Slow down, grab a cup and take in some pinball art. A fun unpretentious post, we present a more detail oriented look at some of the games we’ve documented over the last little while. The photos seen were captured at the same time we shot that “Keeping the Faith” article we did a couple months back but due to space constraints were excluded from that story. Yet they were too good to simply waste away on the hard drive. So here we are, check them out, enjoy, while we ramble on.
1) The Purple Dude! Seen on the backglass of a 1987 era Data East “Laser War” pinball. This was the first machine produced by the manufacturer. It was also the first to have stereo sound not that anyone would notice in a din-filled arcade or pool hall. But hey… This one uses live models in the art. More often they’re drawn/painted in which (IMO) is more artistic.
2) You know you wanna. Say it. Come on, say it…”I’m Batman!” Now didn’t that feel good? This is a 1995 Sega “Batman Forever” machine. Some two and half thousand of them were made (pinballs were often produced in relativity small numbers). Sega took over the firm Data East, we just spoke of them, in the 1990s. There’s been a number of Batman themed pinballs over the years including one that just came out using the 1960s campy version us kids of the ’60s and ’70s so love. Pow!
3) The “Hoff” seen on a Baywatch Pinball, made by Sega in 1995. In behind “CJ Parker”, good ole Pamela Anderson. This show was at one time the most popular in the world. Not sure why, it was everything that was bad with TV at the time. Here, I wrote a script…jiggle, jiggle…run in slow motion. Emmy award headed my way!
4) Weren’t we just speaking of Pamela? Here she is, doing her best “Barb Wire” for the pinball of the same name. The game was interestingly the last from the firm Gottlieb (in 1996) which had been making pins since the 1930s. Never was a huge fan of their modern machines. Loved the old ones however. The movie which the pinball is based, we’ve heard, is a real stinker.
5) WHO dunnit, from Williams Electronics, circa 1995. This company was also a long time player and at many times the largest, called it quits when it came to pinballs in the late 1990s. They make slot machines today although there’s this rumour they might get back into pinball now that it’s gaining popularity again. We spoke with them for another article and they said there was “talk” within the firm….wink, wink. This machines uses an original (meaning not licensed) theme. That was common back in the 1990s and earlier, but rarely if ever seen today. Pinballs always have a movie (or TV or musician) tie-in in this modern era.
6) Speaking of music tie-ins, the boys from Metallica, a machine from Stern Pinball. The company took over Sega Pinball in the late 1990s and is one of a handful of firms, and the largest, still making these machines today. This model dates from around 2013.
7) “Going my way?”, the “Hitchhiker” from the series Twilight Zone and seen on a playfield of the pinball of the same name (Williams 1993).
8) Black light heaven, the work of Dirty Donny Gilles, who did the art on Metallica machine we just touched on earlier.
9) And the man himself, doing his best Laser War “Purple Dude” impersonation. Dirty Donny is in demand all over world for the art he produces. He let us snap a photo at a signing event – usually we got told off then get chased out of the building.
10) The “Are you a God?” girl from the 1980s film Ghostbusters on the Stern games of the same name (circa 2016, the newest machine we documented). While a high percentage of the maker’s games, IMHO, seem poorly executed (ready for the hate mail), this struck Team BIGDoer as a pretty impressive pin. We played it for hours. And we got our asses handed to us, on a big silver platter, each and every time.
11) Pinbot, Williams, 1986. This was a favourite back in the day. Recall, we mentioned these games, for each specific theme, were made in fairly small numbers. This one was made at a high point in terms of popularity for industry (lots of ups and down in the biz) with some twelve thousand produced.
12) A dog and his boy, Mr Peabody and Sherman seen on a 1993 era Data East, “Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends” machine.
13) The translite (backglass to the older guys) from the Ghostbusters Pinball spoken of earlier. The most often used soundbite from the film: “This Chick is Toast!” Admit it, that’s the first thing that came to mind. Interestingly, the pinball was released about the time the 2016 remake of Ghostbustrers hit theatres, but in no way was a tie-in with that film, just the original.
