Midwest Pinball

Welcome to the Midwest Pinball Blog

Pinball Vacation? Map Your Favorite Games

 

What’s your next vacation? How about traveling across country, playing your favorite pinball games? Pinball Map is just that, a map that guides enthusiasts to many of the best pinball locations across North America.

The creators, Scott Wainstock and Ryan Taylor-Gratzer, launched a searchable map in 2007. The original database conatined games and locations for the Portland, Oregon area. Now with 10 years of experience and mobile apps for both Android and iOS, Pinball Map has expanded. The online map boasts 90 regional maps that covers the continental U.S., Hawaii and a handful of regions across Canada. Users can search over 13,000 machines by location, type, city and specific pinball machine.

Interestingly, Pinball Map is a crowdsourced pinball locator, meaning that the users keep it up-to-date and help it grow. “Each regional map is curated by a local administrator, often with the support of a league,” states PinballMap.com. Users help to keep the map up to date by adding machines, removing machines and submitting new locations.

Since accurate and timely user input makes for a better map, Pinball Map has partnered with Stern Pinball to reward top contributors. The top 3 contributors receive signed translites from Stern Pinball.

You can check out the Pinball Map at  https://pinballmap.com/

Happy [pinball] trails!


Pinball Enthusiasm Spans Generations

In this blog, we look at 99-year-old pinball game designer, Wayne Neyens and the now 14-year-old world pinball champion of 2017, Escher Lefkoff. Both are proof of pinball’s wide-reaching appeal and longevity.

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Wayne Neyens

On July 29, 2017, long-time pinball designer and innovator, Wayne Neyens celebrated his 99th birthday. Neyens was born in Iowa in 1918 and began his path into pinball through a high school job at Western Equipment & Supply. Western, a coin-op company, came to the high school to hire a draftsman. Fortunately for pinball lovers, the company chose Neyens and then hired him after graduation. Neyens left his job at Western in 1939 to work at Gottlieb as a tester and began designing pinball games at Gottlieb. He became Gottlieb’s principle designer in 1951, only 2 years after designing his first game in 1949.


Neyens became an innovator for pinball. He was responsible for inventing:

 

  • The first 4-player pinball machine
  • The first 2-player pinball machine, Duette (much more successful than the 4-player games)
  • Trap holes
    Literally a hole that traps or keeps the ball in it for the remainder of the game. The trapped ball gives points and then is often also used used to reach other scoring holes.
  • Gobble holes
    A playfield hole through which the ball falls out of play. Usually getting the ball into the gobble hole scores a special or high points.
  • Roto targets
    Playfield targets that spin to reveal new targets facing the player. Can be either Disc Roto Targets or Carousel Roto Targets.
  • Add-A-Ball games
    Only a machine that allows the player to earn more than one extra ball per ball in play is considered a “true” Add-A-Ball game. This feature was added to reward players in areas where replays and free games were considered illegal as a form of gambling reward.

 

Neyens retired from Gottlieb in June 1980. His skillful innovations and pinball machines still challenge and entertain pinball lovers everywhere.

 

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Escher Lefkoff

On April 9, 2017 Escher Lefkoff won the A division of the PAPA 20 World Pinball Championships at the ripe old age of 13. That made Escher the youngest-ever world’s best pinball player.

 

How did this young teen win the championship? Family, practice, motivation focus and skill. Escher grew up and still lives with his family, including his father who is a nationally rated pinball player.  Escher’s father has been taking him to PAPA since Escher was 7. The family also owns 30 pinball machines that Escher has been practicing on for years. Escher had already won Junior Division titles at PAPA in 2011 and 2013 and a world-class ranking with the International Flipper Pinball Association (IFPA) before PAPA 20.  

 

His dad motivated Escher to win by use of a something they call the Ice Cream Challenge. If Escher would reach a pinball goal, his dad would buy him an ice cream cone. As extra inspiration to Escher, his father promised that a win at PAPA would earn Escher his very own ice cream truck…great motivation for an ice cream-loving teen! To help him focus, Escher wears noise-canceling headphones.

 

Finally, Escher is gifted with great pinball skill. Escher’s father was reported as saying that “Escher is phenomenal at doing something that’s one of the hardest things to do in pinball, which is called schatzing the in-lane,” The Denver Post reported. Neil Shatz is a grand master pinball player who “mastered the use of the alley pass – a dangerous move where you hit the ball at the absolute last second to send it up the opposite in-lane.  It soon became known (and feared) in tournament circles as “Shatz’ing the inlane,” PINBALLNEWS.com reported. Ironically, Escher beat the former youngest-ever world pinball champion (now 41), Bowen Kerins, in the final game at PAPA.

