I’m trying to do a Disney’s Bonkers retheme for the Williams Police Force pinball machine and I’m kinda hating it.
So I’ll do a little documentation of that as well as way bigger analysis about art in pinball in general and where/ how it succeeds… or totally fails.
So you may read this… or just look at some pictures.
Way more elaborate Version:
Since I had to sell my (more expensive) pinball machines about a year ago (for more urgent/ meaningful purposes) I really wanted to have a new shiny machine to play and sit in my office,… while on the same time still being on a tight budget.
That said, both my Johnny Mnemonic and Bally Atlantis, look gorgeous,… but only for what they are. The cabinet art on Johnny Mnemonic is blend and in general the more modern games don’t have these mostly black cabinets anymore. They just look friendlier and while I had my Ghostbusters machine even though I may have stopped playing it, I always thought of it as a little artpiece sitting in the room.
And in addition to that, while I love my JM, every game sitting alone in your room for months or years, gets a little bit old.
What I personally need in a game is good music and what my wife needs is for the machine to be child friendly (since I have my main office at home).
So I was looking for a colorful, modern looking, child friendly game, with great music, actually working and basically free… WHAT CAN GO WRONG?!
So I was searching for months, having a couple of games in mind. But of course when you look for something specifically it won’t show up and I hesitated to ask in the forum for specific titles just so the seller wouldn’t think to ask a higher price because I’m “searching”.
So I posted a “general” search for games under 1000 bucks, working… and with music.
Got some offers but most interestingly a Mousin Around, wich I’ve completely ignored until then, because of the theme. More specific that ugly guy with the cigar and the antropromorphic mice.
Next I found a Police Force, again an antropromorphic animal game, wich I dislike, but even for that gone horribly wrong.
I mean honestly what were they thinking? – Don’t get me wrong the art is well executed, the translite colorful, but the theming of the game in general, the artstyle(s) and partially the composition is... not that great.
The reason to use animals instead of humans is usually to make something appeal more kids friendly.
But this games art package does poop on everyones plate while kind of trying to broaden the target audience. The animal cops on the translite look absolutely terrifying and kinda photo realistic. The composition on the Translite (wich I will go in more detail later when rethemeing) is the same as with Batman (the game this was meant to be) and High Speed; with the Cops sitting left & right of the display wich is implemented as a car dashboard. Problem is, there is NOTHING in the centre of the picture but an empty street.
The sides of the cab look way more cartoony and in case of the weasel even funny, but the cops still look intimidating and that car is lacking any dynamic (just think of the sides of Ghostbusters) drawing strictly from the side and geometrically correct. (Wich saves the artist a lot of work when mirroring the image – something I’ll also come back to again, later in the process.) That backbox side art just scream lackluster. The playfield (more in detail later) again looks way different, even funny, with that turtle showing it’s poophole… but I’m personally crying on the inside at that point.
So that game, while working nicely, was (and still is) pretty beat up and no bondo and new original cabinet decals can make this abomination of an art package a beauty.
SO OF COURSE I BOUGHT IT!!!
And here’s why:
Police Force in general is a Cops & Robbers game wich is one of the most broaden appealing things to boys (but not only) of all ages. Additionally that game has its police lights on top, so my children will go absolutely nuts about it (and it costed not much more then my GB topper alone). - Don’t forget that little police car.
On top of that it has a great music and sound package and the goal of the game is pretty simple to understand.
So my question to myself before buying was:
Can I tailor this game to my needs & taste while not going completely overboard?
And I came to the conclusion that I can. (If I have the patience and will that is.)
So as I wrote, Police Force in itself is a great theme, I just don’t like the art. The playfield itself is pretty generic so it could stay nearly as it is, only the animals would still stick out and have to vanish somehow…
But –at least for starters- I don’t want to redo the whole playfield. So I can’t retheme this game into a “Police Academy” or anything. On top of that the music wouldn’t fit.
So I can’t retheme this game with “low effort” unless I make it a Police themed game with antopromorphic animals. But although I prefer the game to be child friendly I don’t want an all animal game.
So I thought really hard about it, about only 2 seconds, then I remembered “Bonkers”. – That (pretty messed up in the production background) cartoon show Disney did surrounding the Roger Rabbit & Toontown idea. I never was a fan due to various reasons (wich I happily tell but this text is getting way too long already) and had long forgotten but it was well made and it fits all my needs to NOT ONLY slap that license over the pinball game, but mix them up. – Meaning, the Drug Rat and all the Police Force Characters (just not the Cops) can fit into the game and Bonkers is so long forgotten that no one would notice the absence of the title music. (And there may be the possibility for Pinsound later.)
Only problem with that is:
Bonkers never was a big hit and with it long forgotten you can’t get the series on DVD (I bought 2 VHS tapes just to get a hang of the series) and you can’t find any high-res picture material or artwork. On top of that, because of the messed up production background, that existing artwork may actually not fit in the ‘cannon’ or the design of the characters and props has changed from the first batch of promotion material.
So, while having visual aids, I basically have to redo (and change) all those assets as well as verify them within the series (waiting for that VHS tapes).
So for all the ones endulging me, here’s some pictures of the web I found…
…and made this first draft of:
I will go to every piece in detail later while revisioning; but in general the parts where I can 1 copy some existing artwork is relatively easy but for the most part I have to add or change a lot of stuff. So I have to get a hang of the artstyle and rework things like the Police Force Characters on the cabinet side to make it fit into Bonkers world. With things like the front (wich is about completely original) I’ll need way more time to get that right. The composition on the front is still subject to change while I’m already pretty happy with the sides. As far as the already mentioned “verifying” goes, I have to have a look at the actual TV-Show, since the car in the promo material for example looks totally different every time, this one here having no side mirrors btw., and they all look kinda different to the animated version (wich I only have seen snippets of yet).
So if you like, stay around and enjoy a bonkers journey!
(Including drawing, restoring, reworking & changing (backglass illumination & displays), learning how to lasercut / cnc acrylic, plotting your own stickers, getting to learn everything about a license no one cares for and last but not least a lot of ranting about other peoples work! )