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Bring Back the Arcade!  Custom Pinball Art Show's video poster
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We're building an entirely custom classic pinball arcade. All analog everything. Hand painted, hand built, hands on. Come play! Read more

San Francisco, CA Art
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We're building an entirely custom classic pinball arcade. All analog everything. Hand painted, hand built, hands on. Come play!

San Francisco, CA Art
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About this project

OUR GOAL

We're dedicated to building an entirely custom classic pinball arcade art installation starting with five mechanically restored vintage 1970s pinball machines featuring art packages reimagined by some of the most influential and respected counter pop culture artists working in the game today.  We aim to recreate the aura of those public game rooms that ruled the underground of yesteryear, the analog era, retrofit with modern styles relevant to the minds of a new generation.  We're here to bring back the arcade.

We'll first open to the public at the FIFTY24SF Gallery in San Francisco, CA, USA in late Summer/early Fall of 2014, and from there we'll either travel the exhibit to other associated galleries around the world, or choose to scale up to a larger venue in SF with more artists, building upon our success there.

WHY PINBALL?

Because every modern day creature comfort has an analog electro-mechanical ancestor, and in terms of the video game, pinball is that, the grandfather clock of the arcade, the first machine that ever kept score for you.  Before pixels were being pumped in and fired through your eyeballs directly on into your brains by tvs and pc monitors, swinging flippers at a silver ball trapped in a world behind a sheet of glass was as good as gaming got.  High technology, 1975, never forget.  Know your roots.

With this respect for history in our hearts, we choose to use pinball as our medium, our canvas, an homage in honor.

PARTICIPATING ARTISTS

  • Frank Kozik
Frank has been credited by such sources as Rolling Stone Magazine and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art with single-handedly reviving the 'Rock Concert Poster'
Frank has been credited by such sources as Rolling Stone Magazine and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art with single-handedly reviving the 'Rock Concert Poster'
  • Jeremy Fish
Still Searching
Still Searching
  • Coop
This guy.
This guy.
  • Sam Flores
12 Grain
12 Grain
  • Alex Pardee
Escaped Conviction
Escaped Conviction

This is who we're talking, these are the styles our project will represent.  This is the quality of work backer rewards and incentives will return.

And on top of it all, we'll be bringing full size, %100 playable pinball machines designed by these fellas into existence.

Help us make this happen, back our project, and spread the word!

PROCESS

We've already taken the time to source and acquire the pinball machines that will constitute the foundation of this project.  On hand, we have in our possession:

  • 2x 1973 Gottlieb Big Shot
  • 2x 1975 Gottlieb Atlantis
  • 2x 1975 Gottlieb El Dorado
  • 2x 1976 Gottlieb Surfer
  • 2x 1977 Gottlieb Jacks Open

From each pair of games we have, we properly restore one, preserving that table in its original state, and the lesser of the two machines will become the art conversion, custom pinball project.

Once the project machine is chosen, we begin to deconstruct what exists, starting with removal of the elecro-mechanical skeleton, which then in turn is given an overhaul and fine tune up.  Every switch and contact is filed and scrubbed, solder joints retouched, assemblies cleaned and tightened.  The idea here is to get these games into a condition as close to their original state as possible, like new, maybe even better than when they were shipped from the factory during the 1970s.  This takes no less than two working days to accomplish, per machine.

Next, we tend to the playfield.  All inserts(the plastic discs that glow for points when lit) are replaced with fresh new pieces, and any divots, scuffs, or blown out screw holes are filled and then leveled as we begin to sand down the playing surface itself.  From heavy sand paper for initial paint removal, to super fine grit to smooth the surface out, we work the plywood into a fresh canvas, ready for paint.

Cabinets are scrapped and completely replaced as they tend to be beat after 40+ years of service.  We build out an improved design with shop grade birch plywood.

Shop grade birch plywood, primed with Magnalac, a lacquer based enamel.
Shop grade birch plywood, primed with Magnalac, a lacquer based enamel.
Play this, paint that.  Project ready for delivery.
Play this, paint that. Project ready for delivery.

While the playfield and cabinet are hand painted by the artists themselves, there are a number of in game elements that we actually silk screen onto pinball appropriate material.  This is Wade Krause's department.

For the backglass, plastics, drop targets, and potentially other parts, digital templates are provided.  The artists start with black line drawings and color separations, all of which Wade processes and prints.

