(Topic ID: 189205)

1951 Gottlieb Mermaid


By oldcarz

2 years ago



Topic Stats

  • 22 posts
  • 16 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 2 years ago by oldcarz
  • Topic is favorited by 2 Pinsiders

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#1 2 years ago

1951 Gottlieb Mermaid

Been off Pinside for several weeks as the last few months have been very busy with personal affairs (collecting grandkids), work and with the hobby.

Made several complicated trade/sell/buy arrangements that involved a total of 9 different machines with 4 different pinheads dealing among ourselves. Bottom line for me was 7 of my machines leaving the stable and 7 new ones entering.

My collection which was primarily a blend of wedge heads and woodrails is now almost exclusively woodrails.

The ’51 Mermaid is a game that I have seen and played years ago, but a tough one to find and rarely becomes available. Even though it was on my short list to find one, I didn’t have much confidence that I would encounter one that was worthwhile. Interestingly, I knew of several in private collections and fortunately, the timing was such that this one surfaced when we were in discussions.

There’s not much information that I was able to research on the game as the Compendiums and guides have limited detail. The best published information for me was part of Clay’s site, wherein he details the restoration of his. In that regard, I’m appreciative of his experience and suggestions. Thank you, Clay. Additionally, I’m appreciative of the technical assistance from Russ/Pinrescue, who had restored a Mermaid previously and was able to help me get this one working as it should.

The game had been in storage for several years prior to my getting it and the seller was forthright to send pix of the game showing that there was a need for extensive shopping and work ahead of it. On the positive side, of course, is a game with a solid, but worn (very acceptable) cabinet, a wonderful original glass (small flake near the clam on the bottom and some other minute ones), an expertly and minimally touched up playfield with unmolested original graphics, coin box, original schematic, period correct legs and levelers, working low play game counter, no hacks. Only material flaw with the game was a missing 10,000 bell, which is very common for games of this era where they routinely fell off, but fortunately I had an extra one from a different game and that elusive bell is functioning as it should. The animation wasn’t working, but simply needed some oiling and a few new springs….

Really minimal work to get it up and going, all steppers freed up easily, playfield polished up beautifully and it is playing and scoring as it should.

So, my $0.02 - game is a lot more fun than originally thought. I would venture to say that anyone who opines about poor game play hasn’t played one that is is hitting on all cylinders. Game play is challenging with all pops and slings working, bonus working, animation working, etc., and really is a game that brings a smile. Can readily see why the few survivors have extensive playfield wear, but don’t understand why Gottlieb made a limited number of the game.

As with all my games that are under service contract with Pinrescue, a shout out to Russ for his assistance with them, and for hosting the videos that I make of the games. Want to also thank my son, Dan, who composed the music for the video.

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#2 2 years ago

Awesome find, congrats. I always make a point to play Mermaid when at the VFW, such a pleasure.

rody

#4 2 years ago

Wonderful acquisition & great vid

#5 2 years ago

Congrats - that is indeed a rare find!

#6 2 years ago

Really nice machine, thanks for sharing.

#7 2 years ago

What an awesome collection. Simply beautiful.

#8 2 years ago

That's great! I wasn't aware of the fish popping up in the backglass animation. Too cool.

#9 2 years ago

What a gorgeous game

Really nice to add to your collection as it is the most collectible woodrail.

Why didn't GTB make more?

From memory they may or may not have sent a few test games to operators, they then asked operators how many they wanted to order in advance of production.

They then made that number. Didn't matter from there on if game was a good earner or nor, they didn't then make more. They were already onto the next title. And they made a new title virtually every month to keep the production line rolling.

Maybe operators thought the theme was a bit risky regarding earnings as opposed to boxing/football etc.

#10 2 years ago
Quoted from Shapeshifter:

What a gorgeous game
Really nice to add to your collection as it is the most collectible woodrail.
Why didn't GTB make more?
From memory they may or may not have sent a few test games to operators, they then asked operators how many they wanted to order in advance of production.
They then made that number. Didn't matter from there on if game was a good earner or nor, they didn't then make more. They were already onto the next title. And they made a new title virtually every month to keep the production line rolling.
Maybe operators thought the theme was a bit risky regarding earnings as opposed to boxing/football etc.

Good point that the theme may have been risky compared to sports. But, pretty topless Mermaids were also on a successful run of 2500 Barnacle Bills in 1948.

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#11 2 years ago

I guess what is interesting is that Gottlieb didn't re-make a successful title a few years later. Games like Sluggin Champ 1955 totally killed it on route but once production run was done, that was it.

It would be interesting to know why operators had more confidence to order certain titles, rather than others.

Of course, the only thing they cared about was how much it earned!

If a game was too hard, it earned less generally. Too easy, and it got tons of play, but lower earnings. So, getting the balance just right was tough.

I think Raphael in Paris is on record as saying that Sluggin Champ was one of his biggest earners whilst on route.

Super Jumbo, 1954, first multiplayer was a monster earner as well.

#12 2 years ago

Beautiful Mermaid and outstanding collection , Joel!

#13 2 years ago
Quoted from Budman:

Beautiful Mermaid and outstanding collection , Joel!

Exactly, couldn't have described it better!

#14 2 years ago

Wow Joel, congratulations on acquiring such a nice example of a most elusive title - very stoked for you! It's great to see an original cabinet of this vintage that is still so presentable and that pf looks sweet - what an awesome addition to a beautiful collection of woods.

Also thanks for sharing the cool vid and pics - so little out there on this title.

#15 2 years ago

Thanks all for the kind words...

Joel

#16 2 years ago
Quoted from Shapeshifter:

Why didn't GTB make more?

