PINBALL EXPO '89
- My wife comes along -
By Russ Jensen
Photos by Sam Harvey
Well, for the fifth year in a row the fabulous Pinball Expo was held in Chicago. This time, prior to going to the show, two things happened. The first was that by coincidence the dates of the Expo (Sept. 29 and 30) and the weekend of California's coin machine show, the Loose Change Fun Fair, occurred on the same weekend! Well, I had to make a decision as to which show to attend, but since the Expo was "all pinball" and the Fun Fair wasn't, the Expo of course won out.
The second thing was that I decided to see if this year my wife Jan would come with me to see what I have been doing one weekend a year for the past four years. I knew she would not fly (Yes Dave Haynes, another "sky chicken") so I proposed to her that we take the train and make a "mini-vacation" out of the trip. I was pleasantly surprised when she agreed and subsequently made reservations on AMTRAK.
We left Los Angeles on Tuesday evening and arrived in downtown Chicago Thursday afternoon. The trip was enjoyable, especially the wide variety of people we met during meals in the diner. After arriving in Chicago, we took the subway/elevated train to O'Hare Airport where we were picked up by the hotel limo. That trip was also interesting, especially passing through some old Chicago neighborhoods, which looked to me like they had not changed at all since I was a small child there over 45 years ago.
After checking into the Ramada O'Hare Hotel, the site of the Expo for the second year in a row, we had dinner and later went to the area outside the Exhibit Hall (no one could get into the hall until the next evening) to visit with other Expo attendees and await the show registration, which never occurred that evening at all. Anyway, I got to renew acquaintances with other collectors, introducing them to my wife. We also made a new friend, a young woman who really enjoyed playing pinball, with whom we visited with several times during the show.
After finally getting our registration packets the next morning, we gathered in the lecture hall for the start of the day's activities. Expo Chairman Rob Berk began by remarking that this year the Expo had it's largest turnout to date. He next told us that, in addition to the events shown on the published program, there would also be three talks on Saturday morning.
Rob then reminded us that the bus for the tour of the Premier pinball plant would leave promptly at 12:45, and that people from other companies could not attend. Rob next told us that this year there would be two exhibit rooms; the regular exhibit area and a second room containing the tournament games (Premier's BONE CRUSHER) plus a collection of older classics brought to the show by Rob himself and Expo co-producer MIke Pacak.
After mentioning the raffle, which would be giving away a brand new Williams BLACK KNIGHT 2000, Rob introduced Exhibit Hall Chairman Mike Pacak. Mike first told us that the tournament qualifications must end promptly at 5 PM on Saturday. He then said that all were invited to play the games which he and Rob had brought, but asked that they be immediately notified if any game was mal-functioning.
Rob again got up and asked Steve Kordek and Harvey Heiss to come up. He then asked them if there were any other ex-Genco employees still around? They replied they only knew of one, Larry Spallita. At that point Rob surprised them by bringing Larry out of the audience. Steve and Harvey said they last saw Larry about 25 years earlier. They then said that Larry was 76, Steve 78, and Harvey 82 "years young". Finally Harvey said that Larry ran the punch press department at Genco beginning in the 1930's.
BEHIND THE SCENES AT SUN PROCESS
The first scheduled talk was by two representatives of a company calling itself Sun Process, which produced artwork for the games industry. Rob introduced the speakers Ron Baum and Don Jarovsky, who used to work for Advertising Posters, the long-time coin machine art company which had been producing pinball art since the 1930's.
The Sun representatives first told us that the company had been in business for 18 years, and had been involved with pinballs and video games for about 8 to 10 years. He said they were going to present an "informal presentation" followed by a question and answer session. He then said that Sun also dealt with other industries, such as automotive and appliances.
They then started to describe what their company did for the pinball industry. They said that they printed directly onto materials and then cut them out. Sun printed the artwork on playfields and backglasses, they said, and also made decals and playfield plastic parts. They next showed us samples of their work. It was pointed out that they could also bend plastic parts and showed us as an example some playfield parts they had produced for the recent pingame POLICE FORCE.
The printing process was then further described. They pointed out that each color required a "separate pass" using a nylon screen, a sample of which they showed. They went on to say that the making of the screen was a photographic process, with the emulsion being washed off in areas where the color should go through. They said the screen was placed on the material onto which the printing was to be made and a squeegee used to roll the ink on.
The plastic parts they said were printed on long sheets of plastic, and then the individual parts were die cut so that they could later be separated at the game manufacturer's plant. The die they used they said was somewhat like a "cookie cutter". They then told us that a 100 ton press was used in that process.
The Sun representatives next talked about the two major methods used to produce backglass art. The "conventional" method they said was "line art" which employed 13 or 14 colors. The other method, the "4 color process", they said used only blue, red, yellow, and black dots, with either white or silver opaque used on the back in areas where light was not supposed to show through.
They next talked of "screen printing" versus "offset printing". They said that offset printing was cheaper to use when large quantities of a glass are going to be produced. They went on to say that if a company is not sure how well a new game will sell they will order a smaller number of screen printed glasses. Finally the speakers told us that "color proofs" were often used to check each color pass. They also remarked that today more modern techniques, such as ultra-violet drying, are employed to improve the process.
The Sun representatives then invited questions from the audience. The first question was "is there any special order that the colors are put on? The Sun people answered that it depended on how the final product was to come out, and that it was different for decals, adding that the whole thing was "very technical".
Several questions were asked regarding the "environmental controls" required in their production facility. They answered that the right environment was required and that their buildings were temperature and humidity controlled using what they called "air make-up systems". They went on to say that moisture could cause the materials on which they printed to either shrink or grow, affecting the "registration" of the printed pattern. When asked about getting rid of fumes, they replied that their ventilation system was very complicated and automatically "measured" the air in the plant, and would at certain times "replace" the air in the building with outside air.
As a side comment one of the Sun people told us that the playfields were produced at a wood-working facility, but that Sun did sanding, sealing, printing, and final application of a "hard coat" utilizing a "computerized" spray booth. They also showed us a glass they were making for a new Williams shuffle alley. They remarked that preparing a new backglass requires "experimenting" to determine the best method of producing the artwork. Changes are made to improve "back lighting", etc. Colors are also sometimes changed, they said, to blend better with other colors on the glass.
The question was next asked "who decides on changes?" Steve Kordek from Williams answered saying that the game manufacturers' Art and Sales Departments were usually involved, with Sales often making recommendations to the Art Department. When asked how "mirroring" of backglasses was done, the Sun people replied that the glass is first entirely mirrored, then the area which is to be mirrored on the final glass is covered with "resist" on the back of the glass, and the mirroring of the other areas is washed away, using a similar method to that used to produce printing screens.
A question was then asked regarding "surface preparation" of glass. Sun replied that they used "washing machines" to clean the glass and then put either powder or paper between them to keep them from scratching each other. After each printing pass, they said, the dust and lint was removed. When asked if static electricity caused problems, they replied that it could and that static elimination devices were used.
Rob Berk next "asked if the companies kept files of old artwork?" Sun replied that the screens were kept for a short period, but they said that the "original art" was retained by the game manufacturers. The final question asked of the Sun people was what can us collectors do to help preserve our backglasses? They suggested that we keep them in a low humidity environment and possibly put some type of material on the back.
THE ROMANCE OF WHIFFLE
Rob Berk introduced the next speaker, Mr. Bob Froom from Youngstown, OH, whose father was the inventor of the pioneer pingame called WHIFFLE. Rob said he first heard about Mr. Froom when an article appeared in the Youngstown Vindicator, on November 25 1981, containing an interview with Bob regarding his father and WHIFFLE. Rob immediately called Bob, he said, and they talked about his father's involvement with pingames.
Mr. Froom began by telling us that he had been talking with Dick Bueschel for several years and that he thought Dick's book, Pinball I, probably contained the most accurate history of pinball's early days. He then told us that he first attended a coin machine show with his father in 1936.
Bob next introduced his wife whom he said had "lived with the story of WHIFFLE". He then mentioned the fact that both of his daughters now have WHIFFLE's, his one son-in-law buying one at the Expo.
Mr. Froom then began relating to us the "history" of his father's involvement with WHIFFLE. He started by saying that his father was Earl W. Froom, and that the story of his problems with pinball could not have been easily told since no one would believe it! He then said that his father invented the original "pinball machine", but not the "Swedish Bagatelle" game.
He next said that over 50 years after the invention of WHIFFLE the article about it appeared in the Youngstown paper. In Bob's interview in that article he said he mentioned the fact that he was looking for an old advertising film for WHIFFLE which his father had made. He said after the article appeared in the paper he got a phone call from a man who had the film and had been trying to sell it at Swap Meets for $1.00. This man told Bob he could have it! Needless to say, Bob was thrilled! He said that the film was 57 years old, was quite accurate, and was used for "promotion" of the game.
Bob next told us that he remembers WHIFFLE quite will. He said that in 1930 there was a great depression in the country, and that Youngstown was in the midst of economic disaster due primarily to the closing of the local steel mills. He said they even had "bread lines" in town. He then went on to talk of his father's situation at the time. He said his dad was a radio salesman and made $120 a month. He also said his father had a Ford automobile and a nice rented home.
Bob then told of the beginnings of WHIFFLE. He said his father's friend Bob Parks was a druggist, and his other friend Art Paulin, a carpenter. He said Paulin built a small bagatelle type game for his daughter and brought it to the drugstore and set in on the counter to show to his friends.
He then said that the story goes that his dad put a penny in a coin- op cigar lighter, which was on the same counter, and was in the form of a miniature gasoline pump. (Bob had mentioned earlier though that he never remembered ever seeming his father smoke!) Anyway, he said that this all of a sudden gave his father the idea of adding a coin mechanism to Paulin's game. He then remarked that Paulin's little girl never got the game!
Bob next said that his father brought the game home with him and from it created what he referred to as "Old Jenny", the original prototype of WHIFFLE. He said it was glass covered, had a sloping playfield, a sliding panel to drop the balls at the start of a game, and a plunger. He went on to say that the game used 9 white marbles, plus a red one which counted double.
Bob told us that when his father was finished with his prototype, he took it to Paulin's Drug Store and watched as people put in nickels to play the game. He said the game took in 52 nickels during this trial run. He also mentioned that his dad saw a kid cheat the coin mechanism in some way, but that he later corrected the problem which allowed him to do it.
As a result of this trial run he said his dad started thinking about how much money a game like that could take in during those depression days, calculating it to be approximately $8 per day. After that he said his father, Mr. Parks, and Mr. Paulin decided to become partners and start by building 10 games at first. He said each of the three men contributed $300 to the partnership, his father borrowing the money he contributed.
Bob said that "Old Jenny" made between 50 and 100 dollars per week on location and therefore many people wanted to buy them outright. But, he said, the games were sold to operators on a "lease basis" only. He went on to say that they couldn't build the machines fast enough to keep up with the demand, saying that they built 27,000 games in one year. He remarked that all these games brought in a "tidal wave of nickels". He also told us that his father even travelled by air selling exclusive operating territories for WHIFFLE.
Bob then told us about his father and his partners building a factory in Youngstown. He said that 300 people worked on it completing it in 14 days. After it was finished, he said, over 1000 people showed up seeking jobs. After they really got going, he remarked, production was increased to 100 games per day, but that was still not enough! He said they also opened a factory in Canada, but still couldn't keep up with the demand. Finally he told us that friends started making games for them (88 friends and neighbors in all) who they referred to as "Seller - Carpenters".
