Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New Pinball: Big Game, Stern - 1980

It is amazing when you start to look for a game and you find one, not only local, but for a good deal. It also seems to be pretty rare here in Chicago as there are a multitude of collectors and the competition to get local games is tough - good deals on Craigslist going fast.

After I got my Iron Maiden back together, I realized that I absolutely love early Stern games, especially those around the 1980-1981 period, and I decided to try and track down a Big Game. I decided on it after watching the PAPA Classics final game on it on the Pinball Archive and loved the set of three drop targets, the exposed and dangerous pop bumpers, the spinner shot in the upper left and the complexity of the scoring on the bingo cards. It's also Harry Williams last game he designed before he passed away and its a fantastic layout.

I looked on RGP and Pynball for anyone selling one and struck out. I then checked the Pinball Owner's Database for anyone who may have one they would even consider selling. And just like the Iron Maiden, I found one, for sale, very close by. As I was planning on selling off my Firepower, I offered up a trade, he accepted and I went to get it this past Saturday.

The good news was that he had installed new Pinscore displays, rebuild two of the flippers, none of the plastics were cracked and the game was complete with two backglasses and the original legs. Only downside was that the sound could be flaky, the game was in dire need of a cleaning and full shop job and the playfield glass was missing.

The sound issue turned out to be two bad ribbon cables, which I replaced with the ones from my IM temporarily. The playfield glass will cost me $47.34 from a local glazier and I will be picking it up in a few days. I spent all day Saturday shopping the game out with new rubbers and cleaning the playfield with a combination of Magic Eraser and de-natured alchohol and listening to Destruction's "Live Without Sense".

The Magic Eraser treatment is tricky but the results can be simply amazing. The playfield was dull with many, many swirl marks and the white was damn near gray. It took about two hours alone to do the playfield, but now with two coats of wax on it, it looks fantastic. There are only two wear marks near the lights I need to touch up, but that will come later.

The gameplay is awesome for a widebody - very fast and satisfying. The spinner shot in the upper left is a super cool design. When you hit the ball through the spinner, it wraps around into a kicker hole and stays there until the spinner is done counting. It also scores the lit 'BIG GAME' lights you have lit - and the kicks the ball out, like a mini-bonus count down. Every flipper has a number of shots and these early Stern Flippers have so much touch and feel, that you can pull off some great techniques. I certainly prefer them and the Bally versions to Williams powerhouse designs.

Thjis is one that will stay in the collection for sometime. So good. Thanks to Zespy for again letting me shop a game in his place and joining me on the trip.

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