(Topic ID: 179489)

"Nic's North American Pinball Tour" (aka I'm coming to fix your games!)

By NicoVolta

4 years ago


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  • Latest reply 1 year ago by pinwiztom
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    #951 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    New post in 3... 2... 1...

    0?

    #952 4 years ago

    Visit #38 – Cary Carmichael (CaryCarmichael) in Salinas, CA

    The subjects: Surf Side, Lawman, OXO

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    What do you know about Monterey, CA?

    World-class aquarium? Check. Temperate weather? Check. Near the home of the “Lettuce Balls” meme and painting? Whaaa?

    1x (resized).JPG

    Yes indeed, this area of the country is the lettuce capital of the world! Mr. Lettuce Balls is thus very proud of his harvest... and eager to share.

    In tribute, Cary proudly revealed the Monterey Flipper Pinball league logo, providing an almost too-intimate glimpse into his distinctive character.

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    Couples typically maintain a complementary balance of quirks and personalities. I wondered if Cary and his wife Nikki would be more alike than different. After a quick bathroom trip, I learned the former was the case. Both of them were equally irreverent and wacky…

    …which meant we would all be getting along just fine.

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    Cary grilled up a variety of fish which he had caught himself. He makes an annual pilgrimage with his family to Alaska for bonding and fish-reelin’s. Proof that having a punk rock soul doesn’t mean there isn’t room for a little tradition, eh?

    Cary is a creative guy whose many selves are constantly firing on all cylinders as evidenced by his gravity-defying hairstyle. I’m pretty diverse too, but when it comes to fishing... forget it. Best I can do is a karaoke of “Filet Of Sole” by the Dead Milkmen.

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    We began the day with a seriously badass power smoothie: Kale and radish leaves grown from the small garden outside, spinach, chia seeds, flaxseed, hemp protein, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and mixed veggie juice. Serious pinball demands serious nutrition... let's do it!

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    We began class with one of the best 2-player EM’s ever made: Surf Side! If ever a perfect pinball theme existed for Monterey, this would be it.

    Caveat: As a 1-player it’s just meh. Surf Side is meant for two… it’s all about building up and stealing those lucrative 100x bonuses.

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    Schematics can be confusing upon first (or second, or fifth) glance, but once you know what to look for it’s actually quite easy to read them. Instead of ”schematics”, it may be helpful to think of them as “coil trackers”. Use them to diagnose coils which are stuck on (or not turning on) when they should.

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    Relay class begins… and this is a switch. It opens, it closes. Does it look correct to you? Why or why not?

    Relays are the genesis of all EM understanding.

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    Cary was well-prepared with a new 443 Magic Brush attachment and Dremel ready to go. In this photo you can see how they look after a few thousand uses. They last a long time. Long enough that you'll probably drop/bend/lose one before it wears out.

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    A polished rivet is a happy rivet. Luckily, the soldering iron in the background is not going up his nose. Which would not be a happy moment.

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    Everyone examined the score motor and internals with great curiosity.

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    The score motor is the scariest-looking thing in a pinball machine but is nothing to be feared. All it does is spin around and make the switch stacks move up and down. Opening and closing, over and over again, to lock/unlock various circuits. It is the mindless errand boy in the machine.

    MOTOR BOY! GIMME FIVE CLICKS ON THE 100-POINT RELAY! MOTOR BOY! HOLD THIS RELAY FOR A COUPLE OF SECONDS!

    I often call it a switch carousel or relay wheel. It's easy once you know what is going on.

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    Hmmmm… it seems the 50-point relay wasn’t staying energized. The five clicks (10-20-30-40-50) were getting lost before reaching the 10-point relay. An alligator clip revealed a bad solder joint on one of the motor switch stacks…

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    …as well as an incorrect wire color on the schematic. Argh! It’s a blue-YELLOW wire, not a blue-RED one in there! Correction made.

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    Next, a Gottlieb Lawman resisted our efforts to open the coin door. We persuaded him otherwise.

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    We rebuilt these dad gum cotton-pickin' score reels several times to make them reliable. Ah, Gottlieb. Love ya, but score reels weren’t the loveliest things in your catalog.

