "stacking equipment", we saw the Premier "Parts Department", including lots of playfields. We were next shown a photo of Donal Murphey in the corner of the room after it had been emptied.
Steve next told us that the "active parts" (those used on the more recent Gottlieb games) were shipped to New Jersey to a company called Mondial who now owns the rights to the Gottlieb name, and supplies parts to operators still operating those games. He then said that his own outfit acquired all the parts for older Gottlieb games. We were then told that Steve's outfit (Pinball Resource) bought a lot of "tools and technology" from Premier, and that he especially wanted the "switch assembly capability", but that he also bid on other things from the plant that he wanted.
After remarking that "it all went somewhere - either to New Jersey or to his place in New York", Steve began showing shots taken inside his buildings. We were first shown pictures of shelves being installed in his main warehouse room to hold many of the parts that were coming. Steve next told us that the first truck from Premier arrived on May 15, 1997, with the other one arriving a week later. He then told us that the two trucks contained over 70,000 pounds of machinery and parts with which "they had to do something".
The Premier people, Steve then told us, had "good hearts" and their jobs had been "very important to them". He then said they tried to give him "what he needed", including such things as spare parts for all the machinery he purchased. The Premier people, Steve went on, were very good about answering his questions, adding that many "email messages" were exchanged during the moving process. He then told us that the trucks contained 80 boxes, each weighing about 400 pounds - adding that when they arrived he "couldn't wait to dig into them".
Steve next quipped that when the first truck arrived packed with boxes he exclaimed "Oh goodie, it's Christmas time!" He then showed pictures of machinery, etc., including some tables. The next slides showed an empty truck and then their full buildings. Steve then told us that during the process the Premier people would sometimes call him asking if he wanted certain items from the plant, and that he would either say "yes" or "no" - then telling of even getting such items as floor mats and carpeting.
After remarking that they received "acres of boxes", Steve said that after unpacking more than thirty of them "they got tired of doing it". He then said that they even got such small items as stickers and decals. Steve next told us that most items he now has stored on shelves, and that he will eventually have information on where each item is located stored in his computer so he can tell where to find them - adding that the Premier people were good "record keepers" and put "part numbers" on every box!
After showing his Gottlieb storage bins, Steve told us that he also acquired many small "tooling" items such as drills, jigs, fixtures, etc.
He then showed his new switch assembly line with switch parts stored in bins below the tables, remarking that he acquired approximately 3 million components. We then saw another view of the assembly line.
At that point Steve started telling how they assemble switches, quipping "what do we do with all this stuff?" He then told us that he inherited both engineering prints and a card file containing step-by-step instructions for assembling various types of pinball switches. After telling how each part to be added to the assembly is obtained from a bin beneath the bench, he showed a picture of a "contact nailing machine".
We were next told that he had received 1.7 Million parts in total, including 50,000 rivets. He then showed two riveting machines which were used to assemble playfield targets. Steve next showed some stacks of fiberglass tubs he had received. He then told us that he also received rolls of Gottlieb drawings going back as far as the 1960's.
After showing pictures of more boxes of parts that he had received, Steve continued explaining how switches were assembled - commenting that this was "a very manual operation" - then showing examples of several types of switches. He then showed a special tool used to insert "roll pins" in pinball plungers.
Steve next showed a picture of a 10,000-pound press used in the making of pinball "coil stops", explaining how that process was done. He then showed some more engineering prints he had received, remarking that they got the drawing for Gottlieb "Part Number '2'" (from January 1946), commenting that they could not find the drawing for "Number '1'". Steve then remarked that the drawings help a lot because they have a "Used On" block which tells on which games the part is used. He then told us that pinball flyers are not always reliable as to a game's actual appearance, because they often used a "pre-production photo" when making them.
We next saw pictures of more drawings they received, followed by other components such as cabinets, doors, and playfields. Steve then told us that some of the drawings they received were in rolls (some weighing as much as 30 pounds each) and containing schematics, adding that they still don't know what is in some of the rolls?
Steve then told us that they also purchased Premier's "CAD" (Computer Aided Drafting) system, including data from 1989 until the present time. He next showed a picture of his Williams parts storage area. Steve concluded his presentation by telling us that they also now own the sign from the outside of the Premier plant. He then asked if we had any questions?
The first question asked was what "Part Number '2'" was, Steve answering that it was some sort of "bracket". When someone then asked Steve if he would sell any of the parts baskets he received, the answer was that he would like to sell some of them, adding that he had also received stools from the production line which he might also sell. At that point Steve thanked the many people who helped him in this endeavor, including his employees, and also the Premier and Mondial people who helped. He then remarked that he wanted to produce more than just Gottlieb parts.
When somebody next asked Steve about his personal pinball collection, he said that he owned approximately 325 machines - mostly from the 1950's. When asked if they received any artwork from the un-released game BROOKS & DUNNE, Steve answered that they had received no artwork whatsoever. When then asked what the last Premier/Gottlieb pingame produced was, the answer given was BARB WIRE.
The next question asked was regarding what happened to the Premier building, Steve answering that it was sold in June, but he didn't know who was in it now. When someone then commented that "it was really great what you (meaning Steve) did", it brought on a big round of applause for Steve.
Steve then remarked that he was beginning to understand how costly it is to do things yourself - adding that it was "nice to have Premier as a parts supplier" before they went out of business, saying that he was grateful that the company was so generous to him. He then commented that Premier also gave him access to tools, molds, etc., that were at their vendors' facilities.
Rob Berk then asked Steve what gave him the impetus to acquire those things from Premier? After first saying that he "didn't really know", Steve remarked "unless you can buy something to fix something, you can't fix something". He then said again that he did it not only to produce Gottlieb parts, but to make parts for other games as well.
When someone then asked if he had any parts for games made by Alvin Gottlieb's ex-company, Steve answered "very few - only coils", adding that Mike Pacak might have some. Steve was then asked what his "aim" was for next year? He answered that last year he had talked about producing "daisy caps", but that that project was "moving slowly, but starting to 'move forward'".
The next question Steve was asked was if he had received any "MPU's" (computer processing units) for Gottlieb games? He answered "no", saying that that type of item went to Mondial, and that he isn't very interested in that sort of thing. The final question was "is Mondial keeping parts for games available for 5 years after original release?" Steve answered that it was "three years and shrinking" - adding that he may take over when Mondial stops.
Steve ended the session by asking the audience "what parts do you want?" When someone then asked for "Gottlieb shooter guides", Steve answered he was "working on that". Steve then thanked us for attending his seminar, bringing on a round of applause. That ended the seminar.
"PLEASURE MACHINES - THE HISTORY OF PINBALL"
Rob Berk introduced the speaker for the next seminar, Mark Heim, who had recently produced a TV show called "Pleasure Machines - The History of Pinball", which was then appearing on satellite TV "Pay Per View", and would soon be released as a video for public sale. He told us that Mark attended the Expo two years earlier when he interviewed people for his show. Mark was then given a round of applause.
Mark began by telling us that two years ago he decided to do the project, but didn't realize at the time how long it would take. He then remarked that he "thought it's pretty good", then saying that it is now on Pay Per View, will later be on regular TV, and that sales of the video would begin in January 1998.
