designed and built by George Fisher
While ago, I got back into Pinball Machines in a big way when I got the chance to purchase my own 1974 vintage Bally "Flicker" Machine. Overall it was in pretty good shape considering the age, but after a few weeks work I had it completely restored and playing like it had just left the Bally Factory. After that project was finished, I started looking for more pinball machines to restore and add to the collection. Along the way I met some local guys who also owned their own pinball and vintage arcade games, and we shared info, sources for parts etc. I helped a few restore games they were working on, and even cast a few replacement parts in resin, to replace the now unavailable original parts. At one point I got to thinking how cool a Makarov Themed Pinball game would be, and started looking for a thrashed donor pinball game to use as the base for such a project. Many old pinball machines end up in the junk pile, either they are way beyond restoring to original, the back box is missing, too much damage has been done to make the game play right, etc. On some of the older vintage games, the really hard to find original parts such as the back glass (the glass with all the art work on it, normally also holds the scoring banks, and other player information) can run as much as $800.00. Well I never did find my donor pinball game, but while doing research, I found myself drawn to the older games, even those that predate the Pinball game as we know it today. When I found a website about Bagatelle Games, I knew I had found what I was looking for.
What is a Bagatelle (Bag-a-tell) game ? Here is a link to an overview The biggest difference between a Bagatelle and Pinball game is that with a Bagatelle Machine, the player has no influence on the ball after it is in play. No flippers, etc. Also traditional Bagatelle games have scoring holes that the ball drops through to score points. Each hole has a different scoring value, or has some other influence on the outcome of the game. Most Pinball games only have one Exit hole, located at the very bottom center of the playing field.
I decided to start from scratch, and build a Makarov Themed Bagatelle Hybrid Machine. I started with some ideas on paper, drawings for the cabinet, playing field, graphics, all the scoring banks, etc. That was in October of 2007. Jump forward to July 2008 and the Makarov "RangeTime" Bagatelle Machine is Finished ! All told it has taken me about 40 hours of design time, another 400 or so hours of build time, about $1200 bucks in raw materials (ok some of that ended up as scrap as I learned how to make various parts) another $300 worth of electronics and about $100 worth of graphics and paint. Along the way, I learned a whole new vocabulary (pinball parts), how to build my own LED displays, hardwire switch banks, convert a 12v power supply, relearned some long unused woodworking skills, physics of pinball field layout, how to fit and position bumpers and posts, and finally, learned how to design, cut and apply vinyl graphics. A bumper is a thick rubber O-Ring that runs between two or more Posts. A post is a single point part of the playing field that either supports part of a bumper, or has its own single O-Ring, to change the path of the ball once it is in play.
Below are some pictures of the game as the build moved forward.
The completed cabinet, playing field and back box. In the Pinball world, the cabinet is what the legs are attached to, and provide the support for everything else. The Playfield is where the ball makes its run and where the scoring banks are. The back box (or sometimes Backbox) is the vertical box at the rear of the game where the scores are recorded, the Theme and Name of the game are also traditionally shown on the Back Box in eye catching graphics.
At this point, the playfield parts positions are marked but not installed yet, except the six Rollovers (a rollover scores a point, or some other change to the game, but does not take the ball out of play) also the Scoring Holes have all been drilled. (A scoring hole is what the ball drops through to score points, it also takes the ball out of play, and then the player is ready for their next shot.) I wanted to keep the traditional "Square Box" design of most Bagatelle games, but also carry over the slanted playing field more common to a Pinball Machine. The result is the imbedded playing field in the Square Box as shown.
A few shots of the start of the wiring on the inside of the Cabinet. This also shows the switch banks attached to the underside of the playing field. All told there is just shy of 180 yards of wiring in the final game.
The final layout of the playing field. This layout resulted from about 60 hours worth of trial and error, rolling balls around the table to see how they would react, changing the pitch of the playing field, this is the Top of the playing field. The exit for the ball shooter lane and rebound stop can be seen on the right.
Mid Playing field, as you can see, the position of some of the posts had to be adjusted several times to get the ball to "flow" properly.
Lower Playing field showing the scoring holes, a bank of three upper right, and ten more along the bottom edge.
Testing the Rollovers and lights. The Makarov pistol is part of a rebounding scoring post, and 1 point is scored each time the ball rolls under the pistol and hits the post. If the ball rolls right, and bounces off the bumpers right, a player could score 10 points or more with each ball on this one scoring bank alone. In keeping with the "Rangetime" Theme, points are scored 1 at a time, or in groups of 2, 3, 5 or up to 8. The resulting final score is similar to what a person would get if firing a pistol at a paper target on a real firing range.
