PINBALL EXPO '88
-Another Great Show-
By Russ Jensen
photos by Sam Harvey
For the fourth year in a row pinball fans from all over the country (and from Canada and Europe too) were treated to an all- pinball show, Pinball Expo '88. These shows have become an "established tradition" and from what I hear will continue, at least through this year. As I said last year, for me one of my main enjoyments at these shows is meeting and talking to all the people, who like me, think of pinball in a very special way. This year was certainly no exception!
For the past three years the Expo has been held at a Holiday Inn, but this year we had a new location, the Ramada Hotel/O'Hare. This facility had the rooms spread out in long two story "wings" radiating from the main "tower". This meant a lot of walking between the sleeping rooms and the show sites, but I soon got used to this exercise (I usually don't get enough anyway). One definite advantage of this location was the inexpensive 24 hour diner within walking distance of the hotel. This kept those of us on limited budgets like myself from being forced to pay the high prices for meals found in most hotel restaurants, a real plus as far as I was concerned.
On Friday morning Expo Chairman Rob Berk got up and gave the opening remarks. He welcomed all of us, with special welcomes to those who had come a long way to attend, including those from England, Europe, and Canada, as well as two pinball fans from the "Aloha State".
Rob introduced Expo co-producer Mike Pacak (the "Exhibit Chairman") and then told us of two additional "events" which had been added to the Expo agenda. Those were a brief presentation by a brand new game manufacturer and another "Design Seminar" during which we would again design a pingame. He also gave us information on the Williams plant tour scheduled that afternoon to which he said all, including representatives from other manufacturers, were invited.
We were also informed that Rob would be hosting a "Social Hour" that evening including free food. He then announced that the door prize this year was a new ROBO-WAR pingame, with tickets limited to one to a customer. He then went over the rules for the "Flip-out '88" pinball tournament to be held Saturday with the "play-offs" before the banquet dinner.
Regarding the Exhibit Hall, he said this year there was a display of classic pins from the 1950's and 1960's . Also, he remarked that Harvey Heiss' "prototype" game, Baby In The Hole, would again be on display, with Harvey available to demonstrate this unique game. Then he said that this year the hall would be "open all night" (or as long as Mike Pacak could "take it"), immediately following the Saturday night banquet.
Finally, Rob announced that two new pinball books would be first previewed at the show. The first was "Pinball - The Lure Of The Silver Ball", a beautiful color book co-authored by Gary Flower (of the English "Pinball Owner's Association") and Ohio collector/enthusiast Bill Kurtz. The second book was "Pinball Troubleshooting Guide" by none other than "yours truly"! What a thrill it was for me to actually see it in final printed form for the first time!
PINBALL ON RECORD
Rob then introduced the first speaker, part-time disk jockey Dave Marston from Vermont and his presentation "Pinball On Record". Dave began by saying that this was going to be a "musical and visual presentation" which he said he plans to do again at a future Expo. For this reason he told us he would appreciate any "leads" concerning other records related to pinball. He then told us of a new series of books for record collectors called "First Pressings" covering Rhythm And Blues and Rock And Roll history from 1948 through 1954.
For his first song he played a Country and Western record by the Willis Brothers titled "Pinball Anonymous". It was evident from the lyrics that the "pinballs" being referred to were "bingo pinballs" which were very prevalent in Tennessee for many years. He followed this by a song called "Pinball Machine (a Truck Driver's Story)" by Lonny Irving which told the story of a truck driver "hooked" on pinball. Dave remarked that this record "did not enhance the reputation of the pinball industry".
He then played an excerpt from an album called "Pinball Playboy" by a group called Cook County which contained pinball "sound effects". This was followed by "Pinball, That's All" from the sound track of the early Brooke Shields film, "Tilt", which was never released to the theaters, being finally shown on Cable TV. Dave remarked that those were "studio musicians" and that this song only reached "96" on the pop music "charts" in 1979.
Dave next played a little of a "sound effects record", called "Gambling Devices", in which you heard the sound of a ball rolling and bells. The bells sounded to me like those on an early 1960's pingame. Dave remarked that pinball sound effects found on many records appeared to him as if they had been "doctored".
Next he played a "New Wave" record from 1981 which had lyrics concerning both pinballs and video games. After that he played what I considered to be a fine Country and Western recording titled "Beer And Pinballs" by Claude King, which he said was recorded in 1952. The refrain of this song repeated the line "drinking beer and shooting that old pinball machine".
The next part of Dave's presentation dealt with the music from the well-known pinball theme Rock Opera "Tommy". He started with the main song from that film "Pinball Wizard" by the Who, which he said peaked at "19" on the "charts". He then played many excerpts of Tommy songs released over the years in both the U.S. and overseas, including a recording of "Pinball Wizard" by Rod Stewart, accompanied by non other than the London Symphony Orchestra! Dave than told about the many items of "Tommy memorabilia" (tee-shirts, etc) and the book "The Making Of Tommy".
Next we had a real comical treat. Dave played a rare tape of a song called "Gumball Wizard", by Brad Stanfield which, of course, was a parody on "Pinball Wizard" and ended with the line "and he ate the damned gum ball". He said this was never released on record and only heard on the "Dr. Dimento" radio program. The lyrics were really a riot, believe me!
Dave ended his entertaining presentation with another Country and Western recording, "The Pinball Blues" which contained pin sound effects and yodeling, as well as good lyrics containing the line "I've got the pinball blues and I can't save a dime".
THE ART OF GEORGE MOLENTIN
Rob Berk next introduced our old friends Steve Young and Gordon Hasse who have been the "champions" of the late Forties and Fifties woodrail pins at all the past Expo's. Steve started off by saying that he would be sharing with us, by means of color slides, the pingame collection he shares with his old friend John Fetterman. He went on to say that this was probably the largest collection of George Molentin artwork and Williams woodrails in the world! He also remarked that he and Gordon had presented examples of Roy Parker's artwork at a past Expo and thought it only fair to provide "equal time" to the other pinball art great, George Molentin.
Gordon Hasse then took over to tell us how George got his start in pinball art. He said the year was 1935 and George was working at another job when he was asked to go see Dave Rockola who needed some art work for a new game.
When Dave first set eyes on George he was not too impressed when he saw how young he was. But he told George he needed sketches by the next morning and George agreed to provide them. The next morning he showed Dave the sketches he had worked on until almost 2 AM. Mr. Rockola was so impressed that he bought George's art and immediately put it into production on his new game which was called GOLD RUSH. In fact, he paid George $25, which was $10 higher than what George was expecting.
George then started free-lancing at night, Gordon said, for both Rockola and Exhibit Supply. But finally he quit his other job and went to work full-time for Advertising Posters Co. which had been doing pinball art since 1932. George stayed with that company for 42 years!
The first glass to be shown was Williams' SUSPENSE from 1946. In this glass Gordon said, "George revealed his mastery of a whole host of artistic disciplines: perspective, anatomy, drama, light and shadow, and his extraordinary talents as a colorist".
Next the glass from Williams' 1951 game SHOO SHOO was shown and Gordon talked of the differences between George's women ("Molentin girls", as he called them) and those depicted by Roy Parker. He said George's women were "soft", were "ladies", and had "curves, but were still sophisticated". Parker he said, on the other hand, was "definitely a graduate of the pin-up school". Williams' LULU of 1954 was then shown which Gordon remarked must have been inspired by an "ice show" of some kind.
They next deviated for a few minutes from Williams games to George's work for other manufacturers. The glass from Chicago Coin's 1947 game BERMUDA (that company's first flipper game) was shown with Gordon remarking that that company had a series of games named after exotic places, including CATALINA, TRINIDAD, SHANGHAI, and TAHITI. He said that the young men who played these games probably never got to any of these romantic destinations, but at least they had enjoyed George's depictions of them on the glasses. Exhibit's MAM'SELLE, also from 1947, was next shown with Steve pointing out another "Molentin girl" on the banks of the seine, with the Eifel Tower in the background.
We were next treated to a series of glasses which George did for United Manufacturing, a company which Steve called "the 'world champ' of destination games". The first shown was OKLAHOMA from 1949 on which Gordon pointed out George's five "cowgirls", and even one cowboy.
Next we saw fabulous MANHATTAN. This glass Gordon called "one of the tastiest glasses in pinballdom", which he said "echoes the big budget musicals of Broadway and the Cinema". Gordon then told of United using the same "destination" names on a later series of "bingo pinballs" (made in the 1950's) that were used on amusement pins in the late Forties, for which George also did the artwork. He then remarked that those "bingos" were probably named after previous "novelty" games by United "in a conscious effort to further blur the distinction between amusement pinballs and bingo games". (Author's Note: This series of names was: RIO, HAVANA, MEXICO, HAWAII, NEVADA, SINGAPORE, TROPICANA, and MANHATTAN)
Steve then remarked that George was probably "the world's most prolific pinball artist" having done art work for every type of pinball game, including novelty, replay, one-ball, bingo. and even a few "arcade pieces".
Glasses for several other United "destination games" were then shown. First was NEVADA from 1947 which showed, Gordon remarked, "a custom car in a horse environment". This was followed by their 1948 game WISCONSIN showing a lake scene, Steve pointing out that that state has a lot of water indeed.
They then went back to Williams games, starting with their 1949 game BOSTON. After quoting from "The Midnight Ride Of Paul Revere", Steve talked about Williams' own line of "destination games", which he remarked were all named after cities and states in the U.S.A; places he said that were probably "good pinball territories". (Author's Note: these names included TENNESSEE, VIRGINIA, EL PASO, TUSCON, DALLAS, ST. LOUIS, MARYLAND, BOSTON, and GEORGIA - all made between 1948 and 1952)
Two games which were shown, CARAVAN (1952), and RAG MOP (1950), Gordon and Steve said had their names taken from popular songs of the era, with the backglass of the latter illustrating various dance steps popular at the time. When they showed us PETER PAN from 1955 Gordon pointed out that this was probably inspired by the Disney animated feature. He called this scene a "mythical destination" (Never-Never Land), complete with mermaids.
"Thrills" were depicted in the games SCREMO (1954) and SPEEDWAY (1948). The backglass of SCREMO showed a famous roller- coaster (nicknamed "the bobs") at Chicago's famed Riverview Park amusement park. SPEEDWAY was inspired by the "hot rod" craze of the period. Gordon also mentioned that about the time that SPEEDWAY came out George himself invested in an actual speedway.
We were then shown CUE-TEE from 1954 which Steve remarked showed several "1950's sweater girls" along with boys which he said resembled the comic book characters "Archie" and "Jughead". Gordon later referred to these girls as "pool hustling honeys" and said the game was a "near copy" of Williams successful EIGHT BALL which came out two years earlier.
The next two games shown, 9 SISTERS (1953) and SUPER SCORE (1956) had one thing in common in their backglasses - a picture of Chicago's famous Wrigley Building, with SUPER SCORE (which Gordon said was one of George's personal favorites) also depicting the Williams factory. Steve speculated on who the three sets of 3 girls on 9 SISTERS might be, resulting in the theory that they could have represented three popular girl trios, the Andrews, McGuire, and Fontaine Sisters.
Next we were shown the glass from Williams' 1949 game FRESHIE. Steve said that this game came out "just in time to great some of the two million ex-servicemen who went to college on the G.I. Bill". He also mentioned the old Schwin bicycle shown in the picture. Finally he brought up the three sets of initials on the picket fence, enclosed in "lover's hearts". These were GH + AH, HW + KW, and SS + ES, standing for Gordon Horlock (Williams designer) and his wife, Harry Williams and his daughter "Kitchie" Williams, and Sam Stern and his wife "Ellie". Incidentally, I bought a FRESHIE glass many years ago, but found out about those "famous initials" while the glass was "in transit" to me.
We next saw SWEETHEART (1950) with it's beach scene with "pin-up" style girls. This was followed by PARATROOPER from 1952, which Gordon said could be "a 'hangover' from World War II, or possibly frustration with Korea". Next came SKYWAY (1954) which Steve said was George's "vision of the city of the future".
Next up was COLORS of 1954. Gordon pointed out that there was not a single man in sight on this glass (all women!). He then remarked about the large number of replays possible on this game (as evidenced by it's 3-digit replay counter) which could be obtained from it's unusual "match feature". Following this we were shown CONTROL TOWER (1951). Steve called our attention to the blaze of color in the sky, and the view of the Chicago skyline. Steve said this glass was one of his personal favorites.
The last glass shown by Steve and Gordon was DOMINO from 1952 which, we were told, was originally to be called "Mardi Gras", but that name could not be used since it had been used by Genco only a few years earlier. Instead, it was named after the "half-mask" (called a "domino") worn during that celebration. Steve also told us that this glass was one of George's personal favorites.
Following the art presentation Steve and Gordon talked briefly about the relationship between George and Roy Parker. They said the two met after the company Roy had been working for since the late 1930's (Reproductions, by name) burnt down for a second time and Advertising Posters agreed to hire all their staff. After that, they said, George and Roy became friends and had a great respect for each other's work. They also told us that George was a pallbearer at Roy's funeral.
Steve next remarked that George has said that the toughest job he ever had to do at Advertising Posters was to find a replacement for Roy after his death. Gordon then told us that George also said that his greatest challenges over the years were "to make all those identical one-balls look different", and "to find places for all those 'score numbers' on 'replay' and 'bingo' machines".
As a final salute to George's art, Gordon read a poem written by a young pinball player, Bill Harkins, over 38 years ago, extolling the virtues of Williams' 1950 pinball, PINKY. After that the audience gave a standing ovation for George and his work and Steve and Gordon's fine presentation.
Following that, Alvin Gottlieb came up to the stage and invited George to join him. Alvin began by saying it had been a real pleasure for him to work with both George and Roy Parker. He then remarked that they both had jobs which were almost "impossibilities". He then said that doing playfields was probably harder than backglasses because the artist had to fit the art around all the playfield components, and still display all the scoring features and their values. He said that it "was unbelievable the amount of work they had to put into their jobs".
Alvin then told us that George was "one of the nicest guys in the business to do this work". He went on to remark that "George was able to take a concept from a designer and put artwork in that exactly suited what we wanted to have". He then said that many artists over the years have tried to do pinball art, but "none of them ever matched the ability of George and Leroy to put into color and picture what the manufacturer's wanted". He then ended by thanking George for all his efforts over the years.
George then gave credit to his wife saying that she had spent many nights alone while he was working, sometimes putting in as much as 72 hours a week. He then thanked everybody, ending this fine presentation of George Molentin's fantastic talents.
NOSTALGIA-II; HARVEY HEISS
Next on the program was certainly one of my favorite pinball personalities, Mr. Harvey Heiss, with a presentation billed as "Nostalgia II". Harvey began by saying that he couldn't believe that people enjoy hearing him talk. He then said he worked for Genco from about 1930 until 1954 and that he was now 80 years old.
Harvey next asked for a show of hands of the "first timers" at this Expo, and was surprised by how many their were. He next told us that if we wanted his "complete story" we could put the video tapes of his past talks together with this one. Harvey then said he had lost his notes and Steve Kordek came up on stage to help him out.
Harvey told us that he started working with the Gensburg brothers (Lou, Dave, and Meyer), the founders of Genco, around 1930. He said at that time they were manufacturing small "Cracker Jack" prizes.
Harvey then said that early pingames were designed with what he referred to as "top plays", ie. special scoring objectives located near the top of the playfield. He went on to say that in those days they would first produce about 100 copies of a new game, try them out on location, and if they were "OK" go into full production. Steve Kordek then remarked that those early games had "exciting features" and that production runs were often between 30,000 and 50,000 games.
Steve next remarked that the early electrically operated games used battery power. Harvey then said that he had designed a battery operated game called "DING DONG" which he said was "20 years ahead of it's time". He said he used xylophone bars for sound effects in that game. (Author's Note: I can find no record of a game by that name in the Thirties, so it may have never been produced, or Harvey may have remembered the name wrong.)
Harvey then told of seeing the punch press that Williams used for locating screw holes on playfields, during the Williams plant tour two years ago. He said in the old days this task was performed manually by a man with a mallet. He told us the fellow who did that job at Genco was always "fooling around" and once pretended to hit another guy with his mallet. This, he said, caused one of the young girls working in the plant to faint. Harvey then remarked that he laughed when he saw the punch press operating at Williams because it was so "S-L-O-W". He said the presses that he used in the old days operated about 8 times faster.
Steve then told us about the time they got a brand new lathe at the plant and Harvey had to set it up. Harvey said that he left the lathe running and it started cutting off it's own threads on the spindle. By the time he noticed it, he said, "there was only one thread left" Harvey told us of him working all night to fix it before the bosses came in the next morning.
Steve then told us that Harvey was an expert "sailboater" in those days and that he even carried his 44 foot mast to work with him in his convertible so he could work on it at the plant. He then talked about the Gensburg brothers and how they had acquired a fortune in their lifetime. He said they bought several buildings in Chicago and later started the Rivera Hotel in Las Vegas. He said after that "Genco went down the drain".
Harvey then said that Steve first came to work at Genco in 1937, starting on the assembly line. He also told us that they bought all their coils from Mr. Murphy (Electrical Windings, Inc.) and that his wife delivered them herself. He then talked of Genco using "DC power" to operated all their coils because it was "easy to work with" and "caused coils to operate smoothly".
Steve and Harvey next talked about the Genco plant during World War II. They said Genco did sub-contracting work for Rawlins Electric, manufacturing a 150 foot antenna which contained seven insulators. They said they developed the assembly line process with a 150 foot long line. They told us that their final products were so "perfect" that the Rawlins engineers could not believe it!
Finally they told us about "two boys" (as they called them) "rebuilding" Genco games during the war. They said Roy Parker did the artwork and the games were sold for $150 each. At the conclusion of their talk Rob Berk came up on stage and reminded us that Harvey, with his "Baby In The Hole" prototype would be available later in the Exhibit Hall to answer any questions. ELECTRO-MECHANICAL AND SOLID-STATE GAME TROUBLESHOOTING
After an introduction by Rob Berk, Ed Schmidt, field service representative for Bally, and now the "Bally Division" (sic) of Williams, started off his presentation remarking that he too had left his notes. He told us that he had held that position at Bally for 20 years, and had been connected with the service aspects of both gambling and amusement machines. He said his job involved giving seminars and answering many service questions over the years.
The first subject Ed discussed was "soldering". He said soldering had two major purposes, providing a low resistance electrical connection, and keeping the wires from falling off whatever they were connected to. He said that soldering "bonds two metals together", and that this could only be properly accomplished by heating both metals uniformly.
He then recommended using a 60 watt soldering iron for working on electro-mechanical games, and a 15 watt iron for solid- state work. He said never use "acid core" solder, always "rosin core", since the rosin cleans the area of the connection. He also warned us not to jiggle the wire until the solder had completely cooled.
Ed next talked about the proverbial "cold solder joint". He said that that condition results when only one of the metals to be connected is heated. This, he went on, can cause a connection to fracture, resulting in intermittent problems in a game's operation.
He next told us that he really likes to talk to a group of people who really enjoy their games. Ed then began talking to us about the use of meters in game servicing. He said everyone should learn to use a meter, and that it helps if you first read the manual that comes with it (especially the section on "resistance reading" and the "safety warnings"). He then said if you still can't understand how to us it, to give him a call. He then told us that 90 percent of problems in a game can be solved using only a meter and a "jumper wire" (a piece of wire with a "clip lead" on each end, used to temporarily "bypass" certain parts of a circuit during troubleshooting).
Ed next talked briefly about "glass handling" saying that tempered glass, when it breaks, leaves small particles of glass all over the playfield. And these, if not removed, can ruin the field if a ball rolls over them. He reminded us to remove and replace the glass carefully and never set it down on a corner!
