By Russ Jensen


                      Photos by Sam Harvey




     For the twelfth year in a row, coin machine enthusiasts in

Southern California, and any others who wanted to travel to

Pasadena, were treated to the "Loose Change Fun Fair".  As it has

been, except for the very first year, the show was held in the

Pasadena Exhibit Center in that city.


     This show was probably the biggest one yet; however, there

was another Fun Fair held this Spring, which I was able to

attend, which I was told was also quite large.  My one complaint

with the last few shows is that as they get larger it gets harder

to get in and out of the exhibit area.  For the first several

years I could park in the underground garage and walk through a

door to a stairway which led directly to the room adjoining the

exhibit area.  Now if you park in the garage you must go up to

the outside level, walk almost a block, and then down into the

area where the show is located.  What a bummer!


     The showing of pingames at this show was not too bad.  There

were many solid-state games, but I must admit these are certainly

becoming more collectable as the years go by.  The "rundown" of

pins at this show, by decade, was approximately as follows:  Pre

1930 - 1, 1930's - 7, 1940's - 2, 1950's - 6 (mostly "gambling

type" pins), 1960's - 5, 1970's "electro-mechanicals" - 7, and

solid-state games over 18.  There was also one "toy bagatelle"

whose date of manufacture could not easily be determined.


     Before I start describing the games, a word about some of

the photos accompanying this article.  In a few instances the

photo used is not of the "actual" machine at the show, but one of

the same model game.  The reason for this is to save the person

taking the pictures from photographing a game he already has a

good picture of.


     I will now provide brief descriptions, in chronological

order, of most of the older pinball games at the show.  I will

try to limit the descriptions to about a paragraph each to leave

room for all the fine photos. 




     By far the earliest game at the show in a "pinball format"

was a real ancestor of the modern pingame, Caille Brothers'

"turn- of-the-century" game, LOG CABIN.  This machine had been

shown at one or two previous Fun Fairs.  It is quite rare and had

a price tag of $2500.  LOG CABIN had most of the characteristics

of the pingames of the early 1930's, such as a sloping playfield,

balls propelled by a plunger, and "pins" on the playfield to

deflect the balls during play.  For some strange reason, however,

games of this type didn't seem to catch on until the advent of

the "Great Depression".




     There were several pingames at the show made during the 1931

- 1933 era.  One of these, which I belive was also there last

year, was a game which appeared to be a copy of the "pioneer

pingame" WHIFFLE made in Youngstown Ohio in 1931 and 1932.  This

game (not pictured here), unlike WHIFFLE itself, had a multi-

colored playfield.  The owner of this machine told me an

interesting story about where he found it.  He said he found the

machine several years ago in the small town of Possum Oklahoma.

The game, he said, was owned by an old man in his nineties, who

kept it out in an old barn full of all kinds of interesting old

items; but only this one coin machine.  


     An interesting 1932 era game which showed up at this year's

show was a small counter-top game called simply "THE MIDGET".

The manufacturer's name, shown prominently on the machine's

instruction card, was the "E. E. Junior Manufacturing Co." of Los

Angeles.  This very small, simple, "pin-and-ball" game was quite

well made and in excellent condition.


     Three of the 1932 games on display this year (also not

pictured here) had been at one or more past Fun Fairs.

Gottlieb's PLAY-BOY was a small counter-top game with a playing

card theme.  FIVE STAR FINAL, from the same company, was much

more elaborate with a multi-colored playfield arranged in two

circular sections, one above the other.  Mills' WOW, that

company's first pingame, was a simple "pin-and-ball" format game

with a distinctive diamond pattern on it's playfield.  This game

had been at so many past shows that I remarked to it's owner that

I thought he should have a prize for "the pingame that has been

shown at the most Fun Fairs".  




