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Archive for the ‘NOS’ Category

Willis Ms. Pac-Man side art mystery solved!

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

We’ve all seen it at some point during our collecting days. That piece of hideous arcade cabinet artwork that just makes you cringe and wonder what the hell they were thinking when they produced it. Why would anyone cover the original artwork with this? The infamous Willis Ms. Pac-Man side art is a prime example of this…or is it?

ms. pac-man side art

Looking at this side art makes me wonder if the artist was given a day, or maybe only a few hours to crank out some artwork that could be mass produced in the fastest time possible. Maybe to fill a big customer order or special request. This side art would be used to cover some of the most iconic cabinet art ever produced, and while I realize that time was money in the coin-op business, this was pushing the boundaries of bad taste to the limits. More time should have been spent to craft artwork suited to the rejuvenation of a worn ms. pac-man cabinet. Having never seen this artwork in person, I was forced to accept what my peers were saying about it. “…some of the worst Willis artwork ever produced, just awful.” I have to agree that it’s awful, but thanks to a few pictures from a fellow collector, I was able to confirm my long standing suspicions.

ms. pac-man side artms. pac-man side artms. pac-man side art

WICO!

ms. pac-man side art

The artwork was not produced by Willis, it was a Wico product as can be clearly seen on the side art, part number and all. Everyone knows the Wico Corporation, famous for their red top joysticks, unmatched in the industry and standard on scores of classic arcade games. Wico was in the parts business in a big way, which also included replacement artwork. In this case bad replacement artwork. So with that the mystery of the bad “Willis” Ms. Pac-Man side art is laid to rest, firmly on the shoulders of Wico. Hug your Willis artwork, it’s finally over.

Chicago Coin Las Vegas Shuffle advertisement found!

Monday, April 30th, 2012

A recent arcade purchase from a former Stern employee turned out to be a small treasure trove of arcade history. I was super excited to find a potentially NOS Stern Frenzy cabinet right from the factory floor! You can see it stuffed into the back of my 4 runner below, or check out the full post about the cabinet HERE. As exciting as that was, the real treasure turned out to be the plastic bin of miscellaneous parts and documentation.

NOS Frenzy Cabinet

In a Rubbermaid tote full of parts, photos, flyers and documentation, I found an original 8.5″ x 11″ marker rendering mock-up of the 1963 Chicago Coin Las Vegas Shuffle game. The artwork is drawn on vellum and then glued back to back onto a piece of white filler paper to create a double sided flyer. This was probably done in house by the marketing department, or by the person handling the company advertising at the time. The mock up is very similar to the flyer that was eventually produced and gives a rare glimpse at the creative process behind the arcade flyers we love so much. Insert token to continue…

NOS Centipede CPO by Wico?

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

At first glance I thought this CPO was a Willis piece. It has an identifying part number listed in the lower right corner, a common characteristic of Willis overlays. The cpo has die-cuts and appears to be manufactured with a quality screen printing process. However, there is no Willis logo anywhere to be found, and the paper backing and adhesive isn’t by 3M. The part number sure does resemble other Willis part number formats, odd.

Wico? Centipede cpo

So I did some digging through my archives to figure this out. I re-read my 2009 post about The Wico Willis partnership. If you check out the catalog pages in the old post you’ll see another centipede overlay clearly listed, and it has the exact same part number. Well, minus the “00” at the end, but otherwise identical. So the same part number exists for two pieces of artwork, but why? Here are a couple examples I have of the overlay from the Wico Willis catalog. Some genius decided it was a good idea to trim off the top and bottom, so its impossible to read any identifying marks, but you get the idea. So what’s the scoop on these?

Willis CentipedeWillis Centipede

My guess is that sometime after the Wico Willis partnership dissolved, Wico decided to make their own control panel overlays (or maybe they had made them previously, I just don’t know). Wico would have used their own printing company, possibly a vendor they had been working with for awhile and that company just didn’t use 3M paper products. They whipped up their own artwork and just kept the catalog part number on the front. I mean if you’ve already sent out a couple thousand product catalogs with the numbers listed, why change them? Just replace the product with your own and keep selling. Seems reasonable to me.

Wico? CentipedeWico? CentipedeWico? CentipedeWico? CentipedeWico? CentipedeWico? Centipede

If you know anything about the relationship between Wico and Willis, or any information about either company, I’d love to learn more. This piece of arcade artwork gets added to the growing archive. Game on!

NOS Bally Sente CPO’s

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Flush with cash from a few recent eBay sales, I decided to shop around and find some new stuff to add to my arcade artwork collection. For about $22 shipped, I grabbed this pair of Bally Sente control panel overlays, not a bad deal and I’m a fan of the Sente system, so why not. Bally Sente was the brain child of Nolan Bushnell back in the mid 80’s. The idea was simple, buy a generic cabinet and swap out a few parts to create a whole new game. A supposedly quick and painless conversion for the operator. Unfortunately, the industry was starting its massive downward spiral and the Sente System never got the chance it deserved.

