Quoted from SealClubber:
Apparently a photograph was cheaper than an artists work. Translites were definitely cheaper than a screened backglass. As for the cheesiness factor, well, some weren't too bad when compared to the time period but others were just horrid (Genesis).
Gold Wings was pretty popular around my area when I was a kid. I played two different machines. Not sure if they were owned by the same Op though.
I think you nailed it. It's not just the themes. There are some "cheesey" eighties themes from all the other companies. In fact, most pinball themes are pretty cheesey when you get down to it.
That's not the problem for me.
Gottlieb seems to have skimped here in a way that isn't explicitly obvious.
The models and photography are almost amatuerish, and this could be part of the cost cutting.
Combined with faded translite, it just doesn't look as good as machine from others that had other themes that were in tune with that era.
So I wonder: I think the "Raven" theme could be cool. And when you describe it, it seems like it could work. A female Rambo? Sure!
But the mediocre photography and execution hurt it.
I think that's the issue for me.
Now, imagine if Gordon Morrison had a chance to do Hollywood Heat? Hot Shots? Raven?
I think that would be awesome!
On the other hand, imagine what Joker Poker would look like if it was done in the late 80's or early 90's? Probably Bad Girls with funny hats?