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Posted on Mar 28th 2013 at 11:42:31 AM by (singlebanana)
Posted under pinball, Dracula, singlebanana

Coming in at #3 on the countdown is Williams' Bram Stoker's Dracula ("BSD").  BSD is an odd license in that the film really wasn't a blockbuster in the U.S. in 1992, although it had great success worldwide and won 3 Oscars for Make-up, Effects, and Costume Design, and 5 Saturn awards, including Best Film and Actor (Gary Oldman). I've heard several friends complain about how bad the film is, and though it's an odd take on the Dracula mythology, it's not a horrible film. In pinball community, license can mean everything. This is as true today (if not more true) as it was over 20 years ago.  With Sterns most recent release "The Avengers," and their newest announcement "Metallica," to Jersey Jack's new "Wizard of Oz" and recent announcement of "The Hobbit" license for their second pin, new pins tend to sell out via pre-order before any work has been done!

Continue reading Banana's Pinball Top 10 - #3 Bram Stoker's Dracula

Posted on Feb 22nd 2013 at 04:52:06 PM by (singlebanana)
Posted under pinball, The Addams Family, Top 10, singlebanana

Coming it at #4 on my countdown is yet another Pat Lawlor designed pin (Banzai Run #9 and Funhouse #5), the very popular, The Addams Family.  This pin is so popular in fact, that it is the best-selling pinball machine of all time at 20,270 machines produced + 1000 additional units sold and labeled The Addams Family Special Collectors Edition, or what is known by pinball enthusiasts as simply the "gold edition." The gold edition has some additional features including gold armor, a gold lockdown bar, gold cabinet lightning instead of the usual blue, and some additional ROM features, one of which is the Cousin It animations and modes.

Continue reading Banana's Pinball Top 10 - #4 The Addams Family

Posted on Jan 11th 2013 at 02:33:45 PM by (singlebanana)
Posted under pinball, Funhouse, Singlebanana, Top 10

I have admit that when I first played a Williams Funhouse, I was not impressed at all.  I even recall rating the game very low on Pinside.com and attacking it for being overly difficult and crowded in the center.....I was quickly reprimanded by members of course.  Smiley Are these points about Funhouse valid? Well.......yeah, but I think at the time I was more frustrated with the game because I was new to it and well, dammit, it was difficult.  I constantly asked myself, "Why in the hell did people like this machine so much and rate it so high?"  Something about this machine had to be redeeming, right?

Continue reading Banana's Pinball Top 10 - #5 Funhouse

Posted on Dec 19th 2012 at 11:33:25 PM by (singlebanana)
Posted under pinball, singlebanana, Top 10, Monster Bash

At #6 on my Top 10 pinball machine countdown is none other than William's Monster Bash.  Monster Bash is the total package, great gameplay and great theme.  I can actually remember growing up and watching the old black and white Universal Monster movies on late night television, dressing up as Dracula year after year for Halloween (you know, when kids use to dress up as monsters), and who can forget 1987's Monster Squad, which I saw in the theater. 

The classic monster theme is further entwined with, and enhanced by, a rock n' roll theme.  The purpose the game is to collect all of the band members, Dracula, The Creature, Frankenstein's Monster, Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolfman, and The Mummy, by hitting specific shots on the playfield, and putting the band together for one big MONSTER BASH! The Creature joins after repeated shots to the left saucer, Frankenstein's Monster by hitting the left stand up targets under the Monster's table, Bride of Frankenstein by traveling down the left and right ramps, The Wolfman by shooting the right and left loops, The Mummy by hitting the pop bumpers and lighting the right scoop, and Dracula by completing the right stand-up targets and lighting D-R-A-C-U-L-A. Completion/Collection of each character starts that character's mode and lights specific shots on the playfield for additional scoring bonuses; modes can be stacked.

While assembling the band, you can also work to collect each monster's instrument by shooting the ball into the Mosh Pit.  Instruments can also be collected by finishing each associated monster's mode.  Once all six instruments are collected, "Monsters of Rock" mode lights for additional scoring. The "Mosh Multi-ball" feature can also be lit by ripping the center spinner 6 times.

Monster Bash is a fun, loud, and exciting pin.  The call outs are some of the funniest out there and are integrated well with the shots and objectives.  Another of those high priced pins due to it's popularity (in the Top 5 on most pinball enthusiast's lists), Monster Bash is rarely found now on location, but it can't hurt to check out your area: http://pinside.com/pinball/map/where-to-play.  However, if you do run across one out there, be sure to throw in some quarters and enjoy.  Wolfman certainly has nards, and so does this pin!

