- A Variety -



                         by Russ Jensen


                      photos by Sam Harvey


     The 10th edition of the Loose Change Fun Fair was again held

at the Pasadena Exhibit Center in Pasadena, California, the

weekend of the 1st and 2nd of October.  There were a large number

of visitors as well as exhibitors, the exhibit area even

extending into the seating area for the snack bar.


     There were also a large number of pinball games at the show,

both old and modern.  I counted approximately 37 pins, including

two FIREBALLs.  A majority of the games were owned by three

dealers, the rest scattered throughout the other booths.


     This year, rather than describing, and showing pictures of

all the games (the pictures alone would take up more space than

this article is allotted) I have decided to emphasize the large

variety of pingames at the show, including some of their

historical significance, and occasional tidbits of pinball

trivia. I will, however, list all the games (in chronological

order) at the end of this article so you will know exactly what

was there.



   KOW TOW - Probably the earliest game at the show was a coin-

operated "bagatelle type" game called KOW TOW, produced in early

1932 by Bay City Games of Bay City, Michigan.  In a manner of

speaking this game was not actually "at the show" as it was

purchased by my good friend Richard Conger before the doors were

opened to the general public; he being one of those who paid a

"bonus" to be admitted during the exhibit "set-up time" on Friday

night and Saturday morning.  The story of how Richard came to

purchase this game is kind of interesting.


     He went to the "set-up" on Friday night and noticed an

unusual game, but did not buy it at that time.  Early Saturday

morning he came up to my place to pick up a game I had found for

him and told me of this game he had seen which used a "cue stick"

to shoot the balls, but was also coin operated.


     His description set off something in my head and I said

"there's a game just like that shown in Dick Bueschel's new

pinball book".  I then got the book and sure enough Richard said

"that's the same game".  A few minutes later he left in a hurry

to get back before the show opened to the public to buy KOW TOW.

For those of you fortunate enough to own that great book, this

game is shown and described on page 156.


     This unusual and rare little game was one of the few early

pins to use a cue stick to shoot the balls, like pinball's early

non coin-operated ancestor, the game of "Bagatelle".  Surviving

KOW TOWs seem to be quite scarce as Dick Bueschel states that

only 2 or 3 are known to currently exist.  Other than it's method

of shooting the balls, the playfield characteristics are quite

similar to the other "pin and ball" games prevalent in the

pioneer year of 1932.


     For more information on this game and it's history I suggest

reading the write-up on it in Dick's book.  By the way, I believe

this is the rarest pinball game ever to be sold at a Loose Change

Fun Fair.


     ACES HIGH AND MERRY-GO-ROUND - two other interesting early

games on display were ACES HIGH whose maker I have not been able

to determine, and MERRY-GO-ROUND, made by the ABT Manufacturing

Company, both having a similar playfield format.  In both of

these games balls were shot onto a circular playing area with

holes around it's periphery.  The playing area of the field was

sloped such that each ball would eventually end up in one of the

holes.  These games may not be "pingames" in every sense of the

word (no "pins", for instance); maybe they're more close to being

Trade Stimulators, but their use of a plunger to propel the balls

is enough for me to loosely classify them as pingames.


     ACES HIGH had a Poker theme with 4 holes each for 10, Jack,

Queen, King, and Ace.  The player apparently shot five balls and

tried to form a "poker hand" from the holes in which they landed.

This was a fairly simple, but well-built, counter-top game.


     MERRY-GO-ROUND, on the other hand, had it's holes labeled

with the traditional slot machine symbols (bars, bells, and fruit

symbols).  The player apparently shot 3 balls trying to form a

"winning combination" as indicated on the slot machine type

"award card" near the lower end of the game.  This game was quite

similar to Bally's SKIPPER from 1933 (not to be confused with the

Ballygame of the same name coming out in early 1937).


