(Topic ID: 164064)

A tribute to Harry Mabs


By o-din

3 years ago



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There are 52 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
13
#1 3 years ago

Harry Mabs, one of the great designers in the early days of pinball. He had some great ideas. I can't find much info about the man but the list of games he designed. Lately I've noticed quite a few of Harry's games have entered my collection. And good ones they are.

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#2 3 years ago

It is strange we don't hear much about him, considering he invented the flipper and claimed to have invented the pop bumper, too. It seems like people only talked to Harry Williams and Steve Kordek back then.

Here are a couple of pictures of him I found online:ae87fc5efd3f1b847e398fc30362f5b4_(resized).jpg562b5ce4cc57ae5a2097d1785dce2259_(resized).jpg

In that bottom one he looks a little like Shemp Howard.

Oh, those are some beautiful games, by the way. Love to see a short flipper game in good shape.

#3 3 years ago

Perhaps Wayne knew him too?

#4 3 years ago

I would guess that they knew each other. I believe they worked at Gottlieb at the same time. I found one little snippet from a video game history site that said Harry was well liked, but known to be strict and serious about his job. That's about all I can find so far, other than the note from IPDB about him writing in to a vendor magazine to claim he invented the pop bumper in the 30s. I guess him dying in 1960, before people got all nostalgic about the business, kept us from hearing more from him directly.

#5 3 years ago

I bet Harry was well liked. Two of the top pinball companies employed him.

#6 3 years ago

I've owned 3 of his games. 21, Jungle and Serenade. All great games.

Holy smokes O-din, I looked at his game list on the IPDB and you've got a lot of them. Let's see your list.

#7 3 years ago

Yes I've got quite a few. And they are all special games with great geometry and layouts. The kind you never get tired of playing and keep coming back for more. It seems many of my recent pickups were designed by Harry. I'll be adding some pics of them all and hope others will too.

#8 3 years ago

Seems to be a safe bet that Harry Mabs doesn't get talked about as much as the other designers.

Probably due in part that he just goes so far back in flipper pinball's history (the beginning) but hard to deny that Wayne Neyens took off like a rocket when he became the chief designer at Gottlieb after Harry left, so I think this would be the main factor. And then look what happened when Ed Krynski took the baton from Wayne! What big shoes he had to fill. And not only did he 'fill' those shoes... but did it extraordinarily well.

But I was recently talking to a friend who is working on a lot of Harry Mabs' games in a collection and he told me he was amazed at how good these games were. I personally do not own a single game he designed and really haven't even played many of them. I do remember how surprised I was when I first played the 1950 Bank a Ball he designed. Sure doesn't look like much when you see it.

More recently at the Banning show they just happened to have a Music Man. I more or less just played it because it was 'there' and more importantly, was one of the few EM's that was even playable. And I was again struck by how well the game had been designed.

These two instances and what my friend recently told me, lends me to believe his games are a lot better than most people are even aware of, including myself.

#9 3 years ago

Even his early six flipper games you can look at and say what do I do with this? Then you play it and see exactly where he was coming from.

As great a designer and inventor as Harry Williams was, I believe it was after Harry Mabs joined up and they started working together is when Williams pinball really started to take off with many outstanding games from the early 50s on. Some of which each designed.

#10 3 years ago

They say you don't really appreciate something... until it's gone, had that happen 'today' with my water heater!

We take it for granted now... but can you imagine pinball without FLIPPERS??

BOOOOR-IIING!!!

#11 3 years ago
Quoted from Pinballprowess:

What big shoes he had to fill. And not only did he 'fill' those shoes... but did it extraordinarily well.

Talking about shoes to fill, both Harrys left Williams around the same time and left Steve Kordek as the main designer of the company.

I'd say he did a pretty good job.

#12 3 years ago
Quoted from o-din:

Talking about shoes to fill, both Harrys left Williams around the same time and left Steve Kordek as the main designer of the company.
I'd say he did a pretty good job.

Absolutely!

I think he designed some of the very best 'of all time' during the early to mid-sixties.

We are all very fortunate to have had the great EM designers that we did.

#13 3 years ago

I have interviewed Wayne Neyens for what most likely will be Pinball Magazine No. 5. Wayne did talk a bit about Harry Mabs, working with him, the day Harry came up with the flipper, why Harry left Gottlieb and such. I still have to finish issue 4 first. Issue 5 will hopefully be out the first half of 2017 (unless something odds happens).

#14 3 years ago

Our old buddy Dirt just sent me some pics of this Mabs game. He just did it up and it sure is pretty. I've never played one. Ratings don't give it much love but I think it looks like an interesting departure.

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#15 3 years ago

Here's another Mabs game. My old Williams 21. Super fun game and really snappy for an old woodrail. I foolishly sold it before I got my fill and miss it. A collector from NY was in town and bought it. A couple weeks later called my house. He spoke to my wife and told her to tell me thank you for selling the game. That was really nice to hear but didn't make me miss it any less.

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#16 3 years ago
Quoted from AlexF:

That was really nice to hear but didn't make me miss it any less.

You're not making it any easier for me either as there is a very nice example available at the woodrail superstore.

#17 3 years ago
Quoted from o-din:

You're not making it any easier for me either as there is a very nice example available at the woodrail superstore.

Really? Dirt has a nice one but he wouldn't trade it. Things are getting weird when the Gottlieb guys start clinging to 'em.

#18 3 years ago
Quoted from AlexF:

Really? Dirt has a nice one but he wouldn't trade it. Things are getting weird when the Gottlieb guys start clinging to 'em.

I have Gottlieb woodrails and Williams woodrails, some designed by Wayne, and some Harry Williams, but I'm finding the ones by Mr. Mabs have something real special about the geometry and playability. Not that they aren't all great, but every Harry Mabs game I've owned has that one more game appeal.

#19 3 years ago
Quoted from o-din:

Even his early six flipper games you can look at and say what do I do with this? Then you play it and see exactly where he was coming from.

I had this exact thought when looking at Robin Hood. I've never played a six flipper game but it sounds like I need to give it a try.

#20 3 years ago
Quoted from dmbjunky:

I had this exact thought when looking at Robin Hood. I've never played a six flipper game but it sounds like I need to give it a try.

On games like Lady Robin Hood, Humpty Dumpty, Ali Baba and others with that kind of flipper arrangement, there can be a lot of vollying of the ball back and forth from side to side all the while trying to hit lit bumpers or make lanes. Also it is possible to climb back up the ladder from lower levels to the upper flippers. My daughter always says she hates that game. Must be why she keeps on playing it.

#21 3 years ago
Quoted from AlexF:

Our old buddy Dirt just sent me some pics of this Mabs game. He just did it up and it sure is pretty. I've never played one. Ratings don't give it much love but I think it looks like an interesting departure.

That looks gorgeous with the screened apron cover as well.

No idea how it plays but it is some looker.

#22 3 years ago

It was pretty. Harry did a good job on it. Just wish I could credit the mystery artist. Well Molentin likely did the apron...

#23 3 years ago

The first Harry Mabs game I owned was not a woodrail but it was the last game he ever designed and is still one of the most played games in my collection, Magic Clock.

Like his others it has a great geometry and is very fun to play, especially when going head to head competing with another player. It was the first game with a swinging target, and Steve Kordek must have liked it so much, he pretty much copied it when he designed Kismet.

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#24 3 years ago

Because there were two great designers named Harry, and my grandpa's name was Harry as well, I have added Mr. Mabs last name to the title of this thread to avoid any confusion.

#25 3 years ago

See. That's what I don't inderstand. Odin, you bash the top 100 list, but you are an ambassador to the hobby. The numbers don't matter, the reviews do! You can wax poetic and write eloquently about games, and you have the luxury of playing many, but you focus on the numbers. You have previously stated appreciation for some of the more prolific raters, but don't seem to realize your own influence. Rate em! The potential coverage of these games would be a big plus to the hobby. IMHO.

#26 3 years ago

Champion Pub - that game sucked after an hour or two.

#27 3 years ago
Quoted from presqueisle:

That's what I don't inderstand. Odin, you bash the top 100 list, but you are an ambassador to the hobby. The numbers don't matter, the reviews do! You can wax poetic and write eloquently about games, and you have the luxury of playing many, but you focus on the numbers. You have previously stated appreciation for some of the more prolific raters, but don't seem to realize your own influence. Rate em! The potential coverage of these games would be a big plus to the hobby. IMHO.

