PINGAMES AT THE 1998 COIN-OP SUPER SHOW
By Russ Jensen
This year there was only one edition of Bill and Roseanna Harris' COIN-OP SUPER SHOW. It was held at the Pasadena Exhibit Center in Pasadena, CA on October 3rd and 4th 1998. By the time of this show my good friend Ron Tyler (who drives me to these shows now that I can no longer drive) was finally back from an extended business trip (actually he is a college professor and was on a teaching assignment in Germany for almost a year) and could again accompany me to this fine show.
On Saturday morning Ron picked me up bright and early and we began the 75 mile drive to the show site. We found a good parking place in the adjacent parking structure which was near the entrance door. When we walked down the stairs to the large area where people waited to enter the show (we got there about 9:30 and the show didn't open until 10 AM) we noticed a large number of people waiting to get in. It reminded me of the "good old days" in the 1980's when the Loose Change Fun Fair (which was most always held in this same venue) was a good show and well attended.
As we walked down the stairs we heard some great music playing. It was from a large modern electronically controlled "orchestrion" which was being demonstrated by the maker. The music was constantly played in the lobby, both before and during show hours. When 10 AM rolled around people were crowding around the door to get into the showroom. This year the COIN-OP SUPER SHOW was combined with the "Toyrific" toy show (as in the past year or so) and also with a "Casino Collectables" show.
When we finally got into the hall it appeared that there were a fairly large number of exhibitors this time. When I went over to Roseanna's booth to say "hello" she told me that there were quite a few pingames at the show.
After leaving Roseanna's booth I started roaming down the first aisle. One of the first booths I encountered was that of Marshall Fey (grandson of the inventor of the 3-reel payout slot machine) which was manned by Marshall and some members of his family. I believe Marshall has had a booth at all of Roseanna's past shows, and I always make it a point to stop by and say "hi" to this very cordial gentleman.
As I continued roaming the aisles I discovered that Roseanna had told me correctly, as I believe there were more pingames there than at previous COIN-OP SUPER SHOWS. The dealer who always seems to have the most pingames at these shows is Herb Silver's Fabulous Fantasies from Encino California. This time Herb had two electro-mechanical pingames from the 1970's, two solid-state games from that same decade, five games from the 1980's, and the only game at the show from the current decade. The dealer with the second highest number of pingames at the show was a fellow from San Luis Obispo on the central coast of California.
All in all, at the show there were three games form the 1930's, none from the 1940's, and only one from the 1950's. From the 1960's there were four machines. There were three electro-mechanical games from the 1970's, five solid-state games from that same decade, six games from the 1980's, and only one (a LOST IN SPACE machine) from the current decade. The following is a chronological listing of the pingames I saw at the show:
GAME MFG. YEAR PRICE JIGSAW (WORLD FAIR) ROCKOLA 1933 1200 MERRY-GO-ROUND GOTTLIEB 1934 750 PADDOCK (PAYOUT) CHICAGO COIN 1937 950 CUE TEE WILLIAMS 1954 495 BANK-A-BALL GOTTLIEB 1965 725 KICKER CHICAGO COIN 1966 395 SUPER SCORE GOTTLIEB 1967 300 ACTION CHICAGO COIN 1969 395 RED BARON CHICAGO COIN 1975 600 ROCK ON ALLIED LEISURE 1975 500 PLAYBOY BALLY 1976 1200 SPACE MISSION WILLIAMS 1976 495, 1295 STRIKES AND SPARES BALLY 1977 595 SIX-MILLION DOLLAR MAN BALLY 1977 595 STAR TREK BALLY 1978 495 STRANGE WORLD GOTTLIEB 1978 495 SPIDERMAN (AMAZING) GOTTLIEB 1980 695 BLACK OUT WILLIAMS 1980 595 BLACK KNIGHT WILLIAMS 1980 795 HIGH SPEED WILLIAMS 1986 1395 TIME MACHINE DATA EAST 1988 1495 ELVIRA (& THE PARTY MONSTERS) BALLY 1989 1600 LOST IN SPACE SEGA 1998 3500
Of the three 1930's games at the show, the earliest one was Rockola's "mechanical marvel" ( WORLD FAIR) JIGSAW which came out late in 1933. This strictly mechanical game featured a jigsaw puzzle in the lower half of the playfield, the pieces of which were turned over (exposing part of the picture) when balls landed in holes on the playfield. The "picture" on the puzzle was actually a "map" showing the various exhibits at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. An ingenious device indeed! The JIGSAW at the show was in almost "mint" condition.
