I began my Pinball collecting experience with Electro-Mechanical (EM) games. It started in the early 90s when a neighbor had a Chicago Coin Sound Stage game that wouldn't turn on. He said he'd sell me the game for $150 and that's what started everything you see today. I have a background as an electronics technician and also an Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Colorado so I thought fixing the game should be no-problemo. I was right, but it was as simple as replacing a fuse in the game that wouldn't let it turn on. That was it! Just a fuse that started this entire adventure. Had the guy replaced the fuse he probably would've never let the game set that long unplayed and would have never sold it to me.
After buying the game, setting it up in my basement, and replacing the fuse, I was off in the world of Pinball. Not long afterwards I was buying some new rings at a place named Mountain Coin north of Denver and spoke with a guy in the parts department that said he knew a guy that sold Pinball games as-is. The guy's name was Gilbert Sanchez and shortly afterwards I found out that Gilbert had container loads of old EM games that were for sale. I didn't just buy one game of course, I think I
initially bought around 20 games from him. Most were games that hadn't been plugged in
when Gilbert bought them, so I had no idea if they worked or not. None did actually, but I was only paying in the
$50 to $100 range for each game so it wasn't that big a deal. I did a few more deals with Gilbert buying even more games and out of those original games, I probably only have maybe 6 of them left. Joker Poker,
Space Station, and Grand Lizard were only three of the games that were not an EM game, so mostly EM games were purchased.
Later around 2004 or so, I started trading DMD games for others that included EM games. During 2008
through 2011 I have bought or traded for even more EM games from my friends Kim (Mr. 68), Kevin at Lyons Classic Pinball,
Jim Swenson, Ryan, Tim, Lawrence, and Abrie. I find myself divided between the EM and SS games with a leaning towards EMs again. I like antiques (own and collect many antiques) and EMs remind me more of an antique. They are old, somewhat simple compared to modern games, but they have an old-school charm that keeps me buying, restoring, and playing them. The games below are my current lineup for EM games.
If you don't see a link to a web page it's because I haven't gotten
around to creating the page for the game.
Gottlieb single player EM game made in 1975. It's a popular game and requires some restoration work since it didn't work when I bought it as part of a package deal with a Buccaneer from Rod Wideman who is the most meticulous restoration person I have ever met. One bit of wisdom Rod told me was to focus on single player games since there is far less scorewheels that need attention and the game is lighter without all those scorewheels. The game looks nice and everything is there, just a matter of restoration since it's in the same shape as when Rod bought it. There is an add-a-ball version of this game made in 1977 named "Team One" which was also has an Itialian market version known as "Kicker" also made in 1977.
Alpine Club -
Williams single player EM game with a snow skiing theme made in
February of 1965. I bought this game from Jim Swenson for 400 bucks
on April 3th of 2011 and it's in good condition for a game of this
age. The game features the same kind of odd cabinet design similar
to Full House which was made the same year by Williams, and there
were 1,200 games produced (not that many). It features 4 flippers, 4
pop bumpers, 3 passive bumpers, 2 slingshots, 2 kick-out holes, 1
standup target, and a right outlane ball return gate. Lots of things
going on for this game. It also features a backglass marguee and
backglass light animation which shows a climber ascending a
mountain. When the climber is almost at the top of the mountain a
flag at the summit flashes. When the climber reaches the summit the
player is rewarded with a replay and the animation resets. Note that
this is a carry-over feature from game to game. It uses a bell
instead of chimes for sound effects. The game was designed by Steve
Kordek with artwork by Art Stenholm. There is an add-a-ball version
known as "Ski Club." An interesting note is that the backglass shows
the mountain climber is silkscreened fourteen times but only 10
lamps were used in the stepping mechanism to light the climber. You
will also find that near the upper flippers are holes where a lamp
should be, however there are no lamp sockets wired to these holes. A
very interesting game.
