PINBALL EXPO '95 (PART 2)
By Russ Jensen
Last time I told about all of the seminars at Pinball Expo '95, plus the plant tour and the "Harvey Heiss video". This time I'll conclude my Expo coverage, including a little about the "Fireside Chat", the game auction, the Saturday night banquet, and last (but not least) the Exhibit Hall.
At the previous year's Expo Rob Berk initiated a new "Expo tradition" the "Fireside Chat", in fact that year there were two, one with pingame artists and another with designers. This time there was only one, occurring on Friday evening.
That "chat" was an informal get-together held in Rob Berk's suite with three of the older pingame designers: Steve Kordek (originally at Genco, then Bally, and then (and now) at Williams); Norm Clark (formerly at Bally); and Wendell McAdams (originally with Chicago Coin, and later with Game Plan). Each of these gentlemen briefly introduced themselves, outlining their past histories, then participated in a question and answer session informally lead by our host Rob Berk.
At one point during the evening Williams/Bally/Midway Director of Marketing Roger Sharpe was asked to join the designers to discuss his early involvement with Game Plan designs - in particular their SHARPSHOOTER pin in 1979 which he himself designed and which was also named after him. As I said last year, a detailed description of the "chats" is outside the scope of this article, but I will say that everyone present that evening had an enjoyable time listening to the stories told by these fascinating industry personalities.
This year, like the past several years, a coin machine auction was held in conjunction with Pinball Expo, put on by an outfit called U.S. Amusement Auctions. This year, however, there were not as many pingames in the auction as in past years.
As far as pre-1970 pins were concerned there were only about seven put up for sale. There were two pingames from the 1930's: Mills' HI-BOY (1938) and Gottlieb's LOT-O-FUN (1939). HI-BOY was actually a combination pingame and "Bell slot machine" and brought a healthy price of $1550! LOT-O-FUN was one of a series of Gottlieb pins of that era to have "bingo type" cards on it's backglass.
From the 1940's there was only one pin, a fairly shabby Genco TRIPLE ACTION (1948), the first flipper game to have it's flippers at the bottom center of the playfield (like most pingames since), and designed by none other than Steve Kordek! There was also only one 1950's pingame in the auction, Gottlieb's 1958 game ROCKET SHIP. Pins from the 1960's fared a little better, there being three offered for sale, all from Gottlieb. The earliest of these was their 1960 game DANCING DOLLS. Next came DANCING LADY (1966), and finally SUPER SCORE (1967). All of the other pingames offered for sale were a smattering of electro-mechanicals from the 1970's and many solid-state pins.
In addition to pins, other types of games were also auctioned off including juke boxes, video games, arcade games, and even a "kiddy ride" or two. The following is a sample listing of a few of the pingames (mostly older ones) which were sold and the prices they went for:
SAMPLE OF PINGAMES AT THE EXPO '95 AUCTION NAME MANUFACTURER YEAR PRICE HI-BOY MILLS 1938 1550 LOT-O-FUN GOTTLIEB 1939 275 TRIPLE ACTION GENCO 1947 85 HEAVY HITTER (BASEBALL) BALLY 1948 75 ROCKET SHIP GOTTLIEB 1958 675 MADEMOISELLE GOTTLIEB 1959 175 DANCING DOLLS GOTTLIEB 1960 205 DANCING LADY GOTTLIEB 1966 350 SUPER SCORE GOTTLIEB 1967 290 FIREBALL BALLY 1971 850 ODDS & EVENS BALLY 1971 320 FLYING CARPET GOTTLIEB 1972 175 TIME ZONE BALLY 1972 305 WIZARD BALLY 1974 450,500 ATLANTIS GOTTLIEB 1975 355 BIG DEAL WILLIAMS 1977 290 POWER PLAY BALLY 1977 315 PROSPECTOR SONIC (SPAIN) 1977 270 STAR TREK BALLY 1978 575 GORGAR WILLIAMS 1979 390 CATACOMB STERN 1981 365 THE BANQUET
Saturday evening, as has been true of all ten past Expo's, was banquet night. This year, as last year, the first banquet event (after a fine dinner) was a "charity auction" to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The items auctioned off (all "pin related") were donated by various Expo exhibitors, game manufacturers, etc.. The auctioneer for the event was the same one who presided over the game auction earlier in the day.
The first item to be auctioned was in fact five items - five BATMAN FOREVER T-shirts from Sega. The final bid for one shirt was $20; the others then sold to other people at the same price. Next came a "package" consisting of two OPERATION THUNDER and one CACTUS JACKS hats which was sold for $25. Then came what was referred to as a "quad exposure" photograph of the backglasses for four Data East pingames - BATMAN (1991), GUNS 'N ROSES (1994), STAR TREK (1991), and TOMMY (1994) - bringing $35.