     The simple "pin-and-ball" games of 1932 gave way, during the

next year, to more elaborate mechanical games such as Rockola's

famous pair JIGSAW and WORLD SERIES.  Then, at the beginning of

1934, Harry Williams' famous CONTACT "sounded the death knell"

for the entirely mechanical game.


     CONTACT's battery operated ball kickers ejected a ball from

one hole so it could roll down into a higher scoring hole below.

This "vertical ejection" idea did not seem to catch on until many

years later, but the use of electric kickers which shot the ball

horizontally up the playfield quickly became "all the rage" in

the pingames of the 1934-35 era.


     A very fine example of one of these battery operated "kicker

games" was shown this year at the Fun Fair.  The game was called

FURY.  The owner said that a manufacturer's name of "American

Coin" (or something like that) appeared somewhere on the game,

but I really didn't see it.  The playfield graphics on this game

were gorgeous, and the machine appeared to be in "near-mint"

condition.  The arrangement of electric ball kickers on the field

was quite elaborate, and it looked to me like a very interesting

and novel mid-thirties pingame indeed.


     As a sidelight to the story of the "electric kicker", the

invention of the bumper by Bally in 1936 was essentially the

beginning of the end (at least for the time being) of playfield

kickers.  Very few such devices appeared on pingames from 1937 up

until the "eject hole" (using the same basic principle as first

used on CONTACT) was introduced by Exhibit Supply (the company

that Harry Williams worked for at the time, by the way) in 1941.

As soon as pingame production began again after World War II,

however, the "eject hole" was "king".




     There were two fine examples of 1941 pingames at the show, a

very rare year at past shows.  That year was the last full year

of pingame production before World War II caused a cessation to

all pingame production early in 1942.  By that time pingames were

becoming quite sophisticated in play features, as well as in the

corresponding internal circuitry.


     The earliest of these two games was Gottlieb's SEA HAWK

which appeared in the Spring of 1941.  The game's quite

attractive backglass showed a large sailing ship in it's center

with "ship's wheels" in each of the four corners of the scene.

Each wheel displayed 10 numbers of the game's 13 numbered bumper

"sequence". The first contained 1-10, the 2nd 2-11, the 3rd 3-12,

with 4-13 on the last.  As you can easily determine, the numbers

5-10 are common to all four wheels.


     Obviously, lighting all the numbers on a given wheel

provided the player with some "reward", possibly a replay.  In

addition to this "number sequence" feature, the game also had

"high score" scoring, as well as the popular "Special When Lit"

rollovers.  For more information on these "number sequence"

pingames I refer you to my past article "Bally's VARIETY, and

Other 'Sequence' Pingames" which appeared in the Fall 1985 issue



     The other 1941 "number sequence" pin at the show was Chicago

Coin's STAR ATTRACTION.  This game only had a 6 number sequence.

It also had "Special When Lit" rollovers, plus something called a

"selection" feature, the workings of which I was unable to

ascertain.  STAR ATTRACTION's backglass art was typical "Art

Deco", an art style which had been used on many games since the

mid 1930's.


1950's GAMES


     Pingames from the decade of the Fifties have generally been

quite rare at past Fun Fairs.  This year there were 6, probably a

record, but all but one were of the "gambling type", not

"amusement" flipper games.  Three of these "gambling type" pins

came from one dealer who had obtained, I was given to understand

from a friend, a warehouse full of gambling machines, including

"one-ball" and "bingo" pinballs, as well as many console slots,

many of which were also on display.


     The earliest of these 1950's gambling pins was Bally's 1950

"one-ball horserace" game TURF KING, a game by the way that I

have in my own collection.  This was the first time an example of

this interesting type of machine appeared at a Fun Fair.  This

form of pingame originated in the mid 1930's and was a very

popular form of "gambling" pinball until they were essentially

"outlawed" by the passage of the Johnson Act in 1951, TURF KING

being one of the later models of this type of pin to be produced.


     In these games the player tried to shoot his one ball into

the numbered playfield hole corresponding to a randomly lighted

number(s) which lit on the backglass at the start of each game.