Big Hit - I got this game
from my pinhead buddy Tim in June of 2012. This is an Exhibit Supply
game made in February of 1946, so this is an old guy. The game
doesn't have flippers and is an EM game with 13 scoring bumpers, 1
kickout hole, and 3 lanes in the center of the playfield. Although
this game doesn't have any flippers, it's still a neat old game that
was made months after WWII was over. It even has a card in the
backbox that says "Important Due to acute wire shortages it has been
necessary to substitute colors in some instances." This was caused
by the war of course since copper wiring with cloth insulation was
in short supply. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot known about the
game and in particular, no idea of the number of games manufactured,
who designed the game, or who did the artwork.
Big Shot -
Gottlieb single player EM game with a pool theme made in August
of 1973. I bought this game from Kim (Mr.68) for 400 bucks and it's
in great condition. Looks like it was a game that was never on a
route it's so clean. There were 2,900 games made and it has 2
flippers, 1 pop bumper, two 7-bank drop targets, and one kick-out
hole. The game was designed by Ed Krynski and artwork was created by
one of my favorite artists - Gordon Morison. There is a 4-player
version named "Hot Shot' and a single player add-a-ball version
named "Pro Pool" which has an Italian version named "Play Pool"
which was made in 1972.
Big Top -
Genco single player game made in
February of 1949 (the game is older than me). It's a woodrail game that features 2 flippers (that
flip in the opposite direction when compared to newer games) with 2
pop bumpers and 5 kick-out holes. The game was designed by Harvey
Heiss and there isn't any more info about the game. The backglass has some issues, but the cabinet and
playfield look nice for such an old game. I got this game for $150
from Jim Swenson on April 30th of 2011.
- Buccaneer -
Gottlieb single player EM game made in 1976. I bought this game from Rod Wideman as part of a package deal along with Abra-Ca-Dabra. The great thing this game has going for it (other than it's a fun game to play) is that this is a Rod Wideman shopped game. That means that everything is meticulously restored and looks like a game you could eat off of it's so clean. Probalby the finest example of a restored game that I own thanks to Rod's work. There's an add-a-ball version of the game made in 1976 known as "Ship Ahoy."
I sold this game to a fellow pinhead in 2014 that should really enjoy
this classic game.
- Captain Kid Rifle Game - Although not a Pinball game, it is an EM rifle game featuring a spinning ship's wheel with targets,
a captain's face that rotates from side to side periodically throughout the game, and a couple of pirate flags that raise up and down during play.
Very fun game. I got this game along with the Magic City EM from Jim Swenson for $250 in April of 2010. Took some minor switch
adjusting that Jim did to get the game basically working, and only needed to be cleaned and a power cord replaced.
I ended up selling this game to fellow pinhead Steve Dankanich along
with a few other games in 2014.
Casino - Williams single player
wood rail EM game that featues 2 flippers, 4 pop bumpers, 2 kick-out
holes, and 1 gobble hole. Rollovers and kick-out holes will light playing cards on the
mirrored backglass which is often distorted (the mirroring). I got
this game through a trade with my pinhead buddy Tim. I traded him a
clear-coated Target Alpha that had most all of the playfield parts
replaced and 200 bucks for the working Casino game. The game was
designed by Harry Williams with artwork by George Molentin.
- Central Park -
Gottlieb single player EM game made in 1966. Central Park is a very fun game to play and unlike many other games from the 60s, the playfield is usually found in a very nice condition for some reason. The playfield looks new with no wear on it and plenty of targets. The game works and I had it set up for awhile, but due to space constraints (ugh), I had to take it down and store it on end. I'll set it up one of these days since it's a very fun game to play. I bought this game for $900 from John Detweiller (Sir Tiltsalot) who sent me email not too long afterwards wanting to know if I would be interested in selling it back to him since it was so popular in his house. Uhhh, no, not for sale John. Thanks buddy.
- Expo -
Williams two player EM game made in 1969. It features some backglass animation with a spinner and a pop up center post along with a left outlane mini-popup post too. It's a decent game to play and is one of the original EM games I bought from Gilbert Sanchez in the early 90's.
