(Topic ID: 271561)

Artifacts of Gene Cunningham/Illinois Pinball


By dudah

46 days ago



Topic Stats

  • 561 posts
  • 150 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 7 days ago by jeffspinballpalace
  • Topic is favorited by 180 Pinsiders

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There are 561 posts in this topic. You are on page 12 of 12.
#551 9 days ago
Quoted from EasternBloc:

Perhaps it was addressed before, but can anyone explain to me why "The Other Guy" is always talking behind a cardboard mask in the Pins and Vids episode about BBB? Reminds me of the neighbor Wilson in Home Improvement.

I do remember asking Fred about hiding his identity and if I can recall: He wanted the focus to be on the games (BBB) and not the person behind the curtain. If the BBB project went South (bad), it would be easier to separate him from the project. He already saw what happened with Jeff M and his wife with BBB. He already knew the Bear-Cave story. After Jeff then there was Kerry/Brian and that fall out with Gene. I was also in the same boat and wanted to be separated from BBB initially.

#552 9 days ago
Quoted from Bryan_Kelly:

As a show of good faith Pinball Inc. will make a one time offer to resolve this matter. The offer is as follows:

Wow. James was getting screwed huge. Yet he knew Gene was broke. And he figured a way out for Gene, to help Gene.

Gene should have took it.

LTG : )

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#553 9 days ago

Wow, there is a lot of speculation and bad info in this post. To be honest I stumbled on this post and no longer sell/collect/deal anything Pinball related so the opinions are pretty worthless but I thought I would just address the comments made about Bearcave.

My career is in IT and Bob's was in accounting but we got caught up with the whole pinball craze and basically lived and breathed pinball for a few years.

During that time we shopped Pinballs for high end sellers like Chad Keller and Anytime Amusements to name a couple which was a full time job in of itself because the Keller Pinballs were imports that were in very bad shape.

Before Bearcave we worked at IPB one week on one week off because we lived in St Louis. We lived in a few of Genes houses for free but made 9.00 her hour each. We were basically answering phones and finding parts for distributors along with making assemblies (Everything from Switches to Ramps). Everyone else that worked at IPB were pretty clueless about pinballs and parts so when we started we made tons of suggestions on parts to make but a lot of them never got made for one reason or another.

It got to where driving all that way every other week wasn't making the bills so after getting denied a wage increase we offered Gene to sell parts for him for supplemental income. He agreed and we started Bearcave Games. We had no idea how fast that would take off because we never took into account that the distributors called us to find parts so people figured out they could cut out the time it took for distributors to find things by contacting us directly. This pissed off a few distributors in the process and I think it was a bad idea in hindsight but it kept our Pinball hobby going.

Then came BBB. Gene came to us one day and said I have all the parts diagrams need to make BBB. All I need is for you to run the whole part manufacturing side and assembly but I will hire some people later for final assembly when we get to that. For that you will receive your own BBB special made for you. We agreed because we got to be a part of assembling a rare game. The one with the green rails was supposed to be ours. We also were the PR for BBB moderating a Forum.

In hindsight between everything we were doing with pinball and our daily lives it was starting to take it's toll. We were very slow getting parts out just because we had put too much stuff on our plate and in the end we found out he had promised our machine to someone else it was the straw that broke the camels back. We burnt out so hard that we quit IPB and less than a month later sold or was selling all our pins and personal parts we had laying around. IPB was pretty mad and Kim was spreading some lies about us stealing but in the end we proved to her we weren't and never heard from them again. The real reason she thought we were stealing for awhile was when we first started we were buying parts for us and our friends directly from Kim and to keep it on the down low from the distributors she would write the receipt out like she was selling to Gene. Later she knew we got parts from her but she couldn't find the receipts so we came up with our copies of the ones with Genes name on them.

This post is too long already so to sum up.

No, we didn't steal anything from IPB EVER
We may have been a dick to some other people because we didn't trust Gene and certainly not anyone that worked for him.
We never could agree with the family what to make or how much to make of something because they frankly never acted like they believed us. We did get the
SS Bones made which was one of the things I am proud to have begged them to make.
We were slow getting parts out but we meant well.
We loved working on BBB and meeting everyone but it was too much in the end.