A "Me Gorgar" T-shirt then brought $25. Then a set of "plastics" from the limited production 1992 Data East MICHAEL JORDAN pin sold for a high bid of $55. One of the highest bids of the evening came next, $275 for a copy of a painting of the backglass art (by Expo guest Jerry Kelley) of Bally's 1966 pin CAPERSVILLE. Next came another "package deal" consisting of a Gary Flower pinball tie plus a "Pinball Dreams" CD-ROM which went for $155.
Next up was an early bagatelle game called KICK BACK which brought $85. After a set of wooden legs was sold for $35, a piece of art for some pinball playfield plastics was sold for $115. Then came the "high bid of the evening", $590 for the "crystal" (with light) from Bally's TWILIGHT ZONE pingame from 1993.
After a "plastic form" from Williams' GETAWAY (1992) sold for $45, and a pinball article from the Chicago Sun Times brought $25, a reproduction backglass for Bally's popular FIREBALL (1971) pin brought $120. Five more Sega BATMAN FOREVER T-shirts were then sold for $11.50 each. Next came a Data East TOMMY (1994) playfield selling for $85.
The next item to be auctioned off was probably the strangest of all. It was six bricks which came from the recent demolition of the old Bally plant at 2640 Belmont Avenue in Chicago. The bricks brought a final bid of $160! Incidentally, I personally now own a brick from that plant which I will treasure due to the fact that a large percentage of the pingames in my collection (and my slot machine too) were manufactured there, not to mention the fact that I visited that address twice in my lifetime.
The next two items auctioned were a Data East STAR WARS (1992) playfield going for $125, and a Gottlieb SUNSHINE (1958) reproduction backglass (donated by my friend Neil Jamison) which went for $175.
Finally, the second and third highest priced items went up for bids. A framed backglass for newcomer pingame manufacturer Capcom's first pin, PINBALL MAGIC, which was signed by the designers/artists, went for $350. Lastly, they auctioned off an actual pinball game, Gottlieb's 1987 game SPRING BREAK, the final bid for which was $310. That ended the charity auction bringing in a nice sum for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, not quite as much, however, as last year when some more valuable items were contributed.
Next on the banquet agenda was a little sort of comical bit by Expo producer Rob Berk which he called "You've Attended Too Many Expo's When". Rob then would make that statement and finish it with many different endings.
Rob began with "You've been to too many Expo's when - you remember when Sam Harvey didn't wear a tie to the banquet". His next several answers to that statement were: "you can't remember when we didn't honor Steve Kordek" - "you've heard Alvin Gottlieb speak at two banquets", - "when Joe Kaminkow worked at Premier", - "when we cut the slide show off halfway through the banquet.", and - "you believe Rob Berk when he says the banquet will be over at 11 PM".
These were then followed by: - "you remember when we were at the Holiday Inn", - "you remember Gary Flower wearing a bow tie to the banquet", - "you remember seeing Tim Arnold pulling French Fries out of his toolbox", and - "you remember when Steve Kordek was the banquet guest speaker".
Rob's final answers to the query included: - "you remember when Mike Pacak wasn't working on his Pinball Encyclopedia", - "you remember when Orange Trading Co. was an exhibitor", - "you remember when Steve Kordek was honored for 50 years in the business", - "you remember when you already knew Tim Arnold was going to win the raffle",and - "you remember when you slept all day Wednesday knowing you would be up all day Thursday playing pinball".
After that little interlude, Rob Berk formally welcomed all of us to the banquet. He then introduced the featured speaker of the evening, Williams/Bally/Midway Games Vice President of Sales Joe Dillon.
Joe began by telling us that his part of the show would actually consist of two parts. First, he said, will be a slide presentation telling of the use of pingames in other parts of the world. Finally, Joe told us, there will be an "audience participation" game for fun and prizes.
The first part of Joe's presentation began by him telling a little of his employment history in the industry. He first told us that in August 1965 he started working for the Gulbransen Piano and Organ Company which was owned by Seeburg Corporation. Joe said at that time there were over 100 piano manufacturers in the Chicago area. He then told of attending his first AMOA convention, remarking that the pinball manufacturers there had special suites in the hotel and appeared to be having lots of fun during the convention.
Shortly after that, Joe went on, two large Japanese piano manufacturers, Kawai and Yamaha, began taking a large share of the piano market in this country. He then told us that after that he worked for Seeburg in various capacities, at one time moving to Boston to work for a Seeburg distributorship there.
Joe then told us that a Bally distributorship opened up just across the parking lot from them and that some of those people once played a joke on him. He told us they got one of the big operators from New Hampshire to come into his place saying he wanted 100 jukeboxes but didn't want to deal with the other company, asking Joe for a price quote. Joe said that after he excitedly called the factory to get a price on that large order the guy told him "that's such a good price that I guess I'll buy one jukebox."
In 1980, Joe then continued, he went to work for Williams (which was at that time owned by Seeburg), remarking that the two big games they were selling at the time were BLACK KNIGHT and THUNDER. He then said that he has been with Williams most of the time since then, except for a short stint at Bally and another outfit. Joe then told us that in his present capacity as Vice President of Sales he travels around the world promoting Williams' games, remarking that he feels like a "booking agent" booking games into different areas.
Joe then told us that he was going to give a slide presentation showing pinball in other parts of the world. The first slide showed a German game show, Joe commenting that Germany was their largest foreign customer and that pinball was "in great shape" in that country. He then told us that in Germany you would probably play pinball in a "Speiltech" which was a sort of arcade which contained videos and pingames, but also some "gambling equipment". He then told us that the German idea of gambling is that it "should not be such as to change a person's 'station in life'".
We next saw some pictures from France of a tournament utilizing Williams' DR. WHO pingame in a small arcade. Joe then talked about where one might play pinball in France. He said that pinball is so ingrained in that country's culture that it would not be uncommon for someone to stop in a cafe on the Champs-Elysees (which he called "the finest street in the world") for a cup of coffee and end up playing "Les Flipper".
After commenting that France is a good market for pingames, Joe told us of a problem they were having some years back with the flipper buttons falling off of their games operated in France. Upon investigating, he went on, they observed that French players slapped the buttons with their hands (rather than just pressing them), the shock of this causing the "U-clips" which hold the buttons in the cabinet to fall off.
In Switzerland, Joe then told us, you would play pinball in an arcade (which could contain some gambling equipment as well, depending upon in which local jurisdiction it was located) or possibly in a "pub". In Holland, he then remarked, there are lots of female pinball players, and people play in arcades (which also have gambling equipment) or in small pubs.
We next saw some pictures from Australia. Joe told us that in that country the pin business is thriving, then telling of one arcade which has a STAR TREK - THE NEXT GENERATION mural painted on the wall. In that country, he then remarked, you would probably be playing pinball in a very attractive "high class arcade" with many pingames, or possibly a pub.
Joe next showed and told about China, first showing an arcade in Beijing. At that point he introduced his wife, Ann, who he said traveled to China with him. Joe told us that when she tried to ask a small child there where an arcade was located the kid ran away screaming. He then told us it was hard to find many arcades in China. We were then shown a couple more Chinese arcades, Joe commenting that they usually contain a lot of video and "redemption": games, adding that the Chinese pinball market is coming "slowly, but surely".
Next up was South America, where Joe said that arcades have "tremendous amounts" of pingames, adding that some arcades even have "rides". He then told of an arcade in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which has all electro- mechanical pins, remarking that they had a little trouble keeping them running, but did pretty well.
At that point Joe told how much it costs to play a game of pinball in various countries. In Brazil he said it costs about 15 cents, and about the same in England. In France and Japan, Joe went on, the price was $1.01, and in Spain 81 cents. The highest price he told of was in Germany where he said it costs $1.42 to play a game of pinball.
The slide show then ended and Joe made a few concluding comments regarding pingames and the industry. First he said that he guarantees that there is no difference in pinball players throughout the world, they all having the same dedication, passion, and skill. Joe then remarked that pinball, the form of entertainment he has been trying to "book" all around the world, entertains, intrigues, and draws people of all ages and nations to it.
Joe then went on to say "it's also a tribute to the people who make these games - many times you see the end results here, but behind the scenes I'm able to see the arguments among the design team members concerning whether or not to put certain features, etc. in a game". Joe then commented that it's not uncommon near the deadline for a new design to see design team members sleeping at the factory because they worked all night so they could start again the next morning.
Ending his talk, Joe told us that he feels very privileged and very proud to be a part of this industry. As a final comment Joe said "I'm not a player, a designer, or a programmer - I just book the acts, and the acts are great all around the world - pinball is well around the world!"
When Joe's slide presentation ended he told us that it was time for the audience participation game. He then introduced a young lady he called "L.J." who he said would help conduct the game. "L.J." then began telling us how the game would work.
First she told us that a card had been placed on each table (except for those occupied by industry personnel, who were not allowed to participate). We were then told that that would be used in connection with a "qualifying round" to select contestants for the actual game in which two teams of four contestants each would compete. One team, "L.J." then told us, would be trying to guess the names of pingames based on "audio clues", while the other team would be given "visual clues". In order to select the eight contestants for the game, the qualifying round would use clues taken from pingame advertising flyers.
"L.J." said that when she read one of those clues anyone thinking they knew what game's flyer it was from should hold up the card from his or her table. The first person to raise a card would be asked to name the game, and if correct could choose if he/she wanted to be on the "audio" or "visual" team. This process would continue, "L.J." told us, until all eight contestants for the game were chosen. If, however, the person guessed incorrectly, another quote from the brochure would be read until a correct answer was obtained. She then read the first clue.