- Full House -
Williams single player EM game made in 1966. It has a rather odd game box and came to me for a really cheap price ($25). My buddy Frank Gracen told me he saw the game in a customer's house and that it didn't work and thought she would sell it pretty cheap since it had also been stored outside in a "shed" where it was exposed to the weather. Turned out the worst part of the game was the backglass which I replace in early 2009 with a backglass that looks like it's brand new. The game was shopped by my friend Jim Swenson who also does meticulous work. Jim was looking for a game to shop and knew that I had games that needed restoration work and I thought what the heck, give it to Jim and let him work on it. He did and after having the game for almost 2 years, called me one day to say that it was completed and working and I could come and get it. He only wanted $50 for shopping the game but I gave him $150 since he did such a nice job. Jim enjoys the restoration process like me, so it isn't the money so much as it is the fun to bring an old game back to life. Thanks Jim.
Note that I bought yet another Full House for $250 from my pinhead
friend Kevin (see Lyons Classic Pinball on my Pinball Links page to
find their arcade in Lyons, Colorado), so at least I'll have a
reference game to try and get this old guy working.
- Guys Dolls -
Gottlieb single player EM game made in 1953. There were 1,500
games made and it has 4 pop bumpers, 2 kickout holes, 5 outlanes
(count 'em FIVE outlanes), and 6 "high powered pop-up posts" to keep
the ball in play. The "pop-up posts" are activated together to send
the ball upwards back in to play using either flipper button. The
game is based on the famous Broadway play "Guys and Dolls" that was
very popular in 1950.
- Hit the Deck -
Gottlieb single player EM game made in August of 1978. There were
375 games made (so somewhat rare), and it has 3 flippers, 3 pop
bumpors, 2 kick-out holes, an upper left kickback lane, lots of
rollovers, and targets as sell. The game was designed by John
Osborne with artwork by Gordon Morison (one of my favorite artists).
The game can be converted to an add-a-ball game. Note that there is
also an add-a-ball version of this game that is known as Gottlieb's
1978 "Poseidon" and Gottlieb's 1978 "Poseidon." Since this game was
appearing at the end of the Electrical Mechanical (EM) phase of
games, and being replaced by solid state electronic games, the
scorewheels are black and the number segments have been painted red
to make the scoring section appear as though it's an electronic
game. Lots of odd stuff on this game.
Hot Line - Williams made the Hot Line game
in September of 1966 and the game was designed by Steve Kordek
featuring 2 flippers (that feel like they are a mile apart), 5 pop
bumpers, 1 passive bumper, 2 slingshots, 2 standup targets, an upper
right ball return gate, and center playfield buttons that are used
to spell the characters HOT LINE in order to light the Special. The
game can be played in either 3 or 5 ball mode. The game has a sports
fishing theme and the playfield rollover buttons are kind of neat
when trying to complete each letter of HOT LINE. There is an
add-a-ball version of the game named Big Strike that was made
earlier in August of 1966. It uses a bowling theme and similarly
uses the playfield rollover buttons to spell BIG STRIKE. They made
3,651 Hot Line games and 3,600 Big Strike games.
- Jungle Queen -
Gottlieb four player EM game made in 1977. There were
6,795 games made and it has 4 flippers, 3 pop bumpers, two 5-bank
drop targets, two kick-out holes, and no slingshots. Yet another
nice game designed by Ed Krynski with beautiful artwork by Gordon
Morison. The two player version of this game is Gottlieb's 1977
Jungle Princess. I got this game from my pinhead buddy Ryan for $650
which is very reasonable considering the shape it's in. Basically
nothing has to be done to the game at all which is a nice change
considering some of the basket case games I've been buying lately. I
ended up selling this game to a fellow pinhead in 2014 due to
wanting to thin the herd.
Williams four player EM game made in 1961. I bought this game for $150 from Kevin Carroll and it needs to be seriously restored, but Kevin knew how much I loved to play his Kismet game at his arcade, so thought I'd be interested in it. He was right of course and I look forward to fixing this old guy and bringing it back to life. It's one of my favorite games and I've held the all-time high score on it at Kevin's arcade for a few years now. Fun game.
