PINBALL EXPO '94
(The 10th Year)
By Russ Jensen
Well, believe it or not, 1994 was the 10th year of the fabulous PINBALL EXPO (the first show being put on in 1985). And, I'm happy to say, I have been lucky and privileged enough to attend all ten shows!
This year the show was truly a four day event, running from Thursday, November 10th through Sunday, November 13th. Because of there being not one but two plant tours on Thursday I had to travel to Chicago one day earlier this year - on Wednesday.
Well, as I have done for air travel in the past year or so, I again decided to fly from the closer Hollywood/Burbank Airport, rather than LAX. This required me to change planes in Denver; but I didn't mind since my daughter could drive me to the airport rather than me having to take the expensive bus trip to LAX.
Since my daughter had to go to work that day she had to let me off at the airport around 6:30 AM for my 8:45 flight. However, once I got checked in I discovered there was a flight leaving almost immediately for Denver. I was able to take that flight and wait the additional time in Denver, but that was fine with me.
The two "legs" of my flight to Chicago were uneventful. After picking up my bag and taking the hotel shuttle from the airport, I checked into my room in the early afternoon. My roommate, Los Angeles area collector/operator John Cassidy, was not scheduled to arrive until about 5 AM the next%worning as he was taking the "red eye" from LAX.
When I arrived I only encountered a small handful of Expo visitors who had already arrived. After retiring to my room to watch two of my favorite Wednesday night TV shows, I ate dinner alone at the Italian restaurant which was one of the three eating places in the hotel. I will say I had some of the best Italian bread I have ever eaten.
I retired about 11 PM, expecting my roommate to arrive at 5 or 6 AM. But when I awoke at seven he had still not shown up. Being hungry I again ate alone, this time at the restaurant about a half-block from the hotel. When John did arrive around 8 AM he told me that his flight from LA had been delayed, not taking off until about 2 AM (instead of 11 PM).
Well, when Expo registration started at 9 AM John and I went to get our registration packets and wait for the 9:30 bus departure for the first plant tour. While waiting for the busses to start loading I ran into several old friends from past Expo's. I also noticed a young couple with a very tiny baby. When I asked about her I found out her name was Arianna and she was only 7 weeks old. The youngest Expo attendee I am sure.
When I finally boarded a bus for the plant tour I discovered that my good friend Sam Harvey was our "bus coordinator". Before we started he got up and read to us from a brief history of Electrical Windings. Among other things, he told us that the company was founded in 1937 by Orland Murphey (who's son Donal now heads it) and that the factory had been in it's present location since 1944.
During the approximate 40 minute bus ride I noticed the interesting old Chicago neighborhoods we went through during the last part of the ride. Once when I glanced out the window I just happened to see the Foremost Plastics plant, a company making plastic parts for the pingame industry and which was featured in a seminar at a past Expo.
After arriving at the plant we got off the busses and entered the plant through a large back door accompanied by one of the plant employees who acted as our tour guide. We were first taken to see Donal Murphey's personal pingame collection which was contained in several different rooms of the factory, some on different floors.
These games were pretty much separated by decades and were mostly single-players. We were told we could not play the games due to time constraints. There was also one room where all the games and backglasses were for sale.
After traversing some stairs (there were a lot of those in the building) we started touring the manufacturing areas. We first saw a woman working at a special machine which wound the windings for 10 transformers at a time. It employed a counter which counted the number of turns for each winding, a sheet of insulating material being placed between one winding and the next.
At the next station a man was using a special saw to cut each transformer's windings from the total of 10 produced at the previous station. Next, the ends of each winding were located and brought out and connected to external lead wires.
We then saw the metal lamination layers being inserted, followed by the addition of the external hardware (case, mounting brackets, etc.). After that, the completed transformers we were told were impregnated with a chemical and then baked in a special oven overnight. I was surprised to hear that their transformers were 100 percent tested!
The final part of our tour was the area where relay and solenoid coils were fabricated. This, however, was nowhere as interesting as the transformer manufacturing process. Upon leaving the plant we were each given a small relay coil.
After leaving the plant we boarded the busses and returned to the hotel for lunch. After that we again boarded the busses to travel to the Data East pinball plant for our second plant tour of the day.
When we arrived at Data East we had to wait outside for 20 to 30 minutes as they could only take a limited number of people into the plant at one time. This was reminiscent of a previous year's tour of the same plant, except this time it was not nearly as cold.
While we were waiting a company representative welcomed us to the plant. He also informed us that they had recently been bought out by Sega and were in the process of changing everything over to the new name. We were also told that the current game in production at the plant was MAVERICK.
During this waiting period I also visited with several people who were also waiting to get in. Finally we were allowed to enter the plant.
Having toured this plant before I did not see much of anything new. We passed various stages of the game assembly process (sub-assemblies, playfields, backboxes, etc.). When we got to the testing area our guide told us that they have people who do nothing all day but play pinball looking for hardware and software errors in the games.
At the packaging area we saw how the completed games were slid into packing boxes using a specially constructed ramp. After that we left the main plant and walked about a block to a separate warehouse building.
In that building we saw miscellaneous small assemblies being fabricated. After that we were each given a game poster and offered coffee and cup cakes. We then boarded the busses and returned to the hotel.
Later in the afternoon (as we had last year) there were "pinball playing lessons" offered to Expo attendees by various champion players. This idea was the brainchild of Louisville Kentucky lawyer and pin fan Richard Shapero. At 6 PM the Exhibit Hall was opened for the first time, an event eagerly awaited by most of the Expo visitors. But more about that later.
Also that evening one of two special events (called "Fireside Chats" by Expo producer Rob Berk) occurred. This was held in Rob's suite and consisted of several of the pinball artists visiting with and answering questions from interested Expo attendees.
A detailed report on this interesting two to three hours is beyond the scope of this article. It would also be somewhat difficult for me as the batteries in my portable tape recorder failed after about five minutes after the start of the session. I do want to say, however, that this was an interesting interlude indeed, and another great idea by Rob Berk aimed at making each year's Expo more exciting than the previous one.
The next morning (Friday) was the start of the Expo seminars. First, came the "Opening Remarks". Expo chairman Rob Berk first welcomed us all to the 10th edition of Pinball Expo. He then announced that Dick Bueschel had been added to the seminar program that morning. After reminding us that Mark Pratt from Arizona would be recording and selling audio tapes of all the seminars, Rob announced that that evening we would have another of his "fireside Chats", this time featuring long-time designers Wayne Neyens and Steve Kordek.
Rob then told us that there again would be (as at the past two shows) a designer/artist/author autograph session on Saturday afternoon. He also said that during the Saturday evening banquet there would be a "charity auction" of pin related items, all the proceeds going to the "Make-A-Wish Foundation". He then introduced his co-producer and Exhibit Hall Chairman, Mike Pacak.
Mike began by again welcoming us to the show. He next thanked all the exhibitors, complimenting them on the good number of pingames they brought to the show. Mike then informed us that the hall would be open all night both Friday and Saturday nights, for playing only however. This was definitely an Expo "first". He ended by again thanking us all for coming.
HOW MANY DID THEY BUILD?