The clue was "a combustible combination of features". Someone incorrectly guessed FIRE and the second clue "Doomsday Bonus Feature" was then given. That brought a correct answer of Bally's 1980 pin FIREBALL II, the guesser choosing to be on the "audio panel".
When the first clue for the second game "the realm of fantasy enters reality" was given, no one ventured a guess. The same thing happened for the second clue "new Bally Blaster Flipper". The third clue "Ball Teleport Mechanism" brought the correct answer of Bally's 1987 game DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS, that person choosing the "visual panel".
The first clue for the next game, "it's a jungle out there", brought an incorrect response of JUNGLE LORD. The second complex clue "hit a target to freeze cycling lights in front of the '4-bank' and complete the bank to score the lit value", brought no guesses. Either did the third clue, "Copyright 1986, Williams Electronics", although it gave away the year of release. When the fourth clue, "spell 'LIZARD' to collect bonus", was given the correct answer of Williams' GRAND LIZARD was obtained, the guesser choosing the "audio panel".
The first clue for the next game, "a totally awesome pinball machine", brought a quick correct answer of Bally's RADICAL from 1990, the guesser also choosing the "audio panel". The first clue for the next game, "fuel up your profits", also brought a quick correct guess of the 1988 Bally pin TRUCK STOP, the guesser choosing the "visual panel".
The last three games were also quickly guessed after only one clue. In the first of these the clue "Let the Good Times Roll" elicited a correct guess of Williams' 1990 game ROLLER GAMES, with the "visual panel" being opted for. Next the clue "a direct hit" elicited Williams' 1994 pin DIRTY HARRY, the "audio panel" being chosen. The clue for the final game "it's fast, it's furious, and it fights back" brought a quick correct answer of Williams' 1987 pin F-14 TOMCAT, the guesser being automatically placed on the "audio panel". It was now time for "the games to begin".
First it was the "visual panel's" time to compete. "L.J." then gave the rules for their game. She explained that slides would be shown to the contestants of small sections of the artwork for a pingame. If any panel member thought they knew the game, she continued, they should signal by holding up their card. If they guess correctly they score 100 points, but an incorrect answer will ban that person from giving another answer "L.J." finally explained. The panel members, Mark, Dan, Henk, and Gene, were then introduced.
The first correct answer, Williams' 1963 pin BIG DEAL, was given by Henk. He also correctly guessed the next three in a row: Williams' APOLLO (1967), JACK POT or GOLD RUSH (1971), and their 1964 pin STOP AND GO. When Henk missed the next game, Williams POKERINO (1978) he said it was because "it didn't go to Holland" - his homeland. Roger Sharpe then asked "L.J." if there were "any more games in the contest which didn't go there?" Henk also incorrectly guessed the next game whose artwork was shown as SORCERER, the correct answer being given by another contestant as STAR LIGHT (but, I'm not sure of the year, however).
With the next game, Williams' 1962 pin VAGABOND, Henk again got into the "winning column" causing Joe Dillon the quip "yeah, but in what month was it released?" The final game in the "visual" section gave a lot of problems for the panel, however.
The first two guesses, GOLD RUSH and EL TORO, were incorrect. This prompted "L.J." to give the hint "when you drink beer it comes out of one". When that didn't seem to help she said it was designed by Steve Kordek, then remarking "two of them - you drink beer out of", bringing forth another incorrect (but reasonable) guess of CAN CAN. When "L.J." finally hinted "people have ridden down Niagara Falls in these" the correct answer of Williams' 1961 pin DOUBLE BARREL was finally obtained.
That ended the "visual round" with Henk being declared winner by a slight margin - Ha, Ha. Joe Dillon then gave consolation prizes to the other three contestants on the "visual panel". It was then time for the "audio panel" to "show their stuff", the panel of Joel, John, Tom, and Heri being first introduced.
The rules for this round were then given, which were pretty much similar to the "visual round". The contestants were told that there were four "audio clues" for each game taken from the game's "sound track". As in the previous round, an incorrect guess would bar that person from making another guess on that game. The round then began.
The first game, Bally's 1991 pin ADDAMS FAMILY, was guessed after only one audio clue. Next was Williams GETAWAY (1992) which took two clues for a correct answer. The third game, however, was a little more difficult, it taking all four audio clues before Williams WHITEWATER (1992) was correctly guessed.
The first clue for the next game brought a wrong answer of ROAD KINGS before the correct answer of Williams' 1991 game TERMINATOR 2 was given. The next game, Bally's DR. DUDE, was guessed correctly on the first audio clue. The sixth game proved again to be difficult, it taking all four clues before the correct answer of Bally's CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1993) was obtained.
After games seven and eight, the correct answers for which were Bally's DR. WHO from 1992 (which was guessed after the first clue) and Bally's THEATER OF MAGIC from 1995 (which took two clues), no contestant had the required 500 points, so an additional game in "standard play" was used to try to get a winner. After three clues that game, Williams FISH TAILS (1992), was finally guessed.
