1976 Aladdin’s Castle

June marked the month when Bally let Greg Kmiec and Christian Marche unveil their newest creation to the pinball world. This two-player game awards an extra ball when the A-B-C-D sequence is completed. C and D when completed, award the double bonus. The third flipper in the middle right of the playfield gives the player maximum control to shoot for the Aladdin’s Alley. Hitting the rollover at the top of this shot scores the lit value and then advances the value for the next completed shot. If you’re skillful enough to make it to the 5,000 shot, the next shot scores a special. This special remains lit for the balance of the ball in play. All in all, a typical Bally game of the era. This game was released at the same time as the classic Captain Fantastic Bally machine (that game is in the museum). Captain Fantastic made Bally #1.

1976 Captain Fantastic

This game is considered to be the #3 game of the ’70s. It was released in June, designed by Greg Kmiec and art by Dave Christiansen. It had a production run of 16,200 units, a record to that date for production by Bally. The game has a rock star tie in the form of Elton John, who was at his peak back then. The movie “Tommy” was also an influence for the game’s graphics. The triple flipper arrangement of the game made for fast action on the playfield. A bonus feature is present, a 5-bank drop target that when hit, advances through extra ball and then special. A free ball gate, when activated, extends the ball’s life. This game is one of the last most collectible electromechanical-era games produced. It was the complementary game to Bally’s Wizard pinball which, again, found its theme based on the “Tommy” movie by The Who. Celebrity tie-ins were found to be big sellers.

1967 Dixieland

This game was released in October of the year. The artwork was by Christian Marche. This machine has a carry-over feature. The object of this feature is to spell D-I-X-I-E-L-A-N-D on the backglass. If the feature isn’t completed on your current game, it doesn’t reset when the next game is started. Mostly a point-scoring game, a clarinet bonus feature advances and scores once you sink a ball in the upper-left eject hole. Basin Street is in the center-right area and acts like a bagatelle, scoring points appropriate to where the ball meanders. Zipper flippers are incorporated into the game also. These flippers, when activated, will close the gap between themselves so the ball in play can’t drain between them. A passive spring retracts them back to normal position when not active. An interesting ’60s game.

1972 Fireball

This is it. The ultimate collectible game of the ‘70s according to the literature. Bally put together Ted Zale and Dave “Mad Dog” Christianson to design the game. Production run was 3,815 units. Many firsts here. The whirlwind spinning disk was a first to throw off the ball once rolled upon. A messenger ball (captive ball) was a variation on a theme. The art package is truly amazing. A lower-left kick-back kicker, when activated, returns your ball to play. A free ball gate returns your ball to the plunger. “Zipperflippers”, a first, closes the gap between the flippers, when activated, preventing the loss of the ball thru the center drain until turned off. Once you lock two balls in the “odin” and “wotan” kickout holes, then hit “release messenger balls”, three balls are in play. No jackpot in multiball in this game was developed. You just had a period of high scoring and pinball chaos to contend with until you lost the first two balls in play.

1971 Four Million B.C.

This prehistoric-themed machine rolled off the production line in May, designed by Ted Zale with artwork by Dick White. Production run was 3,550 units. The initial plunger shot on this game is unique, as the ball is shot across the playfield diagonally. This also is a skill shot as four rollovers are on the ramp. If you manage to just roll to the last rollover and the ball rolls backward onto the playfield, you’re rewarded with 3,000 points. If you rolled past the rollovers, you score 10 points. This game has two captive ball areas. If you lock the two balls, three-ball multiball is in play. This interesting playfield is somewhat similar to Bally’s Fireball game, which was released the next year. This game also has zipper flippers where the flippers, close the gap between themselves until deactivated. This is the fourth most desirable game of the ‘70s.

1977 Mata Hari

May was the production month of this game, with Jim Patla on board for design and Dave “Mad Dog” Christiansen doing the artwork. A very rare game, as production runs for this electromechanical machine was 170 units. 16,000 units were also produced in the solid-state format so this new format was definitely catching on. The center-upper eject hole scores 3,000 points and advances the options feature. A and B, when hit, advances the advance feature eventually up to an extra ball and special feature. Dropping all the drop targets awards the player 50,000 points and activates the special. This is the last electromechanical game Bally produced, as well as the last time chimes are used for sound. A landmark game in the conversion to solidstate electronics, which would now dominate the industry.

1973 Nip It

Bally had a production run of 4,580 games on this machine. It was designed by Ted Zale with artwork by Dick White. This is the infamous game known to all who watched “Happy Days” on television. It was a standard fixture in Arnold’s Diner. This game features a “gator grabber” in the upper-right part of the playfield. It consists of a solenoid-activated bar that, once activated, would extend to “eat” the ball in play. The early versions of this grabber looked more like an alligator but were prone to breakage so the mechanism was modified to be more operator friendly. This game has a high scoring area (the alligator lane) and is a multiball game (2-ball multiball). The game also has the option of active “zipper-flippers” closing the gap between the flipper for higher scoring potential. If the ball leaves the playfield, the in-ball bonus is scored. All in all, an interesting game with three flipper buttons.

1978 Playboy

This solid-state game was very popular when it was released and has a lot of smooth shots to complete. It was designed by Jim Patla with artwork by Paul Faris. Production run was 18,250 units. This pre-speaking pinball has Hugh Hefner on its backglass with Bunny Sondra Theodore posing. At the top of the game are four rollover lanes, which advance when hit to a special and advance the bonuses and grotto award. Hitting the five Bunny targets also advance a feature to win extra balls and specials. A unique kickback lane advances with every entrance into it. A five-pack of drop targets also advance certain features on the game. If 20,000 points are made on the bonus system, this point count is carried over to all remaining balls and then some. The nicest shot on the game is going up the right side from the flipper and looping the ball into the grotto. The sound originates from the old TV show “Playboy After Dark.”

1977 Power Play

This solid-state Bally game was produced in February. It was designed by Greg Kmiec with artwork by Dave ”Mad Dog” Christianson (his first solid-state game design). Bobby Orr is on the backglass of this hockey-themed game. The symmetrical playfield has a lot of early solid-state goodies. The top kickout hole advances 3,000 points each time it’s landed in. If you advance to 15,000 points, the outlanes light up for special. The two banks of drop targets reset upon completion and eventually score a special if advanced to 5 resets. The pop-up post between the flippers is present. Mutiplied bonus memory flash awards huge points if activated. This is a fast-paced game and 13,750 were produced.

1975 Wizard

This game is considered to be the fifth most collectible game of the ‘70s. Bally released the game in May, designed by Greg Kmiec with artwork by Dave “Mad Dog” Christianson. Very pretty game, indeed. Production run was high at 10,005 units (the highest for Bally, since the next-highest production game was Monte Carlo at 5,254 games in 1973). The game was inspired by the movie “Tommy” and the musical group, The Who. Bally started dominating the pinball scene from this game on. The playfield of the game has a nice flow. Flip flags on the right side of the playfield flip over when hit to activate different features on the game. Once you flip the flags and shoot the ball down the right ramp, the features are activated and the flags reset. Getting the bonus feature to its maximum would light the special for a replay. Score was another way to score a game. Playing the game was an experience, as the artwork package exuded sensual pinball excitement.

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