Pinball Machines

Here at the only thing we love as much as Classic Datsuns is Classic Electro Mechanical Pinball Machines. Come and check out our other toys.


Long before I was obsessed with cars I was obsessed with pinball machines. These things caught me eye as a very young child, though I never got a chance to play one at the time because my mother was prone to believing every media-driven moral panic that would come along, and in the 1970s in Australia the #1 corrupter of youth was the pinball machine.

It would have been in about 1978/79, as I was about to approach my teens, that I played my first pinball machine. I don't recall exactly which one it was, but I remember the locals shops at the time having a Bally Playboy, a Bally Lost World, a Gottlieb Sinbad and a Gottlieb Charlies Angels, so it was likely one of those machines. This was of course done in secrecy, away from parental eyes. Any time I "found" a 20c piece it would find it's way into a local pinball machine.

These machines were all modern solid state machines, which are basically computer controlled machines with the score displayed on a digital readout. I had no idea at the time about the previous electro-mechanical era, where the game was controlled by an amazing and complicated series of relays, contact points and rotary switches, but once I discovered these machines the computer controlled machines failed to ever captivate me the same way again.

I clearly remember the day I first laid eyes on on an electro-mechanical pinball machine. I must have been about 14 years old at the time, and to my horror my parents wanted to go to an Oktoberfest carnival thing that was on at the time. Neither of my parents were really beer drinkers, nor German, but my father had this inexplicable liking for German folk music so I got dragged along. The beer and irritating music was in some big circus tent, and outside there were smaller tents selling faux-German stuff, and there were a few dodgy carnival rides. As we walked past the smaller tents my mother pointed to one and said "don't go in there", I looked across and the tent was full of old electro-mechanical pinball machines. I froze in my tracks, transfixed at this tent, I had never seen such an incredible sight in my life. My mother dragged me off and I was aurally tortured by "Eine, Zwei, G'suffa" and the like for the next half an hour. I was desperate, I had to get away from accordions, but more importantly I had to get back to that tent.


My chance came when my mother gave me some money and said I could go and buy myself some lunch, no doubt feeling remorseful about making me dance with those odd people in lederhosens. No lunch was consumed that day, I went straight to the pinball tent. I was just so overwhelmed by what I was experiencing in there, a door had been opened up to a whole new world, yes these were still pinball machines like the ones I had played in the past, but these things had a sense of wonder and magic about them, these were precious and special.

And the sound was amazing, on modern machines the owner can turn the sound off, as most local store owners tended to do, and they ran almost silently, but these old things made an absolute cacophany of sound as the bells chimed, and the relays clacked and banged as they tried to keep up with the player. There was also the smell that is unique to these devices, a sort of combination of burning carbon from the contact points incessantly sparking, plus the smell of heated bare timber from inside the machine. But more than anything it was the artwork that had me in awe. Even in the late-70s the machines of the day had a dark and serious tone to them with dragons and mythology, or the constant plugging of current musicians, movies and TV shows, but these machines looked so different. These machines looked happy, they looked like fun, they portrayed a sense of innocence that was all but gone on the newer machines. This was pinball as it should be, noisy, fun and playful.


That day's experience came crashing to a sudden halt. I had lost track of the time and my mother had come looking for me and located me mid-game in the tent of eternal damnation. The anti-pinball moral panic she had subscribed to stated that children will get addicted to these machines in the same way as drugs, "great, you are addicted now aren't you ?", she yelled, "aren't you ??". I told her no, I wasn't, but in my little heart I knew it was a lie, I was hooked big time. 

At the age of seventeen, whilst looking through a Trading Post paper I spotted an ad for a pinball machine for sale. Right up until that point it had never really occurred to me that someone could actually OWN one of these things, I just saw them as being only something a business owner could possess, not a mere mortal like teenage me. A couple of hours later, to my mother's abject horror, I returned home with a 1969 Gottlieb Mibs that I paid the princely sum of $50 for. It didn't work, but I tinkered for a couple of weeks and it came back to life. My mother slowly came around to the fact that this spawn of lucifer was dwelling under her house, and about six months later I came home early one day to find both my parents playing the thing, so its safe to say they came around to it eventually. In fact it was my father that found my next two machines for me.

