Fireball (Bally, 1972)

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Fireball and the Bally EMs Which Inspired It

Written by PMcGee, published January 23rd, 2013. 10 comment(s).

When we first started collecting pinball machines a few years ago, we pored over every article or website we could find, trying to determine which electro-mechanical machines we should make an effort to find. Fireball kept rising to the top of our lists, but sinking rapidly due to the high price as compared to other pinball machines of the era. One Friday evening, as luck would have it, I got an email alert that a Fireball had been posted locally on Craigslist. The price was higher than we wanted to pay, but a better price than eBay and no shipping was involved, so we bit. We emailed and in a couple hours were heading south of town to pick it up. This was our first multiball EM, and our first game with zipper flippers. We did not know that these pinball features would become habit forming.

Per IPDB, Bally manufactured 21 different electro-mechanical games with zipper flippers, and 10 EM games with multiball. Bazaar was the first Bally game with zipper flippers, followed by Capersville, both in 1966. Nip It was the last Bally EM with zipper flippers, right after production of Fireball. Of those manufactured with zipper flippers, we own Fireball (1972), Four Million BC (1971) and Rocket III (1967). Fireball and Four Million BC also have multiball. Circus (1957) and Star-Jet (1963) are other Ballys in our collection with multiball. Circus is the same playfield layout as Balls-A-Poppin (1956) which was the first flipper pinball with multiball.

Bally Xenon came out in 1980 and was the first Bally solid state pinball machine with multiball and voice. Not an EM, but in our collection.

As our collection of Bally EMs grew, we noticed progressions from one machine to the next. Rocket III has a spinning disc on the playfield, although it has bumpers in the middle. Is this where the idea for Fireball's spinning disc originated? Multiball on Fireball works similarly to multiball on Star-Jet, utilizing the kickout holes. Four Million BC had the outlane kicker first, and Fireball followed. Capersville (1966) has features repeated on several of the later machines - the captive ball alley was used on Four Million BC, zipper flippers, and kickout holes were on several machines as noted above. IPDB states that Capersville was the first to feature 3 ball multiball play, but it seems to me that distinction would go to Star-Jet.

We anticipate expanding on our collection of Bally EM's. Our current lineup includes 1947 Rocket, 1957 Circus, Star-Jet, Rocket III, On Beam, Four Million BC, Fireball, 1973 Circus, Wizard and Capt Fantastic. We have our eyes on the Capersville from Houston Arcade Expo, and maybe a King Tut. And I have my eye out for Op-Pop-Pop too. Just have to find room!

Backglass


Comments

5 years ago
Hello mr. McGee,
Nice to read your story! Only one little command: you wrote that Nip It was the last Bally with zipper flippers. That's not true: the last one is a solid state: Medusa (1983) have zipper-flippers in the upper part of the playfield!
Wish you lot of fun playing the good old EM pinballs!
Regards,
Henk de Jager
Almere (Holland)
5 years ago
Nice story. Have fun flippin!
5 years ago
"the last one is a solid state: Medusa (1983) have zipper-flippers in the upper part of the playfield!
Wish you lot of fun playing the good old EM pinballs!
Regards,
Henk de Jager

Almere (Holland)"


Thanks - I edited my entry to show last Bally EM with zipper flippers. Thanks for commenting. We have your guide, and it has been very helpful to us with troubleshooting and repairing our EM's.
Printis
5 years ago
Thanks for telling your story. Which game do you personally like the best that has zipper flippers? The pinball arcade around the corner from me has op pop pop and its a pretty cool game. Reminds me of those Japanese pachinko machines.
I too am falling more and more into the em world and you gave a lot of cool little tid bits of info. thanks again!
5 years ago
Thanks Gizzard - Fireball is our favorite with the zipper flippers. Probably because it was produced later on, and all the parts started working together properly. However, I like Rocket III too, solely because I had to make the zipper flippers work on that after buying it, and feel like I accomplished something. There are many I have not played - have never even seen - so my favorites are likely to change. I have never played Op pop pop and look forward to finding one some day.
5 years ago
Hi PMcGee,

Thanks very much for the story! My first EM is a Bally "Dogies" with zipper-flippers, and my wife and I are totally hooked.
5 years ago
Ted Zale is the MAN! Thank you for sharing your story. May it continue and increase in pin-goodness.
5 years ago
Great story! Have you ever played Dogies? Another great EM with zipper flippers and a great complex gate system.
5 years ago
Great story and one that educated me more on EM's. Thanks.
One correction though. I thought Firepower which came out in Feb. 1980 was the first to feature multiball, not Xenon which came out later in November that same year.
Also Firepower was the first pin to incorporate lane changes on the rollovers at the top for multi-score.
5 years ago
Thanks RussG - you are correct. I edited to show first Bally SS with multiball.

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