Before he shot the ball, however, the player could deposit

additional coins to try and get better numbers or higher "odds"

(lighted numbers on the backglass indicating how many coins - or

replays - the player could win by "matching" the lighted



     The second "gambling type" pin on display, by the same

dealer, was United's A-B-C, one of the first so-called "bingo"

pinballs.  When the Johnson Act resulted in significantly

reducing the market for the "one-balls", such as TURF KING, the

industry had to come up with something to take the place of those

very lucrative machines.  The result of that effort was the

development in 1951 of what was first known as "in-line pinballs"

(later to be known as "bingos") in which the player shot 5 balls

into numbered holes (1-25) on the playfield, trying to light up a

line of 3 or more numbers on a "bingo card" pattern on the



     A-B-C had a circular playfield with a "pop-bumper" in it's

center to continuously repel the balls until each landed in one

of the numbered holes.  It also had 3 "bingo cards" on it's

backglass, labeled "A", "B", and "C", hence the name.


     At around this same time, Bally came out with a game called

BRIGHT LIGHTS, also having 3 cards on it's backglass, but with a

rectangular playfield having similar dimensions to those used on

a standard flipper pinball.  Shortly after that, United discarded

it's circular field for the more standard one, and produced

LEADERS, the third of the "gambling type" pins shown at the Fun



     There was one other "bingo" pinball at the show.  It was

Bally's 1953 game BEACH CLUB (not pictured here), and was typical

of the many bingos  produced, almost entirely by Bally and

United, during that period.


     There was a funny story associated with the machine at the

show.  When I asked the antique dealer who was selling it if it

worked, he replied "no".  When I then inquired what was wrong

with it, he replied "I don't know, I've never plugged it in".  I

then asked how he knew it didn't work if he had never tried it?"

His answer to that was "Well, it doesn't look like it does".

Incidentally, I later noticed that the power cord was cut in half

and didn't even have a plug on it.


     The last of the "gambling pins" at the show was a very

interesting little Ballygame from 1957 called TARGET ROLL.  This

game, like the A-B-C mentioned earlier, had a circular playfield.

It's field had 36 holes, each with a scoring value of from

between 20 and 120 next to it, but required no "pop bumper" since

the field sloped upward at the center, causing the balls to

naturally roll toward the scoring holes.


     The backboard contained standard pinball type "score reels"

used to tally the player's score, based upon the holes into which

his balls landed.  In addition, the hole values, 20 to 120, were

indicated on the backglass, and one of these numbers apparently

lit up at the start of a new game as "a target to shoot for".  It

would appear that if he got a ball into a hole on the playfield

corresponding to this lit number, the player would receive some

sort of "bonus", but what that was I really don't know.


     As I said earlier, there was only one 1950's flipper game at

this year's show.  It was Gottlieb's late 1959 game LIGHTNING

BALL.  This was a very nice game, and employed some nice

"mechanical animation" behind it's backglass.  Gottlieb used

similar animation on their game SUNSHINE the previous year, and

on WORLD BEAUTIES about a month after LIGHTNING BALL.

Unfortunately, the backglass of the game at the show had been

severely damaged during shipment of the machine to Pasadena.


THE 1960's


     A very nice early Sixties pin at this year's show was

Gottlieb's BIG CASINO from 1961.  This game was one of the many

Gottlieb games to have a playing card theme.  It sported four

"thumper bumpers" in the upper half of the playfield, with the

center of the field being fairly "wide open".  It's two flippers

were placed quite far apart at the bottom of the playfield, with

three "rollover lanes" in between; not a very common arrangement.


     An early Sixties "classic" also shown this year was

Gottlieb's 1963 pin SWEET HEARTS.  That game also had a playing

card theme, and had a much more standard flipper arrangement at

the bottom of it's playfield.  It had a whopping five pop

bumpers. It also featured a "gobble hole" in the center of the

playfield, a feature dreaded by many players (unless it was lit

for a "special", of course).