The very important subject of adjusting "switch contacts" on games was next discussed. Ed first reminded us to never use heavy pliers to adjust switch blades, but to use a points adjusting tool made especially for that purpose. He also said to never file the contacts, and for solid-state games to us a lint free business card to clean the points.
He went on to say that the two blades of a switch should always be parallel to each other, and when adjusting them to be careful not to bend or "kink" the blade. He next talked of adjusting the blades for proper "gap" and "follow-through", which he said should result in a "make-wipe, wipe-release" action between the mating contact points each time the switch is operated; this action, he said, tending to "clean" the contact points each time it occurs. (Author's Note: I believe this "self-cleaning" action of game switches may be responsible for the phenomenon I have noticed over the years - that a game seems to work better if played often, and tends to have problems after not being played for a long period, which tend to go away after it is played again.)
After relating a comical story about the time Bally artist Dave "Mad Dog" Christensen once threw a lighted firecracker over a partition at the plant, Ed began a "chalk talk" illustrating the operation of a typical relay "hold-on circuit" in a game (the relay being held on using a "score motor" switch) using the "Coin Relay" in an electro-mechanical pingame as an example. He then advised us to always "analyze the symptoms first" when attempting to troubleshoot any game problem!
Ed next gave us a useful hint regarding how to store electro- mechanical games when they are not to be used for awhile. He said that if all the "score reels" were set to all "1's" before storage, the tension which holds open the "open at zero" switches on the reels would be released thus decreasing the chances that these blades would loose some of their tension when the game is later set up. His final piece of advice regarding electro-mechanical games was to never use Vasiline, but only special "coin lube" made for lubricating games.
Ed ended his presentation with a few thoughts regarding solid-state games. He said that most problems reported for those games resulted from bad contacts and bad cables. He also reminded us to always remove the small batteries when storing this type of game, as they can leak and ruin delicate circuit boards. He then stated that the most reported problem for "digitals" is "the game won't power up".
Ed's last very important remark, which applies to both electro-mechanical and solid-state games, was "always replace bad fuses with the proper size fuse!"
A NEW MANUFACTURER
As I said earlier, in his opening remarks Rob promised us an "extra added attraction", a talk by a new game manufacturer. Well, this "new kid on the block" was a company called Allme Inc. and Rob introduced their director of public relations, a young lady named Anna Idol.
Ms. Idol began by saying that her company was a new company planning on producing both pinballs and video games. She then told us their slogan was "this game is so much fun, it's All Me". She went on to say that the company was "moving ahead fast using new ideas and business methods".
She then told us that they had gone out to game distributors asking them "what they wanted in games?", and then listened to their answers because they wanted to be "responsive" to the distributors wishes. She said some of the responses they received indicated that the distributors and operators wanted physically shorter games so more machines could be put in each location, and also open up some new locations which would not have accepted larger games. She also said that they wanted "long lasting cabinets" which were "convertible" to new games with only the "heads" and playfields needing to be replaced.
Ms. Idol then told us that the themes of their games would not contain "sex" or "violence", but would contain "educational" elements instead. She also said their games would be designed to be "fast, fun and exciting" and would not offend any group. Also, she went on, their games will be designed to be fun for people under 23, as well as older players.
Finally she told us about the first three pingames they had planned, which she said, would be out by January 1989. One game was to be called STOCK MARKET, and it's educational feature would be to teach people about the "stock market symbols". Another game, HERO, had as it's object "to save lives". The third game she told us about was to be called PIZZA DELIVERY, and would teach the players "the advantages of 'volume sales'". With that she ended her presentation by telling us if anyone wanted to get on their mailing list to give her their name and address. (Author's Note: It appears that Allme did not succeed with their plans because when I recently tried to telephone them to get more information on their new games I was told that their phone number was disconnected. So it looks like there will be no "new kid on the block" after all.
At the last Expo we had a "design seminar" during which veteran pingame designer Greg Kmiek outlined the basic elements of pingame design and then drew up a sketch of a game design by going around the audience asking each person what they wanted for different features. This year the chief designer from Data East Pinball, Joe Kaminkow, volunteered to hold a similar session, assisted by one of their other designers, Ed Cebulas (formerly of Game Plan) with even the company president, Gary Stern, participating in the festivities. Joe first introduced Ed and several visitors from their parent company, Data East of Japan.
Joe began by saying that the game we were going to design would be called "Time Machine" and would have a "mirrored backglass" and "chimes". He said this game was to be put out "not to threaten other manufacturers' pingames, but only other types of games, such as videos".
He next told us about his "three C's" of game design: "Candy" ("rush" at the start of the game), "Cartoons" (fast play), and "Comic Books" (big sell and lots of color). At that point Data East pinball president Gary Stern manned the blackboard to tally the audience's votes as Joe began questioning us as to our choices for the various features of the new game.
We were first asked to vote on the "theme" of the game with the theme of "Olympiad" winning by a large margin over other suggested themes of "Expo", "Sitcom", "comic book", "Skyway", and "desert". When asked to vote on which artist we wanted to do the artwork Dave Christensen won "hands down" even over the legendary Roy Parker.
Next we voted on the opening "skill shot", coming up with the "long jump" over such ideas as "shot put", Olympic flame lighting", and "loop-the-loop". For the pop bumper arrangement we chose the "three Olympic Medals", over "the 5 rings" and three bumpers with a fourth of the "disappearing" type.
For "eject holes" the "gobble hole" was chosen, and as far as "rollover lanes" were concerned we voted for 5 lanes corresponding to "five Olympic events". We were than asked to determine what type of "ramp" we wanted, it finally being decided to have one which "moved back and forth" (to the left to direct the ball into the "gobble holes", or to the right to guide it toward the pop bumpers).
The final game characteristics that we voted on (this is probably the only pingame ever designed by "popular vote") were a "vari-target" (which was to simulate "weight lifting"), a 3 ball "multi-ball" feature, and an "in-line drop target bank".
A "mock-up" on paper of our design was shown to us after we returned from the Williams plant tour. Joe then told us that at next year's Expo they would have a working prototype ("whitewood") of the game we designed for us to play. That ought to be a very interesting experience indeed!
WILLIAMS PLANT TOUR
This year, like two years ago, we visited the Williams pinball plant in the city. We rode on busses to the plant and gathered in the lunchroom area. Steve Kordek then introduced their Vice President of Manufacturing who told us that the game in production was BANZAI RUN, and that shuffle bowling games were no longer made there, but at another plant. We then went on the actual tour in small groups.
