Monday, June 7, 2021

Five Star Final Jr glow-up and score card

Another machine I bought from Curiosity Inc, here is how it looked on their counter: 


At the beginning of the pandemic I lent the machine to my friend Steve so he could have something to work on during the downtime, and this is how it looks now:



One issue was that the original plunger knob was cracked and bust.  I eventually did find the pieces of it, so I might be able to fuse it all back together one day.

cracked original shooter knob


And hey, anyone want a score card for Five Star Final Jr?   My friend's brother Nick produced this:


You can download a PDF ready for printing: http://thetastates.com/pinball/FiveStarFinalJrScoringCard.pdf


Here is the original score card that came with it.  We still have it, but they wanted to try and make it cleaner

still pretty great condition


Wednesday, May 19, 2021

smartball in a music video: Tokiyo - Maboroshi

 check this new video by Tokiyo, "Maboroshi":


one of the featured locations seems to be スマートボールニュースター (Smartball New Star) in Osaka!

From the video:




since the machines are numbered it's easy to place her in the location

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Mini-Match: parts collected

 It's all coming together!

Plungers, fabricated:

left is the original one.  Right is a rough prototype.  Middle 3 are the wonderful new ones!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

new pachinko adventures

Hey it's time for pachinko!

After much deliberation amongst the transitional electric pachinko machines of the 1970s, I finally realized Thunderbird was my ideal machine.  First, once we get into the 1980s electric shooters start becoming the industry standard, and I just don't care for electric shooters.
These electric machines have a wide variety of features available, but the Thunderbird is the one for me.  Why?   Because of the drama the rules create.
A ball in the top left or top right pocket causes the tulip to open and the tulips beneath it (on that side) to also open.  In the center feature, a ball to the left or right causes the left or right side playfield tulips to open too, and a ball right in the center opens all of the 8 left and right tulips, plus the center pink one.
But the catch is that the Queen tulips (the yellow ones) will CLOSE all of the left or right tulips when you get it!  It's devious.
So if you get a ball into the center feature and into the center tube, you get your payout and all 9 tulips open.  But if your next shot goes into a queen, and then next goes into another queen, suddenly those 8 tulips are now closed!  The pink center tulip will still be open, but that means you got the BEST jackpot, and only got paid out for 4 jackpots.  (initial payout, 2 queen payouts, center pink tulip payout)
Conceivably if you hit that center you could then hit the 9 open tulips, given you 10 jackpot payouts for your effort, but you'll need a lot of aim and luck to make that happen.



This has the same features as the "Chinaman" machine, but I don't feel comfortable with the sort of Japanese cultural stereotype of a China person.  (When I was young and watched TV I saw a few subtitled pulpy movies from a few different Asian countries and noticed how in some of the movies they would sometimes have rather mean stereotypes of their neighbours.)

this machine needed a power supply

and some parts needed a rather deep clean

And in addition to that, I also got a pre-masamura gauge machine!!!   When the masamura gauge was introduced around 1951 it was extremely popular and then dominated pachinko for 50 years, until LCDs took over and changed playfield pin arrangements forever.

I'm told this grid arrangement is called "Bara-Kugi" (バラ釘) gauge.  There are a number of examples of this to see at Mr. Sugiyama's pachinko museum.


This machine has been heavily restored.  After sand-blasting the shooter controls look basically new.  While I normally would like something looking original, I really wanted to get something like this because I can actually use it to teach pachinko history and won't feel bad about letting people try it out.

I am told it was made by "Saida", and is from 1946.  I'm hoping to get copies of photos of the 'before' state.  Sadly there is no manufacturer plate on the front, which would have been normal at the time.  "Saida Shokai" was an early pachinko manufacturer though, and I really hope to get more information on this eventually.

EDIT: Saida Shokai apparently existed from around 1932 until 1951.  They are said to be the first to use the term 'pachinko'

The signs on the pockets are obviously replacements, and one is even upside down!  They are Small and Big wins, Small paying 3 balls, and Big paying 8.  You also get your ball back.

These machines still have a mechanical similarity to the allwins they evolved out of 20 years earlier.


the mechanism is a hybrid mash of welds and fixes, BUT IT WORKS.  So it's not some lovely antique original, but it is a functional and playable game for the ol' history booth.


When you enter a ball to play in a normal pachinko machine, of the 50s and 60s, that ball rolls down for you to shoot it.  In these earlier machines, entering a ball causes a ball to be released back into play.  After you shoot that ball, the exact same ball is then released when you put in the next ball.  You are ALWAYS shooting with the same ball.  The balls you enter go into the top chute, ready to be paid out/.

These machines would require a lot more attention from an operator.  The Big wins, 8 balls, is not loaded by the machine.  Likewise, the Small win ball channel could get backed up easily if the player doesn't win any payouts.  There is no overflow for the incoming balls.

You can see a very similar example of a game like this in Mr. Sugiyama's pachinko museum.  That was has a plain background as well (makes mine seem less jarring to know some were like that,) but Sugiyama's has an extra row of 5 pockets in the center which my model does not have.

Memory Machine podcast

Here are some episodes of the Memory Machine podcast that might be of interest, including an interview with me.

The Memory Machine #56 – Coin-Op Carnival (w/ Ryan Claytor and Nick Baldridge)

The Memory Machine #55 – So You Bought a Pinball Machine? (w/ Caitlyn Pascal)

The Memory Machine #52 – The Era of the Penny Arcade w/ Ethan Johnson

Monday, April 26, 2021

Mini-Match!!


New project!!!!  Say hello to the Mini-Match, a nifty little American  no, British no, German machine by... Kadeco?  Jamiesons?  NSM?  Let's take a quick step back, and then see what is needed.

Friday, April 16, 2021

working on Kick Off

Here are some notes for my Kick Off saga.  I hadn't had time to get it to 100%, and there were a handful of things bugging me.  This all happened earlier this year, but better late than never.  More pics and schematics under the cut, below.


First thing was that the upper lines alternate 1+3 lights and 2+4 lights for rollover bonus.  They scored fine, but the lights weren't coming on for one position.  Where to look?  Check the schematics below