     Probably the liveliest "playing area" for pingames at the

show was at the booth of Los Angeles area pinball

collector/dealer/writer Herb Silvers.  Herb's booth contained

some very nice games from the Sixties and Seventies, and all were

plugged in and ready for play by anyone who wished to try them



     One of these games was Gottlieb's 1964 4-player pin HAPPY

CLOWN.  This appears to be a good "target game", with it's

flippers aimed at a semi-circle of five targets in the center of

the playfield.  The HAPPY CLOWN at the show was in excellent

condition and seemed to be very popular with the players at

Herb's booth.


     A very nice example of the pins of the late 1960's, also at

Herb's booth, was Williams' MAGIC CITY from 1967.  The backglass

of this game is quite attractive and colorful, displaying a large

city street, complete with 2 movie theaters, and a huge fountain

in the center of the street.  One of the important play features

of the game was a "spell-name" arrangement, with the player

trying for various "targets" to light up the name of the game.




     There were several electro-mechanical pingames at the show

made during the decade of the 1970's.  One of these was Williams'

1972 "classic" SPANISH EYES.  This was the first Williams pin to

use D.C. operated pop bumpers, and had very unique backglass art.

An excellent article describing this game in detail appeared in

the SUMMER 1982 issue of the now defunct pinball publication

"Pinball Collector's Quarterly", which showed it's backglass

design on it's cover.


     Another Seventies electro-mechanical pin at the show also

came out in 1972.  It was Gottlieb's KING KOOL.  This game had

some very nice graphics on it's backglass.  It's playfield

featured 4 flippers at the bottom to enable the player to shoot

for it's many targets.


     An interesting bit of trivia regarding KING KOOL is that it

was pictured, as an example of a current 2-player pin,

accompanying an article in the December 1972 issue of Playboy

Magazine titled "Great Moments in Pinball History".  The 4-player

game illustrated along with it was none other than the now "super

collectable" Bally FIREBALL.  This publicity seems to have helped

FIREBALL to become as popular as it is today, but KING KOOL (as

well as Williams' SUPER STAR, the single-player example also

pictured in the article) has been almost "lost in the shuffle".

Incidentally, a good description of that Playboy article will be

included in my future article "Pinball Literature - Part 2" which

will most likely appear in the Summer '91 issue of COIN SLOT.




     Even though the newer electronic pingames are "not my cup of

tea", I will briefly mention three of the more than 15 of these

games shown at this year's show.  As I said earlier, these

machines are definitely quickly becoming the collectables of the



     Williams' CONTACT came out in 1978 in the early part of the

"solid-state era".  The game was obviously named after Harry

Williams' (the company's original founder) pioneer electric

pingame from 1934.  The theme of CONTACT's artwork appears to be

some sort of futuristic war setting.  This game also had four

flippers at the bottom of a very open playfield.


     In the mid 1970's Sam Stern, Harry Williams' ex-partner in

his original Williams Manufacturing Co., bought out the pinball

company Chicago Dynamic Industries (formerly Chicago Coin) and

renamed it Stern Electronics.  This was right at the time that

the pinball industry was converting from electro-mechanical to

solid-state games.


     One of Stern's early pins was METEOR which came out in 1979.

That game was one of the several games from Stern designed by

pinball player/enthusiast turned designer Steve Kirk.  Steve's

history as a player, dating back to his early childhood, and his

love for the game gave him many novel design ideas which he

incorporated in games like METEOR.


     The final solid-state pin I will mention is Bally's FLASH

GORDON.  Ever since the mid-seventies, when Bally came out with

WIZARD and CAPTAIN FANTASTIC with art themes based on the pinball

Rock Opera "Tommy", that company has produced many games with

either a celebrity or "super hero" theme.  One of these was FLASH

GORDON which came out in 1981 and was shown at the Fun Fair.  A

look at it's graphics, both on the backglass and playfield,

reveal that it certainly had, excuse the expression, "flash".  




