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!

Monday, August 17, 2015

DTZ Shirts Available for Online Ordering!

If you haven't seen, there is a tab at the top of this blog that says DTZ extras!  There, you will find information on how you can order your very own DTZ shirt!  Check them out!

Show your DTZ love with a Drop Target shirt! Handmade by Jon Chad in the summer of 2015 to commemorate the last issue of DTZ. The shirts come in Small - 2XL. Email Jon Chad at jonchad [dot] comics [at] gmail [dot] com to check on shirt size availability. Each one costs $10 + $3 shipping.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Drop Target #7 is now available for online ordering!

Well, a few boxes of Drop Target #7 arrived at my new place today.  It happened to also be the day I got my internet connection set up.  This seemed like serendipity, so I'm putting them up for sale... TONIGHT!

You can head over to the DTZ #7 page to order a copy.  Below is a rundown of all the goodies in this, our final issue.

DROP TARGET #7 - The Future Issue
64 pages - 5.5" x 8.5" - B&W printing
First Printing: 8.5" x 14" full-color centerfold, screenprinted cover on metallic silver paper!

BANG BACKS: Re-theming Pinball Machines
- VIDEO MODE: Special When Lit
TILT TALK: Gerry Stellenberg / P3 an interview by Ryan Claytor!
- SPECIAL WHEN LITERATURE: Pinball Zines and Podcasts
- DIVERSIFY PINBALL, PLEASE!  A Plea by Alec Longstreth
DREAM MACHINES: Megaman II by Jon Chad, Troll 2 by Liz Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by Alec Longstreth
REPLAY REVIEW: Wizard of Oz (Jersey Jack, 2013)
- PINHALLS: Everywhere You Look - Portland, OR
FROM ZEROS TO HEROES: Moving Forward - A comic by Jon Chad

Since Drop Target is wrapping up with this issue, Jon Chad and I are trying to clear out some old stock, so the first 25 people to order a copy of Drop Target #7 will also get a DTZ button pack and a Skill Shot lighter sticker, drawn by Jon - for free!  (all gone!)

Although we are wrapping up the zine, our pinball adventure is far from over!  We still have a few pinball publishing projects in the pipeline and if anything, the pace of this blog might pick up a bit now that we don't have to put together the next issue of DTZ.

Thanks everyone for your wonderful support over the last five years.  It has been an amazing experience for both Jon and I, and it has been a blast sharing our enthusiasm for pinball with this incredible community!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

DTZ Shirts at ReplayFX

Some of you might not know this about me, but before I started working at the Center for Cartoon Studies and drawing comics, I worked as a shirt printer.  Since I left the shop, I've dabbled with it a couple times, but I've always wanted to do a real run of shirts, even if they were simple.

I made 2 DTZ shirts a couple years ago; one for me, and one for Alec.  In preparation for ReplayFX (7/30 - 8/2 in Pittsburgh, PA.  You're going, right?), I wanted to do a run of DTZ shirts.  The design is simple but I really like the red-on-white look.

I have probably about 60 of these shirts in various sizes that I'm selling for $10 each.  I am willing to take reservations for shirts for those of you that want to make sure you get one in your size at ReplayFX.  The sizes go from S - XXL.  Shoot me an email at  If you're not coming to ReplayFX:
a) you really should think of coming! 
b) after the show, I'll sell the remaining shirts via email.

Show your DTZ and pinball love!

Monday, July 20, 2015

DTZ + Slam Tilt at ReplayFX

As ReplayFX gets closer (7/30-8/2, you're going, right?), I want to post some more teasers of what I'll be bringing in addition to the final issue of Drop Target.  I'm happy to say that I'll have ten copies of the PHENOMENAL Australian pinball zine, Slam Tilt, at the table!  The combo of art, articles, and attitude make this a zine that shouldn't be missed!  You might remember that I did a write up of Slam Tilt when it first crossed my path.

There's only ten copies, though, so make sure that you get to the table early!!  More cool stuff to come!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tabling DTZ 7 and pinball art at REPLAY FX!!

As I'm getting ready for vacation, I realize that I haven't mentioned yet that I'll be tabling at Replay FX from July 30 - August 2 in Pittsburgh, PA.  I'll be tabling with the NEW and FINAL issue of Drop Target Zine, issues 1-6 of DTZ, and DTZ Shirts.  Get hyped for DTZ #7!  It's a beast of an issue!  Additionally, I'll have the first issue of Slam Tilt, a pinball zine from Australia.  Jeremy Wilson has put together a great zine, and I want to get into hands here stateside!

Finally, I'm going to be selling original art from my last 4 years of doing posters, shirts, and tokens for PAPA, Stern Pinball​, Skill Shot, DTZ art, and a lot more.  The sun is setting on DTZ, so this might be the only pinball show I table at!  Help spread the word!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

DTZ #7 is getting close...

Jon and I spent the last two weeks in Vermont, teaching summer workshops at The Center for Cartoon Studies.  After each long day of teaching we would drag ourselves up to the studio to spend the rest of the night putting Drop Target #7 together.  Our initial goal was to try and finish the zine during those two weeks, but unfortunately we were not able to get it done...  There were just not enough hours in each day!