From memory they may or may not have sent a few test games to operators, they then asked operators how many they wanted to order in advance of production.

They then made that number. Didn't matter from there on if game was a good earner or nor, they didn't then make more. They were already onto the next title. And they made a new title virtually every month to keep the production line rolling.

My recollection:
The manufacturers distributed sample games of more than 1 title at a time. Once results were received and numbers were compiled, that was it. Production size was determined, then, on to the next title, (with its samples already shipped and located).

My take is:
The distributor, NOT the manufacturer, gauged each game's earning potential early on, by compiling numbers from their most dedicated operating customers, then committed to purchasing a certain amount from Gottlieb. Unfortunately the operator's production game earnings were entirely dependent upon his proper display of the game on location. Inflating the replay scores, too much playfield slope, etc, makes any game a dud. It was the operator's careful game-dialing-in technique that made all the difference, and maybe during the installation, they didn't get it right.

In collecting for a while now, I've noticed the most desirable titles never to have been only about game play, but artwork, history, sentiment, etc. while the manufacturer focused strictly on game play and earnings. In unison to Mermaid's 600 unit production, I can't recall any collector actually rave about it's game play, which makes sense to me. Another example could be Bally Paragon. Beautiful Game, very desirable and featured in many collections, with guys raving about shooting the inline drop targets, etc, but I operated it new out-of-the-box, and it was an absolute dud! In fact, all widebodies at the time were poor earners, (except Space Invaders and Middle Earth), for me, even after making all the adjustments. I thought they yielded too much dead-ball time at the bottom half of the larger playfield, making for a rather dull experience. Only when ramps came along did widebody games make more sense, IMO.

Gottlieb DID, in fact, re-run a few titles, (identical playfields), primarily to satisfy overwhelming customer sales. '52 "Quartette" and "4 Stars," '54 "Dragonette" and "4 Belles," '59 "Queen of Diamonds" and "World Beauties" to name a few. This further justifies to me the desire attachment to Mermaid to be collector induced and not as a result of commercial popularity.

I also think there was probably a wide margin of error in gauging production of any certain game due to the rate of new title availability. With a new game every month, I can only imagine how swamped the administration teams had to be. I don't think operators cared to keep up with each and every game as they became available, they probably just bought what was available when needed.

I actually think collectors got wrapped up in the hype a Mermaid received after a few "Deep Pockets" went toe-to-toe on it in an Ebay auction. If not, does it mean that a '51 Gottlieb Glamour, with a mere 300 units produced will fetch a bigger amount? I played that one and can tell you, the game play isn't any better or worse! How about 4 Belles? Only 400 produced, and I've heard more than 1 guy, including Clay, (I think), stating they liked the artwork on this game better than the original Dragonette.

#17 2 years ago

There is only one word I have for your new machine Joel.

.....Wow!

*wipes drool off of chin*

#18 2 years ago

Joel in a short period of time have managed to build a sophisticated and unique collection of outstanding condition machines. Your personal taste is intriguing and fascinating will make any serious EM collector wish they could see and play your games. The Mermaid is such a beautiful addition....Way to go!

#19 2 years ago
Quoted from Vic_Camp:

Joel in a short period of time have managed to build a sophisticated and unique collection of outstanding condition machines. Your personal taste is intriguing and fascinating will make any serious EM collector wish they could see and play your games. The Mermaid is such a beautiful addition....Way to go!

Vic, thanks for the compliments. As you know, I'm always happy to have folks over to hang out and play the games and several of the locals are here frequently. I'd like to return the hospitality that you and a few other friends have previously extended when your homes were opened for a visit.

Right now, storks are flying and we are expecting our 4th grandchild any day, so not putting anything on the calendar. Hopefully, within the next few weeks we'll pick a Sunday and have a get together.

#20 2 years ago

oldcarz,

Didn't mean to sound like the ol' jealous guy in the thread, just answering with my opinion on why this game is such a late-bloomer on the want lists of woodrail collectors.

Very tasty collection!

#21 2 years ago

Joel,

Thanks for showing the video of the Mermaid. I didn't realize it has a pop up between the flippers preventing draining the ball similiar to Knockout. Very interesting and I hope to try playing one, maybe at the museum.

Bruce

#22 2 years ago
Quoted from Boatcat:

oldcarz,
Didn't mean to sound like the ol' jealous guy in the thread, just answering with my opinion on why this game is such a late-bloomer on the want lists of woodrail collectors.
Very tasty collection!

Ron,
Your opinion was very well stated and I understood the intent of your post. I do agree with you that there are titles in this hobby that have a mystique due to collector inducement, and yes, Mermaid might be the prime wood rail example. Similarly, as wood rail collectors chase some iconic titles, I would think that the collectors who are drawn to the late EMs, and pursue a Space Walk or TKO, as example, are also doing so because of the rarity and collector induced hype of owning one of the last EMs manufactured. Analogously, such collectors will concur that these games are not spectacular players, but obtained for other reasons.

Irrespective of rarity or sentiment or hype, obtaining one of the desired ones commonly means that if/when it is ready to leave one’s collection, there are other collectors who would step up to it for their own or similar reasons. As such, they are not white elephants. The dilemma is pricing and always a challenge to arrive at a realistic value that satisfies the parties. In this regard, trying to sell a machine is the toughest pathway because the money realized doesn’t mean that the seller can go out and readily replace the game. If the collector has a large or diverse enough of a collection, trading is a practical exercise, if possible, as the parties can then swap rare birds for like and not get wrapped up with pricing and money exchange.

My situation was unique…a few games in my collection are duplicates and combined with other singletons, were attractive enough to the other parties be used as trade bait, so timing was good for me to part with some of mine and get some new games in.

thanks for the compliments...!
Joel

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