Mr. Froom next told us of the problems they had with others coping the game which he said was easy to copy. He said the Chicago game manufacturers began producing copies of the game, and that the "generic name" for these machines eventually became "pinball games". He said that one company in North Carolina actually started copying WHIFFLE, and even went so far as to put his father's company's name, Automatic Industries, on them.
Bob next told of racketeers getting involved with the games business and that they would often smash up other operator's games on location and put their own games in their place. He said that because of this type of problem many places tried to pass laws banning pinball games which often resulted in court decisions against the games business.
He then told us of his father going to court to try to stop others from infringing on Automatic Industries' patents. He said this court battle lasted for many years and that in 1937 a Federal Judge ruled that their patents were "only 'improvements' and not an invention"; a bitter defeat for his father after all those years. He went on to say that the Supreme Court never reviewed that decision.
Bob ended his talk by suggesting to us that we all go out and buy a WHIFFLE for our collections, and that we also buy a copy of Dick Bueschel's book. He then said that he had written Dick a note after reading his book saying "dad would have been pleased".
To end his presentation Bob showed a video tape of the 57 year old advertising film titled "The Romance of Whiffle", his father had made. Being that it was shown on a TV Monitor, and that I, with my rather poor eyesight, was seated across the room, I could not see much of the film except that it was "silent" with "subtitles" with music added to the video. The film showed scenes in the factory, etc, but I really can't report on its content. Anyway, I'm sure it was quite interesting. Incidentally, I talked to Mr. Froom on the phone in December and he told me he was thinking of selling copies of the video, with several enhancements, sometime in the future.
"TODAY AND TOMORROW" PANEL DISCUSSION
Next on the agenda was a panel discussion dubbed "Today and Tomorrow" featuring editors of various coin machine publications and a special guest panelist, Mr. Clyde Knupp, the current President of the Amusement Machine Operators of America (AMOA). The other panelists included Jim Haley of Canadian CASH BOX magazine, Valerie Cognevich of PLAYMETER, Lou Perfido from VENDING TIMES, and our own Dick Bueschel from COIN SLOT. Also sitting in was Roger Sharpe, pinball author and past editor of several magazines, and now an executive in the marketing and publicity end of Williams.
Clyde Knupp opened by saying that when he was invited to the Expo he really didn't know what to expect. He then asked for a show of hands from the audience asking how many of us were operators, enthusiasts, or factory people. He told us that AMOA started out many years ago as MOA (Music Operators of America) as operators banding together to help solve problems in the Juke Box business.
Finally, Clyde told us that his organization had a goal of a membership of 2000 operators by the end of 1989. He also said that their Board of Directors had authorized expenditures to promote pinball. He then said that he brought with him an old pingame which was made in the early days in his home town of Omaha.
Jim Hayley spoke up to say that in Canada the pinball business is "strengthening" with operators starting to buy more pins.
Valerie then said that there was one important thing that most operators tended to overlook about pinballs. She said that when videos came in they required more maintenance than pingames, and that operators are just now beginning to appreciate the lower maintenance required of pins. She also remarked that when she talked to pinball players they said that they felt that pinballs were more "real" and that they had more "control" over them than with video games.
Lou next told us that he has been playing pinball in Philadelphia for years (since the age of 5). He then said that he thought the Expo was "wonderful" because it combined the old with the new. He then remarked that he had once beaten Roger Sharpe in a game of pinball. Finally he remarked that games should be properly maintained to attract players.
Next to speak was Dick Bueschel who began by saying that Dave Gottlieb once said that pinball was "an All-American game". He went on to say that it is infinitely harder today for pingames to get "good press". He said it was time for that to happen and that pinball needs attention from the media. He ended by saying that the pinball industry should have "a soft lobby in Washington" and that maybe in the future a commemorative stamp would be in order celebrating the 50th anniversary of the flipper.
Clyde Knupp answered by saying that in getting good publicity for pinball "timing is critical", remarking that it takes 5 to 10 years "lead time" to get out a postage stamp. He went on to say that the enthusiasts can help bring it all about by working together, and then remarked that Roger Sharpe is involved with AMOA in a promotion for pinball. Roger then spoke up to mention that for the first time in years a pingame won an award at the AMOA show.
At that point Expo Chairman Rob Berk asked the panel for their opinion on 50 cent play for pinball.
Clyde began by saying that the price per game has to go up so that the operators can get a fair return on their investment in the equipment, saying it takes a lot longer now for a game to pay for itself than it did in the 1930's. He then said that it costs a lot nowadays to "develop" a new game and that's why they cost more. He ended by saying that either 50 cents or 3 games for $1 play is coming.
Jim then told us that Canada recently introduced a $1 coin (which has the nickname "loony" because it depicts a loon bird) and said that in order to insure that the coins will be used the dollar bill was subsequently withdrawn. He said the public is accepting this fairly well. He then said that the coin machine operators put decals on their games saying "Accepts 'Loons' Only" and gave the players 3 plays for $1 which he said has met with little resistance from them.
Valerie next pointed out that operators have always had problems raising prices due to coin denominations. She then told us of an operator who used to hate pins, who got a new Williams CYCLONE with a dollar bill acceptor. She said he asked a location if they would try it out and they agreed. She then said that that made collections go up and now he is "gung-ho" for pinballs. She went on to say "you'll have to try it".
She next told us that coin-op pool tables are 50 cents to play and that the dollar bill acceptor, and 3 for $1 play for pins, should be coming. She then remarked that the coin machine industry is lobbying for a $1 coin, but that for that to work the dollar bill would probably have to be withdrawn. She talked of a proposed "Christopher Columbus Dollar" which would be larger than the old "Susan B. Anthony Dollar" and which she said other organizations also wanted.
Lou then said that he agreed that a dollar coin would have to come eventually, but that they would have to be larger than a Quarter. However, he said, there is a lot of politics involved in getting a new coin produced. He then remarked that today cigarettes cost about $2, chewing gum 55 cents, etc, and that it was only fair to charge more for pinball play, especially in view of the new technology involved. Besides, he quipped, "good players get free games anyway".
Sam Harvey from the audience next brought up the problem of poor maintenance of games on location, and how that could have an effect on increasing play prices. He compared paying a high price to play a poorly maintained game to buying a pack of cigarettes with one or two cigarettes missing some of it's tobacco. He said that if operators kept their games up properly players would probably be more willing to pay more to play them. This drew a round of applause from the audience.
Someone else from the audience then asked Clyde Knupp if the question of properly maintaining games was ever brought up at AMOA? Clyde said that was a good point. He said the problem was getting the operators' employees to "care" about the games they service. He then said that education of operators is needed to get the maintenance situation to improve, saying "we all have to work harder".
Another question from the audience was "what about giving the player 5 balls for 50 cents?" Roger Sharpe answered that that would make the "game time" too long which would result in lower earnings for the operators. He went on to say that most designers today are used to designing "3 ball games", and that the percentaging for a "5 ball game" would be entirely different and difficult for the current factory people to change.
A young woman player from the audience then remarked that the panel was primarily addressing the people in the room, and asked "what about kids who can't afford to pay higher prices to play pinball?"
Clyde Knupp answered by saying that pinball today is competing with home video games (Nintendo, etc) and that this type of home game is expensive. He said that if kids could afford these expensive home games why couldn't they afford to pay higher prices to play pins? He then remarked that some of the older games kept on location could possibly be set for 25 cent play until they were replaced with new machines.
Steve Kordek then remarked that people were paying 25 cents years ago to play games that cost $600 to $800 to buy. He said it's ridiculous that today you can play games for the same price that cost several times that much to buy.
The daughter of long-time Philadelphia coin machine operator Stan Harris then said that they would like to raise play prices but were reluctant to be the first to do it. She then said that they really didn't want to take the "flack" from players for the price increase, and suggested that maybe the manufacturers take the first step by changing the "coinage" of their games. Steve Kordek of Williams then spoke up to say that all of their new games are set up for 1 play for 50 cents, 2 plays for 75, and 3 plays for $1.00.
A gentleman from Texas next commented that in the 1940's pinball and Cokes both cost a nickel, and today pinball is 25 cents, but Cokes are up to 60 cents. Roger Sharpe commented that in Japan and Europe games cost generally between 60 and 90 cents per play.
Dick Bueschel then made a comment regarding the previous pricing discussion. He said that the games business is a "four cornered thing". The "maker" who knows the games, the "distributor" and the "operator" who know a lot about the games, and the "location" who knows "diddly" about the games. He then remarked that it's ridiculous that we worry what the location says regarding pricing for playing the game.
Dick then remarked that "if it is a good game it doesn't matter what it costs!", and then pointed out that movies today are $5.00. Lou Perfidio quickly noted that movies are $7.50 some places.
Someone from the audience then remarked that maybe new games should come out with "preventive maintenance" tips (such as "time to replace lamps", etc) being flashed on the displays. Larry DeMar from Williams answered by saying that operators would probably be more interested in inhibiting these messages than heeding them!
As a final comment, pioneer pingame designer Wayne Neyens remarked that the play time of today's games is really too long. He suggested that possibly designers should decrease the play time rather than increase the price per play.
PINBALL MECHANICS AND RESTORATION
Next up was Expo regular Steve Young to talk on the subject of pinball repair and reconditioning problems. Before starting on his topic however he made a remark regarding the subject of pinball pricing which had just been discussed, saying "why don't they charge 10 cents for 1 ball, and allow the player to buy more balls if he desires?"
Before describing the various subjects presented by Steve, I would like to remark on the overall quality of his presentation. Steve utilized some excellent slides which he produced from illustrations from game manufacturers' manuals and parts catalogs. These Steve skillfully enhanced by coloring in key portions of many of the drawings, which added significantly to understanding the topics he discussed.
Also before I start describing the subjects covered, I would like to point out the this discussion only "scratches the surface" of Steve's in- depth presentation, as to describe it fully would take a book I am sure.
Steve first remarked that as old people retire from the pinball business much of their expertise will go with them. He said that mechanical repairs will always be required on games and that he was going to present us with some "tricks of the trade". He then remarked that he often repaired games "over the phone". At one point Steve said that he was considering writing a book on the subject. I, for one, sure hope that he will because, as far as I am aware, the subject of mechanical repair and adjustment of pinball mechanisms has never been covered in print before, except maybe superficially.
Steve said the items he would talk about he called "heavy hitters" and are items which are often overlooked when people work on pingames.
The first trouble-prone area he mentioned was "fuse holders". He said that proper spring tension between the fuse clips was essential, as well as correcting the problem of dirty or broken clips.
He next briefly talked about transformers, saying that they very seldom ever go bad. He then said the most annoying problems with them is that they sometimes "buzz", saying that often this can be cured by hitting the laminations with a hammer; not too hard of course.
Steve next discussed at length problems concerned with relays. He started with the very important subject of adjusting relay contacts for the proper "over-travel" required. He said always adjust the shorter blade and make sure that all contact sets on a relay meet at the same time and with the same pressure. He then suggested that you remove the playfield when attempting to adjust hard to get at relay points.
Steve next talked about relay armatures and their associated springs. He said that the armature and springs should always be as originally placed at the factory. He went on to say that in the case of "Interlock Relays" the balance of spring forces is critical and all contacts must be properly adjusted to maintain that balance. He then said that the point where the two armatures interact should be kept clean.
