(Topic ID: 271561)

Artifacts of Gene Cunningham/Illinois Pinball


By dudah

10 months ago

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  • 589 posts
  • 158 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 5 months ago by s1500
  • Topic is favorited by 191 Pinsiders

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#551 9 months 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 months 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 : )

30
#553 9 months 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 9 months 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.

10
#555 9 months 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 9 months 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 9 months 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

25
#558 9 months ago

Some pics I found

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#559 9 months ago

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

#560 9 months 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 9 months 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.

2 weeks later
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#562 9 months ago

Forgot I had this tucked away all these years, I guess it's safe to bring it out now.

John

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#563 9 months ago

This reminded me about a post a few years ago from Planetary Pinball about the stuff they got from Gene. They were sharing some of the finds along with pictures. I went back to look for updates, and not only could I find none, the original posts and pictures were removed too. I wonder why.

Here's the text of one of the posts without pictures. At that time there was discussion about lost Williams blue prints, so I posted that picture, but it's the only one I could find.

Howdy everybody. My name is Michael Lee Huntsman and I will be your new Blog Host and Social Media Editor for Planetary Pinball. I was born into a home of pinball and got “the bug” the day my arms could reach both flipper buttons. I enjoy taking pictures and I hope it shows. Please remember, click on photos for large and extra large views.

Rick and the crew have been working hard trying to get everything organized since the move last year from the Bay Area to Sparks Nevada. Not only did he move his entire operation but he also acquired Illinois Pin Ball in 2014 and is now getting a chance to go through that massive pile of history. We are coming across some amazing pieces of pinball past. I will be creating a category just for some of the eye opening artwork from some of our favorite arcade artists.

I walked through a couple of the warehouses this week and took some shots. It is mind boggling just how much history and product I was surrounded by.

Just some of the machines from Cunningham’s old collection. The one’s that can be saved will be restored and most likely sold. Stay tuned for updates.

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These are all pinball blueprints recently shipped to PPS from Williams when they moved out of the plant earlier this year. Lots of paper prints plus some other goodies.

This is probably enough bats for about 10 million flips!

You don’t see N.O.S. Funhouse or Big Bang Bar playfields everyday.

There are more than a few cabinets of original penciled playfield mechanical drawings. I’d bet most are here. Story coming soon…….

My favorite Electro-mechanical machine. And here is the mechanical drawing, right here, in front of me…………………………. Genius. No other way to put it. Ted Zale was a master.

Do you see one of your games in there? This a storage area for Williams/Bally silkscreen films. There are a lot and we are still going through them to find out what we have.

And, the art. Wow. It will be an unbelievable task to go through it all. Over time, we’ll put our eyes on all of it and save the good stuff. Stay tuned for a lot more from these archives. This is just a taste.

Fathom color proofing.

So much work. But it all paid off.

Fun work, for a guy like me.

Attn: Greg Freres…….

What can I say. One of the most iconic and elusive machines from the 70’s. This is a multi layered translite, with masking. It must have been cold on the set that day.

Hi-Lo Ace is very underrated. Played it in a tournament a while back and fell in love. From this era Dick White was the best. This is original ink!

And now for one that none of us have seen. Yes, this is Data East TOTAL RECALL playfield art! Definitely never seen before. I found this in a random pile, and we are still finding more from this interesting unicorn. We’ll have to get a hold of Paul Faris and get the real story.

It is a very surreal thing to go through original art from some of your favorite artist. I can’t even start to explain how honored I am to handle and photograph this epic history.

The plan from here on out is to regularly update the PPS Blog and share it to Social Media to keep our community informed. We are working on getting a lot more product on the website in 2017. As we are going through and organizing, many classic stories of art, design and product are presenting themselves. I am very excited to get to some of these amazing tales. We will be reaching out to some of these artists to get the full story. Stay tuned, the Blog is back!

