Pinballer from the glory days

By GeoKansas

July 26, 2020

1 year ago

Salutation everyone!

I suppose my interest in pins began way back in middle school located in a small town in Northeast Kansas (where I now reside). I use to frequent a laundry mat that had a helecopter game (nonpin machine) that cost a dime to play. It didn't really do much but whril around, but never-the-less I couldn't stop playing it. The same goes for those funky cranes at the carnivals that stopped in town every year. Those cost a dime as well. I raked in all kinds of 5¢ trinkets.

When our family moved to another small town when I became a freshman in high school, I dicovered a store (on a graveled Main St). that had two EM pinball machines. I'd get out of school and dart over there and play until I ran out of money I earned that summer picking up haybales. During this time a friend of mine would go crusing in another small town about 25 minutes away and play an old rickety EM pin that we manage to win game after game. I dont believe it was very well maintained.

As I went to college, I was exposed to even better pins. I was a second-semester freshman. My roommate and I would hit the student union and play a variety of pins. Mati Hari, Playboy and Paragon. When we ran short of money, we'd each play a flipper together as a team. It was an awesome time. This is when we noticed Galaga, Pac-Man and Joust video games appear. The culmination of my frequency to the college arcade room gain me experience enough to become the dorm pinball champion on that mean Paragon machine. The rewad being a lousey T-shirt that had enscribe "Pinball Champion" in black velvet letters on a yellow background. Ugh.

During a short hiatus from playing pins I would sometimes frequent bars and played here and there. It was at this time I had noticed how more sophisticated machines these pins became with added bells and whistles.

After I met my wife and told her of these tales she took it upon herself to purchase a pin for me to play at our townhouse in the mid-90s. When we moved to Phonix, I had to sell it. (I have been kicking myself ever since for doint that.) Now, for the life of me, I can't remember what name or manufacturer of this pin was. I know it had four isolated digital score displays on the top left, right and bottom right and left. There were three shoots at top followed by 3 bumbers cluster together near them below that. I recall it had an extra small flipper on the left side to hit targets on the right. I should of never sold this machine. And I'll be darned if I can remember the name. So, if anyone out there reading this trivial story — maybe you could narrow down the possiblilities, I would be very gateful. The color was light. It might have been because of fading. The box and back glass seemed light red or orangish to me — from what I recall. Just knowing what game it was would be a great realief. I keep hunting, trying to fire off my synapisis to no avail — so far. ;) I would know it if I saw it. That's for sure!

I am an artist/designer by trade and have 40 years invested in the dying newspaper business. I've done about every weird impossible job out there you could imagine when it came to art and design. I am going to use this experience and skill to make pins immaculate. It just seems like a natural fit for me.

Thank you for your time and I hope you enjoyed my little story.

— Geo.

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1 year ago

Not much to go on
Hope you figure it out
Maybe eight ball deluxe

1 year ago

Hey Geo
Thanks for the pinball Bio. I enjoyed it. I also grew up in Phoenix, AZ - which I think you’re talking about. I lived there until after college around 1981. Then I moved away. My gang played pinball a lot at a pool hall on 7th St & Indian School call the ‘Family Fun Mart’ I think...
Anyway I relate to the story about your wife buying you your first home pinball game... mine did the same and it was a Williams Aztec (an EM, one of the last EMs WMS made). The only game I still regret selling. Anyway- I wrote a ‘regular expression’ search of to find games with 3 flippers and 3 pop bumpers made before 1999 (-1999). Surprisingly there were under 120 matches in the whole database! Not sure if I did it correctly (no I didn’t look at every game it listed). But it did find EBD which was mentioned, and Funhouse (both of which had 3 of each and both of which I *know* you would have remembered. So look through my list, and I hope you find your first pinball. Good Luck, please PM me if you find it. Best wishes, Richard.

1 year ago

I guess 3 flippers is more rare than we thought. Here’s a slightly different list and sorted by DATE as that makes more sense if you can’t remember the name. More likely to be an older game than recent, I’m guessing she didn’t buy you a brand new pinball game... and you said ‘in the mid 90s’ but I wasn’t sure when... happy browsing. I’m guessing it was a Sorcerer from what you said, enough of them were made. It’s probably a going to be a Bally, Williams or Gottlieb...

11 months ago

Hey Brother,
Was the game EM or solid state?
Can you remember the artwork "theme" of the machine at all? Pool, Space, Playing Cards?
Could it have been a 1976 Gottlieb TARGET ALPHA ?(which has the same playfield layout as El Dorado, Solar City, Canada Dry and Gold Strike)

Hope you name it. I remember playing a machine in a back room of a local bowling alley on Friday nights and darned if I can actually remember the exact game other than it was a Williams. We banged away on that thing for hours and hours at a dime a pop in the 70s.

The Bally Lama

11 months ago

Thanks for the replies fellow Pinsiders. I firmly believe I narrowed down the pinball machine to Frontier. It doesn't have a third flipper. But it fits my wife's description of having a wolf on the front of it. It's a solid state game and now on my wish list. Nostalgia can be cruel sometimes. I am a sucker for solid state games between 1978 to 1985.

Thank you for all your suggestions and replies! Happy flippin'

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