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Archive for the ‘Resources’ Category

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!

Stern production numbers and more CCI photos

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Among the Chicago Coin Industry press photos, Stern flyers and parts I found this little gem. (see the original post HERE) A two page, photo copied list of Stern production numbers! Stuff like this doesn’t come up too often so this is a great find. Sheds some light on how many games were in production and how long they were being produced. Insert token to continue…

William Arkush and the Video Game Data Library

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

William (Bill) Arkush is noted for his distribution of an early series of video game technical manuals known as the Video Game Data Library. The manuals focused on early black and white video games produced during the 1970’s; games such as Pin Pong by Atari, Tank by Kee Games, and Gun Fight by Midway, amongst others.

Tank by Kee Games

The manuals have a wealth of detailed, game specific information about how to keep the machines working and earning for the operator. They were printed in an odd, over sized format, with color covers, color pages and plastic spiral binding. Trouble shooting “video” games was a new concept for operators in the 1970’s as electro-mechanical games and pinball machines were still in service. Good technical information about this new type of game was important, so the manuals were likely well used. Perhaps that’s why it’s so difficult to find a full set in good shape. Insert coin to continue…

Willis Enviro-Graphics, or bye bye Wico!

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

“Enviro-Graphics, an exciting new concept for the amusement industry. The Enviro-Graphics kit includes all the decorative treatment, signage, and support material required for your arcade, game room or game location. These products are designed and produced by the premier game art company in America – Willis Industries.” A bold statement from a company that the classic arcade collecting community tends to frown upon. But take a look at the brochure and you might think twice.


I had never heard of Enviro-graphics, or known about artwork packages that operators could use to decorate their arcade. I was too busy finding my next quarter for that new game, or waiting for the 6 tokens for $1 special at Aladdin’s Castle. Who paid attention to the d├ęcor? I vaguely recall the way my local arcade looked back in the day, with a simple neon exterior, lots of games inside and a pseudo space theme. The atmosphere did contribute to the overall memory, though my strongest memory seems to be of dark and smokey spaces, with lots of flashing lights and sounds! Even so, perhaps Willis had a good idea. Token signs, out of order signs, score boards, event schedules, specials, rules…all things the operator needed to communicate with his customers. The random space scene posters remind me more of the black light posters you’d find at Spencer’s gifts in the mall, along side the edible underwear. The brochure states that the posters were directly screened onto 1/8″ thick foam board, which made them more durable and easier to hang, but is also probably why so few (if any) survive today. Once they came off the wall if you couldn’t store them, they got tossed.

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One thing I noticed is the apparent change in relationship between Willis and Wico around the time this stuff was being produced. If you recall my post about the partnership they shared, apparently it didn’t last or just wasn’t working out. Whatever the reasons, the brochure above is a lot different from the unopened one you see below. Dated September 10, 1982 it has the Wico name and distributor information prominently displayed. A few additional pieces of artwork can also be seen on the back. The almost identical brochure above has all traces of the Wico name removed and “Now operators can buy direct from Willis”. Interesting move and even before the industry crash really took hold. If you can shed any light on this relationship or if you have a Willis Enviro-Graphics poster you’d like to sell, let me know.

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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.

Willis Atari Football cpo

Monday, March 8th, 2010

I’ve added another Willis overlay to the growing archive, this time the 4 player version of Atari Football. A big thanks to Jeff of rotheblog for this one. Now Atari is famous among the collecting community for fabulous cabinet artwork and the Atari Football cocktail cabinets were no exception. I had a chance to see and play a HUO example at a party not so long ago and it was amazing.

atari football cpo

The artwork and color scheme on that game exude 70’s funk and I love it. The cp artwork was originally screened right onto the metal panels, just like on Asteroids and Missile Command. Unfortunately that means when it wears off, its gone forever. So besides being a replacement overlay and not a metal panel, the Willis piece just doesn’t fit well with the Atari cabinet artwork. Sure, the big “football” and a bunch of football players make it obvious what game its for, but so boring. Still has all the earmarks of a quality Willis piece and makes a nice addition.

Bootleg Crystal Castles cpo

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

I purchased this one from a fellow collector along with a handful of other Willis overlays. I’ve seen it in pictures on other sites but have never had a chance to examine it closely. It is supposedly for crystal castles by Atari and I have no reason to doubt that. One thing is certain though, it’s not a Willis product.

crystal castles cpo

Besides lacking all of the usual clues that identify a Willis overlay (can you name them all yet?), it is one flimsy piece of art. Cheaply made and probably one of the thinnest overlays I have in the archive. (more…)

Willis Asteroids CT cpo

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

Willis made a few different overlays for Atari games, the Asteroids cocktail table being one of them. This overlay has very simple styling, partly taken from the very understated original control panel overlay. The artist added some color and shapes to create an overlay that works well with the cocktail table, in my opinion.

asteroids ct cpo

Now I’m not saying that it’s super fantastic or anything, it just works well and looks better than the original in this case. Quality materials, die-cut button holes, part numbers and copyright info all in place. Another piece for the archive.