#564 8 months ago

I believe that picture to be of part of the truckload of stuff Planetary received when Williams finally shut down and sold off their Waukegan plant. Williams definitely still had all the original flat files of all the big engineering drawings ( playfields, etc) - those were NOT given to Gene. SO in the end, they ended up with Planetary.

#565 8 months ago

Yes, that's exactly what the post says too, it was just mixed in with discussion about stuff that came from Gene.

That picture goes with this caption, I'll move it to make it more obvious.

These are all pinball blueprints recently shipped to PPS from Williams when they moved out of the plant earlier this year. Lots of paper prints plus some other goodies.

#566 8 months ago

I'm looking for these to add to the pinball flyer database, if anyone has please LMK.
thanks
Ron

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#567 8 months ago
Quoted from HighVoltage:

Yes, that's exactly what the post says too, it was just mixed in with discussion about stuff that came from Gene.
That picture goes with this caption, I'll move it to make it more obvious.

I found these in an email I sent to my sister-in-law who does graphic design work. So weird planetary would take that down. If I find anything else I'll post it. I thought i had a shot of all the funhouse playfields

Thanks to all who've been posting in this thread. I love history, especially anything about pinball. In 2002 fresh outta college a listing popped up for a T2 machine locally and I was determined to get it until I started doing research & realized that Williams had shut down... then I started to think about parts, and who controlled what was left of them. I had no experience w/ repairs or electronics... I backed out and gave up on pinball. After reading this thread I'm sort of glad I did. I had no idea about Allentown, Expo, RGP etc I was just a casual fan that played during my summer vacations. I didn't get hooked again until 2012/2013 and now have a couple games T2 being one of them for nostalgia alone.

its interesting to hear about all of the people involved with trying to secure the Williams rights and I think it would make a great documentary. Does anyone know where Neil Nicastro is now and if he's commented about the closure of Williams ever since? The last article I could find was about him resigning from Midway in 2004. I know Roger Sharpe has said on podcasts that he wanted to bid on the rights back then too.

Also Hilton can you make those videos you posted public again? they won't load or play at the moment.

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#568 8 months ago

I wish they would make this into a documentary. It would be interesting to even non pinball enthusiasts.

I realize there are differing viewpoints on this topic, but it could be handled with tact. You guys have so much knowledge and experience with this situation.

Thank you all for sharing your stories.

#569 8 months ago
Quoted from Aphex:

Also Hilton can you make those videos you posted public again?

sorry I was contacted after posting them and asked to remove them.

I dont have time for BS and it was just easier to remove them than be hassled in this case (I guess I am getting old and losing my edge/ other more important things in life)

#570 8 months ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

sorry I was contacted after posting them and asked to remove them.
I dont have time for BS and it was just easier to remove them than be hassled in this case (I guess I am getting old and losing my edge/ other more important things in life)

That sucks Rick made you take them down, ? Was there any reason ?? Glad I was able to see them. Thank you for posting.

#571 8 months ago
Quoted from chad:

That sucks Rick made you take them down, ? Was there any reason ?? Glad I was able to see them. Thank you for posting.

Yeah, what did the videos show?

#572 8 months ago
Quoted from Aphex:

Yeah, what did the videos show?

A nice run through of all the games that were set up on legs. Lots of games.

#573 8 months ago
Quoted from chad:

A nice run through of all the games that were set up on legs. Lots of games.

And the legal grounds for asking someone to remove a personal video of a bunch of pinball stuff is what?

#574 8 months ago
Quoted from Flowst:

I wish they would make this into a documentary. It would be interesting to even non pinball enthusiasts.
I realize there are differing viewpoints on this topic, but it could be handled with tact. You guys have so much knowledge and experience with this situation.
Thank you all for sharing your stories.

Absolutely... the real question is would everyone involved that can share their stories cooperate and contribute or just refuse to share any info on camera?

#575 8 months ago
Quoted from pinheadpierre:

And the legal grounds for asking someone to remove a personal video of a bunch of pinball stuff is what?

I dont beleive there are any legal grounds, but I dont have the time currently or desire to deal with some peoples BS.

