the backglass for the pinball game Skateball as described in the post

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.


High Speed

The backglass to the pinball game high speed as described in the post

High Speed, Williams, 1986.

This game is about racing an 80s red sports car, possibly a Lamborghini or a Ferrari, through the streets of some small town while the police chase you. Consequently the backglass is the view of the inside of a police cruiser staring out the window at a red sports car racing down the road in front of it. If the illustration’s speed lines are to believed, it’s moving pretty quickly.

We can also see two officers of the law. The one on the left has his left hand in the 2:00 position on the wheel on a straight road, so he flunks my high school driving test. The other is reading off of a long list of warrants into a handheld police radio similar to a CB. Based on the number of his teeth we can see and how wrinkled his face is, he is displeased.

The dashboard is the scoreboard, but each of the players is labeled as “Speeder 1”, “Speeder 2”, etc. which means the higher your score the faster you’re zooming away.


The backglass for Taxi, as described in the post.

Taxi, Williams, 1988.

Hoo boy is this a 1980s machine.

The framing of this backglass is over the right shoulder of a taxi driver (United States, so he sits on the left of the car) who’s stopped at a red light. As the viewer, you’re presumably either in the back seat or straddling the center console.

The driver is a bit scary looking, like if Rudy from Funhouse became real, six foot tall, and got a job. He’s wearing a red newsboy cap with three buttons on it: MIA/POW, Say NO To Drugs, and a third I can’t make out. He’s also wearing what appears to be green camo with a green patch on the shoulder.

In front of our hero’s tax from left to right, Marilyn Monroe in her famous red dress stands with two green suitcases, Russian President Gorbachev waves while holding a briefcase, Pinbot stands back from the curb, Dracula raises a hand from behind his cape, and Santa Clause is running up the street to wave down the taxi.

Marilyn is not actually Marilyn for the purposes of the game, by the way. Williams had a problem getting the rights to Marilyn Monroe’s likeness, according to the Internet Pinball Database, and the character was renamed Lola for the purposes of the game. Williams modified the art for all but 200 machines that had already shipped, and sometimes she was a brunette and sometimes a redhead. According to the same source, she was named for The Kinks song Lola.

I’m pretty sure that makes her the first official trans person represented in pinball. Good.

The building Santa is running past has a Williams Pinball Palace sign on the corner, and a placard advertising “The greatest pinball games: Cyclone, PinBot, Space Station, High Speed, Bonzai Run, Comet, and Big Guns”. Nice product placement, there, Williams

We can also see the taxi’s rear view mirror which is half painted with the driver’s right eye and ear reflected in it, and half chromed so we can see what’s behind the machine (in this case a wall and part of a basketball game).  The car’s hood is of course taxi yellow, the dashboard looks so squared off it could’ve been made of lego brick, and the meter doubles as a jackpot display.

If you look at the other machines tagged 80s aesthetic on here you’ll find that Taxi fits the “we’ll turn any concept into a pinball machine” feel of that decade, which might be why the 1990s were so incredibly dominated by branded properties.

Bad Cats

The backglass to the pinball game Bad Cats as described in the post

Bad Cats, Williams, 1989.

I don’t know what was going in at Williams in 1989 but it seemed to have a lot of imagination, I’ll give it that. And when you figure that most of the current century has been dominated by Stern and licensed properties, there is something positive to be said about games that were just… out there.

And out there this one is. The backglass is a scene taking place between a house with orange siding and a red brick house. There’s a patio stretching between the two buildings with what appear to be cement pavers. Behind the outbuilding is a pine colored picket fence, and on the left we can see a white cat in a tree on the other side of the fence trying to get to some eggs in a bird’s nest. The bird is displeased and attacking.

On the roof of the left building a striped cat is lying on a blanket as if at the beach, with a blue, red and yellow striped umbrella over its head. Its tail is being levitated by two balloons.

In the leftmost window of the left house, we can see a Doberman-like dog trying to pull a cat off the drapes by the tail. For some reason the doberman is blue.

Next to that window is another window.  A boy in a yellow and red striped sweatshirt and a Mario from Super Mario style red hat is half out the window, aiming a slingshot at a cat on top of the dog house.

The dog house has a red roof and orange walls and contains a huge bulldog wearing a spiked collar. Think Loony Tunes or Tom and Jerry tropes. The dog has his paws on the back of a white cat who is pinned down to the ground. Another cat, as mentioned, is on the roof, holding a fishing pole that has a bone tied to the end of the line. It’s unclear whether the cat is trying to catch the dog with the bone as a lure or whether the cat is trying to steal the bone, because the bone is hovering over a blue dog bowl. Could go either way.

