Bally's BIKINI - IT'S "OK"


By Russ Jensen

If the question were asked, "what type of electro-mechanical pingame had the most complicated circuitry?", the answer would most certainly be the "In-Line" or "Bingo" pinball. And of these games the most complicated variety would be those known by bingo pinball aficionados as the "OK Games."

Having been fascinated by bingo pinball circuitry ever since I was a teenager (I sent for, and received from Bally, a schematic and instruction manual for their 1953 bingo YACHT CLUB way back then) obtaining my first "bingo", MIAMI BEACH, in the mid seventies was a great thrill. When I replaced that game a few years later with KEY WEST, a much more sophisticated "turning corners" game, I felt I had made another step "up the ladder." But, ever since I learned what they were a few years back, I have yearned for what I considered to be the "ultimate bingo pinball", an "OK bingo".

Well, not too long ago my dream was realized when a Los Angeles area free-lance dealer in coin games, Mr. Paul Crain, made me "an offer I could not refuse" and supplied me with my dream, an "OK bingo pinball", Bally's BIKINI by name. The game was in good "as-is" condition and complete, except for a few missing relay armatures which Paul supplied. After several months (I was only able to work on the game a few hours each week), and much study of the additional circuitry that these games had above their earlier predecessors, I was able to put this game into good working condition and it now holds a prime position in my collection of classic pingames.

The backglass, by the way, showed some signs of peeling and had a few small areas of missing paint. After a little "touch- up" with model paints I applied Steve Young and Gordon Hasse's new product "Cover Your Glass" and it worked great! I now have a glass that cannot deteriorate in the future. One hint I might mention for those of you who use this product is to make absolutely sure your touch-up paint is completely dry before applying "Cover Your Glass", otherwise the wet paint will be somewhat spread by the sealant.

Before talking about the features of BIKINI, I thought it might be in order to briefly describe the "evolution" of some of the features that make up the "OK bingo".

"Advancing Odds" (that is, payout odds which either increase, but never decrease, or which remain the same with insertion of additional coins) were first introduced in "bingo pinballs" with SPOT LITE in 1951. This feature had however been used in the "one-ball horserace" pinballs (the predecessor of the "bingo") since Bally's CITATION in 1949.

"Three-color lines" (red, yellow, and green), with separate odds for each color, became a standard feature beginning with Bally's BROADWAY in 1955, although some multi-color schemes were used in a few older games. A separate set of payout odds was displayed on the backglass for each of the three colors, and the player could score 3, 4, or 5 in-line winners for each color independently (ie, a winner scored on one color line would not preclude a similar winner scoring on a different colored line. 'Magic ScreenS'

A major evolution in "bingos" came about in late 1958 with the introduction of what was referred to as the "Magic Screen" in Bally's CARNIVAL QUEEN. Up to this point (except for MIAMI BEACH which had a gimmick which added extra columns to the card) all bingos, that I know of, had one or more 5 by 5 number "bingo cards" on their backglasses; some games, however, also had 3 by 3 number "super cards" in addition to the regular 5 by 5 cards. The "Magic Screen" was also a 5 by 5 number card, but had a moveable "overlay" which changed the scoring patterns on the card.

When a new game was first started the "basic screen" appeared which allowed only "in-line" scoring (3 to 5 numbers in a row on either a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal line) as was the case in earlier games. These lines were also of three colors (red, yellow, and green) with corresponding sets of payout odds for each color on the backglass as previously described.

The "Magic Screen" overlay, however, also had additional "columns" containing various "scoring patterns" which could be moved in front of the bingo card. As each new column was exposed to the player, one of the columns on the opposite side of the card would disappear. When five or more new columns were exposed, the original "in-line" scoring lines would have completely disappeared exposing an entirely new pattern.

In order for a player to qualify to move the screen he must (from depositing extra coins a the start of a game) light up one or more letters ('A', 'B', 'C', etc) on the backglass. Each letter lit (and like all bingo "multiple coin features" they lit in a "pseudo-random" fashion as extra coins were deposited) would allow the player to move the screen an additional position, but only during the period of play when movement of the screen was allowed. Buttons on the front rail of the machine (labeled "Left" and "Right") allowed the player to control movement of the screen, but only between the positions for which he had first qualified.