Since that joyous day in the late 80s when I bought that first machine I have owned many machines since then, and still have twelve set up and playing at home today. Like my cars, these electro-mechanical works of wonder have bought me untold pleasure over the years, and even all these years later there is rarely a day when Ruth and I don't play them. Some days I just go down and look at them, standing in wonderment at the sight before me as I did as a child, except with the pride and almost disbelief that I actually own these incredible babies myself.

I am also probably the only person in the world who thinks of pinball when he hears German folk music.

Our Collection


Bally Nip-It

Made by Bally Manufacturing Corp. of Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Model Number – 940
Designed by Ted Zale with artwork by Dick White. Manufactured Date – July 1973
Total Production - 4580

Nip-It is one of the most well-known pinball machines ever built, thanks mainly to it being the machine installed in Arnold’s Diner in Happy Days, it featured prominently in many episodes. Henry Winkler loved the machine so much he bought one for himself and kept it all his life until 2016 when he donated it to a charity auction.

This machine was the last one made to feature Zipper Flippers, which has flippers that move closer together when the mushroom bumper is hit in the centre of the playfield. It is also one of the earliest machines to feature Multi-Ball, allowing two balls in play at the same time. 

This particular machine was sold new in Germany and privately imported into Australia.


Bally Monte Carlo

Made by Bally Manufacturing Corp. of Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Model Number – 739
Designed by Ted Zale.
Manufactured Date – February 1964
Total Production - 1050

Monte Carlo has the distinction of being the first pinball machine designed to use the new Mushroom Bumper, though it ended up being the second machine produced as Hootenanny ended up going into production before it. The design of the Mushroom Bumper is such that when the ball strikes it, the ball actually lifts up the bumper, which then closes the electrical contact below to trigger the scoring.

This particular machine was purchased new in 1964 and installed in the Redcliffe Jetty Arcade, where it was in use until the arcade closed down on 1967. It was then bought by a friend of the arcade owner who bought it for his children to use in his home until 2017. 


Williams Blue Chip

Made by Williams Electronics of Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Model Number – 463
Designed by Gordon Horlick with artwork by Lloyd Rognan.
Manufactured Date – December 1976
Total Production - 2150

Blue Chip is a very late era EM machine, and one of the last machines built before Williams switched to Solid State Electronic machines the following year. 

The theme of the machine is industry and commerce, which is quite an odd theme. It is also one of very few machines to not feature a girl anywhere on the artwork.

This machine is convertible between replay and add-a-ball mode and is currently set on add-a-ball. In this mode if you achieve a score or complete a sequence that would normally give you a replay, you instead receive and extra ball. The machine has the potential to award 10 extra balls, if you are good enough. 


Gottlieb Surfer

Made by D. Gottlieb & Company of Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Model Number – 387
Designed by Ed Krynski with artwork by Gordon Morison
Manufactured Date – November 1976 Total Production - 2700

Come on a Surfin’ Safari with Gottlieb’s 1976 Surfer. Surfer is the much less common two player version of the four player Surf Champ. With another of my passions being the music of The Beach Boys, a Surfer is a nice combination of two things I love.

This particular machine has an interesting history, it was sold new in the USA and later installed in the Coney Island Penny Arcade in Luna Park in Sydney. 


Williams Doodle Bug

Made by Williams Electronics of Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Model Number – 390
Designed by Norm Clark with artwork by Christian Marche.
Manufactured Date – March 1971
Total Production - Unknown

This machine’s unique and novel feature is the “Doodle Bug” that lives under a clear cover on the playfield. This machine, and its 4 player brother Dipsy Doodle, are the only machines ever to utilise the feature. The ball in the Doodle Bug is activated by a very large electro-magnet under the playfield, and points are scored when the ball moves over the button in the Doodle Bug track.

This machine is another great example of early 70s “pointy people” artwork, and it’s innocent and playful theme hark back to a much simpler time, and it stands in stark contrast with the dark themes prevalent on more modern pinballs. This machine was long on my want list, and I was thrilled to finally find one. 


Gottlieb Sing Along

Made by D. Gottlieb & Company of Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Model Number – 237
Designed by Ed Krynski with artwork by Art Stenholm
Manufactured Date – September 1967
Total Production - 3300

Sing Along is a Christmas Carol themed machine, with artwork depicting carollers singing in a snow covered city street. It is one of only two machines to ever feature the novel 4 in a row kickout holes that march the ball sideways across the playfield, and it also contains the rarely seen rollunder feature. Completing all 16 of white, red, yellow and green 1 to 4 target sequences is one of the most difficult tasks in all of pinball.

This particular machine spent its life of commercial service in Western Australia before coming across to Queensland in 2019. This machine is my current restoration project, it is now fully functional, it just needs a cabinet respray.

In a nice piece of serendipity this machine was manufactured in the same year and month that I was born.


Bally Captain Fantastic

Made by Bally Manufacturing Co. of Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Model Number – 1062
Designed by Greg Kmiec with artwork by Dave Christensen.
Manufactured Date – June 1976
Total Production - 16155

The artwork on the machine is based on the scene from the movie “Tommy” where Tommy has to compete against the Pinball Wizard, who was played by Elton John. The score shown on the image of the machine that Elton is playing on the backglass, 31775, is actually the date of the premiere of the movie “Tommy”, which was March 17th 1975, 3/17/75.

The backglass design is somewhat notorious and includes a number of risqué elements that initially went unnoticed by the Bally management such as numerous hands reaching for certain body parts, and Adolf Hitler cheering on in the crowd. Some random stars were later added to attempt to obscure the offending items. 

This machine was sold new in Germany in 1976 and was privately imported into Australia.


Williams Triple Strike

Made by Williams Electronics of Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Model Number – 459
Designed by Steve Kordek with artwork by Christian Marche.
Manufactured Date – August 1975
Total Production - 3376

Triple Strike is a a Ten Pin Bowling themed machine which plays and scores like a game of Ten Pin with the pins layed out on the playfield with rollover buttons on the that you have to roll the ball over to "knock down" the pins.

This machine was originally bought to be installed in a snack bar in Allora on the Darling Downs and was in use until the 1990s. The Ten Pin Bowling theme was extremely popular for EM machines, and this is one of 69 different Ten Pin themed machines built by various different manufacturers. 


Williams Triple Action

Made by Williams Electronics of Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Model Number – 434
Designed by Steve Kordek with artwork by Christian Marche.
Manufactured Date – February 1974
Total Production - 3828

Triple Action, with its movie set theme, features some classic early 70s Christian Marche “pointy people” artwork, which is always a love it or hate it proposition, personally I love it. It also nicely displays Williams’ design philosophy from this era, which is to have a wide open playfield that encourages fast play and rewards long distance precision. 


Bally Wizard

Made by Bally Manufacturing Co. of Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Model Number – 1027
Designed by Greg Kmiec with artwork by Dave Christensen.
Manufactured Date – May 1975
Electro-Mechanical 4 Player Pinball Machine Total Production – 10,005

Wizard was the first of two Bally machines to be based on the movie Tommy. The backglass shows an image of Roger Daltrey from The Who and Ann-Margaret, both of whom starred in the film. It was also the first machine with a licenced theme, something that would become common in the later years.

This was the first machine to feature Flip Flags, a novel domino shaped bonus scoring device on the playfield that flips over to show what playfield features will be activated if you can get the ball down the lane to the right of the flags. Only three machines were built that featured Flip Flags.


Gottlieb Royal Flush

Made by D. Gottlieb & Company of Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Model Number – 373
Designed by Ed Krynski with artwork by Gordon Morison
Manufactured Date – April 1976
Electro-Mechanical Four Player Pinball Machine Total Production - 12250

With over 200 machines based on the same topic, playing cards is the most popular pinball theme of all time, and Royal Flush is by far the biggest selling of these card themed machines. Thanks to its challenging game play and stunning artwork it was at one time the #1 rated game on the Internet Pinball Database Top 300 list and is till in the top 10. Ten years later the game went back into production again with Solid State electronics.

This machine was sold new in Los Angeles California and operated in the Van Nuys area, later in its life it was privately imported for use in the Coney Island Penny Arcade in Luna Park Sydney.


Bally Aladdin's Castle

Made by Bally Manufacturing Co. of Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Model Number – 1065
Designed by Greg Kmiec with artwork by Christian Marche.
Manufactured Date – June 1976
Electro-Mechanical 2 Player Pinball Machine Total Production - 4155

In 1974 Bally purchased a chain of amusement arcades in the United States called Aladdin’s Castle, which they operated until the 1990s, at its peak there were 450 of these arcades operating across the country. In 1976 they produced this machine which featured the Aladdin’s Castle logo on the backglass. 

The scoring on this machine only goes up to 99,999, but if you go past that score a buzzer goes off in the cabinet and the words “OVER THE TOP” briefly illuminate on the backglass to tell everyone close by about your pinball awesomeness.