A little further forward in the scene a grey cat has jumped onto a 50’s red round barbecue grill, and is midair with its fur all sticking out indicating displeasure with the coals. We have no idea how the cat got there.

At the foot of the grill three mice are standing around on their back feet pointing at some cats further to the right as if in discussion. The three cats, orange, black and white spots, and brown stripes, are watching a circular mouse hole in the cement. The mice have clearly left that mouse house via the back door, which is another hole near them.

To the right of that a little girl in a short red dress is pushing a toy baby carriage that has a cat tucked into it like a baby. She’s offering the cat a mouse. To the right of that is a kids’ wading pool, maybe a foot deep, that two cats are fishing from. One has hooked a foot-long goldfish and the other cat is holding a net out to land the catch. A second goldfish head the size of a dinner platter is also surfacing in the pool. I don’t know who put those fish there but I wouldn’t let the kid anywhere near it.

Behind the kid and the pool is our aforementioned outbuilding. We can see through the wall to a woman in a red dress, white apron, makeup, heels, and a hair ribbon. She is well-endowed and unnaturally perky in the top region, with a four inch waist. She’s also wielding a broom like an ice hockey player about to commit a serious penalty.

The woman is aiming the broom toward a workbench covered in tools. Below the workbench we see a cat screaming, an empty birdcage, and an empty bird chiding the cat like Tweety Bird would be if a license had been purchased somewhere  in here. One of the features of this table is that during certain parts of the game play the woman beats the cat with the broom and the cat spins in circles. Good wholesome entertainment.

There’s an orange cat on the roof of the outbuilding leaning over the edge to watch the woman.

There’s also a sign in the outbuilding that says “There are crazy cats and there are copy cats!”

To the right of the outbuilding we find a full sized orange tiger leaning over the fence with fangs bared. Below him an orange cat is peeking out of a lime green trash can.

A large pole of blocks used to light the jackpot progress stands next to the brick house, with a fish bowl on the top labeled Jackpot. A large goldfish is inside. Four cats are standing in a tower, each on the other’s head, to try to get into the fish bowl.

A white striped cat is riding a skateboard off the red brick building’s roof.

In the window of that building we see a grey striped cat hiding in a hanging plant, and a white cat who has impaled a mouse from stomach to butt on a stick roasting the mouse over a candle flame.

To top it all off, there’s a creature best described as a snake with a human’s head in the front right corner. Instead of a rattle like a rattlesnake it has a pinball flipper on its tail. Its body is grey blotches on a yellow and brown background except where the words “pinball python” are written near the tail. Its head… well, imagine if you cut off a snake’s head, left the “neck” straight up like a human neck, and attached the head of Mick Jagger with purple hair.

Are you having nightmares yet? Because I think I will be.

Below the scoreboard two large grey cats are both stalking a mouse standing on its hind feet on a step stool.

As you may guess by the fact that it took 1,000 words to describe this one, it’s a bit of a doozy.

Black Knight 2000

Backglass for the black knight 2000 pinball machine as described in the post

Black Knight 2000, Williams, 1989.

Yes it’s named “2000” even though it was made in the late ’90s. That’s what the ’90s were like, folks. Everyone just waiting around for the next big round number to come up and see if we all make it to the other side.

Anyway… this is the sequel to Black Knight, only “modern”.  The art looks like a fancy crest of sorts, with the Black Knight riding a black horse through a big circle in the center of the screen.

The horse is wearing chair armor on its neck and your typical renaissance faire blanket like drape in bright red with fancy blue triangles on it. The horse for some reason has a blonde main and tail, which, I mean, those are some interesting genetics right there.

The Black Knight is, of course, wearing black armor, but it’s highlighted in pink and blue at the edges — as is the armor on the horse. The knight is also wearing a red sash and a big bulky gold necklace of some sort. Oh and of course a red cape. The knight is wielding a lighting bolt, which is no easy trick when one is wearing metal armor.

The circle the knight and horse are jumping through is lined with lightning bolds around its rim, and oh hey coincidentally that same circle and ring of lightning bolts is on the playfield (not shown) where it does fancy things during the game.

To the left is a set of towers that look like they are actually chromed-up truck pistons that have been stretched a bit. To the right is a castle that resembles an angry robot only with sharp spikes around all the edges of the parapets.

Everything else is a mixture of red shapes with chrome borders. Because the future is about shiny spiky things, the color red, and chrome.