Willis Vanguard Bezel
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.
I finally found what I was looking for, on my own site from a post back in 2009. The picture I dug up was a Willis Vanguard overlay, or at least that’s how it was labeled. I had no proof as I had never seen one in person, but the resemblance was uncanny. Well, maybe not uncanny, but at least it had mountains.
Since its a known fact that Willis did the original cabinet artwork for some of Centuri’s best classics (no I’m not kidding see it HERE), it made sense that this bezel might have been used on an actual game. Since it looked like the Vanguard cpo, that seemed like a good place to start. You may have already figured it out, but since I wasn’t that familiar with Centuri’s Vanguard, I had to look it up. That’s when all the pieces fell into place. The piece is definitely a Willis Vanguard bezel.
So if this is the dedicated artwork for Vanguard, produced by Willis (amazing side art IMHO) it still leaves me with a question about the overlay pictured above. The overlay on the dedicated cab is nothing like the one that is supposedly a Vanguard by Willis. It might be, Willis made Phoenix artwork and the replacement overlay is very similar with many of the same artistic elements. Did they do the same for Vanguard? Or is the overlay above a Wico or bootleg piece? I don’t know but would like to find out. If you have this overlay on a panel or cabinet, have an NOS piece or just have better pictures or information please drop me a line.
Unfortunately I lost the eBay auction for the Vanguard bezel, but now that I know what it is, it shouldn’t be too hard to find an example to add to the archive. Happy gaming.