(Topic ID: 271561)

Artifacts of Gene Cunningham/Illinois Pinball

By dudah

7 months ago

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  • 589 posts
  • 158 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 53 days ago by s1500
  • Topic is favorited by 191 Pinsiders


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Topic index (key posts)

54 key posts have been marked in this topic, showing the first 10 items.

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Post #1 2020 photos of what’s left of Gene’s place. Posted by dudah (7 months ago)

Post #8 Dougram’s first installment of their part of Gene’s story. Posted by dougram69 (7 months ago)

Post #14 Dougram part 2 Posted by dougram69 (7 months ago)

Post #19 Link to an article about the history of Big Bang Bar. Posted by WODKA (7 months ago)

Post #28 Dougram part 3- some inventory arrives. Posted by dougram69 (7 months ago)

Post #41 Description of some video game related items obtained from Gene. Posted by vidgameseller (7 months ago)

Post #83 Link to TOPcast episode 11, interview with Gene. Posted by wallybgood (7 months ago)

Post #87 Dougram part 5- musing about Atlas memories. Posted by dougram69 (7 months ago)

Topic indices are generated from key posts and maintained by Pinside Editors. For more information, or to become an editor yourself read this post!

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#309 6 months ago
Quoted from Mank:

I'll give you a pinball consumer point of view. I bought my first pin, a TZ, in 2001. I jumped right in not knowing anything about pinball other than I liked playing at the arcades as a kid. I paid $1800. A really nice one mind you, not a beater project. I didn't even know that Williams had closed it's pinball division like 2 years before that TZ purchase. There was no manufacturer or distributor to got to for help. You had to learn for yourself. At the time, there was no Pinside. There were no leagues. There were no pins on location. No local experts I knew about. Really, to me, there was
rec.games.pinball and Clay's guides. I read that forum every day and read through Clay's guides, and these were incredibly helpful for me the noob. I had TZ for about 2 years before getting the itch to buy another. I ended up getting IJ and MM. The IJ was just over $3000 and the MM was just over $4000. Both were in immaculate shape. True "collector quality." In the early 2000's, MM was like a holy grail and I got one. Having multiple games at that time made me come to the realization that parts were almost impossible to find. There was a whole black market of parts that came and went over time. It was weird because no one was "officially" making parts, under license. The black market manufacturer would eventually get shut down for making parts without a license. No parts from the person with the license, and if you decided to make your own and sell them, even out of sheer need, you'd get shut down. So in this environment of being able to get really good Bally/Williams games for a few thousand dollars and knowing that parts would be hard to get, BBB gets announced. I must have read about it on rec.games.pinball. I do remember that you had to email Illinois Pinball and they sent you a return email that you faxed back as a commitment. I'm just about positive the game was going to be $5000 and limited to 180 games total. At the time, I thought that was a huge amount of money. It was the highest amount I had ever heard of for a pin. There were no $8000, $10,000, or $15,000 NIB pins at that time. $5000 was a huge amount of money to ask, especially because they were going to be build, not built and ready to ship. I passed. Everyone who forked over the $5000 took a huge risk and my hats off to them that it paid off, but the machines took well over a year to get from time of payment. A lot of uncertainty, especially for the buyers. Now I see them going for $20,000 and I think good for the person who took the risk. Sometimes I regret not buying a BBB when I had the chance, but that could have easily ended up a $5000 loss. I do remember sometime after BBB got made, Illinois Pinball had an "open house" and they were selling parts for either one day only or a weekend. I saw pictures of parts that were socked away and you could actually buy and I couldn't believe it. It may have been a bankruptcy sale. Now THAT I regret not going to. There was a time not long ago, that pinball was dead from a pinball consumer point of view. I'm very appreciative of those who somehow kept it going and even getting it back into the mainstream. Amazing.

The games were $4,500 each, half down up front.

#312 6 months ago

Went back in time to dig these out of my files, these are the communications from Georgianna when I ordered my BBB starting in 2004 through delivery, everything was by mail, fax and telephone only.

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#313 6 months ago
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#314 6 months ago
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#316 6 months ago
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#317 6 months ago

BBB spare parts...

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#318 6 months ago
Quoted from joshvandam:

Here is what was going to be his last swan song but he never seemed to get it off the ground. The preorders of kingpin were being done but I dont believe he took any money for them. The price was almost double that of BBB. Does anyone know how close he got or was the preorder list the end of it?
[quoted image]

Here’s a previous flyer Gene sent out with the price at $7,000 per Kingpin, I believe BBB buyers were going to get a $500 discount. One hang-up in making Kingpin had to do with software for a custom chip that Gene has used up making the BBBs, I don’t remember all the details but it can be found in rec.games.pinball.

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#320 6 months ago
Quoted from LTG:

I remember the start of that. Half now to be held in escrow. Balance when games were finished.
I don't recall any actual escrow, and within a year balance was requested.
LTG : )

You’re right LTG, it was a little less than a year and what I remember is that Gene needed the money to pay for parts to complete the games.

#366 6 months ago
Quoted from littlecammi:

I did the same. He wouldn't take personal checks, so as soon as I got the notice in the mail I drove to the bank for a cashier's check and then directly to the post office and sent it by overnight priority mail. Which is how I secured BBB number 16. All the lower numbers were reserved for family members and insiders.

I did the same and was able to get #10.

#496 6 months ago
Quoted from Mr68:

The orange rings were an after market mod owners could purchase and install. As soon as I saw them it was a no brainer to add them to my game.
The slot cuts in the tube for those rings was an original design and can be seen in the 1996 model. The story goes that the orange rings were also a part of the original design but the Capcom bean counters cut them.

I thought they were removed because of ball hang ups on the ramp.

#505 6 months ago
Quoted from Compy:

The only issue I remember is that airballs off of the ramp would potentially hang a ball there indefinitely (with the ball sitting on top of the tube and between two of the rings). Definitely no concern under the ramp, even with "tubular flaccidity"
That said, the rings look badass.

Correct, I was referring to the tube as a “ramp”, balls hung up there would have been a big problem.

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