Lou Reed and Pinball

One night during league night, Sam told me about a cool Lou Reed song describing going to the arcade and playing games.  I hadn’t heard the song, so Sam pulled out his phone and played me a little of the song.  I like Lou Reed and to know he liked arcades made me like him even more.

Today, I saw the following which was posted about Lou Reed by his friend Bert Hollman of the Allman Brothers Band.  I have excerpted the part describing how much Lou liked to play pinball.


Lou and I bonded on tour late night playing pinball in hotel children’s game rooms to the point that I carried $50 in quarters where ever we went. I was mandated to book hotels that had pinball machines. He was a master of the slanted table and each players turn could take 10 or 15 minutes while the other remained a spectator and we chatted about life.


Safe Cracker- SC


Safe Cracker is the gem in my collection. It may not always be the most loved or most played but it is a special game that often gets overlooked by its bigger neighbors.

Safe Cracker was manufactured in 1996 and was designed by Pat Lawlor, designer of some of the most iconic games in modern pinball history. The game is a “token pin” and upon completion of certain game goals would dispense a token that could then be played for a special wizard mode called Assault the Vault.  Apparently there was a concern that the game would be used as a gambling device so apparently 800 of the roughly 1000 made were sent overseas. This would leave only 200 domestic examples making it easily the rarest example of a pinball that I have owned.

The object of SC is to play the pinball portion of the game and then break into the bank to play the board game which gives the player an opportunity to win a token. The pinball part of the game awards the player with items that will help the players journey around the board game. The play is timed so the number of balls is not set to 3-5 but will be determined by how long balls stay in play. A player could play an entire game on one ball or as many as was used while the clock still had time on it. This makes it for a bit of a tricky multiplayer game for the uninitiated but once people become more familiar with the ruleset it becomes a favorite in my lineup.

I first played SC at a local collectors house when I first got in the hobby. It was just such an unusual looking game that I was drawn to it. It wasn’t until 2007 when I attended the Pinball Expo in Chicago that I really got a chance to spend some time on the table. I participated in the team tournament and SC was one of the usable tables. It ended up being my go to game as I won every round it was featured. The game is quirky enough though that is was are undoing as a team member was unaware as to how the rules worked once in the board game and they chose to risk it to further advance in the board game than taking their loot and starting a multi-ball which would have easily won us the round and pushed us into the finals only to be beat by a couple of points. Ugh. And there it was, the next game that I had to have.

My hunt didn’t take long and I was able to find a decent table, well so I thought.

My game was in decent shape but had the common SC issues: bowed playfield, kickout wear and cracked ramps. At the time this didn’t mean much to me but after playing the game enough to get the feel for it the bowed playfield drove me nuts. There was also the slightest bit of wear at the vault.

One drag about SC is that the low production numbers made reproduction parts less viable for vendors so few parts were available. I was fortunate to pick up a spare playfield that I was able to get restored and cleared by arguably the best pinball restorer out there, Chris Hutchins. The intent was to do a playfield swap but with the lack of additional parts it sat on my wall for a while. Once ramps were made available I had to dive in and last year I swapped in the new playfield.  Another reason to finally jump in was the development of under playfield supports that stiffen up the playfield taking out the common bow.


The playfield swap was a bear but the game turned out beautifully and plays fast and true.    SC is a game worth finding and checking out. Game play may take a little to get use to but once a person does it can take hold of you. The smaller cabinet and “wings” create an intimate pinball experience and really makes the player feel “in” the game.



Indianapolis 500- I500


I am not sure why I ended up with an I500.  I sold a game and was looking for a replacement. It was a title I hadn’t played and I was looking for something off the beaten path and with the production being relatively low at 2,249 I jumped when one came up locally(“local” in this hobby is usually a 20 hour driving radius). My game was living outside of Boone, NC so it was like a milk run for a pinhead.

Game had a couple of issues when I bought it. The game has targets with lit quadrants. One objective of the game is to light all four lights to increase scoring and the targets are prone to breaking. Mine had one of these but it was an easy fix and the game was good to go.

So here is the thing about I500, it is wickedly fast and hard. It hands me my ass almost every time I play it except on our league nights. I don’t know why but I have had some of the most fun groupings on it. Not sure if it is because I don’t play it as much as other tables, like AFM and BSD, so it is fresher and more fun to play or if I have just lucked into having decent games when I need one. Either way I always look forward to it on league night. This past round it didn’t make it into our list of 6 so was a bit disappointed.

And now to be humbled. Below is the recently released Bowen Kerins tutorial. I can’t stomach to watch Bowen’s tutorials as I frankly don’t want to know how much I suck but for anyone that actually wants to know how to destroy the table here you go….

Printable rulesheet


Wizard of OZ code update 1.22


Installed new code and figured I’d share a video of the gameplay.

Wizard of Oz is the first pinball machine built by Jersey Jack Pinball.
The game is obviously based on the iconic movie and is still in the process of having its code written. I would of course rather have a completely coded game but watching the code development has been very eye opening. Very impressive stuff. Enjoy.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula- BSD


Dracula- what a beast of a game.

So I first played this game at a fellow hobbyist house when I was working in Baltimore, MD. I probably played about 5 games on it and was hooked. The game has one simple goal, stack three multiballs and every shot is worth 30 MILLION!! Note that I said simple and not easy which is the last word I would think one when describing the game.

BSD was manufactured in 1993.                                                                                                        It was shipped with “lightning” flippers which actually do have a lightning bolt on top. They measure a 1/4″ shorter than traditional flippers and make BSD’s looping ramp shots not only harder to make but more punishing when that ball rolls 40% up the ramp just to come down 100% SDTM!!!

I bought my game back in 2007, way before the game is seeing the love it now gets. I disassembled it to restore shortly after buying it and never played my actual table until the restoration was done. After teardown and play my family moved and the parts were stuffed in boxes, not sure how I got it back together but pretty much ended any trepidation I may have had on fixing a gmae. My BSD is set up pretty hard. Pitch is about 7% and the outlanes are open. GC is over a billion and I have had a couple billion+ games but it is easy to post scores well under a 100 million. I think most league nights a score of 100 million would win it.

Not a full overview but here are the MBs in a nutshell.


Mist MB is easily one of the coolest MBs ever and is probably the best known thing about the game. A ball is carried on a magnet from one side of the plafyield to another. As the ball “floats” the objective is to knock it off the magnet to start  a two ball multiball in which all shots score 10 million. You can light this by hitting the left ramp a certain amount of time, 5?, and then hitting the mystery hole which is located to the top and left of the pops.

Coffin MB- Coffin MB consist of hitting the right ramp enough times, 4 or 5 or 6 I can’t remember, and the ramp will lift for the three locks needed to start the MB. Locks are virtual and the ball gets launched into the pops after each “lock.” The goal is to shoot under the right ramp and to kill Dracula getting the jackpot. This stacked with the other MBs will increase their JPs to 20 or 30 Million depending on how many are stacked. The payoff on this mb is better when stacked that just killing drac. I usually try to get two balls locked and then start Mist.

Castle MB is  a bitch(es). There are two sets in the game. One in the center and one on the left hand side. The targets have to be hit in order they are lit to light the lock. The lock is timed and is made by hitting the left ramp. Three balls are physically locked on the wire form. After starting MB you want to lock two balls on the castle ramp and then go for the Jackpot at the mystery hole.

Now stack all three!!


Charlottesville Knockout Showdown 11/9/13

Info from the tournament organizer in response to my question about the game list. Expected tournament machine list: Metallica Pro, STTNG, Funhouse, Getaway, NGG, Stern Harley Davidson, Party Zone, NASCAR.  More updates to the rules will be coming soon.

Three of these games are available on The Pinball Arcade which is a great resource for learning about rule sets for games.  

Attack From Mars

IMG_5650Easily one of my favorite, if not favorite, all time pins. AFM was manufactured in 1995 and is still seen on location to this day. My first experience with playing AFM was in the wild on a game that was beat to hell, dirty as dirt and still a blast to play. I knew I had to own one.

I did some searching online for local games for sale but after posting several “price check” post on RGP I was contacted by a member of the LAPD that had one he wanted to sell. I had heard horror stories about shipping but the seller had a great rep and the price was right so I made the deal.

AFM arrived at my house fall of 2007 and it’s first night in my garage I fell asleep playing it. The rules are simple to understand but difficult to master. The playfield is sparse but somehow has enough going on to not feel empty. Good quick ball returns and wickedly fast orbits are only matched by the Saucer sucker shot that no matter how seasoned a player one seems obligated to go for. Damn Aliens.

I installed a new playfield in 2011 and the game plays even faster than when I got it. Outlanes are set to the widest setting and the games settings are set to hard. There are no gimmies on this game and any score above 10 billion is well earned. The GC sits around 35 billion but that was special game that has not been scraped since.

Game play video from the PAPA tutorials.

Printable rule sheet


Pinburgh 2014

Papa.org operates a facility in Pittsburgh that is probably the biggest collection of modern pinball machines in the world.  PAPA holds two events per year that are open to the public.  On March 28-30, 2014, PAPA will hold a match play tournament called Pinburgh.  Even if you do not compete, the majority of the machines are available for play during the tournament. It is a great opportunity to play almost all of the modern machines and watch some of the best players in the world compete.   I have put it on my calendar for each of the past two years, but have not been able to make it.  Going to try to get there for the first time this year.

Next League Night

The next league night is on November 12 at my house.  We will start warm ups at 7:30 with league play starting at 8:30.  We will implement the high score competition so bring some ones if you want to join in.  Each qualifying game will cost a buck.Image