Steve then warned us against using our fingers to adjust relay contacts. He said that that tends to break or bend the contact blades. Well, I hate to admit it, but I've been using my fingers for that purpose ever I was a kid. But Steve is certainly right, it's really not an advisable way of performing that task. You should use special points adjusting tools or "needle nose" pliers.
As a final note regarding relays, Steve mentioned the "fast acting relays" used in many games from the late 1940's up until the early 1960's. These relays, he said, had screws which you loosen to move the long contact blades during adjustment, in addition to bending the tabs that hold the other contact point.
Steve next began talking about the various problems and repair techniques applicable to "Pop Bumpers". He began by saying that when working on these units you should first look for loose screws, excessive wear, and areas which require lubrication. After that he said you should replace any worn parts.
He then said to watch for the weld coming apart in the "lever" that moves the ball deflecting ring. Steve next talked of cleaning the switch activating "cup" on the bumper assembly, and then adjusting it for proper spring force as well as centering it. As a final note he told us that it is OK to file the points on the "bumper control relay" with a fine file if they become pitted.
Steve next tackled the extensive subject of flipper maintenance. As with pop bumpers, he said, the first thing to do is to check for loose parts and missing screws, as well as checking the nylon bushing which goes through the playfield. He then said to check for broken welds, which, he added, can be brazed if necessary.
Steve next told us that if the flipper rubs on the playfield surface it should be adjusted, and may require the addition of a washer. He then talked of the proper spring tension for the torsion spring around the shaft, saying one-half turn was sufficient. He told us that this should be adjusted with the flipper in it's "at rest" position.
Steve then talked about the flipper coil assembly, saying that it's coil stop should be checked for wear, especially on Gottlieb games. He then said that the coil plunger should have a 45 degree chamfer on it's end, and if that was worn off it should be replaced.
On the subject of flipper associated switches, he first told us that the End-Of-Stroke switch should be adjusted such that it opens only at the very end. Regarding the switches on the flipper buttons on the cabinet, he said you should check for contact points which are completely missing and replace either the points or the entire blade.
Steve next talked about the large Gottlieb flippers. He said to check for cracked flippers (you must remove the rubber first, though), and then pointed out that for some reason the right flipper usually goes first.
As a final note on flippers, Steve said that stuck flippers are usually caused by mechanical problems. Sometimes, he went on, the flipper button sticks due to "grundge" and should be cleaned.
Steve next digressed from maintenance for a few minutes to tell us how to modify pingames for "free-play" operation. On Gottlieb Add-A-Ball games, he said, you should wire the "brown" and "orange" wires together on the "Hold Relay". On replay machines he told us you can just bend the points on the replay credit unit so they are always closed.
Following that Steve started discussing stepping switches. He began by saying that when the "step-up coil" is energized, one full stroke of the plunger should advance the gear 1 and 1/2 teeth. If this is not right, he said, you should adjust the coil position by using the screw to loosen it. He then remarked that the "momentum" of the step-up arm should ring the associated bell, if there was one.
Regarding the wipers on steppers, Steve said that with the old style, which used "spring-loaded" contact points, worn points can cause excessive wear on the contact disk contacts. If these "rivets" are badly worn, he said, they can be replaced by drilling them out and replacing them with new rivets. To repair the spring-loaded contacts themselves, he went on, you can cut off the contact end of a good one and solder it to the old post, after the bad end is completely removed. To adjust the position of stepping switch wipers he said you should loosen the screws which hold the wiper assembly in position, move it to the proper position, and re-tighten the screws.
As to the springs associated with stepping switches, Steve said to always use the proper spring sizes. The torsion spring wound around the main shaft, he went on, should have 2 1/2 turns of tension on it when the unit is "reset". He then remarked that when a stepper is properly cleaned and adjusted (including proper torsion spring tension) that the "acid test" is that it will properly "reset" from it's first position above it's reset state.
As a final note on stepping switches, Steve mentioned the small stepping units used on many Gottlieb games in the 1970's. He said that in some of these games there was a sheet describing how to service these units. He then remarked that the major problem with these switches is adjusting the wiper to make proper contact with the circuit board contact area.
After finishing with stepping switches, Steve began the subject of maintenance of the mechanical scoring reels used on pingames in the 1960's and 1970's (and on multi-player games in the late 1950's). He began by telling us not to be afraid to take them apart as they were "keyed" so that you can put them back together properly.
He then said that you should first check the coil stop. He went on to say that these units should be adjusted with the reel in place, saying you should not be able to move the reel itself by hand when everything is properly adjusted. Steve then explained in detail how to take a score reel apart.
Regarding the score reels used on Williams games, Steve said they generally have two typical problems, both connected with the switch contact sets associated with the score reel unit. One problem he said is that the screws holding the switch stacks together often become loose. The other problem, he went on, is the wiring coming loose from the solder lugs.
Steve next talked about "Drop-Target" problems. As he had said regarding other mechanical units, screws becoming loose often cause problems. He then said that rubber grommets used with those targets many times deteriorate and need replacing. He then went into detail on methods of taking drop-target banks appart.
Regarding Bally target banks, he mentioned the common problem of one target falling immediately when a target bank is "reset", saying it was caused by wear of the unit. He then advised us to use a special type of Allen Wrench which applies extra torque when loosening certain screws on these units.
Steve then warned us not to stretch springs to try and make a drop- target unit work properly, but to properly clean and adjust the unit first. Finally he said you can replace broken targets by drilling out the rivet holding them in place, replacing the target face, and re-riveting.
On the subject of pinball "bells", Steve first reminded us that they "take a pounding". He then said you should first make sure everything is tight, and then look for broken brackets. As far as "chime unit" problems were concerned, he commented that Gottlieb used an adhesive-backed piece of rubber at the bottom of the plunger which often deteriorated and stuck to the sides of the plunger, causing it to jam.
Steve next discussed a problem frequently occurring with Gottlieb "ball return" mechanisms; namely that of the solenoid having to kick the ball several times before it gets kicked all the way to the plunger. He said that if the ball is too far down on it's support piece, too much energy is required to kick it all the way. The ball is then pushed up, hits the top of the tray, and then falls back to it's original position. He then remarked that the "out-hole switch" helps hold the ball up high enough, and therefore should be adjusted properly, which he said most often solves this pesky problem.
Steve once more digressed for a moment from repair problems to tell us of a simple way of improvising a "free-play button" on games, such as Add-A-Balls, which don't have one. He said to move the "slam tilt" switch on the front door such that the "coin return" button will operated it. This switch can then be wired across the coin-switch and used to start the game.
Steve ended his very informative discussion with a brief mention of a solid-state pinball problem. He said that the Bally "Solenoid Driver Board" often has damaged soldering at the bottom. He suggested that you should always inspect that board carefully, and "reflow" the solder if necessary.
PREMIER PLANT TOUR
The annual pinball plant tour this year, as it was at Pinball Expo '85, was at the Premier Technology (formerly Gottlieb) plant. After about a half hour bus ride to the factory, we all gathered in the employee "day room" where we were treated to free soda pop. We were told that we would be broken up into groups and that our tour guides would all be "old-time" Gottlieb employees who would try to answer any questions we might have. While in this room I noticed a "Pepsi vending machine" and thought to myself that sure wouldn't have been there when the Coca Cola Company owned Gottlieb a few years ago.
Well, our tour guide was Adolph Seitz, Premier's Vice President of Research and Development, who told us he started working for Gottlieb in 1966 when he was still in High School. He then told us a story about someone once offering to trade a "mint" Gottlieb HUMPTY DUMPTY (the first flipper pinball) to the company for one of their new games. He said that Alvin Gottlieb agreed to make the deal and that Gil Pollack, present owner of Premier, now owns that prize.
Our tour of the plant began at the "dock" area where shipping and receiving took place. There we saw some "cocktail table" pingames which Adolph said they had made for another company. Next we went through the "archive" area where older game schematics, score cards, etc., were kept. Adolph told us they kept parts for games made up to five years ago. We did notice a few schematics however as old as eleven years. They also had some of the photographic type backglasses stored there. We also saw an area where small parts were stored.
We next went by the entrance to the "secure area" where the game designers had their offices, but were not allowed to go in. During a brief pause in the tour Adolph was questioned regarding typical game production figures. He told us that they usually produced approximately 80 games per day, except at the start of production of a new model. He also told us that they have been coming out with four or five new games each year, adding that their usual production run for a game was 3 to 5 thousand machines. He also told us that they owned a small factory in Fargo North Dakota where all their cables were produced.
Adolph was also asked about their "test locations" for new games. He replied that most of their testing was done in the plant. However, he went on, we also have a few test locations across the country, but most of our testing is done "close to home". When asked about the overseas market, Adolph replied that was their largest market, adding that any language translation required was done by their overseas distributors. Before resuming our tour he told us that Premier would be releasing their first video game at a later date.
We next visited the printed circuit board preparation area. Adolph told us that there were usually 15 to 19 circuit boards in a game. We saw a special machine which automatically inserted small components in the boards. This machine could bend the leads on a part, insert it in the proper place on the board, and then bend the ends of the leads in preparation for soldering. Adolph remarked that some parts still had to be inserted manually however.
We next saw the "wave soldering" machine which applied solder to the boards and the washing and drying machine which cleaned the finished boards. Adolph told us that the washer used "dishwashing detergent". He then told us that after washing, each board went through a mechanical quality assurance test and then was fully tested electrically.
We then were taken to an area where completed playfields were thoroughly tested using a specially constructed electrical "test fixture". The young man operating this device actually used a steel ball to test the action of all playfield switches.
Our tour ended at the final assembly and completed game testing area. Adolph told us that everything about the finished game was checked there; mechanical, electrical, and physical. The current game in production, by the way, was BONE CRUSHER, which was the same game used for the Pinball Expo tournament qualifying rounds.
After the tour we boarded the busses and returned to the hotel for a quick "wrap-up" session presented by some of the Premier personnel. This was so short, in fact, that by the time I got back to the lecture hall it was all over! Sorry folks!
DESIGNING A PINBALL
After the Premier "wrap-up", four representatives of Data East Pinball began the second edition of their pinball design "audience participation" game. Rob Berk introduced Data East designer Joe Kaminkow and the members of his "team". They consisted of their Director of Engineering Ed Cebula, company President Gary Stern (who again manned the blackboard - what a job for a CEO!), and a game designer named Jerry Armstrong.
Joe began by telling us that the session this year would be conducted in much the same fashion as last year, with the audience being asked to vote on the various characteristics of the game being designed.
Gary Stern then showed us the prototype for the game, OLYMPIAD, which we designed last year, saying it would be available for us to play in the Exhibit Hall. He then applauded the "design team" for their efforts.
Gary next gave us a brief "history" of his company. He started by saying that it was on the weekend of the second Pinball Expo that it was decided to start Data East Pinball. He then remarked that during the Expo the following year we toured their plant. He then told us that they had just finished their most profitable year yet.
As far as Data East's future was concerned, Gary told us that they were going to shortly come out with a "solid-state flipper" which he said would have no "End-of-Stroke Switch". He also told us that they were going back to "screened" backglasses, abandoning the idea of "photographic artwork". Gary then introduced Jerry Armstrong.
