Monday, November 29, 2010

The breath of life!

Man, oh man, another horrendous pinball fate that I wouldn't wish on ANYONE; having your quarters eaten by the machine.  Drawing the mouth on the pinball machine was probably the best thing ever.  I thought about having wires, coils, and 555s coming out of its mouth, but with a game named "Evil Eye," there's much more sinister stuff going on under the glass. 

So, the big news that I wanted to write about today was that I have brought my Jurassic Park machine back from the grave!

"But Jon Chad?" I hear you cry "I never even knew that the JP machine was down?"

Yes, unfortunately, three weeks ago, I went into the backbox to try and figure out what was causing my game to randomly reset.  It used to happen once in a blue moon, but it had started happening constantly.  I couldn't get through a whole game without it rebooting and running the T Rex diagnosis.  So, I had read on the This Old Pinball Data East guide that one of the common causes of game reboots was contact between the sound board and the metal mounting plate.  I removed the sound board and found nothing wrong.  On further inspection of the boards, though, I found that the CN1 and CN8 power connectors on the Power Supply board were completely fried.  I removed both plugs to inspect the damage.  When I plugged them back in and turned on the machine, the thing went completely dead.  Nothing.  Nada.

"The culprits."

NO WORRIES, though.  I decided that I needed to rise to the challenge and fix my baby!  I poured my heart and soul into electrical diagrams and figured out how circuit boards work.

 "A genius at work."

So, last Saturday, I very nervously opened up my machine, removed the power supply and CPU boards, and replaced the faulty components.  It was honestly the scariest thing I have ever done in my life.  Well, I was super duper nervous in any case.  After all was said and done, and the machine was put back together, I held my breath as I turned it back on. 

There were absolutely no problems with the machine.  No random resets, no sound cutting out, and the T Rex moved its head just like it should; diligently searching for the ball.  I can't tell you how exciting it was to take a machine and breathe life back into it.  I know that there are probably some pinball mechanics out there thinking, "hmph, all that Jon Chad kid did was replace a Molex power connector and a couple transistors?  YAWN.  Par for the course!"  Well, to me, it was the most exhilarating and rewarding thing ever.  I LOVE PINBALL!

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Story of the Pacific Pinball Museum

My illustrator friend Rosemary Travale sent me this great video about the Pacific Pinball Museum (aka "Lucky Juju's")  This is one of my favorite places to play pinball.  It's $15 at the door and they have three rooms full of pinball machines, from all different eras, all set to free play.  You can actually play pre-flipper machines, a wide range of EM machines and a whole room full of the best solid-state machines from the 80s and 90s.  They also have juke boxes with era-specific music in each room, which are also set on free play.  If you are ever in the bay area, you NEED to check it out.  Anyway, check out this great video to learn more about this important pinhall!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dave Marston!

Last weekend we had a visit here at Drop Target headquarters from a real pillar of the pinball community: Dave Marston, long-time contributor to PinGame Journal.  He traded me a photocopied stack of his "Pinball on Record" articles for another copy of Drop Target #1 for his archives.  We also played some pinball and spent an hour or so chatting about the current state of pinball and our plans for future issues of Drop Target!  Coolest of all, he rolled into town in a van big enough to haul some pinball machines, with a very special license plate...  :)  Thanks for swinging by Dave.  Hopefully we'll see you again soon!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pin Treats

So, this might seem like a departure from the normal collection of pinball illustrations I've been doing, but actually, it's extremely appropriate.  Anybody who has seen me get 100% in the pinball zone knows that there's only one snack that will satisfy spur me on to higher scores: Tootsie Roll Pops.  I'm a sucker (no pun intended) for hard candy, and Tootsie Roll Pops are pretty much the best.  I know that this isn't exactly a pinball illustration, so here's some more:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

First Game Ever

A few weeks ago, I ran into my colleague, Jason Lutes walking down the street with his two children, Clementine and Max.  He told me they were heading to go check out my pinball machine for the first time, so I decided to tag along.

We set Clementine up on a stool and she could just barely reach both flippers.  At first she just started flipping the flippers as fast as she could.  But then we explained that she should try to hit the ball, and all in an instant she GOT IT.  She started waiting for the ball to near the flipper and then she would carefully push the button and send the pinball back up the playfield.  It was really amazing to see someone play their very first game of pinball, especially someone so young.  It made me realize just how intuitive pinball is.  It's such a simple interface, anyone can play!

Monday, November 8, 2010


As we all know, Alec has a Medieval Madness machine and I have a Jurassic Park machine.  When Alec came with me to come get my machine, I drew this for him as a present.  Here's a colored version. 

Out of all the awesome stuff on Medieval Madness, my favorite is probably the trolls.  I love everything about them; how they announce themselves, the dot matrix animations, their voices, etc.  We even went so far as to name the trolls (because, as far as we know, they don't have names...).  The one on the left is named Herman, and the one on the right is named Pee Wee.  Ha ha, get it?  The best part is that Pee Wee is kinda a wuss and if you even hit him from behind, he'll count it as a hit sometimes.

The really magical thing about the trolls is thinking about the what the ball represents, in this case.  I've heard this question come up again and again when talking about certain game: "What is the ball supposed to represent?  Is the player the ball?"  On games that have distinct narratives, it's easy to try and project oneself onto the ball.  Overall on a game, that can get confusing.  I try to think of it, mode to mode, what am I trying to achieve, and what is the ball representing at that moment, or geez...WHUTEVAH.

I love to think about how you're this knight in Medieval Madness and you're:
a) tossing iron balls into the face of a troll
b) punching a troll in the face

Both of which are ideal situations.

Also, these pictures are AWESOME:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Max's Dad's Old Pinball Machine

Jon and I both work at The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont.  Each year CCS has a fellow, and last year it was the Belgian cartoonist Max de Radigu├Ęs.  Max appears a few times in Drop Target #1, and played pinball with us almost every day last year.

Max would often mention an old pinball machine that his Dad owned, and a few weeks ago Max visited his father in the south of France and he took a few pictures of it, which he forwarded to me and Jon.  It appears to be a 1935 Par Golf which is a pre-flipper machine.  Thanks Max!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Belated Happy Halloween

Aww man, talk about dropping the ball on this one!  I finished this thing, no kidding, like, three weeks ago.  "Good time management, Jonch" I thought to myself, "Now all that's left is to just sit back and post this on SUNDAY, which just so happens to be HALLOWEEN!"  

Man oh man, dropping the ball.  The shot was all set up for me, and I let it drain right down the middle.

This image is horrifying, btw.  All I could think about as I was drawing / coloring it was how I would have died from a heart attack on the spot if this happened to me.  I'd like to think that you could tilt him away.