Bally Sente cpo

The overlay’s are only 11 1/4″ tall x 10 7/8″ wide and at first I thought they must be for the Sente Arcade Computer I Deluxe, due to the narrow width. The standard Sente Arcade Computer I cabinet takes a much wider control panel, so it couldn’t be for that cabinet. Even the conversion kit artwork would have had a wider control panel to fit games like Pac-Man, Rally-X, or Bump N Jump. Checking over the flyer images from The Arcade Flyer Archive I was pretty sure the overlays wouldn’t fit either of those cabs, take a look.

Bally Sente flyerBally Sente flyer

What the heck, what cabinet were these for? The seller I purchased them from had two sets, I bought one set. Each set consisted of a CPO that fits over a trackball panel and the other CPO fits a standard button and joystick configuration. Then it clicked. I looked around the flyer archive a bit more until I found what I was looking for. An image of a Bally Sente cocktail table. Hadn’t realized they made a CT version, but it makes sense. Take a look at the Mini Golf flyer snippet, you can see the cocktail table in the lower right corner. So instead of a pair of CPO’s for replacement panels, I had two cocktail overlays, each one for a different control panel!

Bally Sente flyer

Below you can see various images of both overlays. They are in excellent condition, printed on heavy duty poly-carbonate with a plain paper backing. The top edges of each overlay has a slight bend, but I believe they were pre-scored to make it easier to install on the panels. The die-cuts are all missing, but they were likely cut out and not punched with tabs as the holes are clean. The backing has some minor peeling, but other wise excellent. I would grade these a 9/10. As for the aesthetics, while the green background, white stripes and gold metallic accent color scheme is OK, it is also very boring. A fun, multi-color overlay would have cost more money and these games were meant to be money savers for the op. Boring is cheap. I’ve never seen a Sente cocktail table in person and a little searching didn’t dig up any photos. If you happen to own a Sente cocktail cabinet, drop me a line, I’d love to see it. If you liked this installment of NOS arcade artwork, please visit my NOS artwork page, where you’ll find more information and a gallery of pieces in my collection. In the meantime, these funky CT CPO’s will make a nice addition to the archive.

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NOS Defender cpo by Wico

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

That’s right, Wico. The dissolution of the former partnership between Willis and Wico must be complete as the latter is now cranking out their own control panel overlays. Not quite sure if this was a licensed product, but I can’t imagine Wico would bootleg such an item, considering the two companies weren’t far from one another here in the Chicago area. I’ll call this a new old stock item, just made by Wico and not an OEM part from Williams.

defender cpo

The cpo is screen printed with nice die cuts, but on plain white backing. The color scheme is appealing to me, but the mountain range has been done a million times, boring. Overall it is a simple, clean overlay. Not much excitement, but I guess its better than an old worn out original. Not really, but I’ll archive it anyway.

NOS Tapper marquee

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Well, perhaps not exactly NOS as I just pulled it from the game I’ve been working on. I figured that since I spent the time to clean it up I might as well take a few pictures and add it to the archive for future reference. Hopefully it won’t be hanging around too long as the Tapper will be hitting the auction block once it is up and running.

tapper marquee

This marquee is reverse screened on glass and in great shape overall, with none of the typical flaking frequently seen when artwork is printed on glass. It was a little difficult to photo graph and even harder to scan. The reflective quality of the glass was creating some weird shadows during the scanning process making the scans worthless. Anyway, a nice marquee for a great game.

NOS Champion Boxing cpo

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

This NOS overlay came with the batch of donated artwork from a fellow collector, check out the original post if you missed it. At first I wasn’t sure what game this cpo was for as I couldn’t find any information about Video Ware, Inc., at the usual sources. I posted a few online inquiries and quickly had an answer.

boxing cpo

The control panel overlay is for Champion Boxing by Video Ware, Inc., licensed by Sega. This game was released in 1983 by Sega, likely in kit form only for conversions. I don’t recall seeing the game on location and considering that Nintendo’s Punch Out was released less than a year later, I imagine Champion Boxing did poorly. (more…)

NOS space theme cpo

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Not the most exciting piece, but even boring control panel overlays have a place in arcade history. If you hung out at the arcade back in the late 80’s or early 90’s, you probably saw more than your fair share of generic control panel overlays.

space cpo

This one is a standard space theme overlay, meant to be used with any number of space conversion kits or simply as a cheaper alternative to the pricey OEM* replacement parts. (more…)

Galaga reproduction cpo

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Not too exciting I suppose, but Galaga is a true classic and worthy of recognition, even if it’s just about the cpo. This is one of the Namco reproduction overlays that I picked up awhile back to use in my Gaplus project. I have a Galaga UR and wanted to add Gaplus to the cab. I figured I could just install one of the double jamma adapters from Mikes Arcade and have both games in my Galaga cabinet. Gaplus uses an 8-way joystick and I wasn’t about to hack up my nice Galaga panel, so I picked up a crappy one and cut a hole for the 8-way joystick. (see that post here) This overlay is destined for that panel, if I ever get around to finishing the project!

Budweiser Tapper Marquee

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

After numerous unsuccessful attempts to sell my non-working Bud Tapper upright, I have decided to bite the bullet and restore this game myself. Once it’s cleaned up and brought back to life, it should bring a few bucks on eBay. Even with the depressed market on video games, a few classics still bring in more than average and Tapper is one of those games. (more…)