Rob Berk then introduced the presenters of the first seminar "How Many Did They Build", my good friend Sam Harvey from Pomona California and Tim Arnold from Las Vegas. Rob referred to Sam as a "wild man" who he said knew who most of the designers and artist were for many, many pingames.
Tim, Rob then said, was "a collector extraordinaire". He said he and Tim used to argue over who owned the most pins; but when Tim's collection topped 900 he gave up the competition. This drew a round of applause.
Tim began by posing the question - why do the manufacturers put serial numbers on games in the first place? He then answered that there were two main reasons. First, so they can keep "process control" over production errors. Secondly, he went on, so they can keep track of how many of each game were built.
This later reason, Tim pointed out, is also why people today keep track of serials of old games - to try to determine game production figures.
Tim next told us that we all should send in the serial numbers of games in our collections to either himself, Sam, or Steve Young (Incidentally, I sent my serials to Steve several years ago).
He then went on to say that they were not planning on releasing the results of their serial collecting right away. One reason for this, Tim then told us, was that premature disclosure could tend to decrease the incentive for people to provide additional information to the project.
Finally, Tim commented that the exporting of pingames could cause some problems with using existing serials to determine game production numbers. As an example, he mentioned the large number of pins Gottlieb exported to Europe in the late 1960's
Sam Harvey then began to tell us about where serial numbers were located on the games by different manufacturers. He began by mentioning that Data East puts their serials on the backs of the machines making it difficult to read them when they are placed against the wall.
Still talking about modern pins, Sam told us that Premier puts their serials right on the playfield instruction cards. He then commented that he doesn't understand why game manufacturers keep a secret of their production figures, even for the electro- mechanical games which were made over 15 years ago. He then said they hope pressure from collectors will eventually get the manufacturers to release this old information.
On that subject, Tim then quipped that eventually maybe they might be able to tell the manufacturers how many games they made. Tim then remarked that he thought the manufacturers should "pander" to the collectors by giving out that type of information.
Tim then said that they are doing quite well with regard to deciphering Gottlieb serials, but that Williams is harder, because they use sequential serials - not restarting numbering with each new game. He then told us that a list of Bally production figures was once "snuck out" of the plant.
Bally, Tim continued, usually starts their serials at "1000" for each new game. Williams he said does not start a new series with each game, but continues numbering from the previous game. Tim then told us that Williams put serial number tags on coin doors, the bottom of the cabinet, and stapled inside the head.
He then remarked that "sample" games put out by the manufacturers sometimes cause a problem with analyzing serials. Gottlieb, Tim went on, usually put the letter 'S' after the serial number on it's sample games. He then said that Gottlieb usually stamped their serials on the front of the cabinet below the coin door.
Tim then added that they also started serials for a new game at the next even thousand after the last number of the previous game. He then said that this means that they don't "reset" their serials for each new game as Bally does.
Finally, Tim remarked that slot collectors have been collecting serials for years and that it's about time for pin collectors to do the same.
On a related subject, Sam then told us that Gottlieb put the "game numbers" (the number used to internally identify each new model at the plant) on their schematics, but that Williams did not on their earlier games. Therefore, he told us, he needs to know many of the game numbers for early Williams pins.
Getting back to serials, Sam said there was a rumor that in the 1960's Gottlieb put hidden serial numbers of the playfield using a method which required a special type of light to read them. United, he then told us, wrote their serials with crayons.
Chicago Coin, Sam then remarked, was very much like Gottlieb, stamping serials either above or below the coin door. He then commented that sometimes some operators stamped their own "serial numbers" into the wood. But, he added, after you see a few of these you can easily determine the factory numbers from those applied by operators.
At that point we were asked if we had any questions? The first question asked was if serial information could be supplied by people via the INTERNET computer communications system? Tim replied "I don't like computers", but went on to say that if someone wants to do it that way to let them know.
When asked if serials were ever found on playfields, the answer given was that they were sometimes found on playfields, cabinets, or doors in different locations. It was next asked if they planned to publish their serial information regularly? Tim replied that they are afraid to publish anything early because people might stop contributing serials when they are published.
At that point Sam remarked that regarding the question about serials on playfields, that some older Williams games had them stamped on the field. Tim remarked that today Williams has 5 assembly lines which makes serials harder to track as they are computer generated. He then added that you should just forget about Williams games made after PINBOT.
At that point Dick Bueschel in the audience made a comment regarding slot serials. He said they have been publishing those for years and are still getting new inputs all the time. Tim then remarked that they were thinking about starting some sort of serial number contest, perhaps in connection with PinGame Journal.
Someone from the audience then remarked that they were curious how many of the old games have survived, asking if they would share the information they receive regarding how many of each game is reported to them? Tim said that would be possible, and then estimated that approximately 1 percent of the games made in the 1950's have survived, and maybe 2 to 5 percent of those manufactured in the 1960's.
Sam next remarked that the manufacturers build their games to last for about 5 years, saying that it's really a wonder that so many have survived today. Tim then commented that many of the games were exported out of the country, even saying that many were sent to Cuba.
Someone next suggested that PinGame Journal provide a list of rare pins (such as Bally's BALLS-A-POPPIN') and request that readers notify them if they own any of those games. After that Sam remarked that somewhere further down the line that a book might be published giving this type of information and/or the results of the serial number project.
Someone else then directed our attention to the latest update of Larry Bieza's "Pinball Price Guide" which, in addition to listing retail prices for post-war flipper games, contained listings of highest and lowest discovered serial numbers for Williams and Gottlieb games from Steve Young's serial number project. Tim then told of Sam Harvey purchasing some old records from a pingame distributor which contained many Williams serial numbers for games they sold.
At that point someone from the audience remarked that some of his games have had the serials removed and asked why that might have been done? Tim replied that there were often "exclusive distributorships" which local operators could only purchase from. He said some operators would remove serials from games they purchased outside the local area.
When it was asked how long it would be until the serial information they were collecting would be published, Tim replied that they were "open to suggestions". He then added that people could make their suggestions to them, even through INTERNET.
Continuing along this computer theme, Gottlieb designer Jon Norris mentioned a new computer "bulletin board" which had recently been set up in Seattle, suggesting that a "conference" regarding serial numbers might be set up on that. Tim answered, "OK, but I still do things by hand". A suggestion was then made that the "computer people" get together later to discuss such things.
At that point Sam remarked that if they ever could see production information from the manufacturers it would be interesting to compare the results of their serial number research with the actual figures. Tim then added that the Bally list indicated that 799 VAMPIRES were made, a figure which was substantiated by serial number information.
Finally, Tim suggested that designers Steve Kordek and Wayne Neyens should be asked for their comments, possibly at the "Fireside Chat" scheduled for that evening. (Incidentally, that subject was never brought up during the "chat".)
Before thanking us for our interest in their project, Sam remarked that revelation of low production on certain games could possibly result in higher prices for those machines. That ended the presentation which drew a round of applause for Sam and Tim.
Rob Berk then introduced the next speaker, Dick Bueschel, who he said was currently editor of COIN-OP CLASSICS magazine, had written many books, and who he said had a wealth of information regarding pins.
