Ahhh....the late 70's! What a great time to be a teenager! Even though the economy was bad and there were occasional hostage crisis things and the potential for a third world war seemed conceivable, mostly that was for my parents to worry about. For me, I had Cheap Trick and ELO on my stereo, Star Wars in theaters, the original Star Trek on TV after school and a new X-Men team from marvel; but the best experience was to hit the local arcade or game room in those exciting days when you didn't know what to expect! First, Space Invaders, then Asteroids, then Defender, Missile Command, Donkey Kong, Pacman and on and on. We didn't know it but it seemed like each month a new classic was being released!
And always nearby were the pins. The taunts of Gorgar and the Black Knight, the allure of Playboy, the Eight Ball cowboy. These were the magical sentinals of another era showing us just how timeless and fun they could be.
The dream of any kid back in those days was to have your own arcade machine. I would imagine playing Donkey Kong over and over until I could beat each and every level without worrying about a dwindling supply of quarters. For a while this was only a dream. Atari tried to bring these games into my home, but it was a only the game in name only. Intellivision brought different games, followed closely by Colecovision and it's remarkable resemblance to the real deal. As the years passed, these consoles and computers got better and better until one day the consoles that were once poor knockoffs made the arcade originals obsolete.
But there are only so many things that pixels can do. Pixels don't have a feel, or a touch. They also don't have the allure of a brighly animated cabinet filled with colorful imagery and classic design.
As we age, other things beyond the game itself feed our passions. The challenge of learning how a machine works, the satisfaction of restoring a once proud machine to it's former glory, the preservation of a pop culture, and the game itself: the chance to be a kid and timing a button press to activate a flipper and send the shiny silver ball on its way to smash some drop targets.
But being older also has other responsibilities that take time and money away from passions and put them into more "practical" pursuits. But one day, I always knew, I wanted a pinball machine.
A local auction feature a Gottlieb Sinbad. Is it good? What's it worth? Can I get it cheap? Where do I put it? How the heck do you transport these things!? These questions were in my mind, but most of all....I saw my chance.
Of course, its not working and is missing all three boards, but I've discovered part of the fun seems to be working on these interesting machines. And now I dream of my next machine while spending nights planning my restoration of Sinbad and reading the useful tips of other men (and women) who are new like me, or seasoned pros with lots of stories and wisdom to share.