This resulted in a "tie breaker" between two of the contestants. The "tie breaker" game ended up being Williams' 1990 pin FUN HOUSE (taking three clues to get the correct answer) and a winner of the "audio round" was finally chosen. The winner was congratulated and consolation prizes were awarded to the other contestants.
Joe Dillon then told us it was time for the "Grand Kahuna Section" in which the Grand Kahuna himself, Steve Kordek, would give the clues to determine the "Grand Prize Winner"! Steve then came up and was given a round of applause. At that point Joe gave the rules for this "playoff" round. Joe told the two contestants (winners of the "audio" and "visual" rounds) that Steve would read a series of clues about a particular pingame and the first one who guessed the game would win the Grand Prize. He then reminded the contestants that each could have only one guess. Steve then asked for a round of applause for Joe and "L.J".
The first clue, "this game has a moving target in the center of the playfield for bonus step-up", was then read by Steve, but no guess was forthcoming. The next clue read by Steve was "this game had an 'extra ball' feature utilizing the top center rollover". Henk (the winner of the "visual section") then gave the correct answer of Williams' 1976 game(s) SPACE MISSION or SPACE ODYSSEY (although it was possible they he had heard the answer from the audience).
"L.J." then said that there was one more clue to be read, Steve then saying jokingly "this game was designed by one of the good-looking designers", bringing laughter and applause from the audience. The winner, Henk from Holland, was then presented with the Grand Prize, a framed backglass of the Expo tournament game Bally WHO DUNNIT autographed by the game's design team. That brought a round of applause for Henk. the runner- up was then presented with a SPACE MISSION brochure autographed by designer Steve Kordek.
Finally, Joe Dillon and Steve Kordek talked a little about SPACE MISSION, it's importance to Steve, and how the artwork showed the first U.S.\U.S.S.R. docking in space. That ended the audience participation part of the show.
At that point Rob Berk introduced the other people sitting at the first table. They included his co-producer and Exhibit Hall Chairman Mike Pacak and Rob's wife (of about one year) Bridgit. Rob next conducted an annual Expo ritual. He first asked everyone to stand up. He then asked all first time Expo visitors to sit down. This process continued (people who had only been to two shows, three shows, etc., being asked to sit down) until only those of us who had been to all eleven Expos remained standing.
After that Rob introduced a gentleman from an outfit called E.S.S. Productions from Boston who he told us was filming segments for a future two hour television documentary on the history of pinball. We were told that that documentary would be shown on national television sometime in mid-1996.
Richard Shapero from Louisville KY, who originated the idea for the "pinball wizards" at the Expo each year giving "pinball lessons" to Expo visitors, came up on stage. Richard thanked this year's "pin teachers" for their help which drew a round of applause.
At that point another "Expo tradition" (for the past several years) occurred. John Wyatt from the British "Pinball Owner's Association" (POA) came up on stage to present his organization's "Pingame of the Year" (actually since the last Expo) award. Their choice this time was Bally THE SHADOW. Roger Sharpe came up and accepted the award for his company.
Next up to the stage was Dave Marston from New Hampshire. Dave began by telling us that years ago Joe Dillon sold him games when Joe worked for a distributor and he was an operator. He then made a few remarks about "the global significance of pinball". Dave then said he was going to give an award to the game which had the record for the longest time on the "actively traded list" put out for the industry - 14 years! Dave then told us that the game was Bally's 1980 pin EIGHT BALL DELUXE, saying that no other pingame comes even close to that record! Bally ex-employee Jim Patla accepted the award.
Then even another "recent Expo tradition" occurred, nominations to "The Pinball Hall of Fame". This year there were two nominations: Wendall McAdams and Norm Clark (both quests at the previous evening's "Fireside Chat"). They then drew a healthy round of applause!
Rob Berk next thanked Williams/Bally/Midway for their loan of the WHO DUNNIT games for use in the Flip-Out tournament. He then thanked all the manufacturers for supporting the Expos for the past eleven years drawing a round of applause. Finally, he thanked Lenc-Smith for allowing us to tour their plant this year.
Joe Dillon was next called up to the stage by Rob and given a plaque for his banquet talk. Joe was then given a round of applause. Rob then called Jim Schelberg (publisher of the great pinball magazine, PinGame Journal) up to the stage to receive a "special award", a plaque for acting as the "unofficial Expo photographer". That drew another round of applause.
Next the "Best of Show" award for the Expo Art Contest was given to a Mrs. Shapero. Rob then asked Mike Pacak to give out the Best Exhibit awards. First Place this year went to Jim and Judy Tolbert for their "For Amusement Only" booth which drew a round of applause. Herb Silvers' "Fabulous Fantasies" booth was the runner up. Herb was then also awarded the "Best Restored Game" award for the several restorations he had on display, receiving another round of applause.
