Archive for the ‘Amusement Game’ Category

Grandma's Predictions

Grandma’s Predictions, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. May 12, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Happy Mother’s Day to Coney Island’s Grandma’s Predictions! The rare circa 1923 fortune teller returned to her home under the 1920 Wonder Wheel on Mother’s Day 2013 after several months in arcade restorer Bob Yorburg’s workshop. Her inner workings had been destroyed by floodwater from Sandy. Grandma got eye surgery as well as a new wig, dress and wax hands cast from the original mold, and a fine new cabinet. Visit Grandma and get your prediction — only 50 cents.


Related posts on ATZ…

March 28, 2014: Up for Auction: Bimbo Baby Automaton Arcade Machine

December 6, 2013: Rare $25K “Punchy the Clown” Game Makes a Comeback

January 28, 2013: Rare & Vintage: 1906 “La Boule Mysterieuse” Circus Toy

April 27, 2012: The Dancing Doll “Miss Coney Island” Speaks

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Pinto Bros Fire Truck

Pinto Bros Fire Truck, Coney Island. Rich Penn Auctions, May 3, 2014

Among the items being offered on Saturday at online auctions are a circa 1940s Pinto Brothers Fire Truck from a kiddie ride manufactured in Coney Island and an array of vintage arcade machines and carnival games. The Pinto Brothers were kiddie ride manufacturers in the 1940s and ’50s and like their better known contemporary William F Mangels, who also manufactured a popular fire engine ride, the Pinto family had a factory on West 8th Street. After the widening of the street for the New York Aquarium construction swallowed up their shop, they continued to manufacture ride parts for customers and operate rides including the Cyclone roller coaster. For more info on the Pinto Brothers, see “Rare & Vintage: Pinto Bros. Pony Cart from Coney Island,” ATZ, May 18, 2012.

Airplane Game

Detail of St. Louis Carnival Supply Airplane Game. VCA Auction

“Fly to Tokyo, Rome, Paris, London, India, Egypt, Hawaii, N. Pole, Berlin, New York – Colors Win Small Prizes.” This very tall airplane-themed carnival midway game caught our eye in the auction catalogue for Victorian Casino Antiques May 3rd sale. Made by St. Louis Carnival Supply, the game features a hand-painted wooden backboard and a metal plane and track. It calls to mind the Bumper Car Game, which my father worked with a roller skate that was pushed by players. Dad said it was designed as an alternative to gambling wheels after wheels were prevented from operating in many places.

The VCA auction has a selection of pinball games and arcade machines including this 1 Cent Supply Co. “How Can I Get What I Want” Grip Tester. Squeezing the handle of the circa 1944 machine provides a variety of answers: “Take A Chance, Get Lucky, Work Hard, Be Pigheaded, Grab It, Outsmart ‘Em, Be Greedy, Just Ask, Use Good Line.”

1 Cent Exhibit Supply Co

1 Cent Exhibit Supply Co. ‘How Can I Get What I Want.’ VCA Auction, May 3, 2014


Related posts on ATZ…

March 30, 2014: Spring Reading: “Automatic Pleasures: The History of the Coin Machine”

February 5, 2014: National Pinball Museum Founder’s Vintage Games Up for Auction

December 6, 2013: Rare $25K “Punchy the Clown” Game Makes a Comeback

November 15, 2013: Modern Pinball NYC Opens with New Arcade Business Model

Read Full Post »

Coney Island Skyline

First Tower of Luna Park’s New Thunderbolt Roller Coaster on the Coney Island Skyline. April 23, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

While Coney Island’s amusement parks are already open for fun in the sun on Saturdays and Sundays, these photos provide a glimpse of some of the new construction underway this month. Zamperla’s Thunderbolt roller coaster, which is set to debut on Memorial Day weekend, is rising on the skyline. In the above photo the first tower can be seen alongside the Parachute Jump, SkyCoaster, PTB Bar’s lighthouse and the Boardwalk’s ornamental lamp posts. Isn’t it a beautiful sight?

Here’s a rendering of how the steel coaster will look when completed. The $10 million dollar ride is Coney Island’s first custom-built coaster since the Cyclone debuted in 1927 and is named in honor of the demolished 1925 Thunderbolt.

