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Book Review: The Pinbotz Guide to the Greatest Pinball Machines of the ’80s and the ’90s

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The title of the self-published The Pinbotz Guide to the Greatest Pinball Machines of the ’80s and the ’90s is misleading. I thought it was going to be a coffee-table picture book. Instead, it is an informative buyer’s guide, serving as an excellent resource detailing problematic, game-specific issues to be aware of before purchasing.

Twenty machines are listed in order of greatness as determined by the author. He provides each game with a run-down of “What To Look For Before Buying” in regards to the playfield and the cabinet, specifically key areas to look for wear and damage, as well as “Mechanical & Technical” issues. There are suggestions about modifications, which are recommended for aficionados, such as changing covers and bulbs to the color blue to create a watery look on White Water, the author’s favorite game. Some of the modifications are Pinbotz original creations, like backboard decals. The book mentions dealers’ websites to assist in finding needed parts.

There could have been a better description of game play because what is provided is too brief to get a sense of what happens for those unfamiliar with the games. “Tricks & Tips” are included for Dracula, but it is odd that no other game has similar information.

Pictures offer close detail on problem areas to clarify points made by the author, but I would have preferred to see the entire playfield. They are oddly formatted on the page; half of them are off-axis, giving the book an amateurish look. It draws attention to the fact that the 61 pages look like one long Word document.

I was happy to see the machines Pinbot and Funhouse make the cut because those were two games my friends and I spent many hours and quarters playing in the late ‘80s with great regularity at Mr. Hora’s arcade. Freddy Fender could have written “Wasted Days & Wasted Nights” about us.

Greatest Pinball Machines is an excellent book for the purpose it serves, but its audience is very limited. It is available at Lulu.com
Edited: [GH]

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS