(Topic ID: 318499)

Best Year For Any Manufacturer: 1981 Bally For Me, How about you?

By SantaEatsCheese

1 year ago


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12
#1 1 year ago

Although way before my time, I have come to the conclusion that the Bally class of 1981 pinball machines are the best pinball machines dropped by any single manufacturer in any year. Despite the recency bias in the top 100 system, over half are in the top 100. The art on these is pretty much all amazing. Fathom and Centaur in particular have some of the best art packages I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. As hardtops become available, new manufacturers possibly squeeze out some repros (TBD) and new Alltek boards become more common, I hope more people get to experience these great games.

What would you argue as being the best single year of releases for any single manufacturer and brand? (Note, this would count Bally and Williams as separate up until their final closure for the purpose of this discussion).

Bally81 (resized).pngBally81 (resized).png
#2 1 year ago

1993 for me and nothing comes close to the level of creativity and also the number of machines produced.

Surprised you said 1981-we all know STTNG was 1993

#3 1 year ago
Quoted from pinmister:

1993 for me and nothing comes close to the level of creativity and also the number of machines produced.
Surprised you said 1981-we all know STTNG was 1993

STTNG is amazing.

Actually, everything made by Williams in 1993 is amazing. All are top 100 games, but they only dropped 4 in 1993.

Williams93 (resized).pngWilliams93 (resized).png
#4 1 year ago

Going back a bit, Gottlieb dominated the 1950's with a slew of
epic pins. I also like the series 1 & 80 from the same maker.
Williams/Bally from the 1990's, especially pins like ST:TNG.
Williams had many good EM's and early SS pins such as
Aztek and Gorgar. Later pins like Black Knight dominated the
later 1980s.

Just my opinion based on pins I've had.

#5 1 year ago
Quoted from SantaEatsCheese:

Actually, everything made by Williams in 1993 is amazing. All are top 100 games, but they only dropped 4 in 1993.

Why isn't TZ on that list? It was definitely 1993.

Edit: Oh, I see. Those are all specifically Williams titles, even though they were both the same company at that point.

#6 1 year ago
Quoted from gweempose:

Why isn't TZ on that list? It was definitely 1993.

It's a Bally.

Probably ok to combine Bally-Willaims for 1993

#7 1 year ago
Quoted from gweempose:

Why isn't TZ on that list? It was definitely 1993.

Quoted from NC_Pin:

It's a Bally.
Probably ok to combine Bally-Willaims for 1993

Twilight Zone is a Bally. I was trying to keep them as seperate companies as it makes the choice much harder. Bally/Williams would win hands down in 92 or 93 otherwise.

Bally93 (resized).pngBally93 (resized).png
#8 1 year ago

My favorite is the combined Bally/Williams of 1993. That is probably the top year for the industry as a whole.

I will say that Stern's 2019 is up there with the best. JP-EHOH-STh are all classics... Munsters and BK:SOR are also liked (by some at least)

#9 1 year ago
Quoted from SantaEatsCheese:

What would you argue as being the best single year of releases for any single manufacturer and brand?

I wanted to argue against this. But I was playing in arcades during that time. And the games coming out were just great. And looking at the titles, yeah, you win. Best year by any manufacturer ever. And if it isn't, well, it still is so great that an argument could be made for the best.

I think I sold my Embryon around 2015... and I still miss it.

17
#10 1 year ago

1980 for classic Stern.

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#11 1 year ago

1990 williams for my collection.....whirlwind, diner and funhouse all in the same year

#12 1 year ago

1980-81 for sure, but not just Bally, Williams had firepower, Black knight, Jungle Lord, along with Bally's EBD, fathom etc, Stern had kickass titles then too, definitely one of the best times for pinball.
Hardtops suck tho, hard pass on that, real play field or nothing at all in my opinion.
B

#13 1 year ago

2018 was pretty killer!