At that point about five minutes of the show were shown, Mark then remarking that the entire tape would be shown at midnight, that drawing a round of applause. He next said that his video would not have been possible without the help of several people at the Expo, naming Dick Bueschel, Dave Marston, and Steve Kordek in particular.
Mark next told us that when he started he didn't know much about pinball. After commenting that the music on his video was "custom composed", he said that his video has been sold to both European and American Pay Per View, and that he hoped to do another one later which might go into pinball collecting. After then remarking that the European version only lasted 55 minutes (compared to the U.S. version's one hour four minutes), Mark said he made one mistake in his history by saying that the playfield puzzle on Rockola's 1933 classic WORLD'S FAIR JIGSAW illustrated the San Francisco World's Fair vice Chicago. He then asked for questions?
The first question asked of Mark was why he decided to produce the video in the first place? He answered that he enjoyed playing pinball as a kid using money earned from a paper route. He then said he started playing when he was thirteen years old and that his dad complained about it. Mark next told us that he was so into it by the age of fourteen that he went to the game room at the college his sister attended, adding that he even "loved the smell of new pingames" when he was a kid.
When next asked if in the course of producing the show he came across anyone who objected to being portrayed on a pinball backglass, Mark answered "Tom Hanks" - adding that Tom was not "anti-pinball", just didn't want to be pictured on a backglass. Mark was then asked if his Pay Per View sales had been successful? He answered, "yes", adding that Direct TV has indicated "many hits" for it, then commenting that the quality of the "satellite reception" is not as good as the video itself.
Someone next asked in what "outlets" his video would be sold? Mark answered probably Blockbuster Video, adding that he will also have an ad on the Internet and also magazine ads, both giving a toll-free order number (1-800-PINTAPE). When then asked if it would be for sale at the PAPA pinball tournament site he answered "probably".
The last question asked of Mark was what equipment he used to shoot his program? He answered "High-speed Betacam", which he said was "broadcast quality". Mark then said that if it wasn't for the Expo (and the people behind it) there "wouldn't have been any show". He then remarked that some photos from personal family collections were used in his show, ending by saying "it was the people that made it work". Mark then drew a round of applause.
THE FLIPPER PINBALL FLYER BOOK
Rob Berk then introduced the speakers for the next seminar, "The Flipper Pinball Flyer Book", Jim Schelberg (publisher of Pingame Journal) and his Expo co-host Mike Pacak. That drew a round of applause.
Mike began by telling us that producing his book took "lots of hours", adding that he would like to hear from us as to our opinions of the book. Jim then commented that we might have some questions on how it was done, adding that he himself had only been included in the project for the past several months. They then threw it open for questions from the audience.
The first question asked was "how are the three volumes (of the set) sequenced? Jim said that the brochures are sequenced alphabetically by game, but that at the end of the last volume there are two lists - one sorted by manufacturer, and the other chronologically. He then told us that they debated over which way to sort the brochures, but finally decided on alphabetically.
Someone next asked what exactly was in the book? The answer given was that it was 85 percent original manufacturer's brochures, but in a few cases they used "press photos" when the brochures had poor views of the actual game. And in the few cases where neither of those was available, they said they used either copies of ads from Billboard Magazine or photos supplied by collectors (including this author).
When next asked what the page format of the book was, the answer given was "one side of a page per game". They were next asked about "copyright issues"? We were told that the "Fair Use Law" allowed use in "hobby publications" - adding that the use of black and white copies made it even less complicated. Mike then remarked that he had discussed it with Williams and "got their blessing".
In answer to the question of "are all the games American made", they said "yes", but that they did use the flyer for the European "conversion kit" called SEXY GIRL. It was next asked if they had included any "weird games", Mike answering "as many as we could". Someone then asked if they might do another book on foreign made games in the future? Mike answered that "down the road" he might do a book on other types of games, but something on foreign pins could possibly be done, but was not planned.
When someone then asked which years were covered by the book, they answered "1947 through CIRQUS VOLTAIRE". It was next asked how they justified the high price of the books of $150 per set? Jim began answering that by saying it was "based on cost - including time spent", adding that they tried to do it as inexpensively as possible. He then commented that in his opinion it is a "real bargain".
After Mike commented that they did not do a large print run, he said that due to the large number of pages (1400) they did not do it in color. Jim then asked Michael Brown (who had done the previous GO-GIRL seminar) if he could estimate how much the book would have cost if done in color? Michael answered that if they had done that they would have had to sell the books for around $500 per set, resulting in only a few being sold.
We were then told that the lists in the last volume of the book contained much valuable information about the games. An example of a specific game was then given. Mike then said that they tried to spell the names of the games correctly, including whether they contained one or two words. As far as "release dates" for the games were concerned, we were told that there was some controversy, but in most cases the information came from the manufacturers and were usually the dates when the games were first released - Jim adding "we don't think the exact date is necessary, the order it what's important".
After Mike told us that they would like to be informed of any mistakes people find in the books (also saying they would like photos, etc. of the few games not pictured), he asked if there were any more questions? He was then asked how many sets had been printed, Mike answering approximately 500. The final question was when would they be available for sale, the answer being that they were currently for sale in Mike's Exhibit Hall booth. That ended the seminar, with Mike and Jim receiving a round of applause.
"THE PAT LAWLOR SHOW"
The final event on the seminar agenda, which has become an "Expo tradition" for the past several years, was what is known as "The Pat Lawlor Show". Rob Berk introduced Williams' ace pinball designer, Pat Lawlor, which drew a found of applause.
Pat then introduced his cohorts who were helping him: Licensing Director Roger Sharpe, artist John Youssi, Software Manager Ted Estes, Director of Engineering Larry DeMar, and a young man named Louis who was assisting him. He then asked how many in the audience were "first timers", noting there were quite a few and remarking "every year it grows".
After commenting that his show was "live, and gets a little crazy", Pat added "it's just to have fun", also saying it was "meant to be informative also". He then went over the "ground rules" for his show. Pat told us that he gets to point at people who then can ask the panel a question. After it is answered, he went on, the person gets to choose a panelist and will get the prize that person has listed on a card he is holding. He then told of a "new twist" he was adding to the game this year - what he called the "whistle game".
We were then told he would let the winner choose between his prize and getting a whistle. The whistle holder then would have the option of trying to take another winner's prize by blowing the whistle. If he does, Pat continued, he then gets to choose one of three cards. If the card says "RIP-OFF" he gets the prize and keeps the whistle. If it says "DRAIN", he surrenders the whistle to Pat, but gets the prize. If it says "ZONK", however, he gives up the whistle and the other person keeps his prize.
After telling us there is only "one chance to a customer", Pat said it was time to start with the first question. Someone asked Pat what "creative stuff" he has tried in his designs? Pat answered he did the game SAFECRACKER, then remarking "designers just take their best shot" - adding "everybody has different ideas for improvement". The questioner then chose Ted Estes' card, wining a backglass which he decided to keep.