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    Three Cherry Bells thus far. Will we see four?

    Not a bad game at all. I'd play it again.

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    A detour takes us to Philip’s house for a look at his OXO. The guys took turns polishing motor switches after I rebuilt one of the steppers as a class demonstration.

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    The next stepper was to be rebuilt via a team effort, with no help from me. Had they absorbed the lesson?

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    Hey hey! It’s working great, fellas! Color me impressed!

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    I have a feeling these guys will own the Monterey EM scene in no time. A+ for effort today.

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    Hey! Where are you in this photo? C’mon up and play some pinball with the Monterey League… they’re an awesome gang of hooligans.

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    Cary wasn't messing around on Diamond Jack, our EM Home Challenge game. It looked and played great.

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    Once again the contest went to three rounds but the streak continued! 20-7 and rolling - I got my mojo back after the upper Midwest slump.

    Cary and Nikki were a ton of fun & have a great little scene here. I'll never think about pinball and lettuce the same way again.

    Next stop -> Mystery Unbelievable-Land

    #953 4 years ago

    Mystery Unbelievable-land: AKA "What I did on my 4th of July vacation"?

    #954 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Awesome... sounds exactly like old times. We'd have been pals I bet. Do you hang out with the Crabtowne pinballers? Jose, George, Mike, Shannon, lots of cool folks get together up there regularly.

    Unfortnately no - that's a bit of a drive and weekday employment keeps me pretty much at home most of the time!!! :-{

    #955 4 years ago

    My sister lives in Monterey very cool place

    #956 4 years ago

    Nic in a previous life

    harold lloyd (resized).JPG

    pasted_image (resized).png

    #957 4 years ago

    Shirt update: I have several extras available for purchase. Please PM me for availability:
    Female XS
    Female L
    Unisex S
    Unisex M
    Unisex L

    Added over 4 years ago: Unisex M no longer available

    #958 4 years ago
    Quoted from pinwiztom:

    Nic in a previous life

    Damn! Pretty close except for the ear-lobes, that's the first place to look when checking for a relation. (little secret)
    -mof

    #959 4 years ago
    Quoted from pinwiztom:

    Nic in a previous life

    Silent film star Harold Lloyd. From certain angles I see a resemblance.

    Seems Harold also enjoyed getting himself into tricky situations with electro-mechanical things...

    IMG_2850 (resized).PNG

    #960 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Visit #37 – Eric Neff (Cheddar) in Lodi, CA
    The subjects: Jumping Jack and Grand Prix

    We returned to work on Grand Prix. Inside the backbox, the match unit had been given the medieval “Butterfly Torture” and screwed to the top. I can’t explain why this was done. Perhaps because the wiper discs had been lost? No matter… the game would still work without it.

    You'd think the match unit wasn't needed but you'd be wrong. The ratcheting gear in-between the plates is used to drive the alternating relay that switches the score bonus and red arrows from side to side. I salvaged enough parts out of a parts machine (space mission) to make it work.

    #961 4 years ago
    Quoted from Cheddar:

    You'd think the match unit wasn't needed but you'd be wrong. The ratcheting gear in-between the plates is used to drive the alternating relay that switches the score bonus and red arrows from side to side. I salvaged enough parts out of a parts machine (space mission) to make it work.

    Yes indeedy. Some Gottlieb AS relays also utilize an alternating relay switch in a similar fashion. But luckily the circular disc wipers aren't necessary for that.

    #962 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Yes indeedy. Some Gottlieb AS relays also utilize an alternating relay switch in a similar fashion. But luckily the circular disc wipers aren't necessary for that.

    Unfortunately it's impossible to keep the gear centered without the wipers holding it in place.

    #963 4 years ago
    Quoted from Cheddar:

    Unfortunately it's impossible to keep the gear centered without the wipers holding it in place.

    Hmmmm come to think of it I've never encountered a Gottlieb AS relay needing to operate without the wipers. I wonder how difficult it would be to fashion a fix for that.

