(Topic ID: 170287)

Join the middle-pop club!


By NicoVolta

2 years ago



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#1 2 years ago

OK folks, the time has finally come for middle-pop games to get their own thread. Welcome!

Middle-pop pinball machines feature an uncommon but fun layout: A pop bumper between the flippers! This creates a wider than usual flipper stance and forces the player to learn new strategies of play. Trapping and passing the ball requires extra finesse to cross the gap and occasionally requires the use of the pop bumper. Many times the ball can be nudged back into play by using it alone, which often adds a fun level of unpredictability. Middle-pop games are thus a terrific way to spice up a collection of pins with traditional layouts and provide an opportunity to learn new skills.

I have combed the entire IPDB twice and, to my knowledge, the middle-pop + flippers layout began with Wayne Neyens' 1952 All-Star Basketball. A few months later in the year, Harry Williams designed Majorettes. Both have a similarly wide flipper stance and lower rebound slings:

"All-Star Basketball" http://www.ipdb.org/showpic.pl?id=54&picno=42764

"Majorettes" http://www.ipdb.org/showpic.pl?id=1529&picno=65529

The two designers each released a middle-pop game in 1953 as well... with Wayne's beautiful Marble Queen followed by Harry Williams with Lazy-Q. Notice how both designs again follow one another, now with twin center drains below the pop bumper:

"Marble Queen" http://www.ipdb.org/showpic.pl?id=1541&picno=1477

"Lazy-Q" http://www.ipdb.org/showpic.pl?id=1422&picno=23814

In 1954, Neyens released Hawaiian Beauty which was the only middle-pop that year and the only one ever produced with a cluster of three. BTW, from this point onward, take notice of the large area Neyens dedicates to the lower playfield area below the flippers. He repeats this "big lower area" style for his next (and last) two middle-pops:

"Hawaiian Beauty" http://www.ipdb.org/showpic.pl?id=1138&picno=19348

1956 sees a total of five middle-pops produced... and the last from the woodrail era. Two by Neyens (Derby Day, Score-Board) - again, notice his "large lower area" style below the flippers:

"Derby Day" http://www.ipdb.org/showpic.pl?id=664&picno=17111

"Score-Board" http://www.ipdb.org/showpic.pl?id=2063&picno=20423&zoom=2

...and three by Williams (Cue Ball, Shamrock, and Tim-Buc-Tu):

"Cue Ball" http://www.ipdb.org/showpic.pl?id=609&picno=581

"Shamrock" http://www.ipdb.org/showpic.pl?id=2107&picno=16366

"Tim-Buc-Tu" http://www.ipdb.org/showpic.pl?id=2561&picno=8931

Bonus round: Neyens designed a third middle-pop-ish game in 1956 called "Register". However, I don't think this one qualifies because the central bumper is a dead bumper (no action) and doesn't create a gap between the flippers... so it functions more like a bumper-shaped obstacle than a true middle-pop.

"Register" http://www.ipdb.org/showpic.pl?id=1942&picno=14826

#2 2 years ago

I take it that more pinball history design lessons will follow.

#3 2 years ago

Well, I am a member but with only 2: FanTasTic and Spanish Eyes.

#4 2 years ago

Gottlieb Score-Board is great! (Wasn't sure if you were done yet so waited a little to reply )

#5 2 years ago

Spanish Eyes kicked my ass in a tournament a few weeks ago... Fun game though, I'd own one.

-Steve

#6 2 years ago

Spanish Eyes and WoF owner here.

#7 2 years ago

With the conclusion of 1956, no further middle-pop games would be designed by Neyens or Williams. The layout would remain dormant until the end of the woodrail era and well into the middle of the next decade. That is, until an innovative new designer at Williams revisited the idea...

In 1966, Norm Clark released 8-Ball, a 2p multiplayer - Player 1 shoots for solids, player 2 for stripes. Shooting the 8-ball after completion earns an extra ball.

With 8-Ball, Norm is credited with inventing a type of stepping/bank arrangement which could retain the players' pocketed ball count as the game progressed. The stripes/solids were displayed on the playfield and backglass simultaneously.

8-Ball

Clark's next middle-pop was produced in 1967 - the gorgeous-looking Magic City. By now, Norm was developing a reputation for being an innovator. His original design for Magic City included a spinning color wheel behind the fountain on the backglass. Alas, it was deemed too expensive for production and was never built as intended.

