PINBALL EXPO '87
-It 's The People-
By Russ Jensen
Photos by Sam Harvey
Well, it happened again! For the third year in a row we were treated to an all pinball show, the Pinball Expo. When the first Expo was announced over three years ago I thought "what a great sounding idea, but how could I ever manage to make a trip to Chicago just for hobby purposes?" Well, as luck would have it, I was given a cash award at work which was enough to finance the trip. So I went and had a really good time!
When the second show, Pinball Expo '86, was announced I was dying to attend. Again more luck, and I was able to go to Chicago again. Then, last year I received another financial "windfall" and had the money to go, but no show had yet been announced. I called show producer Rob Burk every few weeks to find out if Expo '87 had been scheduled, but each time he was unsure whether it would come off that year. Then he finally called to say the show was on! I was sure ready!
Again I enjoyed the show tremendously, and on the plane trip home I started thinking about what it was that made these shows so enjoyable to me personally. It wasn't primarily the contents of the lectures because many of them dealt with the modern solid- state pins which, as you know, are really not my favorites. This is not meant to be a criticism of the shows, however, since they are "pinball shows", not "antique shows", and these new games are what pinball is all about today.
It was not primarily the games, etc, on display in the Exhibit Hall, as again (with a few exceptions like the fine exhibit of 1950's pins this year by Steve Young and Gordon Hasse) most of these were from the Seventies and Eigthties. What was it then? Well, I'll tell you, it is primarily the people!
It's John Campbell; who really enjoys playing pinball, whether it's the latest digital models or the games from the late Forties he played as a kid. It's Sam Harvey; who can always be heard in the hall, and who enjoys every aspect of each show to it's fullest.
It's Tim Wolfe; possibly the youngest collector at the show, who has finally been able to attend an Expo and thoroughly enjoys the games and the people. It's the Gottlieb boys; who have certainly inherited the love of the game from both their father and grandfather, and have a real insight into the industry, both past and present.
It's Steve Young and Gordon Hasse; who keep the 1950's alive at all the shows, in addition to offering fine products to aid the game restorer. It's COIN SLOT's own Dick Bueschel; who has participated in all these shows and shared with us his brilliant research and insight into pinball's rich and fascinating history, even back to "ancient times".
And, of course, it's the industry people, without who's support these shows would have very likely been a "flop". It's Dave "mad-dog" Christensen; who's personality and wit are almost equal to his fabulous artwork. It's Jon Norris; now a designer for Premier, who got that job through contacts he made at the first Expo, fulfilling his wildest dream to become a pinball designer.
Nost certainly it's Steve Kordek and Norm Clark; those real personalities and industry greats who have participated in all three shows and freely shared their recollections of pinball's past with all of us. And who can forget veteran designer Harvey Heiss who added so much to the first two shows but unfortunately, due to health problems, could not attend this year. I, for one, will never forget my association with that fascinating individual.
And last, but certainly not least, it's show co-producers Rob Burk and Mike Pacak; who have given so much of their valuable time and resources to make these shows a reality. Three cheers to those fine people!
So for me, primarily it's the people! I enjoy talking to everyone I meet again each year, getting their ideas about pinball, and learning of their new acquisitions. I spend much of my time meeting new faces, renewing old friendships, and passing on all the pinball history and trivia I can. It's truly a moving experience for me! Well, enough of that; on with the show!
Before the first talk, show producer Rob Burk introduced pinball collector and college student Tim Wolfe from New York who gave a brief greeting to all who attended, and expressed his extreme delight at finally being able to attend one of these shows. Then, pinball coil and transformer manufacturer, and pinball and brochure collector, Donal Murphy was introduced to present the first lecture on the subject of "Pinball Coils".
Don began by informing us that his company, Electrical Windings, which was founded by his father, had been in business since 1936. He said they made all the coils for Gottlieb since that time as well as some for other companies, such as Williams and Genco. In addition he said, they made "replacement coils" which could be used on many games.
Next, he talked briefly about the part numbering system used on coils, stating that many coil numbers contained two numbers separated by a dash; the first (two digit) number representing the size wire used (19 to 35), with the last number indicating the number of turns of that wire on the coil. (NOTE: The smaller the wire size number, the larger the wire diameter.) He then said, however, that Gottlieb had their own numbering system and mentioned the cross-reference list now available from Steve Young and Gordon Hasse.
Don then said that most electro-mechanical pins contained 30 to 50 relay coils and some 12 to 15 solenoid coils. He then mentioned the fact that the "bobbins", on which the coils were wound, used to be made of fiber, but later were changed to metal.
Next, he briefly described the manufacturing process used by his company to make relay and solenoid coils. First, he said, they purchased the bobbins from a vendor and then added the solder lugs for the connecting wires. He said the machine they used for winding relay coils had three heads, enabling three coils to be wound at once, while the machine used for winding solenoid coils had only two. After the coils were wound, he went on, they were "dip soldered" after diodes were added (if the coils were to be used in solid-state games). He then mentioned the fact that flipper coils had two separate windings separated by a layer of insulating material.
Finally, Don briefly talked about problems which could face the person repairing or restoring an older game. He said the main problem which can damage coils was over-heating. If you have to replace a completely unknown coil, he commented, as a last resort you could measure the wire size (with a "wire gauge") and try counting the turns on it (a sometimes difficult job he pointed out). He suggested that when restoring a game all flipper and "pop-bumper" coils be replaced. He then mentioned that his company made flipper coils which provided a good powerful "flip".
The next lecturer was introduced as Ed Schmidt of Bally to talk on pinball repair. Mr. Schmidt had started with Bally in 1969 and was originally connected with slots. In 1980 he was transferred to field service where his work involved repair problems, including pingames.
Mr. Schmidt began his talk by describing the introduction of "electronic" pingames at Bally. He said that prior to 1976 Bally was like a "team" and the engineers wore ties. In the period between 1974 and 1976, he went on, Bally started developing solid- state technology for pins using a BOW AND ARROW machine which they converted to solid-state. He said their first production game to use this new technology was FREEDOM, followed by EVIL KNEIVEL.
The introduction of electronic pins, he said, "took the market by storm". Production at Bally increased from 25 to 400 games per day in a period of two years. He said the factory went through a big change during the conversion from electro- mechanical to solid-state games. The "electro-mechanical people" he said were afraid of the "solid-state people", and vice-versa.
Ed then began to talk about service problems involving the new technology. He first categorized the types of problems which could occur, namely: power supply, connector, coils, and microprocessor (which he likened to the "score-motor" in electro- mechanical games).
Next, he discussed problems with soldering. He first cautioned people to be extremely careful when soldering on printed circuit boards lest they damage the components from over- heating. He then described the "cold solder joint" which could cause intermittent problems in games. He said a cold solder joint resulted if both the wire and the metal it was being soldered to where not heated equally.
Mr. Schmidt then passed out a solid-state pingame service manual to everyone and began describing the two "solid-state systems" which had been used by Bally in pingames. He said that between 1976 and 1985 they used the "6800 system" and the games of that period had up to 60 lamps and 19 coils. Then he said they switched to the current "6803 system" which could handle up to 90 lamps and 19 coils. He stated that printed circuit boards were generally interchangeable between games employing the same "system".
Next he began talking about trouble-shooting and maintenance. He said that connectors were often a source of problems, but that the recent introduction of a "three sided pin" should help. He also suggested using a "jumper wire" as a way of testing suspected bad connections, a method which, I might add, has been around almost since pingames were first electrified.