Someone next asked what type of automobile was pictured on the backglass of their game GETAWAY, the answer given was a Lamborghini Diablo. That person won a plastic catapult from MEDIEVAL MADNESS, but he opted to take the whistle. After remarking that it is difficult to hear the sounds of some pingames in an arcade, a person asked about adding headphones to games? Larry De Mar answered that it had been "experimented with", but there were fundamental problems - particularly "junk" getting into the headphone jack - Larry also adding that when they once tested the idea in public nobody used them. Roger Sharpe's prize was then chosen which turned out to be a video of a Williams presentation at the AMOA trade show.
When someone then asked what was seen in the "hologram" of the game CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, the answer given was "the creature". When the questioner tried to get his prize the whistle was blown, and an envelope was drawn. The card in the envelope said "RIP-OFF", so the whistle blower took the prize and got to retain his whistle.
The next questioner said that he heard that a proposed "moving target" had to be removed from the original design of Williams' game STAR TREK - THE NEXT GENERATION due to economic considerations, so he asked "if 'the sky was the limit', what would you like to put on a game"? Pat answered "anything that's allowed to be put on!" He then commented that "cost is a big problem now" - adding that it takes over a One-Million Dollar investment to produce a new game nowadays. When a prize was chosen the whistle blew again - but this time the card said "ZONK" so the whistle blower not only did not get the prize, but also lost his whistle.
Someone then asked who's idea it was to place the dot-matrix display on the playfield of Williams' current game CIRQUS VOLTAIRE, and if they plan on doing that on future games? Larry DeMar answered that it was designer John Popaduik's idea, and that they could give us no information on future designs. The prize chosen was on Ted Estes' card and turned out to be a set of "promo pictures" for Williams games.
The next question asked was if Williams was considering "simpler game designs" in the future, ala Capcom's game BREAKSHOT which came out a few years ago? Pat answered that they had experimented in the past with simpler designs (such as JACKBOT), but found out that players seem to like complex games better. The prize then chosen was on the card held by artist John Youssi, which turned out to be a "Swiss Army Knife".
When then asked what the "prototype token" for their game SAFE CRACKER looked like, Pat answered that it said "prototype" on it. When a prize was drawn the whistle was blown, the card drawn said "RIP OFF", therefore the whistle blower took the prize which was a bumper sticker, also retaining the whistle.
Someone next asked what the purpose of the "3rd magnet" on TWILIGHT ZONE was to be, and why it was taken out? Pat answered that he wanted to add it because he thought the game "needed more stuff" - then explaining his idea for it in more detail. The prize this time was two "boggie men" which was on Ted Estes' card.
Licensing Director Roger Sharpe was then asked to "tell a hilarious licensing story"? He answered that when dealing with Elvira, her husband (who was also her manager) once told him "yeah, they're real" over the phone. The prize chosen was on Roger's card and was a PINBOT poster.
Someone then asked if they had any ideas concerning the problem of bad lighting in many arcades? Engineer Ted Estes answered that they "could use some solutions" to that problem. After mentioning a "nun's habit device" which is used in Germany to block the playfield from ambient light, Ted mentioned the possibility of using a special coating on the backglass which would diminish the light glare from the backglass on the playfield. He ended by saying that "other solutions to the problem are very expensive". When a prize was chosen the whistle was blown and the card drawn said "DRAIN". This whistle blower had to give up his whistle and the questioner got to keep his prize.
When Pat was next asked if there was any chance of a "sequel" to his previous game ROAD SHOW ("Red and Ted's 'love child'" the questioner called it), Pat answered "no, I'm done with 'heads' for now". The prize chosen was on John Youssi's card and was a video describing their game WHITEWATER. Roger Sharpe was then asked if there ever was a license he couldn't get? Roger answered "many", adding that on some occasions they even "backed out" of a license. When the questioner was asked if he wanted a prize or a whistle, he opted for a whistle.
The next question asked was "in the game JUNKYARD how does one become 'Junk Champ'"? Pat answered "the first person to collect all the 'pieces of junk'". The prize chosen was from John Youssi's card and was another catapult from MEDIEVAL MADNESS. When Pat was then asked how many patents he held, he answered "16", adding "some things you can't see", giving the example of a "backbox disassembly method". The prize chosen was on Ted Estes' card and was an "Evil Castle" from MEDIEVAL MADNESS.
After a few more questions, answers, and prizes, Pat asked how many pinball operators were in the audience? - about ten people raising their hands. After explaining to those who didn't know, what an "operator" was (a person who buys games and puts them on location, splitting the "take" with the location owner), Pat asked for a round of applause for them.
Pat was then asked if they had ever considered doing "home games"? He answered "no", saying that they would cost too much to produce, unless they were really "stripped down". The questioner asked for the prize on Roger Sharp's card which was three backglasses. At that point Pat said it was about time to "wind it down".
Pat ended his presentation with a few comments. He began by remarking that each year he "tries to give us a good time" and also give us "an insight into their business". He then said they also try to talk to pinball operators and ask them to "keep their games up". Finally Pat said he "tries to consider the hobby in general" and "talk to others about pins". Pat then thanked everybody for coming. That brought on a round of applause! Pat's presentation and the Expo seminars were then over.
And that also ends "Part 1" of my coverage of Pinball Expo '97. Next time I'll conclude my Expo coverage with a little about the second "Fireside Chat", tell about the game auction and Autograph Session, describe the annual Expo banquet, and describe the Exhibit Hall (including a list of the games that were there). So stay tuned!
PINBALL EXPO '97
by Russ Jensen
Last time I began my description of Pinball Expo ' 97 and described the first "Fireside Chat", the "Internet Get-Together" and the Expo seminars. This time I will finish describing the show, including the second Fireside Chat, the Game Auction, the Designers, Artists, and Authors Autograph Session, the annual Expo banquet (including the guest speaker), and finally the Exhibit Hall (including a list of all the pingames on display there).
THE SECOND "FIRESIDE CHAT"
The second "Fireside Chat" was a little different format than the first chat (and all of the chats at previous Expos). Instead of being held in show producer Rob Berk's room, it was held in the same room where the seminars had been held earlier in the day. One reason for this was that there was going to be a special "raffle" of pinball memorabilia included.
The main guest of honor for the chat was Joe Kaminkow, an executive of the Sega Pinball organization who was to talk about how things were going at their company. Joe had a team of his people to answer questions from the audience, including one of their latest Sega employees, ex-Premier pinball designer (and a personal friend of mine) Jon Norris. Joe's two children, a boy and a girl, were also there to help him with the raffle.
Joe told us that the raffle was being conducted to help the family of the brother of one of their employees who was a Chicago fireman and had recently been killed in the line of duty. The items raffled off were all obtained by Joe from the factory, and were pieces of artwork, etc. from past Sega and Data East games.
Before the session began people were allowed to purchase tickets at one-dollar each. Most people purchased one or two tickets, but there were also a few "big spenders", like Expo co-producer Mike Pacak, who bought a large number of tickets.
Joe then began his chat session with people from the audience asking questions of he and his panel regarding Sega Pinball and the games they have produced. But as I have said in the past, details of these "Fireside Chat" sessions are beyond the scope of these articles.
After the question and answer session ended it was time for the raffle. Joe's kids would take turns drawing tickets, announcing the number, and handing out the prizes to the winners. After awhile the kids noticed that Mr. Pacak was winning a large number of the prizes and began referring to him as "the man with all the tickets!". This was kind of funny, but after awhile Joe told the kids to stop saying that.
When they ran out of raffle items there was a last item put up for auction. This brought a good amount of money to end the charity raffle on a high note. That ended the Fireside Chat, and also ended the Friday Expo activities, except of course for the Exhibit Hall which was open all night - but more about the hall later.
THE GAME AUCTION
An Expo happening which has been occurring for the past several years is the Game Auction. A professional auction outfit (U.S. Amusement Auctions) which specializes in auctioning off amusement devices conducts the auction beginning at around 10 AM Saturday morning and continuing until all the games, etc. are sold - usually in mid-afternoon. The majority of the items offered for sale are pinball machines, but there is also a smattering of slot machines, video games, etc., plus other related items such as backglasses.
On the evening before the auction, and also in the morning before the sale starts, there is a chance for people to inspect the machines (or take pictures of some like I like to do), but the rows of games are pretty close together often making it difficult to get to some of the machines. This year while perusing and photographing the games, I encountered several somewhat different pinball machines - one that was especially strange because it's backglass did not seem to fit the theme of the game.
One interesting pingame was called STADIUM. It was a flipperless pingame from the early 1950's with a football theme. Another interesting thing about the game was the manufacturer's name shown on it. The name shown was "Como manufacturing" which I was told was sort of a subsidiary to Bally, making some coin machines for them during that period. The playfield had ten holes, each labeled with the name of a football "bowl" - a ball dropping into a hole going directly beneath the playfield. Each hole when a ball landed in it would light a pennant on the backglass with the name of that "bowl" on it. Lighting a pennant also scored 1-Million points, and replays were awarded based on how many pennants (and hence how many millions) were scored. The game at the auction was in excellent condition.
The other "oddball" game at the auction was quite a bit stranger. The backglass said BUG-A-BOO and had three columns of slot machine symbols (Cherries, Bells, etc.) on it - identical to the gambling type "flasher" games which were put out by several outfits in the 1950's.
The playfield appeared to have no connection to this backglass, apparently having scoring objectives of lighting a "number sequence" and scoring points. The manufacturer's name on the playfield was J.H. Keeney (who did make "flashers", by the way). The playfield artwork featured many young ladies and the term "Royal Belles" was shown on a placard held by one of the ladies. When I saw the machine I had no idea what it was, but an interesting thing happened later which gave me a clue.
After obtaining copies of Mike Pacak's new 3-volume set of pinball flyer books, I decided to look at the game list sorted by manufacturer to try and locate that Keeney game. I soon discovered that they had produced a pingame called ELEVEN BELLES in 1950. When I saw that I thought that that name seemed to match the playfield of the "mystery game" at the auction - except for the weird backglass.
Months after the Expo I managed to get a copy of the advertising brochure for ELEVEN BELLES from my good friend (and fellow pinball historian) Rob Hawkins. Sure enough the playfield was the same as that on the "mystery game" at the Expo auction (except for some of the bumper caps), but the backglass was entirely different! The only thing I can figure is that the backglass for the game at the auction had once been broken and someone substituted the "flasher" glass, but who knows?
The following is a list of most of the older pingames auctioned off and the prices they sold for:
GAME MANUFACTURER YEAR PRICE
CHICO EXHIBIT 1948 195
TROPICANA UNITED 1948 150
BUG-A-BOO/ELEVEN BELLES KEENEY 1950? 85
SUNSHINE PARK (1-BALL) Bally 1952 170
STADIUM Bally (COMO) 1952? 315
SLICK CHICK GOTTLIEB 1963 420
BANK-A-BALL GOTTLIEB 1965 260
BUCKAROO GOTTLIEB 1965 625,650
PARADISE GOTTLIEB 1965 450
APOLLO WILIAMS 1967 385
ROYAL GUARD GOTTLIEB 1968 320
FOUR SEASONS GOTTLIEB 1969 190
4-MILLION B.C Bally 1970 425
ODDS AND EVENS Bally 1971 220
KING KOOL GOTTLIEB 1972 225
KNOCKOUT Bally 1974 260
LITTLE CHEIF WILLIAMS 1975 225
SATIN DOLL WILLIAMS 1975 225
JUNGLE QUEEN GOTTLIEB 1977 435
THE "DESIGNERS, ARTISTS, AND AUTHORS AUTOGRAPH SESSION"
On Saturday afternoon the (for the last several years) annual "Designers, Artists, and Authors Autograph Session" was held. And again yours truly was privileged to participate, showing my book Pinball Troubleshooting Guide. Behind the autograph table sat pinball designers and artists, as well as several of us who have written books concerning pinball. Expo visitors could then walk in front of the tables and obtain autographs on various items (Pinball flyers, books, etc. - or on paper such as their Expo souvenir booklet) from the various "celebrities" seated behind the tables.
This year I sat next to Expo Exhibit Hall Chairman Mike Pacak who was displaying his new 3-volume set of books, "Pinball Flyer Reference Book", which I described in Part 1 of this article. I did sell one of my books during the session and got to talk with several nice people who came by to chat. The autograph session this year was well attended, with the game designers and artists being kept busy autographing many items for Expo visitors.
After the session came to an end, Expo producer Rob Berk asked all of us who participated to group together for a group photo taken by Expo "Official, Unofficial Photographer" Jim Schelberg. After that Rob presented all of us with a special gift like he has done in past years. This year the gift we received was especially nice - a copy of the video tape of the great pinball TV documentary "The Pleasure Machines - The History Of Pinball", produced by Expo seminar guest Mark Heim, whose seminar describing his project I reported on in Part 1 of my Expo coverage. A truly wonderful gift!
THE SATURDAY NIGHT BANQUET
Saturday evening, as usual, was the time set aside for the annual Expo banquet. And, as has been the custom for the past several years, the banquet festivities began with a special "charity auction", the proceeds going to benefit "The Make-A-Wish Foundation". The volunteer auctioneer for the event was the same one who conducted the game auction I previously described. Before the auction action began a representative of the Make-A-Wish Foundation told a little about their organization. When he told us of a boy whose wish was to meet the Pope and it was granted, that brought on a round of applause. The auction then began.
The first item sold was a playfield for the Capcom (a company which had recently gone out of business) game PINBALL MAGIC which sold for $40. Next up were some "reprints" of pinball backglasses and a poster which brought the same amount. A prototype of the playfield for Bally's LOST WORLD game then brought $50, with a playfield for Data East's 1994 pingame TOMMY then being bid up to $70.
The next item sold was a prototype of the 3-dimentional "translite" backglass for Sega's STAR WARS TRILOGY pinball which brought a whopping bid of $200! After that two other "translites" were each sold for the same amount - one for Bally's ATTACK FROM MARS, and the other for Williams' MEDEVIL MADNESS. Following that, uncut "plastics sheets" for the same two games brought $105 and $140 respectively. An assortment of pinball coils was then sold for $70.
Next to go on the block was a figurine donated by an Expo guest from Holland which went for $125. Then a two-registration package for the upcoming Pinball Fantasy '98 show in Las Vegas was sold at a price of $160. After an ATTACK FROM MARS jacket was sold for a whopping $215, the 3-volume set of Mike Pacak's new Pinball Flyer Reference Book was sold for $145.
At that point two copies of Dick Bueschel's new book, Encyclopedia of Pinball - Volume 2, were put up for auction, both copies selling for $80. After selling a signed "stand-up set" for Williams' 1994 game ROAD SHOW for $35, four signed press photos of games, plus a Capcom PINBALL MAGIC flyer, brought $55. A radio/cassette player in the form of a jukebox reproduction then brought $100.
The next item auctioned was a blown-up photo of Bally artist Dave Christensen's Bally art collection the price of which I missed. Then a framed photo of Elvira with the Bally SCARED STIFF pinball which had her likeness on it brought a good price of $200. After an admission package to next year's Expo sold for $130, a "new-old-stock" playfield for Gottlieb's 1961 add-a-ball game FLIPPER FAIR brought $185
At that point a custom-made miniature pinball game advertising Coca-Cola and manufactured especially as a "collectable" sold for the highest price of the evening, a whopping $650!. This game, incidentally, had been advertised for sale in TV Guide magazine a few months earlier. Next to be offered for sale was a booth at Pinball Expo '98 which brought $185.
The final items sold were a signed copy of the playfield graphics for the latest Williams game, CIRQUS VOLTAIRE, which sold for $60, followed by the backglass for the same game bringing $200. The last item auctioned was a complete pingame, a 1972 Gottlieb KING KOOL, which brought $300. That ended the charity auction.
After the auction it was time to eat! The food, as in past years, was very good! When I was almost finished eating the gentleman from Russia, Andy Novikov, who I was helping with his project of programming computer simulations of "classic" pingames, came over to my table bearing gifts! He presented me with what he called an item of "Russian art" - a ceramic egg painted with a Russian scene on a pedestal, and a copy of the computer software they had previously done for Microsoft - a "puzzle collection". This was very nice, because as I said in Part 1 of my Expo coverage last time, I had not seen the Russians since I met them on my arrival at the show on Thursday evening.
It was then time for the annual banquet guest speaker. Pinball designer and champion player Lyman Sheets was called up to introduce the guest speaker. It was ex-Atari pinball designer, and more recently Williams designer, Steve Ritchie. That brought on a round of applause!
Steve began by remarking that he was going to tell us about "my life in the business". He then told how his life started (he was born) in San Francisco, and that he began playing pinball when he was six or seven years old - adding that at the time you could play a five ball game for ten cents! Steve then said he graduated High School in 1967, and in the yearbook it was prophesied that he would become "a mad scientist in a toy factory".
After graduating, he went on, he joined the Coast Guard to avoid going to Vietnam, but ended up going there anyway! Steve then said that after he got out of the Coast Guard he became an Electronics Technician and sort of wandered around. He then said he was also a musician and played guitar in a Rock and Roll band - also writing some songs. We were then told that Steve met his wife in July 1972 and got married.
Steve next told us that in 1973 he went to work at Atari Games - saying when he first started there he was impressed by all the good-looking girls that worked there, and the Rock and Roll music played in the plant. He said he started working on the assembly line at $4.25 an hour for two years. Steve then told of company founder Nolan Bushnell being "the father of the coin-operated video game" - adding that Nolan was really a "card", and also a "good guy".
We were then told by Steve that they had him working on "test fixtures" for video games, but that's not really what he wanted to do, so he asked to be transferred to the newly formed Pinball Division. He said the new division consisted of 75 people housed in one building, and that it was a "happy environment" to work in. He then added that some of his friends still work for the company after twenty years!
Steve then told us that he started in the "prototype lab" working with a man named Bob Jonesi who had come to the company from Chicago. (AUTHOR'S NOTE: I once interviewed Mr. Jonesi - a very nice fellow - back in the early 1980's. Bob had worked in the pinball industry since at least the 1940's and had had some interesting stories to tell me). Steve said that Bob taught him how to lay out a pinball machine, including the wiring. He then remarked that Mr. Jonesi kept telling him "Atari will never make a pinball game".
Next Steve said that Bob Jonesi ordered a Bally CAPT. FANTASTIC and a Williams SPACE MISSION so they could use them to help understand pingames. He said they started playing these games, adding that they "really go addicted to them". Steve then commented that the upper right-hand flipper on CAPT. FANTASTIC really had an influence on him in his future designs.
After telling us that he eventually learned how to design pingames, Steve said he did his early designs on paper, adding that he often took them home with him. He then told of doing his first design. When he asked his supervisor if he could build it, Steve went on, he was told "no", being also told that he had to have a "degree in design" before he could do that. "So", Steve contented, "I showed my design to company President Nolan Bushnell, and he liked it and said 'OK'".
Steve then told us that he got help with the project from a fellow named Eugene Jarvis who had a Master's degree in Computer Science. After commenting that Atari pinball playfields were 27 by 45 inches in those days, Steve told how he designed his playfield to fit these dimensions. He then said that he "made it work" and 1500 of the game were produced.
The name of this game Steve then told us was AIRBORNE AVENGER, then telling of a review of it in the trade magazine Playmeter, written by none other than Williams current Licensing Director Roger Sharpe. At that point Steve described the characteristics of the game and gave credits to the other members of his design team.
Steve next told of his next project for Atari which he also did with Eugene Jarvis - SUPERMAN for which Atari had acquired the rights. He then said that during the design of this game he made five or six "whitewood" prototypes - and that the game was even tested using a whitewood. He then remarked that some features on that game he took from AIRBORNE AVENGER.
After commenting that he left Atari before SUPERMAN was produced, he told of the sound effects for the game created by Eugene Jarvis. Steve said there were some "good ideas" he wanted to use on it that the company wouldn't let him use. He then started telling how he got associated with Williams.
Steve told us that at that time Williams had just acquired a "new leader", a fellow named Gene Stroll. He said that Mr. Stroll came to California accompanied by the legendary pinball designer Steve Kordek who was renown for his design of Williams SPACE MISSION. Steve told us that that visit resulted in him leaving Atari and accepting a job from Williams. He then commented that the weather in Chicago was quite different from that in his native California.
"I left home", Steve then told us, "and instantly got into my new job" - commenting that the atmosphere at Williams was much different than at Atari, saying that at Williams there were many "old-timers" from whom he said he learned a lot. Steve then remarked that there were no "job manuals" in the coin-op business like there were in other industries, adding that there were a lot of things for him to learn.
Steve then reflected back on his trip to Chicago to join the new company, remarking that at the time he was both "inspired" and "scared". When he arrived in Chicago, Steve went on, it made him feel great!. He then commented that at the time he thought that he was "the only guy in the world who knew what solid-state could do for pinball".
His first design Steve then told us was FLASH, which had a lot of flashing lights and good sound. After commenting on some of the things he did in that game which were different from what Williams was doing at that time, he said that FLASH was his best selling game. Steve then gave the names of the others in the design team for that game.
His next game Steve then said was a "widebody", namely STELLAR WARS. He said that his first try at that design was not very good, so he had to "throw it away and start over". After telling us that around 5000 of the game were produced, Steve then commented that by that time "his head was starting to grow" because his games did so well.
Steve then told us that his next design was "a fulfillment of a dream" - a solid-state multi-ball game! He said by that time his old Atari buddy Eugene Jarvis had taken a job at Williams and was responsible for "lots of innovations" in their games. The game Steve said was FIREPOWER. He then told of innovations used in that game (in addition to it being the first solid-state multi-ball game) including higher power flippers, good speech (which used Steve's own voice), and the first "animated display". After commenting that it was a "fun game", Steve said there were over 18,000 made and then gave the names of it's design team.
Steve then told us that after FIREPOWER was developed Mr. Stroll hired a young software guy named Larry DeMar who he said was sort of a "wisenheimer" and "an outspoken critic of pins". He then remarked that Larry "seemed like a teenager" and knew how to cheat the games - adding that he was great at finding "chinks" in game software. Steve then called Larry "the most powerful programmer in pinball".
After telling us that after that Eugene Jarvis went off to work on video games, Steve said that he started working on a "very revolutionary game", a "multi-level" pingame - remarking that that idea had "been on the lips of many pinball people; people like Harry Williams, Steve Kordek, and Sam Stern." This game he said was BLACK KNIGHT, and he and Larry DeMar used many new ideas on the game - things such as "Magna Save" and a "multi-ball accumulator". After commenting that Larry created some great "rules" for the game (including a "bonus ball"), Steve said the game also used "timed drop targets". He then told us that 12,000 of the games were produced, and then named it's design team.
After that, Steve told us, pinball took a "nose dive". He then said that he wanted to do a video game but his bosses at the time wouldn't let him. So Steve said he did a "crazy thing" - he designed HYPERBALL, a game with 3 1/2 inch balls. The game, he went on, had a Plexiglas playfield and an "alphanumeric display" which enabled the initials of a high scorer to be displayed. Steve then said that about 5,000 were built, then quipping "we only sold four at $1.98 each".
Steve next told us that after that he talked Mr. Stroll into setting up a company in California to build video games where he worked on a game using the new Motorola 6800 microprocessor which he called DEVISTATOR. But, he continued, business "fell to the floor", and many game companies started going out of business. Steve then said that he went back to Chicago.
At that point Steve told us a long complex story about him getting a speeding ticket when he was in California for going 146 MPH in his sports car on the Interstate. When he got back to Williams, Steve then commented, that incident led him to design a new pingame which was called HIGH SPEED!
Steve next told about Larry DeMar wanting to use a "dot-matrix display" on the game and the General Manager of the company saying it was too expensive. He said that when Larry was told that he tipped a game over onto the floor - Steve adding that later the company agreed to the idea. He then told us that many features are put on a game as "insurance" for fear that the game might not be good enough. After telling of some of the "firsts" which appeared on HIGH SPEED, Steve said that he wrote some of the music used on it, then telling us that 18,000 were produced, and giving the names of the design team.
The next game he designed, Steve then told us, was F-14 TOMCAT, which he commented "blinded the player with flashlamps". After describing some of the game's features, and saying it was an "interesting game", he told of a "young intern" who just started with the company helping with it. Steve then said that 14,500 were produced, then naming the rest of it's design team.
Steve next told us that after F-14 TOMCAT was produced, pinball went into a "dip:" again. He then said at that time he wanted to do a "sequel" and decided to do BLACK KNIGHT 2000. That game, Steve went on, was innovative and had good music, sound and speech. After crediting it's design team, he said he was not sure how many were produced, guessing 10 or 12 thousand.
We were then told by Steve that after that Roger Sharpe secured a license for ROLLERGAMES. He said that he didn't remember much about the game, but that it was "an OK game". After saying that around 5,000 were produced, he gave the credits for it's design team.
At that point Steve told us how he admired Williams' Licensing Director Roger Sharpe, first remarking that growing up in New York Roger was only really familiar with Add-A-Ball games before he came into the industry. After then remarking that Steve Epstein's Broadway Arcade was the only place in New York where new games were tested, Steve commented that Roger "will find a good thing about any game".
Next we were told how Roger secured the license for the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie TERMINATOR 2 - JUDGEMENT DAY. Steve said that working with the license owner for this property was "one of the best working environments he had ever worked in". Steve then told of working for a deadline to produce the game by July 4, 1991. He then gave the design team credits, followed by a few more details about the game.
After briefly mentioning HIGH SPEED 2 - THE GETAWAY (giving team credits and a few details about the game), Steve said his next game was "a very special game", and was designed by a "new team". This game, Steve then told us, was STAR TREK - THE NEXT GENERATION, a license he commented "he wanted to get".
Steve then remarked that that game "had to be a success", then saying it took them 15 months to do. He then told us that the great pinball artist Greg Faris directed the artwork, then describing how the design was developed. After calling the game "a pinnacle piece for everyone on the team", and saying that 12,000 were sold, he gave the names of the others on the design team.
The last Williams game Steve did he said was NO FEAR, commenting that at that time "pins were hurting again". But, he then remarked, "Williams people always have the ability to pull everything together and get things done". After telling us that the project took seven months and that 4,500 were produced, Steve gave the credits for the game's design team. He then began a short "slide show".
Steve's show primarily consisted of pictures taken at the Atari Pinball plant. He began his presentation by remarking that Atari was "a beautiful place to work - no snow". The first slide was of the main entrance to the plant, followed by a picture of the company President. We next saw their volleyball court, followed by the reception desk. After pictures of some games, he showed a shot of the company cafeteria.
We were then shown a photo of a laboratory followed by their "motion capture studio". True to form, Steve then showed some motorcycles, saying that was "his thing". After a photo of a "tech lab", Steve showed another picture of the company President - quipping "he's sober during the day". We next saw a picture of Steve's office, followed by the hallway outside.
The next group of photos Steve showed were of various company executives, including a "marketing guy", a programmer who Steve said has been with the company for twenty years, a Vice President, and a game designer named Ed Roth. After showing another motorcycle, Steve showed shots of several designers, etc..
We next saw a picture of Steve's current design team, who worked on a driving game called CALIFORNIA SPEED. Steve then ended the slide show (and his presentation) by telling us he was currently working on a "2.5 million dollar project" which he said would take about 19 months to complete. He was then given a good round of applause!
After Steve had finished his talk, Rob Berk came up and thanked him, then presenting Steve with a plaque as a memento. Rob then introduced the people seated at the front table, including his co-producer Mike Pacak and his lady friend, and Rob's mother. He then told us that his wife Brigit was about to have a baby, that drawing a round of applause!
Rob next did what has become an "Expo tradition". He asked how many "first timers" there were at the show, asking them to stand up. That brought a round of applause. He then asked everyone who had attended all thirteen Expos to stand up. I, along with all of us "thirteen timers", then stood up, drawing another round of applause.
At that point Rob asked Williams Marketing Director Roger Sharpe to come up front, presenting him with a plaque for the company in appreciation for their hosting of this year's plant tour, as well as supplying their new CIRQUS VOLTAIRE games for the Expo tournament. Roger thanked Rob, then saying that he really enjoyed the show, and that brought on a round of applause.
Rob then asked pinball designer Greg Kmiek to come up. Greg said he was there to announce this year's inductees into the Expo originated Pinball Hall of Fame. After commenting that the idea for the "hall" originated at the Expo seven or eight years ago, Greg began reading the list of past Hall of Fame inductees.
In 1991, Greg said, the first inductees were David Gottlieb, Ray Moloney, Harry Williams, and Sam Stern. The following year, he went on, we had Harvey Heiss and Harry Mabs (the inventor of the flipper). For 1993 he said the people chosen were Steve Kordek and artist George Molentin. In 1994 Greg said it was Wayne Neyens, with 1995 adding Norm Clark and Wendall McAdams, and 1996 adding artist Dave Christensen.
It was then time to announce the 1997 inductees to the Hall of Fame. For this Rob asked Steve Kordek to come up on stage. When Steve asked the audience how they liked this year's tour of the new Williams pinball plant, that drew a round of applause. Steve then announced that the first inductee for 1997 was the "most deserving" Dick Bueschel. That brought on a standing ovation for Dick! Dick missed that, however, because due to his ill health he had already left the banquet.
At that point Steve took the name of the year's second inductee out of the envelope. It turned out to be none other than the banquet guest speaker Steve Ritchie. That brought on another round of applause. Next Japanese pinball fan Masaya Horiguchi came up to make the presentation to Steve. Masaya thanked Steve for all the games he had designed over the years, remarking that he really liked Steve's designs, then telling of when he first played Steve's game HIGH SPEED. When Rob then asked all the Japanese pinball players in the audience to stand that brought a round of applause. When they finally thanked Steve Ritchie for his designers, another round of applause was heard.
Next Exhibit Hall Chairman Mike Pacak presented the award for Best Exhibitor at the Expo. When Mike announced that this year's award went to Steve Young's Pinball Resource booth, it brought on a round of applause. The runner-up for the award was announced to be Jim Schelberg's Pingame Journal booth. Then came the awards for the Pinball Art Contest. The award for "best original backglass" went to Rod Kleinholter from Kentucky for his backglass celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the flipper (1947-1997). Rod was given a round of applause.
Next Rob Berk presented his annual award for the "Official/Unofficial Expo Photographer" to Pingame Journal publisher Jim Schelberg. After that Rob presented an award to Michael Brown for his GO-GIRL! presentation, and for bringing his interesting machine to the show for people to see and play. Michael and his unique game were then given a round of applause.
Rob next asked Richard Shapero from Kentucky to come up. Richard thanked the "instructors" for his "Learn to Play Pinball" session which occurred on Thursday afternoon, presenting them with gifts. A round of applause was then given to these people. Rob then thanked everybody who had participated in Friday's Expo seminars, including the guests of the two "Fireside Chats".
At that point Rob asked Herb Silvers to come up and tell about his next Pinball Fantasy show. Herb said it would be held at the Rivera Hotel in Las Vegas, beginning July 24, 1998. He then told us that Williams and Sega would be providing new games for the pinball tournament, and that three pinball machines would be given away as prizes. He also said there will be some small lectures at the show, and that approximately 300 pingames would be on display.
Next Brian Heim from Pennsylvania came up to tell about his pinball show held in the spring in Allentown. Brian said his show was "a family oriented event". He was then given a round of applause.
At that point Pingame Journal publisher Jim Schelberg came up on stage. After remarking that the Expo was certainly a "long running show", he said that this 13th year of the show was the Expo's "Bar Mitzvah year". After then commenting that Rob was Jewish, he said that Mike Pacak was "an honorary Jew". Jim then presented Rob and Mike with a "traditional Bar Mitzvah gift", a pen and pencil set. That brought on a standing ovation for Rob, Mike, and the show. Rob then thanked the people in the audience for their support of Pinball Expo.
The annual banquet raffle was conducted next, the prize being Stern's 1977 game PINBALL. The winner of the raffle was from Hawaii and said he could not take the machine, so Rob said it would be auctioned off. The auctioneer who had previously conducted the Charity Auction (as well as the game auction earlier in the day) conducted this auction. The game was then sold for a winning bid of $400.
Finally, Rob Berk announced the dates for Pinball Expo '98, October 22 through 25. That ended the banquet festivities.
THE EXHIBIT HALL
As I have said many times in past Expo articles, the Expo Exhibit Hall is really the "heart of the show". It is the place where a lot of activity takes place. It's where most of the game playing is done (and this is the reason some people come to the Expo). It is also the place where most of the buying/selling of games, parts, and literature goes on. And, it is where a great deal of the "chatting" among pinball fans occurs. And finally, it's the place where the competition playing is done for the qualifying rounds of the annual pinball tournament (another important thing to many Expo attendees.).
This year, as in the past several years, the Exhibit Hall actually consisted of two adjoining rooms. Both rooms were fairly well filled with booths full of games, parts, literature, etc. And, like the past year or two, the hall was open all night on Friday and Saturday nights - although it was closed during the time the banquet was held on Saturday evening.
Most of the dealers who had booths in the Exhibit Hall were "Expo regulars", but there is always a few "newcomers" at each show as well. As you entered the hall, directly to your right was Exhibit Hall Chairman Mike Pacak's usual booth were he offers for sale a ton of pinball advertising flyers, as well as many pinball and coin-op books. And along the right-hand wall near the back of the main room was Steve Young's Pinball Resource booth with his usual fine selection of pinball parts and literature, including the just released Encyclopedia of Pinball - Volume 2 by Dick Bueschel for which Steve was the publisher. Other "regulars" in the hall included Steve Engle's Mayfair Amusement booth, Jim Tolbert's For Amusement Only booth, and Herb Silver's Fabulous Fantasies booth - the latter two being in the second room.
As far as pinball machines in the hall were concerned, the following is a run-down of the number of games for each decade which were shown. There were only four games from the 1930's (possibly an all-time low), and 12 from the 1940's. Very surprisingly there were only 10 games from the 1950's (certainly an all-time low for that important decade), and 24 from the 1960's. From the decade of the 1970's there were 33 electro-mechanical and 15 solid-state pins. There were 29 games from the 1980's, and 34 from the current decade.
