Monday, February 10, 2014

Introducing... Top Score!

There is much to be said about how amazing the local pinball community is.   There is so much positivity amongst a disparate group of people who really just want to share their joy of pinball with others whom reciprocate it in the same way.
I have had people bend over backwards to help me get to where I am in this past year.  Oh wait, has it been just a year?  YES.
It has been about a year since I have owned a pinball machine, and I've been through MANY!   Royal Flush, Break Shot, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Street Fighter 2, The Flintstones, and now... Top Score!

Back to the benevolence:  A somewhat-local guy I had been talking to had decided to sell his Top Score, and before he posted it offered me toborrow it for a month or two!   I jumped at the opportunity.  And while there were some major logistical details via him being an hour away and my schedule with a toddler being tight, we finally made it happen and Top Score is here.  So let's get in to it!

First, let me reiterate my love for 1970s Gottlieb EMs.  Are all EMs this easy to move in to my place?
A few quick cables pop off and the head comes off.
Take the lockdown bar and glass off.
A few more cables and the playfield slides out easy peasy.
All separated, it was a cinch to get down my stairs.  Normally, with the glass on and playfield still in there, I am of no use in the task of getting a machine downstairs.  Yes, that is even with the head off.  I need outside help.  But with the Gottliebs and their playfields out, I can assist!  It is oh so much easier than EVERYTHING ELSE.


So let's take a look at the rules of Top Score.  First thing to say is it has a LOT going on and that is something I am really searching for in EMs.  I have a dream of always having an EM in the lineup, and want to find the most satisfying of them.

Top Score has a "backbox animation" where balls are kicked up.  These are your bonus, each one is worth 1000.  Drain, and they are counted down by a kicker, 1000 points each.  Tilt, you lose that bonus.
But fill it with all 10 balls?  You can't build a higher bonus.  There is a saucer on the playfield to hit that counts them out mid-ball, so if you want to roll the score on this machine, you will need to use that shot strategically.

 the bottom left is the bonus count animation

So here is the playfield:

Main shot is the oh-so satisfying spinner:  10 points/spin, 5 awards 500 points + a bonus.
2nd coolest feature is the upper left mystery hole, awarding 1-3 bonuses.  Random awards are pretty rare on EMs, it seems.
Right bagatelle-inspired lanes always have the opposite lights lit, and are toggled via each spinner spin.
Rollover on the left opens the bottom right gate.
Bottom left stand-up is always lit for a bonus, as is upper right stand-up, and 2 top-lane rollovers.
Then there are features which activate starting on certain balls.
Ball 3, 4, 5:  right bottom and right middle standups award a bonus
Ball 4+5:  inlanes score a bonus
Ball 5:  left rollover scores a bonuns.
the bottom right outlane is bumpered, which makes it a very tactile game.  I very much like that inclusion.

Despite it being a loaner, I just couldn't resist the urge to work on it!  I love the process of methodically sorting out the issues and seeing if I can help them.

First up, a quick cleaning with a magic eraser, 99% alcohol, novus 2, and novus 1.

Then the big issue was that the left flipper would stay up after some shots.
Took the flipper apart, filed down the mushrooming on the rod and the coil stop, as well cleaned the sleeves.
 Problem solved!

Left outlane was only intermittently awarding bonus.  I took a look at the switch and found gunk on the contacts.  I filed them down and regapped the switch and now it rewards reliably.

Many of the light sockets are a touch loose and have oxidization/corrosion on the bottom.  I might need to replace a few.  I replaced a number of bulbs, but many are just dim and only get bright when in a perfect position.

Other things:
Like most EMs, speed is a factor.  I jacked up the risers to the highest angle I could.  And 3 coats of wax sure helped!
There was a railing depressed on the left outlane.  I pulled it up with needle nosed pliers, but with enough hits it will most likely recede again.  I should fill it in at some point to secure it in place.
On ball 5 the left rollover should light for a bonus.  It is not lit nor awarding bonus, making me question if that relay needs adjustment.  I will look at that another time.

So I think that is all there is to do with the machine.  It plays super well  now.

Let's take some time to check  this amazing rebuild and repainted cabinet:

the only real issue with this game is how pooched the backglass is.
the back folds out in a very cool manner, but it also exposes the state of the back artwork:

Oh and here is a quick look inside the cabinet.  Everything was in order there, except for a quick removal of duct tape from the tilt bob.  ;)

yes yes yes, I took it out.  I adjusted it to be less sensitive, but did verified the tilt worked and didn't fry the game or anything quirky like that.

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