I am Pop Bumper Pete, and I like pinball

By PopBumperPete

April 24, 2012

This story got featured on April 24, 2012

10 years ago

There is a theory among model railway enthusiast that their layouts are trying to recreate the world as it was when they were 10-12 yeaers old.
I guess it is a time where we start to be independent of our parents and begin to see a bigger world.

I know that this is true about pinball
While I do enjoy playing games from all eras I do have a soft-spot for games from the mid to late 70’s.

So my early pinball was during the end of EM’s (Gottliebs best years) and the start of SS, (new and a WOW factor)

Growing up, my family would take our caravan down to the Bellarane Peninsular for our holidays. Across from the park there was a milk-bar with 4 or 5 games lined up along the wall. I do not remember being allowed to play, but these would be the first games I remember seeing.

Move on a couple of year to when I was 10. There was two places to play pinball for me, the local arcade (that was about 1km from home) and the local fish and chip shop across the road.
The arcade is the first place I remember playing pinball, Space Odyssey and Grand Prix (Both Williams games) were the first games I played. While they also had an EM shooter, Breakout and a few early B/W driving games it was the pinball that got me through the door.
One of the driving games could be started by rubbing your shoes on the carpet and touching the start button (Static electricity), that got be booted out the door ;)

The fish and chip shop was better, thought they only had room for one game, the game was changed over every month.
The op who serviced the shop ran mostly Gottlieb games (but I think he tried a few Zac EM’s there) I remember playing Mustang and Centigrade 37 there.
And then came the Sinbad, and the game changed. Those big beautiful blue displays. While they were limited by how many solenoids they could use, I believe the layouts of the early Gottiebs was better than the early Ballys from that time. Gottlieb sys1’s I totally love the look of them (just a pity about their reliability)

Come to 1982, I am 16. There is an advert in the paper, the arcade (above) has pinball machines for sale
Going in there is about 6 machines on offer
$100 buys you a single player Gottlieb Wedgehead
$120 buys you a two player Gottlieb
We take home ‘Sure Shot’ a single player Gottlieb (1976)
Over the next few years I would toughly take this machine apart and put it together again, always amazed at how they had originally made thing work with motors and relay banks
While the game is not on working order, I still have it and will never sell it (being my first pinball machine)

Between the ages of 18 and 21 I buy a few more games
The Empire Strikes Back, machine stopped working, (this is before the internet) too heavy to haul back to Melbourne, thrown in dumpster
Haunted House, had it 6 months, returned it get fixed twice, on the third time I sold it
(I have now realized why I have a bad back ;) )
Star Trek (Bally) Still working, has only ever needed contacts cleaned
Playboy (Bally), Works, but need a good cleaning/replacing of connectors
Black Knight, needs a bit of work

At 21, life intervenes, and pinball takes a back seat

Fast forward now to 2003/04 (not to sure about timing )

I see a note about an Auction of pinball machines in Melbourne (A Bumper Action auction)
Cool, I wonder how much games are selling for, I wonder what will be on offer. I decide to go.
I turn up early to get a good look at what is on offer, the place is already crowded, but you can still get to play the games on offer
In one corner they have some beautifully restored 60s games, not my style, but nice none the less
Mostly up on offer is DMDs, I wait for the Auction to begin.
It takes a few lots to go under the hammer before the first pinball is up, it sells for $4000, the next one for a little more
I think getting back into the hobby is going to be a little more expensive than I had thought

I still would like to get back into pinball, so I start using the internet to find dealers in Melbourne
I find a few places but they do not have any games listed or prices
Then I discover a guy in Centre road, large list of games available, $500 less if I want it unshopped (but working)
I find one that looks interesting, an unshopped Creature from the Black Lagoon
It takes them half an hour to fix a small fault and the machine is up and running. We load it into the van and I bring it home


Problem, I live in an old miners cottage, a modern pinball with its backbox folded up fits through my front door with only half a centimeter to spare. But the internal doors are a different matter, it only fits through one, the main bedroom, and I now have a stinking, old, dirty pinball in my bed room
But that is OK as I am single guy, but the smell of old Italian cigarettes is too strong for me and it takes a couple of cleaning sessions to get rid of the smell
I soon get it clean and running nice, hey, I now like these newer game

Come to the present, I now have 29 games in my collection (and a WoZ on the way), most though are in storage, waiting for the day I stop buying more games and start looking for a larger house
It would be nice to have them all working and together

My collection is from a range of eras; EM’s, first generation solid state, second generation, alpha-numeric, DMDs and now three Stern’s I have bought NIB!

Do I have a favorite?
No, my games have different levels of appeal to me
Some days I want to play a long and challenging game, there are other times I want a quick ‘Bash the Ball Around’
There are other games I play as they are guaranteed to put a smile on my face (White Water, Attack From Mars)
And there are times I just turn them on to sit quietly behind me as I work on the PC, just blinking away

I am Pop Bumper Pete, and I like pinball

Story photos

No photos are attached to this story.


9 years ago

Good story Pop Bumper Pete. I remember Pharoah well too.

8 years ago

That's a great story PB Pete and that sure is a great collection. Not sure about a bigger house but a warehouse may be ample!!

2 years ago

Wow I love your story PB Pete, when I read fish & chip shop I'm thinking the American's most of had them too but when I seen Melbourne I cool another Aussie

1 year ago

Great story!

Add a comment

Wanna make a comment? Click here to sign in or register.