First off thanks!
I have rated several games and was informed that I rated them too good so they are fake and won't be considered for pinside's lists. After waiting quite a while nothing changed but was told if I also rated some not so good they would be considered. I'm giving that a try now. Not really the kind of game I like to play. I give my opinion honestly and that's the best I've got.

But this thread isn't about that. This is Harry's thread!

#28 3 years ago

Sorry for the ot rant but it's late!!!!

#29 3 years ago
Quoted from o-din:

The first Harry Mabs game I owned was not a woodrail but it was the last game he ever designed and is still one of the most played games in my collection, Magic Clock.
Like his others it has a great geometry and is very fun to play, especially when going head to head competing with another player. It was the first game with a swinging target, and Steve Kordek must have liked it so much, he pretty much copied it when he designed Kismet.

Are those passive slings? They sure are at a different angle.

#30 3 years ago

Thanks o-din for the history lesson. Although I am not an EM collector I found this posts dialogues fascinating

#31 3 years ago

Hey, its always been the SAME for me, ya know....

I get no respect... no respect at ALL.

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#32 3 years ago
Quoted from AlexF:

Our old buddy Dirt just sent me some pics of this Mabs game. He just did it up and it sure is pretty. I've never played one. Ratings don't give it much love but I think it looks like an interesting departure.

I helped transport this one before the restore work, and I have to say...DF worked some magic on it. I was afraid to put it in my house because I didn't know what might crawl out of it!! But now its a show piece. DF did have alot to say about the play (which I kind of forget all now) but it sounded really cool. I believe the '21' has to do with a black jack card game strategy if I'm not mistaken. Beach theme on bg, dancing girls on pf, and a Saturn Mission on the cab. Really unique game.

#33 3 years ago
Quoted from presqueisle:

I helped transport this one before the restore work, and I have to say...DF worked some magic on it. I was afraid to put it in my house because I didn't know what might crawl out of it!! But now its a show piece. DF did have alot to say about the play (which I kind of forget all now) but it sounded really cool. I believe the '21' has to do with a black jack card game strategy if I'm not mistaken. Beach theme on bg, dancing girls on pf, and a Saturn Mission on the cab. Really unique game.

He always does a great job. Very thorough and meticulous. Wish I could try it out.

In my opinion Just 21 may have the best cab art ever. Completely random from the theme but quirky cool.

#34 3 years ago

I understand Three Musketeers is a really good game from this designer.

I know someone who has the game and also a friend who plays it when he's visiting there and speaks highly of it as well. I don't like to say too much about a game until I actually play it but you can almost tell from looking at pictures of the playfield on the IPDB, that it does have the look of a good game. And I'm not big on reverse flipper games but there are some great titles from my experiences on them so far.

#35 3 years ago

Well, I didn't know Harry designed Minstrel Man - first drop target game? And a very good player by all accounts.

#36 3 years ago

And 1951 Gottlieb Madison Square Gardens!

https://vimeo.com/128299295

#37 3 years ago
Quoted from Shapeshifter:

Well, I didn't know Harry designed Minstrel Man - first drop target game? And a very good player by all accounts.
» YouTube video

That minstrel man is really cool. The diverter at the bottom is unique. What's the deal with the pop up guys behind the stand ups?

#38 3 years ago

Mr. Mabs definitely has been flying under the radar. We all know and love the creations of Wayne, Norm Clark, Steve, Ed Krynski, and even Ted Zale. The "father of the flipper" often goes unnoticed and unappreciated. Thanks for posting this and paying homage to a major figure in the history of the games we cherish so much.

#39 2 years ago
Quoted from JoeNewberry:

he invented the flipper and claimed to have invented the pop bumper, too

Besides flippers, pop bumpers (?), and the swinging target that was used on many games after, I believe Harry Mabs was the first to use what was advertised on the flyer for 1948's Ali Baba as "Drumroll sound effects".

This was acomplished by using a system similar to a bell without the bell. It would rattle off as bonus points were scored. This simple feature went on to become the sound that would ultimately be used to indicate a replay had been earned. In other words the "knocker".