Thunderbolt Roller Coaster Under Construction

Luna Park’s New Thunderbolt Roller Coaster Under Construction, Coney Island. April 5, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Luna Park has also built new booths for water race, basketball and balloon games on the Boardwalk next to Scream Zone’s SkyCoaster. The stands will house the first games on the Boardwalk, which historically had arcades and games galore, since Shoot the Freak lost its lease in 2010.

Game booths Coney Island

New game booths under construction on the Boardwalk. April 5, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

On Friday, ATZ posted photos of two new mom & pop businesses under construction on Surf Avenue and also set to open in May. Lunatic Ice Cream will occupy the former Island Grocery and Luna Park Cafe is across the street from the Cyclone. Next to Stillwell Terminal, a new building is going up to house a Johnny Rockets franchise, but the “Coming Soon” sign may be overly optimistic considering the slow progress of construction at the site. Coming in 2014?


Related posts on ATZ…

April 25, 2014: Under Construction: New Mom & Pops Coming to Coney Island’s Surf Ave

March 10, 2014: High Hopes for Coney Island’s New Thunderbolt Coaster

December 2, 2013: New Construction: Coney Island Area’s 1st Hotel in Decades

September 2, 2013: The New Coney Island: A Tale of Two Jones Walks

Read Full Post »

Automatic Pleasures by Nic Costa

Nic Costa’s classic Automatic Pleasures: The History of the Coin Op Machine is once again in print and as relevant as ever, considering the resurgence of pinball in bars and the popularity of a new Cupcake ATM on Lexington Avenue that had a line of people 12 to 15 deep on opening day. There’s also the nearly 10,000 slot machines at New York’s Aqueduct and Yonkers racetracks, a harbinger of many more to come with the legalization of casinos in New York State.

Gambling machines, the one armed bandit, penny arcades, fortunetelling machines, strength testers, shooting games, viewers, and vending and service machines are among the automatic entertainments covered in the book, which is illustrated with both black & white and color photos.

Did you know the first-ever vending machine was a coin-operated holy water dispenser invented by Hero of Alexandria nearly 2000 years ago? Costa writes that it wasn’t until the development of markets and a society based on paid labor that devices saving time were valued and produced in number.

The first coin freed patent was in 1857, for “A Self-Acting Machine for the Delivery of Postage and Receipt Stamps.” A penny inserted would automatically feed out a stamp from a roll. By the mid-1890s more than 1,000 patent applications for coin freed machines had been received by the U.K. Patent Office. Tellingly, many of the early machines could be used either as fortune tellers or games of chance. Games with automatic payouts of a cigar, a card or a token became increasingly popular on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1890s.

Automatic Pleasures by Nic Costa

In the U.K. in the first years of the 20th century, there was a spate of prosecutions against businesses, including saloons and shops, which had the automatic machines. The intent was to suppress “public corruption” and “juvenile depravity.” The enforcement of anti-gambling laws resulted in European manufacturers having to concentrate on games of skill with a low pay-out, which led to the later American domination of the world market.

Automatic Pleasures is enlivened by numerous excerpts from firsthand accounts of the era. Herbert Mills of Chicago’s Mills Novelty Company, once the world’s leading manufacturer of coin operated machines, writes about the Automatic Vaudeville or Penny Arcade business in the early 20th century:

The Penny Arcade has become a permanent institution as much as the theater, the opera, the circus, the concert, the lecture or the gymnasium, for it combines in a modified form of all of these and because it makes such universal appeal, particularly to the poorer classes, it is destined to grow constantly in popularity and size. Only about 10 per cent of the total population have an income of more than $1,200.00 per year, and therefore, the percentage of those who can afford a dollar for a concert ticket or two dollars for a theater ticket is very small. But everyone can patronize the Penny Vaudeville and afford ten cents for half an hours entertainment.

Automatic Pleasures: The History of The Coin Machine by Nic Costa, D’Aleman Publishing, 2013. Paperback, $32.42

Automatic Pleasures by Nic Costa

Related posts on ATZ…

February 5, 2014: National Pinball Museum Founder’s Vintage Games Up for Auction

November 15, 2013: Modern Pinball NYC Opens with New Arcade Business Model

May 7, 2013: Video of the Day: Restoration of Grandma’s Predictions

March 9, 2011: Inexhaustible Cows & Bottomless Cups of Chocolate Milk

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Punchy the Clown by Alvin G & Co

Punchy the Clown Pinball Machine, detail of lit playfield. Modern Pinball NYC. November 30, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Last weekend at a birthday party at Modern Pinball NYC, Manhattan’s new mecca for pinball, one of the games we enjoyed playing was Punchy the Clown. It’s smaller than the other machines and has a decidedly retro look, calling to mind vintage pinball machines by Gottlieb. “Alvin G. and Co” is emblazoned on the backglass. ATZ asked Modern Pinball co-owner Steve Epstein how old it was and who made it.