He then discussed switch (contact) maintenance. He pointed out that the switch blade next to the insulator should always be the one which is adjusted, and then went into a detailed discussion of why switch "follow-through" (the rubbing of the two contact surfaces during operation of the switch) was very important to proper operation of a game. He then briefly discussed proper adjustment of the contacts used on "slingshot kickers".
Mr. Schmidt next gave out the toll-free phone number for ordering Bally schematics and manuals (1-800-323-7182). He said there was a $10 charge for schematics for electro-mechanical games, and stated flatly that no information on "bingo pinballs" could be provided due to Federal Law.
Finally, he gave a brief demonstration of some of the built- in maintenance features of Bally games, using a current game, and then concluded his presentation.
Once again this year Steve Young and Gordon Hasse were present at the Expo to share with us their special love for the classic pingames of the 1950's. But this time we had a special treat in store as they brought with them, for all to see and enjoy playing, ten of their favorite games of that era. And to get everyone in the mood, Steve and Gordon gave a slide-show presentation which they titled "50's Follies".
Steve began the presentation by saying that unlike Gordon, who had grown up playing pinball, his personal interest in pins started about 1972, but he hastened to add that he had since "tried to make up for lost time." Steve next told us some of his personal reasons for finding games from the era of the Fifties so appealing. He said they felt "friendly" because they were made of wood, and that their art was very appealing, including that on the cabinet. He went on to tell of their exciting play features and the many ways to win replays on them. Finally he said there was no "game over" and therefore a player could test the "tilt" prior to inserting a coin.
Steve next told of the games they had brought to the show, games from the personal collection of himself and John Fetterman, which he considered the "best games to play". He described a special tournament to be played on those games in which anyone who desired could participate.
Steve and Gordon then began to describe each game, with Gordon providing a little historical insight into the year of manufacture of the game, and Steve providing descriptions of the game's features, sometimes telling how a particular game was obtained by he and John.
The first game described was Gottlieb's JOKER from 1950. Replays could be awarded in several ways: high score, "points", and a "mystery rollover". Steve explained in detail the complicated "point" scoring system, and the "joker feature" associated with it, which enabled the player to get extra "points". The game's "reverse flippers" were also mentioned. Steve told us that this machine had once been in a museum in Pennsylvania and later was purchased by John Fetterman when his girlfriend (now his wife) heard it advertised for sale on a local radio station.
Next came Gottlieb's KNOCKOUT, also from 1950. The great animation on this game (a boxing ring in the center of the playfield, complete with two fighters and a referee) was described, as was the "knockdown" point scoring system used as an adjunct to high score on this game. The "ball saver" gate, which kept each ball from exiting the playfield until 300 thousand points had been scored by it, was also described. It was mentioned that that feature only appeared on six other Gottlieb pins including MINSTREL MAN, 4-HORSEMEN, HAPPY-GO-LUCKY, MERMAID, GLAMOR, and WILD-WEST.
The next game was Gottlieb's MINSTREL MAN from 1951, another very interesting and fairly rare pingame. The backglass was described as displaying likenesses of Al Jolson (in "black-face") and Lena Horne. Three "minstrel" drop targets, as well as the "ball-saver" gate, were mentioned. Also described was a "1 - 5" bumper sequence which scored "points" when completed and an "A-B- C-D" feature. Gordon said that he thought that the consecutive release by Gottlieb of KNOCKOUT and MINSTREL MAN was "the greatest one-two combination ever delivered in the history of pinball".
Then came Gottlieb's HAPPY DAYS of 1952. It was mentioned that this game was a definite "take-off" of Gottlieb's SCHOOL DAYS from 1941. We were told that in this game there was no "drain" at the bottom of the playfield, the ball being continually played off the flippers until it landed in one of the 9 "trap holes" in the center of the playfield which were placed in a Tic-Tac-Toe configuration. Free games on HAPPY DAYS could be obtained by "high score", by completing a Tic-Tac-Toe, or by one of 2 "specials" at the top of the playfield which could be lit by completing a "1 - 8" bumper sequence. All in all this was a very novel and challenging game. Gordon even mentioned the fact that his parents gave him one of these games for Christmas in 1957.
Next we had Williams' FOUR CORNERS from October of 1952. Introducing this game Gordon said that at that time America was "at the crossroads" as construction of the Interstate Highway System had just begun, which was to cause a severe decrease in business revenues in the small towns to be bypassed by the new highways. Steve then described the game's play features, including it's "trap holes" which allowed replays to be won by lighting numbers on the backglass, an idea obviously copied from the "in-line bingo" games being produced by Bally and United at that time. The "impulse flippers", which only flipped once for each depression of a flipper button, were also mentioned. Finally, Gordon returned to praise the game's fantastic artwork, both on the backglass and cabinet, produced by the pinball art great who has appeared at all of the Pinball Expos, Mr. George Molentin.
The next game to be described was Gottlieb's CORONATION from November 1952. It was pointed out that the game's theme was taken from the coronation of Miss America of that year, not Queen Elizabeth II which also took place around that time. Steve said this game was one of his all-time favorites, saying it was truly a game of strategy. He then went on to describe in detail many of the game's features, including a "million point trap hole", it's "point" system, and "number sequence". Finally Steve told how he acquired his CORONATION, which turned out to be the exact same machine he had played during High School.
Next up was Gottlieb's QUEEN OF HEARTS from December 1952. Steve described the game's "many ways to win", including a "1 - 6" sequence lighting roll-unders for Special, 4 suits lighting a Special rollover, high score, points, and the "drop-holes" which gave from 1 to 7 replays for various Poker hands. Later Gordon mentioned that this game was the personal favorite of Gottlieb's famed designer Wayne Neyens. And, at the end of the lecture, it was announced that Silverball Amusements had produced a ten color silk-screened poster of the QUEEN OF HEARTS backglass which was available for $35, and a beautiful poster it was too!
Moving to 1953, the next game was Williams' PALISADES from July of that year. Gordon began by describing the year 1953 and saying that this was probably the beginning of the popularity of "Rock And Roll" music. Stave then described the games's features including a "1 - 9" sequence, star rollovers, saucer kickouts, and "auto-flippers" (a flipper device activated automatically when a ball landed in a shallow hole just above it). Later Gordon described the backglass depicting a poolside scene of a rich home in Southern Californias Pacific Palisades area, an area in which, I might add, Harry Williams himself once lived, probably at the time this game was produced. Steve also mentioned that this was the first game he had even owned!
Then came Williams' C-O-D from September 1953. This game's many features were described including it's asymmetric playfield, and a Special (located between the flippers) which could be obtained either by completing a "1 - 8" number sequence (obtained from a combination of rollovers and kickout holes) or by certain "trap hole" combinations. Steve said that he originally bought C- O-D from Expo producer Rob Burk back in 1981.
The last, but certainly not least, game to be described was from May of 1954, Gottlieb's famous DRAGONETTE. Steve described the many objectives of the game, such as the "parrot's eye" Special (obtained by lighting "A" and "B"), the four corner trap holes for a replay (with an additional one for also getting the center hole), the "1 - 8" sequence (which must be gotten in order) and, of course, high score, and "points" (which are given on this game in increments of 5). Finally, Gordon remarked that this game was "pop culture, based on pop culture, based on pop culture"; as it was a pinball game based on a popular TV show (Dragnet, of course) based on the radio show of the same name.