Magic City

In 1968, Ted Zale (of Bally) designed one middle-pop game, Safari. Perhaps due to the differences in coil specs between Bally/Williams, the middle pop bumper on this game isn't very strong compared to the ones designed by Clark.

(I don't own a Safari, but if I did, I'd likely remove a few turns of wire or swap in a stronger coil.)

Safari

Norm Clark's next middle-pop would be a return to his middle-pop + horseshoe layout. In 1969, he released two single-player versions of his earlier hit, 8-Ball. One in replay version (Miss-O) and the other Add-A-Ball (Cue-T). Layout is identical on both, with similar artwork.

Cue-T

In 1972, Norm Clark again produced a third iteration of his middle-pop + horseshoe layout with Spanish Eyes... which can be configured for replay, AAB, or novelty play. This was the first middle-pop game with 3" flippers, as the pinball industry had phased out the smaller 2" flippers by this time.

Spanish Eyes also re-introduced the concept of "flipper drains" (the first was '62 King Pin, Norm's first game). If the flipper is lifted while the ball travels underneath, it will fall through the playfield and drain. Beware! A hilarious surprise for unaware players.

Spanish Eyes

Later in 1972, Clark threw the kitchen sink at the middle-pop format... combining his roulette wheel invention (1966's A-Go-Go) with the Spanish Eyes middle-pop/flipper drain layout... a kickback and a shooter lane gate... and adding all of it to a huge 4p multiplayer: Fan-Tas-Tic. Which it is!

Fan-Tas-Tic

#8 2 years ago

By 1975... several interesting twists of fate occur.

Norm Clark, ever the innovator who was experimenting with emerging solid state technology at this time, is subsequently hired by Bally as the head of their pinball department. He joins Greg Kmiec who is on a hot streak having recently designed "Wizard!" the first blockbuster to top a 10,000 production run, Bow & Arrow nearing 8,000 units, and is busy designing his next hit, Old Chicago, which would go on to exceed 7,000 produced.

It is an exciting time for Bally... brimming with hit games, high production runs, new and experienced designers coming on board, and the advent of exciting technology on the horizon. "Freedom" is subsequently produced by Bally as their newest game and proof of concept.

Freedom isn't officially credited to a single designer. IPDB claims Kmiec remembers it was "designed by George Christian under the direction of Norm Clark". However, knowing what we know of Norm Clark's prodigious design history (and the fact that he has stated in interviews that his favorite personal touch was "putting a pop bumper between the flippers"), it is clear to me that Freedom was largely his work as well as a team effort. Let us examine the evidence...

Freedom prototype

The lower layout is obviously a continuation of Norm's previous work on Spanish Eyes and Fan-Tas-Tic, complete with his signature flipper drains. The spinning award wheel in the center is also quite similar to the roulette wheel on Fan-Tas-Tic. However, we do notice some Bally-specific elements for the first time. None of Norm Clark's prior games had sequential rows of drop targets nor spinners (perhaps only "Eager Beaver" as O-din mentioned below had any drop targets at all). Where did these elements come from? Let's have a look at what Kmiec was designing next door...

Old Chicago

Well well well... Old Chicago just happens to have a row of five drop targets on the side, at the same approximate height and angle. It also has a spinner at the upper left with a similar trail of round inserts underneath. Another similarity: Two kickout holes... one in the center, one to the right. Flip them on a vertical axis and they'd be practically identical to Freedom.

I'm guessing Norm, having just joined Bally with a new house of company toys to play with, just might have borrowed a little inspiration from Kmiec next door who was on a hot streak using the same parts. It is telling that Freedom, Old Chicago, and Night Rider were all on the project table at more or less the same time... and thus the similarities are not entirely a coincidence.

George Christian, for his part, might have contributed the three offset pop bumpers at the top which is a common feature in his designs. Otherwise, Freedom doesn't really resemble his style. Again, I think Freedom largely served as a learning platform since he had little commercial experience otherwise. The biggest fingerprints on the Freedom layout are obviously Clark's. It is his last middle-pop design to be produced.