After remarking that the pinball hobby "goes on and on", Dick said he was going to talk about collecting pinball advertising flyers. He said that this was a rapidly expanding area of the hobby, and that he spent much time with the "paper side" of the hobby.
To illustrate his point regarding flyer collecting, Dick first remarked that the flyer for the first flipper game, Gottlieb's HUMPTY DUMPTY, is rarer than the game itself and could bring as much as $150. He then said that he himself once refused an offer of that much for the flyer for Rockola's 1933 pin JIGSAW. Dick then commented that Bally FIREBALL flyers are approaching $100 today.
At that point Dick began a great slide presentation showing rare pinball flyers from several decades. The first flyer shown was for Bally's 1932 pioneer pin BALLYHOO. After telling us that the game's designer Ray Moloney started with serial '1000' to make people think he had produced more than he had, Dick told us that that game was "supported by more printed paper than any other pingame ever made."
Dick next showed the flyer for Keeney's RAINBO from that same year which he said was one of many "BALLYHOO clones". He then told us that BALLYHOO had established the standard size for pins of the period.
We were then shown the brochure for the square pin BALLYROUND which Dick said had "died", almost causing Bally to go bankrupt. Flyers for this game, he told us, are quite rare today.
Following that we were shown Peo's DAISY which Dick said was another of the square pingames which came out in the first six months of 1932. The flyer showed "high class" people playing the game.
Next we saw a game called KING TUT which Dick said was promoted as a product of Automatic Jobbers of New York. Dick said that many different outfits sold this game, but that he thought it might have been actually made by International Mutoscope Co.. He also told us that he had never actually seen this game.
We were then shown Rockola's JUGGLE BALL from October 1933 on which the player could move the ball on the playfield by means of a rod. Dick commented that that idea apparently did not catch on. Finally he remarked that the game was similar to BALLYROUND and that the flyer was probably rarer than the game.
Next Dick showed Bally's PENNANT from December 1933, which he said had to face the competition of Rockola's very popular JIGSAW which came out about the same time. He then commented on it's "crazy handling of the ball" which he said was all done mechanically.
Dick then showed the 4 page, full color, flyer for Pacific Amusement's CONTACT, the first pin to use electric ball control. He said that the flyer for that game is much sought after by collectors, the 4 page version not coming out until the introduction of the popular "Junior" model.
We next saw Bally's STREAMLINE from April of 1935 which Dick said was a new large size (42 inches long). He told of it's interesting ball manipulation method and explained how to make a high score on the game.
This was followed by the flyer for Bally's June 1934 pin FLEET, the first of several Bally games by that name. Dick mentioned that that early FLEET was not mentioned in the Hawkins/Mueting dating book. He then said it featured the revolutionary "shooting gun" idea which was a "new thrill" for pinball players. Finally Dick told us he had 4 copies of this flyer which may be the most available of the early 1930's pinball flyers.
Next we saw the flyer for a game from October 1934 called MAJIK KEYS. Dick told us that pinball pioneer Harry Williams once said that he considered this game to be one of the most significant of the early pins, even admitting to borrowing ideas from it.
Dick then said that that game was made in Los Angeles, which he said was one of the centers of pinball development in the early years. He then told us that Don Hooker, who later designed many of the Bally "one-ball" and "bingo" machines, originally worked in Los Angeles. Finally Dick remarked that MAJIK KEYS had an influence on all succeeding pingames.
We then saw an October 1934 pin called LIVE POWER, which Dick said was designed by a fellow named Dudley Clark. He then said that "kickers" on pins came in in a hurry. Finally Dick pointed out how balls in the "high voltage" holes near the top of the playfield could be "popped up", and up to 9 balls could be moving at one time.
Next was Daval's SHOOTING STARS from September 1934. Dick described it's "progressive scoring system" which he said was exciting as long as the balls held out.
We then saw Rockola's ARMY AND NAVY from December 1934, which Dick described as "one of the most elaborate football motif games ever made". After telling us it was one of the last of this type of game, he described it's action including it's moving football. We then saw another football motif pin, ABT's 1934 game ALL STARS, which Dick said had three dimensional players on the field.
Dick then showed us the brochure for a pin called SAFETY ZONE, which he said was made by an outfit in Brooklyn in December 1934. He told us that that company also made arcade games (such as diggers). Dick then commented that it was designed by a fellow named Max Levine and had a buzzer.
We next saw Daval's CHICAGO EXPRESS from February 1935 which had a tri-level playfield. Dick described the game's action and mentioned that it's theme was based on the Chicago "El trains".
Next up was Gottlieb's TURNTABLE from March 1935, which had a turntable in the middle of the field which would turn if a ball landed in a special hole. After describing the game's action, Dick told of the "coat of arms" on it's cabinet which Alvin Gottlieb once said his father Dave told him he copied from a Cadillac hubcap.
Dick then showed the brochure for Exhibit's STAR LITE from April 1935. He told us that that company hired Harry Williams and Lyn Durrant who he said designed some "clever and wonderful games", using electric action and moving lights. STAR LITE, however, he said was designed by a fellow named Frank Maitland. Dick then told us that later models of the game had a short marque.
We were next shown the flyer for what Dick said was probably the smallest payout pin ever made, Pierce Tool and Manufacturing's BULLET from April 1935. He said with this game a player could try to win nickels and not just play for pleasure. This little game, Dick went on, gave the player 10 balls for a nickel which might look like a "sure thing". However, he said, it is actually hard to get a payout on it.
Next we saw a game called CHECKERS put out by International Mutoscope (another New York City manufacturer) in May of 1935. Dick said it was designed by a Jack Firestone and that the playfield could be changed from checkers to either a "form a word" or a poker game.
We then were shown the flyer for a game called SHORT WAVE put out by Scientific Machine Corp. of Brooklyn in January 1936. Dick said this game and it's flyers are extremely rare.
The next flyer shown was for a German pin called TURNER put out by an outfit called Jentzsch and Meers in early 1936. Dick told us that that company was often referred to as "the European Mills". He then remarked that it had "toilet seat covers" over it's holes.
Following that we saw the flyer for Jennings' FLICKER from May 1936. That company Dick said was primarily a slot manufacturer but also put out many pingames in the 1930's. He then told of the game's lighted backglass, and remarked that it paid out using a slot machine mechanism.
Next up was Rockola's 1936 pin QUEEN MARY, which was named after the ship which Dick said was "the biggest thing you've ever seen". He then briefly described it's one ball scoring.
We then saw the flyer for a one-ball payout pin called COMBINATION from October 1936 (the month I was born!). Dick told us this was the 15th pingame put out by Buckley Manufacturing, a company noted for their counter games. He told of it's 3-reel mechanism in the center of the playfield on which the combination "W-I-N" was necessary for a payout.
Dick then jumped to 1940, showing us Exhibit's LANCER which he said he thought resembled Williams' solid-state pin BLACK KNIGHT. He then commented that electro-mechanical pins developed rapidly after 1936. Finally Dick commented that at that time Exhibit was introducing two new games in some months.