Our "group leader" was a young man named Bill Pfutzenreuter, who we were to find out more about at the lecture/discussion after the tour back at the hotel. He first told us that the cabinets were made outside the plant with everything being installed in the plant. He said that Williams' cabinets were made from plywood, but that Bally cabinets used "particle board".
We next went through the cabling area and then to a metal forming area. The punch press we saw, Bill said, was a "heavy duty" 95 ton model. Nearby was a huge 12 foot metal shear. After going by a small mechanical assembly area, Bill remarked that more and more mechanical parts are now being made of plastic.
After stopping shortly at a flipper assembly area, we went to the "building operations" area where welding was still performed manually. We then stopped at the large machine which marked the screw hole locations on the playfields. This was apparently the same machine that Harvey Heiss had talked about earlier that day which he said ran so S-L-O-W, compared to machines used in the "old days" at Genco.
We then went through the air conditioning room and into the final test area where the new games were tested. After that we walked through the packing area ending the tour.
Before leaving the plant we all again gathered in the lunchroom where the Vice President of Marketing thanked us for coming and said "we make the best pinball machines in the world". He then told us they had a production shift of about 250 people with an average of 20 years service at Williams. Finally he told us that they were "brainstorming" about laying out the plant to produce two pinballs at the same time.
WILLIAMS PANEL DISCUSSION
After returning to the hotel we all gathered in the lecture hall for a question and answer type panel discussion, with the panel consisting of a "Williams Pinball Design Team". Steve Kordek introduced his panel. First was game designer Barry Oursler with such games as CYCLONE and PINBOT to his credit. Next was Chris Granner a music and sound designer, who did both ROAD KINGS and PINBOT.
Steve then introduced Bill Pfutzenreuter (our "tour guide") who he said was the programmer group leader and had been responsible for that aspect of both CYCLONE and PINBOT. The last member of this team was Python Anghelo who was the artist and was also responsible for game "themes".
Steve said this group was a "Williams winning team" with only the mechanical designer missing. He then went on to say that this was just one of several "winning teams" at Williams, and that "team effort" was responsible for Williams' success.
He then briefly described how the contributions of the team members helped produce a great game. He said one of Bill's major contributions was the "percentaging" of special features such as "extra balls", "Specials", etc., a task which Steve remarked was very difficult to perform. He then went on to tell about their "consolation extra ball" feature which would award an extra ball to a player with an extremely low score.
Steve next asked Chris how he created his sound effects, with Chris replying that he "could not tell us" (I assume he was implying it was a "trade secret"). Steve then remarked that the mechanical designer was "the unsung hero" of the team. Finally, he told us that Barry was a young designer who started with Williams as a design engineer, giving us a list of Barry's impressive accomplishments to date.
At that point questions for the panel were invited from the floor. The first question, directed to Bill and Python, was "how does it feel to put out a great game?", the questioner then thanking them for the ones they had produced. Python attempted to answer this by telling us of his philosophy of game design. He said what he tries to produce is "an 'amusement park' in a box". He then told us he thought that the player should actually "feel he was 'involved' in the game", and that the game should be to him sort of a "mini utopia".
The next question was "how long does it take to produce a new game from start of design until it's 'out the door'?" The answer given was from 9 months to a year and a half. In answer to a later question regarding electro-mechanical games, Steve said these were sometimes created in as short as one month! To the question "have there been any 'problems' from Europe regarding the use of the 'hammer and sickle' on Williams' New game TAXI?", the answer was that they didn't know of any.
The panel was next asked "if there was any chance of a 'rerun' Of SWORDS OF FURY?", their answer being "we have enough new games coming along". To a question regarding the possible use of larger playfields in new games, the answer given was that BANZAI RUN has a larger playfield and they would see how this works out before deciding whether or not to do this on future games. Steve also pointed out that in that game they were also experimenting with a new idea of charging 50 cents for the first game, and 25 cents for each additional game.
A later question, also dealing with play pricing, had to do with possible future use of a $1 coin, or using Dollar Bill acceptors on games. Steve said that around 1940/41 they had tried to increase the price per play to 10 cents, but it failed. At that time, he went on, new games sold for only $100. He said that today the cost of a game is about 20 times as much and that the coin machine industry has been pushing for $1 coins for years, thinking about giving players 3 games for $1.
Steve was asked "who chooses the design teams?" He answered that the primary game designer is chosen first and the others are added later with the designer helping in the choices. Another question was "what can you do about 'great players' who can play a game 'forever' on one coin?" Steve replied that the "percentaging" programmed into today's games "defeats the 'super player'". (Author's Note: this sounds very much like a 'digital' version of the "Reflex Unit" used on bingo games in the 1950's.)
Two questions asked dealt with the recent acquisition of the Bally game line by Williams. It was asked "if the acquisition could result in the 're-introduction' of any previous Bally games?" Steve said that "the purpose of the acquisition was to bring Bally games up to 'Williams standards'". Steve was then asked "will the 'Bally' and 'Williams' lines be separate?" He answered by saying "we will use the best features of Williams games on the 'Bally line', and vice versa".
It was also asked "if there would ever be any more 'Add-A- Ball' games?" The answer given was that you essentially had this type of feature on their new games on which a player has the possibility of winning one or two 'extra balls' for each ball played.
A very interesting question was asked about the problem of interference of sounds between neighboring games in a location. Chris replied that they were investigating the idea of using headphones on games. He then discussed various aspects of the use of sound and music in games. He said some sounds were "interruptive" and others "in the background". Python then remarked that 'extra loud games' could tend to "drive players away".
Barry Oursler was asked "how do you see games evolving in the next 5 to 10 years?" He replied "no telling" and then went on to say that "he couldn't talk about new ideas." Steve Kordek then said that he feels that 10 years from now "you won't recognize pingames." He then went on to say that the new designers have new ideas all the time. Someone also asked "if there was any possibility of 'single player' games being produced again?" The reply to that was that "it costs just about as much as producing four player games, so why do it?"
Someone in the audience then commented that "new games are 'fast and fun', but often 'break' more easily". One of the panel replied that the problem was generally that of poor maintenance by the operator. Python then made a side comment that "games today have to be 'fast' to compete with videos, and that 'fast games' are more likely to 'self-destruct'".
Two question were asked regarding materials used in games. When asked if rubber rings today use the same material as in the "old days"?, Steve replied that the company who makes them tried a different material but it did not have "good bounce" so they went back to natural rubber. Someone also asked if they had ever thought of using any other material for balls. Steve mentioned that in the 1930's some games used "Catlin balls" (a ceramic like material), but they were not heavy enough.
The Williams panel discussion ended the "seminars" at this Expo. The rest of the "excitement" resulted from the banquet and Exhibit Hall festivities.