At the end of their talk Steve and Gordon unveiled the QUEEN OF HEARTS poster (which I mentioned earlier) and described this and other items they had for sale. They mentioned that this poster was the first offering in a proposed series of such posters. Finally, they gave the rules of their "50's Follies" pinball tournament in which anyone playing any of the games could submit their highest score on any or all machines. The "catch" was that which game would be the "tournament game" would be decided by a random draw after the tournament. How's that for a novel idea?
PINBALL ART SEMINAR
Next on the agenda in the Lecture Hall was a panel discussion, in a question and answer format, on Pinball Art. It featured five well-known pinball artists of both the past and present. The first panelist was George Molentin who, as most of you should know, was quite active from 1935 through 1979 becoming the Art Director for Advertising Posters, the job-shop that produced much of the artwork for many of the major pingame manufacturers since the Thirties. Next came Dave Christensen who, of course, produced much of the great Bally artwork of the 1970's. The other panelists included Mark Sprenger from Williams, Tony Ramunni, who has worked for both Bally and Williams, and Sheamus McLaughlin, having done art for both Williams and Game Plan.
Several of the questions asked dealt with the methods of transforming the artwork to the backglass. It was first asked why the color/texture of backglasses appeared to change around 1978 or 1979. It was answered that at that time the "4-color process", introduced by Paul Faris at Bally, began to be used. It was later asked how the picture was actually printed on the glass, George Molentin answering that it was done since the Thirties using "silk-screening". He also mentioned that doing this on the "mirrored glasses" was quite expensive.
A later question provoked a great deal of discussion. It was asked how the panel felt about the new type of "photographic" backglass art, originally introduced by Premier; was it good or bad? Tony Ramunni stated that Bally was starting to use it, but was investigating new ways of using photography on glass. Mark Sprenger next said that Williams will never use it, and Sheamus then said that he thought it to be "flat and ugly", saying he "liked backglass art that 'pops'".
George Molentin then said that his only connection with photography was when he was involved with producing the glass for CHARLIE'S ANGELS. Finally, a Data East representative from the audience told of some of the problems and expenses they had encountered using this technique. He likened producing such a glass to movie production, saying it required locations, sets, make-up, and models. He went on to say that it was six to seven times more expensive than using art. Why do it then? He said that this was 1987 and the people wanted something different and "fresh".
Other questions dealt with colors. When asked which colors were good it was generally agreed that blues, reds, and yellows were popular colors for backglasses. When asked about bad colors it was agreed that green was very bad. Black and magenta were also said to be poor choices. It was also asked why the colors on the flyer for ROGO were different than on the game itself? Dave Christensen replied that colors for a game were often altered, due to adverse comments from game distributors, between the time the test models were put out and the start of the big production run for a game.
Other questions dealt with the actual creation of the artwork, and the relationships between artists and others at the plant. When Sheamus was asked if he did all the art for a game he replied "yes", but went on to say that he also worked closely with the game designer as a "team". He then said that the artist many times gets involved in the original concept for a game, and even with the placement of the lights on the playfield and backglass.
George Molentin went on to say that he worked with designers, such as Harry Williams, determining how to layout the score numbers on the backglass in the old days in order to work them into the artwork. He also said he did the art for the playfield and cabinet, as well as the backglass. In general, all the artists agreed that "teamwork" between the artists and game designers was very important.
When asked how much time is normally involved in doing the artwork for a game, it was generally agreed that two to four months was about the average. It was also stated that more time was allowed when game sales were good. George Molentin pointed out that in the "old days" they were usually given only about a month to do the artwork.
The artists were also asked to name their personal favorite pinball art. Dave said his favorites were MATI HARI and GROUNDSHAKER. Sheamus replied his favorite was PHAROH. Tony named MOTORDROME, and Mark decided on 8-BALL DELUXE. George said his favorite was probably United's MANHATTAN.
When asked what they thought about the mechanical animation used behind the backglasses of several games of the 1960's, they agreed that it was expensive to implement and was somewhat of a handicap to the artist to work around.
Finally, George Molentin was asked if he missed being in the business. To this he answered that he "enjoyed it while he was in it", but also "enjoys retirement".
PINBALL PLANT TOUR
The next item on the Expo agenda was the annual pinball plant tour. This year it was "a new kid on the block", Data East Pinball, that was to do the honors. Before boarding the busses to travel to the plant, we gathered in the Lecture Hall for a pre-tour briefing by Data East Pinball executive Gary Stern, who many of you should know is the son of long-time pinball executive Sam Stern. Sam was once partners with the late Harry Williams in the 1950's at Williams, and many years later founded now defunct Stern Electronics by buying out the old pioneer pinball company, Chicago Coin.
Gary first described the corporate background of Data East Pinball, explaining that it was a subsidiary of Data East U.S.A. (a producer of video games) which, in turn, was a subsidiary of Data East of Japan. He then explained that his company is a design and assembly outfit, with the parent company doing the selling and distribution of the games, and producing many of the electronic sub-assemblies for them.
He then described his plant, which he said has an area of 12,000 square feet, as being divided into separate areas for cabling, playfield assembly, cabinet assembly, testing and shipping, as well as design engineering. He said that currently they are assembling about 20 games a day with a potential of 50 in the future. He also mentioned that his company was started in November 1986 and moved to the present site on may 12, 1987.
Gary then explained that his company was set up to do assembly only, for the following reasons: 1) It took only a short time to get into business; 2) Less personnel training was required; 3) A relatively small capital investment was needed; and 4) Outside help was available (when needed) from the parent company, vendors, and sub-contractors. He then gave the following reasons why he decided to go into business: 1) he thought more pinballs were needed and that the demand would grow; 2) he felt there would be more kids in the future to play the game; and 3) there was a good foreign market.
Finally, Gary described the types of games he wanted to produce. He said he wanted to combine the "best features of past games" with new ideas from his designers. He also wanted to use good stereo sound and speech in his games he said. Just before leaving for the plant Gary announced that people from other pinball companies were invited on the tour, in contrast to other companies who had prohibited this.
While at the plant we first saw the cable forming area and then the playfield preparation line where drilling and then assembly of the playfields were performed. Our guide pointed out how the "material flow" progressed in the plant, starting at the receiving docks and proceeding through the assembly lines.
After seeing where the backboards and cabinets were assembled, we were shown the "test line" where completed games were tested prior to packaging for shipment. In one area of the plant we all noticed what appeared to be a pinball machine which was completely covered up. When someone asked Gary Stern about it he jokingly said "you weren't supposed to see that."
After seeing the plant we returned to the hotel Lecture Hall where Data East personnel were set up to answer any questions we might have about their operation or games. The first question asked was why did they use "type 44" lamps? It was answered that this was an "industry standard" and compatible with the operator's spare parts supplies. When asked if their design was done "in house" or "free lance", the answer was "both".
Someone then asked how long a game was kept in production?; the answer given was "as long as the game is selling". When asked if they had a "Union Shop" Gary answered "no", and continued by saying it was not necessary as they treated their people well. Gary was then asked about the pay level of his people, compared to that in other pinball companies. He replied that in general others paid more, but that this was primarily due to the fact that employees at other plants had been with the companies longer, and therefore got higher pay.