Next we saw a pin called DOUGHBOY from that same year, the brochure implying it was made by Baker Novelty Co.. Dick remarked that the flyer tried to say that Baker makes good games; but, he then told us, their games were actually made by Chicago Coin.
After Bally's BEAUTY with bathing beauties on it's backglass, we saw Gottlieb's GOLD STAR which Dick said came out two months before the bombing at Pearl Harbor. We then saw Exhibit's AIR CIRCUS from early 1942 which he said was the end of game production because of the war.
Going to the post-war era, Dick first showed the flyer for Marvel's FRISCO. He said this was a re-vamp of a pre-war game, then briefly describing what re-vamps are (old games turned into new ones by the addition of different backglasses, etc.). Dick then showed another Marvel re-vamp, OPPORTUNITY, from October 1946.
The first post-war production game Dick showed a flyer for was Bally's BALLYHOO (the 2nd one by that name) from June 1947. We were next shown two more post-war re-vamps, SWEET SUE (a re- vamp of United's HAVANA), and ELMER (re-vamp of Chicago Coin's KILROY), both done by an outfit calling itself "T & M Sales Co.". Dick then remarked that KILROY was the highest production run of any game until Bally's WIZARD in 1975.
After showing us the flyer for United's ABC (one of the first "bingo" style pins) from 1951, Dick showed a flyer for a German pin called NIXE. Dick told us that the Germans referred to pins as "bombers". He then showed flyers for some more German pins, including a 1954 flipper game.
The final two flyers Dick showed were Gottlieb's "Deluxe DUETTE", a wide-body version of their first 2-player pin from 1955, and Williams' SUPER SCORE of 1956. Dick remarked that the "deluxe" version of DUETTE was never listed in any pin lists and has a different backglass than the "standard" version. Flyers for the later game, Dick told us, were quite rare.
After his slide show Dick made a few final comments before asking for questions from the audience. He first told us that Dave Gottlieb's picture can be found on the back of the flyer for their 1959 game QUEEN OF DIAMONDS, along with a statement signed by him to the effect that it was the "greatest amusement machine we have ever built."
Dick then told us that flyers for Bally's 1976 game CAPTAIN FANTASTIC are getting hard to find. He then told of a German flyer for Gottlieb's 1978 solid-state pin CLEOPATRA, and the flyer for a European pin called SEXY GIRL, both of which were rare. Finally, he reminded us that if you want to get flyers for the latest pins you could subscribe to PinGame Journal.
Dick then asked for questions? He was then asked why he thought electricity was not used on pins earlier than the mid 1930's? Dick replied that there was a game using electricity in 1908, but the reason it probably wasn't used on more early games was that it was too expensive to build electric games in those days.
Finally, Dick was asked why he took such an interest in coin machines? He replied "I'm a groupie; I love it!" That ended Dick's fine presentation.
DOT-MATRIX ANIMATION IN PINBALL
Rob Berk next introiduced the featured speaker for the next seminar, Scott Slomiany, to talk about the new Dot-Matrix displays used on today's pins. Rob said Scott went to work for Willaims in 1991 and was their first full-time dot-matrix person.
Scott then came up on stage and set up his demonstration equipment for his lecture. He then began by explaining that the dot-matrix display used in today's pins is a 128 by 32 array of small light bulbs.
He then told us that each lamp was capable of three shades of illumination and black (off). Scott said these shades were the result of what percentage of time each lamp was turned on. He then remarked that this type of display was developed by the pinball manufacturers to make older model games seem less desirable to players.
After telling us that the use of these displays allowed games to have more complex "rules" because the display can add "more to the game", Scott remarked that the software to control the displays was developed "in-house". He then told us they used scanned images to start with, which were then modified by their own animation software.
Scott next described more of the details of their system while we waited for his demonstration software to display the next image. During this explanation several of the people in the audience who were "software oriented" asked some very technical questions which Scott answered. He then remarked "the software guy adds a lot to what I do to make it look great".
When the demo program was finally ready we were shown a demonstration of animation in the displays. Scott told about digitizing a frame and then cutting out what you need. He told us that memory limits what they can do, saying that they have about 2 megabytes of memory to use for display on Williams/Bally games.
Scott went on to say that sometimes they ad "inside jokes" and other things to the display to entice players. He also remarked that they also have to satisfy the license people on licensed games, as well as the game designers.
At the point Scott asked for questions from the audience? The first question asked was "what about using bigger display screens in the future?" Scott replied that Data East uses a large screen on their current game MAVERICK, but that they don't necessarily want to do that now at their company because, even though a larger screen gives a better picture, it requires more memory thus limiting the animation, unless expensive memory is added thus adding cost to the game.
When next asked about using color displays, Scott replied that they possibly might try it in the future, but that price is also a problem with that.
Scott was then asked about problems occurring with the dropping of frames on the display? He replied that they sometimes have that type of problem, telling of various things they have to consider in their design to prevent that.
Someone next asked Scott what was his favorite of his own designs? He replied that he liked his DRACULA display which he said captured the mood of the movie. He also said ROAD SHOW was a lot of fun to do.
When asked what his favorite pingame was, Scott answered that it was STAR TREK - THE NEXT GENERATION. He then added that Williams' EARTHSHAKER from 1989 was the game that got him interested in pinball.
Scott was next asked if he determines the animation for his games? He replied that he comes into the project later in the design cycle, after the whitewood is created. Scott then said that when he gets into the animation he might determine where it is appropriate, and sit down with the programmers to determine what can be done.
When next asked if they used any computer diagnostics to check the sequencing of the displays, Scott answered "no, we just take the glass off the game and hit the switches." He was then asked what kinds of images were hard to create. Scott's reply was that faces are hard to do because high contrast is necessary in a facial image.
At that point Scott gave some details concerning the complex animation used in their current hit ROAD SHOW. This included animation of various characters met on a trip to New Orleans, each of which was knocked off the road by a bulldozer.
The next question asked was if it was difficult to synchronize the display with the game's sound? Scott replied that sometimes it's very difficult, for example syncing mouth movements with a voice.
Scott was then asked if eventually they might try using a video camera to capture data for a display and then digitize it? Scott responded that the technology currently exists, but a small screen would make it look bad. When then asked if VGA graphics could be used for pingame displays, Scott answered that it was possible but extremely expensive.
The last question asked of Scott was what type of micro- processor they used in their games? He replied that it was a Motorola 1609 with a 2 megahertz clock rate. That ended the seminar.
SHOPPING YOUR PINBALL MACHINE PROPERLY
The next seminar to be presented was on "shopping" a pingame presented by Jim Tolbert of For Amusement Only in Berkeley California. In preparation for that we were each given a hand- out to follow during the presentation. While this was being done Jim was setting up the Gottlieb FLIP-A-CARD (1970) game to be used for demonstration.
Rob Berk then introduced Jim, saying that he has been operating his company since 1976. He then told about his former publication, Amusement Review (the first magazine I ever wrote for), that he currently writes articles for Coin-Op Classics, and that he wrote a book called TILT. Finally, Rob told us that Jim is currently researching coin-ops with a baseball theme. Jim was then given a round of applause.