This year, as in the past, we had an excellent meal for the annual banquet. This time it was topped off by a scrumptious chocolate chip cheese cake.
The finals for the "Flip-out '88" pinball tournament this year were held preceding the quest speakers, rather than at the end of the evening. This tournament was again subdivided into two categories: the "manufacturers", and the players not associated with any game company.
The winner in the manufacturers category was Larry DeMar of Williams Electronics; the "civilian" winner was a young man named Corky Stacy. Afterwards, these two were pitted against each other, with Larry Demar taking the top honors. But, I doubt this hurt Corky too much as he had already won a brand new TAXI pinball machine for his efforts.
Next came the speakers. It had originally been planned for pinball writer/designer Roger Sharpe, who now works for Williams, to be the guest speaker; but, due to ill health, Roger was unable to attend the Expo. So in his place we had three separate talks provided by some great speakers.
First up were industry veterans Alvin Gottlieb and Steve Kordek to reminisce about some of the great people and "supporting companies" who have contributed to the success of the pinball industry over the years.
First to be mentioned was Dave Gottlieb himself, Alvin remarking that the company started as a "family business" in 1927. Designer Harry Mabs (inventor of the flipper) and ace designer Wayne Neyens were also hailed as Gottlieb veterans of the period after World War II. Steve and Alvin then paid a brief tribute to artist Roy Parker. They told of the fire at the company, Reproductions, where he worked in the 1930's which eventually was put out of business, and how Tommy Grant of Advertising Posters helped out, eventually hiring most of the people who had been put out of work.
They next mentioned several of the "support companies" who supplied materials to the game manufacturers. These included: Link-Smith Cabinet Co., American Molded Plastics, Dye Masters, Screw Machine Co., and Guardian Electric (whose products, they admitted, were later copied by the coin machine companies themselves). They also mentioned buying coils from Mr. O.R. Murphy's Electrical Windings Co., whose current President, Donal Murphy (O.R.'s son), was one of the exhibitors at this Expo. Also mentioned was ABT Manufacturing, and it's founder Walter Tratsch, who supplied most of the coin slides for games in the Thirties and Forties.
Steve then mentioned his ex-bosses, the Gensburg brothers (Lou, Meyer, and Dave) who founded Genco. He said Lou was still alive but implied he was "senile". Alvin remarked that Genco had provided competition to Gottlieb during the 1930's. They next brought up Dave Rockola, who they said was over 90 but still active in the business.
Alvin and Steve next paid tribute to the folks at Bally over the years. They mentioned that company's founder Ray Moloney, Paul Calimari (who was a guest at an earlier Expo) who they said had over 49 years in the industry, Herb Jones (Bally's long-time Advertising Manager), Don Hooker (bingo pinball designer and also a previous Expo speaker), and Bob Breither (who taught the Bally service schools and also talked at a previous Expo.). They then mentioned Bally game designer Jim Patla and his many contributions to Bally since the 1960's
The next people mentioned were pinball pioneer Harry Williams and his partner during the late 1940's and 1950's, Sam Stern. They also told of Harry and fellow designer Lyn Durrant forming the United Manufacturing Co. in the early Forties and Harry then leaving United to form his Williams Manufacturing in the middle of World War II.
They then mentioned other coin machine personalities of the 1930's including: Jimmy Johnson and his Western Products Co., Tom Wattling, J.H. Keeney, and O.D. Jennings. Following that they talked about those involved with coin machine trade publications including Jack Sloan of Billboard, and Bill Gersh of Automatic Age, who later started Cash Box, and then Marketplace.
Their final salute went to "the next generation" of pinball people, including Joe Kaminkow of Data East Pinball and Larry DeMar of Williams. Steve and Alvin ended their talk with this final comment, "games just didn't happen; people did it, who loved games as 'old friends'".
Next to the rostrum was Coin Slot's own Dick Bueschel to tell us about his series of pinball books; "Pinball 1" having been published just prior to the Expo. Dick began with a "pinball quote" from ira Wexler of Baltimore: "Buy it! even if you have to miss a car payment". The "it" being a pinball machine, of course.
Dick told us that the making of "Pinball 1" was a "12 year event", forecasting the release of "Pinball 2" as being about 2 years away. He then briefly described the format of the books. The first section of each book, he said, would be a "history section" with the history of a different period in each volume. Next will be the "list of games" made during that same period, which he remarked was the "hardest part" of his job. That would be followed by the game picture section which would contain games of all eras in each volume.
Dick then told us about some of the interviews he conducted while researching the first book. He said he interviewed an Eddie Gensberg and also his brother Morris. He said Eddie was a "marvelous gent" and that he conducted three interviews of about three hours each. He then told of talking with the son of a Jack Chizewer who once produced a game called ACES HIGH. He remarked that the man's son listened during the interview and had never before known anything of his Grandfather's accomplishments in the coin machine business.
Finally he told us about his interviewing Robert Froom the son of Earl Froom, one of the inventors of the pioneer pingame WHIFFLE. Dick said he found out about Robert as the result of a newspaper article in the Youngstown Ohio Vindicator, which also quoted an article about WHIFFLE which appeared in that same paper in 1931. He said that Mr. Froom wanted someday to produce a movie about WHIFFLE which he said would be "an American story of happiness and joy".
Dick next gave us a quick preview of "Pinball 2" which would cover "Ballyhoo to Rocket" and deals in depth with the lawsuits that plagued the industry in the early 1930's, which Dick said "could have stopped the industry". He then briefly summarized the "history sections" of the other eight volumes.
Dick next told us that "writing these books gives me something to live for". He then told us that he needs more game photos for the "games sections" of future volumes. He said of the 1000 games needed for all 10 volumes he currently has photos of 487, and therefore needs 513 more. He went on to say he would especially like "odd-ball things" such as games made by Harry Hoppe or Baker Novelty, and also more Gottlieb games made between 1934 and 1938.
After that he thanked the members of his "pricing panel" who helped him provide "value" figures for the games pictured in his books. He also thanked the industry people and the collectors for their support of his project.
Dick then asked the question "what happens now?" He said that Gary Flower and Bill Kurtz's new pinball book was "dynamite" and mentioned the proposal he made at last year's banquet, that of the formation of a "Pinball Hall Of Fame". Another possibility for the future he brought up was Canadian Wayne Morgan's idea of a "North American Pinball Association". Dick then ended his talk with the suggestion "read a good book about pinball".
The final speaker on the banquet agenda was pinball designer, and co-writer of the great book "All About Pinball", Mr. Steve Kirk. Steve began by thanking Rob Berk and Mike Pacak for inviting him to speak and remarked that he "had nothing prepared". He then said that people often ask him about his "background" and "experience" so he thought he would tell us "where he came from". He then quipped, "but I'm no Roger Sharpe!"