Jerry began by saying that a pinball designer has to be a little "crazy", and quite possibly a "masochist". He then said that on the game we designed last year some of the shots were impossible, saying that a designer must always consider "ball flow" in all of his designs. He went on to tell us that most pinball players want "bozo games" which are easy to play. He then said that a designer must always think about how well a game will sell, in both the U.S. and also foreign countries.
At that point our new design effort was ready to begin. We were told to design a "1991 era game". We first voted on the size of the game, which we chose to be the standard size. We were next asked to choose the game's "theme". The themes recommended by the audience included "sky jump", "pinball history", "3 for a dollar", "Las Vegas", "prism", "skateboarding", "world travel", and "ping pong", with "Las Vegas" getting the most votes.
When asked to vote for the artists to work on the game we selected a team of three consisting of Kevin O'Connor, Pat McMahon, and Margaret Hudson. We were next asked to vote on the initial "skill shot". The suggestions included "pull down a slot machine handle", "knock down targets", "jump over Caesar's Palace", "go around a Roulette Wheel", "smash down a 'papier mache thing'", and "shoot for 3 spinning targets", the latter suggestion being chosen.
We were then asked to choose the configuration of the top of the playfield. From the suggested ideas of "a kickout hole and two lanes", "3 lanes", "2 lanes representing a pair of dice", and "Even, Odd, and Double- Zero", the last suggestion again received the most votes. When asked to decide on how many pop-bumpers the game should have, three was chosen.
We were next asked to select a "Las Vegas thing" to use on the playfield. We chose "Drop-Targets to be used to try and get '21' as in Blackjack over "having a Roulette Wheel in the center of the playfield". When asked where the drop targets should be located, "in front of the Pop- Bumpers" was the location chosen.
The last thing we were asked to choose for our game was some sort of a "gadget". Suggestions for this included: "a 3-D hologram", "3 kickout holes which kick the ball from one to the next", "a ramp with a swiveling center section", and "a 'Fireball target'", with the "swiveling ramp" being finally selected. That ended our design.
Joe Kaminkow then told us about their newest game, "ABC MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL", which he said would be advertised the following Monday night by the Goodyear Blimp during it's flight over the football game at Soldier Field.
BABY IN THE HOLE
Following the pinball design session, the "continuing story" of Harvey Heiss' BABY IN THE HOLE took another turn. Joe Kaminkow told us that Expo producer Rob Berk had suggested that Data East Pinball try and develop Harvey's game, and that Gary Stern agreed to try it. At that point Data East artists Kevin O'Connor, Pat McMahon, and Margaret Hudson, who had done the artwork for this "masterpiece", were asked to come up on stage. We were also told that Ed Cebula "worked day and night" on the project. At that point the entire BABY IN THE HOLE design team was brought up.
After asking Harvey to come up, the game was finally unveiled. It was something to behold, with it's flashy artwork, brilliant colors, and fabulous sound, including sound effects, music, and even speech. Upon first seeing the game Harvey declared "I don't believe it". He then proceeded to play his "baby".
Harvey then told us how Rob Berk had inspired him to build his original "prototype" of the game, which he constructed in his carport in Florida. He then told us how he designed the "special tool" required to form the "saucers" on the playfield, passing the tool around for us to examine.
Harvey next complimented the Data East design team on the wonderful job they did on the game and said that it "brought back many memories". He then told of his leaving Genco 35 years ago and going to work for a fellow named Bert Lane, who had once been a Genco Distributor. While he was working for Bert, Harvey said, he designed and built the prototype of the coin-op puppet game PEPPY THE CLOWN, and sold it to Williams. He then told us that he also designed a "digger game" which he also sold to them.
Harvey then told us that Harry Williams and Sam Stern made changes to "Peppy" before they went into production. Harvey said that his original design was better because it was "vacuum operated" and could do much more than the "electric" version that Williams produced. He said his puppet could even walk.
That ended the lecture hall presentations for the first day of the Expo. That evening the Exhibit Hall was opened, but more about that later.
A COLLECTOR - AND BEYOND
The Saturday morning activities began with a talk by long-time arcade operator and pinball collector, and a good friend of mine, Marc Fellman of Omaha. Marc began by telling us how glad he was to finally be able to attend a Pinball Expo, saying his business in Omaha, and for awhile in Las Vegas, had kept him from attending previously. He went on to say that he regretted that his friend and ex-partner Wade Wright, who now runs a record store in San Francisco, could not have attended, saying maybe Wade would be able to attend in the future.
Marc then introduced his wife whom he had brought with him and asked her to hand out to everyone in the audience an old Bally game brochure. He told us that Bally's long-time advertising manager (now retired) Herb Jones had once given the brochures to him, asking him to give them to people who would appreciate them. Well, I for one sure did, as after making a small trade, I ended up with the brochure for my "OK Bingo" BIKINI.
Following this, Marc began to tell about his background in the pinball business, saying that he started in the business in 1970, but had his first real contact with an old pinball game quite a bit earlier. He then told us that he actually played his first pin, a Williams FRESHIE (1949), in his uncle's basement in 1957. He said he fixed the game for his uncle, remarking that "once you've fixed one, you got to fix another". He also told us that he had worked on games after that in the arcade of an amusement park which his uncle operated. He then told us that the first game he ever actually owned was Gottlieb's 1958 game ROTO POOL, which he said he still owns.
Next Marc told of opening his own arcade in Omaha, which he called "Gizmo's", in 1970 in a area which had no arcades at all. He said he really didn't like the newer games that were out at the time and started looking for older games. He then said he could often get older games from distributors when buying some new ones.
Marc said he started collecting games because they were "American" and he thought the games, and the industry, should be perpetuated. And besides, he said, he thought that nobody collected them.
He then told us that in 1971 "the sky fell in" because replays were outlawed in Nebraska. He said that he then went to South Carolina for awhile and learned about bingo pinballs. In 1975, he went on, they opened a second arcade in Omaha, a large modern place in a shopping center, which they also called Gizmo's. He said at that time they bought $50,000 worth of equipment from Cleavland Coin, saying that about half was 'junk' and the other half new games. He went on to say that the 'junk' lasted, but the new stuff made money.
Then, in 1982, he told us he and his partner took over an old Gottlieb and Rockola distributorship in Omaha, which was founded many years ago by the grandfather of the late Nebraska Senator Ed Zorinski. Marc said that he and his partner Wade first went in to help the family out, but eventually bought the company. Just after they took over he told us that Gottlieb withdrew their product line, but they made a deal with Gottlieb that they could buy whatever they wanted (games, parts, etc.) from the company. He then remarked that "we really cleaned them out" as far as getting parts was concerned.
Marc next told us that by 1983 video games were becoming "boring" and at that time Nebraska legalized "video lottery" games for two years, the money raised being used to build libraries and other civic projects. After these games were stopped in 1985, Marc went on, he got involved in setting up "gaming" on an Indian Reservation in Iowa, which he said still exists today.
Next he told us of going to what he called "the Mecca of the coin machine industry", Las Vegas. He said that a fellow named Jackie Gahaun, who had been involved with the Las Vegas casino business since the 1950's, bought a run down hotel with a small casino, the Hotel Nevada, and hired Marc to get it back in shape. Marc said Jackie told him "here it is; get it in shape; don't call me, I'll call you".
Marc told us it took him a year and a half to re-do the place, which finally employed a staff of 70 people. He said he then started looking for old machines in Vegas. He told us he found an old warehouse full of "bingo pinballs" which he could buy for $75 to $100 each, because, he said, people had stopped playing bingos in Las Vegas".
He then said that he set up two of these machines, a LAGUNA BEACH and a MALIBU BEACH, in the hotel lobby to see what would happen. He told us that two days later when they opened the coin boxes they were full of nickels which surprised him, as during the day when he was at work he didn't see anyone playing these machines.
Then one night, he said, he monitored these games with a security camera and the next day when he watched the tape he saw two fellows playing the machines from about 11:30 PM until about 5 in the morning. Marc said these guys were long-time bingo pinball players and were good players, but a little "weird". He then told of talking to them once and them telling him that in Las Vegas there just wasn't any place to play these machines anymore.
Marc next told us that the next step after being a player and an operator would have to be to make your own games. He went on to say "we want to play 'the fun stuff'", saying "the new equipment is 'great', but is too complicated, requiring the players to be 'geniuses' to play it". Marc then said he would like to see good old style games reproduced, but using all the advantages of the new technology.
He then told us about modern slot machines he saw while in Las Vegas which used microprocessor technology to simulate the action of the older electro-mechanical machines. Marc then said that he is "begging" today's game manufacturers to reproduce the "old style games", saying he thinks they would "work" in the 1990's
He then went on to tell the manufacturers not to make the mistake of not looking at the past. Marc then said that they should make those kind of games because that is what we want. He then said they should bring back the screened backglasses, because the photographic ones look terrible. He then continued, saying they should bring back single player games, score reels (simulated by solid-state technology), etc.
At that point Data East game designer Joe Kaminkow interrupted to make some comments from the game manufacturers viewpoint. He began by saying that today's manufacturers are working hard to make reliable products. He said the new machines use four color art and mirroring on their backglasses, and scoring up into the Millions again as they did in the 1950's. He continued by saying that the old games were fun, but that today's players want to see "modern things", saying that "today's players need what we make".
Joe then remarked that they still make "bozo games" too. He then said that in the old days you got five balls with about 15 seconds play per ball. He compared that with the modern three ball games, which he said gave the player about 40 seconds play per ball. He next described the quality they put into their games today.
Marc then said that the new games were too expensive and that the operators were not making any money with them. At that point there began more arguing back and forth between Marc and the people from the pinball companies. Steve Kordek from Williams remarked that they would go broke trying to reproduce the old games, saying that people today wouldn't buy them.
Finally Marc ended that part of the discussion by saying that he thinks the Expo can provide the "connection" between the player and the factory. Harvey Heiss then spoke up to say that his BABY IN THE HOLE was a good example of the kind of game Marc was speaking about.
Marc next started giving us hints on ways to find old games today. He said that during the time that he and Wade were building up their collection over 1000 games passed through their hands.
His first suggestion was to "specialize" in one type, manufacturer, or "era", and not try to collect everything. Regarding the price of games he said don't be afraid to pay a little more for a rare game because you might not see it again. He then went on to say that when you sell a game you should always ask a fair price, which he said is what they always did.
As far as actually locating games, his first suggestion was to use classified ads, both placing your own "old pinball machine wanted" ad and looking for games advertised by others. He then said he thinks that the majority of old games that are "out there" are in people's basements.
Marc then suggested that you look for people who have owned their houses for many years and might have bought a game for home use in the past. Finally he said to talk to historians, operators, etc., to find out where the equipment was originally located. He went on to say that he believes there are still many old games to be found in the Northeast and the Southern states.
In wrapping up his presentation Marc suggested that AMOA, in trying to promote pinball, should get "free advertising" by tying pinball into the current "anti drug" campaign. He also said that the industry should stop using violent themes for games and "get back to the fun stuff"
Marc then again got back to the subject of producing new "old style" games for a moment, saying that in 12 to 24 months something like that is going to happen, either with or without the current pinball manufacturers.
Marc then thanked the Expo producers for a wonderful show and thanked all the collectors, etc., who attended for making the Expos successful. He ended by saying "I have never had so much fun with pinball people; I will come now forever!"