I've gushed a bit about Norm Clark and the Freedom prototype in another thread so I'll try not to repeat it here. Check it out if you'd like to know a few more facts about Clark's inventiveness: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/11-em-games-mini-pinraid-worth-anything#post-3284223

It suffices to say that of the middle-pop games, the Freedom prototype is pretty special for a number of different reasons. It had an extremely low production run, is the only middle-pop design to be built on the last Bally EM hardware platform (which was the best, IMHO), and is the last middle-pop game to be commercially produced. It is also amusing to note how the prototype narrowly escaped the European revision with its "freedom" intact (ironic considering the bicentennial theme).

Perhaps most significantly of all, Freedom went on to become Bally's first commercial solid-state game in production and prove the strength of the concept. It laid the groundwork for Bally's subsequent rise to overtake and dominate the market through 1982 and lead the pinball industry into a glorious new era. Freedom is thus a significant game in the history of pinball and I hope we can eventually track down as many of the 100 of the prototypes as possible if they can still be found.

#9 2 years ago

To sum up...

If you are looking to add a middle-pop game to your collection, the good news is that they were produced in fairly plentiful numbers:

3" flippers (1970's) - Spanish Eyes (3905), Fan-Tas-Tic (5680), Freedom prototype (100)

2" flippers (1960's) - 8-Ball (3250), Cue-T (2800/AAB)/Miss-O (2351/replay), Magic City (2675/replay)/Magic Town (3950/AAB), Safari (1100)

Woodrails (1950's) - All-Star Basketball (1000), Cue Ball (?), Derby Day (1600), Hawaiian Beauty (900), Lazy-Q (?), Majorettes (?), Marble Queen (1000), Score-Board (1300), Shamrock (?), Tim-Buc-Tu (?)

I personally recommend Fan-Tas-Tic as the best overall choice in terms of availability. Due to the high production count they are still fairly easy to find and relatively inexpensive. However, keep in mind it is a 4-player with the roulette wheel and is thus a bit more complex than most EM's. Lots of pieces to clean and restore. But hey, you'll have Norm Clark's "kitchen sink" middle-pop game with tons of fun features!

Spanish Eyes would be my second choice since it is also relatively easy to find. Although the rules are a bit simple, the action is blazing fast... the fastest middle-pop of all, actually. Really fun game. I love the artwork but it puts off some folks.

Of the 2" middle-pop games keep in mind that 8-Ball/Cue-T/Miss-O all share the same horseshoe layout (similar to Spanish Eyes but without the flipper drains). Of the three, I'd go for 8-Ball since you get multiplayer and the cool stripes vs. solids gameplay/backbox lights with extra ball potential. Though really you can't go wrong with any of them... they're all fun.

Magic City and Safari are the most unique 2" middle-pops as they share no layout with any other game. If you get a Magic City, be sure to put rotating color bulbs or color blinkers behind the fountain (to honor Norm's original design specification). It looks great when done with care.

As mentioned, I think Safari is a near-miss for a couple of reasons. The first issue is the weak middle-pop. It really needs more zip. [UPDATE: This is a DEAD bumper with NO pop action whatsoever - basically only disguised as a pop bumper! For this reason Safari should be disqualified as a middle-pop game].

The second issue isn't really fixable: The lack of "air" in the lower part of the layout. Safari is the only middle-pop designed by Ted Zale and he doesn't seem to have understood the concept quite as well as Neyens, Williams, and Clark. Examine how the lower pop bumper/drain lane/flipper arrangement is all smooshed together down there. Safari doesn't provide any air space for the ball to rebound/zing around versus all of the other layouts. It's not a total fail, but it could have been improved upon if Zale had experimented a bit more with the geometry.

The tigers are concerned... where's the 'air'?

As for the woodrail era, I've played Marble Queen and Derby Day but that's about it. They are a bit tamer in terms of gameplay compared with the crazy speeds of the Norm Clark-era... but still more fun than you'd expect.

The Freedom prototype is not only my favorite middle-pop game, but my favorite EM, period. Obviously if you see one, grab it immediately! They should all be preserved and restored. It is a fantastic game with a perfect balance of skill/chance and always gets heavy amounts of play and favorable comments at my events.

With so many regular production Freedoms still circulating out there, I'd like to try converting one back to the original prototype. It will require extensive playfield rework and reproducing the lower plastics, but I think it can be done with reasonable effort. I'll post it here when the time comes. If it proves to be worthwhile, it would be great to have more of them out there for people to play.

