Day 2: Pinball Hall of Fame

Just down the street from the Liberace Museum is the Pinball Hall of Fame. We spent a few hours here our first day of vacation and then returned for a second visit later in the week. If you decide to go, plan on going during the day because it gets a little busy in the evenings.

The Pinball Hall of Fame is an attempt by the members of the Las Vegas Pinball Collectors Club to display the world’s largest pinball collection, and the best part is that all the games are playable (woo hoo!). It’s a non-profit museum AND an old-fashioned arcade with most games running between 25 to 75 cents with a few $1 games sprinkled here and there.

Pinball Hall of Fame - Vegas

Many of the older machines have hand-written notes with information on each game, but most now have codes for mobile tagging with additional information and photos.

Between the two visits, I took about 400 photos. I’ll be slowly adding them to Flickr as I have time, but here are a few I found interesting.

Stage Door Canteen Pinball

Gottlieb’s Stage Door Canteen made in November 1945. This was the first game Gottlieb made after WW2 (they spent the war making parachute harnesses and ammunition casings). There aren’t any flippers on this machine as it’s a few years too early for them.

Target Roll

Bally’s Target Roll made in February 1959. Target Roll was actually a slot machine disguised as a regular game machine. This was something Bally did a lot of after the Johnson Act was passed in 1952 that outlawed shipping slot machines across state lines. While it doesn’t look like it – this machine is is actually an electronic craps table. The scoring mechanism were there to make it look like a regular game was going on, but they really didn’t represent anything that was happening in the game. It even had a knocker that would alert the bartender to pay every time there was a winner.

This specific slot machine was found laying on it’s side in a pool of water with most of the wood trim eaten away by termites. Over 100 hours of labor went into restoring it.  That’s some serious love there.

Flying Turns 02

Midway’s Flying Turns made in July 1963. Mini toy cars are dragged around the race track by magnets, with movement based on pinball play.

Flying Turns 01

Flying Turns was more fun than I expected.

Space Pilot

Williams’ Space Pilot made in November 1968. A remake of an earlier copter machine. Not in working order yet, but one of the parts had just arrived the day before we got there.

Phoenix 01

Other than being made in the late 70’s by Williams Electronics, there wasn’t any information about this machine.

Phoenix 02

It wasn’t working and it looked like they were still restoring it, but I grabbed a picture because I got a kick out of the artwork.

Pinball Wizard

Pinball Wizard - Capt. Fantastic

Two Pinball Wizard games… how appropriate.

Pinball the pinball game

Stern’s Pinball made in September 1977. It’s a pinball machine about pinball that’s on display in a pinball museum… obviously it doesn’t take much to amuse me.

Count-Down Pinball 01

Gottlieb’s Count-Down made in April 1979. Last game with boop boop sound board (not sure what that means).

Count-Down Pinball 02

This machine also won Best of Show at the 1994 Phoenix Pinball Show. They were obviously proud of it.

Pinball Circus

Williams’ Pinball Circus made in 1993. This was one of two test machines built in an effort to break away from “table” style machines. After spending 1.5 million to develop the game, distributors said they wouldn’t pay an extra $1000 per machine for game that pulled in the same amount of play as the cheaper Indiana Jones and Star Trek games. The two machines were given to high level executives of Williams, but thanks to Larry Demar and Steve Kordek, the game now resides at the Pinball Hall of Fame where it’s playable (yes, I gave it a try).

All of my information came from either their website or the notes posted everywhere.  Most were informative, but there were occasionally funny comments.  A note attached to a Harley-Davidson pin ball machine read:

“Look Fonzie – A big noisy smelly motorcycle will NOT get you laid! What chicks really want are stooped over, grumpy pinball mechanics who can’t spell! So get a Buck Brothers 4 way screw driver, a Weller soldering iron and a sexy L.E.D. head lamp! Hang around a bar with a giant ring of keys and act pissed off! Women love this act!”

The Pinball Hall of Fame is on our list to visit again next year.  We may still lose some money, but we’ll get a lot more out of it.

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