Gottlieb’s - Pro Football review

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AC70
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Gottlieb’s - Pro Football review

Post by AC70 »

Here is another 1970‘s Wedgehead title that is a great game, yet has seemed to slip under the radar of the general public. A bit odd given the popularity of football. And ironically, the machine pictured below sat for a couple of months just outside Indianapolis (which was the up coming super bowl site) before I made the drive for a two pin deal back in the fall of 2011. In 1973 Gottlieb wired up 4500 of these units into there standard Wedgehead cabinets. So there should be enough survivors around for anyone interested. That said, it is not a title that regularly appears but when it does, the more or less reasonable unshopped (working or maybe not) asking price of $400 is commonly attached to the advertisement.
DSC00303.JPG
The artwork on the back glass is rather busy and unfortunately badly falls prey to major flaking. Undoubtedly, this is one big reason that most machines that appear for sale just sit around. Back glass touch ups are always a bit tricky and most of the time one has to pull the lights which will further highlight the touch up imperfections. The BG pictured above has been touched up but is still decent enough in low light. Other than the well endowed cheer leader on the BG one might also notice that both “high score” (conventional scoring) and “point score” (additional scoring feature linked to football theme idea) windows are present to record a players progress. On the play field side, the graphics are dominated by the large green representation of a football field. Unlike the BG the play field used colours that really stand up well to wear and thus one will find most, if not all, playing fields in excellent condition. The PF pictured below was only lightly cleaned and hardly needed any touch ups. The cabinet graphics are rather stick like simplistic but also nicely tie in with the entire football theme. And this game more than almost any other I can think of really ties it’s theme to the game play.
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The play field is symmetrically laid out across the entire 22” of the cabinet. Noticeably absent is the shooter lane and associated shooter rod. Football starts with a kick off and hence one must use the right flipper to activate a slingshot lever to kick the ball out from in between the flippers. The football theme continues with the idea that various PF elements not only reward points but also advance the football (complimented with corresponding lit PF inserts) down the field. Marching 100 yards scores a touchdown, gives one 6000 “high score” points and 6 “point scores” (what a touchdown is worth in real football game) and lastly also sounds the gong - a super loud 4” bell located inside the cabinet on the other side of the traditional bar style chime box. Actually, each time one hits a “point score” element on the PF this gong sounds. Pro-football is a really loud game with the regular chime sounds frequently being punctuated with the gong.

The game seems to split the play field, around the 30 yard line, into upper and lower parts. In the upper play field one has several rollovers that give minimal points but can help advance the ball anywhere from 10 to 50 yards down the field. The pop bumpers alternate (on 10 point scores) between 100 or 1000 points. Besides the 1000 points option, the pop bumpers are also useful, with a bit of nudging, to help the ball in the upper or side alley 50 yard advance rollovers. The upper play field is equipped with two slingshot bumpers (located along the upper edge of the vari-target) that can excite the ball adequately enough to either direct the ball back wards over the side 50 yards rollovers or into the reach of the pop bumpers to again allow some nudging to other desirable areas of the PF. The biggest thrill, however, has to be the “football upright style” metal spinner. A skill shot off either of the center flippers will often twirl this spinner up to 15 times with the ball following along the upper PF and into the various rollover yardages. Unfortunately, EM technology at that time, was not quick enough to separately record all contacts of a fast spin. Slow or medium speed spins are no trouble but a real zinger may only record 80 or 90 yards and the associated 800 or 900 points. Nevertheless, it is still very exciting to see the lights quickly progress down the field and here the cacophony of chimes that usually culminates with a touchdown and of course the gong. It may be worth mentioning at this time, that later on (in games like the 1976 Buccaneer Gottlieb installed some solid state element to the spinner that solves this problem. Gottlieb then got a bit cheap and switched to plastic spinners which by comparison do not give the same balance and repeatability. I must give a nod to Bally in spinner feature perfection as its early SS games (like Evil Knievel) feel, work, sound and awesome.
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Back to Pro-football and the lower half of its play field. The dominant features here are the vari-target and the stacked flippers. Once again, I might suggest that, the football theme is nicely complimented with the idea of applying more rushing/blocking force is increasing rewarded with more vari-target depression. The vari-targets are close enough to be full depressed by any of the flippers and are often inadvertently done so when the ball action speeds up in a moment of high activity. This does not happen often, as lower play field ball action is not particular fast most of the time. Conveniently, this allows a player to let the ball calmly bounce off the flippers a bit before it settles done and rolls from the upper flipper to the lower ones and then be accurately aimed for the desired shot. If one wants to record a “higher score” then the vari-targets are the way to go. In one powerful and precisely directed shot a player can depress the target all the way to get 6000 “high score” points and 6 “point scores”. I have equipped the lower flippers with high power coils to aid with this endeavor. I must admit that I was initially a bit apprehensive about the stacked flippers and lack of flipper alleys but have since grown to appreciate and like them. Admittedly, one cannot hold the ball on the lower flipper as it will eventually roll back through the gap opened up when flippers are up. This can be frustrating, but only encourages one to think and act a bit faster. As a small and rare compensation, one can sometimes hold the ball on the upper flipper. Now, besides forcing me to think and act a bit faster, the flipper set up has also increased my patiences with respect to allowing the ball to bounce a bit off the flippers before activating them. Without flipper alleys, this is somewhat necessary to do with Pro-football as it often leads to the ball rolling down the flippers and thus be set up for a skill shot. Such patiences also translates to other flipper games where it might be beneficial to allow the ball to bounce a couple of times and see what comes. All the above elements combine beautifully with the football theme to make “Pro-football” an all around great game

