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…
Posts Tagged ‘arcade game artwork’
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?
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 🙂
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…
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
I recently got a peek at Brian’s amazing, scratch built Zoo Keeper arcade cabinet, and it got me thinking about this under rated classic arcade game by Taito. Released back in 1982, it combines simple yet challenging game play, with full cabinet artwork. A welcome break from Taito’s typical cabinet scheme. Somewhere in my artwork stash, I knew I had one of these.
This particular Willis replacement overlay does a good job at trying to keep the original feel of the game. With bright colors, fun character’s from the game, and the brick motif, it could actually be used as it was intended – to replace your worn out original overlay. NOS overlays are tough to find and reproduction cpo’s have long been sold out, so this replacement might be your only choice. Insert coin to continue…
Is not so super. Don’t get me wrong, it gets the job done, but what happened to the caped Pac-Man, and the angry blue ghost? The color has changed from a blue background with yellow insert to a yellow background with blue. The Willis version is also missing the stripes from the original cpo that matched up with the bezel, this breaks up the continuity. Add in that color variation and the overlay just seems “off”. You might also notice the slightly darker boxes around the text and the player select character, perhaps because the artwork was attached to the film and not integral. A kind of screen print cut and paste. A little more effort could have gone into the artwork on this one, especially for a Pac-Man game.
Now of course 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 joystick and button holes. The control panel overlay is labeled part number 2001 and was produced by Willis in 1983, which makes it one of their later production pieces. Insert coin to continue…
Found a folder labeled “Moon Patrol” in this big stash of operator paperwork, but upon closer inspection it contained some cool color instruction cards for Moon Ranger, a bootleg of Moon Patrol.
According to KLOV the game sounds identical to moon patrol in every way, they even stole graphics from the Williams game for the instruction card. Bootleg games were a big problem for manufacturers back in the 80’s when arcades were booming. Why pay top dollar for a Moon Patrol when you could get a cheaper conversion kit for Moon Ranger? I also found this sticker inside the folder, just another instruction card with some hints of Engrish, perhaps for a cocktail table version of the game. Pretty fun stuff.