Digital templates.  Focus on drop target process here.
Digital templates. Focus on drop target process here.

Backglasses are unique in the sense that they're silkscreened pieces of glass intended to be backlit.  Wade not only prints these backglasses, but provides a custom baffleboard light box cutout for each individual game.  We wire a light pattern unique for every backbox design.  Again, custom.

Backglass process.  Art by Soviet NSF, printing and lightbox design by Wade Krause, build by Dave Baach
Backglass process. Art by Soviet NSF, printing and lightbox design by Wade Krause, build by Dave Baach

And that's just a taste of what goes into preparing each project.  Before the artist even works their magic and we rebuild.  The end result is a hand painted one of a kind custom pinball machine, fully playable.

ARTISTS HAND PAINT:

  • playfield
  • playfield associated parts:  pop bumpers, caps.  top and bottom metal aprons
  • full cabinet

ARTISTS ARE SUPPLIED TEMPLATES FOR:

  • backglass
  • plastics
  • drop targets

There's other stuff that needs to be designed, too.  Pop-bumper caps, score cards, coin door inserts(where it says "insert coin"), painted trim, etc etc etc.  All custom everything.

Abra Ca Dabra, before/during/after, transformed into Evil Mansion.  Designed by Pittsburgh based graffiti artist and sign painter Soviet NSF
Abra Ca Dabra, before/during/after, transformed into Evil Mansion. Designed by Pittsburgh based graffiti artist and sign painter Soviet NSF

Classic pinball, given a new life, for the next generation.


OUR TEAM

Wade Krause(L) and Dave Baach(R).  Pinball dudes.
Wade Krause(L) and Dave Baach(R). Pinball dudes.

Wade Krause is a master craftsman, and the initial inspiration for this entire project.  Wade's been reproducing licensed pinball parts for the hobby for 10+ years - cabinets, replica backglasses, plastics sets, and complete playfields! - during that time he came to the realization that if he was capable of reproducing essentially every element of a pinball machine on demand, why couldn't he just cook up his own custom creation?  And thus, the Hellacopters collaboration between Dirty Donny and Wade was born.

Wade's experience with custom pinball is extensive, listed below are a few of the most notable projects he's been involved with:

For this project, Wade will be our source for silk screened backglasses, plastics, and drop targets, as well as any cabinets we'll need.  He'll also be a technical adviser, as he possesses deep craft knowledge across a number of fields - cabinetry, pinball tech, silk screening, CNC routing, etc.  Really kind of mind blowing talent, and he's on our team!

Dave Baach will be acting project manager and lead tech, responsible for overall success as well as the build of each individual game.

From 2004-2011 he worked at Professional and Amateur Pinball Association(PAPA.org), the facility in and collection upon which the World Pinball Championships are held annually, as a full time pinball technician.  From 2007-11 he was Director of Operations.  During his time at PAPA, Dave led the restoration of the 30,000sq ft facility and its collection of 400+ pinball machines back from a flood that completely destroyed the place in 2004, essentially shoring up its foundation, building it up into what it is today:  A one of a kind world class competitive pinball facility.

A player since 1999, Baach started picking up tech skills in 2003, and it's been quite a ride from then on.  Below is an abstract of his pinball résumé:

  • PAPA flood restoration, 2004-2006
  • PAPA director of operations, 2007-2011
  • Funland at the Andy Warhol Museum, 2009, art show featuring custom pinball machines by Mike Budai & Brian Holderman (TiltWarning.com)
  • Designed and installed overhead camera setup and screens at PAPA, 2010 (Pinball.org/videos)
  • Pinball promotion that landed the hobby on the front pages of Gizmodo, Kotaku, Slashdot, ESPN, NPR, Wall Street Journal, and beyond
  • Evil Mansion of Mind Expansion custom pinball collaboration with Soviet NSF, 2012 (TiltWarning.com)

Wade and Dave are not only pinball artists, craftsmen, innovators, and collaborators, but good friends with a shared vision.  This project is a product of their life's passion.

COSTS & BUDGET

Once we're up running at full speed, funded, here's where we'll be dedicating resources:

All costs are estimates based on our experience.