    #964 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Hmmmm come to think of it I've never encountered a Gottlieb AS relay needing to operate without the wipers. I wonder how difficult it would be to fashion a fix for that.

    Sometimes AS relays were used as alternators. Here it just toggles one switch open and closed. I think other cams were available for other repeating patterns too.
    AS Relay (resized).jpg

    #965 4 years ago

    This is what I get for Pinsiding at 75MPH in the desert. So... Gottlieb AS relays can work without the wipers. So Cheddar were you referring to another unit/manufacturer?

    #966 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Hmmmm come to think of it I've never encountered a Gottlieb AS relay needing to operate without the wipers. I wonder how difficult it would be to fashion a fix for that.

    Yeah this was the butterflied match unit on Grand Prix

    #967 4 years ago

    AHA! Got it now. I didn't realize you had substituted a Gottlieb AS relay in there to do alternating duty. So it is the Williams match unit which won't work without the wiper discs to keep it centered, aye?

    If I recall correctly I think the Bally could work too since it is an all-in-one unit.

    #968 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    AHA! Got it now. I didn't realize you had substituted a Gottlieb AS relay in there to do alternating duty

    It's a Williams out of a space mission

    #969 4 years ago
    Quoted from Cheddar:

    It's a Williams out of a space mission

    OK... now that I have pulled over, checked into the hotel, fired up my laptop, and can now give the photo a closer look... I can finally un-confuse myself.

    relay (resized).jpg

    Upon first glance it does look an awful lot like a Gottlieb AS relay except for the color of the biscuits, washers, and blade type (lacks the sexy bend). So if this came out of a Space Mission, I assume what was meant earlier...

    Quoted from Cheddar:

    Unfortunately it's impossible to keep the gear centered without the wipers holding it in place.

    ...was referring to the previous match unit in Grand Prix. Have I got it now?

    If so, it seems weird that they would be so different considering how close the dates of manufacture were.

    #970 4 years ago

    OK - and now back to the story... (Cheddar, please PM me to continue the match unit discussion if desired)

    Special update: I will be in Tucson tomorrow, July 12th. If you would like to join me, Pecos, and a few others in person, please send a PM to Pecos confirming your interest (and not in the thread here).

    Wednesday's schedule in Tucson is...

    4:00 PM at D&D Pinball
    6:00 PM Caruso's Italian Restaurant
    8:00-11:00 PM Pecos' Palatial Pinball Parlour

    Eight people will be invited to visit Pecos' Palatial Pinball Parlour (due to space limitations). Please let Pecos know ASAP if you want to attend A) Caruso's and/or B) Pecos' Palatial Pinball Parlour. Invitations will be opened to all Pinsiders.

    D&D Pinball

    331 E 7th St
    Tucson, Arizona, AZ 85705
    (520) 777-4969
    http://www.danddpinball.com

    Caruso's

    Caruso's Italian Restaurant
    434 North 4th Avenue (Just around the corner from D & D Pinball)
    Tucson, Arizona 85705
    (520) 624-5765
    http://www.carusositalian.com/

    #971 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    If you would like to join me, Pecos, and a few others in person, please send a PM to Pecos confirming your interest (and not in the thread here).

    Okay Arizonans! Here is your chance to meet Nic in person, a legend in his own time, famous for his '"Nic's North American Pinball Tour" (aka I'm coming to fix your games!)' road trip and documentation.

    Please PM me if you want to attend dinner or Pecos' Palatial Pinball Parlour. Just show up it you only want to meet Nic at D & D Pinball.

    #972 4 years ago
    Quoted from Pecos:

    Okay Arizonans! Here is your chance to meet Nic in person, a legend in his own time, famous for his '"Nic's North American Pinball Tour" (aka I'm coming to fix your games!)' road trip and documentation.
    Please PM me if you want to attend dinner or Pecos' Palatial Pinball Parlour. Just show up it you only want to meet Nic at D & D Pinball.

    If only I still lived in Scottsdale......

    #973 4 years ago

    Pinball AND Italian Food? Dang, wish I lived in Arizona.

    Oh, Wait, isn't it like 118 degrees there today? Dry heat is still heat!! And now you have that wonderful Monsoonal Moisture.