14) In the 1970s big boobs were a recurring theme in pinball culture and some ways still are. Especially so at the firm Bally, whose artwork consistently included girls straight out of a “Russ Meyer” sexploitation film. This image appears on one of the most popular pins ever made, Captain Fantastic from 1976, a tie-in with the movie Tommy. Over sixteen thousand made. Notice where her hand goes. More risque themes.
15) More big ones while hanging with the Captain.
16) A ball in motion, Captain Fantastic. This was the only “EM” (electro-mechanical) machine seen in this series. The old “ching, ching, ching” machines are not that often seen today – in the field pinballs often took a beating and were generally junk after a couple years and often tossed away or at best parted out. The last EM games were in the late 1970s. Loved Elton John in the movie. He was the “Pinball Wizard”.
17) “Best Office In World” Hey, we use that line here at BIGDoer.com too. The rules/instruction card for the Baywatch Pinball.
18) Walking Dead, Stern, 2014/2015. Stern relies too much in these sort of movie/TV tie-ins, again, our opinion, but I guess that’s where the money is. Up next from Stern – Judge Judy, the Pinball! Could not get into this game no matter how much we played it. Seemed liked a a really weak offering from a firm, that in our opinion, seems to “coast” much of the time. Instantly forgettable. Even the artwork seemed half-assed. I’m asking for the hate mail here!
19) Flashback to 1981, this is a Bally Embryon. Loved the artwork on this machine, far better then typical of the era. The ruleset and playability factors also made them a favourite, This was the first one your author has seen in decades and was found at a bar in Edmonton. Only a couple quarters to play too! Cheap fun! Never could beat the machine consistently. Bally dates from the 1930s, was taken over by Williams in the 1980s, who continued to make machines with this brand into the late 1990s. Today the Bally name appears on slot machines (where the BIG money is). Captain Fantastic, remember him, claimed to be the “Bally Table King”.
20) Cheap soundbite pop – “Feeling Lucky, Punk?” Dirty Harry, Williams, 1995. Lots of machines from that year in this post – pinball was just coming off a high point in the early 1990s, but by the latter half of that same decade would essentially be near-dead. It’s making a comeback of sorts today. Slowly. Cautiously.
21) AC/DC, Stern, 2012. The translite seen is not original to the game and is an aftermarket addition. Who would have thought customizing pins was thing…but it is. The scantily clad, overly developed model seen is Helen and she’s no church girl. Silver balls and boobs, an inseparable…ahem…pair.
22) Tron Legacy, Stern, 2011-2013 era, playfield details. Seen, a miniaturized version of a Bally (then Bally-Midway) Tron Video Game from the early 1980s.
23) Hitler holding a sign – “Ring Them Bells”, from the Captain Fantastic Pinball. What can we say? Pinballs, in additional to going to great lengths to objectify the ladies, especially so in the 1970s, often included little hidden snippets of art that make you go hmmm (“Easter Eggs”).
24) A pinball on a pinball – Captain Fantastic again. This one, of all the games seen in this report, was the most interesting art wise. It really touched on that mid-1970s wide open, anything goes, sex is king vibe happening at the time.
25) Bally’s Elektra from 1981. This was another quarter-eater from your author’s younger days. That’s a high score that will be hard to beat!
If these silly little photos stirred up any memories from you pinheads, old timers or new players, be sure to share them in the comments section (scroll down below pics). We’d love to hear from you.
More silver ball mania…
Keeping the Faith – hanging with pinball fanatics.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: November 2016 – January 2017.
Location: Calgary and Edmonton AB.
Article references and thanks: Internet Pinball Database, Alex Bakker, Josh Brown, Darryl Minsky, YEG Pinball, Gary Makota Pinball Repair.