Bottom line: Middle-pops are great! The gameplay isn't mere novelty. It's a legitimate & worthwhile twist on a familar game and will give you a new skill set the more you play. It's a great way to shake up a pinball collection with something unexpected and fun. I suggest keeping one around as a secret weapon if you run tournaments. *grin* Now take some pics and show us what you got!

#10 2 years ago

Spanish Eyes is great fun. I'm a fan of middle pops.

pasted_image (resized).png

#11 2 years ago

Only have one so far, but need more!

My collection won't be complete without a freedom and fan tas tic, however the latter has never popped up in my area below $1200...

DC center pops rule

12347902_1655457501400145_6252353132478938207_n (resized).jpg

#12 2 years ago

Wouldn't say Marble Queen is tame when properly set up. It is an awesome player and the middle pop bumper is a sight to behold in most games.

Time for my call out to Joel, great seller and great game

This has been near top of my list since I got interested in woodrails and it doesn't disappoint.

Would love a Hawaiian Beauty as heard it is fantastic player.

#13 2 years ago
Quoted from zacaj:

Only have one so far, but need more!
My collection won't be complete without a freedom and fan tas tic, however the latter has never popped up in my area below $1200...
DC center pops rule

NICE looking Spanish Eyes! BG looks perfect, great cab, playfield... excellent. I've seen Fan-Tas-Tic pop up around here a couple of times around the $350 price point but didn't know enough about middle-pops at the time to spring for them. Argh!

Quoted from Shapeshifter:

Wouldn't say Marble Queen is tame when properly set up. It is an awesome player and the middle pop bumper is a sight to behold in most games. [It] has been near top of my list since I got interested in woodrails and it doesn't disappoint.
Would love a Hawaiian Beauty as heard it is fantastic player.

While the slope on that MQ is a bit floaty, you are correct that it is a lively-looking woodrail. Always loved the artwork and with no side drains it doesn't look like a punishing game even with the gobble hole. In fact, it might be a little too easy... at least for me.

#14 2 years ago
Quoted from NicoVolta:

NICE looking Spanish Eyes! BG looks perfect, great cab, playfield... excellent.

The backglass has a single small scratch in it. Right in front of the blinking light in the name. Ugh. Most of my game's BGs aren't great, but if they are, they're perfect except for a single scratch in front of a bright lightbulb

Some people hate the art, but it's some of my favorite. The only machine allowed in the livingroom (and not allowed to leave, it "fills out that corner nicely")

470ecff955147dbf37ba739287c58b2630dac43f (resized).jpg

#15 2 years ago

Thought of you this past weekend at York, Nick. IMG_6539 (resized).JPG

#16 2 years ago
Quoted from NicoVolta:

NICE looking Spanish Eyes! BG looks perfect, great cab, playfield... excellent. I've seen Fan-Tas-Tic pop up around here a couple of times around the $350 price point but didn't know enough about middle-pops at the time to spring for them. Argh!

While the slope on that MQ is a bit floaty, you are correct that it is a lively-looking woodrail. Always loved the artwork and with no side drains it doesn't look like a punishing game even with the gobble hole. Would love to find one in top shape... will probably have one myself eventually.

Keep an eye out for one and grab it if you find one. Whilst there were 1000 made, not many come up for sale. I was surprised to see that none have appeared in the last 10 years on ebay.

Clay also says it is the game that his guests gravitate to when over at his house ( RGP post history! ).

And yes, can have some long ball times which is rare for a woodrail and again, probably explains why it was popular back in the day.

#17 2 years ago

My fav is Magic (Town/City)
It has that woodrail feel
in design and layout and play.

#18 2 years ago

Thanks for the great write-up. Very interesting.

I think I'm now in love with Marble Queen, but too bad it sounds like I'll be lucky just to play one one day, much less own one

#19 2 years ago

I had an opportunity to purchase one last year... passed on it because I had (have) too many projects. It also looks a little *too* easy for me. But if it comes up again I'll pass it along here.

#20 2 years ago
Quoted from RyanClaytor:

Thought of you this past weekend at York, Nick.

Are you saying I look like a horse? :p

#21 2 years ago

Nice write up Nick. I have Spanish Eyes still waiting on me to give it some love. Would love to add a Williams 8 Ball one day.

#22 2 years ago

Great write up Nick! I love mt 8-Ball, its a real butt kicker!