1. Iron Maiden
2. Deadpool
3. JJP Pirates
4. Beatles
5. Monster Bash Remake

#14 1 year ago
Quoted from GorillaBiscuits:

2018 was pretty killer!
1. Iron Maiden
2. Deadpool
3. JJP Pirates
4. Beatles
5. Monster Bash Remake

But only 3 of those were from the same company! Did Stern, CGC, or JJP produce the best offerings in 2018?

#15 1 year ago

Love this discussion -- really hard to beat everything from 80-81 and B/W's 93. Gottlieb obviously ruled the 50s and 60s, but I think their best stretch was 1976-1977. So many great games with iconic layouts and interesting rules.

Gottlieb76-77 (resized).pngGottlieb76-77 (resized).png
#16 1 year ago
Quoted from SantaEatsCheese:

But only 3 of those were from the same company! Did Stern, CGC, or JJP produce the best offerings in 2018?

Oh man, reading comprehension isn't my strong suit. But the 3 Sterns are all classics from that year for sure... but I have to give it to Stern Electronics class of 1980 as mentioned earlier. I have 6 of them in my permanent collection!

16
#17 1 year ago

Class of ‘81 FTW

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#18 1 year ago

I am a pretty big fan of 1986 machines from Gottlieb and Bally.

#19 1 year ago
Quoted from Mudflaps:

Class of ‘81 FTW[quoted image]

Ditto

81 (resized).jpg81 (resized).jpg
#20 1 year ago

Bally Class of '81 is pretty top notch.

#21 1 year ago
Quoted from gdonovan:

Bally Class of '81 is pretty top notch.

Especially if you are a drop target fan... or like in-line drops.

#22 1 year ago

How about a little love for Williams Class of ‘86? Not by the number of pins, but it’s hard to argue with the legacy of High Speed and Pinbot. Throw in Road Kings and Grand Lizard as a second tier bonus.

-1
#23 1 year ago
Quoted from dothedoo:

1980 for classic Stern.
[quoted image]

This.

Unlike Bally from 81, the Stern designs are different from each other where Bally just reused the same template a bit too much.

#24 1 year ago
Quoted from Methos:

This.
Unlike Bally from 81, the Stern designs are different from each other where Bally just reused the same template a bit too much.

You could make the argument about late 70's Bally, 1981 not so much.

Centaur alone would nuke that argument, there is nothing else like it. Medusa has zipper flippers, again nothing else did at that point. Flash Gordon with the split level layout, Elektra tri-level and Fathom are all distinctly different.

#25 1 year ago

2003 Stern - Lord of the Rings, The Simpsons Pinball Party, Terminator 3

#26 1 year ago
Quoted from dothedoo:

1980 for classic Stern.
[quoted image]

Bally did well in the late 70s/early 80s but Stern Electronics had some bangers during the same era

#27 1 year ago

The Bally class of 1981 is tops. Plus Xenon as a November 1980 game was in arcades with all the other great titles. They were so good, Centaur was re-released and EBD was done twice. Then came another Fireball. Why did Haggis pick Fathom? Because it's an awesome game. Plus the ease of restoring them with the great selection of boards, displays, stencil sets, PF's and BG's is great.

That's why Bally & Stern classic SS games are consistently increasing in price. The fact the same board set (except sound) basically works in every game from 1976 to 1983 is unmatched by Williams and Gottlieb.

#28 1 year ago

Yes, Bally 1981 ruled, but the other guy were keeping a close second
It was great being 15yo that year

#29 1 year ago
Quoted from SantaEatsCheese:

Although way before my time, I have come to the conclusion that the Bally class of 1981 pinball machines are the best pinball machines dropped by any single manufacturer in any year. Despite the recency bias in the top 100 system, over half are in the top 100. The art on these is pretty much all amazing. Fathom and Centaur in particular have some of the best art packages I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. As hardtops become available, new manufacturers possibly squeeze out some repros (TBD) and new Alltek boards become more common, I hope more people get to experience these great games.
What would you argue as being the best single year of releases for any single manufacturer and brand? (Note, this would count Bally and Williams as separate up until their final closure for the purpose of this discussion).
[quoted image]

You beat me to it. It's the years 80-82. And it also includes Gottlieb - Spirit, Black Hole, Haunted House, Stern - Star Gazer, Seawitch, Iron Maiden, Even Williams - Black Knight, Firepower, Jungle Lord, Pharaoh, Solar Fire.