This year at the Expo we had presentations by two great pinball artists; one older established artist who is still active in pinball art, and the other one of the newer young talents.
Joe Kamindow first introduced veteran artist Mr. Paul Faris, who he referred to as "a legend in pinball art". He told us that Paul was responsible for the art for the Bally games: NIGHT RIDER, EVIL KNEVIEL, LOST WORLD, EIGHT BALL, PARAGON, XENON, and CENTAUR, plus Game Plan's ANDROMEDA.
Joe then told us that he called Paul several times "begging" him to do a game for Data East. Paul finally agreed, he said, and he was given a theme for the game. He went on to say that the game wouldn't be out for awhile, but that we were going to get a "sneak peek" at this forthcoming game, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Joe then commented that this was the "best of Paul's artwork" except, he added, "for his next one". He then said that Paul was going to do BATMAN for them.
Paul started by telling us that he worked for Bally for 10 years, starting at the beginning of the "solid-state era", first doing EVIL KNEIVEL for them. He then said that he started with Bally as a "staff artist" and later became their Art Director. He went on to say that he had a group of great young artists working for him who produced "some of the best pinball art ever done".
Paul then told us that when he left Bally he started his own Paragon Studios, which had pinball art as 30 to 40 percent of it's business. He then remarked that he thought that violent art on games is on the way out.
Paul then told us that he had brought some of his original paintings with him so we could compare them to the finished backglasses. He first showed us his painting for PARAGON. It was beautiful! He told us this was his first "wide-body" game, and said it took between 2 weeks and a month to produce the painting. He went on to say that he and his wife were the "models" for the main characters. He then remarked that the art for the playfield of games also required much effort to produce.
Paul next showed the painting for LOST WORLD, saying this was his first use of "4-color art", and that as a painter he loved that type of art. He then showed XENON. At that point he remarked that "pinball is the greatest place to display an artist's work".
Paul then told us that he once did a game which never made it to market. He said it was his first work after leaving Bally and was done for Williams. Steve Kordek then remarked from the audience that "Paul was a delight to work with".
Next Paul showed his original painting for PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, the audience applauding when this masterpiece was unveiled. He first told us that he originally read the novel as "research" for his painting. Paul then said that when the player first sees the game the phantom is masked, but that during play of the game he can become unmasked. He then showed us the finished backglass which received more applause.
At that point Paul thanked Data East for their cooperation in the project. He then told us that the painting took him about three weeks to complete. He ended by telling us that it took a lot of research to make the game realistic to the story, including the great organ music which it played.
Paul then offered to answer questions from the audience. Marc Fellman first asked if they had to pay any royalties to use the Phantom of the Opera theme. Paul answered no, saying that the novel was in public domain. He then remarked that the novel was much more interesting than the movies (except possibly for the original silent film) adding that in the novel the phantom is deformed from birth. Joe Kaminkow then remarked that the playfield art on the game was "phenomenal".
When Paul was asked if he planned to continue doing pinball art, he answered "I'd be crazy if I didn't". Dan Kramer then ask Paul if he had a theme idea which he would like to do? Paul replied that he liked doing Phantom, saying he had become a "fan" of the story four months before he was asked to do the game. He added that he would like to do other themes that he felt comfortable with.
When asked the name of an electro-mechanical Bally game which was never released, he said it was called KICKOFF and had a soccer theme. Paul then commented that "pinball was a great medium for an artist", adding that pinball artists were great people to work with.
Marc Fellman then asked Paul if after doing the original painting did he get involved with producing the screens. He said no he didn't like to get involved with that, adding that Margaret Hudson could do that and often did. He was then asked if he had to consider the locations of the score readouts, etc., in doing his artwork. He replied that he did, but added that the designers would sometime change these things to suit the artwork.
The final question asked of Paul was what, if any, outside influences affected his art? He replied that his paintings were somewhat influenced by "fine art". He also said that the work of other pinball artists often have some influence on his work.
Joe Kamindow introduced the other pinball artist to appear, Kevin O'Connor, saying that Kevin was "the most valuable pinball artist to come along in the past 10 years". He then gave a partial list of Kevin's games including Bally's STRIKES AND SPARES, STAR TREK, SUPER SONIC, VIKING, KISS, MYSTIC, and SILVER BALL MANIA, plus Data East's LASER WAR, SECRET SERVICE, PLAYBOY, ROBO COP, and ABC MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL. He then remarked that Kevin went to California to show PLAYBOY to Hugh Hefner.
Joe went on to say that creating the PLAYBOY backglass was very complex, involving an "18 shot composite", with each shot taken at a different time. He added that it also required extensive "air brushing". He then told of Kevin attending a "pajama party" at the Playboy Mansion while doing research for the game. Finally he said that it cost almost $60,000 to make the PLAYBOY backglasses. Joe then said that ABC MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL was Kevin's biggest challenge yet, adding that Kevin was "their main man" and that he was currently working on two other games.
Kevin began by saying that he much preferred "painted glasses" over "photographic" ones, but that preparing photographic glasses was both stimulating and challenging. He went on to say that it was like "shooting a movie", but without the "action". Although, he went on, you try to give your audience "the feeling of action".
Kevin then told about producing the glass for SECRET SERVICE, saying that it was supposed to give the illusion of a car chase in Washington D.C., although it was actually filmed in Madison, Wisconsin at 3 AM. He then said they used a "story board", had to have "sets" designed and built, had to hire models, as well as getting costumes and props. He then said that they sometimes have problems with the weather, and even once were attacked by bees while on a "shoot". He then remarked that because of the high cost of producing photographic glasses they would probably go back to painted glasses, which he prefers anyway.
He next showed us examples of some of his older work. When showing STAR TREK, he remarked that the uniforms were reproduced from those used on the TV show, then saying that violence was not allowed back then. Kevin next showed us his oil rendering and the final glass for VIKING, saying that in those days you could keep your original paintings.
When Kevin showed us KISS he said that at the time he was working on it the group was touring the country, and that they worked closely with Bally to insure their "heroic image". Finally Kevin told us that the Playboy party "was all work".
At this point questions were invited from the audience. Kevin was first asked if he also did art for the game cabinets and brochures? He replied that he did all the art for the games, including the cabinets, but that the Data East brochures were done by an outfit in California. However, he continued, I did work on the brochures while I was at Bally.
Kevin was then asked who owns the original artwork for a game? He replied that he did when he worked for Bally, but at Data East the company owned it. When asked to tell us what was his favorite of the art that he had done, he replied FLASH GORDON and SILVER BALL MANIA from his Bally days, and ABC MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL from Data East.
Finally he talked briefly about the car on TIME MACHINE. He said that it was his wife depicted in the passenger seat, that fellow artist Margaret Hudson was the "hippie girl", and that he himself was the driver, although many people thought it was supposed to be John Travolta.
ABC MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
During the Saturday morning presentations Data East's Joe Kaminkow gave a presentation on their latest game, ABC MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL. He began by telling us how that game originally came about.
Joe said that when the TV show of the same name first started using a pinball scene in their introduction, there was much curiosity about what game they were using. In fact, he said, he got several phone calls that evening from people asking if he knew. He said he taped the scene and played it over and over, but still couldn't figure it out.
Joe said he next called ABC to ask about it, and that his call was finally transferred to the Director of ABC Sports who told him that it was created for them by a production company in Oregon. He went on to say that they were thinking of having an actual game produced. At that point Joe said that he told him that Data East was already working on a game like that. When this person told him that he was coming to Chicago and would like to see it, Joe said "we had to do something quick", and added that Data East hurriedly made up a prototype game.
When the ABC Sports Director came to Chicago Joe said they took him out for lunch and drinks and then showed him the plant and the prototype of the game. He said after that they became good friends, and that they came to an agreement with ABC that same day to do the game.
Joe went on to tell us that it took three months to get a contract, but that it included rights to home cartridge games as well as the coin-op pingame. Joe then told us that when ABC started to use the game for promotions for the TV show, they used four machines which they shipped by van to the various cities all over the country where the football games were played. He then mentioned that a local Chicago TV station did a presentation on the game, showing shots in the factory, and also that it was mentioned in USA Today.
Joe than told of ABC using the game in connection with the 20th Anniversary of the TV show. He told us that on May 8th there was a dinner at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles to celebrate that anniversary where the game was shown, and that the Goodyear Blimp flew over flashing a sign reading "HAPPY BIRTHDAY ABC MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL".
He then told us that the original "game" used for the TV show used a SPACE INVADERS cabinet, and a modified NIGHT RIDER playfield, adding that it cost about $700,000 to produce the "TV spot".
Regarding the design of the Data East game, Joe told us that their mechanical engineer "busted his buns" trying to make the goal post go up and down. He then told us that NFL President Pete Roselle owns one of the games, as does ABC sportscaster Frank Gifford. He also said that when Barbara Walters first saw the game she "went crazy over it".
Before showing us two "videos" regarding the game, Joe ask if there were any questions. When asked if the NFL had any inputs to the game Joe replied "none, only ABC was involved". When next asked when Data East was coming out with their "solid-state flipper", he said soon, remarking that it used one coil winding and no "End-of-Stroke Switch".
Joe then showed us the first "video" which lasted about 8 minutes. It was mostly about the football games themselves, showing scenes from various ones, but had a brief mention of the pinball with Frank Gifford talking about it. This video was used at the AMOA show where the game was first introduced. It ended with Country and Western star Hank Williams Jr. singing his song "Monday Night Football".
The second video lasted about a minute, was all about the game, and featured the voices of the TV sportscasters. This promotional video ended with the announcer saying "Pete Roselle has played the game and likes it". That ended Joe's presentation.
Incidentally, I played the game later in the Exhibit Hall, and it is quite something to see and hear!
USING A 'LAPIDARY TUMBLER' IN CLEANING PINBALL PARTS The final talk Saturday morning was presented by pinball collector John Rausch, telling how he used a device called a "Lapidary tumbler" to clean pinball parts during restoration of a Bally FIREBALL.
John began by saying that when he once showed Rob Berk some parts he had cleaned using this method that Rob was fascinated by it and thought that other collectors would be interested in knowing about the process, so Rob invited John to speak at the Expo. John told us that this method of cleaning is also used by collectors of toy trains and other toys to clean parts. He then told us that he was going to show some slides showing how he restored his FIREBALL using this cleaning technique.
John told us that the tumbler was originally developed for use by rock and gem people to clean those items, although he added, it usually took them 6 to 8 weeks to clean their items, vice the 1 hour (2 hours for very bad items) required to clean pinball parts. Another difference, he went on, was that the gem people used water and "grit" to clean rocks, whereas water and "steel shot" were used to clean game parts.
The first slide John showed us showed his game parts before cleaning. He pointed out to us the surface corrosion present on most of the parts. He then said that almost any pinball part could be cleaned, including relay armatures, small springs, screws, and even rusty steel balls.
John next described the actual cleaning process. He said that to clean pinball parts you should use 5 pounds of "chrome-plated steel 'shot'" which you can buy from a lapidary supply store. This should be put in the tumbler, along with the parts to be cleaned, and it should then be filled 3/4 full with water, mixed with a little hand soap. That mixture, he went on, should then be tumbled at approximately 20 RPM for about 1 hour.
After that, he went on, the mixture can be run through a French Fry strainer and then rinsed with clean hot water over again until the parts are clean. At this point, he continued, the parts can be dried using a hair dryer.