It turns out Punchy was manufactured in 1993 and is the most expensive pinball machine at Modern Pinball’s interactive showroom, with a sales price of $24,995 due to rarity, Epstein says. By comparison, you can buy the sleek, full-size games at Modern such as Dr Dude, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Wizard of Oz and Batman for $5,995-$10,995.

Punchy the Clown by Alvin G. & Co.

Lit backglass of Punchy the Clown Pinball Machine at Modern Pinball NYC. November 30, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

“Alvin G.” is Alvin Gottlieb, whose family established D. Gottlieb & Co. Pinball in Chicago in 1927 and sold the business in the 1970s. “In 1991, Alvin Gottlieb and Michael Gottlieb went back into the pinball machine business,” says Epstein. Since the company folded after releasing only five titles, one of which was the 1993 Punchy the Clown, the machine is rare.

On the Internet Pinball Database, only one player has rated it, which is an indication of its rarity. He gave it a 9 out of 10. There’s also an original promo flyer for the game: “Punchy holds your ticket to a carnival of earnings.” The “Mini-pin™ configuration” featured an adjustable leg height for children and adults. It was designed as a redemption game for kids. Only 103 units were produced.

When Alvin Gottlieb, 86, died in October, fans paid tribute on pinball discussion boards. “I’ll play a game on each of my Gottliebs today in his honor. RIP,” one commenter said, echoing the sentiments of many who grew up playing pinball.

As previously noted (“Modern Pinball NYC Opens with New Arcade Business Model,” ATZ, November 15, 2013), players buy time– $7.50 for a half hour, $10 for an hour, and $20 to play all day– in the pinball showroom, which has 31 games. Located on Third Avenue between 26th and 27th Streets, Modern Pinball is open 7 days a week from 11AM to midnight, with later hours on weekends.

Punchy the Clown

Punchy the Clown Pinball Machine at Modern Pinball NYC. November 30, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita


Related posts on ATZ…

May 28, 2013: It’s Loo-ney: Bathroom-Themed Water Race Game Comes to Coney Island

May 16, 2013: Shooting Gallery Revival in Post-Sandy Coney Island

April 27, 2012: The Dancing Doll “Miss Coney Island” Speaks

November 29, 2011: Fascination: From Coney Island to Nantasket Beach

Read Full Post »

Modern Pinball NYC

Just Opened: Modern Pinball NYC on Third Avenue at 27th Street in Manhattan. November 10, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

This weekend, Modern Pinball NYC, a new destination for pinball enthusiasts in Manhattan, will celebrate its grand opening with a couple of tournaments, including a Saturday benefit for the Food Bank for New York City. Located on Third Avenue at 26th Street, the pinball machine retailer and interactive showroom is a brand-new business model for the arcade, which outside of amusement parks is a vanishing breed.

Modern Pinball NYC

Metallica, Star Trek and The Wizard of Oz Pinball Machines at Modern Pinball. November 10, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Instead of paying per game at Modern Pinball, players buy time– $7.50 for a half hour, $10 for an hour, and $20 to play all day. The bonus is that whatever you spend can be applied to the future purchase of a pinball machine. The 30 machines currently at Modern Pinball range from beautifully refurbished games from the 1990s like The Addams Family, Fun House and Dr Dude to new titles from Stern and Jersey Jack Pinball.

The Wizard of OZ by Jersey Jack Pinball

Playing The Wizard of OZ by Jersey Jack Pinball at Modern Pinball. November 10, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

When ATZ stopped by on Tuesday evening, we met pinball veterans who’d already made the place part of their schedule and passersby of all ages stopping to check it out. “It’s great family entertainment,” says co-owner Steve Zahler, who has fond memories of growing up playing pinball in the 1970s, when the games were everywhere–restaurants, skating rinks and Main Street arcades.