I hold these 3 years as the golden era - no licenses, solid state with sounds and voice, uncluttered playfield, no distracting DMDs, just pure creativity. AND all four of the great manufacturers still existed, unique in their brands.

#30 1 year ago
Quoted from MtnFrost:

I hold these 3 years as the golden era - no licenses, solid state with sounds and voice, uncluttered playfield, no distracting DMDs, just pure creativity.

Flash Gordon.

#31 1 year ago

I like older games. Obviously, there are different opinions. But as a 22 year long collector, I favor older games, the era I grew up with. I played in a "Stern Army" tournament for the 1st time last month and will never again. It was fun meeting new people but as someone who grew up being able to keep my eye on the ball, playing a bunch of newer games that I never played before with a ruleset that would take days to figure out, wasn't something I'll ever do again.

Somehow I ended with 6 billion points on a Fish Tales, haven't a clue how that happened. Do we really need billions? Next up Trillions? I'll take my Bally class of 81 games over any newer title. Currently Flash Gordon, Medusa, and FBII.

#32 1 year ago

I'm with astro_judge - for me it was Gottlieb 1976. C'mon - Surf Champ, Royal Flush, Target Alpha, Volley, Bank Shot, Spirit of '76.

But I'm an EM guy....if I wasn't, it would be Bally 1981.

I do tend to like the games that came out before licensing was such a huge deal.

#33 1 year ago
Quoted from gdonovan:

You could make the argument about late 70's Bally, 1981 not so much.
Centaur alone would nuke that argument, there is nothing else like it. Medusa has zipper flippers, again nothing else did at that point. Flash Gordon with the split level layout, Elektra tri-level and Fathom are all distinctly different.

Centaur and Viking are very similar to me. I'll give you Flash Gordon and Medusa and Fathom.

But Dolly Parton, Supersonic, Frontier, Globetrotters, Strikes and Spares, Eight Ball, and others are basically the same layout.

I like them, and the art is usually good on these titles. But Stern just was out of left field during that era and did some the best work.

#34 1 year ago
Quoted from Methos:

Centaur and Viking are very similar to me.

Outside of the save gates they are very different to me. I always thought Viking played more like an upgraded Mata Hari.

#35 1 year ago
Quoted from Methos:

Centaur and Viking are very similar to me. I'll give you Flash Gordon and Medusa and Fathom.
But Dolly Parton, Supersonic, Frontier, Globetrotters, Strikes and Spares, Eight Ball, and others are basically the same layout.
I like them, and the art is usually good on these titles. But Stern just was out of left field during that era and did some the best work.

As I pointed out "You could make the argument about late 70's Bally, 1981 not so much."

Where is the multiball on Viking? Magnet? Viking has twice as many pop bumpers, a spinner, 2 saucers, etc.

The 70's yes, all stale retreads.

#36 1 year ago
Quoted from sunnRAT:

Outside of the save gates they are very different to me. I always thought Viking played more like an upgraded Mata Hari.

Mata Hari is a great comparison, especially that right loop shot into the bonus collect. The pop bumper placement, inline drops, and saucers at the top of the playfield give it sort of a squished Paragon feel too. I haven't put much time into Viking, but really enjoyed it when I did.

#37 1 year ago
Quoted from astro_judge:

Mata Hari is a great comparison, especially that right loop shot into the bonus collect. The pop bumper placement, inline drops, and saucers at the top of the playfield give it sort of a squished Paragon feel too. I haven't put much time into Viking, but really enjoyed it when I did.

I really like that right loop shot. Also it's fun to "battle" the saucer while ripping the timed lit spinner. Viking kicks ass.

#38 1 year ago
Quoted from sunnRAT:

I really like that right loop shot. Also it's fun to "battle" the saucer while ripping the timed lit spinner. Viking kicks ass.

Gotta find a Viking to try at the next show... and a Mata Hari for that matter.