John then remarked that this method of cleaning pinball parts is great for a collector who wants to totally restore a game, but he didn't recommend it's use by game operators.
He next showed slides showing the cleaning of a stepper unit, remarking that it should take less than 5 minutes to disassemble such a unit to remove the parts to be cleaned. He went on to say that reassembling a stepper after cleaning should take about 10 minutes.
Someone from the audience then asked John if there was any way to keep cleaned parts in that condition? John replied that you could use clear lacquer on some parts, but said that keeping the game in a good environment was probably best. Someone else from the audience then brought up the idea of having parts "cad plated". John agreed this might be a good idea for some parts, but warned us not to do that on parts where size tolerances were critical to proper operation of a unit.
John next talked for a few moments about playfields. He first said that to clean dirty playfields he often used nylon pads and soapy water. He next remarked that most playfield parts can also be cleaned by the tumbler except, he warned, never try to clean painted parts that way or the paint will be completely removed! He went on to say that it was a good way to clean metal and plastic playfield "posts", as well as all the screws. He then remarked that metal plates which have name labels glued onto them can usually be tumbled and the labels will not be damaged.
To clean very delicate parts John said that crushed Walnut shells could be used in place of the steel shot. He then warned us never to try to clean Allen Head Screws with shot because some of the shot could become imbedded into the screw head and would be impossible to remove.
Someone from the audience then suggested that you might look for used lapidary tumblers advertised for sale in "want ads". John then told us that the retail price of a new tumbler is about $110, and that 30 pounds of shot would cost about $30, but he added, the shot will last forever! He then told us that the shot was in all different shapes, each shape designed to do a specific cleaning job.
John told us that his restoration of FIREBALL took approximately 42 hours. He then said that if a batch of parts are extremely dirty, you might want to change the wash water after about the first 15 minutes of cleaning.
Finally John suggested that this method be used for cleaning the parts on the coin door, which he said should take about 15 minutes to tear down, and about an hour to reassemble. To sum up, John told us "if you want to do a nice restoration job on your game, this is the 'ultimate time saver' for cleaning small parts."
John then asked if there were any questions? He was first asked, "how much force or pressure does the process exert on the parts being cleaned?" John answered saying that the process was "very gentle", adding that the reason that it worked so well was that the cleaning action was repeated over and over hundreds of times. He then said that the tumbler has 8 sides which causes the parts to tumble much the same way as in a clothes dryer.
Finally John was asked, "how many games have you done using this method?" He answered that he doesn't clean all parts in all games this way, only the parts that need it. He then said that he had restored about 15 games in all.
As usual, the Expo banquet was held on Saturday evening. Prior to the banquet itself, we had the usual cocktail hour, during which the play- offs for the "Flip-Out '89" pinball tournament took place. The play-off game, as it has been in the past, is always a surprise to the participants. This year the game was none other than Data East's yet unreleased new game PHANTOM OF THE OPERA!
This game was something to behold, with it's fabulous Paul Faris artwork, and the fantastic sound system which played unbelievably realistic organ music. Well, when the smoke finally cleared, the survivors of the tournament were Larry DeMar of Williams for the manufacturers, and a young man named Dave Hegge from California for the regular players.
When the dinner was served it was delicious again this year. Following the meal the quest speaker was introduced by Expo Chairman Rob Berk. This year it was Data East's President Gary Stern.
Gary began by saying that this group was an interesting forum for him to talk to, as he usually talks to operators and distributors. Here, he went on, we have a "mixed group" that includes people who love pinball as an "art form", as well as the factory people who know pinball as a business. He then remarked that pinball design is sort of a cross between art and business.
Gary then said that he learned that pinball was both a business and an art form from his father Sam Stern, who had been in the industry from the 1930's up until his death a few years ago. He said that his father used to say that a pinball machine is like a movie - an "entertainment"; having a theme, action, a climax, art and sound, and that it also requires production and distribution.
Gary continued saying that a pinball must have art, but must also make money. He then told us to notice that all the factories participate in the Expo. He said that this is an interesting forum for us because we can all meet here on a "level ground" with others involved with games, saying it is a real pleasure to participate and that they always will.
Gary next said he would give us a little of his "history" in the pinball business. He said he came into the business through his father Sam. Sam he said was the son of an immigrant and originally was a "rag man", who started out as a foreman in a coat factory.
He then told us that Sam once bought a couple small counter-top games in the 1930's and put them on location in a tavern, only to discover shortly that his games were "replaced" by other games operated by "the Mob". Sam then put his games in a drug store, Gary continued, and this time had better luck.
He then said that one night Sam got a call from the drug store telling him his games wouldn't work. Upon checking on this he found out that they were only clogged with coins. At that point, Gary said, his father decided that he liked the coin machine business and founded an operating company which he called "Scott Cross".
Gary told us that in those days when his father was on a date he would often stop by a location and get money out of the machines. He said one of the best money makers Sam operated in those days was the console game PACES RACES. A little while later, Gary told us, his father started a distributing business in Philadelphia.
Gary next said that after World War II two important things happened. First, he said, was that he was born (which Gary said was very special to him) and second was that Sam went to see Harry Williams.
He said that Sam was sitting in Harry's office at his desk one day and said to Harry "why don't you sell me the company?" Harry said that he would have to go flying and think that over, which he did, and then decided to sell Sam 49 percent of Williams Manufacturing.
Gary said that at first Sam was not too successful in his new role and was often "disruptive" at the plant. In fact at first, he went on, Harry would not even let Sam come into the plant. After awhile he said Harry moved to California and would fly back and forth in his private plane between his new home and Chicago.
Gary then told us how Harry used to fool Sam into thinking that he was really a help in the business. Harry he said would design a game while in California and bring a drawing of it to Chicago to discuss it with Sam. He said that Harry would always purposely put an "error" on his drawing (always in the upper left-hand corner) and Sam would always say that something was wrong, which Harry said he would correct. The next day, Gary told us, Harry would return with the drawing as he had originally designed the game, and Sam would think he had really helped by pointing out the problem. Gary then remarked that Harry always knew how to take care of his father.
Gary next told us that the business was easier in those days. He said that Harry would come up with an idea for a game, make a sketch, prepare the prototype ("whitewood"), do the electrical and mechanical design, and fix the game on the line. He compared that with the way things were much later at Stern Electronics in the 1980's where they needed engineers, technicians, programmers and sound people to design a game. He then said that even then Harry would still draw out the playfield, and was the only one he knew who could always do that perfectly every time!
In connection with Harry Williams' love of flying, Gary told us that Harry once bought a "Link Trainer" (an early airplane flight simulator used during World War II to train pilots) and put it in his office at the plant. He said that Harry, and Williams' chief engineer Gordon Horlock, would "fly" this simulator every afternoon. He then said that after Harry got out of the game business in the early Sixties, he tried to sell private jets for a French outfit.
Gary then started talking about himself, and his connection with the pinball business. He said that he liked the business ever since he was a kid when his dad used to take him to the plant on Saturdays, which he remarked, was in a bad neighborhood where thiefs would even sometimes steal batteries out of Police cars at the Police Station. He then told us that he often played with bumper caps, etc. He next told us that he also liked it when Harry Williams would take him to the Museum of Science and Industry to watch the toy trains, because Harry was even thinking about making a coin-op electric train. He also said that he had a "slot car", and that years later Harry was in the slot car business for awhile.
Gary then told us that Harry was like a "second father". to him and his brother, telling us that for Bar Mitzvah Harry once gave his brother a gasoline powered model airplane and gave him a chemistry set.
He then said that at the age of 16 his father gave him a job at the plant working in the stockroom, which he said taught him the importance of the "business side" of the pinball business (inventory control, etc.).
When he was 18, he went on, he attended college in New Orleans where, he said, the legal drinking age was also 18. During this period he told us that he learned that the "gin mill" was "the backbone of the pinball business", saying that he once told his dad "I started one step below you; you started as an operator and I started in the "gin mills"".
Gary then told us that when Harry Williams designed a new game Harry would tell him how much he thought the kids would like certain features. He said that he would then tell Harry that half of the games they made would go to bars, and their business was "to get people drunk, and keep them that way." Later, Gary continued, I owned bars and discovered that the purpose of games was to keep people in them drinking.
In 1964, Gary then told us, Sam sold Williams Manufacturing to Seeburg, and shortly after that United Manufacturing was taken over from Lyn Durrant. At that time, he continued, the Williams plant was moved to the United factory on California Ave., where it is today.
He told us that the new plant was interesting. First, he said, the roof leaked. He also said that Lyn Durrant had his own apartment and a ballroom on the second floor, a bar for the plant foremen downstairs, and a barber shop in the "guard shack". He said that Lyn used to spend half of his time at the plant, and the rest downtown. All these areas he said were later turned into offices by his father.
Gary then told us that he finally got his college degree in Accounting and did not want to go back to school anymore. His father, however, had other ideas and eventually persuaded him to go to law school.
After getting his law degree, he told us, he went to work for Bally where his father had also gone, becoming an Executive Vice President. Gary said he worked for them as a law clerk working with Bally's lawyers, specializing in "slot machine law".
Then in 1973, he continued, he went back to Williams when they decided to start making slots, and ran their slot department because of his knowledge of the law. But, he said, they were "outclassed" by Bally and didn't do so well with their slots.
In 1976, he told us, he left Williams with "a combination of laughing and crying" because, he said, he would always have a special place in his heart for that company. At that point, he went on, he had to find something new to do, and ended up buying and selling slot machines.
Canada at that time, he told us, passed a law which was supposed to legalize "free play pinball machines". But, he continued, in Canada the laws are first written in French, and then translated into English. He told us that the French said "coin in the slot games", but the English finally read "slot machines". As a result, Gary said, "free play slot machines" became legal in Canada, and he sold over a quarter million dollars worth of them to Canada in three months, which worked out very well for him he said.
He then told us that around the same time his father needed "something to do", as he was spending most of his time playing golf, which he said, he didn't do very well anyway.
Well, he continued, at that time Chicago Dynamic Industries (formerly Chicago Coin) was going through bankruptcy. Gary said that he knew something about bankruptcy being a lawyer, and the banks knew something about his father, so they ended up acquiring that company, plus Seeburg (also having financial trouble), and a couple of other outfits including a cabinet company, forming Stern Electronics.
The problem for the new company, Gary said, was that they were set up to produce electro-mechanical games right at the time when Bally, and the others, were coming out with solid-state pinballs. However, he went on, since Bill O'Donnell of Bally was a good friend of my fathers, he sent us one of their new solid-state games for us to use and copy their "system". Therefore Stern's digital games used the same system as Bally.
There was only one problem, he continued, and that was that I put out a letter to the distributors saying our system was "an improvement over Bally's". But, he said, his father somehow got him out of that one!
Our first solid-state game, Gary told us, had a appropriate name; it was simply called PINBALL. He then said that once the company got going they could put out about 170 pinballs and 400 video games a day, and that they did very well for a time.
Gary next told us that working with his father was a "different experience" and that most people could not do that successfully. He went on to say that he got to know Sam's strengths and weaknesses, and therefore knew him a lot better than most people know their fathers. However, he went on, his father also knew him better. He then told us that they often fought over games and that sometimes he would get mad and go home.