Close up shot of the Bumpers and Posts. I hand cast each and every one of these from Resin. I had three different original posts, circa early 1970's vintage that I made a master mold of, and than cast the parts you see above from colored resin. All told I made over 60 posts, in 4 different colors, and three different sizes. I also made the translucent red Makarov Pistol, (with imbedded light) and most of the other playfield parts you see. I did purchase from Marco Specialties the Ball Shooter lane Rebound (metal gate that keeps the ball from rolling back down the shooter lane), the Rollover protectors (Red plastic guides for the two side Rollovers), the O-Rings used on the whole game, and the Ball Shooter (just like a Pinball game, I will show you that later) All of the micro switches, buzzers and wiring were purchased from Radio Shack, and the LED, Points counters, and a few other items were bought as kits from an online electronics house, and assembled. The video display was also purchased, but had to be re-wired to work with the game. The Legs are original, from a scrapped Bally Game, that have been refinished. New Bolts and levelers were also purchased for these from Marco Specialties.
The Ball Exit hole in the front of the cabinet, and "Spent Ammo" Collection box. Via a ramp system inside the cabinet, all fired balls end up here after falling thru a scoring hole in the playing field.
These are some pictures of the final playing field layout, with all of the bumpers and posts installed. You can also see the Back Box, which has the now working electronics installed. The Large LED at top is a scrolling text that reads "MAKAROV RANGE TIME" over and over in Red LEDs. The two digit LED display on the left counts how many "Shots" (balls) have been fired by the player. Each Player starts the game with 8 shots in the Ammo Box (shown later), but they can also win extra ammo while playing, which is announced with a Buzzer and flashing light. The players score is tallied with the 3 digit LED display on the right. The Center display I will explain later.
Ok all of the bugs are worked out, now we take everything apart and its time to start painting !
Everything starts with a coat of semi-gloss white to seal the wood. The legs have been removed at this point.
Ok everything has had 2 coats of Semi Gloss paint, 2 more of Gloss White paint, and now we start with the green portion of the playfield. What will later become the "MAKAROVNIK MYSTERY SCORE" lane has been taped off.
Everything has been painted, now its time to start with the detail painting, and applying the vinyl graphics.
As I learned the hard way, always start with the Largest graphics first, and work your way down the smallest, protecting your work as you go.
The (almost) completed game. Not shown here are the Plexiglas top, which was removed for these pictures because it was causing too much glare, and the backbox support, which I decided to change.
The game starts with 8 pinballs in the "Ammo Box". The Reset buttons are pushed to set the "Shots Fired" and Score to Zero.
The player takes a ball from the Ammo box and drops it through a hole in the glass to the "Magazine" which covers the Ball Shooter. Pull back the plunger and Let'er Fly !
The ball exits the Shooter lane, goes around the upper curve, hits the Static Post on the left, and depending on how hard the ball was launched, and how much spin the ball has, begins its way down the playfield.
As the ball travels, it can hit one of several rollovers to increase the score, bounce off of the posts, bumpers and the Barrels. If it rolls over the marked Rollover below the pistol grip, the player wins one extra round of ammo, and can move one ball from the Fired ball collection box, back up to the "Ammo Box". The game ends when the player has no more balls in the "Ammo Box" and no more balls are in motion on the playing field.
Some Game Details:
When the game is turned on, several lights on the playfield light up, the Back Box powers up, and the scrolling "MAKAROV RANGE TIME" text starts. The video display in the center of the Back Box, starts with a a slide show of 420 pictures of various Makarov Pistols, Makarov Ammo, Custom Makarov Pistols, Mr. Makarov himself, Ammo Boxes, etc. Each of these are displayed on the 4x8 inch display. The music sound track also starts automatically, and randomly plays one of 10 different versions of the Soviet national anthem, the US National anthem, the Bulgarian National Anthem, the East German National anthem (instrumental only) or the Chinese National anthem (Dance party remix version I found online). The songs all play through once, and then the sound track starts over, again with a random mix of the above.
Some items had to be hand made to fit the theme of the game, and still fit the spot needed, and fill the function needed. The barrels are both turned wood, set upon "tires" and rubber bumpers added. The Tires and bands on the barrels are all hand painted. These barrels not only effect the path of the ball, but also support the Plexiglas cover to keep it from sagging over time (the tops of the barrels are the same height as the side rail supports). The 1/4 round ammo in the top of the magazine, and the 1/2 round of ammo on the lower left playfield wall are cast from resin, and hand painted. At some point in the future, I plan on adding 30 or so 9x18 Makarov "fired cases", about 3 times normal size to the bottom of the back box. These will each be cast from resin, and hand painted to represent each of the most common types of Makarov ammo. So far I have 14 of the 30 needed done, but ran out of paint, so will have to wait on this part of the project for awhile. Makarov Patch Rocker bars line the left side, showing each of the seven manufactures of the Makarov pistol. All told there are 166 letters, 155 stars and 28 other vinyl graphics, each one hand applied, one at a time.
The first complete game on the finished Bagatelle Machine. As you can see I won 5 extra rounds of ammo. It is possible to score up to 10 or so points with each ball fired, but 5-6 seems to be the average.
Copyright George Fisher, 2008
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