Not sure exactly when this happened as 1948's Buccaneer uses it to add "extra score" as well, but the drumroll effect continued on as multiple replays could be earned on many games all the way up to the early 60s when you could still get ten at a time with a double match on some multiplayer games..

1 week later
#40 2 years ago

Harry also put in a lot of effort into making early multiplayer games fun and competitive. And also enjoyable for a single player. This Fiesta is all of that and more. With four flippers, it was also the first game with an on playfield score reel, that appeared on many games after that.

Balanced scoring between players and the opportunity for a big score by hitting the roving lit gobble hole or center target for 10X reel makes this one great for competition as well as for a single player. Also it has roving lit shots around the playfield accomplished by switches on the top cam of the score motor, depending on where it stopped last.

Last but not least is the geometry of the layout which was never lacking on any of his games.

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1 week later
#41 2 years ago

Here's a couple more of Harry's games. Serenade is similar to Fiesta, but with two less flippers, much larger gobble holes, and a plunge shot you best make. And a slightly different theme. Really a tough game. We call it the equalizer. And it delivers.

Arrow Head is one of my favorites to play.

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#42 2 years ago
Quoted from dmbjunky:

Are those passive slings? They sure are at a different angle.

Magic Clock has full power slings. And hardwood side rails. Hit one and the ball drops. I'm only guessing, but Steve Kordek might have worked with Harry on this design.

#43 2 years ago

That Fiesta playfield layout looks very familiar.

http://www.ipdb.org/showpic.pl?id=2475&picno=29383&zoom=1

#44 2 years ago
Quoted from Pin-it:

That Fiesta playfield layout looks very familiar.

Similar, yet different. You will notice the playfield reel tends to take up less side to side real estate than a conventional roto target. Something I've learned to appreciate.

The lower part of Arrow Head's playfield is very similar to Frontiersman, perhaps a nod to what IMO is one of the best playing and best looking games of that era. It has similar flow down there, but up top is a different story. I'm fortunate to have both.

One thing I've noticed is games with the smaller bells mounted to the match unit or light board in the head tend to sound better than those mounted in the lower cabinet. With the larger 5" bell it doesn't seem to make much difference. Sometimes they just didn't have enough room in the head to put them there.

Both Fiesta and Serenade had the small bell mounted in the lower cabinet and I thought they sounded a bit clunky and out of tune. I messed with them some but couldn't get the sound I wanted. So a couple weeks ago I moved Fiestas into the only spot I could find on the light board and it sounds excellent now. So I just gave Serenade the same treatment. Easy enough to wire them straight to the relay.

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#45 2 years ago

You have the best collection...period!
Well, maybe "oldcarz" could give you a tussle and he's a lot closer to visit than you are!

#46 2 years ago

Well thank you sir! I have tried to improve it as I've gone along and am pretty happy with it so far. I've been lucky to come across a few gems that I never thought I'd find. There are always more out there that are pretty tempting though.

Some games tend to get overlooked. See That Fashion Show over in the corner? You'd be surprised how good a player that turned out to be and everybody that comes over keeps wanting to play it. It's a good one.

#47 2 years ago

I've still got a few more Mabs games, but I was also hoping some more would chime in and share some pics of their treasures. Truth is nobody will ever own every game and scrolling down the list on IPDB, the amount of games Harry designed is staggering. I pulled a few pics off the interwebs of some of the others he designed we haven't discussed yet. But there are many more including lots from the flipperless era.

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I will add he had a couple great artists to work with.

#48 2 years ago
Quoted from jrpinball:

You have the best collection...period!
Well, maybe "oldcarz" could give you a tussle and he's a lot closer to visit than you are!

Well, thanks for the shoutout, but it appears that o-din has a much larger collection than me. Nice, though, that we can all enjoy each other's games vicariously via pix and videos.

To add to the list of Mabs games, here's two more Gottliebs- 1950 Bank A Ball and Rockettes.

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#49 2 years ago

Yours look a little more organized than mine..

Thanks for chiming in!

#50 2 years ago
Quoted from oldcarz:

Well, thanks for the shoutout, but it appears that o-din has a much larger collection than me. Nice, though, that we can all enjoy each other's games vicariously via pix and videos.
To add to the list of Mabs games, here's two more Gottliebs- 1950 Bank A Ball and Rockettes.

I will get down there. It's a must!

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