    #974 4 years ago
    Quoted from Pecos:

    Okay Arizonans! Here is your chance to meet Nic in person, a legend in his own time, famous for his '"Nic's North American Pinball Tour" (aka I'm coming to fix your games!)' road trip and documentation.
    Please PM me if you want to attend dinner

    Just do not offer to buy Nic, his favorite bottle of wine.

    #975 4 years ago

    Did you skip Phoenix? I was kind of hoping for some sort of Phoenix day . I have a friend with a Williams Big Deal...you could fix that for us .

    #976 4 years ago

    You will love 4th ave..... I used to live above the egg garden and I sold Kurt at the TNT smoke shop the APB ( All Points Bulletin ) video game.

    #977 4 years ago
    Quoted from CactusJack:

    Pinball AND Italian Food? Dang, wish I lived in Arizona.
    Oh, Wait, isn't it like 118 degrees there today? Dry heat is still heat!! And now you have that wonderful Monsoonal Moisture.

    It is hellish today!

    Quoted from pinwiztom:

    Just do not offer to buy Nic, his favorite bottle of wine.

    Agreed. Unless you'll drink it with me!

    Quoted from Aniraf:

    Did you skip Phoenix? I was kind of hoping for some sort of Phoenix day . I have a friend with a Williams Big Deal...you could fix that for us .

    I am, but unfortunately no time for a stop... will have to return. Maybe in January! Too hot!

    #978 4 years ago

    Nic, do you know what you will be working on at D&D?

    #979 4 years ago
    Quoted from desertT1:

    Nic, do you know what you will be working on at D&D?

    Might be a Shiner Bock.

    #980 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Eight people will be invited to visit Pecos' Palatial Pinball Parlour

    Quoted from Pecos:

    Please PM me if you want to attend dinner or Pecos' Palatial Pinball Parlour.

    Man, I really wish I could take you up on that. I know I stole some time with Nick already, but it'd be great to hang with you, Pecos, and check out your ever-expanding collection. Enjoy Tucson, Nick! Already looking forward to the update about my pinball homeboy from afar.

    Quoted from Aniraf:

    Did you skip Phoenix? ... I have a friend with a Williams Big Deal...you could fix that for us .

    Just what the end of a many month tour needs. One...more...project... *LOL*

    Let's get him back to Texas in once piece so in a few months he'll forget about the rigorous paces he put himself through and might consider doing it again.

    In other news, the scant remainder shirts are now even more scant.

    Quoted from RyanClaytor:

    Female XS
    Female L
    Unisex S
    Unisex M
    Unisex L

    PM if interested in the final three unclaimed Nic Tour shirts on the planet.

    #981 4 years ago

    Got my rerun Tee of Nic's Pinball Tour yesterday.
    Here is a selfie with Dewey Dog
    He is feeling a little slow today
    as he got two teeth pulled yesterday.

    tee (resized).jpeg

    #982 4 years ago
    Quoted from RyanClaytor:

    Man, I really wish I could take you up on that. I know I stole some time with Nick already, but it'd be great to hang with you, Pecos, and check out your ever-expanding collection. Enjoy Tucson, Nick! Already looking forward to the update about my pinball homeboy from afar.

    Just what the end of a many month tour needs. One...more...project... *LOL*
    Let's get him back to Texas in once piece so in a few months he'll forget about the rigorous paces he put himself through and might consider doing it again.
    In other news, the scant remainder shirts are now even more scant.

    PM if interested in the final three unclaimed Nic Tour shirts on the planet.

    The "Vault Editions"?

    #983 4 years ago

    Got my shirt on Monday. Awesome as always...

    14
    #984 4 years ago

    Bonus Visit – Mystery Unbelievable-Land

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    Welcome to LA!

    This is Ralph. He’s been an arcade operator for about 40 years. Today, he works to preserve a private collection which has been described as “somewhat impressive”… particularly when it comes to EM’s.

    We began the day at one of Ralph’s favorite restaurants: Philippe’s. Founded in 1908, Philippe’s claims to have invented the French Dip sandwich. The restaurant was filled with vintage phone booths, model trolleys, neon signs, and various ephemera evoking memories of decades gone by. It was an ideal place to set expectations of what was to come.

