Behind the scenes, using pinball machines in a movie set

If you ever wonder how these things work in the movies and television series, here’s some insight. Why are some games modified? What happens when there’s a scene involving a game, that *gasp* gets smashed?

A few years ago, I was involved in bringing some pinball machines out to a movie set for a series done for HBO/Cinemax called, “Quarry” – it was a very cool story based on a series of fictional books, about a Vietnam Veteran who comes back from the war and is shunned in society and becomes a “hit man.”   The series was set in the 1970s and the filmmakers wanted various pinball machines and coin op devices which we supplied.

Here’s a promo trailer featuring some of the scenes and pinball sounds:

Here’s a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the set design and work that went into re-creating a vintage carnival arcade, and some of the things the set designers have to do for legal reasons.  I wasn’t able to show this video at the time the show was in production, but the series has since been canceled so I don’t think there’s any issue in sharing it.. here’s a neat glimpse behind-the-scenes…

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2017 Houston Arcade Expo Walk-Thru

Once again, our group descended upon Houston for one of our favorite events of the year, the 2017 Houston Arcade Expo. I apologize in advance for this really crappy video.. I should know better than to move the camera around too much, but I was excited and wanted to capture things as fast as I could so the video isn’t super long. I’ve used Google’s video stabilization which creates some artifacts.. if it’s too bad, let me know and I’ll try to fix it. Otherwise, enjoy a quick glimpse into a very cool festival featuring arcade and pinball both old and new!

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How to break down an EM game for transport

My friend Marcus Trevino recently posted a comprehensive outline of the process to break down an EM game for shipping. Much of this can also apply to solid state games, and it’s an excellent checklist of how to properly prepare a game to be shipped or transported to minimize any damage…

Now, if you do not have a lift, you can still use a bar stool, metal chair or saw horse to help you. I recommend going to home depot or Lowes and getting a plastic saw horse. They are not too expensive. Best advice would be to go to harbor freight and buy a lift. It will be used time and time again.

01. Unplug the pinball machine.
02. Remove the playfield glass and place it in a safe location.
03. Remove the balls from the game and place them in a ziplock bag.
04. Re-install the playfield glass.
05. Open up the head and disconnect the jones plugs.
06. Remove the head bolts and place them in a ziplock bag.
07. Close up the head and return keys to cabinet door or place them in ziplock bag with head bolts.
08. If you wish to protect the backglass and head, place a piece of cardboard in front of the backglass.
09. Using blue painters tape or frog tape, secure the cardboard in place so that it covers the backglass.
10. Apply shrinkwrap to the head. Wrap it 4-5 times for ideal snugness.
11. Remove the blue painters tape from the top of the head.
12. Place cardboard or moving blanket across the playfield glass. This will protect the side rails.
13. Fold the head so it is lying on the cabinet body. Make sure the bottom of the head is resting against the right angle created by the wood base and playfield glass.
14. Using a strap, secure the folded head to the body of the cabinet. Do not over tighten. You want some give in the strap so you can slide cardboard into position.
15. Cut cardboard to fit the side of the cabinet body and slide it between cabinet & straps. Tighen Strap.
16. Once cardboard is in place, apply shrinkwrap to secure cardboard to cabinet body. The ideal method is to wrap with the playfield glass as north. You then want to roll the shrinkwrap beneath the cabinet body and back up the side and then over the playfield glass. At least 4-5 layers are needed for ideal snugness.
17. BE CAREFUL NOT TO WRAP THE LEG BOLT AREA. You want to be able to remove the bolts.
18. Go behind the machine and start loosening the bolts. You are only trying to loosen. DO NOT REMOVE
19. Place the bar stool, metal chair or saw horse in a spot that you easily access it while holding the back end.
20. With your left hand, grip the underside of the cabinet on the outside edge of the leg.
21. With you right hand, grip the underside of the cabinet on the outside edge of the leg.
22. Lift with your legs. The back end of the machine should now be off the floor.
23. Shift your hip so you can rest the game on it. Reach with one hand and slide the bar stool, saw horse or metal chair beneath the bottom edge of the back side of the cabinet.
24. Before letting go completely, make sure that the machine is stable.
25. Remove the bolts of one backleg and place the leg to one side and the bolts in a ziplock bag.
26. Repeat for the other back leg.
27. Now comes the tricky part. You will need to lift the back end with both hands.
28. Once you have the weight of the machine in your hands, you need to either slide the bar stool (or whatever you used) from beneath the pinball machine.
29. Slowly lower the back end of the machine to the ground. You can put a sofa cushion or pillows or blankets to help cushion the drop. Be wary, this will take some strength.
30. Once the legless back end is on the ground, you simply tip the game onto its but.
31. Remove the front legs. Place the bolts in a ziplock bag.
32. Collect your legs and stack them. Using blue painters tape or an old playfield rubber, bind the four legs together.
33. Place your coin door keys in the zip lock bag.
34. Place a piece of paper with the name of your game in the zip lock bag.
35. Place your zip lock bags inside of the leg crease.
36. Wrap the four legs with shrinkwrap. Place the wrapped legs on the head portion of your folded game.
37. Using Stretchwrap, create a pinball mummy by wrapping the game 4-5 complete rotations.
38. Your game is ready to be hand carted to its transportation vehicle.

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A video tour of the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas

A recent discussion came up on one of the online forums about the Pinball Hall of Fame and I was prompted to dig up some footage I shot in 2009 so here it is.

For those of you who don’t know, the Pinball Hall of Fame is located in Las Vegas, Nevada, just off the main strip, run by an eccentric but brilliant and generous guy named Tim Arnold who is a long-time operator and has one of the most impressive collections of vintage pinball machines in the world.

The PHOF houses at any given moment, several hundred vintage pinball machines, including some extremely rare games you will not likely find anywhere else. Here’s a series of videos where I walked the rows of the place in 2009 not long after it moved into a new building. Enjoy!

How many rare and unusual games can you spot?

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