Gary was then asked what he had learned from his association with Stern electronics. He replied, "stay out of videos", and that "the production techniques needed change". Finally he was asked why game prices today are about the same as they were several years ago. He replied that "the selling price of a game has nothing to do with cost, but is what the market will bear". He then said that there was less profit margin today. Gary then ended by quoting a slogan which they planned to use on future games; "Built With American Pride By Don Thorne And His Dynamos".
The last thing on Friday's agenda was the annual Designers' Seminar. The pinball designers (and one operator) sitting on this year's panel were: Jon Norris of Premier, Joe Kaminkow of Data East, Steve Epstein well-known owner of New York City's Broadway Arcade, Dennis Nordman from Bally, Steve Ritchie of Williams, and the panel's moderator, our old friend Steve Kordek, also from Williams. This session was again conducted in a question and answer format with the questions coming from the audience.
The first question asked was whether the cabinet style used by Bally on their new DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS game would be used on future pins? Dennis Nordman answered that this was not known at that time, but that it was a new idea.
The panel was then questioned regarding their views on various types of flipper designs, including the curved "banana flippers" which had been used on some games in the past. Jon Norris commented that he preferred conventional style flippers as the "main flippers" on a game. Joe from Data East said he liked his company's new flipper design and added that they are currently working on a "new ball propelling idea". Steve Ritchie then remarked that the flipper was the "mainstay of pinball" and said that the use of curved flippers "takes a lot out of a game's earning power". Dennis Nordman of Bally tended to agree. Finally Steve Kordek remarked that the curved flippers were "exciting" and "popular with women players" and maybe they would be used again.
The panel was then questioned regarding pingame prototypes, and how they were constructed. Steve Ritchie replied that the proposed playfield layout was first done on a mylar drawing which was then put over a piece of wood. The holes indicated on the drawing, he said, were then punched through the mylar into the wood which was then given to a wood-worker to complete. He then said that prototypes of special devices, such as ramps, etc, proposed for the game, also had to be made up. After the whole thing was finally assembled, he continued, it would be played, and if it turned out to be "no good" would be discarded. Steve also remarked that in some cases today, prototypes are made using "computer aided design" (CAD) methods to produce the "whitewood" (a term used by most pinball designers to describe their prototypes).
A question was also asked regarding the problem of glare from the backboard lights reflecting on the playfield and annoying the player. Steve Ritchie answered that this has always been a problem and that the only thing which helped was placing the brighter lights high on the backbox. A later question dealt with the problems of heat in the backbox, and specifically referred to the use of a 115 volt lamp in Bally's new DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS, a practice I might add, which was also used in the late 1940's. Steve Kordek said the only solution was good backbox ventilation which took advantage of the "chimney effect" to dissipate the heat upward out of the box.
The panel was also queried about secrecy within the industry. Jon Norris answered first saying it was Premier's policy not to talk about each others companies. Joe Kaminkow of Data East remarked that everybody knows where the other company's "test locations" are, and then said that vendors who deal with more than one company are careful not to spread information about one of their clients to another. Steve Ritchie remarked that this type of situation occurs in almost all industries, and that "proprietary information" was kept as such. Dennis Nordman then said that information was shared within the company and not outside. Steve Kordek finally remarked that not many people in the industry change companies, and therefore not much information was exchanged in that manner.
Other questions dealt with the use of plastic coatings on playfields. Jim Patla of Bally said from the audience that his company had experimented with using a polyurethane playfield coating, but encountered some problems with it. Joe Kaminkow then remarked that Segassa in Spain uses plastic coatings, but said "the ball just doesn't seem to roll the same". Steve Kordek later said that there were problems getting holes and slots to line up, which could cause the ball to get held up in a rollover. Finally Jon Norris remarked that plastic coating to protect playfields was not necessary if the machines were properly taken care of in the field.
The age-old question of "3 ball" versus "5 ball" pinball play was also brought up. Steve Kordek said the "time factor" (ie. the length of an actual game) was the important consideration, not how many balls were actually used. In a discussion of the proper price for a game of pinball which followed, Steve said he hoped that a good One Dollar coin would someday be produced, allowing 3 games for a dollar play. Steve Ritchie then remarked that if the price of pinball play is raised it is important that "everybody do it at the same time".
A question was asked of the designers as to how the credit for a design is shared if more than one person works on a game. Jon Norris first remarked that he worked alone; and anyway, there was no names on their games. Joe from Data East said they have one "main designer" with others providing assistance when needed. Dennis Nordman pointed out that at Bally there were not enough designers to afford the luxury of two working on one game. Finally, Steve Ritchie said he "worked with great people" and does not insist on saying "it's my game". He then added that he always freely accepts ideas from others.
The panelists were then asked what constraints there were on their designs? Jon Norris mentioned assembly line efficiency, ie. "manufacturability". Dennis Nordman said they were limited to a certain number of switches, coils, and lamps which could be used on a game. Steve Ritchie then pointed out that cost was of course a major factor. Finally, Steve Kordek said that serious consideration had to be given to how much time and money could be expended to develop a new game feature. He also remarked that if an idea was very good, and worth including in a game, the price of the game might have to be increased.
It was also asked how long should it take for an operator to make back his initial investment in a new game? One of the operators in the audience answered that 10 weeks gross should approximately equal the cost of the game. The designers did not seem to disagree what that.
The panelists were then asked to comment on "wide body" games. Steve Kordek said they were more costly to build; Jon Norris then mentioned problems with moving them and the limited space in some arcades. Joe Kaminkow then remarked that this might be something that the kids might enjoy, but said he personally preferred standard size games. Steve Epstein remarked that these games might be good to justify 50 cent play. Dennis Nordman then said that they had a lot of potential, but generally had "too much at the bottom of the playfield". Steve Ritchie said that it was harder to make them play well. Steve Kordek finally commented "maybe there will be a place for them eventually, especially for 50 cent play".
The last question asked of the panel was what each thought was the "most exciting 1980's game design"? Jon Norris said he liked the use of "alpha-numeric displays", but did not mention any specific game. Joe Kaminkow said that SPACE SHUTTLE "helped bring pinball back"; he also mentioned the "light show" on HIGH SPEED and the "new dimension in sound" on his own company's LASER WAR. Steve Epstein named FLASH which he said had a "benchmark" light and sound package. Dennis Nordman said he thought that the introduction of "ramps" was exciting, as well as all the "special effects" which have been used in the Eighties. Steve Ritchie then commented that there was "lots of good stuff" and said it was hard to say what was the most important. Steve Kordek finally stated that he thought that Williams was "responsible for the resurgence of pinball with SPACE SHUTTLE."
To end the session each panelist commented on what he thought about the future of pinball. Jon said he really couldn't comment about the future from Premier since that type of information was "proprietary", but did mention that "his new game" would be coming out shortly. (NOTE: the game is called DIAMOND LADY and was released early this year). Joe Kaminkow next said that Data East is "striving to make a 'maintenance free' pingame". Dennis Nordman said that Bally is working hard in all areas including sound, and new~materials and processes. Steve Ritchie just said that "it looks exciting".
PLAYFIELD DESIGN WORKSHOP
First on the agenda on the second day of the Expo was a "workshop" on pinball playfield design. Conducting this session was pinball designer Greg Kmiec who started designing for Bally in 1975. He designed many Bally "classics" of the Seventies and Eigthties such as WIZARD, KNOCKOUT, OLD CHICAGO, CAPTAIN FANTASTIC, NIGHT RIDER, PARAGON, and XENON.