     GOOFY - Bally's GOOFY from 1932 was a very colorful game

indeed!  The name probably came from the fact that the playfield

design was radically different from the common simple "pin and

ball" games of that time.  The ball, when shot, would circle the

playfield before starting down the field, an idea which was used

on several other games in the early Thirties, and even one or two

in the late Forties and early Fifties.


     The "novelty" and "color" of GOOFY was emphasized in the

advertisements for it which appeared in the coin-machine trade

publications.  The following is excerpted from an ad for the game

appearing in the September 24, 1932 issue of Billboard:


A GOLD MINE FOR PROFIT - Already the operators who

placed the first few thousand GOOFY machines on

location are burning up the wires with rush orders for

additional machines.  They are amazed at the big

profits that they are hauling out of GOOFY.  You'll

understand why GOOFY gets the play and holds it after

you've seen this dizzy, dazzling, different game.

Loaded down with new and spectacular ideas . . .

Colorful and flashy and fast as a sky-full of fireworks

on the Fourth Of July GOOFY challenges the skill of the

player . . . Delivers a dozen dynamic thrills with

every shot . .  . And piles up profits for the

operator!  Put GOOFY on your locations and watch people

pour money into it.  Write or wire for complete

details.  And do it now . . .  So you can start cashing

in on this great, goat-getting GOOFY game.  Better

still, hustle down to your jobber.  He has GOOFY ready

for you now.  Hurry and "get yours while the getting is



     So, as you can see, Bally's GOOFY was quite advanced for

it's time, both in it's artistic and play features.


     T-N-T - By 1935 the Rockola manufacturing company, which was

well-known as a jukebox manufacturer, was also into the pingame

business.  In fact, in that same year they hired a budding young

pingame designer, Mr. Harry Williams, to head their design team.

Whether or not Harry worked on T-N-T I don't know, but it

certainly appears to be an "action-packed" game, the kind that

Harry really enjoyed designing.


     The game was very well-built, as were all Rockola's

products, and featured colors on the playfield besides.  All in

all a fine addition to the Rockola "pingame stable" during the

very productive year of 1935.


     SINK THE JAPS - Shortly after America's entry into World War

II, production of "non-essential" items, such as amusement

machines, was curtailed so that materials needed to produce war-

related products could be conserved to enhance "war production".

game factories also turned to "war work" to do their part in

America's "all out effort".


     Even though new pingames could not be produced at that time

the demand for them increased, those games being a popular

diversion for the many military men stationed and trained at

bases throughout the country.  In order to keep up with this

demand, enterprising individuals and small companies started

"converting" pre-war pingames into different games, even though

in some cases only superficiality.


     These "Wartime Conversions", as they came to be known, were

of two general types.  In some cases, typified by games converted

by Harry Williams' and Lyn Durrant's new United Manufacturing

Company, the old games were completely dismantled and the parts

and cabinets re-used to produce the "new game".  Most

conversions, however, were of a much simpler type with the

original configuration remaining intact and only new backglasses

(with a new name and theme, of course), instruction cards, and

many times new bumper caps being substituted.


     A "conversion" of the latter type was shown at this year's

Fun Fair, a real "first" for this show as this type of game is

quite rare today, to say the least.  This game was called SINK

THE JAPS, which was converted from Genco's 1941 pingame, SEVEN

UP.  The circle of numbers on the original glass was replaced by

caricatures of Japanese military men, the scoring numbers being

now indicated as representations of Japanese ships and aircraft.

This backglass, by the way, was in "mint condition".


     The new bumper caps provided with SINK THE JAPS also had the

caricatures of Japanese military.  The caps, however, were

removed from the game at the show to keep them from getting lost;

as the game, for some reason, had no top glass.  So, for the

first time in 10 years of Loose Change Fun Fairs, a "Wartime

Conversion" pingame was shown.


     OSCAR - One of the pingame manufacturers which got their

start making "conversions" during the war was an outfit calling

itself Marvel.  Their first "conversion" was called BASEBALL and

was put on the market late in 1944.  They made four more games

between that time and August of 1946, the advertising for which

indicated that they were also "conversions".  Their first game

not to be indicated as such was OPPORTUNITY in October of that

same year.  After that they produced at least 7 more games until

they apparently folded sometime in 1948.


