Monday, March 27, 2017

Jon Chad: Professional Pinball Artist!

When Jon and I first decided to start a pinball zine, one of the first ideas that we agreed had to be in the zine was our own "Dream Machines."  We each drew a dream machine for every issue of Drop Target.  For me, these were incredibly difficult drawings and I had to base all of my designs on pre-existing pinball machines, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to figure out how things worked.

Jon, on the other hand, seemed to knock out dream machines with ease, drawing his much smaller and more quickly than I could, and with far more inventive uses of the pinball medium.  Jon is one of those cartoonists who has a strong, unique style that is instantly recognizable and he can draw anything.  He is in a league all his own.

It therefore came as no surprise to me, that Jon recently crossed the line from dreams into reality, when he drew the actual art for a real pinball machine, The Jetsons, which will be released soon by Spooky Pinball.  Below are some photos of the game, which were released recently.  JON DREW ALL OF THAT STUFF!

I guess dreams really do come true!  ;)  Below is a gameplay video that went up on YouTube recently.  I can't wait to play this thing someday, and see all of that gorgeous art up close.  I am so proud of Jon.

Jon is going to draw a comic about his experience creating the art for this real pinball machine, which will be included in the DROP TARGET OMNIBUS book, which should be out later this year.  But more on that later.....

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Medieval Madness Sound Problems!

Last week, while playing a game of Medieval Madness, the sound suddenly shut off while gameplay continued.  Then the initial "BONG!" sound effect from when you turn on the machine went off and then the sound and music came back on VERY LOUD (the default setting of 4 or 5? I have it set to 1 since it's in my kitchen).

The loud sound continued through the rest of the ball, but after tho bonus was tallied and ball two was placed into the shooter lane, the sound reset to its normal levels (??!).  On ball two the same thing happened, only this time there was no music when it was really loud, only sound effects.

I've done a few more tests and it seems like this happens when I start a part of the game with new music (Royal Madness, Castle Multiball, etc.)  On my latest test, I pushed through to ball 3 and the whole machine reset itself (GULP!)

I opened up the backbox and checked out the A/V board (if you can't tell - I don't know anything about this stuff) nothing looked visibly burned, all the fuses were OK, the LED was blinking the way its supposed to (according to the manual) so I'm not sure what's going on.

If anyone has any suggestions on what to check or anything to try, I would greatly appreciate it, thanks!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Updated Medieval Madness Ball Trough

For my birthday, my parents bought me an upgraded Williams/Bally Ball Trough Assembly.  It was a great present, because at $125 it was hard for me to justify buying it for myself.  Thanks Mom and Dad!  Here I am holding the new trough up in front of the old one which will be replaced.

The problem with the old assembly is that the track where the balls sit develops little divots over time (like, say... 18 years!).  This has happened on mine to the point where the balls will get locked into the divots and won't slide down to be ejected up into the shooter lane.  You'll start a multiball and... no balls!  To fix this you have to uninstall the entire assembly and then take a metal file and grind down the divots.  I have had to do this twice now.  It's not the end of the world, but it's a pretty involved project.

The upgraded assembly uses removable rails as the track for the balls.  These can be unscrewed, rotated, flipped and replaced, ensuring that this part will last for the lifetime of the machine!  You can access the rails with the playfield up, so I shouldn't ever have to take this thing off the machine ever again.  It's also got a latch built into it that prevents the balls from entering the shooter lane, so that you can raise the playfield without having to run the "eject balls" test.  I was very excited about this time-saving feature!

First I took out the old assembly, which you can see here on the left, with its optical boards and solenoid still in place.  All I gotta do is transfer those components onto the "blank" new assembly.  Should be easy, right?

Click to enlarge

As it turns out, no... it's was not very easy.  The first obstacle I hit was that the mounting holes for the circuit board did not line up with the holes on the assembly.  I figured this was because this one part is supposed to work for about 20 different machines.  I moved the rubber washer and metal sleeve on the circuit board to another hole that was below the original one and that lined up better.  However, there is a little double-sided nut that moves to one of two pegs to accept the bolt from the circuit board, but because of the peg, the bolt only goes in about half way.  I dug through my toolbox for a shorter bolt with the same thread coun, but no luck.  I ended up using two nuts as giant washers to get a good grip with the original bolt.  If you look carefully below you can see it sticking up in the middle of the board:

Click to enlarge

Next I brought this assembly back over to the machine to install it, only to find that the holes in the playfield did not line up with the holes in the top of the assembly!  I could only get 4 of the 6 bolts in.  I'm sure it's still enough to keep it on there - but come on!  It was off by about 1/8" on the last two holes - not even close.  I would think this would be the first thing the designers would make sure is consistent on this redesigned part.

Next I thought I'd try out the latch function for the first time.  I slid it up and let go.  It instantly fell back down.  It is very loose (maybe because I had to torque the assembly to try and get 4 of the 6 bolts to fit in the misaligned holes?)  Anyway, this was a real disappointment.  If I keep my hand on it while the playfield is going up, eventually it crosses a point where it will stay down on the other side.  I guess I could also tape it before I flip it up?  Ugh.

I'd give this part a B-  It works fine now that it's in place (except for the latch) and I look forward to not having to uninstall it if/when the trough develops more divots (assuming those four bolts hold!) but it was disappointing that it didn't fit the machine better.  All my other experiences with redesigned parts have been much more positive - where they pop right into place.  Anyway, it's in there!  So we'll see how it performs...

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The first printing of DTZ #7 has SOLD OUT!

Hello, pinball fans.  The first printing of Drop Target #7 has sold out!  We are now offering copies of the second printing of Drop Target #7 for sale on the DTZ #7 page.  These have a dollar knocked off the cover price, but they are also printed with a plain white cover and have a standard 8.5" x 11" grayscale center spread, instead of the cool 8.5" x 14" full color center spread and the screen printed metallic cover stock of the first edition.

If you missed out on the first edition but would like to track down a copy, our friends at Radiator Comics still have copies available - get them before they're all gone!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Playable Virtual Weezer Pinball

The Weezer Pinball T-Shirt that I designed has now been turned into a video game that you can play on the internet!

You can get all the information on how to set it up and play over on my illustration blog!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Pinball in the BG of American Dad

I know I've mentioned this several times, but since I got into pinball, I've been on the lookout whenever I watch tv/movies/etc. for pinball machines.  I think it's extra funny when pinball machines show up in animated features, shows, or comics, because (and trust me on this one) pinball machines are HARD TO DRAW!  It's really interesting to see how the various angles/proportions/components of a pinball machine are handles.  What buttons are included is interesting.

I've seen pinball machines pop up in a couple different episodes of American Dad!, and I thought that I would post them here for posterity.

 This is a pretty serviceable image, but I don't know what's going on with the front of the cabinet?  I see the coin mech, but then there are is a lot more mechanical whatnot just stuck on there, like the control panel of Buck Rogers' starship.
 Ha ha, what!?  Is there a plug on the back of the machine?  You could plug something into the pinball machine?  The legs are pretty funny, and the simplified machines in the background kill me.  Anybody have a guess what they are referencing?
The "Eight is Enough" pinball machine actually showed up in two episodes.  That game next to it is either supposed to be Stern's Nascar or Bally's Indianapolis 500 or Bally's Corvette.

Racing: The game where several opponents vie for position in a competition of speed!  Now with cars!