 

Escher turned 14 on May 3, and plans to attend Universal High School, a gifted program, this fall.


July 2017 – New Pinball Games for July

Midwest Pinball has acquired a number of games recently.  Over the next few weeks, we will be adding these games to the website as they are completed. If there is a game you are interested in, please contact us so we can move it up on the schedule.

Newest Pinball Games for Sale:

  • Gottlieb’s Flipper Pool – This game is a little rough on the exterior
  • Gottlieb’s Ice Show
  • Gottlieb’s Mars, God of War
  • 1985 Gottlieb’s Chicago Cubs Triple Play
  • 1995 Gottlieb’s Shaq Attaq
  • 1985 Williams’ Sorcerer – This is a great looking game that is a lot of fun to play. Sorcerer features three flippers, a sweeping row of standup targets, and a bank of three drop targets. The playfield is both dark and colorful.

In addition, we have recently added the following games to our website:

  • 1970 Williams’ Bonanza Gun Game
  • 2007 Stern’s Spiderman Black Limited Edition

Please call (312) 925-1386 if you have any questions, or would like to schedule a visit.


June 2017 – Playfield Repairs

Midwest Pinball offers a wide range of pinball restoration services, including extensive repairs to pinball playfields and cabinets. We provide full restorations to playfields including sanding down planked areas, repainting missing paint, and applying a hard clear-coat.

We recently performed extensive repairs to a Bally’s Harlem Globetrotters playfield. Harlem Globetrotters On Tour from the late 70’s is one of Bally’s licensed-theme games that they started in doing in the mid-70’s. These games garnered a lot of attention and ran very high production runs – 14,550 in the case of Harlem Globetrotters. (Bally’s KISS had the highest production for 1979 at 17,000!)  In the late 70’s, the big three pinball manufacturers (Bally, Gottlieb, Williams) were each introducing a new title nearly every month. As a result, over 225,000 pinball machines were produced in 1979 alone.

We picked this game up from the client’s house and proposed repairing the game and restoring the playfield. As you can see in the photos below, there was significant damage around the inserts and across the center of the playfield. There was also severe planking along the left and right sides of the middle playfield.

Before:

After:     

We repaired the damage to the playfield, repainted large sections, and clear-coated the entire playfield with an automotive clear coat to seal the surface and keep the new paint from wearing off.

If your game need work, a lot or just a little, please call us. We provide estimates up front with a menu of services from which to pick. Minor repairs or LED conversions can be done onsite.

Please call Rich at (312) 925-1386 if you have any questions, or would like to schedule a visit.


April 2017 – Chicagoland Coin-Op Show Recap

This year’s Chicagoland Antique Advertising, Slot-Machine and Jukebox Show (a.k.a. the Chicagoland Coin-Op Show) was well attended. There was a fantastic turnout, especially since the Midwest Gaming Classic was held this year on the very same weekend in Milwaukee, WI. The Coin-Op Show boasted over 315 booths, replete with interesting jukeboxes, slot machines, gumball and popcorn machines, beer signs, mechanical scales, and…of course…pinball machines.
Midwest Pinball was one of only two companies selling pinball machines at the show. Our booth featured Gottlieb’s Big Indian, Gottlieb’s Sheriff and Stern’s Spider-Man. We sold both Big Indian and Sheriff on Saturday. Rich was happily able to talk face-to-face with a lot of our current and potential customers and answer any questions related to pinball and service. He enjoyed seeing familiar faces, so thanks for coming by our booth!
If you didn’t have a chance to stop by the show, we still have fun pinball machines available for sale including: Stern’s Spider-Man, Sega’s Harley Davidson, Data East’s Star Trek, Bally’s Captain Fantastic and Gottlieb’s Flipper Clown. You can check out our current inventory on our website here:

Pinball Machines for Sale

 

The next Chicagoland Coin-Op Show is November 10-12th. Information about dates and times can be found on the Chicagoland Antique Advertising, Slot-Machine and Jukebox Show’s website at

http://www.chicagolandshow.com

Check our future blogs for more details.

Also, please don’t hesitate to give Rich a call if you have any questions, or would like to schedule a visit. Midwest Pinball is grateful for all of the pinball enthusiasts out there who support our business and keep the game alive. Thank you!