     Marvel's OSCAR, from October of 1947, was at the show this

year and was in excellent condition.  But, I had seen that game

before!  Over a year ago, at Pinball Expo '87 in Chicago, I was

approached by game dealer and collector Alan Sax who told me he

had a very nice old pin for sale.  Not being able to buy another

game (my game room and garage were already over-crowded) I told

others at the show about what I thought was a good buy.


     And sure enough, Arizona collector (and publisher of the

very amusing pinball and jukebox satire magazine, Flashback)

Leroy Harris said he was interested in seeing it.  So Leroy,

Alan, and myself (armed with Sam Harvey's trusty camera) went to

Alan's warehouse to see the game, which Leroy purchased.

Incidentally, the photographs of this game shown with this

article were taken by "yours truly" and, believe it or not,

turned out OK in spite of my usually poor photographic skills

(well, it had to be Sam's camera, it certainly couldn't have been



     As you can plainly see, OSCAR appears to be an interesting

game of the post-war, pre-flipper era, complete with "kickout

holes" and many of the diamond shaped bumpers which only appeared

for a period of a year or so in the late 1940's.  Incidentally,

OSCAR was also purchased at the Fun Fair by Richard Conger and

will be another prime piece in his extensive collection.


     "400" - Since the beginning of the Fun Fairs in 1979

pingames from the 1950's (referred to by many as "Pinball's

Golden Age") have been quite rare at these shows.  This year was

no exception as the closest thing to a Fifties pin that could be

found was an "upright" game by Genco from 1952 called simply



     Genco, founded by the Gensberg brothers in the early 1930's,

was one of the major manufacturers of amusement pinballs

throughout the Thirties and Forties; making almost exclusively

"amusement type" pins; while most of the other manufacturers of

the 1930's turned out both "amusement" and "gambling" models.

With a few minor exceptions, it wasn't until the early Fifties

that Genco tried their hand at "gambling type machines".


     In the period between October 1952 and April 1954 Genco

produced four "upright" games, "400" being the first of this

series.  The other games in the series were JUMPING JACK, GOLDEN

NUGGET, and SILVER CHEST.  In all of these games the balls were

shot upward onto a vertical playfield, would fall toward the

bottom of the field (through a field of pins which changed their

path) and ended up in one of the "scoring channels" at the bottom

of the playfield.


     "400" had two groups of six channels at the bottom of it's

playfield, one colored orange and the other blue.  The object of

the game was to line up balls in one of these groups in a row

from left to right.  If you succeeded in filling up the first

three channels in either group you would be awarded 3 "credits".

Four in a row would get you 7, five got 12; and if you were lucky

enough to fill up all six channels in a group you would receive

20 credits!


     The "credits" the player won were indicated by a three digit

counter in the center of the playfield area.  These "credits"

could be used to play "free games", but I would imagine that in

many (if not most) locations cash awards were given and the

"credits" erased as was done with most of the "bingo pinballs"

which were popular during this period.  In fact, I guess you

could say that these games were "Genco's answer to the bingo".


      Incidentally, this was not the first time that Genco

produced a game such as this.  In 1946 they came out with a small

counter-top game called WHIZZ with a similar format.  This game

also had a vertical field with 10 channels at the bottom numbered

1 - 10.  In order to win the player had to get balls in from 4,

to all 10, consecutive channels.  WHIZZ had pinball-like scoring

panels on it's glass in units of 1000.  Each 1000 points was

equivalent to one "replay".  Scoring a winning combination

resulted in 1 to 20 thousand being scored (depending on how many

consecutive channels were filled) which represented 1 to 20

"replays".  The machine could then be played for "free", each

game played resulting in 1000 points being subtracted from the

player's score.


