Holy crap, I'm LIVING for this thread... I rarely get time to come on here to browse, but today was a national holiday (Canada Day) and tonight has been YouTube and Pinside. What a ride back in time! As far as CPR goes, we're some of those folks that could "write a novel" on Gene and IPB ... but so many years have gone by, that a ton of memories have been lost. Most of it was just haphazard business dealings. Gene never did anything in writing. Gene could be our best buddies one part of the year, then shafting us - no longer going to let us have artwork another part of the year. The first couple years of CPR were very bumpy due to this kind of IPB activity, shifting royalty deals, and artwork uncertainty. By 2007/2008 it's what drove us unto the arms of Mr.Pinball Australia as the new "alternative WMS licencee" and make royalty-paid Bally/Williams licensed parts via Wayne Gillard. But cutting ties with Gene meant the end (for a long while) of getting access to original factory films. Everything had to be redrawn from scratch after that. Then there were the years of the IPB / PinballAustralia feuding.
As the many years went on, Kim would sometimes call us occasionally to ask a question. Loved Kim. Loved Gene, really. In retrospect, even with all Gene's bravado and that damn unpredictable ability to abort a verbal deal in a microsecond ... even though we couldn't work with him, there was something about him that was magnetic, funny, and family.
To be honest, at least with us, in the final few years before the bankruptcy, he had... mellowed out? Don't know if that is the right word. He was offering to have CPR use his original films for playfields, he just wanted a fair shake at some kind of a royalty. He wasn't being controlling or money-grubby. He was being fair and helpful, where the olive branch was being held out - and I had the choice to grab it or not. No pressure. We actually turned him down several times, as we had a stockpile (years worth) of crisp fresh vectored playfield art packages from Stu by that point. We had no room on the docket to make deals to borrow his artwork, at the time. I remember feeling bad, because wisps of his financial hardships had begun appearing in the air. Would have been nice for some of his artwork to yield him some coin. He tried. The difference in his disposition at that time was palpable, compared to all those years prior.
Anyway, enough of that.
THAT HOUSE !!! Wowwwww those pictures of the current-day state of the property are shocking to me. We visited Gene back in 2005 to make our handshake-deal on doing classic Bally playfields on an ongoing basis. This was after the 'debut' Fathom run in 2004. 2005 was going to be Centaur. Then Xenon. Then Eight Ball Deluxe. And so on. That is why we went there, and we were flying home the original Centaur factory films... the first set he was going to let us borrow. So of course, that weekend we got the entire tour. Everything. All the warehouses. That house. The giant indoor pool oasis.
But that house... damnnn. He had us through most of it. If the listing says 5500 square feet... I almost cannot believe it. Maybe they don't count the pool building addition. Dunno. I'd estimate more like 12,000. At the time, I was so dazzled by the immense scale of it all... Imagine it all completely furnished, fake trees, plants, paintings, artwork, books, slot machines everywhere, etc. It was tight to walk around, because there was a slight "hoarder" thing going on. Soooo much "stuff"... the place seemed never-ending. And all of it was crammed full. I never noticed it was made up of multiple builds and add-ons. I'm only seeing that clearly now, looking at the real estate pictures. Back in 2005, that pool 'oasis' room was mind boggling. He had fake palm trees in there that were 20-30 feet tall... tiki torches and strings of lanterns... tons of loungers and stools... it was bigger than most indoor hotel pools I have been at. Could easily handle a party of 50-100 people. But it felt so huge, so lonely, so cold... echoes for days... like an abandoned YMCA. I think it's heyday was long in the past. But as somebody mentioned, yes, this was kinda like a patchworked "Playboy Mansion" type of place. All the eccentricities of a wealthy man chasing his ideas and dreams, changing interests and projects as years go by, throwing money at this, throwing money at that. Such a unique place. Gene's World. Crammed with his lifetime of trophies and trinkets. Wall to wall. It was soooo "70's" with the colors, carpets, woodgrain... and it smelled that way too. I have to say, it made my life feel "small" ... he had accomplished so much, thus accumulated so much. It blew my mind. And while one could say life isn't about "stuff"... you'd be right... but man, it was overwhelming what one man could collect and buy over a lifetime to that point. I had never seen anything like that, in person, before in my life. Not on that scale. He was charming for the whole visit. Definitely daunting though, in his presentation of his lifestyle. We were there for a business deal... it felt like the deal was so small (for him) we were like Girl Guides selling cookies at his door. Does that make sense? We were so naive and green in 2005.
ANYWAY - - - I TOOK PICTURES DURING THAT VISIT
I STILL HAVE THEM
So I'm going to post them below. Maybe you can all spot things you recognise. Some are from his giant barns (collections) behind his house. Some are from the IPB warehouses. A few are from the Big Bang Bar assembly building (???) ... it hadn't even started yet, but he had most of the parts. Plus some odds and ends. If I know something, I'll label the pic(s) the best I can.