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    Before we enter Unbelievable-Land…

    1) Please do not ask about the whereabouts of this collection (it is not a public exhibition).

    2) Buckle your seatbelts!

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    As the curtains part, we have already passed through a performance hall w/tiki god stage, five EM rifle games, and a half-dozen fortune telling machines. Here is an example of one in action: A Seeburg “Shoot The Bear”

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    The entryway has a fully stocked prize/memorabilia booth with period swag.

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    We are lured into a panoply of vintage delights. To the left, a METAL-TYPER stamps out customized tokens. Inside, colored pennants and bulbs add a festive touch. This is an ideal way to softly illuminate an arcade from above without harsh glare!

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    Ever been to the Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Michigan? You will see a dozen of these MOLD-A-RAMA machines standing at the ready to press out a hot plastic souvenir. This one is prepared to dispense an army of circus jesters on demand.

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    A row of classic 80’s solid-states were present including the silly-but-fun Stern ORBITOR 1. Other rows were filled with 60’s and 70’s EM’s, modern DMD games, and mid-late 90’s titles (I'm saving room for the esoteric stuff).

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    Airball is played by levitating the ball through the hoop targets using two joysticks: One for flow control, the other for direction. Ultraviolet lighting and mirrored surfaces add visual pop.

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    More than a half-dozen rifle games occupied one of the rows. Chicago Coin wasn’t known for making quality pinball machines, but their other amusements were very nice indeed.

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    Bally’s Target Zero jet fighter game is housed in a HUGE cabinet for a very good reason…

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    Inside, a long rotating carpet simulates a perspective-view of an approaching industrial strip with fuel depot and bridge targets. It is the analog version of Atari’s “River Raid”. The overall effect is mesmerizing.

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    Three helicopter games are housed side-by-side. I enjoy these types of games... "finesse under pressure".

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    Chicago Coin’s Apollo 14 beautifully captures the vintage feel of the 1960’s space flight era. The cabinet and controls are made from milled aluminum with a curved porthole view of outer space. Your goal is to dock the lunar modules carefully without causing an explosion.

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    What the heck? Around the corner sits a full replica of a 1950’s diner!

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    Inside, vintage machines sit near the entry/exit just like the old days, including a re-re-return of Ringer.

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    It’s all in the details: Vintage postcards, ceiling tiles, pendant lighting, classic menus w/original pricing, plates, appliances, and seating. I could almost hear the clink of dishes and chatter.

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    Outside the diner, a life-sized animatronic “Laffing Sal” figure beckoned me towards a rear stairway amid rollercoaster sounds, large marquees, and storefront facades.

    I was told the stairway led to the “office”… no big deal…

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    HA! Fooled me… the so-called “office” was in fact another gallery twice as large as what had already been shown! Oh my gosh. Several dozen woodrails to begin with… multiple rows...

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    Next in line: The Wedgeheads. Opposite this row, just as many!

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    Another row contained many more 80’s, 90’s, and unique solid-states. Alvin’s Mystery Castle sat next to two other rares from overseas: Jolly Park and Verne’s World.

    Next to them stood a Big Bang Bar and a Capcom Kingpin… only one of nine ever produced.

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    Once again, the classic 1937 Rock-Ola World Series makes an appearance.

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    A trio of driving games were located nearby. One featured a jet plane crossing the continents. This one, Motorama, offered a road trip across America.

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    My head was spinning at this point. It was difficult to process the quantity and quality of amusements under one roof. I must have reverted to a childlike state because I found myself drawn to one of the simplest games on the floor: Beach Queens.

    No flippers, one ball per game. Light up the girls and try to get the double bonus on the way out. That’s it... pinball-as-slot-machine.

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    Beach Queens has the same layout as Fun Cruise, but with better artwork in my opinion.

    In summary...

    The word "awesome" is generally overused nowadays. A cup of decaf coffee can be "awesome". A selfie can be "awesome". But this collection is something which truly deserves the adjective.