After a while, Gary said, videos "went stale" and their business started falling off. He said they also tried "pinball conversion kits", but they just couldn't compete with new games, such as William's SPACE SHUTTLE. Gary then admitted that he didn't always understand the complicated playing principles in the later games they made at Stern, adding that in those days you didn't make any "bozo games". Gary then said that today's games are easier for the player to figure out.
Gary next started talking about his current company, Data East. He said that he first put together a "business plan" for a new company, which would be located in Chicago, the only place where games can be made successfully, he added. He said that he raised some private capital, but that they had to finally get help from Japan.
Gary then said that normally when a Japanese company starts doing business in this country they get a Japanese General Manager, do their engineering and design, as well as their part "sourcing", in Japan, but sell their product in the U.S. In the case of Data East Pinball, however, he said they have an American running it (himself), do their engineering and design and part sourcing in Chicago (except for some printed circuit boards made in Japan), and export about 50 percent of their product. He then said that they have been successful using this system, and that he thinks this is the way that Japanese and U.S. industry should work together.
He went on to say that they started three years ago in a 350 square foot building, and without any drawings, but they knew were the parts they needed were to be found. He said that getting their first game, LASER WAR, ready for the AMOA show resulted in a "long night" for Joe Kaminkow and their people.
Gary then told us that by May 1989 they had a 21,000 square foot factory which we will tour during next year's Expo. He next told us that their method of producing games is different from the other companies, as they only design and assemble games, buying all sub-assemblies from subcontractors. He said this requires less investment, less overhead, and less training for their workers. He then said that they are capable of producing up to 60 games per day, but usually about 45, except for limited run games such as PLAYBOY and ABC MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL, which he added, will probably become collectors items in the future.
Gary then said that their goal was to "design great games" and he thinks they have shown that they can do that, adding that their "digital stereo sound" was certainly very good. He said that the Japanese tradition of taking quality very seriously is certainly practiced by Data East.
He went on to say that they are constantly making improvements to their games, such as their forthcoming "solid-state flipper", adding "we are doing things that nobody else has done". Gary then quoted his father who always told him "I'd rather build a 'good game' that works than a 'great game' that doesn't". He then added that their job was to make "creative" games, but also make them reliable so that the operators can make a living from them. Gary then remarked that he believes that his company has helped the industry by "pushing others to make a better product". Adding, "after all, isn't competition the 'American way'".
As to the future of Data East, Gary said that they have "a number of people to serve". First, he said, we have to make the player happy, and to do that we must look at the types of players, which are primarily teenagers and bar patrons. Next, he continued, we have to keep the locations happy by keeping people in their establishments. He continued saying that they must help the operator by providing better play pricing and also must help the distributors by not over-producing.
Gary then told us that the manufacturer also has to make money, therefore the designers must always keep production costs in mind when designing a new game. He then told us that he got into the business because of his father who gave him three things to help him. First, he said was his name; second, a good education, both formal and informal (by listening to what his father and his friends had to say) and, lastly, a love for the business.
Finally he said he founded Data East to "prove a point", that a new pinball company could be successful today. He then said that with the help of his people he put Data East into a meaningful position in the industry, and he thanked them for helping him "prove his point".
When Gary concluded his talk, Expo Chairman Rob Berk presented him with a plaque "in recognition of his achievements and contributions to the pinball industry, and for his participation in the Expo".
After that Rob told us that it was "a tradition for the Expo to honor people", and that this year they were going to start honoring individuals. He then started talking of Alvin Gottlieb and how he has helped the pinball industry. Rob then called Alvin up on stage and presented him with a plaque. Alvin started reading the inscription which supposedly said something about Rob Berk winning on "Bowling for Bucks".
Alvin then said that there were many people in the industry over the years who should be acknowledged. He then continued, saying he would like to pick someone to give an award to, someone who he said "deserves recognition for contributing more good games to our industry than anybody I can think of".
At that point he asked old-time Gottlieb designer Wayne Neyens to come up. Wayne was sure surprised, finally realizing that this whole thing with Alvin was "staged" to honor him instead.
Alvin then told us that he had started working with Wayne in 1947, Wayne having started with the company many years earlier in 1939 however. He then said that he worked with Wayne in the Engineering Department in 1948 and 1949 when Harry Mabs (inventor of the flipper) was Chief Engineer and Wayne his chief understudy.
He went on to say that Wayne developed the 'art" of pinball design into a "science". He then said that Wayne's attributes are unmatched, having a high degree of sensitivity and knowledge, and a "mind set" such that when he had an idea he "stuck to his guns".
Finally Alvin talked of the long list of games Wayne had designed. He then said that Wayne was not just an employee of D. Gottlieb and Co., but was "a part of the family". He then thanked him "on behalf of the family and the industry", and wished him a long healthful life.
At this point Premier/Gottlieb President Gil Pollack was invited to pay tribute to Wayne. He began by saying that we all recognized designers such as Wayne, Steve Kordek, Norm Clark, etc., but reminded us that they are not "gods", only normal human beings. He then told of Wayne having arguments in the plant with a fellow named Bob Smith years ago over Bob keeping the furnace too low, saying that Wayne often got mad and went home. He said that when Wayne retired he left his sweater at the plant, then presenting him with an old sweater.
Continuing in this "gag gift" mode, Gil also presented Wayne with a nickel he said Wayne once lost in a bet, a hockey "shin guard" which he said Wayne used to keep from hurting his legs when he got mad at a game, and an old fishing pole which he said Wayne once lost while trying to teach him to fish in Arkansas. For his final gift Gil presented Wayne with the backglass for the ill fated two player Gottlieb game CHALLENGER, saying that the company was finally through with that game, having sold the 300 they once built over and over again.
Finally, Gil mentioned a long list of names of people that Wayne had worked with over the years at Gottlieb. He ended by saying that Wayne was "a great member of the industry", that he taught them a great deal, and that he surely deserved recognition, then thanking him for his contributions.
Next up to pay tribute to Wayne was Donal Murphy, pinball collector and owner of Electrical Windings, Inc., the supplier of coils and transformers to Gottlieb since the 1930's. Don started by saying that his first contact with Wayne was in 1963 when he started working for his father at Electrical Windings. He went on to say that their company always tried to meet Wayne's needs with their products.
Don then said that he started collecting pinballs in 1974, and that his two all-time favorite games were KINGS & QUEENS and SLICK CHICK, both designed by Wayne, saying that's why he appreciates his work.
Don then thanked Wayne for the fine games he designed starting in 1949 with COLLEGE DAZE. Finally, he presented Wayne with a large coil which he said was "the extra powerful flipper coil he always wanted".
Rob Berk then invited pinball player, collector, and author Dan Kramer up on stage to present the final "tribute" to Wayne Neyens. Dan began by saying that he had known Wayne personally since 1985, but had grown up playing the games he designed at the old boardwalk in Santa Cruz California, and other locations nearer his home. He then remarked that he had never had a better time doing anything in his life than playing pinball.
Dan next said that it's hard to say what he likes most about playing pinball. He said that when he was a kid he didn't care how much it cost to play, and that any money he got a hold of went into the coin slot. He also said that he would travel to the game locations any way he could, by bicycle, hitchhiking, or on foot. He then remarked that he liked the thrill of "snatching victory from the jaws of the outhole".
Dan then spoke of his enjoyment of the hobby of pinball collecting, saying "it is the greatest hobby I could ever have". He went on to say it provided the "adventure" of hunting for games, plus the enjoyment of making new friends year after year; always learning about new people who collect and enjoy pins.
Dan next said that the hobby also increases his "technical skills", and that he enjoys discovering new concepts put into the games by the designers. He then remarked that he loved the symmetry of the playfields, and the various arrangements of the bumpers, targets, etc., on them. He said that a few games are "dogs", but that these were far outnumbered by memorable games, which he said "captured his soul". The games, he said, to which he kept coming back.
Dan next said that in the old days he really didn't think about these games being designed by specific people. He went on to say that after all these years he was fortunate enough to have met and talked to one of these designers, the person that was responsible for some of the best games he'd ever played.
Dan then said that Rob Berk asked him last year to get together a tribute to Wayne for the Expo because Rob felt that he had a strong feeling for Wayne's work. He then said that Wayne not being able to attend last year's show gave him an extra year to prepare. Dan then told us that his presentation would be a "whirlwind tour" of some of the best games Wayne has done. He continued, saying that he would give us a look at the "Gottlieb heritage", to which Wayne was a strong contributor.
At this point Dan asked Wayne to stand up so he could shake his hand, and then prepared to set up the equipment for his slide presentation.
Dan started by reminding us that Wayne started his career early, at 16, when he was almost out of High School, getting a job as a draftsman at Western Products coin machine manufacturing plant. Dan then paused for a moment to thank those people who contributed to his slide presentation. He then talked briefly about Western's flamboyant owner Jimmy Johnson, and showed a few slides of brochures for some of their games. Dan continued by saying that Wayne soon advanced from drafting to helping fix some of the games in the factory.
Dan next began telling about D. Gottlieb and Co., where Wayne moved in the late 1930's, and their wartime efforts, showing pictures of their war theme game KEEP 'EM FLYING. He then showed the first flipper game, HUMPTY DUMPTY, talking of it's new flippers, mirrored backglass, and "light animation". Dan then mentioned the other "fairy tale" theme games, the idea for naming them he said was Dave Gottlieb's.
After showing Gottlieb's 1949 game BUTTONS & BOWS, which he said was not designed by Wayne, but that he helped with the prototype of, he began showing slide after slide of the fabulous games Wayne designed during the 1950's.
As each game's playfield was shown, Dan provided in-depth comments regarding the game's various features. Space does not permit me to go into these details, but maybe some day Dan will honor us with a COIN SLOT article describing these games.
The games Dan showed included BANK-A-BALL, JOKER, and KNOCKOUT from 1950; NIAGRA from 1951; HIT-'N-RUN, CROSSROADS, HAPPY DAYS, CHINATOWN, CORONATION and QUEEN OF HEARTS (which Dan remarked that Wayne feels was "his best") from 1952; FLYING HIGH, GRAND SLAM, POKER FACE, MARBLE QUEEN, and SHINDIG of 1953; DRAGONETTE and HAWAIIAN BEAUTY from 1954; and SLUGGIN' CHAMP and FRONTIERSMAN from 1955.
At that point Dan's fine presentation had to be curtailed due to the lateness of the hour, but he told us that it might be concluded at a future Expo, reminding us not to forget that Wayne's fine games continued into the 1960's.
Rob Berk then got up and told us about how much he enjoyed once visiting with Wayne and his wife at their home in Arkansas. He then presented Wayne with a plaque "commemorating his 30 years in the industry". At that point Wayne got up to speak.
He began by thanking Rob, saying he really appreciated the tribute, adding that he was "speechless". Wayne then told us how nice it was to see so many of his old Gottlieb cohorts at the show, telling us that he was sure happy to be there.
He continued, saying that he felt he was fortunate to have started in the industry back in 1936, because it enabled him to associate with so many outstanding people, mentioning other industry greats like Harry Williams, Sam Stern, and Lyn Durrant. He added that when he first started at Western he worked with Lyn, who he said, treated him like a son.
Wayne ended by saying that many of the great designers are still around today, mentioning Steve Kordek and Norm Clark. Finally he thanked Rob for "keeping the names of these wonderful people alive".