Greg said the subject of his presentation was how a pinball playfield was designed, "engineering wise". He then gave a brief "chalk talk" regarding pinball design philosophies. He began by saying that there were two primary approaches to designing a game, namely "form" and "function". Form design, he said, was designing around the playfield parts of a game without consideration of the game's "theme". In this design approach he stated that the designer concentrated on the physical reaction of the ball.
In designing by "function", he went on, the idea or concept of the game (ie. "theme") determines the playfield layout. This, he said, is how most designs are created today. He went on to say that this gives the designer the luxury of starting with a theme concept and designing the game's "form" around it.
As a sidelight, he told how the original theme ideas for some games ended up being changed before the design was complete. He said that CAPTAIN FANTASTIC started out as "Super Shooter", and that the original idea for WIZARD was a magician, like "Merlin". He told us that PARAGON, his first wide-body design, was originally to be called "King Midas", with the bonus spelling the name; but since the bonus required two more lights, they finally changed the name to PARAGON. He said many games today could fit other themes. He also showed us the preliminary playfield design he had made for a game that started out to be "Starship", but ended up as SST. He remarked that this required changing the names of several areas on the playfield.
Greg next pointed out that no matter which design philosophy you are using several things should be considered in your design. He said you should rely on past experience and history, but also consider the contemporary market, ie.. "what is 'hot' today". He then said that the designer should often try to look for a "new twist" and "one-up" the other manufacturers.
Next he talked at some length about things to keep in mind during the actual design process. He said that a "skill shot" is very important to a game, and gave as an example of this WIZARD's buttons at the top of the playfield which flipped over targets. He next told of the importance of making sure there was no place on the playfield where a ball could "hang up", even if the leg levelers were badly adjusted by the operator.
Greg than talked about the importance of "action" in a game. He said a game should always have an "action spot", which usually involves Thumper Bumpers. He said the spacing of these bumpers was extremely important for proper action, stating that 2 1/2 inches between Thumper Bumpers was usually about right. He said in the older electro-mechanical games the AC operated bumpers were slow, but that the use of DC power in later games speeded them up. He then mentioned the fact that in Bally's solid-state game FIREBALL CLASSIC, the bumpers were deliberately slowed down to simulate an older game.
As far as flipper action was concerned, he said that flipper to target spacing was important and that 17 inches was about right between flippers and "side targets". He then said that the "angle of attack" should always be considered to determine where the ball will go when hit by a flipper. He added that you should make possible flipper shots that can send the ball back to the top of the playfield.
Finally, he mentioned two other important design considerations. First, do not "kill" an area of the playfield (or a game feature) such that if you get the ball there a second time nothing good for the player can happen. He then talked about the importance of "last ball suspense". He said that the further into the game the player gets, the easier it should be for him to score.
After concluding his "chalk talk" on design philosophies and considerations, Greg began to create an actual design with the aid of the audience. He got out a 20 by 42 inch sheet of white cardboard and drew in the top and bottom arches of a playfield. He then proceeded to go from person to person in the audience asking each a question regarding the characteristics of the game being designed.
This question and answering process, with Greg drawing out the resulting design on his "playfield", went on for over an hour, quite a bit longer than the entire session was originally scheduled to last. The audience's choices covered such things as whether the game should be "multi-level", "multi-ball"; the placement of the flippers, slingshots, eject holes, etc; and many other aspects of the game, including the characteristics of the "action area" on the playfield. When this session finally ended, the drawing was chocked full of information, and everyone in the audience, I am sure, had a much better feel for all the various aspects of design which are required to create a modern pingame.
The second session on Saturday morning's agenda featured fellow COIN SLOT author Dan Kramer with a presentation titled "Atari Pinballs, Innovators of a New Age". Dan was introduced by Rob Burk as an "incurable pinball romantic" who, he said, obtained and restored games as well as writing articles for Pinball Collector's Quarterly and COIN SLOT. It was also noted by Rob that Dan had worked at Atari between 1980 and 1984.
Dan began by asking for a show of hands from the audience of how many owned Atari pins, but not many hands were raised. He then passed around a paper for people to use to list what Atari items they owned. While this "survey" was going on we were all treated to a tape recording of the Country and Western song from around 1950, "Pinball Millionaire".
Dan then started his talk by remarking that "everyone tries to make money from pinball". He said players make "side bets" and sell their replays; operators try to find "good territories" so they can make better profits from the games they purchase; repairmen work hard for a "service fee"; and collectors spend time and money on games, and sometimes make a little money selling a game or two. He said, however, the "big stakes" in pinball are in the areas of design, manufacturing, and sales.
He next told of the rise of the pinball industry, beginning in the early Thirties, when some companies started out with pingames, while others, who manufactured other types of coin machines, added pingames to their lines. Chicago, he said, became the "hotbed of game manufacturers" and by the early 1940's housed some eight to ten major pingame manufacturers (such as Gottlieb, Bally, Exhibit Supply, Genco, Chicago Coin, Keeney, and Stoner) plus a few smaller outfits such as Baker and Success.
World War II, he went on, curtailed pingame production (except for a few "conversions") but did spawn United and Williams. Then in 1947, he remarked, the introduction of the flipper started pinball designers designing their games around these new action devices. Dan said this brought about new play features and game strategies in the games of the Fifties and Sixties.
The introduction of the "long flipper" in the 1970's, he continued, resulted in a whole new action environment of increased ball speed and power. But, this pushed electro- mechanical pinball technology to the limit, he said, and the manufacturers began to realize that technological changes in pinball design were needed, so development of solid-state pinball was begun.
Dan then shifted the "locale" of his discussion from Chicago to the area now known as the "Silicon Valley" in California, which he referred to as "the home of the microprocessor and the land of the entrepreneur". This he said was a "hotbed of young minds and of risk takers". In this area new products, he remarked, turned small companies into large ones; companies such as Hewlett Packard which started in a garage and today is one of the larger computer and test equipment manufacturers in the country.
Dan next told of Nolan Bushnell who he said was responsible for the video game industry. He showed us some pictures of probably the earliest video game, called "Computer Space", which he said had complex play features and was difficult for players to learn. He then showed the pioneer video game, PONG, which Nolan designed using a simple theme (that of Ping Pong) which could easily be understood by the average person.
He said that Nolan originally wanted to call his new company "Syzygy", but due to legal problems with that name, finally settled on "Atari", a term used in the ancient Chinese game of "Go" Shortly after the introduction of PONG, Dan continued, Nolan introduced a line of home entertainment products, which he called "board games", including a home TV version of PONG and also "Video Music" which played music accompanied by color patterns on the TV screen. He then remarked that Nolan always had many things going on at one time at Atari.
Dan next told us that in 1975 pinball was "the king of the coin-ops", and that production runs of 20,000 games were possible, compared to runs of a few thousand for video games. So, he went on, Atari decided to get into the pinball market. He said at that time Atari conducted a "think tank" in the small California mountain community of Grass Valley where they kicked around new ideas. He said Atari took a Williams STRATO FLIGHT pinball and developed a solid-state system for it, including digital displays.
The first Atari production pinball, ATARIANS, was next discussed. Dan said there was "lots of fanfare" connected with the introduction of this game, which had a futuristic space theme and was the first "wide body" pingame to ever go into production. He said the game's score displays were located at the front of the playfield and that it's "double flippers" were controlled by a "rotary solenoid" which, he said, tended to wear out. Dan also remarked that the game used "proximity switches", which they called "star sensors", to detect the ball passing over them, but that these could be cheated by a player using a magnet, a problem which Atari designers apparently did not foresee.