Rob then thanked everybody who helped with the banquet, including the speakers, his staff, and all of us who attended, drawing a round of applause. At that point he invited people connected with other pinball shows to come up and tell about them.
First up was Dann Frank producer of the "Wild West Pinball Fest" held each Spring in Scottsdale, Arizona. Dann said that in 1996 his show will be held the first weekend of May, adding that the same would be true in 1997. Herb Silvers then told of his brand new pinball show called "Pinball Fantasy '96", the first edition of which will be held at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, July 26 -28, 1996. Herb told us that he will hold a special "woodrail tournament" with a woodrail pingame as the prize!
The final show we were told about was the fine show called "The Pinathon" which is held every Spring near Sacramento, California. Jim Tolbert touted the show for it's producers who did not attend the Expo. He told us that the 1996 Pinathon would be held the weekend after Mother's Day.
At that point Exhibit Hall Chairman Mike Pacak reminded us that the Flip-Out tournament finals would be held Sunday morning, then reminding us that the Exhibit Hall would be open all night for anyone wishing to play any of the games there.
Rob Berk then asked Jim Tolbert and several other people to come up on stage. He then told us that all those people had either Birthdays or Anniversaries that month. On the subject of Anniversaries, Rob started talking about Williams'. He said that he never knew exactly when that company started, but decided it was 1945 (actually it was more like 1943) and declared it to be Williams' "50th Birthday". He then had us sing "Happy Birthday" to Williams.
Finally, Rob announced that Pinball Expo '96 was planned for November 14 through 17, 1996. That ended the banquet festivities and most of us headed for the Exhibit Hall for more pinball playing (some all night!) and visiting.
THE EXHIBIT HALL
As I've always said when reviewing past Expo's, the real "center of activity" of the show is the Exhibit Hall. It is where all the games are, and where most of the visiting is done. And, as in the past several years, the "hall" actually consisted of two rooms loaded with pingames and people.
This year, I believe, there were more "woodrail" pingames (from the 1930's, 1940's, and 1950's) than at any past Expo (except possibly one year when a large number were brought for display). On top of that, there was one particular woodrail game that was represented several times (somewhere between 6 and 8, I believe). That game was Gottlieb's 1958 pin, SUNSHINE. This seemed to be interesting and that's why I dubbed Pinball Expo '95 "The Year Of Sunshine".
As I said earlier, the Exhibit Hall is the place were much of the Expo visiting between attendees takes place. And I was certainly no exception, talking to many of my old "pin friends" as well as meeting and making new friends. Not only did I get to renew acquaintances with pinball people, I also had a chance to see a special "young lady" I met for the first time at the previous Expo. This was one-year-old Arianna Clark who visited Pinball Expo '94 (with her parents, of course) at the young age of seven weeks!
Also, as in the past, there were many coin machine oriented dealers displaying their wares in the Exhibit Hall. Many were selling pingames (from all eras), while others offered parts and "paper". As usual, Steve Young's "Pinball Resource" had a booth selling their reproduction parts, other parts, and their fine literature reprints. Steve and Laura Engle's "Pinball Supermarket" was also there again with a large variety of pin-related parts and other items.
Two of the many pingame dealers there were Jim and Judy Tolbert's "For Amusement Only" outfit from the San Francisco area (who also sold parts and literature), and Herb Silver's "Fabulous Fantasies" from the Los Angeles area. Another pin dealer was my good friend Neil Jamison from Wichita Kansas who is one of the few dealers to also sell "bingo" and "1-ball" gambling type pins.
If you were interested in pinball advertising flyers (which are becoming a big pinball collectable) a visit to Expo co-producer Mike Pacak's booth was (as always) the center of activity for those. A few other dealers also had some flyers.
As for pingames, there were many available for sale, playing, and viewing. There was also, as always, a long line of the new Bally WHO-DUNNIT pins used for the "Flip Out" tournament qualifying rounds. A run-down of the approximate number of pins from each decade is probably in order here.
There were five pingames from the 1930's, and eleven from the 1940's. From the 1950's there was a whopping 26 pingames (plus three "pitch and bat" baseball games), the most Fifties pins at any Expo to date. The largest number of electro-mechanical pins from any decade, however, was the 1960's with 46 pins and one baseball! From the 1970's there were 42 electro- mechanical pins, one "baseball", and six solid-state pins. There were 20 pingames from the 1980's and 22 from the current decade. The above numbers are only approximate, and do not count multiple occurrences of the same game (such as SUNSHINE).
