The history of my Pinball Frontier began exactly a couple of years ago.
There was a very big construction in our back yard, out of which we built a grill gazebo or backyard cottage. It was finished by the end of 2013. After having it furnished, I saw there was an empty space where nothing important would be included.
It came to my mind that getting a Pinball to put there would be fine and fun, since during my adolescence in Durazno, my hometown ( 180 km from Montevideo, where I live now) I used to spend long hours playing pinball with my friends and the Frontier was my favorite.
In April 2014 I got Fernando´s telephone, another Pinball fan, whom I had never got to know before.
I called him, and he told me he had 2 pinballs, the Xenon and the Lethal Weapon.
I told him I wanted to buy one, but specially a Frontier. He said that he did not know it, and had no idea of where I could get one here in Uruguay.
Fernando and I had been virtual friends for two months, we had never met before. Two weeks after our first chat, he sends me the photograph of a Frontier, which belonged to a merchandiser called Richard, who, by chance while having a conversation, told him that he had a pinball and that he would be interested in selling it, therefore, he sent Fernando a photograph.
Then I called Richard and went to see his pinball. I could not believe my eyes when I saw it: the Frontier was in front of me…!!! Nevertheless, it was not all good news, the left flipper hardly had any power, any strength at all, only two displays worked at a minimum, for several segments of the numbers were burnt, the playfield was peeling everywhere and the backglass would not exist, it was just a horrible translite and the cabinet was painted blue!!!
I was so excited that said to my wife: •
“It´s nice, isn´t it?” and she said: “No, it´s not nice, it´s awful, and think it over…
Through Fernando, Richard knew that I was very interested in the Frontier and would tell me that it was in a very good condition (…) and, just putting a few pence on, I would have it impeccable, like new. He asked for it
the amount of US$2500.-!!!
I wanted it, but realized it was in such bad a condition that it was not worth that money!!! With great sorrow, I left it aside; then I bought a Tri Zone (Williams), recently full restored by Leonardo, a guy I met through the Internet, in a similar place to e-Bay.
We became friends and kept in touch.
A few months later he was given a Batman (Data East) to restore, for the owner needed the money to pay some debts. Leonardo told me this, and as I had some more room in my BBQ, for I had the TriZone and a MsPacMan video, and it was in good condition and cheap, I finally bought it.
The Batman was great fun, but my mind went on thinking of the Frontier.
In the meanwhile, I kept on looking for one among the few people who might have a pinball here in Uruguay and found one person in Maldonado city ( 130 km from Montevideo) who has a full cabinet of a Frontier, painted brown, all its cables and legs cut with the purpose of making a drawing-room table!! Besides it had an awful backglass, only the glass and no backbox at all and, of course, no boards of any kind!! He asked U$500.-, but I bought it for U$300, and I brought it home with me.
I bought it just in case I could get a complete one some day, and this one could be good as a donor.
In February 2015, I contact Daniel, the person who has more pinballs in Uruguay. He has over 70 machines, but they are all from the 1990´s and not from the 1980´s, the ones I prefer.
One day, talking about the subject, I tell him that I have a Batman which he had been looking for from long ago, because despite he had a lot of pinballs, he did not have the Batman, and wanted it as much as I wanted the Frontier!!
He told me that he knew only one Frontier that he had repaired some time before, but that it was in a terribly bad condition, and know what??? Unbelievable, it was Richard´s…!!! Then I told him that if he could get the Frontier for me, I would exchange the Batman for him. And he says: “Really?” and I say: “Yes”.
Two or three weeks later, Daniel calls me and says that now the only Frontier in Uruguay is Richard´s but he is rather reluctant to sell it!!! Then I asked Daniel to make an effort to get it, and not to tell Richard it was for me, remember he knew I was very interested in it, but I did not want him to rise, or at least, leave the same high price he had asked me for at the beginning, and that I would give it to Leonardo for him to restore it.
In August 2015, after four months negotiating with Richard, Daniel can get it for U$1600.-
Daniel gives it to me together with some stuff like displays module, tilt panel, head box locking bar, etc., and took it to Leonardo´s in Santa Lucía, his hometown, 60 km from Montevideo. (Remember, Uruguay is a rather small country where distances of two hundred km are longer than in big countries...)
I told Leonardo that I had got it, and now he could repair it patiently, there was no hurry, he could take his time to fix it, in a way that its finishes were perfect and looked brand new when it was ready.
What mostly worried him was the playfield, it was in a really bad condition: the bear under the flippers lacked half their face; the snakes by the slingshots were nearly all erased; in the upper part, where the wolves are, there was a groove from where the ball went out, and a lot of other details to repair.
In the meanwhile, my father-in-law, Dardo, insisted in the fact that he owed me a birthday present and that he would like to give me something I was in need of. There, it occurred to me, as he is a cartoonist and painter, he could give me the restoration of the playfield, and he accepted!!! He did it in two weeks, and, for my taste, it was perfect!!!
Leo varnished the restored playfield, repaired and fixed all the electronic elements, chose the best plastics of the 2 playfields, restored the apron, painted the legs and the cabinet. He polished the steels and restored the coin door, now it is coin-operated , I did not want it for free, I wanted to feel the same sensation of putting a coin in the slot as when I was a teenager.
But the backglass, oh dear, it looked impossible to restore!!! You could never get one in Uruguay, so the only chance I had was printing a translite.
I found a good image in the Internet (16MB). But the problem was that, being a jpg file, when we passed it to Adobe Photoshop, we saw that the meassures and distances of the different displays would not coincide with the displays module of the backbox!!! Then I had another bright idea... I asked Gaston, a graffic designer, to erase the displays black spaces of the image we had and paint the image that would supposedly be in that place. So he did. He painted "Kenny Rogers´s" hat and coat in the first and third display, he drew the feather and the natives, and the native´s drawings in the second display and more drawings in the fourth display and also erased the displays of "Credit" and "Ball in Play" by the moon. It worked, actually he is an artist of Graffic Design. Then we printed the image in translite and put it on the original blackglass where we could copy the exact place where the displays had to be and also the masked words like Tilt, Game Over, Shoot Again, etc., for them to coincide with their back box lights.
After correctly mark the different places, we cut the translite with a utility knife and it was absolutely perfect!!
After six months of hard work by Leo, Dardo and Gastón and lots of hours I spent browsing in the Internet, one day by the end of February 2016 the Frontier landed in my house without previous notice!!! There she was!!!
Game Over…, or rather the game begins, the hunting is over, I´ve got her at home !!!
And last but not least, I would like to thank these persons who in one way or another, managed to do it possible for me to have my beloved Frontier well restored:
- Fernando, who gave me the contact of Richard, who had the only Frontier in Uruguay
- Daniel, who negotiated Richard´s Frontier for at least four months, bought it and exchanged it to me by the Batman
-Dardo, who restored the Playfield
-Gastón, who designed and made the final image of the Backglass
-Leonardo, who made the restoration of the Frontier
Besides, I want to thank two Pinside Members:
- The_Director, who sent me an excellent image of the playfield with which Dardo could paint all its details.
- Winston (wtuttle), a Pinside Member who contacted me and came and visited Uruguay, after which, we became very good friends. He sent me the Rubber Ring Kit and the plastics inserts for the coin door, (things you would never find in Uruguay).
I also want to tell you that I have been lucky enough to get in touch with Greg Freres, such an important person in the world of Pinball and of course in Bally Pinball, who was very kind to promptly answer my questions
Thanks all of you