Oh and Bob committed suicide in 2011 so I don't imagine you would get a comment from him.

#554 8 days ago
Quoted from steve-bearcave:

We did get the SS bones made which was one of the things I am proud to have begged them to make.

Thanks for adding your personal knowledge to this interesting thread. Sorry about Bob.

And thanks for pushing for the Scared Stiff bones to get made. I was the first one to purchase the glow-in-the-dark SS parts at a show when they got made. Gene pulled the bag of bones out of a box while I was standing there and I immediately told him I'd take it.

#555 8 days ago
Quoted from steve-bearcave:

Wow, there is a lot of speculation and bad info in this post. .... spreading some lies about us stealing... slow getting parts out but we meant well.

I came in after Bearcave left and was buying a lot of parts directly from Kim for about 2 years. Kim talked to us about the Bearcave guys and never told us anything negative about them. She said that she actually missed their help and were lost without them. We spent hours in the warehouse going through boxes and telling them which games the parts were for. The same thing happened to us and we were not accused of stealing but Gene said there was some unpaid invoices so he tried to sue us. We had copies of all the invoices and matching cancelled checks we had to provide to his lawyer. The lawsuit was dropped but my relationship with Gene ended.

#556 8 days ago

You are welcome. Some people here just said we were making high profile stuff but we were just trying to get a bunch on money in for Gene so he could make more parts. Part of the problem is there wasn't anyone who could handle making many parts at one time especially after we were handling the BBB parts.

It came down to " We need Switch heads and bumper caps but this stuff will make money faster so concentrate on those" - Gene

#557 8 days ago

I can elaborate a little bit on the losing money on BBB too because I heard it directly from Gene's mouth. He didn't really lose anything on BBB money wise because while he could show Pinball Mfg. was losing money on BBB he was making money with IPB because they sold Pinball Mfg the parts at a markup. This was for... Tax reasons

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#558 8 days ago

Some pics I found

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#559 8 days ago

Any way to put names with the people setting at the table ?

#560 8 days ago
Quoted from steve-bearcave:

I can elaborate a little bit on the losing money on BBB too because I heard it directly from Gene's mouth. He didn't really lose anything on BBB money wise because while he could show Pinball Mfg. was losing money on BBB he was making money with IPB because they sold Pinball Mfg the parts at a markup. This was for... Tax reasons

From the information that I know. Your correct. I heard Gene tell me the same thing about not really losing money on BBB. Illinois Pinball sold the Capcom parts to PMI (Gene’s newly formed company to make the BBB games). PMI bought the Capcom parts from IPB and IPB sold the parts to PMI (on paper) as a profit. PMI took the capital gains loss on BBB but IPB made big profits on the Capcom parts that he sold to PMI. The true cost to make these new BBB games were around $3K according to Gene.

#561 7 days ago
Quoted from Tommy-dog:

... The true cost to make these new BBB games were around $3K according to Gene.

Soa the rumor Gene started, that he lost $2k per machine was probably his paper loss. The rumor that Gene started that he could build BBBr for $3k, means he made $1.5k per machine. I heard Gene make both statements and they sounded contradictory. I personally don’t think Gene included all costs, losses and free labor hours for assembly into his calculations, and had he done so, he would have found another $1.5k and made close to zero profit per game. But Gene believed he was making $1.5k per standard game and a good bit more on the prototypes. Gene was super excited about building Kingpin, in spite of unresolved issues and he wanted to make more BBBr’s.

So the takeaways here are - Gene made 190 BBBr to recreate magic. Gene considered BBBr to be a success and he earned a nice return for his effort once the games shipped. Gene was proceeding full steam ahead to develop Kingpin. Simultaneously, Gene’s management of his financial assets resulted in his bankruptcy and self implosion. As BBBr was being made, Gene likely had a neutral cash flow from operations and he was able to juggle his parts business, rental houses and warehouses. However, at some point that stopped and Gene went out-of-business. His bankruptcy had nothing to do with the BBBr effort, which earned him profit at the end of the day.

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