Dan went on to say that all of the electronics for the game were located in the cabinet, with the backbox being only a lighted display used to attract players. He also mentioned the fact that Atari designers included built-in diagnostic and bookkeeping features in the game. Dan then said that this "new image" was important to Atari, and that they thought artwork was very important; so much so that they had their own Art Department.
Dan then proceeded to discuss each of the succeeding Atari pingames in chronological order, showing slides and talking about their unique features. TIME 2000 he said utilized cabinet art with a "multi-dimensional effect" and a live model was used for the picture on the backglass. He described some of the game's features such as it's "am-pm bonus clock" (with two separate bonus "build-ups"), it's novel double flipper arrangement, and the fact that some drop targets were used for a special "teaser feature".
AIRBORNE AVENGER, he said, was the first pingame to be designed by Expo guest Steve Ritchie, who started working at Atari in the early Seventies as a mechanical assembler. He remarked that the brochures for this game were very innovative, were designed to attract operators, and promoted pinball as an "adventure". Dan then showed us Steve's "whitewood" for this game and described it's special features including a "messenger ball", star buttons, and "ball-saver gates" on the additional drains. Finally he remarked about this game's realistic playfield graphics.
The next game Dan discussed was MIDDLE EARTH, which he said was originally to be called "Lost World" but had to be changed due to Bally using that name first. The promotion for this game, he remarked, included such items as t-shirts and posters. Dan then described it's features including a "2-section" playfield, staggered flippers, and special flipper shots enabled by the increased trajectory angles made possible by the wide body design. Dan then remarked that each new Atari game was an improvement over the last one.
Next, he said, came SPACE RAIDERS which again had a futuristic theme. He told of this game's improved bookkeeping and "coin options" which aided the operator. An important feature of this game, he said, was it's "triple captive messenger ball layout" with drop targets in front of each of them.
The next game Dan mentioned was PIPELINE, with a Surfing theme, which he told us was never released. He then showed us a photo of it's backglass which had been loaned to him. Dan then told us a sad story of him once learning about an ex-Atari employee but not looking him up right away. When he finally visited the man he told Dan that three weeks earlier he had taken all the parts necessary to make a PIPELINE game to the dump. He did, however, give Dan one "hang ten" drop target.
The next game discussed was probably Atari's best pingame, SUPERMAN. Dan first showed us two promotional items for the game, an announcement from the San Francisco game distributorship, Advance Automatic Sales, and also a postcard promoting the game. Dan then said that SUPERMAN was "a big winner for Atari". He remarked that the company at that time was owned by Warner Communications who had the rights to the Superman comic book characters which were very accurately displayed in the games's artwork. Dan then said that the game was designed by Steve Ritchie, and then described some of it's features, including it's new "sound package" and excellent bumper action. Dan said that he saw the game in a test location when it first came out and played it for two hours! He said he thought at that time that Atari should continue making pins. He then told us that Steve Ritchie left Atari after he designed the game.
Atari's last production pin, HERCULES, was next mentioned. This huge machine, which Dan said was more of a "novelty arcade game" than a pin, used balls the size of billiard balls. Dan said he only played three balls on HERCULES and walked away, but went on to say that it was a good "novelty" on location and that some are still being operated. He also told of a "marquee" put out by Atari to be placed on top of the backbox which read: "Play The World's Largest Pinball Game".
Finally, Dan talked of Atari ending pinball production but "still fooling around with pins". He showed photos of a prototype of the never produced game ROADRUNNER. He told of the great artwork showing the two famous cartoon characters ("the Roadrunner" and "Wily Coyote") and told of the great sound effects developed for the game. He then described two other prototype games, ALIEN SPACE and MONZA. Dan also talked about NEUTRON STAR, the never realized Atari pin, the prototype of which Dan now owns, and which he displayed at last year's Expo. He ended by reading excerpts from an internal Atari company memo which he said was responsible for "putting pinball on the back burner" at Atari, from which it never resurfaced.
The last item in the Expo '87 lecture series Rob Burk announced as a question and answer session involving the design engineers from the industry. These people, he said, designed the actual mechanisms used in pinball machines. When this session started only one of the three engineers scheduled to participate was present. Rob introduced him as Irv Grabel from Bally, who Rob said had been responsible for such designs as the multi-ball release mechanism on CENTAUR, the "disappearing kicker" on SILVERBALL MANIA, the "in-line drop target", the "fly-away target" on SPEAKEASY, and the "two-way kicker" on FLASH GORDON.
Irv was first asked why the multi-ball mechanism from CENTUAR was not used on other games? He replied that he did not know saying "you'll have to ask the game designers". He then went on to describe his working relationship with the game designers. He said he worked directly with the designers, and when they had a "crazy idea" he, as the engineer, developed it. He then remarked that the designers liked it that way. He went on to say that he also likes this sort of relationship because he can give the game designers his ideas for game features for them to consider.
Irv next told us how he got started in the pinball industry. He said back in the Sixties he was an unemployed toy designer looking for work and that he put an ad in the paper. Wayne Neyens at Gottlieb saw the ad, he said, and ended up hiring him. He designed three games at Gottlieb, he remarked, but they were never released.
After his start at Gottlieb he said he went over to Bally as a circuit designer for electro-mechanical pins, until around 1975 when they began solid-state development. At that time he told us that Norm Clark asked him what else he could do and that he replied he liked mechanical design. He was then put to work in that area where he has remained.
When asked what was the first game to employ his "in-line drop target"?; he replied he could not remember. Someone in the audience thought it might have been DOLLY PARTON. He was next asked if he thought a drop target could be designed which could be hit from either side, but Irv just laughed. Someone also asked if he thought it would be possible to design a miniature thumper bumper, about half the size of a normal one? Irv replied that it was probably possible. He then went on to say that someday he would like to try to improve the design of the thumper bumper, making it more "efficient" (ie. less costly to produce and easier to maintain).
At this point two other engineers joined Irv on the platform. One was John Lund from Williams and the other a gentleman from Data East whose name I was never able to determine.
John Lund was then asked how long it took to design the PIN- BOT mechanism. He replied that design of the actual mechanism took about 3 weeks, but that finding the right materials for it took much longer, maybe 6 to 8 weeks. An operator in the audience then asked if the ball feed problems he had been encountering with HYPERBALL were common, or was it maybe only his machine. John replied that others had the same problems. He said he had just started at Williams at that time but remembers this as being "somewhat of a nightmare".
Another person from the audience said he had a lot of trouble changing Bally drop targets and asked Irv if there were any plans to make them more serviceable? Irv replied that he agreed it was somewhat of a problem, but that he believed that they could be taken off without dissembling them. He went on to say that he was not directly involved with that problem. At that point, someone else in the audience remarked that he didn't think Bally was so bad in that area, but said Gottlieb was much worse.
The next question asked was if there were any special engineering problems involved with designing multi-level playfields? The answer given was that most of the problems involved making them serviceable, because it was hard to get to the parts on the lower level. It was then said that in the future designers should be more careful regarding the serviceability of their designs.