- Magic City -
single player EM game made in January of 1967 with a production run of 2,675 games. It was designed by Norm Clark with artwork from one of my favorite artists - George Molentin. It has the usual two flippers and two slingshots, five standup targets, and count 'em - four pop bumpers. Four pop bumpers wouldn't be all that odd except one of them is right in front of the outhole. I got this game from Jim Swenson in April of 2010 for $200. The backglass had some flaking, but not too bad for such an old game, and the only parts that appeared to be missing were the flipper mounting hardware, coil stops, and coils. I have a spare playfield from a Fun House that uses the same flipper hardware so I'll use that to restore the game when the time comes (no telling when that will be).
- Night Rider -
Bally four player EM game made in 1976. I first played this game at my buddy Bally Tim's house where he had a solid state version of the game. I picked this game up from Kevin Carroll for $500 and although it's an EM game, I believe the playfield is a solid state playfield. Everything else is electro-mechanical about the game.
- Out of Sight -
Gottlieb two player EM game made in 1974. The game has some of the nicest artwork you'll find on a game and there was relatively few of them made (1750 units). The backglass on this game is beautiful with tons of psychedelic artwork and a left outlane kickback along with a right outlane ball return gate. I got the game from Kim (Mr. 68) for $400 in early 2009.
Finally got it working, replaced all the lane guides, posts, star
rollover, targets and the usual stuff I do when restoring a game. Also
clear-coated the playfield.
- Pro Football -
Gottlieb EM game made in 1973 that features a football theme. I
got this game as part of a trade with my pinhead buddy Ryan as part
of a deal where I traded him my Cleopatra and a spare old playfield
for his Pro Football EM game and a Stern Stingray SS game. It's a
single player game with artwork by one of my favorite artists -
Gordon Morison. You can score in two ways - by scoring points as
done in most games during game play, and by earning touchdowns and
extra points. This means that you can lose to your opponent on the
high score, but score more points for touchdowns. This also
means that despite being a single player game, it has extra pair of scorewheels to show the point score. The game also features four
flippers two pop bumpers, vari-targets, and a rollunder spinner. The
other thing about this game is that the ball is not plunged with a
shooter rod, but by holding the right flipper button in which shoots
the ball out onto the playfield from the center of the game (where
the outhole is located).
Sky Jump -
Gottlieb single player EM game made in 1974. I love the pastel colors in the backglass on this game and it's a pretty fun game to play. I bought the game from Kevin Carroll for an undisclosed amount since I think I got a deal on it. I played the game before I bought it and it could use some restoration work to make it look even nicer but everything is there and it looks great.
I ended up selling this game in 2014 to a fellow pinhead that is a
sky diving instructor.
- Soccer -
Williams single player EM game made in March of 1964. I got
this game as part of a trade for my Spirit of 76 with my pinhead
buddy Ryan. There were 2,850 of these games made and the game
features 2 flippers, 4 pop bumpers, 1 passive bumper, 2 slingshots,
2 kick-out holes, 6 targets, 1 ball kicker, and a cool backglass
animation of a player kicking soccer balls. The game was designed by
Norm Clark. Although I traded my Spirit of 76 for this game with
Ryan, I ended up doing another trade to get my Spirit of 76 back in
exchange for a Sure Shot and a spare Top Card game I had.
Sound Stage -
Chicago Coin two player EM game made in 1976. It has a spinning playfield disc that's under the playfield so it won't interfere with play and rotates when hitting a spin target. "Juke Box" is the 4 player version of this game. Chicago Coin didn't make it in business much longer and this is one of their better games towards the end of their existence. One key thing for this game is that this is the game that put me in the hobby of Pinball. Only a few years later I would find myself a "collector" rather than simply a Pinball game owner.