These new positions of the screen added columns which contained colored "scoring sections" instead of the normal "in- line" scoring patterns of the "basic screen". And, as was mentioned earlier, as each new column was exposed, one of the original "in-line" columns would disappear. Besides these "sections" being of various shapes, scoring a winner within a given colored section required only that a certain number of card numbers be lit in that section which need not all be adjacent in the section (as opposed to "in-line" scoring in which the 3, 4,or 5 numbers required to score must all be adjacent in the same line.)

The addition of "Magic Screens" to bingo machines became a very popular feature with players as it gave them several advantages. If a player had qualified for screen movement, he always had the opportunity of changing the screen position up until he shot the fourth ball (and sometimes as late as after shooting the fourth or fifth ball if he also qualified for these extra "advantages" during "multiple coin play" at the start of the game).

This gave the player two major advantages. First, if his initial balls did not land in holes forming a winning "in-line" pattern, moving the screen could result in these "losing numbers" becoming a "winning combination" In one of the additional "colored scoring sections". Secondly, if he had a winning "in- line" pattern, after collecting replays for that winner moving the screen could result in additional "winners" for the balls he shot in one of the colored scoring sections. The only restriction was that you could not score twice for the same number of numbers (3, 4, or 5) in the same color. A final advantage was that even if the first few balls shot did not produce either an "in-line" or "section" winner, the screen could be positioned by the player such that the remaining numbers to be lit to score a winner were ones which he felt were the easiest to shoot for.

All of the colored "scoring sections" on the screen (except for a special "Blue Section", and an "Orange Section" on "OK games") were red, yellow and green, like the colored lines on the "basic screen", and scored according to the corresponding color odds on the backglass. One Yellow Section and one Red Section had stripes on them and were referred to as "super sections". If the corresponding "super section feature" was lit on the backglass, winners in these sections required one less number than normal (ie. 2 scored as 3, 3 as 4, and 4 as 5).

The "Blue Section", which contained only 3 numbers, scored a large number of replays for lighting 2 or 3 numbers, depending on which, if any, of the special "Blue Section features" were lit during the depositing of extra coins at the start of the game. More details on the "Blue Section" and "Orange Section" scoring will be given during the detailed discussion of Bally BIKINI's features.

In addition to the "Magic Screen" features, the great appeal of "OK bingos" came from their "Futurity Features". The idea of these is that something occurring during the play of one game affected what happened in the next game.

This idea was used to some extent in earlier pingames, but not in such a sophisticated manner as in the "OK bingo". "One- ball Horserace" pingames in the late Forties and early Fifties had an "A-B-C-D feature" in which four bumpers, when hit in sequence, would cause something special to happen (such as lighting all seven "horse selections") in the next game when the sequence was finally completed. A similar idea was used in the so-called "Spell-Name" feature used on some "One-Balls" and a few amusement pins as well.

As far as "pre-OK" bingos were concerned, an example of a "future feature" was the "Ballyhole feature" in CYPRESS GARDENS in 1958. If the "Ballyhole panel" on the backglass was lit during extra coin play, and the player got a ball into the "Ballyhole" (number 16), when he started his next game the letters A-B-C-D-E would automatically light on the backglass giving him the "Turning Corners" and "Moving Line" features of the game without having to deposit extra coins.


Now that the evolution of the primary bingo pinball features that were used in the "OK bingos" have been described, I will give the details of how these features were implemented in Bally's BIKINI

BIKINI has a "Magic Screen" consisting of the "basic screen", seven additional screen positions "A" through "G" (similar to those found in its "non-OK" predecessors), and two additional special "OK positions" which will be described shortly.

The "A" through "G" positions contain the "colored sections" as previously described, including red and yellow striped "Super Sections" and the special "Blue Section". The two "Super Sections" Score as normal colored sections unless the corresponding color "Super Section panel" is lit on the backglass during extra coin play at the start of the game. These panels, when lit, indicate "yellow (or red) super section with black stripes - 2 scores as 3, 3 scores as 4, and 4 scores as 5". The player must have also qualified for screen positions "A" thru D" to use these features. Incidentally, "A" thru "D" screen qualification occurs all at once (ie. you can't get "A" lit without "B" through "D").

The special "Blue Section" contains only three numbers which are shown only if the player has qualified for at least the "F" screen position. As soon as "F" (or "G") has been lit during extra coin play, a special panel on the backglass indicating "3 in Blue Section scores 300" lights; and if the player succeeds in lighting all three numbers in the "Blue Section" he gets that many replays.

Depositing extra coins at the start of a game can also cause one of two additional panels to light indicating either "3 In Blue Section Scores 600", or "2 in Blue Section Scores 600" respectively. The later panel is extremely difficult to light and is considered a "prime coup" by bingo pinball aficionados, especially if the player also gets the balls into the right holes! As for what numbers a player must get to score in the "Blue Section"; if he has qualified for the "F" screen position the "Blue Section" numbers are 13, 17, and 20. If he qualifies for the "g" position he has an additional choice of 13, 16, and 21. The player must, however, move the screen to one of these two positions during the period when screen movement is allowed (but more about that later).

As I mentioned earlier, in addition to the screen positions "A" thru "G", all "OK bingos" have two additional positions generally referred to as the "OK screen". In order to qualify to move the screen to these positions the player must have first lit the panel labeled "OK" on the backglass during extra coin play.

Within these two screen columns is a special five number "Orange Section", which is used in scoring what are known as "Futurity Games". Replays may also be scored for 3, 4, or 5 numbers in the "Orange Section" if the panel on the backglass labeled "3 Or More In Orange Section Score As Green" was lit during extra coin play. Moving the screen to these two special positions yields either the four numbers 4, 6, 9, and 25 (in the first position), or the five numbers 1, 6, 19, 23 and 24 (in the second position) to appear in the "Orange Section". In addition to that special section, these screen positions also include additional possibilities for yellow "in-line" scoring.

To score what is known as a "Futurity Game" a player must light any two numbers in the "Orange Section". There are two indicator areas at the top of the backglass connected with "Futurity Games". The first I shall call the "Futurity Game Value Indicator" and the other the "Futurity Game Tally Counter". The 'value indicator' contains the numbers 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, and 12 and tells the player how many "Futurity Points" he will score if he wins a "Futurity Game" during the current game. The value which is lit in this indicator is a function of the "Green Odds" displayed on the lower section of the backglass, although this is not generally known except to players observant enough to notice that this indicator only advances to a higher number at the same time as certain "Green Odds" advance during extra coin play.

If a player has succeeded in lighting two numbers in the Orange Section, and thus entitled to a "Futurity Game", pressing the "R" (collect replays) button on the front rail of the game causes whatever 'value' number is lit in the "value indicator" to be transferred to the "Tally Counter", indicating that the player is entitled to play a "Futurity Game" of that 'value' at any time in the future he wishes.

The 'value' of the "Futurity Game" is translated into guaranteed minimum "odds" and "game advantages" when the "Futurity Game " is played. The "minimums" for each value are shown on a card at the bottom of the playfield. For example, a value of "1" entitles the player to minimum odds as follows: red -64, 144, 300 (for 3, 4, or 5 numbers, respectively); yellow - 16, 50, 96; and green - 8, 24, 96; plus an automatic advance of the Magic Screen letters to "D". A value of "12" (the largest value possible) on the other hand gives minimum odds of: red and yellow - 120, 240, 450; and green - 192, 480, 600; plus the "Red Super Section" enabled, Magic Screen letter advance to "E", and "Press Buttons After Shooting 5th Ball" enabled (more about that shortly.) futurity values between 2 and 11 give other combinations of "odds" and "advantages" in between these two extremes, as indicated on the card at the bottom of the playfield.

It is the right to start a game with these "minimums" (which are normally quite costly to obtain during extra coin play) which made the "OK feature" extremely popular with avid bingo pinball fans.

In order to play a "Futurity Game" which a player had earned previously, he had to press a special "Orange Button" on the front rail of the machine. At that time a new game would be automatically initiated, and the "odds" and "advantages", corresponding to the 'value' indicated in the "tally counter", would appear on the backglass. The player could then, if he chose, insert additional coins to try to advance these minimums even further before starting to play.

A player, however, had the right to collect his "Futurity Game" (by pressing the Orange Button) at any time he chose, and not necessarily as the next game after the one in which he had won it. He might choose to play additional normal games and try to add additional "value points" to his Futurity Game which he had won previously; because if a player won a Futurity Game and already had one credited to him in the "tally counter", the 'value' of the new Futurity Game would be added to the value already indicated, thus increasing the total "value" of the "Futurity Game" when he later chose to collect it.

This "hold over" feature was not available on many "OK bingos", which automatically started the "Futurity Game" as the next game for the player after he had won it.

We have now discussed the "Magic Screen" and its many features in detail, but only alluded to the fact that "screen movement" (even though a player had earned that right by extra coin play) was allowed only during certain periods during play of the game.

Normally, that period was from the time the first ball was shot until the fourth ball was shot. This was indicated by a lighted panel near the center of the right side of the backglass which read "Press Buttons Before Shooting 4th Ball". A "warning" was also provided to the player after he shot the third ball by a flashing lighted panel which read "PRESS BUTTONS NOW".

Screen movement was not always limited to the first three balls however. It was possible by extra coin play (sometimes combined with skillful ball manipulation) to earn the right to press the screen movement buttons up until the fifth ball was shot, or even after it was shot.

On the backglass, directly above the "Press Buttons Before 4th Ball" panel, were four additional panels labeled "Yellow Rollover Lit", "Red Rollover Lit", "Press Buttons Before Shooting 5th Ball", and "Press Buttons After Shooting 5th Ball". As extra coins were deposited these panels could be lit in that same sequence, but in a "pseudo random" manner as with all "extra coin advantages" on most bingo pinballs.

If the "Yellow Rollover" was lit, and a ball rolled over that rollover button (located near the bottom left of the playfield), the "Before 5th Ball" panel would light at that time. Similarly, if the "Red Rollover" was lit, a ball rolling over that rollover button (located near the lower right of the playfield) would light the "After 5th Ball" panel. These two panels might, of course, be lit without requiring the use of the rollovers, during extra coin play before the first ball was shot.

None of these panels actually lit until the player had at least qualified for the "A-D" or "OK" screens. However, during extra coin play, small arrows to the right of these panels would light, indicating which panel would light as soon as one of the "special screens" was enabled.

We have now talked about all the special features of BIKINI except for one; the special buttons used in connection with extra coin play. Most older bingos had two coloRed Buttons (red and yellow) on the front of the machine used during insertion of additional coins (or playing off replay credits, if available). The "Red Button" was used, in place of depositing coins, to play for "extra coin advantages" when replays were available to the player. For actual coin play it was used during "extra ball play" to tell the machine that the next coin deposited would be to start a new game, rather than to try for "extra balls".

The "Yellow Button" was used during replay play in place of depositing coins to try for the right to play up to three extra balls during a game. If coins were being deposited to try for extra balls, this button would be pressed once by the player to tell the machine that the following coins to be deposited were to try for extra balls (until the "Red Button" was pressed to begin a new game). BIKINI, incidentally, had the "extra ball features" found on most bingo pinballs.

In addition to the red and Yellow Buttons, BIKINI (and all of the "OK bingos", I believe) had two additional coloRed Buttons (Blue and Green) on the front of the machine also used during "extra coin play". If the "Blue Button" were pressed the chances of increasing the red, yellow and green "odds" during "extra coin play" was increased, but the possibility of obtaining other "game advantages" was eliminated. If the "Green Button" were pressed instead, the chance of increasing the "odds" was eliminated, but the chance of getting other "game advantages" (screen movement, "super sections", increased period when screen could be moved, etc) was increased.

Thus, during "extra coin play", the player could alternate between these buttons (and the "Red Button", which gave a chance of both advancing the "odds" and lighting the other "advantages") as he wished, giving him greater flexibility in the use of his "extra coins" (or replays) at the start of a game.

Incidentally, this idea of "button play" was not only found on later model bingos. Bally's SPOT-LITE of 1951, one of their first "bingos", used a similar feature. But even before that, similar features were used on some of the later model Bally "One- Ball Horserace games" such as TURF KING and FUTURITY.

Well, there you have it, a description of the very popular "OK bingo pinballs" of the early 60's, including some historical insight into some of the features these games possessed.

To close (in case some of your are now "chomping at the bit" to get your own "OK") I will include what I hope is a complete list of the Bally "OK bingos" in case you are lucky enough to come across one. To me the "OK is the ultimate in bingo pinball play and certainly the most complicated circuitry-wise of all the electro-mechanical games produced in the "pinball format". CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF "OK" BINGO PINBALLS

         game               date
    COUNTY FAIR        Feb. 1960
    LAGUNA BEACH       Feb.  1960
    ROLLER DERBY       May  1960
    CIRCUS QUEEN       Dec.  1960
    BIKINI             May  1961
    LIDO               Oct.  1961
    GOLDEN GATE        May  1962
    SILVER SAILS       Sep.  1962
    BOUNTY             Aug. 1963
    MALIBU BEACH       Late 1970's

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