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Posts Tagged ‘Modern Pinball NYC’

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

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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

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