All that being said, we're very close to being done!  Jon is heading off to Europe for a few weeks and by the time he gets back I will have all of my assets done and then we'll be able to finalize the layout.  Our plan is to debut the zine at Replay FX at the end of July, which Jon will be tabling at, and then it will be available here on our website in early August.

Thank you, dear readers, for your patience and we hope that this final issue will be worth the wait.  Okay, I better get back to it!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

DTZ orders delayed until June 3rd!

Hi everyone, just a quick head's up to let you know that I am heading to England for two weeks on my honeymoon.  Any DTZ orders that come in while I am gone will be sent out upon my return, on June 3rd.  Sorry for the delay and thanks in advance for your patience!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Pinball in the West Wing

I mean in the show...not the actual West Wing.  If I could get confirmation that in the very deepest inner sanctum of government, there was a pinball machine, I would be ecstatic.  No, however, I am talking about the Martin Sheen classic, West Wing,  The show ran seven seasons from 1999-2007.  I'm on season 3, presently, and earlier in the season, the cast of main characters is in a bar somewhere, presumably in New Hampshire.  The camera pans across the bar and there is a man playing a pinball machine.  Or... I should say that the man appears to be playing the machine.  I've gone over this clip again and again, and I don't think he is actually playing.  Can anyone out there in internet tell me what is going on on the DMD?  Is this actual gameplay?  The game in question appears to be Junkyard.  I would not be surprised if this poor extra was just asked to pretend that he's playing pinball, but there's a part of me that also wants Aaron Sorkin to be, like, "keep playing!  I want you to be getting jackpots when the camera's on ya!"

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Great Simpson's Pinball Joke

I was watching an old episode of The Simpsons the other day and there was the great joke that had to do with pinball.  I just thought I would share it here.  Listen to the joke HERE

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Fantasy Arcades: Gilmore Girls

It's a no-brainer that now that I'm cued into pinball, I always keep my eyes open for whenever a machine pops up in a TV show.  Recently, I've been obsessed with Gilmore Girls.  I had thought that I knew every square inch of the tiny CT town, Star's Hallow, but at some point in season...5?...there was a scene that took place in an arcade!  Let's see what they've got!
Alright!  Pinball!  A Night Rider machine. For the life of me, I can't figure out what the machine just to the right of it is.  The character pictured (Luke) keeps on passing in front of the camera at the PERFECT point to obscure my view.
Cool!  A Revenge from Mars machine!  Hmmmm, it doesn't seem to be working, though.  Someone should call the operator.  Between those three pins, "Chase the Rainbow" (!?!?!), a Galaga machine, and a couple other assorted video game cabinets, Star's Hallow has a pretty good arcade going!  My biggest question is with the machine that the character is playing in the image to the left.  The art on the side is, without a doubt, from the Megaman X series (a video game series that was for the Super Nintendo).  I'm really curious as to what that cabinet is from.  I've been doing some research, and I can't find any evidence that there has been a cabinet version of any of the Megaman X games.  Maybe it's a cabinet just running an emulator?  

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Getting Started

Very excited to start working on DTZ#7.  At the beginning, Alec and I share a blank folder and start filling it up.  I always have the thought, "oh, this should be easy!  Every issue gets easier than the last, right?'  Spoiler, the answer is no.

This issue is going to be a blast!  We have a lot of rad stuff planned!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Link: Pinball in the Movies

I stumbled on this site a while ago, and I realized that not everyone might be clued into its greatness.  This is Pinball in the Movies, a subsection of the site.  Here, there is a list, gathered from 2001 of the appearances that pinball makes in various movies.  The attention to detail is awesome.  There are some movies like Jurassic Park 3, where a pinball machine is only featured in a bar, SUPER briefly.  It's listed on the site!  It's really fun to check out!

Monday, March 16, 2015

What have I played?

As this is posting, I should be in Pittsburgh, PA for PAPA 18, and then visiting in the days following with some of my favorite people in the world (Sophie, Carl, Josh, and Joyana!!!).  I queued this up so that we can have uninterrupted service here at Drop Target HQ.  I was in the car with my girlfriend the other day when she asked me, "have you played every pinball machine?"  Of course the answer is a resounding NO, but then she asked, "how many of the, like, top 100 games have you played?"  Hmmm, a more reasonable request. 

I went onto IPDB and pulled up the list of top 300 SS machines and started from the top, checking which ones I had played, and which ones I hadn't.  Here's the machines I haven't gotten a chance to play YET!

23) 1994 The Shadow by Bally
31) 1991 The Machine: Bride of Pin-bot by Williams
37) 1995 Pinball Magic by Capcom
53) 1996 Safe Cracker by Bally
58) 1993 Last Action Hero by Data East
68) 1994 Corvette by Bally
82) 1994 WWF Royal Rumble by Data East
85) 1994 Demolition Man by Williams
88) 1990 Back to the Future by Data East
97) 1990 Dr. Dude and his Excellent Ray by Bally
99) 1997 Starship Troopers by Sega

Now, I want to STRESS that this does not mean that I am a knowledgeable expert, or even competent player at the games that are NOT on this list.  I'm still at the point in my pinball journey that I am discovering what is out there.  That being said, the past couple of times I've gone to Pinball Wizard Arcade in NH, I've spent more time on one or two machines, instead of trying out every machine separately. 

