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Archive for the ‘Willis’ Category

Willis Pac-Man bezel

Tuesday, 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…

Willis Vanguard Bezel

Saturday, 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.

Willis Vanguard UR bezel

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…

Willis Phoenix UR cpo

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Hope you’re not getting tired of all the Willis artwork because I have another one to talk about, and this one is special. It’s the Willis Phoenix cpo (control panel overlay), produced back in 1981 by Willis Industries. This slick looking cpo could have been used by an operator to spruce up a game before tossing it back into the line up to make money. It has an attractive blue fore ground, space scene background and the mechanized looking bird we’ve come to recognize as the Centuri Phoenix. But why is this cpo special, and why does it look so familiar? Is this really a Willis Phoenix replacement cpo or is it some type of NOS (new old stock) variation produced by Centuri?

Willis Phoenix UR cpo

It does have a number of similarities to the original game side art, so what’s going on? Was this Willis Phoenix replacement cpo drawn by the same artist? Did they infringe on Centuri’s intellectual property? Or is it possible that Willis worked with Centuri to create this artwork? That’s a lot of questions. Insert token to continue…

Willis Moon Patrol cpo

Monday, March 18th, 2013

So here we have the Willis Moon Patrol control panel overlay. It has all the quality features I’ve come to expect from a Willis product, with die-cut control openings, reverse screen printing and 3M paper backing; they even made a good effort on the artwork. Granted its not the Williams Moon Patrol cpo, but it has some interesting features. The Willis Moon Patrol cpo attempts to create the perspective that you’re in the seat of some lunar vehicle, driving your way across the moons craggy surface. With the sun setting in the distance, you’ve just embarked on some great adventure across this alien terrain. Not buying it?

Willis Moon Patrol UR cpo

Then lets just say that it’s much better than some of the bootleg pieces I’ve seen, especially this one – bad bootleg moon patrol cpo – and leave it at that. Insert token to continue…

Willis Bubbles UR cpo is a thing of beauty!

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

It has been too long, so I thought I’d start on a new round of Willis artwork posts. I have a bunch to show, but decided to start by throwing out a fun one, Bubbles. The Willis Bubbles UR cpo is an eye catcher, with bright vibrant colors and what else? Lots of bubbles of course! This little beauty was produced by Willis on quality materials using the screen printing process we purists know and love. Of course as a purist you would never actually use this cpo, but it is still a cool piece of 80’s arcade nostalgia nonetheless.

Willis Bubbles UR cpo

At first glance the bubbles look very neat and uniform, which is odd, considering they’re bubbles and should be a bit more random; but I think it’s a fun overlay and certainly a good effort by the Willis artist. Taking the idea of the sink and drain very literally, with lots of bubbles and a very stylized sink makes for an interesting if not awe inspiring design. Considering there was probably very little time for the creative process, a direct approach may have been the best idea. It gets the message across and there can be no confusion that the game is Bubbles. A closer look at the actual artwork reminds me of my days rendering products with markers. I wouldn’t be surprised if the original drawing of this screen printed cpo was done entirely with markers. Insert token to continue…

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.

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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.

Willis Pac-Man cocktail cpo

Monday, July 9th, 2012

The Willis replacement control panel overlays for Bally Midway’s Pac-Man leaves very little to the imagination. Not that it’s revealing, just that it is very obviously for pac-man. Even a non-arcade enthusiast could probably tell you that. There are slightly different overlays for player one and player two, but the pac-man character eating dots can’t be mistaken for much else. Pretty boring, just like the original control panel overlays. The Willis player one and player two men make a cameo appearance again, reuse that artwork! Not sure what could have been done to make pac cocktail overlays more interesting, maybe a maze, some wacky ghost images, something. A piece of history that I’ll stash in the Willis vault.

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If you have any information about Willis Industries or would just like to comment about the artwork they produced, drop me a line I’d love to talk Willis!

Willis Q*bert cpo

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

The Willis replacement control panel overlay for Gottlieb’s Q*bert is an odd one. When I first saw the overlay I thought, cool Marble Madness! Then I found out it’s actually for Q*bert, hmm. I’m not sure what the dropping balls have to do with Q*bert other than the vague relationship to a hopping Q*bert character, but at least it has yellow. A very simple design that really wouldn’t make me think of anything in particular if it was installed on my Q*bert. The little Willis men make an appearance on the player one and player two spot. It’s a Willis piece and part of history, so into the vault it goes!

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If you have any information about Willis Industries or would just like to comment about the artwork they produced, drop me a line I’d love to talk Willis!

Willis Asteroids Deluxe cpo

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

The Willis replacement control panel overlay for Atari’s Asteroids Deluxe is an excellent effort by the design team at Willis Industries. With the solid black background and split screen, cockpit glass effect, you’re supposed to envision that you’re a space ship pilot blasting away at those pesky asteroids. With controls plainly laid out next to the planetary imagery, you can almost get that feeling. This is one of the better control panel overlay’s produced by Willis and will make a nice addition to the growing artwork archive on tokensonly. The production quality is top notch as usual, with 3M backing paper and die cut button holes. This overlay still has the die cuts intact, making the complete overlay design visible. A little blue tape on the back helps keep them all in place.

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If you have any information about Willis Industries or would just like to comment about the artwork they produced, drop me a line I’d love to talk Willis!

Willis Centipede CPO

Friday, September 30th, 2011

The Willis replacement control panel overlay for Atari Centipede is arguably one of the best CPO’s made by Willis. I’m not talking about finished product quality, as all Willis products had high production standards, I’m talking about the aesthetics. All too often Willis gets bashed for their “crappy” artwork, well this one does the game justice. Perhaps that’s why it’s so hard to find a Willis Centipede overlay that hasn’t already been applied to a control panel. The partnership breakup between Wico and Willis might also be a reason, check out the Wico Centipede overlay here.

Willis Centipede cpo

The artist that worked on this one made an effort to do some color and design matching for the layout so the cpo wouldn’t look out of place on the game. The artist even worked up a cool looking Centipede to add to the CPO, an element that was missing from the original design. Good color, cool Centipede, mushrooms and horizontal stripes. What else could you possibly need? 🙂 I’ve only been able to find a couple of hacked up versions of this overlay and I’m on the lookout for a nice example. Check out my Willis artwork page for more information about Willis and their history.

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I would like to add one of these overlays to the Willis artwork archive. If you have a nice example of this control panel overlay for sale or trade, drop me a line!