     A friend of mine several years ago gave me a WHIZZ to repair

and I really enjoyed playing it for hours on end after I got it

going.  It was really a challenging little game.  Incidentally,

in case you're wondering, more than one ball can fall into any

channel which is usually the case, thus making it more difficult

to complete a long sequence of numbers.  Most of these games, I

believe, gave the player 10 balls for a nickel.


     As a sidelight to the story of the Genco  "uprights" of the

early Fifties, let me say a little about Genco's last pinballs. 

  the last true Genco pin made before the "uprights" just

described appears to be SPRINGTIME, coming out early in 1952.

After that year the only Genco pinball that appears in any list

of games was a game called SHOW BOAT, listed in Pinball Reference

Guide as coming out in December of 1957.  Incidentally, I

recently discovered that a picture of that game appears in the

"color section" of Steve kirk and Bobbie Natkin's book "All About



     There was, however, at least one other pingame made bearing

the Genco name which apparently came out sometime in the late

1950's.  I first saw one of these games operated in an arcade in

Thousand Oaks, California back in the mid 1970's; a "woodrail"

amongst a room of current 70's pinballs!  I remembered that the

game had the appearance of a pinball from the late Fifties, which

seemed unusual to me at the time since I had never seen a Genco

of that late a vintage.  I could never exactly remember it's

name, but did remember it having a "shooting gallery" theme.


     Well, in October, during a visit with pinball collector Stan

Muraski in Rockford Illinois, I again saw this game among Stan's

exquisite collection of prime pingames.  The name of the game

was, of all things, FUN FAIR (a very rare game indeed!), so I

thought a mention of it here would be appropriate.  As of yet,

however, I do not know it's exact date of manufacture.  Can

anyone help?


     LAGUNA BEACH - Although a few "bingo pinballs" have appeared

at past shows, this year was the first time for one of the "OK"

variety.  For a detailed description of the characteristics of

such games I refer you to my past article "Bally's Bikini, It's

'OK'" in the Fall 1987 issue of Coin Slot.


     The "OK game" at this year's show was Bally's LAGUNA BEACH

from early 1960.  I used to think that this was the first "OK"

but I was later corrected, being told that it was preceded by

COUNTY FAIR in late 1959.


     The LAGUNA BEACH at the Fun Fair was in almost "mint"

condition, and was displayed by a dealer from Las Vegas.  This

machine, as with probably all "bingos" operated in Nevada, was

converted to a "coin payout" by the addition of a bottom cabinet

section replacing the original legs of the game.  It is my belief

that there were no bingo pinballs equipped for coin payout during

manufacture, probably because the "payout one-balls" (the

predecessor of the "bingos") were "outlawed" primarily for that



     Anyway, I was glad to see one of my favorite type of "bingo

pinball" (the "OK" machine) at the show.  Maybe there will be

more at future shows.


     RACK-A-BALL - Pins from the early 1960's have also been

fairly rare at past Fun Fairs, but this year there were four of

these "classics".  A fine example of such a game which was

displayed this year was Gottlieb's RACK-A-BALL from 1962.  This

was one of the many "pool theme" pingames that have appeared in

every decade since the 1930's.  In the Thirties, for example,

there were such games as Gottlieb's KELLY POOL in 1935 and

Bally's POCKETS in 1936.  In the Forties we had Gottlieb's SPOT

POOL in 1941.  Examples of Fifties "pool pins" included

Gottlieb's BANK-A- BALL in 1950 and SKILL POOL in 1952, plus

Williams' EIGHT BALL in 1952 and SPOT POOL in 1959.


     In the 1960's (besides RACK-A-BALL) we had Gottlieb's BANK-

A- BALL from 1965, as well as Williams' SKILL POOL in 1963 and

MISS-O (and it's 2 player version EIGHT BALL) in 1966.  The

1970's brought us Williams' SOLIDS AND STRIPES and Chicago Coin's

HI-SCORE POOL (to be described later) both from 1971.  Then came

the solid-state era with Bally's pioneer electronic game EIGHT

BALL in 1977 as well as Gottlieb's PINBALL POOL in 1979.  The

current decade has had both Bally's EIGHT BALL DELUXE from 1981

and EIGHT BALL CHAMP in 1985, as well as Gottlieb's RACK 'EM UP

from 1983.


     As you can plainly see, the game of pool was indeed a very

popular theme throughout pinball's history.  I'm sure you've also

noticed that the names of these games, with the exception of

MISS- O (I really don't know where that name came from), are very

similar, many being identical.  One reason for the popularity of

pool as a pinball theme was probably that pinball machines were

often found in locations were pool was played.  Another reason

was probably that the numbered balls used in pool lent themselves

quite well to the "number sequences" which were a popular

"scoring objective" in pinball over the years.


     RACK-A-BALL was certainly a fine example of the pool theme

games.  The artwork on both the backglass and playfield featured

several female pool players which was typical of most of the

"pool pinballs" made since the 1940's.  This game featured a form

of "mechanical animation" in it's backboard with it's "rack of

balls" behind the backglass, an idea used on several games in the

Sixties.  The game at the show was in excellent condition and

certainly a very collectable pingame of the period.


     CAPERSVILLE - Bally's CAPERSVILLE from 1966 was somewhat

typical of Ballypins of the mid 1960's.  The artwork on the

backglass was of a "modernistic" style with very angular

depictions of human figures.  The game's asymmetric playfield

design was also characteristic of Bally designs of the period,

and featured several of the "mushroom bumpers", a Bally

innovation of that decade.  While this game was probably "nothing

special", it does serve to illustrate the wide variety of

pingames available at this year's show.


     HI-SCORE POOL - Chicago Coin's HI-SCORE POOL of 1971 was

certainly an unusual game, as well as being another of the "pool

theme" games described earlier (also note the female pool player

on the backglass).  Two unusual features of this game were it's

"turret shooter" and the fact that the ball, after being shot,

was hidden from the player's view part of the time.


     The "turret shooter" (a constantly moving device which

launched the ball onto the playfield whenever the player pressed

a button) was not new to this game.  To the best of my knowledge

it was first used on several Gottlieb games in the early 1950's,

games such as SELECT-A-CARD and JUST 21 in 1950.  Williams also

used "turret shooters" on three of their "horserace" games which

will be discussed shortly.


     HI-SCORE POOL'S unusual playfield had replicas of the

fifteen standard pool balls mounted on it's upper panel.  The

scoring switches for these balls were hidden from the player's

view, with arrows indicating to the player in which direction to

aim to "hit" certain combinations of the numbered balls.


     The player used the "pointer" arrow on the "turret shooter",

and the arrows painted on the playfield, to determine when to

press the button to release each ball.  After the ball was shot

it disappeared beneath the top panel, "hitting" various "pool

balls", and then re-appeared.  The player could then use the

flippers to try to "hit" additional "balls".  Two "slingshot

kickers" at the bottom of the playfield also aided the player in

hitting more balls.


     This indeed was an unusual game and certainly added to the

wide variety of games shown at the Fun Fair this year.


     WINNER - Of the several games from the early 1970's at this

year's show I have chosen Williams' WINNER from 1972 to again

emphasize "variety".  WINNER was the last of a series of

"horserace theme" pinballs produced by Williams beginning with



     Other games in that series included two NAGS (1951 and


DAFFY DERBY (1954), TURF CHAMPS (1958), DERBY DAY (1967), and



     All of these games were very well described and pictured in

an article titled "Playin' The Ponies" by Dennis Dodel, published

in the July/August 1987 issue of Dennis' fine pinball

publication, Pinball Trader.  Each of these games had a

mechanically animated "horse running unit", usually located in

the game's backbox.  TURF CHAMPS had it's horse unit in the

center of the playfield, and WINNER's was located below the

playing surface, covered by a plexiglass sheet.


      Dennis mentioned in his article that WINNER, as well as the

two previous Williams "horse games", were designed by veteran

pinball designer Steve Kordek.  Steve has been in the industry

for over 50 years, starting with Genco in 1937.  He has been with

Williams since 1960 and is currently Vice President of Game

Design.  Steve is a wonderful fellow and has participated now in

all four Pinball Expos, and has won the hearts of all who attend

these events.


     Dennis Dodel described the operation of WINNER as follows:


The last of the horse race games and also one of the

strangest.  Steve Kordek placed the horse running unit

under the playfield this time.  The entire playfield is

covered with a plexiglass sheet to allow viewing of the

horses underneath.  Mr. Kordek is fond of saying that

all WINNER playfields are in as good of shape today as

when they were built in 1972.  If you own one, you know

this is true.  To allow space for the horse running

unit, most mechanical parts are located in the head with

a swing open door reminiscent of the bingo games.  The

WINNER has the same oscillating ball shooter as DERBY

DAY and HAYBURNERS II.  A randomly selected horse is lit

at the start of the game and each horse is coaxed

forward by six targets at the top of the playfield.

Hitting two targets on either side of the horse targets

lights an A-B-C and D light on the playfield which in

turn lights Specials in either side drain.  Bringing in

the selected horse first awards 1 replay.


     So here, as you can see, is another very interesting type of

pingame, further emphasizing the "variety" of games shown this



     HAUNTED HOUSE - Even though my interest in solid-state

pinballs is "minimal", in all fairness to some of the younger

collectors (and older ones too who are fascinated by these games,

for that matter), at least one of these games should be mentioned

here.  Of the 5 or 6 "digital" pins at this year's show I chose

Gottlieb's 1982 model, HAUNTED HOUSE, because of it's uniquely

different style, both in artwork and playfield design.


     The "haunted house" on the backglass is certainly "eye

catching" as is the game's "multi-level" playfield.  One

interesting thing about the backglass is it's lack of scoring

displays.  While this is somewhat common today, in 1982 most

games still had scoring indicated on their backglasses.  HAUNTED

HOUSE, by the way, was designed by former Gottlieb designer John

Osborne who has since left pinball design and now lives, and

works in another field, in Southern California.

      That rounds out my coverage of the wide variety of pingames

making an appearance at the 1988 edition of the Loose Change Fun

Fair.  The following is a chronological listing of all the

pinballs I saw at the show:



----------------  ------------  ----


ACES HIGH         ???           1932

BALLYHOO          Bally         1932

FIVE STAR FINAL   Gottlieb      1932

GOOFY             Bally         1932

JIGGERS           Genco         1932

KOW TOW           Bay City Games 1932

MERRY-GO-ROUND    Abt           1932

WOW               Mills         1932

TNT               Rockola       1935

SINK THE JAPS     ???           194?

OSCAR             Marvel        1947

"400"             Genco         1952

LAGUNA BEACH      Bally         1960

RACK-A-BALL       Gottlieb      1962

SKILL POOL        Williams      1963

SLICK CHICK       Gottlieb      1963

NORTH STAR        Gottlieb      1964

CAPERSVILLE       Bally         1966

SUPER SCORE       Gottlieb      1967

GRIDIRON          Williams      1969

MILLS 0FFICIAL   (Reproduction) 197?

GALAHAD           Bally         1970

HI-SCORE POOL     Chicago Coin  1971

FIREBALL          Bally         1972

OUTER SPACE       Gottlieb      1972

SPACE TIME        Bally         1972

WINNER            Williams      1972

NIP-IT            Bally         1973

SPANISH EYES      Williams      1973

OLD CHICAGO       Bally         1976

VOLLEY            Gottlieb      1976

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS  Gottlieb      1978

DRAGON            Gottlieb      1978

STAR TREK         Bally         1979

SPACE INVADERS    Bally         1980

HAUNTED HOUSE     Gottlieb      1982

RAPID FIRE        Bally         1982


     It was sure nice to see so many pingames at the show,

especially such a wide variety of types and vintages, from simple

"pin and ball" games of 1932 to the "solid-state" marvels of the

present decade.  Here's hoping this trend will continue in future