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It's a pinball wizard
As video games go, pinball (you know, from back in the day, with the flashing lights and little silver ball) might be lost on the legion of players rioting for Play Stations and suffering Wii injuries.
It's not lost on Bay Area artist Dirty Donny.
"You can play for hours, and afterward you're not all video cracked out," says Donny, who teamed up with Wade Krause to build a one-of-kind pinball machine that debuted at the Pin-A-Go-Go show in Dixon last weekend, and will be on display (and free to play) at Lucky Ju Ju in Alameda through June -if anyone's up for a quick trip.
Krause runs Into the Sun, a Fresno-based screen printing business, and met Donny while looking for artists for the much-talked about Circus Punks line of pop-art toys. He's also in the über cool band SparkleJetand is way into pinball.
His shop is a graveyard of old games.
Inside the maze of machines there's a one-of-a-kind "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" game created by Disney for use at the park's penny arcade; a Gottlieb "Kings and Queens" game (as pinball goes, it's famous. Remember the film "Tommy"?) and parts from Elton John's "Captain Fantastic."
For the new machine, Krause pilfered parts from six or so old games. The playing field and box are taken from an old "King Pin" machine, which he rewired with a new switch box to include an extra-ball function (not on the original), light-up shrunken heads and a flashing red siren light.
Donny created the game's art features, including the back glass, playboard and box.
The theme was based on cover art he did for the Swedish band Hellacopters, which appeared on their greatest hits album, "Air Raid Serenades." It's perfect pinball fare, featuring the band (as razor toothed, waggling-tongued monsters), bombs and flames. It is the Hellacopters' signature game.
To keep a true vintage feel, everything was done like it would have been in the '70s. The back glass and playing fields were screen-printed (not hand-painted), and the box was stenciled.
What they created is something that is playable, for sure, but more than some box you plug into your TV. It's a really cool piece of furniture, says Donny, who has a "Space Odyssey" pinball game at home.
And that's what inspired him to do the project - those artists who specialized in pinball, the guys who worked to bring the themes (whether it was aliens, kings and queens or Kiss) to life. Mostly, they are forgotten now. "A lot of guys know who Dave Christensen is. Then again, a lot don't."
Krause hopes the idea takes off and he can start working with other artists. Already he's helped design a clear pinball machine that will be on display at the the Exploratorium in San Francisco.
The Hellacopters game will be on a tour of sorts for the near future, though it's already caught the eye of players and has seen several offers (big ones). The stipulation, of course, would be it could be borrowed back from time to time, Donny says, at least for a few quick games.
"You can't just have it go into someone's collection and be gone."