     A very novel little game which was shown this year was

probably actually a toy, but in the pinball format.  It was

called "Electric POOSH-M-UP" and had a very colorful playfield.

The "electric" in the name apparently referred to a series of

small battery-operated lights on it's playfield.  A very similar

game, called "5-GAME ELECTRIC", appeared at one of the past Fun

Fairs.  Games like this are very hard to date as "toy pins" of

this type have been around for many years.




     This year, as in the past few years, I am including a list

of all the pingames I saw at the show.  The following list is

sorted chronologically, and in most cases includes the "asking

price" of the games.  Prices, however, were not shown if the

dealer had a large number of games without any type of price

marking on them.  Let me caution you that the prices shown were

what the dealer was trying to get for the game and do not

necessarily reflect what the game sold for if indeed it was sold.










    GAME                     MFG.              YEAR      PRICE



    LOG CABIN                Caille Bros.      1901       2500

    WHIFFLE (SIC)            ?                 1931?       225

    5 STAR FINAL             Gottlieb          1932        225

    MIDGET (THE)             E.E. Jr. Mfg.     1932        625

    OFFICIAL                 Mills             1932        ?

    PLAY BOY                 Gottlieb          1932        450

    WOW                      Mills             1932        350

    FURY                     ?                 1935?       ?

    SEA HAWK                 Gottlieb          1941        400

    STAR ATTRACTION          Chicago Coin      1941        650

    TURF KING                Bally             1950        300

    ABC                      United            1951        300

    LEADER                   United            1951        300

    BEACH CLUB               Bally             1953        200

    TARGET ROLL              Bally             1957        500

    LIGHTNING BALL           Gottlieb          1959        950

    BIG CASINO               Gottlieb          1961        250

    SWEETHEARTS              Gottlieb          1963        350

    HAPPY CLOWN              Gottlieb          1964        800

    CENTRAL PARK             Gottlieb          1966        800

    MAGIC CITY               Williams          1967        400

    SUSPENSE                 Williams          1970        SOLD

    KING KOOL                Gottlieb          1972        500

    SPANISH EYES             Williams          1972        450

    TRAVEL TIME              Williams          1973        450

    SKY LAB                  Williams          1974        375

    EL DORADO                Gottlieb          1975        SOLD

    TOP SCORE                Gottlieb          1975        500

    STRIKES & SPARES         Bally             1977        ?

    CONTACT                  Williams          1978        ?

    DISCO FEVER              Williams          1978        ?

    LOST WORLD               Bally             1978        550

    MATA HARI                Bally             1978        ?

    PLAYBOY                  Bally             1978        800

    FLASH                    Williams          1979        ?

    GENIE                    Gottlieb          1979        750

    HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS     Bally             1979        495

    METEOR                   Stern             1979        ?

    ROLLER DISCO             Gottlieb          1979        ?

    STELLAR WARS             Williams          1979        650

    TRI ZONE                 Williams          1979        ?

    BLACK KNIGHT             Williams          1980        650

    GROUND SHAKER (NITRO)    Bally             1980        650

    ROLLING STONES           Bally             1980        ?

    TORCH                    Gottlieb          1980        ?

    FLASH GORDON             Bally             1981        650

    JUNGLE LORD              Williams          1981        ?

    SPECIAL FORCE            Bally             1986        ?

    POOSH-EM-UP              ?                 ?           125




    Well, there you have it, a brief description (with a little

pinball history thrown in) and some great photos of  most of the

older pingames (and a few "digitals") which were on display at

the Fall 1990 edition of the Loose Change Fun Fair.  The number

and variety of pingames at these shows has improved greatly since

the early years of the show.  Next year, who knows?  But I'll

venture to guess that there will be more interesting pingames

there next time.