Steve told us that he was very independent and had a unique way of looking at things, which is sometimes quite different from others. He went on the say that he had a strong belief in how games should be designed, decorated, and marketed, and that he likes to take his games "from A to Z". He also told us that he always stands up for what he believes in as far as games are concerned.
Steve next talked at length about game "design philosophies". He said that over the years he has found that it is not good to try to use all your own ideas, but to absorb as many "outside ideas" as possible. He went on to say that his goals are simple, that is to "recreate the 'magic feeling' he experienced with games as he was growing up." He then told us that his "mentors" included such great designers as Wayne Neyens, Steve Kordek, and Harry Williams, also remarking that future pinball designers should be influenced by today's people.
He then talked of overall considerations designers must keep in mind when designing a new game. He said the most important design goal should be to design a game that is "most appropriate for the current market". He said that a game is not "good" or "bad" per se, but to be successful it must appeal to the "market" that exists at the time it's released. He then said that some designers, however, design for what they want to see themselves and hope others will like it.
Steve went on to say that "compromise" is necessary to fit the current market, a compromise between the highly skilled and the average player. The market, he remarked, is "fickle" and often changes even while a game is being designed. In the last four years, he went on, the "less skilled players" have dominated it, but that this seems to change over the years in a "cyclic" pattern between highly skilled and less skilled players. He said designing a game to fit the current market is a "massive trick", to guess "the right place at the right time". He said that it's somewhat analogous to the movie industry and that "just like in comedy, timing is everything".
Steve then began talking on a more personal note. He said he had a reputation for always telling people "what he thinks" and that his personal taste in games is very narrow and his ideas do not always indicate that a game will be successful in the marketplace. He went on to say that when people ask him "what he thinks of a certain game" he has to decide whether they mean his own likes or will it be commercially successful, and answer accordingly. He also told us that he won't reveal his all-time favorite games because he feels that if they were known he would have a hard time obtaining them at reasonable prices. He said when he finally gets them, then he'll let us know what they were.
Steve next said that people often ask him "how he gets his ideas for games?" He said that it has been his experience that "ideas are a dime a dozen" and coming up with new ideas is not the hard part. The hard part, he went on, is "getting the game out the door"; ie. designing it to be both manufacturable and cost effective to produce.
He then told us that the basic design can be accomplished in a very short time, citing his design for Stern's 1979 game STARS, which he said he designed in 15 minutes on a napkin in a restaurant. He then said that designing an electro-mechanical game in the old days was much simpler than a solid-state game today in which "percentaging" must be considered; that is, "programming" certain game features to fit the skill level of the players expected to play it.
Steve next started talking about his childhood experiences with pinball. He began by saying that he believed his philosophy today was "partially dictated by the environment in which he grew up", saying some of the things he did in his early years he's not particularly proud of today, but nevertheless he feels that they affected his current ways of thinking, emphasizing that his "background" was considerably different from that of others in the industry.
He then told us that he even built a pinball game in Jr.. high wood shop and then about buying his first real game. He first said that his parents never really liked him spending money on pinball because they believed that money was "wasted" if you did not get something "tangible" for it. He then quipped that "he could blame Gottlieb and Williams for totally corrupting his family life".
Steve then told us that he got his first game through a newspaper ad for a pinball machine for $25. He said he only had $5 at the time but called to see if the party would hold the game for him, and he agreed. He then asked his parents if they would let him buy a pinball if he had the money. He said they said "sure" believing that games were too expensive for him to afford. He told us he raised the money by buying ball point pens and reselling them "door-to-door".
He told us when he first got the machine he didn't even know how to open the cabinet. He said he had to "discover things the hard way". When a wire fell off, he went on, he had to figure out where it went by trial and error. He said that once he put a wire in the wrong place and the game did something entirely different and he discovered "you could 'reprogram' the little suckers". He then told us how he traded his first game for another game owned by his girlfriend's brother. He said each one knew that the other's game had certain things missing so they each removed additional items from their game before trading to try and compensate for this.
He then said that owning this second game taught him more about how the machines worked, and he told us that he later bought a "bingo pinball" just to learn how they worked, and really learned a lot from that.
Steve next told us some comical incidents that he was involved in with pinballs in a local bowling alley. He said he once noticed another kid using a coat hanger in a hole drilled into the side of a game, and after that, he said, "it was 'downhill' from that point on".
He then told us that when he was in the 7th grade he purchased a large magnet, using it to move the ball under the glass. He then said that the people who ran the bowling alley heard that kids were doing that and even staged a "line-up", using a compass to try and discover who had the magnet. This failed however since Steve had the magnet hidden in a locker in the building. This hiding place was later discovered, however, when the owner of the locker below threw his keys into his locker and they stuck to the top of it due to Steve's magnet in the locker above. Steve said after that he was "retired" from playing pinball in that establishment.
Steve then remarked that the crowd he hung around with in his younger days was "pretty intimidating". He said that if one of the games they used was not operating properly they would make it "off limits" to others until it was fixed, usually unplugging it. Once, he went on, when the management kept plugging one of these games back in, one of the boys shorted the power wires in the cord resulting in a "big flash" when someone tried to plug it in later.
Probably the most amusing story Steve told was about a game whose top glass had been broken. He said his friends carefully removed the broken glass, a piece at a time, so that the management wouldn't notice that it had been broken. After that, he told us, they next removed the balls and then started "stripping" the playfield of it's components until it was almost bare. He told us he never forgot the look on the repairman's face when he later came to fix that machine.
Steve next told us that their concern for having games operating properly was not all negative. He said sometimes they would use a "grease pencil" and list the problems a game had right on the glass which aided the repairman. He said he later got to know the repair people and that they had "respect for one another". He told us that he often tried to help fix the games and that one day the man asked for his opinion of a game for a factory "test report" he was filling out. Later, he said, the man had him fill out these reports himself. After that he told us he started corresponding with Gottlieb regarding their games.
As a result of his contacts with Gottlieb Steve said he later was given a job with the company, where he worked for 4 or 5 years. He said he was probably the first person to work for that company who had a "liberal attitude" which he said had it's "pluses" and "minuses". He told us that that type of attitude works against you when dealing with other people, but that still being a "child" gives one a "special insight" into games.
Later on he said he was in the arcade business for awhile and learned a lot about that side of the coin machine business. He told us that the location he had was in a rough area where "biker gangs" hung out. He said these guys would sometimes cut the bottoms out of games to get the money out, and even occasionally lit them on fire!