This machine is currently part way through a major restoration. I have completed the electro-mechanical restoration and the playfield restoration, the next step is to repair the water damaged cabinet and repaint the artwork.

Recently Sold Machines

Sadly our house only has enough space for a maximum of 12 pinball machines at a time, so any time we buy a new machine it means one has to be sold to make room for the new one. Below is some of the machines we have sold in the last few years.


Williams Klondike

Made by Williams Electronics of Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Model Number – 403
Designed by Norm Clark with artwork by Christian Marche.
Manufactured Date – August 1971
Total Production - 3302

Strike it rich with Klondike! The artwork by Christian Marche is themed on the Klondike Gold Rush in the Yukon Territory in Canada in the 1890s, with images of scenes from the campfire and the trail.

At the time this was built pinball machines were still banned in New York City as they were perceived as potentially being gambling machines, in other parts of the States similar questions were being raised as well. Quite why, in this environment, Williams decided to fit this machine with a replica three wheel poker machine in it’s playfield somewhat beggars belief. 


Gottlieb Baseball

Made by D. Gottlieb & Company of Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Model Number – 290
Designed by Ed Krynski with artwork by Art Stenholm
Manufactured Date – June 1970
Electro-Mechanical single Player Pinball Machine
Total Production - 2350

A very pretty sports themed  machine that features a baseball diamond and bases on the playfield. It has an interesting dual scoring setup where you score points in the regular manner plus you also score home runs as well.

The other notable features is a pair of Vari-Targets, which are a type of sliding target where the harder you hit the target the further it travels, and the further it travels the more points you score.


Bally Band Wagon

Made by Bally Manufacturing Co. of Chicago
Model Number – 755
Designed by Ted Zale
Manufactured Date – March 1965
Electro-Mechanical 4 Player Pinball Machine
Total Production - 1840

Band Wagon is a circus and carnival themed machine. This particular machine is a German market version with both the backglass and playfield set in German language.


Gottlieb Fast Draw

Made by D. Gottlieb & Company of Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Model Number – 379
Designed by Ed Krynski with artwork by Gordon Morison
Manufactured Date – April 1975
Electro-Mechanical Four Player Pinball Machine
Total Production - 8045

Fast Draw is a Western Gunslinger themed machine. It has a completely symmetrical playfield design. Interestingly it doesn't have any of the slingshots just above the flippers that the majority of machines have to rapidly fire the ball back and forth, instead relying on the rubbers for the ball to simply bounce off.

Gottlieb Sing Along Restoration

Below are some progress photos during the full restoration.


This was the restoration of a 1967 Gottlieb Sing Along that I completed a few years ago. The machine was rough but complete when I got it, and completely non-functional. I completed the electro-mechanical restoration first and then played the machine for several months before I started the cabinet restoration.

The cabinet was stripped back to bare timber and repairs were carried out which included major work on the head box, where the plywood had de-laminated and the top layer was flaking off. You can buy stencil kits to repaint the artwork, but I instead took a detailed set of measurements of the original cabinet and recreated the design with masking tape. 

I recreated all of the paper labels on the computer and printed them on a similar card stock to the originals. The playfield cleaned up nicely after about 20 hours of detailing and polishing and I managed to find a nicer backglass to finish it off.

It now proudly sits at #1 in the lineup as the first machine you see when you walk in.

1964 Bally Monte Carlo Restoration

Below are some progress photos during the restoration.


This is the restoration of a Bally Monte Carlo that I completed a couple of years ago. I actually bought it back in 1964 as a rough non-working project, but I quickly found the issue and got the machine running and I loved playing it so much I just ignored the scruffy appearance and played it for the next several years.

I got it fairly cheap due to the fact that the backglass was smashed and helf together with masking tape. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that during that era all Bally machines that were built for export had the artwork printed on a perspex sheet and then had a clear piece of glass in front of it, so if it got damaged in transit the worst that could happen could be the clear glass would break. When I pulled the smashed glass off there was a near perfect backglass behind it.

Someone had resprayed it at some stage with the wrong artwork, I found a photo of a mid-60s Bally and then took measurements off the photo and scaled the dimensions up to full size and resprayed it in an extremely tedious and painstaking manner.

The playfield and plastics all polished up very nicely, as did the original chromework.


This machine was originally installed in the Redcliffe Jetty Arcade, which is the seaside location I grew up in, so this machine holds a special place in my heart, not just because of the way the restoration turned out but also for it's link to my childhood.

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