The following is a chronological listing of most of the pingames to be found in the Exhibit Hall:
CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF THE PINGAMES IN THE EXHIBIT HALL
GAME MANUFACTURER YEAR PRICE
JIGGERS Genco 1932
PUT 'N TAKE Western Products 1934 400
FLYING HIGH Western Products 1936
CLIPPER Stoner 1939
METRO Genco 1940 650
TRIUMPH Bally 1940
SEA HAWK Gottlieb 1941 200
GOLD BALL Chicago Coin 1947 599
NUDGY Bally 1947 300
CARIBBEAN United 1948 125
EL PASO (AS IS) Williams 1948 200
PARADISE United 1948 300
RONDEEVOO United 1948 100
GOLDEN GLOVES Chicago Coin 1949 300
STAR SERIES (PITCH & BAT) Williams 1949 925
TUSCON Williams 1949
KNOCKOUT Gottlieb 1950 1800
QUARTET Gottlieb 1952 650
SLUG FEST Williams 1952 1095
MARBLE QUEEN Gottlieb 1953 DISPLAY
CONTINENTAL CAFE Gottlieb 1957 300
STEEPLE CHASE Williams 1957 750
WORLD CHAMP Gottlieb 1957 SOLD
CLUB HOUSE Williams 1958 750
HIGH DIVER Gottlieb 1959 1250
LIGHTNING BALL Gottlieb 1959 1800
JUNGLE Williams 1960 895
WORLD BEAUTIES Gottlieb 1960 SOLD
BIG CASINO Gottlieb 1961 600
CORRAL Gottlieb 1961 600
SKILL BALL Williams 1961 400
MARDI GRAS Williams 1962 450
SWEETHEARTS Gottlieb 1963 525
WING DING Williams 1964 795
WORLD FAIR Gottlieb 1964 425
BIG STRIKE Williams 1965
FUN CRUISE Bally 1965 DISPLAY
HI DOLLY Gottlieb 1965 475
ICE REVIEW Gottlieb 1965 325
SKI CLUB Williams 1965
CASANOVA Williams 1966 595
CROSS TOWN Gottlieb 1966 450
HURDY GURDY Gottlieb 1966 400, 700
APOLLO Williams 1967 450
ROCKMAKERS Bally 1967
JOKER Bally 1968 400
LADY LUCK Williams 1968 425
KING OF DIAMONDS Gottlieb 1969
SPIN-A-CARD Gottlieb 1969 1795
4-MILLION B.C Bally 1970 450
BALI HI Bally 1970 DISPLAY
STOCK CAR Gottlieb 1970 DISPLAY
SUSPENSE Williams 1970 500
BRISTOL HILLS Gottlieb 1971 425
DIMENTION Gottlieb 1971
FIREBALL Bally 1971 NFS
KLONDIKE Williams 1971 400
KING KOOL Gottlieb 1972 495
OUTER SPACE Gottlieb 1972 300
TIME ZONE Bally 1972 400
WILD LIFE Gottlieb 1972 550
HEE HAW Chicago Coin 1973 595
HOT SHOT Gottlieb 1973 450
JUNGLE KING Gottlieb 1973
SPANISH EYES Williams 1973
DUOTRON Gottlieb 1974 395
MAGNOTRON Gottlieb 1974 350
TWIN WIN Bally 1974 500
ATLANTIS Gottlieb 1975 NFS
BLUE MAX Chicago Coin 1975 595
JACK IN THE BOX Gottlieb 1975 175
OLD CHICAGO Bally 1975 500
QUICK DRAW Gottlieb 1975 495
SATIN DOLL Williams 1975 300, 495
SOCCER Gottlieb 1975 600
TOP SCORE Gottlieb 1975 595
JUKE BOX Chicago Coin 1976 695
NIGHT RIDER (SS) Bally 1976 350
PLAYBOY Bally 1976 1499
SOUND STAGE Chicago Coin 1976
SUPERSONIC Bally 1976 550
SURE SHOT Gottlieb 1976 495
TOLEDO Williams 1976 400
JET SPIN Gottlieb 1977 595
LIBERTY BELL Williams 1977
PINBALL Stern 1977 RAFFLE
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS Gottlieb 1978 250
KISS Bally 1978 350
SILVERBALL MANIA Bally 1978 695
STARS Stern 1978 750
BUCK ROGERS Gottlieb 1979 250
FLASH Williams 1979 595
FUTURE SPA Bally 1979 650
ROLLING STONES Bally 1979 950
STAR TRIP Game Plan 1979
STELLAR WARS Williams 1979 495
TRIDENT Stern 1979 150
BLACK KNIGHT Williams 1980
BLACKOUT Williams 1980 595
FLASH GORDON Bally 1980
CAVEMAN Gottlieb 1981
CENTAUR Bally 1981 NFS
HYPERBALL Williams 1981 695
MEDUSA Bally 1981 649
VECTOR Bally 1981 499
BABY PAC-MAN Bally 1982 795
ELECTRA Bally 1982 650
HAUNTED HOUSE Gottlieb 1982 1100
FOUR BY FOUR Atari 1983 DISPLAY
SPY HUNTER Bally 1984 375
GAMATRON Pinstar 1985 695
PINK PANTHER Gottlieb 1985 595
HOLLYWOOD HEAT Gottlieb 1986 699
PINBOT Williams 1986 775, 950
ROAD KINGS Williams 1986 795
BIG GUNS Williams 1987 950
DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS Bally 1987 799
F-14 TOMCAT Williams 1987
FIRE! Williams 1987
BANZIA RUN Williams 1988
CYCLONE Williams 1988 1195
SPACE STATION Williams 1988 995
TAXI Williams 1988 995
TIME MACHINE Data East 1988
BLACK KNIGHT 2000 Williams 1989
JOKERZ! Williams 1989
DINER Williams 1990
FUN HOUSE Williams 1990 1800
NIGHT MOVES Int'l Concepts 1990
HOOK Data East 1991 875
HURRICANE Williams 1991
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES Data East 1991 750
THE MACHINE - BRIDE OF PINBOT Williams 1991 SOLD
CUE BALL WIZARD Gottlieb 1992 1599
GETAWAY Williams 1992 1095
LETHAL WEAPON 3 Williams 1992 950
ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE Data East 1992 1395
STAR WARS Data East 1992 1495
INDIANA JONES Williams 1993 1695
JUDGE DREED Williams 1993 1195
TWILIGHT ZONE Bally 1993 1695
DEMOLITION MAN Williams 1994 1395
DIRTY HARRY Williams 1994 1450
FLINTSTONES Williams 1994
FREDDY (THE NIGHTMARE) Gottlieb 1994 1499
TOMMY Data East 1994
BAYWATCH Sega 1995
BIG HURT Gottlieb 1995 1599
STARGATE Gottlieb 1995 1500
STRIKES & SPARES (BOWLER) Gottlieb 1995 895
KING PIN Capcom 1996
NO FEAR (PROTOTYPE) Williams 1996 DISPLAY
BIG BANG BAR Capcom 1997
CIRQUS VOLTAIRE Williams 1997
GO GIRL! CUSTOM MADE 1997 DISPLAY
MEDEVIL MADNESS Williams 1997 DISPLAY
NBA FASTBREAK Bally 1997 DISPLAY
NO GOOD GOPHERS Williams 1997 DISPLAY
STARSHIP TROUPERS (WHITEWOOD) Sega 1997 DISPLAY
X-FILES Sega 1997 NFS
As I said earlier, in addition to all the pingames available for playing and for sale in the Exhibit Hall, it was also the site for the qualifying rounds of the annual "Flip-Out" pinball tournament. For that Williams had graciously provided a whole row of their latest game, CIRQUS VOLTAIRE. The area where those games were located was always busy with entrants vying to qualify for the final tournament playoffs to be held on Sunday. The prize for the tournament was a pinball machine as well as a large trophy
Well, there you have it, a complete rundown (in two parts) of the happenings at the 13th edition of Pinball Expo. Next year the Expo will be held October 22 through 25, 1998. If all goes well with my finances, I hope to attend for the fourteenth year!