PIN-A-GO-GO 2001

(A “Dog/Wolf Day Afternoon”)


By Russ Jensen

Ever since we found out when the 2001 edition of PIN-A-GO-GO was scheduled to be held, my good friend Ron Tyler and I planned on attending like we have for the past several years. Going to the show this year also had special significance for me as it would be the first time I would be able to really see what was going on in the hall.

This was because last November I had cataract surgery (with an ocular implant) which resulted in me going from “legally blind” to the best vision I have had for at least 20 years, if not the best in my life! Also I was able to reinstate my driver’s license which I had voluntarily given up about five years earlier when I felt that I could no longer see well enough to drive safely.

On Friday morning (May 18) my friend Ron picked me up around 6:30 AM. The previous day we had decided to take the more scenic Pacific Coast route in lieu of the boring Interstate-5 up the central valley like we had done in the past. It was a very pleasant drive for the most part, with the exception of turning off in one town part way up to find a rest room, having a lot of trouble finding a place which had such facilities, it taking over 20 minutes!

We finally arrived at our motel at about 2:30 PM, but after checking in we were informed that our room was not ready, then being told it would be in about half an hour. So we decided to go to the nearby restaurant for lunch, figuring that when we got back to the motel our room would be ready. When we returned we were told that it was, but when we opened the door we saw that it was a total mess! After informing the front desk of the situation we decided to just go on to the show and not come back to the motel until later that afternoon.

We then proceeded to the show site (a local fairgrounds in the town of Dixon) and went to the check-in table to receive our badges as we had paid our admission by mail several weeks earlier. The weather, by the way, was extremely HOT, in the upper 90’s most of the time – I HATE heat! After we got our badges I began looking around the hall to see who/what was there.

I looked to see if any of my old friends had arrived, but none of them had shown up as yet. While looking at the machines in the hall I noticed there were not too many electro-mechanicals, except for one near mint 1947 Exhibit game, TALLY HO, (which had a “flipper kit” added to it sometime back), and a row of eight or ten “project games” (games needing repair and/or restoration) which were not set up, their cabinets standing on end and the heads setting on the floor in front of them.

Long time pinball parts dealers Jim and Judy Tolbert (who are in the process of “retiring” in Mexico) had a booth where they were selling some of their parts which had been in storage, sharing their boot with Dave Mercer from Colorado to whom they recently sold their For Amusement Only pinball parts business. The Tolberts also had their latest canine friend Momo (which they said they rescued from a Mexican animal shelter), and they had a picture on the wall of their original dog Toby who had been with them at many past coin-op shows, which they were quick to point out was still alive and well living with Jim’s father. By the way, I will be saying more about this show’s “canine attendees” a little later.

One of my personal projects at all coin-op shows I attend is to take photographs of all pingames (primarily electro-mechanicals, but a few solid-state games which I consider to have some special significance) which I don’t already have photos of (as of this writing, by the way, I have photos of some 1247 different pinball machines – including a few “pitch & bat” baseball machines). In order to know which games I have photos of, I always carry a computer listing of my current pinball photo collection. At this show I took photos of eight games for which I either had no photos, or only a picture of either the playfield or backglass.

One of the games I photographed was a professionally restored Gottlieb MAJORETTES from 1964. This excellent restoration was performed by Tim Meighan. In addition to this game he also had on display a 1965 Gottlieb BANK-A-BALL and a 1939 Chicago Coin SPORTS which looked like the day if came out of the factory! Good work Tim!

After roaming about the hall most of the afternoon Ron and I decided to go to our motel and rest for a little while before going to dinner. After relaxing for about an hour we made the short trip to the local Mexican restaurant where we have eaten in past years. As usual, we enjoyed our dinner very much including the “cervesa” (beer).

After dinner Ron and I returned to the show for several hours more of roving and visiting with the few old friends who had arrived later in the day. When we decided to leave for the evening we attempted to drive back to our motel. We, however, got terribly lost trying to find the correct freeway exit and route to the motel, it taking about one hour; the trip should have taken about 15 minutes maximum! Later we realized that at one point early in our drive we had been about two blocks from our destination!

The next morning we returned to Dixon and had breakfast at our favorite breakfast dining place, an old restaurant/bar called Dawson’s. We were joined for breakfast by my long-time pinball buddy Sam Harvey, and a mutual friend John Cassidy, both of those fellows having at various times been my roommates at the annual Pinball Expo in Chicago. After breakfast we went to the show and spent the morning roaming the aisles and checking out the games, parts, and literature there.