A chronological listing of most of the pins at the show is as follows:
CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF PINGAMES PINBALL EXPO '95 (NFS - NOT FOR SALE) GAME MANUFACTURER YEAR PRICE DROP KICK Exhibit 1934 300 SCREAMO Rockola 1935 SPIT FIRE Genco 1935 300 FLYING HIGH Western Products 1936 950 CHUBBIE Stoner 1938 MYSTIC Bally 1941? 450 LAURA Williams 1945 SEA BREEZE United 1946 300 MEXICO United 1947 200 RANGER Exhibit 1947 195 RIO United 1947 350 ROCKET Bally 1947 CARIBBEAN (NO GLASS) United 1948 150 YANKS Williams 1948 COLLEGE DAZE Gottlieb 1949 850 MADAME BUTTERFLY (CONV) Nate Schneller 1949 FIGHTING IRISH Chicago Coin 1950 FOUR HORSEMEN Gottlieb 1950 KNOCK OUT Gottlieb 1950 NFS MADISON SQUARE GARDENS Gottlieb 1950 1095 SELECT-A-CARD Gottlieb 1950 MINSTREL MAN Gottlieb 1951 2195,OFFER PLAY BALL Chicago Coin 1951 350 STOP & GO Genco 1951 SOLD TRI-SCORE Genco 1951 500 CROSSROADS Gottlieb 1952 NFS FOUR CORNERS Williams 1952 800 HIT AND RUN Gottlieb 1952 QUEEN OF HEARTS Gottlieb 1952 875 TWENTY GRAND Williams 1952 500 NINE SISTERS Williams 1953 NFS SHINDIG Gottlieb 1953 895 GOLD STAR Gottlieb 1954 800 LOVELY LUCY Gottlieb 1954 THUNDERBIRD Williams 1954 ? AUTO RACE Gottlieb 1956 NFS DELUXE 4-BAGGER (BASEBALL) Williams 1956 1000 BIG INNING (BASEBALL) Bally 1958 850 GUSHER Williams 1958 650 ROCKET SHIP Gottlieb 1958 2000 SUNSHINE Gottlieb 1958 650 HI DIVER Gottlieb 1959 950 LIGHTNING BALL Gottlieb 1959 475 PINCH HITTER (BASEBALL) Williams 1959 1200 STRAIGHT SHOOTER Gottlieb 1959 DANCING DOLLS Gottlieb 1960 SPOT-A-CARD Gottlieb 1960 595 WORLD BEAUTIES Gottlieb 1960 325,425 CORRAL Gottlieb 1961 700 EGG HEAD Gottlieb 1962 500,550 FLIPPER CLOWN (AAB) Gottlieb 1962 550 FLIPPER COWBOY (AAB) Gottlieb 1962 900 RACK-A-BALL Gottlieb 1962 TROPIC ISLE Gottlieb 1962 675 VAGABOND Williams 1962 500 BEAT THE CLOCK Williams 1963 GIGI Gottlieb 1963 600 SLICK CHICK Gottlieb 1963 1595 BOWLING QUEEN Gottlieb 1964 595 MAJORETTES Gottlieb 1964 2195/OBO OH BOY Williams 1964 SHIPMATES (PARTS) Gottlieb 1964 WORLD FAIR Gottlieb 1964 625 ZIG ZAG Williams 1964 BANK A BALL Gottlieb 1965 425,500 BIG STRIKE Williams 1965 500 BUCKAROO Gottlieb 1965 1695 COW POKE (AAB) Gottlieb 1965 ICE REVIEW Gottlieb 1965 350, 600 ICE REVIEW (PROTOTYPE) Gottlieb 1965 700 KINGS AND QUEENS Gottlieb 1965 950 SIX STICKS Bally 1965 SKY LINE Gottlieb 1965 925 CROSS TOWN Gottlieb 1966 1595 FULL HOUSE Williams 1966 MASQUERADE Gottlieb 1966 495 SUBWAY Gottlieb 1966 500 APOLLO Williams 1967 700 BASE HIT (BASEBALL) Williams 1967 525,900 BEATNIKS Chicago Coin 1967 500 DIAMOND JACK Gottlieb 1967 KICKOFF Williams 1967 400 KING OF DIAMONDS Gottlieb 1967 650,700.15 MAGIC CITY Williams 1967 MAGIC TOWN (AAB) Williams 1967 175 MELODY (AAB) Gottlieb 1967 500 ROCKET III Bally 1967 550 PALACE GUARD (AAB) Gottlieb 1968 550 PAUL BUNYAN Gottlieb 1968 195,395 ROYAL GUARD Gottlieb 1968 500 PADDOCK Williams 1969 400 SPIN-A-CARD Gottlieb 1969 400 FOUR MILLION BC Bally 1970 750,800 SUSPENSE Williams 1970 FIREBALL Bally 1971 950 FOUR SQUARE Gottlieb 1971 450 PLAY BALL Gottlieb 1971 375 STAR TREK Gottlieb 1971 FLYING CARPET Gottlieb 1972 LINE DRIVE (BASEBALL) Williams 1972 800 NIP IT Bally 1972 550 SUPER STAR Williams 1972 125 DELTA QUEEN Bally 1973 375 JUMPING JACK Gottlieb 1973 KING PIN Gottlieb 1973 AIR ACES Bally 1974 OXO Williams 1974 495 TOP CARD Gottlieb 1974 350 WIZARD Bally 1974 CAPTAIN FANTASTIC Bally 1975 650,795 EL DORADO Gottlieb 1975 SOLD KICKOFF Bally 1975 425 MISS UNIVERSE (BINGO) Bally 1975 1400 OLD CHICAGO Bally 1975 595 PAT HAND Williams 1975 395 PIN UP Gottlieb 1975 350 SPIN OUT Gottlieb 1975 360 TOP TEN Chicago Coin 1975 275 