Jim then began with a few preliminary remarks. He first told us that some of the ideas he would present are very basic, but other things he will talk about may not be so well known. Some things, Jim then said, he has picked up from other people, and still others he discovered for himself. He also asked for our ideas.
After telling us that Scott Sheridan from Ohio would be assisting in his demonstration, Jim remarked that the game they were using had been in storage since 1986. He then told us that it had not been plugged in since then.
Jim next told us that the first rule of pinball repair or restoration is to have a complete and organized tool box. This, he went on, should also include such items as cleaners, wax, polish, fuses, and rubber rings.
We were then told that the connectors in a game are often a big problem and should be thoroughly cleaned with either a wire brush or crocus cloth. Jim then reminded us to check the power cord, and if it is starting to get bad replace to it using a 9 foot extension cord which can be purchased at a low cost.
Jim next reminded us that the stainless steel legs and front door should be cleaned. He also told us to remove the coin mechanisms and wash them in soapy water.
After removing the lock-down bar from the front of the game, Jim removed the playfield glass. He then told us that old glass should be replaced with tempered glass because one can get cut from plate glass.
Jim next said you should remove the score/instruction cards and schematic for the game and store them in a secure place, suggesting that the cash box be used for this and to hold any other loose items from the game. We were then reminded to remove the ball before the playfield is removed.
At that point Jim said you should remove the playfield and mechanism panel from the cabinet, saving any loose parts found in the cabinet. He then suggested vacuuming the inside of the cabinet.
Jim next told us that you should clean the areas inside the cabinet that you can see when the playfield is in, and use fine steel wool to clean the outside of the cabinet.
After that Jim suggested that the flipper buttons be removed and cleaned, and also that the chime unit be cleaned and that it's plungers also be checked. It was then suggested that the dirt be blown out of the mechanism panel.
Jim next told us to tighten the screws on all switch stacks on relays, the score motor, etc.. At that point pingame designer Jon Norris from the audience suggested that the wing nuts be tightened on any relay banks.
Jim next said that you should go through all stepping switches in the game, cleaning and lubing them. He said you could use a lubricant called "LPS-1" on the pivot points, but if they were still frozen that you might have to disassemble the unit and clean it.
Regarding cleaning wipers and rivet contacts on stepping switches, Jim first said that if you remove the wiper assembly be sure to mark the "0" (reset) position first using red nail polish. The wipers and rivet contacts, he then told us, can be sprayed with contact cleaner which then should be wiped off, the residue then being removed with crocus cloth.
After that, Jim went on, you can apply "coin machine lube" sparingly to the rivet contacts. Finally, he told us to check all the bracket screws on the units. He also said you can check wire connections by pulling on the wires.
After replacing the mechanism panel and playfield in the cabinet, Jim said you should take everything off the top of the field for cleaning. He told us you can use a "rock tumbler" to clean metal parts, which can also be buffed. He warned us that a tumbler could damage plated parts which are beginning to "flake".
At that point Jim's helper Scott removed the score card holder and top arch from the playfield for cleaning. Jim next went into the backbox and told how to set up a game for "free play" if desired.
Still in the backbox, Jim told of cleaning the score and credit reels, commenting that you should not spray anything on the reels for fear the painted numbers might come off or smear. He suggested using a soft cloth or paper towel to apply the cleaner.
Still on the subject of score reels, Jim told us that they can be disassembled to clean/adjust them and then reassembled. Finally he told us to operate the coil plunger by hand to advance the reels, ending by reminding us to clean their mounting brackets.
At that point helper Scott cleaned the card holder he had previously removed. He then cleaned that area on the playfield which the card holder normally covered. Scott then cleaned the ball trough, telling us that the plunger could be cleaned using the rock tumbler.
It was next suggested that the plastic playfield posts be removed and soaked in a soapy water solution. Jim then said that you could replace those posts with new ones if desired.
The subject of playfield plastics was next taken up, Jim reminding us that they are a very important part of the game's cosmetics. He then told us that he has had some success with replacing bad plastics by duplicating good ones from another identical game by color Xerox and placing those on a cut-out of clear plastic laminate.
If youy plastics are good, however, Jim reminded us to keep them in a safe place until they are replaced. He then said they could be cleaned with either glass cleaner or plastic polish. Jim then passed around examples of dirty and cleaned plastics for comparison. He then told us that the plastics should "float" on their mountings when reinstalled by not tightening down the acorn nuts which hold them.
As far as fixing warped playfield plastics, Jim's first suggestion was to use a heat gun to heat the plastic piece until it droops. Then, using gloves to handle the hot piece, he suggested putting it under a piece of glass (never between wood!) to cool.
Jim also said that warped plastics could be heated on a cookie sheet in the over, Steve Young commenting from the audience that the oven temperature should not be over 150 degrees!
(A WORD OF WARNING! - If you do this be very careful of the temperature and also how close the plastics are to the heating element. I personally almost destroyed two rare plastics by not being careful enough.)
Finally, Jim told us that he usually removes and services all the pop-bumpers on the field, but there was not enough time to do this now. He then asked if we had any questions?
Jon Norris first asked what you could do to remove paint from a painted-over cabinet? Jim suggested a paint removing product called "Goof Off" to remove the top layer of paint.
As an aside, Jim next suggested that cabinets be checked to see if re-gluing was necessary, also suggesting that any old chewing gum be removed from the cabinet. When someone from the audience suggested that the ball be checked, Jim suggested that a new ball always be used.
A question was next asked regarding adding a sheet of mylar to protect the playfield? Jim replied that he doesn't like mylar, adding that bad mylar can be removed using a heat gun.
Jim was next asked how to repair sunken playfield lighted plastic "inserts"? He replied that you should knock them out entirely (using a nut driver or dowel from the bottom of the field), then reset and re-glue them using Crazy Glue.
When asked to define "shopping" a pingame, Jim said that the definitive definition of shopping is a complete restoration. This, he went on, includes new bulbs and rubber rings and buffing and polishing everything.
Jim then remarked that he sometimes sells games "as is", showing the buyer what to do to shop it themselves. The next question regarded touch-up of cabinet scratches.
Jim replied that he buys model paints for that purpose. Sometimes, he continued, he uses Testor's "paint pens" in black and white to fill in bad areas of paint. He then remarked that you can use acrylic paints for backglass touch-up. Finally, Jim commented that paint pens (or "sharpies" as they are sometimes called) can be used to touch-up playfield plastics or even playfield art.
At that point someone asked for more information on backglass restoration. Jim replied by first cautioning us to remove backglasses carefully. He then told us he used a product called "Zip-A-Tone" for touching up translucent areas on the glass.
Jim told us that this came in sheets and you had to cut out a piece of the proper color and lay it on top of the bad area of paint. The bad news, however, Jim told us was that that product was no longer available.
He then told us that you can use acrylic latex paint which is available in art supply stores. Jim said you should mix the colors on the front of the glass, then use a Cue-Tip to dab the paint on the area to be touched up. After that, he went on, you should "seal" the glass with a product such as Steve Young's "Cover Your Glass".
On the subject of playfields, Jim next told us that for repairing playfield screw holes one should use wood from a wooden match and Crazy Glue. He then suggested using a paint brush to clean loose dirt off the field, then wiping it with a damp rag.
After that, Jim continued, you should use a playfield cleaner (he mentioned a product called "CP-100"), followed by waxing it with about three coats of a good wax. He then remarked that the game's cabinet should also be waxed.
Jim then said that new lamps should be used on the playfield, recommending using type 47's rather that type 44's. He then recommended cleaning/adjusting all playfield switch contacts, also suggesting that lamp sockets either be cleaned or replaced.
Next Jim went to the subject of cleaning the game's legs and stainless steel doors. He first suggested that legs be buffed or wire brushed; foreign materials being first scraped off with a putty knife. He also suggested using "409" cleaner and/or "S.O.S." pads to clean the legs well.
Finally, Jim suggested using a good metal polish or a special impregnated cloth which he referred to as "Never Dull". He then suggested replacing the old leg levelers with new ones.
To wrap up his presentation Jim suggested that after a game has been "shopped" you should check it thoroughly to see if anything still doesn't work properly. Finally he recommended not plugging a game in until it has been thoroughly shopped. This, he added, eliminates a lot of problems.
GAME DESIGN FROM 'A' TO 'Z'
Rob Berk next introduced the speaker for the next seminar, Williams pinball designer Pat Lawlor, to give his presentation "Game Design From 'A' to 'Z'". He told us that Pat had been with Williams for 8 years and has designed such games as BONZAI RUN (1988), EARTHSHAKER (1989), FUN HOUSE (1990), and TWILIGHT ZONE (1993).
After thanking Rob for inviting him to speak, Pat told us he wanted to make a few preliminary remarks. First he said that this year his presentation was going to be somewhat different from his talks of pervious years.
Pat then told us that he will first give a brief, broad overview of his views on pingame design. He then commented that pin designers are individualists, each doing things differently.
Pat then told us that he would try to give us a broad idea of game design, but that he would like to try and tailor his presentation to the depth we in the audience wanted. He said this could be done by letting us contribute our ideas to help guide his presentation by answering our questions in a "interactive way".
At that point Pat asked how many first time Expo visitors there were in the audience? Quite a few people raised their hands. He than asked how many operators? There was also quite a few.
Pat next said he would talk about the "concepts" of pin design, saying there were essentially 3 "flavors" of concepts. The first "flavor" he told us was an "all original" design, not involving any licensing, which he said was "fun to do".
The second "flavor", Pat told us, was the regular "license" game such as ADDAMS FAMILY. He then told about the meetings they had with Paramount Studios regarding that property. We were then told that if a movie doesn't have "history" you're taking a chance buying a license.
We were then told that the last "flavor" was a mix of a license and the designer's own ideas, giving their game ROAD SHOW as an example. Pat then commented that ROAD SHOW actually resulted from a game idea he wanted to do. This idea came from his previous trip to the West to attend a Pinball Show. He added that the "country/western" theme came from the music he heard during that trip.
Someone from the audience then asked Roger Sharpe (Williams/Bally/Midway's Director of Marketing) how long it usually takes to obtain a "license"? He answered that it is normally 9 months to a year or more.
Roger was then asked how he learns about future movies he may wish to get a license for? He replied that there are certain movie business publications which give such information. He then told us that you can also call someone when you hear a rumor of a new movie.
Finally, Roger remarked that if there are several new films coming out you have to do a sort of "market analysis" to try and determine which might be the best one to license.
At that point Pat introduced his panel. First was programmer Dwight Sullivan, followed by another programmed Ted Estes who Pat said was the head of software development at their company.
Pat then introduced their ace mechanical engineer John Crutch who he said designs all the "great toys" used on their games. Then, after introducing Roger Sharpe, Pat introduced artist John Youssi.
After defining what was meant by a "whitewood" (the first working model of a new design), Pat told how it was created from his game concept. He told us they used "AUTOCAD" computer software to draw out the playfield, this drawing then used to produce the prototype field which has no artwork (hence the term "whitewood").
After Roger Sharpe answered a few questions regarding the "timing" of licenses, Pat told about having "prototypes" of their ADDAMS FAMILY available at the movie's premier.
Someone from the audience then asked the frequently asked question of how people could submit their game ideas to the company? Pat replied that under his contract with the company he wasn't allowed to talk to anyone on that subject because it might lead to legal problems. He then said that at their company Steve Kordek "interfaces with the whole outside world" and that he would refer anyone to Steve on such matters.
When someone then asked if all mechanical designs were committed to drawings, Pat answered "we draw everything". Mechanical engineer John Crutch then added that drawings of all mechanical devices they use are drawn on a computer and prototypes then made from those drawings.
It was next asked if they used computer software programs to simulate the play of a new design? Pat answered only "we have lot's of interesting software", adding "some things I can't talk about".
Pat then made some miscellaneous comments regarding drawings. He first remarked that there are thousands of parts in a game, each having one or more drawings associated with it. Pat then told us that their vendors need drawings to produce parts for them, the manufacturing people need assembly drawings to know how to put the games together, and their parts sales people have to be able to "replicate" the parts later.
Someone then asked how long parts for a given game are made available? Pat answered at Williams it's about 5 years. He then told us that they can sell 70 percent of their parts to foreign markets, adding that the U.S. is "a vast wasteland for pingames."
At that point someone asked Pat why he made that statement? Pat replied that the U.S. is the cheapest place one can play pinball. He said that in Germany a game costs about $1.20, in Canada from 50 cents to a dollar, and in Australia either one dollar (or three games for two dollars).
Pat continued, saying that because the price of new pins is now high, operators have to charge more per play to make a profit; otherwise they won't want to buy pins. He then remarked that today video games are again "kicking pins butts".
Pat then added that because of the low price per game in this country it takes operators a long time to pay for a game, also considering the cost to maintain them and splitting the "take" with the location.
At that point the Williams people started getting information from the people in the audience. First Pat asked the players in the audience who today plays more, the same, or less that they used to? Of the people who indicated they played less Pat asked them why?
The two main answers given were that the games were poorly maintained by the operators, and that the games in a location are not changed as often as they used to be.
Roger Sharpe then asked the operators in the audience if they were buying more, the same, or less new pins today than before? Of those who answered less, he asked why?
The three main answers given to that question were: 1) they cost more to maintain and take in less money than more reliable video games; 2) it takes too long to clean today's complicated playfields, and 3) the price of pins is much higher than video games. Pat then made a comment to the effect that the use of dollar bill acceptors on pins helps to make more for the operators, especially in "street locations".
Pat then asked the people who say they play more today where they play? Using a show of hands the answers appeared to be pretty evenly split between street locations (bars, etc.), bowling centers, and arcades.
At that point Pat got back to the subject of game design, discussing some aspects of programming, game rules, etc., interactively with members of the audience. After that Pat remarked that with the state of the art in pinball today, the people involved in producing the games have to put in an unbelievable amount of tedious work, taking many months per game.
After joking about the programmers problems getting things on a new game to work right, Pat commented that the music and sound people also have to get their job done. This, he added, includes getting the sounds in sync with the dot-matrix displays as well as with the play of the game.
