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Posts Tagged ‘arcade artwork’

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 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…

Q*bert bootleg artwork added, only took two years!

Friday, July 20th, 2012

One thing I’ve learned in this hobby is that patience really pays off in the long run. Sometimes a new or interesting piece of arcade artwork will pop up for sale on eBay and you just-gotta-have-it! Letting your emotions control your buying decisions can be an expensive proposition, so I like to evaluate the piece and determine the maximum I’ll spend. Then I set my snipe software and walk away. If I win great, if not I’ve learned that there is a good chance a similar item will show up for sale. I’ll wait it out. OF course this technique won’t work with any rare NOS artwork, so don’t let that stuff slip away 🙂

Q*bert cpo

Take this little gem for example. Pretty easy to recognize, it’s Q*bert! At least I think so… The nose isn’t quite right, those feet are too long, the swearing balloon text is all mixed up and the other characters have issues as well. Insert token to continue…

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 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!

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.

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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!

Willis Asteroids UR cpo

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Way back in 1979, Atari released the soon-to-be-a-hit game Asteroids to the coin-operated world. I love its simple yet addictive game play, beautiful side art and huge, easy to use control panel. Big enough to set a drink on if you dared. This popular, money making game took lots of abuse on location. Worn, crappy looking games didn’t make as much money as newer looking ones, so what did operators do? When the artwork has been worn away by scores of eager gamers, it’s time to paint or replace.

Asteroids cpo

Operators were notorious tight wads and didn’t like to spend money on OEM parts, often turning to Willis for their more cost effective products. While not always the best looking, they were better than a worn or ratty original (in the ops eyes at least). So here we have the Willis Asteroids cpo, released in 1981, and measuring in at a whopping 26-1/4″ x 23-1/3″. This thing will completely cover the original metal control panel.

Now with every Willis overlay the production quality is excellent, and this overlay is no exception. 3M backer paper and adhesive, artwork screen printed on lexan, and die cut button holes. This particular example still has the majority of the die cut outs in place. My favorite little Willis men adorn the p1 and p2 buttons, but there isn’t much more to say about this one. Very simplistic, kinda boring, and lacking in color variety. I’ll add it to the archive anyway.

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Willis Enviro-Graphics come home!

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

I make no secret about my love for Willis artwork in all of its cheesy 80’s goodness. It’s not just the artwork, but the history of Willis Industries and what the company did for the arcade game industry that intrigues me, and I’m constantly on the lookout for new information and artwork. I’m not sure if there is a proverbial “grail” piece of Willis artwork, but if anything would come close, it would have to be the Willis Enviro-Graphics package (or WEG’s for short). To learn more about this amazing arcade artwork, check out my original post Willis Enviro-Graphics, or bye bye Wico!.

Willis Enviro-Graphics

If you were an operator back in the day, these large wall hanging graphics were meant to give your arcade a little ambiance, to spruce things up a bit, or just to act as some quality signage for contests. Now when I say large, I mean 30″ x 50″ kinda large, we’re talking 1500 square inches of Willis graphical delight! These were some darn big posters! Insert coin to continue…