Backglass for Houdini pinball machine as described in the post

Houdini, American Pinball, 2016.

The Houdini pinball machine is themed around the idea of Houdini’s shows. In alignment with that theme, the word Houdini takes up the top third of the backglass, with the words “Master of Mystery” below it. Houdini looks like it’s forged out of iron or steel, with many small rivets around the edges of the letters. Both the title and subtitle float over a red stage curtain.

Houdini himself, from the bust up, faces the camera inside the curtained area. He’s played up to be creepy, with light emphasizing his eyes and his hands, which he holds up, fingers curled, like he was about to snatch you out of your seat. He is surrounded by chains and the occasional very large clockwork cog, because what’s creepier than steampunk?

Below the stage we see the audience in their seats, facing away from us.

The left edge also contains a big black bank safe wrapped in chains and emitting an eerie yellow glow, an elephant emitting an eerie orange glow, and a woman upside-down in a tank of water that resembles a telephone booth, with the tank emitting an eerie pink glow.

The right edge starts with Houdini swallowing a string of needles  and emitting an eerie green glow, then a very large milk can wrapped in chains and emitting an eerie blue glow, then a wooden trunk emitting an eerie purple glow. Chains, pinballs, and an ouija planchette.

There are a few other tiny details such as a robot staring through the gaps between the D and the I in Houdini that give the whole thing a very consistent vibe.

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.

Transporter: The Rescue

The backglass to Transporter: The Rescue as described in the rest of the post

Transporter: The Rescue, Bally, 1989.

If you were thinking Jason Statham, no. Very no.

This is another pin based on a science fiction theme, but what exactly that theme is I’m not sure. From left to right, we have:

  • A woman in a space suit trapped in a reddish-yellow cone (possibly a pyramid). There’s a tentacle from a monster wrapped around the cone possessively.
  • A  monster. Quinti-laterally symmetrical? Five eyes, five mouths, a big scary opening at the top of its head that could be some other kind of mouth, tentacles, some kind of crab claws or maybe the end of one of the tentacles menacing the camera. The monster is the same orange-red as the cone with the woman in it.
  • A man in a space suit coming in from offstage right, carrying a gun. The patch on his shoulder says UN Orion and has a bunch of patches on it indicating lots of service.  The gun looks suspiciously like a Colt revolver, which, my dude, won’t fire if there’s no oxygen and you are wearing a space suit.
  • The presumed-backpack the man is wearing has the Jackpot lights built into it.

The background has what is either a green dome or a very large green moon rising on what is otherwise a barren plane. Something ominous is glowing in the leftmost corner.

Yeah, absolutely no Jason Statham.


Genesis backglass as described in the post

Genesis, Gottleib, 1986.

One would think looking at this backglass that it was based on a science fiction movie, and it sort-of is, but nothing you’ve probably heard of.  According to the Internet Pinball Database (IPD) entry for Genesis, designer John Gottleib based the concept on a 1927 German film called Metropolis.

Anyway, the backglass is eye-catching in how different it is from most designs of its era. It’s a photo of three people, an old man dressed like a mad scientist, a younger woman with big 80s hair and lots of fishnets, and a younger man possibly with dwarfism dressed in a black leather vest but no shirt.

Behind them one can see a wall of devices, all painted the same matte grey, a weird looking machine to the left and a screen of some sort to the right. Definitely hearkens back to the age of b-movie science fiction, even if the exact plot is known only to the designer.


Photo of Xenon backglass as described in the post

Xenon, Bally, 1980.

For as boring as the 2010s backglasses are, I live for the 80s whackadoo shit.

Dead center we see the torso and head of a giant female robot. Her eyeballs are hearts. Her neck collar has a very large X shining in the center of her throat. Metal bars appear to be running from the camera location to the collar.

The woman standing in front of the giant robot, almost at the position of the camera, faces away from us. She’s wearing a green sci-fi outfit. Based on how perspective works she’s about 1/10 the height of the giant robot.

Pipes encircle the robot as if she’s at the end of a Jeffries tube. One would be excused for missing the two women that appear to be flying/floating toward the robot since they blend in with the pipes.

In each corner a skeleton with a robot head (or conversely a robot with a skeleton body) is slumped against the corner or staring at the events.