Someone from the audience then remarked that he had a great deal of difficulty changing the five inch rubbers at the back of Williams' HIGH SPEED, and asked if there was "an easy way"? John Lund answered "no", and went on to say that game designers generally do not have sympathy for operator's problems, such as disassembly, etc. But he said occasionally some designers try to help with problems learned about from operator feedback. He ended by remarking that designers must stay within cost guidelines or games would have to be too expensive for operators to afford.
Rob Burk then asked the engineers if they had any final comments. John Lund said that if anyone has problems with Williams games they should contact Tom Kayhill at the plant. The Data East engineer than gave out their toll-free service number (1-800-KICKER). He then told us not to think that mechanical engineers design assemblies to be as cheap as possible, because if that were true, he said, we would encounter many more failures in a game than we do.
Saturday night was banquet night at the Expo. This year we were in a good-sized hall, when the pre-banquet cocktail hour mingling began at 7 pm. Shortly after Eight we were served a delicious steak dinner which I believe was "Filet Mignon"; not the usual "banquet fare" that one is used to hearing about. After that we settled back in our seats for the after-dinner speech presented this year by none other than COIN SLOT's own Dick Bueschel; a speech which he titled "Where We Came From, and Where We're Going".
Dick began with "what a wonderment!", saying that we were all there "in honor of our host - a little silver ball." He continued by remarking "that of all the millions of people that knew this ball, there are only a hand-full that honor it - those in this room."
He next talked of the economic side of pinball and the willingness of people to "pay to play". He said "we can talk of art and aesthetics, classics and nostalgia, talent and skill, history and playability; but unless there is profitability, it all ends." He then talked about the thousands of pinball type games that have been made in the past two centuries.
Dick next took us back in history to 1777 and a party given for young Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette by his brother at his new chateau which he dubbed, "Chateau D'Bagatelle". A highlight of this party, Dick said, was a new type of game table which he named "Bagatelle" after his chateau, and which Dick described as "an elaborate table on formed legs on which the player used long cue sticks to shoot ivory balls up a channel, to have them trickle down a slanted playfield filled with scoring pockets and troughs." Dick remarked that after that "pinball had it's playfield."
He then told us how this new game, Bagatelle, became "the rage of France", and was particularly popular with the french armed forces who brought it to America during the Revolutionary War. Dick went on to tell of similar games being manufactured and used in this country throughout in 1800's.
Dick next told of a young Englishman, Montegue Redgrave, who had settled in this country and began manufacturing Bagatelles in Cincinnati in 1869. in 1871, he said, Redgrave got a patent for "improvements in bagatelle" which included the use of a "spring shooter" and a bell on the playfield. He then told us that Redgrave's patent model is now on display at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. He also said that Redgrave continued to manufacture games until 1927.
He next briefly described many pioneer pinball type games that were produced in this country and abroad between the 1870's and the early 1930's; games such as LOG CABIN, a version of which was on display at the first Pinball Expo. (Author's Note: for all the details and fascinating history of these early pinball ancestors you will have to read Dick's first pinball book, which hopefully will be out by the time you read this.)
Dick next commented that, over the years, "individuals in the industry have responded to the dual challenges of getting the commitment of a coin and delivering an entertainment value that would bring players back for more." He went on to say "we're only just beginning" and that the question to be asked by designers is "what's the next idea that hasn't been done?"
Finalizing his discussion of pinball's past, Dick said that we have been left with three "axioms". First, Harry Williams' comment that "the ball is wild!"; second, Ray Maloney's statement that "our best game is our next game"; and finally coin machine publisher Bill Gersh's comment "there will always be pinball".
For the "finale" of his talk Dick presented his audience with three proposals. First, he proposed the establishment of "an International Pinball Hall Of Fame and Museum". He suggested that "artifacts" be collected for the museum, and gave us a wild list of examples. He said that this idea should result in "good press for our game".
Secondly, he recommended that the industry nominate Montegue Redgrave to the National Inventor's Hall Of Fame as "the creator of the uniquely American game of pinball". He explained that this award is given annually by the national council of patent law associations.
Finally, he proposed that the Pinball Hall Of Fame establish annual "Montegue Redgrave Awards" with perhaps four categories; a pinball pioneer, a living Hall-Of-Famer, an historical game, and a current game. He remarked that this should be "a platform for complementary press". He also said that the industry should try to promote the game to the national press as an "entertainment form".
Dick then concluded his talk with the following thought: "considering the past, there is more creativity, more knowledge, more young talent and more seasoned experience in this room tonight than at any time in the history of the game of pinball. That alone promises another "golden age" for pinball; and yet another followed by another. All we have to do is make the game worth the money. That's our challenge. Just as it always has been."
Following Dick's talk a few shenanigans took place, and finally veteran pinball designer Norm Clark was called to the stage and seated in a chair. Following this, a string of his friends and former business associates were called upon to honor him.
First up was designer Greg Kmiec. Greg said he was going to give "Norm's philosophy of life". He said that Norm "did not know the meaning of the word ego; or the word anger; or the word selfish." So, he said, I bought him a dictionary so he could look them up. Greg ended by remarking that he had never heard a discouraging comment about Norm. Norm then said jokingly that he was amazed how fast Greg designed a complex pingame during the "workshop" that morning, adding that when Greg worked for him it always took several months.
Artist Dave Christensen next took the podium. He first remarked that he was probably the person that gave Norm his ulcers. He went on to praise Norm's work at Bally saying that during that time pingame production runs increased from a few thousand to 20,000 games. Dave ended by talking about the great Bally parties in those days, saying that one Christmas party was "the greatest Roman Orgy the world has ever known". Finally he said that it was a "wonderful era" and that Norm was "truly a great man!"
Next, one of the people from the Bally Sales Department (I didn't catch his name) got up and made some "tongue-in-cheek" comments about Norm. He ended up by saying that Norm had "a sense of innovative creativity and an uncompromising drive for product excellence". He then said that the entertainment industry sure misses Norm now that he has retired.
Last, but certainly not least, Norm's long-time friend, and co-worker at Williams, Steve Kordek got up to pay tribute to Norm. Steve began by remarking that this was his chance to get even with Norm for last year's "roast" of him. He then started talking about he and Norm's favorite subject (next to pinball, I am sure), that of golf.
Steve first remarked that even though he was older, Norm never gave him any "strokes", except, he said, when he knew Steve would not be able to play. He next told a story about them once playing golf on a very cold day and taking a sip of brandy at each tee. He said at the 8th tee he saw Norm swing at the ball several times but never hit it. When asked about this Norm was said to have replied that he "saw several balls and just hit at the wrong one".
Steve next remarked that his years with Norm at Williams were "great years", and that when Norm left to go to Bally he bought a lot of Bally stock because he knew what Norm could do. He next read a letter of tribute to Norm from Bally executive John Britz who was in Europe and could not be present.
Steve then gave a slide presentation showing the brochures for the many games Norm designed while at Williams, including such great games as EAGER BEAVER, MOULIN ROUGE, MAGIC CITY, A-GO- GO, APOLLO, DING DONG, LADY LUCK, JIVE TIME, GOLD RUSH, SPANISH EYES, GULFSTREAM, and OXO.
Steve next introduced Rob Burk so he could present his tribute to Norm. Rob said that Norm was "a terrific individual, was always glad to be your friend, and always a cordial person as well." He next praised Norm's accomplishments during his 32 years in the industry. Finally, Rob presented Norm with several gifts, including a golf club with the Expo logo on it, a tee, a stack of pinball flyers, some fishing gear, and an Expo jacket. He then presented Norm with a plaque commemorating his years in the industry and his participation in the Pinball Expos.