Around noon we went to lunch and then returned to the hall noticing how many people had shown up for the show during the late morning and early afternoon. The room became increasingly crowded making it much more difficult to move around.

I noticed two interesting things while walking around in the crowd. First I saw several young children there with their parents (even a few babes in arms), and especially one young girl (about 3 years old) who was being pushed in a small carrier by her father, who I noticed was carrying a small stool on her lap – obviously to stand on while playing pinball! I also noticed that several people had brought their dogs, in addition to the Tolbert’s dog I previously mentioned.

Those dogs, however, were not the only canines attending the show. Booth operator Gilbert Sanchez and his lady Pat brought along one of their pet white wolves Nakita (affectionately known as Nikki). This, by the way, was not my first meeting with this beautiful animal; a couple years ago this same couple brought both of their wolves to Chicago while attending Pinball Expo. I had the privilege of petting one of them at that time who was in their van in front of a restaurant next door to the Expo site. This time I again had the pleasure of petting a wolf for the second time in my life. And now you know why I refer to Saturday afternoon at this show as “A Dog/Wolf Day Afternoon”!

The following is a chronological listing of the pingames at the show (courtesy of Sam Harvey):

    GAME                            MFG.              YEAR  PRICE       OWNER

    SPORTS                          Chicago Coin      1939              MEIGHAN
    CONTACT                         Exhibit           1948  300/OBO
    FIGHTING IRISH                  Chicago Coin      1950  300
    HI-FI  (BINGO)                  Bally             1954  600
    CARNIVAL QUEEN  (BINGO)         Bally             1955  350
    GUSHER                          Williams          1959  1200
    KING PINS                       Williams          1962  350
    TROPIC ISLE                     Gottlieb          1962
    SWEET HEARTS                    Gottlieb          1963
    BOWLING QUEEN                   Gottlieb          1964  550
    HAPPY CLOWN                     Gottlieb          1964  700
    MAJORETTES                      Gottlieb          1964              MEIGHAN
    SOCCER                          Williams          1964  400
    SPACE SHIP                      Williams          1964
    BANK-A-BALL                     Gottlieb          1965              MEIGHAN
    MELODY                          Gottlieb          1967  500
    DING DONG                       Williams          1968  400
    EL TORO                         Bally             1970  300
    2001                            Bally             1971
    DOODLE BUG                      Williams          1971  300
    FIREBALL                        Bally             1971  2200/OBO
    PRO FOOTBALL                    Gottlieb          1971  450/OBO
    KING KOOL                       Gottlieb          1972
    GULFSTREAM                      Williams          1973
    SKYLAB                          Williams          1974  375
    TRIPLE ACTION                   Williams          1974  400
    TWIN WIN                        Bally             1974
    FAST DRAW                       Gottlieb          1975  NFS
    SUPER FLIPPER  (PIN/VID)        Chicago Coin      1975
    TRIPLE STRIKE                   Williams          1975
    GRAND PRIX                      Williams          1976
    MATI HARI                       Bally             1976
    PINBALL  (EM)                   Stern Electronics 1977  500
    STRIKES & SPARES                Bally             1977
    STAR TREK                       Bally             1978
    FLASH                           Williams          1979
    INCREDABLE HULK                 Gottlieb          1979  750
    LASERBALL                       Williams          1979
    ROLLING STONES                  Bally             1979  500
    TRI ZONE                        Williams          1979  250
    BLACK KNIGHT                    Williams          1980
    COUNTERFORCE                    Gottlieb          1980  NFS         CHARLAND
    EIGHT BALL DELUXE               Bally             1980
    FATHOM                          Bally             1980
    FIREPOWER                       Williams          1980  600
    FLASH GORDON                    Bally             1980
    SPIDERMAN                       Gottlieb          1980  NFS         CHARLAND
    LIGHTNING                       Stern Electronics 1981
    MEDUSA                          Bally             1981
    PINK PANTHER                    Gottlieb          1981  NFS         CHARLAND
    SPECTRUM                        Bally             1981
    VOLCANO                         Gottlieb          1981  NFS         CHARLAND
    COSMIC GUNFIGHT                 Williams          1982  NFS
    DEVIL'S DARE                    Gottlieb          1982  NFS         CHARLAND
    GOIN' NUTS                      Gottlieb          1982  NFS         CHARLAND