#23 2 years ago

Probably one of my biggest not-buying regrets was on a Magic City. No, make that two Magic Cities. Stumbled on a Yard Sale with Sam Harvey probably in the early 80's. A whopping $147. Decent shape as I recall. But at that moment in time, that was quite a bit of change as I was "between jobs". Fast forward to only a few years ago: There was what looked like an absolutely mint one for sale on Ebay fairly locally (about an hours drive) but I just couldn't justify adding another one to the overflowing collection so I passed. Sold for the opening bid of $400.

Maybe someday a decent Magic City will find its way into my collection. I have fond memories of dropping a dime into the one in a Burger Joint across from the Canoga Drive in theater every time I rode by on my bike.

#24 2 years ago

Nick,

I see a Coffee Table Pinball history book in your publishing future!

#25 2 years ago
Quoted from NicoVolta:

I had an opportunity to purchase one last year... passed on it because I had (have) too many projects. It also looks a little *too* easy for me. But if it comes up again I'll pass it along here.

Cool, please do. I know it heavily depends on condition, but what's the likely price range for something like a MQ? I have no basis to even guess on older, rarer games like this.

#26 2 years ago
Quoted from AlexF:

Nice write up Nick. I have Spanish Eyes still waiting on me to give it some love. Would love to add a Williams 8 Ball one day.

Quoted from Dr_of_Style:

Great write up Nick! I love mt 8-Ball, its a real butt kicker!

One of our local VECTORIANS (Pinsider dallaspinball) recently picked up an 8-Ball. I can't wait to play it. He also has a Spanish Eyes.

Two of our other members are seeking Fan-Tas-Tic and Magic City. If we get all of these going, we'll do a glorious middle-pop row at TPF in 2018. Sound like fun?

Quoted from CactusJack:

Probably one of my biggest not-buying regrets was on a Magic City. No, make that two Magic Cities. Stumbled on a Yard Sale with Sam Harvey probably in the early 80's. A whopping $147. Decent shape as I recall. But at that moment in time, that was quite a bit of change as I was "between jobs". Fast forward to only a few years ago: There was what looked like an absolutely mint one for sale on Ebay fairly locally (about an hours drive) but I just couldn't justify adding another one to the overflowing collection so I passed. Sold for the opening bid of $400.
Maybe someday a decent Magic City will find its way into my collection. I have fond memories of dropping a dime into the one in a Burger Joint across from the Canoga Drive in theater every time I rode by on my bike.

They're actually fairly common and I've seen at least a half-dozen on CL over the past couple of years. Often for less than $400. Keep looking and subscribe to the project/EM craigslist finds threads. They do show up semi-regularly!

Quoted from CactusJack:

Nick,
I see a Coffee Table Pinball history book in your publishing future!

Thanks! But if only I had the time... and frankly I'd rather use my knowledge to build concept games and engineer new parts/hybrids. It's all about the making for me.

Quoted from nman:

Cool, please do. I know it heavily depends on condition, but what's the likely price range for something like a MQ? I have no basis to even guess on older, rarer games like this.

The asking price was about $1300 in pretty good shape. I think that's a good ballpark depending upon condition. It is one of the more desirable classics IMHO, even for those who aren't middle-pop savvy.

#27 2 years ago
Quoted from CactusJack:

Probably one of my biggest not-buying regrets was on a Magic City. No, make that two Magic Cities. Stumbled on a Yard Sale with Sam Harvey probably in the early 80's. A whopping $147. Decent shape as I recall. But at that moment in time, that was quite a bit of change as I was "between jobs". Fast forward to only a few years ago: There was what looked like an absolutely mint one for sale on Ebay fairly locally (about an hours drive) but I just couldn't justify adding another one to the overflowing collection so I passed. Sold for the opening bid of $400.
Maybe someday a decent Magic City will find its way into my collection. I have fond memories of dropping a dime into the one in a Burger Joint across from the Canoga Drive in theater every time I rode by on my bike.

Did Sam Harvey then buy it and yell, "Thank you very much!"

#28 2 years ago
Quoted from EMsInKC:

Did Sam Harvey then buy it and yell, "Thank you very much!"

Haha always a favorite... rassen frassen fricken TYVM!

#29 2 years ago

Never have quite figured out what he thought he was accomplishing with the flourish on the plunge shot...