  • Shop space rent.  ~$1,000 per month.
  • Project delivery/drop off/service travel.  Gas $, essentially.
  • Cabinet build out.  ~$2,000 per machine.
  • Playfield clearcoating.  ~$500 per machine.
  • Pinball parts - coin door, legs, inserts, siderails, flippers, rubbers, posts etc etc etc.  ~$500 per machine.
  • Backglass printing and lightbox design, as well as plastics/drop target printing.  $3,000 per machine
  • Ornamental metal powder coating, legs door, aprons, etc  $500 per machine.
  • Artist materials/stipend, up front payment  ~$4,000 per machine.

IF WE EXCEED OUR FUNDRAISING GOAL

  • For every $20,000 we go over our goal we'll add an additional artist/machine to the project, up to 10 total.
  • Wade needs a new laser cutter.  Let's get him one.
  • Glare free museum quality glass for the playfields.  $300 per game.

Risks and challenges

Everyone on board, our techs and our artists, are all professionals with no less than 10 years experience in their given fields. Getting the work done is no problem at all, it's what we do, what we Love.

This project's time line for delivery is based on a full run of 10 custom pinball machines. Assuming we get funded for the base 5, we've allowed ourselves double the time necessary.

Additionally, all rewards will be incorporating artwork organic to the project. The work of designing these custom pinball machines will naturally beget the delivery of our backer's incentives.

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FAQ

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Rewards

  • You selected
    $5 reward

    15 backers

    Chip in to get your name on our email list and be amongst the first to find out about what's going on behind the scenes, how progress is coming along, and where to catch glimpses and sneak peaks of the project and its art as all these custom pinball machines come together.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    $15 reward

    22 backers

    Collection of FIVE unique stickers featuring full color artwork taken directly from each of the custom pinball machines we're building as part of this arcade installation.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    $25 reward

    31 backers

    ONE half scale, 10"x11", full color digital backglass poster print on card stock PLUS a sticker designed by the artist of your choice: Jeremy Fish, Coop, Frank Kozik, Alex Pardee, or Sam Flores. We will get your artist selection later.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    $40 reward

    19 backers

    ONE t-shirt featuring artwork inspired by the custom pinball machine by the artist of your choice: Jeremy Fish, Coop, Frank Kozik, Alex Pardee, or Sam Flores. Corresponding sticker also included.

    We will get your artist selection and sizing info later.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    $60 reward

    13 backers

    ONE t-shirt featuring artwork inspired by the custom pinball machine by the artist of your choice PLUS ONE half scale, 10"x11", full color digital backglass poster print on card stock designed by that same artist. And, hey, a sticker too. We will get your artist selection and sizing info later.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    $80 reward

    11 backers

    COMPLETE SET OF ALL FIVE half scale, 10"x11", full color digital backglass poster prints on card stock designed by each of the participating artists PLUS the complete collection of unique full color stickers.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    $100 reward

    26 backers

    ONE full size hand pulled 10 color silkscreened poster print on card stock of the custom pinball machine backglass designed by the artist of your choice: Jeremy Fish, Coop, Frank Kozik, Alex Pardee, or Sam Flores. Approximately 20" x 22". Signed.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    $175 reward

    4 backers

    COMPLETE SET OF ALL FIVE t-shirts featuring unique artwork inspired by each of the custom pinball machines designed by all participating artists. PLUS the complete collection of unique full color stickers. We will get your sizing info later.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    $400 reward

    6 backers

    COMPLETE SET OF ALL FIVE full size hand pulled 10 color silkscreened poster prints on card stock of the custom pinball machine backglasses designed by each of the participating artists. Approximately 20" x 22". Signed.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    $1,000 reward

    2 backers

    ONE 12 color FRAMED & BACK LIT ILLUMINATED hand pulled silkscreened actual backglass designed by the artist of your choice: Jeremy Fish, Coop, Frank Kozik, Alex Pardee, or Sam Flores.. Approximately 22"w x 24"h x 4"d. Signed. *This is printed on real glass, identical to the piece used in the custom pinball machine itself!

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    $4,000 reward

    1 backer

    COMPLETE SET OF ALL FIVE 12 color FRAMED & BACK LIT ILLUMINATED hand pulled silkscreened actual backglasses designed by each of the participating artists. Approximately 22"w x 24"h x 4"d. Signed. *These are printed on real glass, identical to the pieces used in the custom pinball machines themselves!

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world

Funding period

- (30 days)