**Another great pinball tutorial from the folks at PAPA**

Well, I'm halfway through my Top 10, so here is a recap of my picks:

#10 - High Speed
#9 - Banzai Run
#8 - Attack From Mars
#7 - Diner
#6 - Monster Bash

Say tuned......

Posted on Nov 30th 2012 at 12:04:31 PM by (singlebanana)
Posted under pinball, singlebanana, Top 10, Diner

Coming in at #7 on my Top 10 list is Williams' Diner.  In the mid-80's, Williams made some of the most incredible System-11, original concept pinball machines ever created.  I might be biased, since these are the machines I played during my late childhood/young adult years, but I guess every list is biased to some degree.  Diner is a restaurant themed pin where the object of the game is to wait on, some fairly non-PC by today's standards, customers. Customer's call out their dishes (an appetizer & an entree) and they are served by hitting the two banks of drop targets in the center of the machine, which are located in the middle and to the right.  Once you have served all 5 customers, the "Dine Time" jackpot is activated and you must make the release shot and collect the value on the backbox clock, which can be up to 12 million points (increased during the game by continually ripping the left ramp)! 

The backbox area is one of the most innovative and fun features of this game.  The artwork is great and depicts a classic streamline diner.  The customers located on the playfield that you are serving, also appear in the diner windows and actually bounce around as the machine moves.  They are actually plastics on springs that are located behind the backglass and help to give the backbox a sort of 3-D effect.  As previously mentioned, the clock plays a big role in scoring for this game and is also a prominent and fun feature on the backbox.

Another great feature in the game is the cup and saucer shot located at the back of the playfield.  If you are able to spell out D-I-N-E-R by shooting the right ramp multiple times, a timed cup shot activates for the right ramp.  During this time, a ramp diverter moves and instead of your ball traveling around the ramp in it's normal fashion, the ball spins out in the cup for a big score. (**See 2:25 of video)

Multi-ball is another fun and high scoring feature of Diner.  For multi-ball, you must also complete D-I-N-E-R via the right ramp shot to light the LOCK. What is really interesting is that completing D-I-N-E-R gives the player the option to either lock a ball, or shot the cup shot depending on preference; once you active one of the features, the other one disappears. After lighting the LOCK, the left ramp raises and ball must be shot beneath the ramp in order to capture it.  After plunging your second ball, the object is to start multi-ball by making the release shot to the left of the right ramp.  During multi-ball, make the Rush 1 (same as release shot) to light Rush 2 (located at the kickout hole to the right of the right ramp). Making both Rush shots results in a super scoring bonus.

The left ramp can be shot multiple times for cash register bonuses and to light the extra ball.  Many tournament players will continually rip this shot, since it is fairly simple to make and provides decent points and very low-risk shot.

Not only is Diner a fun machine to play, but the artwork and stunning incorporation of the theme really pull it together as a complete package.  Diner is a great machine that after much careful consideration, deserves a spot on this Top 10 List.  It is an older machine, but if you can find one, PLAY. IT......or better yet, BUY. IT.  You won't be disappointed.

"Order Up!" 


Posted on Nov 21st 2012 at 10:04:06 AM by (singlebanana)
Posted under pinball, singlebanana, Top 10, countdown, Attack From Mars

Coming in at #8 on my Top 10 pinball countdown is a highly sought after machine from 1995, Bally's "Attack from Mars."  Attack from Mars (AFM) is a fun, flashy, and brilliantly themed pinball machine, and is in no way related to "Mars Attacks," the film which came out a year later.  Being a fan of the monster films of the 1950's and 60's, AFM is a not only a well-constructed machine, but also one that is comical and keeps you involved in the game.  It's no surprise from the title, but the game centers around Martians attacking the Earth.  As the player, you take on the role of a military agency moving from city to city (France, Germany, Italy, England, and the U.S.) in an attempt to destroy all of the Martians and their saucers and thwart the alien invasion (aka achieve "Total Annihilation").

One of the best features of AFM is that it is a good game for all levels of players.  The main shot in the game is the center drop bank/saucer area.  Continually bashing the drop bank causes it to eventually lower and allows you to shoot at the saucer stand-up targets.  After multiple hits to the saucer targets, the center drop hole is opened and putting a ball through it, captures the ball, and destroys the saucer (a great display animation and a super light and toy feature - *see video below*).  Scoring is also very high in this game and even the poorest score looks very grand to the more novice player.

