January 18th, 2014
My black hole pinball machine worked and was in decent shape, but I had driven a long way to get it (HERE), my kids loved it, and it wasn’t leaving the collection anytime soon. Black Hole is a great game and worthy of a little extra TLC, so the damaged cabinet would get restored and possibly a re-stencil. Since the playfields would be out, I thought it would be fun to get them professionally restored as well. HSA pinball had done an amazing job on a previous Black Hole pin restoration and I had no doubt that my project would turn out just as good. Of course I’d have to strip the playfields first, and that was a nightmare, but I’ll save the story of that agony for another time.
It didn’t take long before I had a beautiful set of restored Black Hole pinball playfields. You can check out the before and after photos at HSA pinball’s site HERE. Having those beautiful playfields done meant it was time to put the machine back together. Insert token to continue…
December 31st, 2013
Omega Race is an amazing game, with beautiful front artwork covered in zooming space ships, a smooth metal spinner, and a black light scene that gives the illusion of flying your vector ship through space. Sadly, its a game I never got to play back in the arcades of the 1980′s, I don’t recall ever seeing it. Having gone to many of the classic Chicago arcades, I’m sure I would have remembered such a game. Space ships were the big thing thanks to Star Trek and Star Wars, and the opportunity to blast my way through enemy ships would have attracted a few of my tokens, no doubt about it.
While Omega Race may be a simple black and white vector game, it has style like some of the great Midway electro-mechanical games with just a hint of the video craze that was about to explode on the scene. Midway designers did a great job incorporating beautiful graphics with engaging game play creating a true classic. While I had played Omega Race a few times during my early collecting years, it wasn’t until I spent a lot of time playing one at Greg’s Freecade back in 2010 that I fell in love. I have a passion for the black and white games because manufacturers typically spent time on the whole game package; game play, sounds, background, bezel, and cabinet artwork. They had to make the game attractive and enticing to get you to try it and then exciting enough to keep those tokens flowing. Omega Race is just such a game and I want to own one. Insert token to continue…
October 8th, 2013
This little beauty popped up on eBay with the title “Willis Pac-Man bezel”. Now I’ve seen plenty of Pac cpo’s and of course that really bad Wico Pac-Man side art; but I have never seen a Willis Pac-Man bezel, or even knew it existed. The seller only posted a few small pictures, and while the Willis name appeared to be printed in the lower right, it just wasn’t very clear. What really caught my attention was a small mark or artist signature also in the lower right corner. Whoa, an artist signature? Insert token to continue…
September 14th, 2013
I do love Willis artwork and have done a pretty good job documenting the stuff that’s out there. Saving this little piece of arcade history is fun and helps shed light on how the replacement artwork business worked back in the glory days of arcades. For a look at the stuff I’ve found so far, visit the Willis Gallery. Even though I believe I’ve documented most of the Willis stuff that was produced, I still keep an eye out for interesting artwork, and occasionally I find something I haven’t seen before. A few weeks ago this strange arcade bezel popped up on eBay. It was labeled in the lower right corner as “Willis Industries Inc” and I needed to know more about it.
So what the heck is this for? It looked almost generic with the simple color scheme, but the mountains in the background reminded me of an overlay I’d seen somewhere. Hmm, I would have to do some digging to see if I could figure it out. Insert token to continue…
July 31st, 2013
Have you ever looked at something after you bought it and thought, “What the heck was I thinking?” Well, when I won this TV Tennis by US Billiards off eBay, I had one of those moments. I really didn’t think I would win with a maximum bid of only $22.00, but I did win and it only cost me $16.50! Wow, that’s probably the least I’ve ever paid for a cabinet, but now what? The game was about a 7 hour road trip one way and this was just a pong clone, not a garage full of minty vectors. This would be tough to claim.
So why did I bid anyway? I have to admit that I have a fondness for all the unusual artwork and games that were produced during the hey-day of the arcade game era. The stranger the better and this cabinet certainly fits that criteria. When I saw it on eBay with no bids I felt compelled to save it. I’ve never seen one before and it turns out that the picture on KLOV is this very game. So maybe its the only one left? It was also made by US Billiards, a company that has some connection to Willis Industries, that alone made me want to see it up close.
After weeks of trying to arrange schedules to coincide with visiting friends in the area, working around work schedules, asking locals to pick up and hold, nothing was working out and I was left with few options. I could bail on the game and be out $16.50, I could drive there and back in one day (not an awesome option at all), or I could suck it up and ship the darn thing. I wanted to save it after all, right? So I popped on uShip to see what kind of rate I could get. The rate was great, so here it sits in my garage. It is currently not working and needs some TLC, but it is safe and sound. I’ll spend some time messing with it in between spray coats on the Robotrons. Stay tuned and happy gaming.