(A Pingame 'Classic')
by Russ Jensen
This is the sixth in a series describing one of the pingames
in my personal collection. This game is probably my favorite of
all the pingames I own.
Genco's METRO is a classic pingame which was released in the
latter half of 1940. Ever since I worked on a friend's METRO in
the late Forties I have been fascinated by this game. It is now
in my personal collection. I consider METRO to be a "classic" in
two respects: first from an aesthetic viewpoint, and secondly for
it's advanced playing features.
The artwork on the backglass depicts a "city of the future"
as viewed in 1940. The automobiles are not too futuristic,
however, looking not much different from the models of the day,
with a little "streamlining" added. The rocket ship in the upper
right area (which is the game's "TILT" sign) certainly has a
"Buck Rogers flair". Also notice that the building on the left
side (with the Ten-Thousands scores on it's upper floors) says
"Genco Manufacturing" on it, indicating to me that the artist
expected the company to last for quite awhile.
What makes the glass still more interesting to me is the
artist. While discussing my METRO one year with designer Steve
Kordek at one of the Pinball Expo shows in Chicago, Steve
informed me that the backglass was done by none other than famous
pinball artist, the late Roy Parker. Roy was supposedly the
artist who did many of the Genco glasses, both before and after
the war. A study of the glass will reveal that Roy was not too
far off in his artistic predictions of "things to come".
Another unique aspect of this machine is the use of bell
shaped molded plastic bumpers. In 1940 bumper styles were
changing from the old "spiral spring" types to new plastic types,
and several odd shaped bumpers (like the 'bells' on METRO) were
used by various manufacturers during the period. As far as I
know, however, METRO was the only game to use these bell shaped
The most significant scoring feature of the game is the
"bonus" system described in detail below. This is the earliest
game I know of to have an "advancing bonus". If any of you
readers know of an earlier pingame with such a feature I would be
very interested in learning about it. It is interesting to note
that this concept is one of the few pinball scoring techniques
that was developed before World War II and is still in use today
in solid-state pins.
Now for a description of METRO's advanced features.
All unlit bumpers cause "light animated" cars on the
backglass to advance along a road. Twelve operations of the
bumpers are needed to complete a circuit of the road, and for
each circuit 1,000 points are scored. All bumpers (except the
purple bumpers) score 1,000 points when lit.
There are six purple bumpers (labeled '1' through '5', and
one unlabeled). Bumpers '1' to '5' must be hit in sequence to
light, while the unlabeled bumper is always lit. Striking a lit
purple bumper increases the bonus score indication on the
backglass, up to a maximum of '15'. If all five numbered purple
bumpers are lit, hitting any of the purple bumpers awards one
A triangular array of yellow bumpers is located on the left
of the playfield with a rollover between the top two. Beneath
the rollover is a yellow playfield "insert" disc which lights
alternately depending on the position of the cars on the
backglass. A similar set of green bumpers, with corresponding
rollover and insert, is located on the right side of the field.
If a ball activates a rollover when the corresponding insert is
lit, the bumpers of that color light and remain lit throughout
the game. These lit bumpers now score 1,000 (instead of only
advancing the cars). The rollover also scores 1,000 points.
"A - B - C" FEATURE
Three rollovers in the lower half of the playfield (labeled
'A', 'B', and 'C') operate in conjunction with four white bumpers
surrounding them. The rollovers must be operated in sequence to
light the corresponding bumper(s). When A, B, and C have been
sequentially lit, the bonus collection feature (described below)
changes from awarding points to awarding replays.
Two more rollovers, with a white bumper in between them, are
located at the bottom of the playfield. This bumper never lights
and thus only advances the cars. A lighted post is located next
to each of these rollovers. These posts light alternately (first
one for awhile, then the other) as the cars advance on the
When a ball passes over a rollover when it's corresponding
post is lit, the indicated bonus on the backglass (from 1 to 15)
is collected, either in thousands of points or replays, depending
on whether or not A, B, and C are lit. Thus the bonus can be
1,000 to 15,000 points, or up to 15 replays.
Collecting the bonus resets the bonus number on the
backglass back to one. Passing over one of these rollovers when
it's corresponding post is not lit merely scores 1000 points with
no effect on the bonus system.
In conclusion, after reading the above description of both
the inventive artwork and the fascinating design features of this
early pingame, I think you will agree with me that Genco's METRO
should definitely be considered one of the "classic" games of