Pro-football has a couple of unique features that are somewhat rare in Wedge heads. The first is that if you do not record any score then no play in play is counted against you - that is you get to play the ball over. This is a bonus for the poor "kick offs" that just circle around and then go right back down the centre gap. The second is that there is no play field special. This can be a bit of a downer, but such a feature would not properly fit with the theme. To compensate, one can earn a replay either through “high score” or “point score”. Using factory settings neither of these is particularly difficult with one being rewarded with one or more replays routinely for every 2 or 3 games played. For this reason, I have set the game to “Canadian Rules” football and only give 3 balls per game. Pro-football is also a title that does not overly benefit from the single player continuation idea. Only, the rather insignificant ball position is carried over. With this in mind, in 1977 Gottlieb took another look at the 1973 game and made a two player version called “Grid Iron”. As continuation programming between two players was not a big consideration it made sense to make the two player version. In fact, I would argue that the two player version is even better suited to the two football teams competing theme. Moreover, Gottlieb also upgrade the graphics and some of the under play field engineering aspects. I guess, if one had their pick, then the two player “Grid Iron” should get the nod over “Pro-football”. Personally, I prefer the esthetics of the Wedge head cabinet but if Gottlieb’s huge multiplayer head did not weigh a ton (really ask anyone who has had to move a multiplayer EM head just how &%$# heavy they are) then the graphics and head-to-head action would persuade my to consider “Grin Iron”

Either way, “Grid Iron” or “Pro-football” if you are looking for an EM football themed machine that ties several elements together very well then for the relatively cheap price then you can’t go wrong with either machine - well unless the machine does not work and you do not know how to fix an EM machine!

If interested, I video taped a game and posted it at the link below.
http://youtu.be/DTOV0MSCq-A

Disclaimer: The author makes no promises, express or implied, and removes any responsibility or liabilities for purchases made that may be based on the above opinions.
Last edited by AC70 on Sun Apr 01, 2012 6:21 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: Gottlieb’s - Pro Football review

Post by AMX »

Please, can you post a video from this game in action?
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Re: Gottlieb’s - Pro Football review

Post by novaguy »

Ya Adrian I love the games with no flipper alleys.most of my collection are 60's Gottlieb wedgeheads which have none and can either be a drain monster or a really fun game to play.here's a PF shot of my 66 Central Park which I consider to be the best EM in my collection.
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Re: Gottlieb’s - Pro Football review

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AMX wrote:Please, can you post a video from this game in action?
here's a vid.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl ... rhN2vAtxeI

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Re: Gottlieb’s - Pro Football review

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Re: Gottlieb’s - Pro Football review

Post by jeffreyalanhayes »

 I just got my '73 Gottleib Pro Football pinball working.   Everything works great except a "touchdown" is supposed to reward 6 points (football score reel) and 6,000 points on the high score reels.   Unfortunately it's only scoring 3 points and 3,000 on the high score.   It makes it pretty tough to beat the game so I just lowered the score required to hear that wonder sound - KNOCK.

I have the schematics.   I'm a mechanical engineer that's pretty handy at reading schematics and troubleshooting things.    I've checked and cleaned the contacts on the relays that might be associated with the "touchdown" scoring.    I've also checked and cleaned the contacts on the scoring motor.    I just can't seem to find the source of the problem.    

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.    I could easily send pictures of the schematic or pictures of the scoring motor or any relays or....
Fellow lover of pinball machines (grew up playing them),
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Re: Gottlieb’s - Pro Football review

Post by sylvain »

Hi Jeff, Welcome to MAACA !
Just curious, where are you located ?

...I thought I had the schematics for this game here at home, but it appears I do not.

I assume you probably Googled and found this pinside article already:
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic ... e-settings

Things I would check are:
- Relay Bank contacts under playfield (tight and all switches properly adjusted/gapped);
- G & BB relay contacts, plus score motor 1C contact tightened and properly adjusted/gapped.
- other score motor contacts adjustments - especially one switch that opens at the end of every 1/3 motor rotation.

I assume the G relay (6 point score relay) needs to stay activated during the time six impulses are generated by the score motor to be properly counted. If it does not, something is causing it to 'abort/release' before the end of the cycle, and less than 6 impulses would be counted. The 1000 points relay in the head also needs to be gapped properly as well, for quick 1000 step-up scoring.

Please PM me if you still need guidance later, I would try to help remotely during my very limited spare time.

Good luck !
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