Written by PMcGee, published January 23rd, 2013. 6 comment(s).
I think I first found photos of Star-Jet on IPDB, when I was doing an advanced search for multiball games. First glance, I was smitten. I didn't care a whit about gameplay - I wanted it for that spaceage theme. Such a flash to the past with recollections stirred of the Jetsons and the Space Family Robinson. I tend to be a bit obsessive compulsive about some things, so once I saw this machine, I knew I had to have one. So I began my search.
I posted in the usual places - various newsgroups, bulletin boards, etc. No replies. Months went by, and I kept cruising eBay and watching Craigslist but nothing ever came up. One day I checked my pinball email account (don't we all have one of those) and lo and behold, I had a reply to my Mr. Pinball Classifieds ad. The gentleman stated that his friend had one, and would be interested in selling it. I thought immediately, yeah and your friend is in Nigeria and he would like me to cash this money order for him. I finally threw caution to the wind and said, here is my number, have your friend call me.
A couple of days later, got home and there was a message on my machine about Star-Jet. I called the seller who lived in Pennsylvania. In 1969 when the seller was 12 years old (and I was 12 years old), he was on his paper route and noticed a customer was moving. The moving van was full, and the customer had a pinball machine sitting on the sidewalk. The seller asked was it for sale, the customer said, yep for $75, newspaper earnings were raided and Star-Jet was taken home by the newspaper boy. He kept it for 42 years, and had never really thought of selling it before.
There were a couple of us posting on Mr. Pinball at the time regarding wanting to buy a Star-Jet. The seller had already been in contact with the other poster (bummer). He sent us both photos. The other prospective buyer needed time to think about it, needed to come up with the money and wanted a couple of days. I said I would send a certified check overnight! Star-Jet was mine. NAVL picked it up and delivered it on legs, absolutely no problem at all.
It was rough! Woodscrews holding down playfield posts, rubber stuck to the playfield in places, wrong bumper caps, wrong targets. A couple of the plastics were warped, and one had a chunk out of it (I fashioned a Lexan protector and it looks fine). There were a couple of areas of wear on the playfield, around the flippers and slingshots, but otherwise it was in relatively good shape albeit covered in a healthy layer of grime. Rubber was deteriorated terribly, but the seller said his kids were still playing it on occasion. The backglass was in better shape than many of the photos of other machines that I had seen online. It has some touched up areas around the edges, and some crackling in spots. (I bought the repro from Shay last year, but have not installed it. I decided my original backglass was good enough.)
Dirty as it was, I plugged it in and it played! Not 100%, but better than most of the pins I had bought at that time. Then I began the task of taking it apart and doing a detailed cleaning of the playfield and playfield parts. Over the years it had been occasionally taken apart for cleaning or repair, and it was put back together in a haphazard way - probably by a teenager. It took me a while to figure out the proper configurations of the red, yellow and white posts, but once I did I realized that all of the original posts were present and accounted for. I was able to buy correct bumper caps and standing targets from PBResource, and picked up a few coils for the flippers and pop bumpers. It cleaned up pretty nicely, but I had trouble getting everything to work properly.
Backglass and playfied photos are "before" - I may have wiped the playfield down a bit, but I think these were taken the day I received it.
Star-Jet probably does not get played as often as it should, since we have 50 or so other machines in our collection from which to choose. It always gets lots of comments, and of all the machines we have it is the one most photographed by visitors. It does catch your eye.
We took it to the 2012 Houston Arcade Expo, to let people see what we consider to be a rare and cool machine with original patina. It held up pretty well, considering the jokers who kept trying to lift it to make it release the captured balls.
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