THE SPRING 1997 COIN-OP SUPER SHOW
By Russ Jensen
Every year I try and report on Bill and Roseanna Harris' Coin-Op Super Show. This year it returned to its former two shows a year format, with the Spring edition being held on the weekend of March 1st and 2nd. It was again held at the Pasadena Exhibit Center in Pasadena, California, which is about 75 miles from my home. The Super Show has become the "Premier" coin-op show in Southern California. As was true last time, the show shared the showroom with a toy show called "Toyrific".
Again this time I attended the show with my good friend pinball and jukebox collector Ron Tyler and his friend jukebox collector Kent Nylen. I also asked my Junior High School buddy from over 40 years ago Don Stocker (who lives in Pasadena), if he could attend so we could again visit together, but unfortunately he told me he had a job that weekend and could not make it. I did, however, make arrangements (via email) to meet pinball collector Casey Davis in person at the show which he had also planned to attend. Casey, by the way, has since accepted a job in Tokyo and has moved to Japan.
Well, on Saturday morning Ron, Kent, and myself drove to Pasadena arriving at the show site about half an hour before opening time. When we got to the lobby of the hall there were quite a few people waiting to get in - reminiscent of the crowds who used to attend coin-op shows at that venue many years ago. While waiting for the doors to open I ran into my good friend fellow pinball historian Rob Hawkins and we chatted for awhile before entering the show.
When the doors to the showroom finally opened at 10 AM we entered the hall. There appeared to be a good number of exhibitors (both coin-op and toy dealers), probably about the same (or maybe a little more) than at the last show. Before starting my "rounds" I said "hello" to Roseanna who I had known since 1981 and used to write for when she and Bill owned COIN SLOT in the early eighties. It is always nice to see the Harris's as they are such friendly people with a great love for the coin-op collecting hobby!
I started down the first aisle and visited for a few minutes with Marsh Fey at his booth. I then decided to return to Roseanna's booth and ask her to page the fellow, Casey, that I had made arrangements to meet. He was paged and answered almost immediately. Casey then joined me and we began walking the aisles together, especially looking for pinballs.
We soon discovered that there were not very many pingames at the show, with only three dealers selling them. There was Herb Silvers with his Fabulous Fantasies booth and also Pat Sheehy's booth, both from the Los Angeles area. The other dealer selling pins at the show was For Amusement Only from the San Francisco Bay area. I could not find any old (pre 1960) pins, with one exception, a very interesting "conversion" from the 1940's which had already been sold by the time we saw it.
When I first saw that game I immediately recognized it as being a "conversion" of a game I had owned as a kid (and also own today - although not the same machine), Genco's 7-UP, which was originally produced in 1941. The game had been "converted" (by redoing the playfield art and supplying a new backglass) in 1946 by an outfit calling itself Victory Games, and renamed simply BASEBALL, the theme of its new artwork. Conversion pingames like that are quite rare today and it was interesting to see this one at this show.
All of the other games for sale at the show were of much later vintage. There were no games that I could see from the 1930's, only the one I just described from the 1940's, and none from the 1950's. There was only one pin from the 1960's, and 4 from the 1970's (one electro-mechanical pin, one electro-mechanical "pitch and bat" baseball game, and two solid-state pins). There were no games at all made in the 1980's, and 5 from the current decade.
The following is a chronological list of the pingames I saw at the show:
GAME MFG. YEAR PRICE BASEBALL (CONVERSION) Victory Games 1946 SOLD JOUST Bally 1968 1695 UPPER DECK (BB) Williams 1973 1495 SPIRIT OF '76 Gottlieb 1976 950 POWER PLAY Bally 1977 1395 XENON Bally 1979 300 SIMPSONS (THE) Data East 1990 1600 JURASSIC PARK Data East 1993 1800 STAR TREK - THE NEXT GENERATION Data East 1993 2495 INDEPENDENCE DAY Sega 1996 3700 SCARED STIFF Bally 1996 3700
As usually happens during these shows, as I roam the aisles I run into people I know. Well, this time, among others, I ran into someone I hadn't seen since the 1970's! As it turns out I didn't recognize him, but he recognized me. He said "hello" and introduced himself to me as Art Lindicke. I immediately recognized the name and thought to myself "it sure is 'a small pinball world."!
Back in the 1970's Art was a coin machine operator in the Southern California area (and he told me that he is still involved in the coin machine business). Well, one time back in the Seventies when I visited him he told me that he had recently been visited by a fellow who was trying to prepare a listing of pinball machines and when they were manufactured. When I told him that I had a similar list which someone had given me, he gave me the fellow's phone number so I could get in touch with him.
The fellow's name turned out to be Don Mueting, and when I later called him he told me that he had been preparing his "pinball dating list" using primarily information obtained from game manufacturers' catalogs, and that he was using a Freiden Flexowriter (a punched paper tape controlled electric typewriter device) to generate the list. When I told him about the list I had which had been prepared by Los Angeles area pinball dealer/collector Joel Gilgoff who had used Billboard Magazine microfilm to obtain his information, he asked if I would give him a copy to integrate into his list? I told him "OK" and gave him a copy.
Awhile later Don produced his first printed list and sent copies to pinball people he knew (including Mr. Gilgoff) asking for updates. A short time after that I put Don in touch with another pinball enthusiast I had met, Mr. Rob Hawkins, and before long that team had produced the first pinball dating book "Pinball Reference Guide" in 1979 which also included much information from research I myself had done using Billboard microfilm.
Then in the early 1990's Rob and Don published a much updated version of their original book, this time called "Pinball Collector's Resource". That book is now out of print and the two are working on even another update to it! So, if it wasn't for Art Lindicke, Don and I (and subsequently Don and Rob) might have never met, and this lineage of great pinball dating references might never have come to be! It truly is "a small pinball world"!
After a little more roaming the aisles we decided it was about time to leave and I located Roseanna and said goodby. There were not very many pingames at the show this time, but there was a lot of other coin-op stuff (slots, jukes, gumball machines, etc.), plus other types of collectables such as early advertising, etc. There was even an original 1940's style telephone booth, similar to those I had used many, many times in my youth.
On our way home Ron, Kent, and I did what has been almost a "tradition" with us after past visits to coin-op shows in Pasadena. We stopped in the San Fernando Valley and had an early dinner at a good Mexican restaurant and then visited a large computer and electronics store nearby. After that we drove back to our home town.
Well, that's a brief run-down of our visit to the Spring 1997 edition of Roseanna and Bill Harris' Coin-op Super Show. As I said earlier, there is a Fall edition of the show scheduled for October, but since I no longer drive, and Ron will be on a sabbatical to Germany at the time, I'm not sure if I will be able to get a ride to Pasadena at that time? But, if I can, I surely want to attend!
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