(I kept looking past #100 to see if it would be worth going on, but the list of games I had played diminished almost immediately, and we entered unfamiliar territory.  So many games to play!!)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Token Bag!!!

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned Aladdin's Castle in a post, the arcade in my local mall that was part of a chain owned by Bally's.  I have MANY MANY MANY fond memories of that arcade.  It eventually changed into Dream Machine and then left the mall, but I'll always remember going there and playing the TMNT arcade game, the Simpson's game, that bonkers Aerosmith music revolution game...  So, I'm digging through some old affects the other day and I stumble upon THIS:

It's the token bag that I used to use for Aladdin's Castle!  AHHHHHH!!!  I was inseparable from this thing as a kid!  I put ZBots in it, Keshi, Tokens, Quarters, you name it!  I'm so happy to have it back in my life again!  I can't wait to take it to PAPA 18 THIS WEEKEND!!!

In a side note, I've tried to save a token from every arcade I've been to, but I CANNOT find my Aladdin's Castle token!  This is a total travesty in the Jon Chad universe.  If anyone has any leads before I take the search to eBay, let me know!!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

BAPA Tokens

One of the things that I used to love about working at a screen-printing shop, is that you never knew what you were going to be printing on.  You could be doing shirts one day, hockey pucks the next.  It was a great feeling to create so many different objects that human beings use in such wildly different ways.  These day, mostly, I work on books, and objects that are printed on paper, in one form or another.

One exception is the (almost sculptural) minicomic work I've done for BOOM! Studios, and the tokens that I've done for PAPA and BAPA (the Bay Area Pinball Association).  I really enjoyed working on this design, and although I get nervous when something I do, mistakes and all, are literally CAST IN METAL, I think it came out great!

There is something REALLY cool about designing tokens! It makes me feel a connection to the old arcades of old and makes me think of the places I used to haunt, and the machines I used to play.  See the tokens put a smile on my face!

Monday, March 2, 2015

PAPA 18 Poster

I was lucky to get the chance to do the poster for the PAPA 18 tournament, happening this March (11th-15th).  I actually just confirmed that I'm going to be in Pittsburgh starting on the 14th for a couple of days, so I'm going to at least be there for the last day!  I'M SO EXCITED!  When I was asked to do the poster, I was basically given a carte blanche.  I haven't done horror-themed art in a long time, and I have NEVER drawn a zombie (!?!?!) so it seemed like a good match.  Also, The Walking Dead came out :P  In any case, here's the result:

If you are planning to go to PAPA 18, get ready for a Jon Chad high five!!!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Pinball in Montreal. Amusement 2000 Plus

My girlfriend and I recently celebrated our 2 year anniversary by spending some of her winter break in Montreal.  Because we knew that the weather was atrociously cold, we imagined that we would be spending a lot of time indoors.  Reading, going to museums, you know, vacation stuff.  Never one to step foot in a new city without doing my homework, though, I did a cursory look at what pinball might be around, and I found two machines at Amusement 2000 Plus in downtown Montreal, right on St Catherine!!  I have gone up and down that street so many times, but I could not remember AT ALL ever seeing an arcade. 

I called 2000+ and they said that they had Metallica and ACDC, both LEs.  I have not gotten a lot of play time on either machine, so I was pretty pumped.

The best part of 2000+ was how it looked!  I used to go to Aladdin's Castle when I was a kid and 2000+ reminded me SO MUCH of it!  The colors were bright, the lights were blazing, and the architecture was bonkers.

Sadly, the Metallica was out of order, so all I got was a couple of games on the ACDC.  My first game didn't go well, and I just flailed about.  The second game was amazing, and I really lit up the board, getting a replay on my first ball.  When everything was done, I had gotten around 65 million, which is maybe the highest I've ever gotten on a Stern game. 

The highlight was during a multiball where I (on purpose!!) managed to get all four balls on the right flipper.  "Tess!!!  Tess!!  Get your camera!  Get a photo of this!  I'm doing it!!"

Pinball dynamo Bowen Kerins had the high score on the machine, and it felt cool to be playing a machine that had felt his metered and masterful touch!  Overall, the ACDC was in great repair, and 2000+ was clean, maintained a moderate noise level, and was a total joy to play in.  Next time I'm in Montreal, I'll make sure to stop in again.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Pinball Art Video (with Justin Packer and John Popadiuk, Jr.)

I stumbled on this video last month and COMPLETELY forgot to post it here.  It's a really great video that goes into the collaboration between pinball designer and artist.  The art that Justin Packer is putting out is AMAZING and I hope that I can see the machine they are working on up close and personal SOON!!  Link HERE!