Just a few years ago I would have told them to suck on an egg...
Just too busy elsewhere and enough world stress already to not want to deal with some people. Sorry guys. They were just videos of me running through the warehouses near the end of all things IPB. Basically showed what was up and you got a general idea for final condition of the place on its twilight hour.

#576 8 months ago

Never thought I'd say this, but I miss the old Hilton.

#577 8 months ago

But seriously, if Hilton didn't take them down, Rick would just move up the chain to Robin. Once I posted a joke promo for a Deeproot Goonies game. Big Shot Bob wasn't happy, so down it came. Robin's response was "sorry, we got takedowns from Deeproot legal and I'm not looking to get into legal issues with them."

#578 8 months ago
Quoted from yancy:

But seriously, if Hilton didn't take them down, Rick would just move up the chain to Robin. Once I posted a joke promo for a Deeproot Goonies game. Big Shot Bob wasn't happy, so down it came. Robin's response was "sorry, we got takedowns from Deeproot legal and I'm not looking to get into legal issues with them."

Didn’t “Bob” leave pinside? And I don’t get it if it’s a tour of a collection of games what’s the big deal? Pictures are ok but videos are a no no?

#579 8 months ago

Smells like gratuitous muscle flexing to me

13
#580 8 months ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

sorry I was contacted after posting them and asked to remove them.

What a crock of shit. Rick had zero right to force you to do that. Way overstepping his boundries. I would have told him to piss up a tree. Gene gave you permission to make that video, that didn't go with the sale.

#581 8 months ago
Quoted from LTG:

None.
dmarston touched on it.
What I once heard from a famous programmer is simple. Stern wasn't building what he needed to sell. Jack had built up quite a market with Pinball Sales, and he knew what he needed for them.
LTG : )

What I heard (and this is total hearsay so feel free to shoot me down and I’ll dump it), was that LOTR LE was jacks brainchild to fill pinballsales.com’s extra demand for LOTR. At the time, stern had everything to rerun lotr except the little figurines everywhere on the pf. They ran it, and for whatever reason, pinballsales did not get the promised allotment of games, so customer orders could not be filled. That motivated jjp to go forward.

#582 8 months ago
Quoted from dougram69:

Gonna post some more “I remember when” with Gene. Just been busy.
Thanks
Dougram

More Please...

3 weeks later
#583 7 months ago

It's ironic and insightful, that while Gene was so obsessed with getting the best deal whenever he dealt with people, the one thing that salvages his legacy is the time when he didn't get a good return on a business deal.

I've had lots of dealings with Gene and I saw all the sides other people have mentioned. At the end of the day, he was one of the colorful characters that made the pinball industry so interesting.

We'll miss you Gene.

#584 7 months ago

I heard a similar story about why Jack started his own pinball company. From what i remember the LOTR LE's were his idea. He had a price for the games that he stood by. Other distributors got them as well but marked them up and that pissed him off. I also heard the other distributors got their games first. I don't believe the run of 250 games was ever finished. I think they stopped in the high 180's or low 200's? Wasn't the Monopoly Platinum run of games his idea as well?

#585 7 months ago

Thanks to everyone who shared their memories in this thread. I really enjoyed reading it. I added this thread to my favorites so I am able to see if there are more stories contributed down the road

1 week later
22
#586 7 months ago

Our video production company covered the Michigan Pin Ball Expo held in 2010 at the Oakland University campus. There we interviewed some organizers, vendors and attendees. We interviewed Gene Cunningham at that event. At the time we did not know anything about this man, nor his legacy in the history of pin ball.
Here is the serendipitous interview:

1 month later
#587 5 months ago
Quoted from dougram69:

Gonna post some more “I remember when” with Gene. Just been busy.
Thanks
Dougram

Wishing for another installment for the holidays

1 week later
-1
#589 5 months ago

No, but please, I want more hot tubs in it. Heh. Forget the pinball playrooms, this house would be awesome for sex orgies.

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