AFM also has several modes that can be activated by multiple shots to left and right ramps, the left and right loops, and a shot to the scoop when lit.  Another fun feature of AFM is the "achievements" that light up at the bottom of the playfield (near the flippers), as you activate them.  These include: super multi-ball, super jets, 5-way combo, total annihilation, Martian attack multiball, and conquer Mars.  Completing all of these achievements gives you a huge bonus called "Rule the Universe."

One of the most fun modes in the game is the Martian Attack mode.  This is activated by completing the M-A-R-T-I-A-N stand-up targets located all around the playfield.  Once all are lit, a shot to the right scoop actives this mode.  During "Martian Attack," the small, rubber martians located around the playfield begin to bounce up and down.  To make them stop, you must hit the stand-up target in front of them.  Destroying all four of them actives the Martian Attack 2-Ball Multi-ball.

AFM is loads of fun and a machine that will keep you pumping in quarters.  It is a highly prized machine for collectors, and as a result, is not only difficult to find on location, but is very expensive to purchase (I've seen them sell for anywhere between $5,000 - $10,000+, depending on their condition).  If you ever have the chance to play one, do not pass it up.  A sequel to AFM, "Revenge From Mars" was created in 1999, and was one of the last made by Bally/Williams before closing their doors.  It was released as part of the Pinball2000 series and included a monitor over the playfield onto which color animations were projected.

Attack From Mars Tutorial

Posted on Nov 19th 2012 at 10:43:04 AM by (singlebanana)
Posted under pinball, Fathom, restoration, restore, singlebanana

When we last left our hero, he had just purchased a Fathom pinball machine from a local estate auction.  She was really nasty and needed a bit of TLC.  She was not playing 100% and our hero and his friend came to the conclusion that the game was stuck in tilt mode.  The appropriate wires for the tilt were disconnected and she was brought back to life.  Now it's time to make her pretty again.....Here comes Part 2 of Singlebanana's exciting pinball restoration blog!

After getting the old girl in working order, the next step was to do a thorough cleaning of the machine.  I typically start out with a bucket of water and a few soft cloths to rub down the playfield, plastics, cabinet, etc.  (never do this with the machine on). Once it's clean, I tackle tougher areas with a damp Magic Eraser and rub slowly to ensure that I don't work off any of the paint.  As I go through the machine, I make sure to have a pen and paper to write down any parts that I feel the machine may need; if I don't I typically forget some parts when I order.  Typically parts companies use USPS flat rate shipping, so it's best to get it most of your parts at one time.  It sucks to have to pay $5 in shipping on a $2 part.  If you have friends who have machines as I do, give them a call to see if they need any parts while you are ordering.  This way, you can not only help them out and have them call you when they put in an order, but you can also split up the cost of shipping.

After the cleaning the machine, I was fortunate enough to have some white rubbers lying around, so I began disassembling small areas of the machine to replace them.  If you ever have left over parts, or even used parts, it's good to keep them around if they are in decent condition.  I can't tell you the number of times that I have needed some random part and have just happened to had it from a previous restore.  While replacing rings, I also cleaned the colored posts with Novus #1 plastic cleaner.  I was able to replace a majority of the rings, but decided to add a rubber ring kit for this machine to my ordering list.  Rubber rings are typically sold in packs in which sellers have already sorted them by machine title; they have all of the sizes you need for your machine and some sellers will even insert a guide to help you place them in the correct spot.  Rubber rings and balls should be replaced for every machine you buy, unless the seller has just replaced them and they look new/almost new to you.  Rings get stretched out and loose their "bounce" over time and balls can pit and cause damage to your playfield.

While putting on new rubbers, I also took off the playfield plastics and used a standard plastic cleaner on them (Novus #1).  They ended up looking really good, but one of them was cracked around a screw (from an apparent over-tightening...NEVER overtighten anything, especially around plastics, they need a little give) and they were yellowed in the clear areas from age.  I made the decision to buy a new set, but considering I bought the machine for a lower price than I expected, I had planned for new plastics, just in case, and since the new set came with a sweet topper, I decided to order them.  I'm also a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to the machines I am going to keep. Tongue

Initial Parts Order:

New plastics
Rubber ring kit
Leg leveler - 3" long nylon base - these are the feet which attach to the legs of the machine.  Typically, these look bad and rust out very easily.  These are cheap and essential in keeping your machine level.  They make special slider feet if you are putting a machine on hardwoods.   
Nuts 3/8-16 hex 5/8" flat to flat - usually not included with the feet and must be ordered separately, this nut keeps the feet in place.
Bally Coin Door sticker - just a cool sticker on the coin door, mine had faded severely
FATHOM (Bally) Drop target set (15) - drop targets discolored from fading, some of the center targets had been replaced at one time and were not correct for this machine
Springs - for each drop target, like rubbers, they get stretched out over time and need replacing
Flipper & shaft - current white flippers discolored and dingy looking, cheap to replace.   
Coil sleeves - these go inside the solenoid which fires the flippers.  The end of them mushroom over time and can affect the power of your flippers, very cheap and should be replaced for older machines 
Bushings (flipper) - the plastic that goes through the playfield and houses the flipper shaft, another cheap replacement, since they wear and gunk up, improves flipper performance    
Spring (barrel ball shooter) - mine has rusted out, but was working fine, another cheap cosmetic fix
Cabinet protectors 4 piece set (YELLOW) - these plastics protect your cabinet where the legs and cab meet and keep the metal from digging into the wood, plus they look cool. 

The rubber rings and plastics came in on Friday (had to order parts from two places), so I was able to replace all of these on the machine this weekend.  Also waxed the playfield (with pinball specific wax, Mill Wax) after a through cleaning and used chrome polish on pertinent parts.  I also had some blue LED lights that were incorrectly sent to me from another order (again, glad I kept them) and I installed these in the pop bumpers.  Not the clearest pics, but hopefully you can tell the improvement from before and after.

My other weekend project consisted of sanding and adding some fresh paint to the legs.  I picked up a coarse sanding bar and some black Rust-o-leum textured spray paint at Lowes.   Luckily, this machines original legs were black, since chrome is a tough repaint and rarely comes out well, new legs are pretty expensive.  They turned out well and I ended up putting some new leg bolts with black heads on order, since the current ones are a little rusted out.  It's tough to repaint bolts, because the paint tends to rub off when you tighten them.

When purchasing the spray paint, I also picked up some new 6-1/2" screws and 6-32 hex nuts.  These are very cheap items and do wonders in making your machine look great.  Some of the old screws were rusty and this cheap fix really stands out.  The hex nuts replaced the white rubbers which secured the plastics down; the chromes gives it a great look and a much more stable device to hold down the plastics.  You can see some of the new hex nuts, screws, and rubbers in this photo:

So far everything is coming along nicely.  I'm really not looking forward to replacing those drop targets, which will be tedious, time consuming, and put the machine out of play for a week or more, but I know that I will be very pleased with the results.  However, until the new parts get here, it appears that someone else in my house is really enjoying banging away at our new toy....


Posted on Nov 8th 2012 at 11:06:56 PM by (singlebanana)
Posted under pinball, singlebanana, list, top 10

As many of you on the site know, along with collecting classic video games and systems, I have a big interest in playing and working on pinball machines.  I bought my first machine on August 6, 2011, an electromechanical pin called Spanish Eyes (1972) and I've owned a total of 9 machines since.  Many of them I have fixed up, played for several months, and sold.  I recently picked up one of my favorite machines, Bram Stoker's Dracula (1993) and am currently restoring a favorite from my childhood, Taxi (1988), a machine I picked up in February earlier this year.  In April of next year, I will be driving up to Pittsburgh to attend, maybe play in, Pinburgh 2013. http://papa.org/pinburgh2013/

Anyway, while my Vectrex Interview Series #3 is in the works, I thought I might do a Top 10 list of my favorite pinball machines for those who might be interested.  I'm a member of Pinside.com, a great source for pinball collectors and enthusiasts, and through their rating system, I have been able to keep track of the pins that I have played (currently 112!)  Though I've rated the machines on this site, the categories for ranking don't necessarily reflect my favorite machines.  Though I recognize the flaws in some of my favorite machines, they are often not such that it takes away from my enjoyment of them.  Sure, the artwork might not be the greatest on some, but the features, the experience, or even the nostalgia may outweigh what others might see as imperfections.