Spirit of 76 -
Gottlieb four player EM game made in 1975. It's a popular game and has an interesting history. Back when the game was being designed some of designer Wayne Neyen's colleagues were trying to guess how many of the games would sell. They were guessing in the 2,500 to 3,000 unit range but Wayne thought it would sell closer to 10,000 units. The president of Gottlieb said that if the game sold 10,000 units he would personally deliver one to Wayne's front door. The game sold 10,300 games and a game was delivered to Wayne as promised. It is still the only Pinball game that Wayne owns to this day. I paid $400 for the game when I bought if from a seller that thought it had "sensor problems." Hmmm, a sensor? It had more probems than that but Steve Young at The Pinball Resource still sells new plastic sets as well as all the other parts and the game looks and plays great after its restoration by me in 2008.
I ended up trading this game for a Soccer game
with my pinhead buddy Ryan. But, I ended up getting the game back
from Ryan in October of 2011 when I traded my Top Card and Sure Shot
for the game to bring it back home. I've always liked this game and
it's finally back home.
Spooks Rifle Game -
Williams 1969 EM gun game that I got from Kevin Carroll for free. I know that it's not a Pinball game, but it is an EM game none the less. It seemed to be complete although the background cardboard was torn up and there's some missing parts to it. We'll see how it works when I get around to restoring it. I loved playing gun games back in the early 60s so it should be fun if I can get it to work.
I never did get around to restoring this game but gave it to fellow
pinhead Steve Dankanich who has a few rifle games and can probably
get it working.
- Sure Shot -
Gottlieb single player EM game made in 1976. I got this game along with Top Card as part of a trade for my Eight Ball game with Abrie. The game works fine, but the same nutjob that painted the Top Card also painted this game with solid black gloss paint. It wasn't bad enough that he painted everything black on the game but he painted it black over the previous owner's solid green that had some goofy custom "artwork" and a replaced "coin door" that was made out of plywood and had the name Sure Shot hand painted on the coin door. Maybe the custom paint job by the former owner is what caused the guy to paint the game solid black. I stripped the black and green paint off and was able to make stencils from the original artwork but this game will take some time to repaint.
I ended up trading this game (along with a spare Top Card game I
had) for my Spirit of 76 that I had traded for my Soccer game with
Target Alpha - Target Alpha is a 4-player game made by Gottlieb.
There were 7,285 games made in November of 1976 and the game has
artwork by Gordon Morison (my favorite artist) with the design by Ed
Krynski. It features four flippers, two pop bumpers, two slingshots,
two standup targets, a 10-bank set of drop targets and a 5-bank set
of drop targets. The add-a-ball version of this game is Gottlieb's
1975 Gold Strike and another add-a-ball version for Italy named
Lucky Strike that was produced in 1975. The single player
version of this game is the more familiar game produced in 1975 by
the name of El Dorado. The game is known for being a fun game since
it can be hard to knock all of the targets down and there is
something about knocking down targets that appeals to most pinheads.
I ended up doing a lot of work on the playfield including replacing
most all of the parts plus clear-coating the playfield and traded it
and 200 bucks to fellow pinhead Tim for his working 1958 Williams
Casino woodrail game.
Top Card -
Gottlieb single player EM game made in 1974. I got this game along with Sure Shot as part of a trade for my Eight Ball game with Abrie. Some nutjob decided to paint the coin door area along with one side of the game and all of the backbox in solid glossy black paint. No artwork was visible when I got the game other than on the side that had not been painted. The game works, but I'll be replacing the solid black paint with a repaint using original colors and artwork.
Note that I also bought another Top Card game that has been restored
and I traded the painted Top Card along with my Sure Shot with Ryan
to get back my Spirit of 76 in October of 2011.
Genco single player woodrail game made in January of 1951.
There isn't much info regarding the game at this time so I don't
know who the designers are or the number of games produced. I bought
this game on April 30th of 2011 from fellow pinhead Jim Swenson.
Graphics & Text © Steve Corley
pictures you see were created by Steve Corley unless otherwise
Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited