Star Trek the Next Generation, 1993, Williams.
More branded machines! More marketing!
Since it’s an illustration, everyone looks super young and quite fit. From left to right we’ve got Geordi LaForge, Deanna Troi, Jonathan Riker, Data, Beverly Crusher, Jean Luc Picard, and Worf who’s about to fire his phaser at someone. Wow I forgot that phasers were the size of boxy dildos back then.
Behind our heroes we see the Enterprise-D, a Romulan Bird-of-Prey, a Klingon battle cruiser, and the silhouette of a Borg, probably Hugh.
See, I do know some pop culture!
Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Pro edition), 2021, Stern.
It took close to 75 pinball posts for me to get to a Star Wars property, which is really an accomplishment considering how many different ones exist.
It’s still a Stern machine and it’s still a licensed property, so yes, the backglass looks more like marketing material than anything else, but at least now that we’re in the 2020s, we’re getting a little more artistic about it again. This is an illustration, not a photo still or mashup. The Mandalorian stands center stage with the child in front of him, one of the Fetts to the right and a woman I recognize but don’t know the name of to the left. A bunch of other characters are milling around, they’re on a desert planet, and typical Star Wars ships hover in the far background.
(Look, I only watched like two episodes, cut me a break.)
It’s very orange and charcoal, but in a way that’s in line with the show’s aesthetic. Yeah, it’s advertising. Gotta sell machines somehow.
Deadpool (Pro edition), 2018, Stern
We’re back in this century and it’s a branded backglass so you know it’s going to be, well, marketing. Deadpool, center, is punching Colossus (I think it’s Colossus, been a while since I picked up a comic book) while a bunch of other characters including Wolverine and Mystique lurk in the red background. There’s a taco truck in the top left corner. The Hell House and mini-Deadpool also make appearances. Everything is very red.
The comic is better.
Title Fight, 1990, a goddamned Gottlieb.
The majority of this backglass is occupied by a bald white boxer with a mustache on the left, and a brown-haired white boxer on the right. They have gloves up to box and there is a point where in the middle of the game you hit the two flipper buttons simultaneously to cause one to punch the other. They look much like paper dolls swinging at each other with hinged shoulders and elbows when they box.
The area around them is all decorated to look like a Greek temple, or possibly the Caesar’s Palace casino. Marble columns separate the boxers from the scantily clad stone women draped on the columns, and the scoreboard is designed to look like carved stone.
At the very top, two large boxing-gloved hands surround the words Title Fight, which is styled like a prize belt, with a world champion metal in the center.
The bulk of the work on this one went into the animatronics and the movement is a unique (and nice) touch to draw folks to the machine.
Skateball, Bally, 1980
Hoo is this thing 1980.
Let’s start with the man in the middle of the backglass. He takes up easily a third of the image in both directions. Starting at the bottom, he’s riding a blue skateboard with orange wheels, crouched so low that he’s almost touching his chest to his knees. His board shoes are white with an orange stripe, and are cut as high tops. White crew socks then blue knee pads that look like they’re made of blue taffeta. His shorts are 1980s basketball shorts which is to say another quarter of an inch and this man would be showing us ass cheek.
But it must be windy skateboarding in 1980 because he’s wearing what looks like a fuzzy and thick orange sweater with long sleeves. His elbow pads are blue and look so plush they could be inflatable, He’s wearing orange gloves that match his orange sweater and appear to hide frighteningly wide fingers.
To the left of him, another picture of him only shirtless and sporting a six pack and jean shorts has his arms around the waist of a blonde who desperately needs a bra but has never met one. She’s wearing a white shirt and red bikini bottoms, and holding up a blue and yellow surf board. They managed to get visible nipples through the shirt on this one.
Above them is a sailboat matching the same colors because color palettes for printing were expensive in the 80s.
To the right of skateboard guy is the most 80s purple striped drug-user van you ever saw in an after school special. Behind it is a silhouette of palm trees.