Coming in at #10 is a machine I played quite a lot growing up, High Speed.  High Speed is an early alphanumeric solid state machine that was made by Williams in 1986.  The game was designed to simulate a high speed chase from the cops in which the ultimate objective is to escape their pursuit.  The game's designer, Steve Ritchie claims that the concept of the game is based on the true story in which he was once chased by the police in his 1979 Porsche 928 and charged with reckless driving.  What I really appreciate about High Speed is how the concept is well integrated into the design of the machine.  Ramps and loops are designated as freeways and when you plunge the ball, you hear the sound of an engine reving and a car peeling off.  The machine even has a red light topper that flashes during the pursuit and police call outs simulating a call into the station and instructing you to pull over.  High Speed also has a side ramp, which presents a greater challenge, since it can only be reached using the 3rd flipper located in the upper right playfield.

What makes High Speed especially attractive is the history of the machine.  It wasn't the first machine to have sound (Gorgar - 1979), but it was the first to have an original musical score.  High Speed was the first Williams pinball game to use alpha-numeric displays and was the first game that allowed players to enter their initials for a high score, which was very revolutionary since it gave players an incentive to pump in more quarters.  Over 17,080 units were produced, so it's a fairly common title to find; however, due to its popularity and age, they are typically in pretty poor condition.  High Speed was basically remade in 1992 as The Getaway: High Speed II and had the same basic playfield layout, but included a metal Supercharger centrifuge ramp to left center, an animated dot-matrix display, and ZZ Top's "La Grange" as the score.

**Gameplay and Tutorial (be sure to watch in full screen**

Posted on Aug 22nd 2012 at 11:05:56 PM by (singlebanana)
Posted under game room, update, singlebanana

Just wanted to post a few new pics of the game room.  I think it's coming along well.  Not going to post all my pics on this blog, but am providing a link for the curious: http://s1029.photobucket....necrom99/Game%20Room%202/

You've come a long way baby.....


Long view, with back wall and controller peg board (no Crabby, I haven't painted it black yet.....):

Console shelf, well it was wire-free for presentation, but I decided to hook up 10 systems to my TV and make it more function (hence wires).  The Coleco is hooked up to the small Space Saver TV on the shelf.  I have 14 systems in my house ready to go at any given moment.  You will notice that since last time I added an upper shelf to give myself more room as I was running out of space.

no lie....

Work station table where I clean games and play 2600 and Vectrex.  That orange thingy is a pretty cool 8-track player I found at a thrift shop.  Maybe a few of you actually know what that is:

Drawers for handheld systems and games.  These are opaque, but with the flash you can see through them a bit:

Probably my coolest local find:


Some of my 2600 collection:

My favorite collection VECTREX!!!!

Fami collection.  Yes, I do labels on the ends of the carts....what of it?

Other random room stuff:

And last but not least.  The best apology letter I have ever received from a seller in Japan.  I ended up getting two games for free from this standup gent.  It also came with some cantalope Halloween candy which of course I saved. Whaaaaaaa???

Posted on Jun 1st 2011 at 03:17:19 AM by (singlebanana)
Posted under game room, update, singlebanana

In anticipation of a new addition to our family, I've been working non-stop to get my new house in order.  Among these projects is my upstairs game room, which I've posted a few pictures of when I first moved in.  Well, after a lot of hard work, I've gotten most of my collection organized, except for determining what to do with displaying all of my controllers and housing my hookups so that I can locate them easily.  Please feel free to comment on the pics and as always, any advice is greatly appreciated.

Continue reading UnoNanerCade Update #2

Posted on May 19th 2011 at 04:48:14 AM by (singlebanana)
Posted under game room, singlebanana, under construction, home, console gaming

I want to begin by apologizing for my lack of production on the blogs recently, but some current life changes (i.e. moving into a new house, a family plagued with upper respiratory infections, and the preparation for a new baby) have forced my hand into worlds of both joy and displeasure.  However, on a more fortunate note, the new house came with a gigantic playroom on the 3rd floor (a converted, fully-finished attic) for the kiddos and a nice separate "office".....errrrr, game room for yours truly.  So in the midst of all the moving hubbub, I have decided to chronical the progress of my game room from start to finish.  The purpose of this blog is to communicate with other gamers about ideas for my room to help me decide what the overall finished product will be.  Hopefully, with all of the experience on this site, I will determine what changes might benefit my room and ultimately what things other people have tried that didn't work, which I can avoid.  I hope this portion of my blog is a slight bit entertaining and please....please give any feedback you feel is necessary.   

To start off, I'm just going to provide pictures of different parts of the room and give you my ideas as to what I think may happen over time.  Any suggestions/warnings are greatly appreciated.

Continue reading UnoNanerCade 2011

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