“Not like nowadays, when they’re mostly in bars,” says Zahler. “That’s why I didn’t want alcohol to be part of this business because I want to help bring pinball back.” His daughter and son, who are 6 and 9, are turning out to be pinball whizzes, but they’re lucky to have several machines at home. Zahler wanted to open a place where kids could play pinball with their friends and family, just as as he did growing up. Birthday parties and special event packages are among Modern Pinball’s offerings.

Steve Zahler, Modern Pinball

Steve Zahler, Modern Pinball’s co-owner, is the #1 Ranked Pinball Player in New York and New Jersey. November 10, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Players are encouraged to ask the staff, who include high-ranking tournament players and pinball enthusiasts, for tips and strategies. We were wowed to find out Zahler is the No. 1 ranked player in New York and New Jersey, 14th in the country and 27th in the world out of 21,000 tournament players! Steve Epstein, his partner at Modern Pinball is the co-founder of both the International Flipper Pinball Assn. (IFPA) and Professional and Amateur Pinball Assn.(PAPA) with Roger Sharpe. “We share the same philosophy about business, pinball and promotion,” says Zahler. “We have the same deep passion for pinball.”

AC/DC Pinball Machine

AC/DC ‘Let There Be Rock’ Limited Edition at Modern Pinball. November 10, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

With Modern Pinball, Epstein, who was the owner/operator of the Broadway Arcade aka “The Pinball Capital of the World” until it closed in 1996, is back in business. The place was legendary and is much missed. According to a 1985 article from the Times, Lou Reed held his wedding reception at Broadway Arcade, and Broadway stars, cast members and members of orchestras ran in during breaks between performances and during intermissions. At Modern Pinball, we met one of those musicians, a French horn player named Michael, who was ecstatic to have a place to play again. “I haven’t played pinball in 15 years,” he said.

Modern Pinball NYC, 362 Third Avenue (between 26th & 27th Streets), New York, NY 10016. Phone 646 415-8440. Winter Hours: Open 7 days a week from 11AM to midnight, till 2AM on Thu, Fri and Sat.

Modern Pinball

Modern Pinball, November 10, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita


Related posts on ATZ…

March 30, 2014: Spring Reading: “Automatic Pleasures: The History of the Coin Machine”

October 23, 2012: Playland Arcade Demolition Under Way in Coney Island

November 29, 2011: Fascination: From Coney Island to Nantasket Beach

August 15, 2011: Games: Where You Can Play Vintage Pinball Year Round

Read Full Post »

Eldorado Bumper Cars

Eldorado Bumper Cars, Surf Avenue, Coney Island. September 5, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita

Bump and dance! Coney Island’s amusement parks closed for the season at the end of October, but this weekend–November 2nd and 3rd– you can still go for a ride at the Eldorado Bumper Cars, play games in the arcade, bust balloons at the stands on the Bowery, and dance with Miss Coney Island.

Gordon Lee, who operates the independently owned disco palace of bumper cars on Surf Avenue, says he will keep it open Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon till whenever–usually 8 or 9pm.

Miss Coney Island

Miss Coney Island, 25 Cents a Dance. October 20, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

On West 12th Street near the Boardwalk, the windows featuring the dancing doll “Miss Coney Island” and the miniature animated rides of “Coney Island Always” will be open from 2pm, along with Skin the Wire, Roll-A-Coaster and other whimsical games. “Don’t Postpone Joy,” says a sign on the door. It’s still costs only 25 cents a dance or to set the mechanical rides awhirl.

Treasure boxes

Next Door to Miss Coney Island: ‘Limoge Inspired’ Treasure Boxes for Sale. October 20, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

You can start your Christmas shopping too. The stand next door to Miss Coney Island has been transformed into a gift shop with glass pendants ($5.00 each) and “Limoge inspired” treasure boxes galore ($8.00 each). ATZ bought a mermaid-shaped treasure box but there are plenty more. Each box holds tiny secret treasures like the three little ducklings seen below.

See “Coney Island Always: Visiting the Big CI Year-Round” for info on what’s doing in Coney’s amusement area in November.

Tiny ducks

Tiny ducks inside the duck-shaped treasure box. October 20, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita


Related posts on ATZ…

September 2, 2013: Photo of the Day: Skin the Wire and Feed the Clown

March 21, 2013: Photo of the Day: Miss Coney Island Meets Miss Coney Island

April 27, 2012: The Dancing Doll “Miss Coney Island” Speaks

March 27, 2012: Video of the Day: Eldorado Auto Skooter at Coney Island (2011)

Read Full Post »

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