Rob Berk then got up and said that this was a "special year" for the Expo in that Harvey Heiss' BABY IN THE HOLE finally became a reality. He then presented trophies to all at Data East who participated in that project.
Rob next made a presentation to Clyde Knupp, President of AMOA. Clyde then thanked Rob for what he is doing for the industry with the Expo, and then added "what I've seen here makes me want to come back - this is certainly more fun than AMOA!" Clyde then told us that at first he didn't know what to expect, but that he really met some nice people.
Clyde then mentioned Harvey Heiss' 1948 game SCREWBALL which was the "Game Of The Year" that year, again pointing out that a pinball also won that award in 1989 for the first time in many years. Finally he told Harvey that the people in the industry appreciate the contributions made over the years by people like him.
Rob Berk next presented a special award to Data East's Director of Engineering Ed Cebula for his achievements in pinball engineering and design. Rob then thanked Gil Pollack and the people of Premier for allowing us to visit their plant, and then presented Gil with an award.
At that point Gil presented the keys to a brand new Premier BONE CRUSHER pinball to the winner of the Flip-Out '89 pinball tournament, Dave Hegge. Following that, Expo Exhibit Chairman Mike Pacak presented the award for the "best exhibit" to an outfit called "Futuretronics" because of the wide variety of items they had on display in their booth.
Rob Berk again got up and thanked all his people who helped him put on the show. He then presented gifts of candy to the English visitors, and also a box to Mike Pacak. Rob then thanked all the game manufacturers for participating in the Expo.
At that point Rob called Marc Fellman from Omaha to the stage to make a very special presentation to Harvey Heiss. Marc then presented Harvey with a 1948 Genco SCREWBALL, the game Harvey had won the Game Of The Year award for, saying it had come from his collection. Rob Berk then got up again and presented Joe Kaminkow of Data East a "loving cup" for his contributions to pinball.
Following that the raffle drawing was made, the winner receiving a brand new Williams BLACK KNIGHT 2000 pingame. The lucky winner happened to be seated at our table. The final event of the banquet was the awarding of a myriad of door prizes. That being completed the banquet festivities ended, but the Exhibit Hall was re-opened for those who wanted to roam around there during the "wee hours".
THE EXHIBIT HALL
As it always has been, the Exhibit Hall this year was really the "heart of the Expo". It was the place were people could congregate, meet and talk to each other, play games (both old and new) and do a little "shopping". The hall first opened on Friday evening, was open most of the day Saturday until just before the banquet, and reopened after the banquet, staying open for awhile giving players their last chance to play pinball.
Since most of the Expo attendees are pinball players, this was a great place to play pinball. One could try out the latest games by the current manufacturers, play many of the older games they used to enjoy in past years, or try out some "classics", some even made before some of the players were born. Even my wife, who hasn't played pinball in many years (even thought we have quite a few at home), started playing some of the newer solid-state games, apparently enjoying their flash and excitement.
This year the Exhibit Hall was actually two rooms. One room was the area where most of the games were for sale, along with parts and associated items, and also where the current manufacturers displayed their latest machines. The other room was where the Premier BONE CRUSHER machines were set up and used for the Flip-Out '89 tournament qualifying play, but also contained a very special array of classic pingames for exhibit and play only; games brought for us to enjoy from the private collections of Expo co-producers Rob Berk and Mike Pacak.
These great machines were in excellent condition and were a real treat to behold, as well as for old-time pinball players to play, reliving their past for a little while. The following is an alphabetical list of these great pinball machines.
GAME MANUFACTURER YEAR __________________________________________________________ 300 GOTTLIEB 1975 A-GO-GO BALLY 1966 ARMY AND NAVY WILLIAMS 1953 BIG TOP GOTTLIEB 1964 BLAST OFF WILLIAMS 1967 BRONCHO GENCO 1947 CARNIVAL MIDWAY 1963 CIRCUS BALLY 1957 CLOSE ENCOUNTERS GOTTLIEB 1978 COLORS WILLIAMS 1954 CUE BALL WILLIAMS 1956 CYCLONE WILLIAMS 1947 DUDE RANCH (BINGO) BALLY 1953 FLIPPER GOTTLIEB 1960 FLIPPER POOL GOTTLIEB 1965 FOUR STAR WILLIAMS 1958 FUN CRUISE BALLY 1966 GRAND PRIX WILLIAMS 1976 INCREDIBLE HULK GOTTLIEB 1979 LIGHTNING BALL GOTTLIEB 1959 LOOP THE LOOP BALLY 1966 MAJORETTES GOTTLIEB 1964 METRO WILLIAMS 1961 MOTOR SHOW ?? 198? MOULIN ROUGE WILLIAMS 1965 MR. CHIPS GENCO 1939 NAGS WILLIAMS 1960 PAT HAND WILLIAMS 1975 POKER FACE KEENEY 1963 ROCKET SHIP GOTTLIEB 1958 ROYAL FLUSH GOTTLIEB 1957 SCREWBALL GENCO 1948 SEA WOLF WILLIAMS 1959 SHOW BOAT UNITED 1952 SKI CLUB WILLIAMS 1965 SPACE MISSION WILLIAMS 1976 (AMAZING) SPIDER MAN GOTTLIEB 1980 SPOT POOL WILLIAMS 1959 STRUGGLE BUGGIES WILLIAMS 1953 SUPER FLIPPER (PIN VID) CHICAGO COIN 1975 TEMPTATION SEGA 1977 TEN SPOT WILLIAMS 1961 TRADE WINDS WILLIAMS 1962 TRAFFIC BALLY 1935 UNIVERSE GOTTLIEB 1959 VAMPIRE BALLY 1971 VIKING WILLIAMS 1960 WIGGLE JIGGLE ?? 1932? WING DING WILLIAMS 1964
Many thanks to Rob and Mike for going to the trouble and expense of bringing their treasures to the Expo for all to enjoy!
In addition to being a place for viewing and playing pinballs, for many the Exhibit Hall was a place to do a little "shopping". If you were in the market for one or more pinball machines, either old or new, this was a good place to come. About a half-dozen outfits and private parties were there offering a wide variety of pingames of most all vintages for sale. Most of the prices asked were fairly reasonable too.
While looking at the games displayed, I saw a machine that I had only remembered working on when I was a kid. In all my pinball research I had never come across an ad for it, but I knew it existed because I remembered both it's name and the configuration of it's backglass. The game was Bally's CROSSLINE, and from it's appearance I think it must have been made in 1940 or 1941. The only Bally CROSSLINE I have ever seen advertised was an entirely different game which they put out several years earlier in 1937. Anyway, I really enjoyed reliving my remembrances of this neat "art-deco" pingame ( I LOVE "art-deco") which I had not seen in over 40 years but still remembered. See, I was right all along, that game really existed!
The following is a chronological list of the pingames for sale in the Exhitit hall:
NAME MANUFACTURER DATE _____________________________________________________ WHIFFLE AUTOMATIC AMUS. 1931 RICOCHET STONER 1937 ABC BOWLER GOTTLIEB 1941 HIGH STEPPER STONER 1941 CROSSLINE BALLY 1941? SOUTH SEAS UNITED 1945? SEA ISLE CHICAGO COIN 1947 MONTEREY UNITED 1948 ROUND UP GOTTLIEB 1948 WISCONSIN UNITED 1948 YANKS WILLIAMS 1948 HAPPY DAYS GOTTLIEB 1952 EASY ACES GOTTLIEB 1955 CROSSWORDS WILLIAMS 1959 LIGHTNING BALL GOTTLIEB 1959 TIC-TAC-TOE WILLIAMS 1959 SUN VALLEY CHICAGO COIN 1963 SWEETHEARTS GOTTLIEB 1963 WORLD FAIR GOTTLIEB 1964 FLIPPER POOL GOTTLIEB 1965 KINGS AND QUEENS GOTTLIEB 1965 PARADISE GOTTLIEB 1965 CASANOVA WILLIAMS 1966 HOT LINE WILLIAMS 1966 KING OF DIAMONDS GOTTLIEB 1967 DIXIELAND BALLY 1968 PLAYMATES GOTTLIEB 1968 HEARTS AND SPADES (AAB) GOTTLIEB 1969 MIBS GOTTLIEB 1969 2001 GOTTLIEB 1971 FIREBALL BALLY 1972 POP-A-CARD GOTTLIEB 1972 FUN FEST WILLIAMS 1973 NIP-IT BALLY 1973 ODDS AND EVENS BALLY 1973 FREE FALL (AAB) GOTTLIEB 1974 BUCCANEER GOTTLIEB 1976 OLD CHICAGO BALLY 1976 SPIRIT OF '76 GOTTLIEB 1976 EIGHT BALL BALLY 1977 MATA HARI BALLY 1977 CLOSE ENCOUNTERS GOTTLIEB 1978 HOT TIP WILLIAMS 1978 LOST WORLD BALLY 1978 SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN BALLY 1978 (NITRO) GROUND SHAKER BALLY 1980 ASTEROID ANNIE GOTTLIEB 1980 ROLLING STONES BALLY 1980 SILVERBALL MANIA BALLY 1980 VIKING BALLY 1980 BARRACORA WILLIAMS 1981 CENTAUR BALLY 1981 LIGHTNING STERN 1981 SPLIT SECOND STERN 1981 THUNDERBALL WILLIAMS 1983 CYCLOPS GAME PLAN 1985 LITTLE CHIEF WILLIAMS 1985 HIGH SPEED WILLIAMS 1986
In addition to the games for sale in the Exhibit Hall, there were several booths which had various pinball parts for sale (both new and used), including the commercial outfit Wico. These parts also included fine new reproductions of pop-bumper caps produced by Donal Murphy.
For those interested in "pinball paper", of course we again had Expo Exhibit Chairman Mike Pacak's booth featuring a wide variety of pinball flyers, always a popular item at all the Expos.
Several pinball publications were also available in the hall. Mike Pacak was selling both Dick Bueschel's new book, "Pinball I" and the fine new color book "Pinball - The Lure of the Silver Ball" by Gary Flower and Bill Kurtz. Dennis Dodel also had a booth where, in addition to having some nice games for sale, he was taking subscriptions for his great pinball-only periodical PINBALL TRADER, as well as having available for sale copies of yours truly's book "Pinball Troubleshooting Guide". Steve Young, of course, was also there selling his fine Silverball Amusements publications.
Finally, there were of course, the new pinball machines by the current game manufacturers. From Williams we had LASER CUE, MILLIONAIRE, BIG GUNS, F-14 TOMCAT and POLICE FORCE, plus the Ballygames SPECIAL FORCE and LADY LUCK. Premier was showing their Gottlieb game RAVEN, in addition to their latest game BONE CRUSHER which was used for the tournament. From Data East we saw TIME MACHINE, LASER WAR, PLAYBOY, and of course ABC MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL, also seeing a preview of their forthcoming masterpiece, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, in the banquet hall during the tournament playoffs. In addition to these new games, Game Plan's SHARPSHOOTER and ANDROMEDA were also displayed.
Well, there you have it, a pretty complete run-down of what went on at the 1989 version of the now famous Pinball Expo. The show was GREAT, as usual, and the "good news" is that Pinball Expo '90 has already been planned. Rob Berk informed us at the banquet that that show will be presented at the same location on November 9th and 10th 1990. For additional information you can call Rob at (216) 369-1192. SEE YOU THERE!!!
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