Steve then told us about writing his book, "All About Pinball", in association with a young lady, Bobbie Natkin. He said she wanted to be known as a writer and that he wanted to "show pinball as a positive thing". He said they did not have a word processor to help them in those days so they wrote each paragraph on a 3 by 5 inch file card.
Steve closed his talk by saying "I never tried to win any 'popularity contests' in this business, but tried to improve the thing I love most, pinball." He then apologized to anyone who might have been offended by him, and said "no personal malice was ever intended". He again thanked Rob Berk for inviting him to speak.
After those fine speakers, Rob Berk got up and presented various awards and certificates to all who participated in the Expo. After the awarding of door prizes, we were then invited to go to the Exhibit Hall which would be open most of the night, as long as Mike Pacak could "take it".
THE EXHIBIT HALL
This year, as in the past, the Exhibit Hall was the main congregating place for Expo visitors, despite the extremely high noise level from the solid-state games all going at once. All the major current manufacturers were there displaying their latest creations. Williams was showing their two latest, BANZAI RUN and TAXI, the latter being the tournament qualifying game, in addition to SWORDS OF FURY. Bally (recently combined with Williams) had on display (ESCAPE FROM THE) LOST WORLD and DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS. Premier exhibited their latest "Gottlieb" creations including EXCALIBUR and ROBO WAR. Data East Pinball was also there showing TIME MACHINE, TORPEDO, LASER WAR, and SECRET SERVICE.
We were also treated to a display of "classic" pins from the 1950's and 1960's owned by collector Bob Speiler. These games were all in near "mint" condition, and included (in chronological order):
GAME MFG. YEAR -------------------------------------------------- BANK-A-BALL Gottlieb 1950 HIT 'N RUN Gottlieb 1952 QUEEN OF HEARTS Gottlieb 1952 HARBOR LITES Gottlieb 1956 ROTO POOL Gottlieb 1958 SITTIN' PRETTY Gottlieb 1958 DARTS Williams 1960 FLIPPER (AAB) Gottlieb 1960 OLYMPICS Gottlieb 1962 SLICK CHICK Gottlieb 1963 GIGI Gottlieb 1964 BANK-A-BALL Gottlieb 1965 BUCKAROO Gottlieb 1965 KINGS AND QUEENS Gottlieb 1965 SKYLINE Gottlieb 1965 DIAMOND JACK (AAB) Gottlieb 1967 SING ALONG Gottlieb 1967 GRANADA (AAB) Williams 1972
Many thanks to Bob for letting us see and play these wonderful pingames!
There were also plenty of great old games for sale this year. Dennis Dodel from St. Louis, publisher of the great pinball-only newsletter, Pinball Trader, had some nice games for sale, including bingos, a 1-ball, and an excellent HUMPTY DUMPTY. Donal Murphy of Chicago had his usual selection of fine 1960's games, including mostly "Add-A-Balls". Pat Hamlett, also of the Chicago area, had a nice selections of games, as did another local area dealer, Rick Diamond.
The following is a list of the games available for sale, also in chronological order:
GAME MANUFACTURER YEAR ------------------------------------------------- SPORTSMAN Jennings 1934 CHAMPION Bally 1939 HIGH DIVE Gottlieb 1941 VICTORY SPECIAL (1-BALL) Bally 1945 SUPER SCORE (Repl. Glass) Chicago Coin 1946 GOLD BALL Chicago Coin 1947 HUMPTY DUMPTY Gottlieb 1947 ROCKET Bally 1947 BANJO Exhibit 1948 MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL United 1948 DUDE RANCH (BINGO) Bally 1953 MANHATTAN (BINGO) United 1955 SQUARE HEAD (AAB) Gottlieb 1963 SWEET HEARTS Gottlieb 1963 COW POKE (AAB) Gottlieb 1965 FLIPPER POOL (AAB) Gottlieb 1965 FULL HOUSE (AAB) Williams 1966 HULA HULA Chicago Coin 1966 HURDY GURDY (AAB) Gottlieb 1966 DAFFIE Williams 1968 HEARTS AND SPADES (AAB) Gottlieb 1969 MINI CYCLE Gottlieb 1970 SEE-SAW Bally 1970 EXTRA INNING Gottlieb 1971 GRAND SLAM Gottlieb 1972 NIP-IT (In Crate) Bally 1973 CLEOPATRA Gottlieb 1977 EVIL KNEIVEL Bally 1977 MATI HARI Bally 1977 UNIVERSE Zaccaria 1977 FLASH Williams 1978 DOLLY PARTON Bally 1979 DRACULA Stern 1979 GORGAR Williams 1979 HERCULES Atari 1979 XENON Bally 1980 FIREPOWER Williams 1984 F-14 TOMCAT Williams 1988 CENTAUR Bally 198? DRAGONFEST Stern 198? TIME WARP Williams 198?
Also on display again this year was Harvey Heiss' Prototype "roll down" game, BABY IN THE HOLE, the idea for the scoring for which he got from a field game he played as a child in the early 1900's. Harvey was there with it a good part of the time chatting with people, telling them about the game, and even keeping score for those who wanted to play a game on it.
As I said at the start of this article, there were also two new pinball books introduced at the show. Gary flower was there from England displaying and taking orders for his fantastic new color pinball book, "Pinball - The Lure Of The Silver Ball", which he co-authored with Bill Kurtz from Ohio. Dennis Dodel also had available for sale for the first time yours truly's new book "Pinball Troubleshooting Guide".
And last, but certainly not least, was the booth operated by Expo co-producer (and Exhibit Hall Chairman) Mike Pacak. As he has done at all the past Expos, Mike brought his entire pinball brochure collection (probably the best in the world), many of which were on display in large binders for all to look through. What an exciting opportunity, as evidenced by the fact that you had to wait in line almost anytime to look at these treasures. Mike, of course, was also selling duplicates and did a "land office business". I, for one, would like to give "THREE CHEERS" to Mike for doing such a wonderful thing for all the pinball enthusiasts at these shows.
WHAT ABOUT THIS YEAR?
In a recent phone conversation with Expo producer Rob Berk, I learned that another great Expo will be held this year. "Pinball Expo '89" will again be held at the Ramada/O'Hare (with it's nearby diner) on September 29 and 30. The Premier Technology pinball plant will be toured, and Gary Stern, President of Data East Pinball, will be the featured speaker at the annual banquet.
A real treat will be in store for those who attend as Joe Kaminkow of Data East and Larry DeMar of Williams have promised to produce an actual working (and scoring) model of Harvey Heiss' now famous BABY IN THE HOLE. Rob also told me that Harvey will be there again as he just can't miss the opportunity to see this.
So folks, it looks like another good time will again be had by all "friends of the silver ball" who are fortunate enough to attend this annual "tradition". Hope to see you there!
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