    PUNK                            Gottlieb          1982  NFS         CHARLAND
    SPEAKEASY                       Bally             1982  1250
    SPIRIT                          Gottlieb          1982  NFS         CHARLAND
    STRIKER                         Gottlieb          1982  NFS         CHARLAND
    CENTAUR II                      Bally             1983  NFS
    JOUST                           Williams          1983
    BLACK PYRAMID                   Bally             1984
    LASER CUE                       Williams          1984  750
    SPY HUNTER                      Bally             1984  650
    BEAT THE CLOCK                  Bally             1985  NFS
    COMET                           Williams          1985  400
    TAG TEAM                        Gottlieb          1985  100
    GENISIS                         Gottlieb          1986  399
    HIGH SPEED                      Williams          1986  400
    PINBOT                          Williams          1986  400
    F-14 TOMCAT                     Williams          1987
    SPRING BREAK                    Gottlieb          1987
    SPACE STATION                   Williams          1988  SOLD
    TAXI                            Williams          1988  750
    ELVIRA & THE PARTY MONSTERS     Bally             1989
    JOKERZ                          Williams          1989  895
    POLICE FORCE                    Williams          1989  1500
    ROCKY                           Gottlieb          1989  NFS         CHARLAND
    BUGS BUNNY'S BIRTHDAY BALL      Bally             1990
    DR DUDE                         Williams          1990  1450
    FUN HOUSE                       Williams          1990
    RIVERBOAT GAMBLER               Williams          1990
    SIMPSONS, THE                   Data East         1990  1400
    GILLIGAN'S ISLAND               Bally             1991  1675
    HARLEY DAVIDSON                 Bally             1991  2975
    HURRICANE                       Williams          1991
    PARTY ZONE                      Bally             1991
    BLACK ROSE                      Bally             1992  1175
    FISH TALES                      Williams          1992  1100, 1950
    ROCKY & BULLWINKLE              Data East         1992  1375
    STAR WARS                       Data East         1992  1395,1600
    SUPER MARIO BROTHERS            Gottlieb          1992
    CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON  Bally             1993  1875
    JUDGE DREAD                     Bally             1993  1450
    JURASSIC PARK                   Data East         1993
    LETHAL WEAPON III               Bally             1993
    TALES FROM THE CRYPT            Data East         1993  1650
    DEMOLITION MAN                  Williams          1994  1450
    FLINTSTONES, THE                Williams          1994
    GUNS N' ROSES                   Data East         1994
    RESCUE 911                      Gottlieb          1994  1395
    SHADOW, THE                     Bally             1994
    WORLD CUP SOCCER                Bally             1994  1450
    BREAK SHOT                      Capcom            1996
    JOHNNY MNEMONIC                 Williams          1996  2500
    WHO DUNNIT                      Bally             1996  2850
    MEDEVIL MADNESS                 Williams          1997
    NO GOOD GOPHERS                 Williams          1997  2750
    REVENGE FROM MARS               Bally             1999  4850
    STAR WARS - EPISODE 1           Williams          1999
    NFL RAIDERS                     Stern Pinball     2000  5500
    STRIKER XTREME                  Stern Pinball     2000  3780
    HI-ROLLER CASINO                Stern Pinball     2001  4000

When it was time for dinner Saturday night Ron and I again dined at our favorite dinner site, the Mexican restaurant in Vacaville. This time, however, we had no trouble finding it! After dinner we returned to the show for a short time and then returned to the motel for the night.

The next morning (Sunday) Ron and I went back to Dixon for a final breakfast at Dawson’s. The day before we had asked my friend (and fellow pinball author) Bear Kamaroff to meet us for breakfast at 9 AM and he said he would try to make it. When he had not shown up by a few minutes after nine we went on inside and joined Sam Harvey, John Cassidy, and another friend of theirs, Pete Cooley, who had flown in from the L.A. area on Saturday. After 20 or 30 minutes Bear entered the restaurant and joined our party. We all enjoyed our breakfast and pinball conversations. At around 10 AM Ron and I excused ourselves from this good company as we wanted to start on our drive home.

This time we drove home using Interstate-5 (the route we used for our past trips to the show). This route was not nearly as scenic as the coastal route, in fact a good portion of it could be described as “miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles”. We arrived back in our home town of Camarillo around 4 PM, ending another great trip and visit to Pin-A-Go-Go! We hope to return next year if the show is again held.

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