#30 2 years ago

Yes it is quite bewildering. Some kind of Tae Kwon No Can Pinball Do.

#31 2 years ago

I love watching Sam play! Fun stuff!

#32 2 years ago

Thanks for the Sam Harvey vid. Hilarious. I love old fellers like that. I look forward to the day I become one.

#33 2 years ago
Quoted from NicoVolta:

I had an opportunity to purchase one last year... passed on it because I had (have) too many projects. It also looks a little *too* easy for me. But if it comes up again I'll pass it along here.

Ha! No such thing as any 'easy' woodrail

Actually some are easier than others but try lighting bumpers 1 - 9 in order on MQ - I can tell you it is SUPER hard!

And if you saw a MQ in nice condition for $1300, that was a steal for this title.

#34 2 years ago
Quoted from Shapeshifter:

Wouldn't say Marble Queen is tame when properly set up. It is an awesome player and the middle pop bumper is a sight to behold in most games.
Time for my call out to Joel, great seller and great game
This has been near top of my list since I got interested in woodrails and it doesn't disappoint.
Would love a Hawaiian Beauty as heard it is fantastic player.
» YouTube video

Hey...thanks for the call out!
It's always a pleasure dealing with someone who appreciates these finicky old games. One day you think you can tame them, and the next day, they tame you.
You got my 2nd Marble Queen and each time I sell one I regret it. Next one I find, I'm keeping.

good luck, enjoy! Thanks
Joel

#35 2 years ago

Got "Spanish Eyes", "Magic City", "Cue Ball", "Tim Buc Tu", and "Lazy-Q" which is a major project. "Tim Buc Tu" is a great player with lots of action. You don't even need flippers on that game because you can bang the ball to the top of the playfield off the somewhat horizontal slingshots. Most of these games are awesome players, with "Hawaiian Beauty" being one of my holy grail games.

#36 2 years ago
Quoted from Otaku:

Gottlieb Score-Board is great! (Wasn't sure if you were done yet so waited a little to reply )

I guess I'm an ex-club member, thanks to this game. I sold it a couple months back as it wasn't getting played and so I felt it time to move it on. The middle-pop was definitely my favorite feature on this pin.

Let's see, I got Score-Board back in 2012. I paid $225. Guy I got it from wasn't into pinball, he saw it at a garage sale or something and thought it a worthwhile project to try and salvage something so old but never got to it. I got it non-working (first pin I ever bought that did not play), but the GI would turn on when you plugged it in.

My dad (a retired electrical engineer) and I brought it back to life as a project. Oh, what a mess of a machine. Old solder kept coming loose, and getting all four score reels functional was a bit of a nightmare. Had to replace the plastics on the slings with some custom-draws similar to the original (they were horribly warped and beyond salvage). Probably not the best pure project machine to start with, but we did finally get it going, and I probably learned more on that effort than any other pin.

I took a little bit of video before I sold it to show it working, so I'll share that here to add to the collection of middle-pops in action. While I often play terribly, I will defend myself in this case of having to play one-handed thanks to the camera!

#37 2 years ago

The first pinball machine with a center pop bumper between or below the flippers was United's Carolina from

1949.

image-6 (resized).jpg

#38 2 years ago
Quoted from o-din:

The first pinball machine with a center pop bumper between or below the flippers was United's Carolina from
1949.

Wow - a lot of long rubber used on that pin!

#39 2 years ago
Quoted from NicoVolta:

None of Norm Clark's prior games featured any drop targets

DSCN4997 (resized).JPG

#40 2 years ago
Quoted from dmbjunky:

Spanish Eyes is great fun. I'm a fan of middle pops.

Played both a Spanish eyes and a Granada yesterday, and came away with the same sentiment.

#41 2 years ago

...and here they are.
IMG_0021 (resized).JPG

#42 2 years ago

What's the story behind Granada?

#43 2 years ago

I remember seeing Granada for the first time in a video on YouTube.

The guy said "Here's Williams'... 'Grandma'!"

#44 2 years ago

I know I probably don't count but my 1966 Gottlieb Mayfair has a very unique center double kicker. Plays like a center pop game. Great game.

a0935edc82caa5876c4200b91b16b6b8baf8a493 (resized).jpg

#45 2 years ago
Quoted from dmbjunky:

What's the story behind Granada?

Totally different game than "Spanish Eyes" that for some reason shares the exact same artwork.