ALADDIN'S CASTLE Bally 1976 475 BUCCANEER Gottlieb 1976 450 CANNES Segassa 1976 FACES Segassa 1976 475 HANG GLIDER Bally 1976 425 MYSTIC Bally 1976 500 NIGHT RIDER (EM) Bally 1976 175 PLAYBOY Bally 1976 SPACE ODYSSEY Williams 1976 225 SURE SHOT Gottlieb 1976 SURF CHAMP Gottlieb 1976 500 ARGOSY Williams 1977 475 BIG DEAL Williams 1977 400 BIG HIT Gottlieb 1977 JACKS OPEN Gottlieb 1977 450 JET SPIN Gottlieb 1977 550, 695 JUNGLE QUEEN Gottlieb 1977 MATA HARI (EM) Bally 1977 525 RANCHO Williams 1977 395 CAMELITE (COCKTAIL TABLE) Game Plan 1978 250 KISS Bally 1978 NUGENT Stern 1978 STAR TREK Bally 1978 FLASH Williams 1979 475 GORGAR Williams 1979 450 INCREDIBLE HULK Gottlieb 1979 325 VIKING Bally 1979 550 ALGAR Williams 1980 350 FIREPOWER Williams 1980 500,550 BLACK KNIGHT Williams 1981 1050,1100 CATACOMB Stern 1981 425 CENTAUR Bally 1981 FREE FALL Stern 1981 325/OBO HYPERBALL Williams 1981 375 SPECTRUM Bally 1981 BABY PAC-MAN Bally 1982 400 HIGH SPEED Williams 1986 1100 F-14 TOMCAT Williams 1987 MONTE CARLO Gottlieb 1987 PARTY ANIMAL Bally 1987 SECRET SERVICE Data East 1988 595 TAXI Williams 1988 995 TRUCK STOP Bally 1988 ABC MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL Data East 1989 795 BAD CATS Williams 1989 EARTHSHAKER Williams 1989 CUE Stern 198? BUGS BUNNY Bally 1990 1995 SILVER SLUGGER Gottlieb 1990 SIMPSONS (THE) Data East 1990 CHECK POINT Data East 1991 HARLEY DAVIDSON Bally 1991 OFFER USA FOOTBALL Alvin G. 1992 ADDAMS FAMILY Bally 1993 CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON Bally 1993 2800 INDIANA JONES Williams 1993 PISTOL POKER Alvin G. 1993 1350 TWILIGHT ZONE Bally 1993 NO FEAR Williams 1994 APOLLO 13 Sega 1995 NEW BATMAN FOREVER Sega 1995 NEW CORVETTE Bally 1995 NEW INDIANAPOLIS 500 Bally 1995 NEW JACKBOT Williams 1995 NEW JOHNNY MNEMONIC Williams 1995 NEW PINBALL MAGIC Capcom 1995 NEW STRIKES & SPARES (BOWLING) Gottlieb 1995 NEW WATER WORLD Gottlieb 1995 NEW WHO DUNNIT Bally 1995 NEW
This year, as happened for the first time last year, the Exhibit Hall was kept open all night on both Friday and Saturday nights. Most dealers, however, did not keep their booths open for sales, but a good percentage of the pingames were available for the pin playing "night owls".
A final note regarding Exhibit Hall activities. Again this year (as in the past several years) there was an Artists, Designers, and Authors Autograph Session held in the second Exhibit Hall room on Saturday afternoon. I myself participated in several past autograph sessions, but this year, since my book "Pinball Troubleshooting Guide" was "out of print", I was just a bystander. The tables at which the celebrities sat were arranged in a large rectangle with the artists, etc., sitting on the inside and the "autograph hounds" lining up around the outside to get the signatures on pinball flyers, books, etc., of their favorite "pin personalities". The session lasted a couple hours and the lines of people were quite long most of the time.
Well, there you have it, a run-down of the events at another great Pinball Expo - the eleventh such show! It was great as usual, and I believe the attendees from all around the U.S. (and around the world too!) really had a great time! Next year's Expo is scheduled for November 14 through 17, 1996, but as of now I don't know if I'll have the funds to do it again. But maybe I will win big at bingo or the lottery a month or two before Expo time. Anyway, I highly recommend Pinball Expo to any pinball fan (collector, player, etc.) as I am sure they will have a good time! If I can make it I hope to see you there!
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