#39 1 year ago

Have 5 from class of 81.
Centaur
Fathom
Medusa
Embryon
Elektra
Definitely my favorites. Put all my dishwashing money into them when I was 15 in 1981 along with Berzerk and Asteroids. Will eventually get a EBD and maybe a FG. Only really interested in the original titles so FG might not ever appear in my lineup.

4 months later
#40 1 year ago

Three of my 1981 alumni. Some of the most beautiful artwork in pinball!

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#41 1 year ago

1993 WPC

#42 1 year ago

You guys are pretty spot on, no surprise there. For reference, here are the "Best 50 Games" from my Classics guide. 1976 has the most for EMs; 1980 is first, 1981 second for SS. Note that I don't use art or sound as factors in my ratings for that guide since it's geared towards competitive play; I just use "Fun-ness" and "Skill-ness." A lot of these games score well in both those areas as well, though. Your personal favorites may differ; that's fine, I'm not here to debate selections. Mine are based on my opinions after tens of thousands of tournament games on these (and some of my favorites have changed over the years).

Electro-Mechanical Games
1968 Royal Guard
1969 Target Pool – best stand-up target game
1970 Doodle Bug – best no-cradling game
1972 Fireball – best zipper flipper game
1973 High Hand
1973 Jack in the Box
1973 Time Zone
1974 Sky Jump – best mix of lanes and targets
1975 Abra Ca Dabra
1975 El Dorado – best for dead bounce and long precise shot training
1976 Flip Flop – most interesting playfield layout
1976 Grand Prix – best spinner game
1976 Surf Champ
1976 Volley
1977 Centigrade 37
1977 Jacks Open
1977 Jungle Queen – best use of two-tier flippers
Solid State Games
1978 Sinbad – best double flipper, plus bonus multiplier / drop target rules
1978 Joker Poker – best drop target game
1978 Stars – best use of Special
1979 Flash
1979 Harlem Globetrotters – best in-line target game
1979 Magic
1979 Meteor – best drop-target-plus-spinner game
1979 Paragon – #2 widebody, #2 in-line target game
1980 Ali
1980 Alien Poker
1980 Black Knight – best use of two playfield levels
1980 Blackout
1980 Firepower
1980 Frontier – best use of collect bonus
1980 HotDoggin’ – best widebody
1980 Mystic
1980 Nine Ball
1980 Sea Witch
1980 Skateball – best blend of ball control and strategy
1980 Star Gazer
1980 Viking
1981 Barracora – most interesting multiball rules
1981 Centaur – best multiball game
1981 Eight Ball Deluxe
1981 Fathom
1981 Flash Gordon – best variety of progressive scoring
1981 Medusa
1981 Pharaoh
1982 Warlok – best blend of target / orbit / collect bonus shots
1983 Time Fantasy – best use of time as a score element
1984 Alien Star – best “no lead is safe” game
1984 Laser Cue – best blend of shot variety and precision
1985 Andromeda

#43 1 year ago

Bally/William 1993: Twilight Zone, Indiana Jones, Whitewater, Star Trek TNG, Dracula

4 months later
#44 9 months ago

Great topic so I thought I should bring it back. I just stared playing in the arcades in 80 and was struggling to find location pinball in 93.

The vibe between the 2 was the difference between day 81 and night 93. So maybe for collectors 93 was a great year but Bally 81 was no doubt the best year for pinball that I experienced.

If you went to the beach you could find multiples of the same Bally of this year lined up next to each other and you would play the EBD that had the most Deluxe letters spelled out in hopes of a free game. While you could find TAF in 93 finding a TZ or any of the others was hard.

Even today I have never seen multiple LOTR, TSPP, Godzilla at a location.

#45 9 months ago
Quoted from dothedoo:

1980 for classic Stern.
[quoted image]

Came here to post exactly this. That year can't be touched by anyone.

#46 9 months ago

1986 Williams.
I love Bally's - more than anything, but without High Speed and Pinbot - not sure we would still have pinball at all.

These 2 games SAVED pinball.

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