The subject of licenses was again broached. Pat first told of the problems they often have of trying to get movie actors to record their voices for use in the game's sound.
We were told that Roger Sharpe usually tries to help with this. Pat then told us that they often have to send a person to the location where the actor is to record his/her voice. He then pointed out that this kind of thing has to happen concurrently with other tasks in the game design process.
Pat then added that the design "sub-groups" all have to interface with each other, while the mechanical engineer works to perfect playfield items.
Finally, Pat brought up the subject of production prototypes and filed testing. A few production prototypes ("beta test" models), he then commented, are "snuck out" for preliminary field tests.
Pat said that almost without exception something on the game will fail during location testing - resulting in them having to "go back to the drawing board". Somehow at the end of this process, he then told us, after about a million dollars in costs, a game finally goes into production!
At that point Pat asked for more questions from the audience. Someone then asked how many engineering drawing revisions usually occur between the "whitewood" stage of a game and final production? Pat answered about 3 or 4 for the whitewood and possibly 1 to 5 revisions for mechanism drawings.
Artist John Youssi next showed us his original drawings for their current game ROAD SHOW. These included the heads of the two dummies used on the playfield, the speaker display panel, and the "4-color art" and final painting for the backglass. These drew a good round of applause.
The presentation ended with Pat telling us that they would all be around later for us to talk to.
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE PINGAME JOURNAL
At that point Rob Berk introduced the next speaker, Jim Schelberg, publisher of the PinGame Journal to speak on the history of his publication. He said that two years ago Jim had only a mild interest in pinball, but today he is the editor/publisher of his own pinball magazine.
Jim began by asking how many of us were subscribers to his publication? Many people raised their hands, followed by a round of applause for the magazine.
We were then told by Jim that it all started when his wife Marilyn wanted to buy him a pinball machine for his birthday. He said this resulted in them flying to Chicago for a few hours back in 1989 to attend Pinball Expo. Jim then told of Rob Berk showing them around at that time.
When he returned home to Michigan, Jim continued, he put a "pinball wanted" ad in the local newspaper and then went on a two week vacation. When they returned, he then told us, there was 60 calls on his machine in answer to that ad.
Jim then told us that he now owns approximately 60 pingames, almost all of them resulting from that one ad. He then told of buying the first Genco flipper game, TRIPLE ACTION of 1948, from somebody's basement.
In 1991, Jim then commented, he started subscribing to Pinball Trader. When he saw something from it's publisher Dennis Dodel about wanting to "slow down", Jim said he called Dennis offering to put the magazine together on his computer, with Dennis just doing the printing.
But at that time, Jim next remarked, Dennis decided to sell the Trader to Jack Simenton in California. So, he said, since he was already set up to do the Trader on his computer he decided to start PinGame Journal.
Jim then told us that he got some addresses from past Pinball Trader ads and sent out flyers asking for subscriptions to his new publication. From this, he then told us, he got 80 people to send in $21 for a 13 issue subscription.
We were then told about the first issue of the Journal containing over 400 errors (Jim even ran a contest to see who could find the most errors which I participated in). Jim told us that some of these errors were corrected on his computer, but the corrections were not "saved".
Today, Jim then commented, he has over 1100 subscribers and charges $30 for 12 issues. He then added that he now also has a proof reader, and uses a spelling checker, but that there are always a few errors nevertheless.
At that point Jim presented a short slide show. We were first shown a picture of his Doctors office (Jim is a pediatrist) with Rob Berk in it. Next we saw Jim's children which he said were the magazine's "teen and youth advisors".
After showing his printer (who he referred to affectionately as "Big Bill") and his printing press, Jim showed an assistant named Kathy stuffing the magazines into envelopes in his office. Finally he showed his "prize cabinet" which contained the T- shirts, etc., he used for prizes in his magazine's many contests.
Jim next introduced his lovely wife Marilyn, who stood up drawing a round of applause. After that Jim remarked "it's a lot of work, but it's still a lot of fun". He then asked for questions?
The first question asked (obviously from a non-subscriber) was what does the magazine cover? Jim answered "the world of pinball", adding that it covered both new and old games. He then commented that some readers want more stories on older games, but that he needs more people to write for him on that.
Jim was next asked why his magazine's name included "pingame" rather than "pinball"? He replied that he didn't want the name to be too similar to "Pinball Trader", which was still publishing when he started up.
Rob Berk then asked Jim to tell about the new masthead he had for his magazine? Jim told us that it was drawn for him by ace pinball artist Kevin O'Connor. Jim then passed out to everyone a copy of the cover of the current issue of his magazine.
Someone then asked Jim where all his subscribers are from? He answered that many were from California, but that most of the states were represented. Jim then added that he also has many subscribers in foreign countries, even in Saudi Arabia.
At that point Rob Berk introduced one of Jim's foreign subscribers and writers Frederico Crocci from Italy, drawing a round of applause. English subscriber and Expo visitor and author Gary Flower was then mentioned.
Jim then took a photo of the audience all appearing to be reading the simulated Journal issue he had handed out. Jim's presentation ended with the awarding of prizes using numbers which were written inside the simulated magazines.
READING AND UNDERSTANDING SCHEMATICS
Rob Berk then introduced the next seminar speaker, Steve Young from New York, to give his presentation on how to read pinball schematics. He said Steve was most noted for his publishing, several years ago, a great pinball magazine called "Pinball Collector's Quarterly".
Finally, Rob said Steve was a "strong pinball supporter" now producing reproduction parts for the hobby. Steve was then given a round of applause.
Steve began by telling us that he was going to make an informal presentation. He then told us that reading schematics is something which stumps a lot of people, even operators who have been in the business for over 30 years!
We were then told, that once you got the hang of a few little things, the basics of reading schematics was not too complicated. One day, Steve then quipped, "a light bulb goes on."
After commenting that he only had a half an hour for this presentation, Steve told us he would try to make it interesting. He then told us to consider the schematic as a "road map".
A schematic for Gottlieb's 1971 game DROP-A-CARD was projected on the screen to aid Steve's presentation. Steve first pointed out on the diagram the name of the game, the designer's initials, the game number, and the drawing date. He then commented that the "game number" is often also shown on the game's score and instruction cards.
Steve next pointed out the "Table of Coils" which he said appears to give a lot of "cryptic" information until you learn to understand it. He then pointed out that the coils in this table were broken down into relay coils, relay bank coils, other coils, etc..
We were then told that each coil in the table is given a letter (or two) to differentiate it from the others, plus an "index" (letter plus a number) used to locate the coil on the schematic. The coil's "function" in the game, Steve told us, was also given in the table.
Steve then told us that the coil's "part number" is also listed. He then said this is something which you should pay attention to when replacing a bad coil (especially those connected in series with another coil).
Continuing with coil table information, Steve told us that the table also shows what type and how many contacts were associated with each relay.
For example, he explained that the notation "3A" in that column meant that that relay had 3 type "A" contacts associated with it. Steve then told us that "A" means "normally open", "B" means "normally closed", and "C" indicates "single-pole-double- throw" contacts.