    The flood of nostalgia I experienced was beyond anything I could compare in a modern context. All of the places I loved resembling this exhibition have long since faded away. This was a time when the middle class was pandered to with unrivaled excess. Our hopes and dreams of making cross-country, undersea, and outer space adventures seemed within easy reach... perhaps only 25 cents away with a push of a button.

    As mentioned, it was a challenge to take it all in. The photos I’ve shared represent only a third of what I saw in total. Amazing, but also bittersweet, as what used to be the status quo is now a museum exhibit. Which only redoubled my focus to do everything I can to not only bring these experiences back - but extend them into the future in new and creative ways.

    And so... the adventure continues!

    Next stop -> Pins & Needles in Los Angeles, CA

    #985 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    I was told the stairway led to the “office”… no big deal…

    That has got to be Randy Peck's collection
    that you visited, as he is the only one to currently own a Bally StarShip EM.
    That place is impressive, I have been lucky enough to visit there a couple of times,
    hard to take it all in. Impressive woodrail collection too. Randy is super nice guy too.

    pasted_image (resized).png

    #986 4 years ago

    Wow! Even that single word is not enough to describe that collection and installation. Simply amazing!

    I've heard rumors of collections/installations in the L.A. area that are extremely private and impressive. Until now, I've never had the privilege of seeing one. Thanks for the pictures and thanks to Ralph/Randy(?) for allowing you to share them.

    #987 4 years ago

    impressive....most impressive. that is fantastic.

    #988 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    Welcome to LA!
    This is Ralph. He’s been an arcade operator for about 40 years. Today, he works to preserve a private collection which has been described as “somewhat impressive”… particularly when it comes to EM’s.

    Well I'm ready to be adopted!

    #989 4 years ago

    I think that brought a tear of joy to my eye. Seriously. Just a thing of beauty.

    #990 4 years ago

    Wow. I never knew about that place. Wish I could get an invite.

    #991 4 years ago

    My wife just asked "how do we get invited!?"

    #992 4 years ago

    Fitting that you end with Beach Queens - an interesting feature of those games are the powerful slings that can fling the ball back up the playfield. As your journey nears its conclusion, you will be rocketed back into normalcy, or queued back up for another round...

    Beautiful collection. Quite a treat! Thank you for sharing photos.

    #993 4 years ago

    Aloha Nicholas... again I thought of you after commenting upon Beach Queens, as it seems rather bingo-esque having no flippers and being so nudgy.

    The winning aspect in my opinion is the speed, flow, and simplicity. With only one ball per game... it's almost impossible not to give it "just one more" shot.

    #994 4 years ago

    pasted_image (resized).png

    #995 4 years ago

    Just noticed the postcards in the diner. "Greetings from Long Beach". I'm probably a 10 minute drive from that place.

    #996 4 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    it seems rather bingo-esque having no flippers and being so nudgy.

    It's more closely related to the one ball horse race games of the 1940s, in my opinion. You are so involved with a one ball game - there are few games outside of those middle era gambling pinballs where you can make any mistake and still win.

    I hope to play one of these unique games one day.

    #997 4 years ago

    The "Queens" games were built specifically to allow the legal shipment of bingo parts to states where the interstate shipment of new bingos and bingo parts had recently been banned. You will notice quite a few unique bingo parts in these games. Motors, replay meters etc.

    Wico and other parts catalogs from that era always advertised their bingo parts "As used on Bally Beach Queens etc." so as to get past the bingo bans. If the part was used on a non-bingo type "Queens" games, it was legal to ship.

    These games are almost always in beautiful condition as most were never operated on the streets.

    Bally was always one step ahead of the courts.

    #998 4 years ago

    getting close to 1000 posts,
    so hoping Nic will have a trip blog update
    with #1001.

    #999 4 years ago

    did I "9" the thread ?

    w00t !!!!

    got my shirt last Monday and real happy with it

    #1000 4 years ago

    That collection is "somewhat impressive".

    And Beach Queens... 11 angry-looking haole chicks hula dancing, what's not to like?

    There are 2,359 posts in this topic. You are on page 20 of 48.

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