#46 2 years ago
Quoted from jrpinball:

Totally different game than "Spanish Eyes" that for some reason shares the exact same artwork.

Norm Clark is credited as the designer on IPDB. I wonder if the story is similar to Freedom. IPDB may have just presumed it was Norm Clark because of the art. IPDB also states that it's the add a ball version of Spanish Eyes but that's kind of weird because Spanish Eyes can be replay or add a ball.

#47 2 years ago
Quoted from dmbjunky:

IPDB also states that it's the add a ball version of Spanish Eyes but that's kind of weird because Spanish Eyes can be replay or add a ball.

Although obviously an error as they're totally different games, this is usual for Williams games, the add-a-ball only states still only got the non-changeable version I assume. They also came with a novelty version built into the replay/add-a-ball/novelty games, not sure about the add-a-ball version (if they came with a novelty setting).

For instance, compare/see Williams Super Star (Replay/AAB/Novelty Mode, changes with jones plug inside of head of machine) and Williams Big Star (AAB only). Both have "Balls To Play" wording and both count up to 5 balls like an add-a-ball machine at the start regardless of setting. They made many sets of games like this during the 70's and late 60's.

#48 2 years ago
Quoted from CactusJack:

Probably one of my biggest not-buying regrets was on a Magic City. No, make that two Magic Cities. Stumbled on a Yard Sale with Sam Harvey probably in the early 80's. A whopping $147. Decent shape as I recall. But at that moment in time, that was quite a bit of change as I was "between jobs". Fast forward to only a few years ago: There was what looked like an absolutely mint one for sale on Ebay fairly locally (about an hours drive) but I just couldn't justify adding another one to the overflowing collection so I passed. Sold for the opening bid of $400.
Maybe someday a decent Magic City will find its way into my collection. I have fond memories of dropping a dime into the one in a Burger Joint across from the Canoga Drive in theater every time I rode by on my bike.

Quoted from NicoVolta:

They're actually fairly common and I've seen at least a half-dozen on CL over the past couple of years. Often for less than $400. Keep looking and subscribe to the project/EM craigslist finds threads. They do show up semi-regularly!

Congratulations Nico on the 'Join the middle-pop club! thread!' I enjoyed reading your middle pop bumper posts. Thanks for the nice history lesson. To christen the thread, I will post a middle pop bumper Magic Town I found on CL for CactusJack, although it's a long way from California! Also posted to the Project Pins thread:

~~~~Middle Pop Bumper Alert!~~~~

Manufacturer: Williams
Game/Type: Magic Town / EM 1 Player
Features: AAB
Month/Year: February 1967
Production: 3,950
Cost: $325 Firm
Location: Schroon Lake, NY
Contact/Link: glensfalls.craigslist.org link

Condition: "lights up but haven't had the time to get it working. ...The machine was at the Saratoga Grand Union Motel on South Broadway for many years."

I have had two chances to join the club - both times they were Fan-Tas-Tics. One was in Tucson when I was ignorant of the game and the other was a four hour one way trip that I decided against. Both were $400. If another one shows up local for that price I will try to grab it!

#49 2 years ago
Quoted from o-din:

The first pinball machine with a center pop bumper between or below the flippers was United's Carolina from
1949.

Good catch! I've asked the mods if I can edit and include it. Historically it's a good introductory machine, though it isn't quite like the others in the sense that the distance is so great from the flippers (with lanes dividing the path and the pop surrounded by kickouts) that it functions more like a nudge & tilt machine from the pre-flipper era. Almost zero chance of a rebound back to the flippers which I think is one of the essential interactive qualities of a middle-pop game. But... it is what it is... so let's recognize it.

Quoted from o-din:

(photo of Eager Beaver w/drop targets)

D'oh! Missed that one... added a comment and will remove mine if I can edit the main copy again.

#50 2 years ago
Quoted from NicoVolta:

With the conclusion of 1956, no further middle-pop games would be designed by Neyens or Williams.

Obscure footnote: in the 1970s Harry designed several center-pop and other weird-bottom games, but they were never produced. One, which he designed in September of 1972 (therefore well after Spanish Eyes was on location), precisely copies the very bottom flipper/bumper/post arrangement of Spanish Eyes, but then puts proper slings above the flippers and gets more and more different the farther up the playfield you go.

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