The next 1930's game chronologically was another mechanical pingame, MERRY-GO-ROUND, put out by D. Gottlieb and Co. in 1934. The following description given in an advertisement for the game in the trade magazine COIN MACHINE JOURNAL describes the astounding action of this mechanical game.
"MERRY-GO-ROUND'S playing action is unique! Picture this -- As a ball goes through the "Entrance", a bell rings and the ball is automatically carried one-quarter turn on the first Roto-Disc. A second ball awards another quarter turn, dropping the first ball on the second Roto-Disc. Subsequent balls successfully shot through the "entrance" set the three Roto-Discs spinning wildly, dropping balls into the 2000 Score Pocket. Out Balls return when third disc spins. Skill Shot may also place the ball in other pockets of Roto-Discs".
The other 1930's game at the show was PADDOCK, put out by Chicago Coin in 1937. It was a payout pinball which featured the "spring bumpers" which became very popular after they were first introduced by Bally on their watershed pingame BUMPER, which came out at the end of the previous year.
PADDOCK had a very interesting format for a payout machine which made use of the new "bumpers". When the game was first started by the depositing of a coin, a random set of "odds" would light up on the backglass, which would indicate the number of coins paid out for a "win", place" or "show" - the odds ranging from "2, 2, 4" to as high as "10, 20, 40".
The "odds panel" on the backglass was in the center of a simulated race track which had pictures of twelve horses placed around it, each capable of being lit. When any bumper was hit by a ball during play the lighted horse would advance around the oval track. Twelve hits of the bumpers would complete one circle around the track and a light would light indicating "12 LENGTHS". Additional hits of the bumpers would cause the horse to circle the track again, a second circling of the track lighting another light which indicated "24 LENGTHS".
When 12 lengths were completed (but less than 18) the machine would award the player the number of coins indicated in the "odds panel" for "SHOW". Eighteen to twenty-three lengths would award the PURSE odds, and twenty-four or more lengths (2 circles of the track) would pay off the "WIN" odds. An interesting method of converting bumper scoring game play into a horse race motif in my opinion.
The only 1950's pingame at the show was a beautiful game from Williams called CUE-TEE which came out in 1954. It had a pool theme, which was a very popular theme for pinball machines over the years.
The backglass featured a pool-room scene showing good-looking girls playing pool. The playfield was also well decorated with pool balls which fit into one of the play features, that of trying to light an array of the twelve pool balls on the backglass. Some very attractive artwork by pinball artist Gordon Morrison.
An interesting pingame from the 1960's at the show was Gottlieb's SUPER SCORE from 1967, a game I myself owned at one time. One of the interesting features of this game was the miniature "roulette wheel" device near the bottom of the playfield. When a certain objective on the playfield was completed this wheel would spin briefly, the hole into which the captive ball finally came to rest determining which of three bonuses are scored which can award from 5 to 2000 points. Similar devices were used by both Gottlieb and Williams around this same time.
There was an interesting solid-state game at the show as well. It was called ROCK ON and was made by a small manufacturer called Allied Leisure in the fall of 1975, and was the first solid-state by that company. In fact, it was one of the very first solid-state pingames produced, coming out at almost the same time as SPIRIT OF '76 which is reported to be the first solid-state pingame. That game too was produced by a relatively unknown outfit known as Micro Games.
Another interesting electro-mechanical game at the show (in fact there were two offered for sale at greatly different prices) was Williams' SPACE MISSION from 1976. The theme of this game was taken from the historic link-up in space of an American and a Soviet space station around that time. The game was designed by veteran pinball designer Steve Kordek who started working in the pinball industry in 1937, and continues to work at Williams today while in his eighties.
Another nice solid-state pingame at the show was Williams' BLACK KNIGHT which came out late in 1980. This game had many innovative features including a "multi-level" playfield, a "captive ball" feature, and even limited speech. Today BLACK KNIGHT is one of the most popular solid-state games among pinball collectors.
During my aisle roving I, as usual, talked to many old friends. I got to talk to my old friend and fellow pinball historian Rob Hawkins who had his father-in-law at the show with him. I also chatted briefly with my friend Ray Dier from whom I purchased my only slot machine several years ago - a Bally 809 5 coin "multiplier".
After I finished roaming the aisles and checking out all the pingames , etc., that were there, we decided it was time to leave. But before we left I stopped at Bill and Roseanna's booth to say goodbye to our hosts. After that Ron and I left the hall.
We then went to the car and began the approximate one hour drive home. In past years we have often stopped to eat on the way home, but this year we went directly there.
I hope to be able to visit the COIN-OP SUPER SHOW again next year. But I'm not sure whether there will be one or two shows in 1999. Anyway, no matter how many there are I will be reporting on the pingames I find there in future issues of COIN SLOT.
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