Steve then commented that the information provided in the table of coils could even be used to determine a replacement for an entirely missing relay in a game. However, he went on, this would be a tedious job, but possible.
After giving us some information concerning the labeling of "Control Bank Relays", Steve went to the "motor chart" shown on the schematic. He said this was "another mystery" to many people.
Steve then remarked that he likes to think of an electro- mechanical pingame as a "mechanical computer" which "executes" one function at a time. He then pointed out the "picture" of the score motor on the schematic, showing a top view of the motor switch actuating plate with switch position labeled as "4A", etc., for example.
Steve then said that the "4" indicates that the switch stack is located in the position labeled on the picture by that number. The letter "A", Steve then told us, indicated that that switch was operated by the bottom cam on the motor unit ("B" would be the next cam up, etc.). He then told of the suffixes "S" and "L" on the contact code which stood for "short" and "long" positions respectively.
At that point Steve turned to the right-hand side of the schematic where the game's power transformer was shown. He pointed out the 110 volt primary circuitry and the secondary windings which produced the lower coil and lamp supply voltages.
After commenting that each manufacturer has their own conventions regarding the layout of it's schematic and game wiring, Steve began telling us that Gottlieb in their games used vinyl covered wires for all 110 volt circuits, and cloth covered wires for the lower voltage circuits fed from the transformer's secondary windings. Steve then went on to say that the "ground line" and the "6 volt hot line" were shown along the drawing's edges.
At that point Steve told us that he was going to use a "sample problem" to illustrate how to use a schematic for troubleshooting. The problem, he then told us, was that the left and right rollovers don't alternate properly.
Steve next remarked that often a game's lamp circuits (rather than coil circuits) are sometimes easier to use to analyze a problem. He then pointed out on the schematic the circuits which operated lamps associated with the sample problem.
Steve then showed us that all lines from those lamps ended at a single-pole-double-throw switch on the game's "Alternating Relay". He then told us that that switch was most likely the cause of our problem.
We were then reminded by Steve that the electrical connectors used to interconnect the various parts of a game (playfield, backbox, etc.) are often the cause of game malfunctions. These connectors, he reminded us, are never shown on schematics, but should not be ignored when other problem sources have been investigated, adding that these connectors all "break" the game's "ground" and power supply lines.
After pointing out what the schematic symbols for stepping switch disc wipers and lamps are, Steve directed our attention to the right-hand side of the diagram where the game's "coil logic" was depicted. He then pointed out the red and black wires which were the 25 volt power supply for the coils.
Steve next reminded us that the "Game Over" and "Tilt" relay contacts interrupt many of the game's circuits. He then commented that you can troubleshoot the "start circuits" in many games with the playfield removed, but not on Gottlieb's.
We were then told that Steve would talk briefly about flippers, pop-bumpers, and "start circuits". First, however, we were reminded that every coil has a black "common" wire connected to it, most having two to continue that circuit to the next coil in line.
On the subject of flipper circuits, Steve began by remarking that in order for a flipper to work you've got to get 25 volts to the flipper coil, the only thing in the way of that being the flipper switches. He then added that there is also an "End-Of- Stroke" switch which shorts out the "fine winding" on the flipper coil.
Steve next switched to "Pop-Bumpers". He told us that the bumper switch on the playfield powers a "Pop-Bumper Control Relay" which in turn powers the bumper's coil. He then talked about the bumper unit's "End-Of-Stroke" switch which holds the relay energized until the bumper operates to propel the ball away.
Finally, we were told by Steve that a game's "Start Circuit" is one of the most troublesome circuits in pingames. The circuitry involved in getting the "Start Relay" to energize, he went on, involves several switches on several different units - a lot of items to troubleshoot! Steve then briefly told of using "clip leads" to short out various portions of the circuit during testing.
After suggesting that a game's "Slam Switches (used to disable the game if the cabinet is hit by players in an arcade) be disabled for home use, Steve concluded his presentation. He was then given a good round of applause.
DESIGNING A PINBALL MACHINE
Rob Berk got up again to introduce the presenters of the final seminar, the now annual Pinball Expo "design your own pingame" session. He began by telling everyone "now's your chance to design a pingame!" Rob then told us that this year our guest designers were two fellows from Sega (formerly Data East) Pinball, John Borg and Tim Seckel.
John began, as has been customary in the past, to ask the audience to suggest themes for the game and then vote on them. The theme which won out in the voting was "The Three Stooges" (which had also been selected several years ago).
Other theme suggestions included such themes as: Information Super Highway; Election '94; O.J. Simpson Trial (yeah - that's right); Rocky Horror Picture Show; and Pinball Expo, just to name a few.
We were then asked to select a playfield "gadget" for the game. Three heads in the middle of the playfield (representing the Stooges, of course) was chosen. This resulted in quite a bit of discussion on how the heads should be placed, and how they should be used during play.
One idea was to have one head in the center of the field with the other two placed above it. A real crazy suggestion was to put "Curley's" head in the middle, with it being able to pop up through the game's top glass, allowing the player to pat it.
Another "head idea" was for the heads to have hands, with the heads being able to move, and thus hit each other. Someone even suggested the heads being able to "spit" balls at each other - a very wild idea indeed!
It was then suggested that drop targets be placed in front of each mouth. A suggestion was also made that the game end with some sort of "pie fight".
At that point there was a brief discussion of the Pop- Bumpers on the proposed game. When the people in the audience were asked to vote on how many there should be, two was the number chosen. After that there was much interactive discussion of various game play details, including the use of ramps, spinners, etc..
At one point someone comically suggested putting three buttons on the game's "lock-down bar" (representing each Stooge, of course) which controlled the heads on the playfield. These buttons he said would be operated by the player touching them with his own head.
The final discussion of the design was concerned with a "jackpot" feature for the game. We were finally told that a "whitewood" of our design would be available in the Exhibit Hall the next day. That ended the seminars.
DESIGNERS "FIRESIDE CHAT"
Near the beginning of this article I mentioned a special Expo event, held in Rob Berk's suite, dubbed by him as a "Fireside Chat", featuring several of the pinball artists attending the show. Well, Friday night another of these "chats" occurred, this time the special guests were pinball design greats Wayne Neyens and Steve Kordek.
Wayne, as many of you might know, began his career in the pingame industry with an outfit called Western Products way back in 1937. After serving in the Armed Forces during World War II, Wayne went to work for D. Gottlieb and Co. and was their top designer until he retired in the 1960's.
Steve began working at Genco in the late 1930's and later on designed that company's first flipper game, TRIPLE ACTION, in January 1948. After a short stint at Bally years later, he ended up as a designer for Williams and is still there today as their Director of Game Design.
The stories told by those two industry veterans, with intervening questions from their audience, lasted for about three hours and was a great treat for all. But, as I said earlier, the details of that session is beyond the scope of this article. However, it could possibly be the subject of a future COIN SLOT article.
Well, that's all for Part 1 of my coverage of the great Pinball Expo '94. Stay tuned next time for the conclusion of this story, including details of the game auction, banquet, and Exhibit Hall (including a listing of all pingames on display there).
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