Norm thanked Steve and then left us with these words. He said "as a designer, after you design a game and it's on the market, the judgement of it is the amount of cash in the cashbox". He went on to say that "players appreciate a game for what's in it" and that "you fellows are what makes it all worthwhile."
Next Rob Burk praised Steve Young and Gordon Hasse for their participation in the shows and called Steve up to the stage to present the prizes for his "50's Follies" pinball tournament. Steve had Wayne morgan from Canada randomly pick the tournament machine, which turned out to be DRAGONETTE. The first prize of a QUEEN OF HEARTS poster went to a young man named Dan Frank. Second and third prizes were also awarded, as well as small prizes for the top scorers on the other machines.
Following this, Rob again came up, this time to praise the various pinball manufacturers who participated, including Data East, Williams, Bally and Premier. He then called our English guest Gary Flower up on stage and announced that it was Gary's Birthday, after which we all sang Happy Birthday and Gary was presented with a gift. Rob then presented gifts to the people who had traveled from other countries to visit the Expo. These included Gary and his friend Jerry Sigman from England and Wayne Morgan and three other people who came from Canada.
Rob next presented awards to the people who assisted him with the show, and a "Best Exhibit Award" to Steve Young and Gordon Hasse. He then presented special gifts to Dick Bueschel and his co-producer Mike Pacak. Following that the door and raffle prizes were awarded, including two new pinballs, which were both won by Tim Arnold from Michigan due primarily to the fact that, as usual, he had purchased about 90 percent of the tickets!
The last thing on the banquet agenda was the playoffs in the Flip-out '87 pinball tournament. The "mystery game" used in the playoffs turned out to be the never-released LOCH NESS MONSTER by Game Plan. Playoffs were conducted in two categories, one for manufacturers, and one for other people. After the grueling encounters with the "monster" were concluded the victors were Jon Norris from Premier for the manufacturers, who was awarded a large trophy, and Dave Hegge who received a brand new LASER WAR machine!
THE EXHIBIT HALL
This year, as in past Expo's, there was a large Exhibit Hall full of machines and other miscellaneous goodies for sale and display. The first thing you noticed upon entering this area was a large, almost deafening, amount of noise, primarily generated by the large number of new solid-state pins which were in operation with their various "sound effects". I coined my own name for this area, "the din den". This made conversation somewhat difficult, and I found it to be a good idea to leave every once in awhile to give my ears a rest. I even saw one small baby in the area several times and wondered if it's little ears could have been damaged by the high sound level.
Several booths featured pingames for sale, but, with the exception of two games from 1932 and one HUMPTY DUMPTY, no games made before the early Sixties. There was one dealer from the Chicago area who had a large number of machines, including several "Add-A-Balls" and the two early games I mentioned. Don Murphy, of course, had some beautiful 1960's games for sale, also including many "Add-A-Balls".
The game manufacturers, of course, displayed their current games. Bally with it's DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS, Williams with F-14 TOMCAT and FIRE!, Premier displaying ARENA and SPRING BREAK, and Data East with their exciting new game LASER WAR. Game Plan was also present and was selling backglasses from some of their earlier games for very reasonable prices.
There were also a few dealers selling parts. Wico was again present displaying their line of parts and game maintenance items, and there was a plastics company selling some items. Steve Engel from New York also had a selection of miscellaneous game parts and schematics for sale.
Expo co-producer Mike Pacak was of course also present; buying, selling, and trading pinball brochures. On the last day of exhibiting Mike also had on display a Bally BOW AND ARROW which had been converted at the plant for solid-state operation as was mentioned in the talk by Ed Schmidt on the first day of the show. Rob Burk also had his usual booth containing various Expo souvenir items for sale.
And of course, as I mentioned earlier, the highlight of the Exhibit Hall for all us fans of pingames from the past was the display of 1950's wood-rail pins by Steve Young and Gordon Hasse. These beautiful wooden-legged beauties were certainly a marked contrast to the modern electronic pingames seen throughout the hall. These games were almost constantly in use, partly due of course, to the special pinball tournament in which they were used. In addition to these games, Steve and Gordon also had on display, and for sale, their beautiful QUEEN OF HEARTS poster, which I previously mentioned, plus their many other Silverball amusement offerings.
Finally, there was the Flip-out '87 pinball tournament area containing four brand new Data East LASER WAR games. Except for Sunday, these games were only available for use for tournament play and were kept extremely busy.
To round out my description of the Exhibit Hall, here is a chronological list of all the pingames to be seen in the hall:
GAME MANUFACTURER YEAR ---------------------------------------------------------------------- BALLYHOO Bally 1932 PLAY BALL Exhibit 1932 WHIZ BANG Gottlieb 1932 HUMPTY DUMPTY Gottlieb 1947 JOKER Gottlieb 1950 KNOCKOUT Gottlieb 1950 MINSTREL MAN Gottlieb 1951 CORONATION Gottlieb 1952 FOUR CORNERS Williams 1952 HAPPY DAYS Gottlieb 1952 QUEEN OF HEARTS Gottlieb 1952 C-O-D Williams 1953 PALISADES Williams 1953 DRAGONETTE Gottlieb 1954 GIGI Gottlieb 1963 SQUARE HEAD (AAB) Gottlieb 1963 PALOOKA Williams 1964 SKI CLUB (AAB) Gottlieb 1965 HURDY GURDY (AAB) Gottlieb 1966 FUN PARK (AAB) Gottlieb 1968 HEARTS & SPADES (AAB) Gottlieb 1969 BATTER UP (AAB) Gottlieb 1970 CARD TRIX (AAB) Gottlieb 1970 MINI-CYCLE Gottlieb 1970 2001 Gottlieb 1971 ASTRO (AAB) Williams 1971 CHALLENGER Gottlieb 1971 ZODIAC Williams 1971 POP-A-CARD (AAB) Gottlieb 1972 NIP-IT Bally 1973 BIG SHOW Bally 1974 BON VOYAGE Bally 1974 SATIN DOLL Williams 1975 BOW & ARROW (DIGITAL) Bally 1976 EIGHT BALL Bally 1977 EVIL KNEIVEL Bally 1977 WORLD CUP Williams 1977 CLOSE ENCOUNTERS Gottlieb 1978 FLASH Williams 1978 PHOENIX Williams 1978 SUPERMAN Atari 1979 ALIEN POKER Williams 1980 BLACKOUT Williams 1980 FIREPOWER Williams 1980 GROUND-SHAKER Bally 1980 SILVERBALL MANIA Bally 1980 FLASH GORDON Bally 1981 MR. & MRS. PACMAN Bally 1982 LADY SHARPSHOOTER Game Plan 1985 ARENA Premier 1987 DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS Bally 1987 FIRE! Williams 1987 LASER WAR Data East 1987 SPRING BREAK Premier 1987 CYCLOPS Game Plan 198? LOCH NESS MONSTER Game Plan 198?
Well there you have it, the story of the third very successful Pinball Expo. And, as I write this, I have it on pretty good authority that Pinball Expo '88 will be a reality. That's great! I hope they will continue for many years to come as they provide a chance for all who, as Dick Bueschel put it, "honor the silver ball" to learn a few new things, see what's going on in the industry, and just get together and talk to old and new friends. Because, after all, when all is said and done, "it's the people" that make Pinball Expo the great show that it is!
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