Pinball Ambassador 2016

What’s that sound?  It’s a long overdue article about our Pinball Ambassador for 2016!

In December 2016, we held a poll to nominate and then elect a ‘Pinball Ambassador’ for 2016 – our little way to combat some of the negativity in the hobby.  We had an outstanding response and complied a long list of wonderful folks as nominees for the title.  Ultimately, the winner, BY A LANDSLIDE, was Nicholas (pin)Baldridge of For Amusement Only – The E.M. & Bingo Pinball Podcast.

(Photo courtesy of someone.  Found during a Google image search.)

WHY WAS NICK NOMINATED/ELECTED?  Well, that’s why I’m writing to you all today.  It’s time to shovel accolades on the most humble genius in the hobby.  Nick is a young-ish dude with a very old soul.  Most of us like pinball not only for what is now, but for the nostalgia and fun we derived from playing in our childhood or younger years.  What makes Nick unique is that he THRIVES on games that existed BEFORE HE DID.  Nick is one of the leading authorities on EM Pinball and coin-op machines, sure, but he’s REALLY a leading authority on electromechanical bingo machines.  Most pinball people have never even seen a working bingo machine, nevertheless played one.  They were commercially successful for decades, but the bingo industry completely died off in the 70’s.  I don’t mean in the way pinball died off in the 90’s and only 1-2 games a year came out… I mean NO MORE BINGOS (though I think some bingo game came out ‘recently’, more on that later.)  That means Nick became an authority on a subject he wasn’t even alive to experience firsthand when it was a viable industry.  He’s like those dudes on Pawn Stars that are 32 years old and get called in when someone finds a sword from the 1400’s, because they’re experts in their field.

Nick is like DaVinci.  He sleeps 20 minutes a day and never stops moving.  He’s brought many games back to life, and maintained even more to keep them running and entertaining people for years to come.  I only recently met Nick in person (less than a month ago), but we’ve been friends on Facebook for several years.  Nick doesn’t just return some messages when I’ve had issues with EM games, he’s literally talked me through some issues on the phone in the middle of the night.  He’s just a swell guy, and he’s honestly interested in keeping these games alive, even long-distance.

(Nick in 2D by Ryan Claytor.  Also courtesy of Google Image Search)

Nick has hosted a couple podcasts, but is most well know for his show For Amusement Only – The E.M. & Bingo Pinball Podcast, a show that EXCLUSIVELY discusses electromechanical games.  In fact, Nick was a guest on our podcast (Episode 63 – possibly my personal favorite episode) and he was excited to talk about NOT EM GAMES.  Not only does he still release an episode every two weeks, he also released an episode EVERY DAY for a year straight!  That’s right, his first 365 episodes were released daily, in order.  And they’re still available.  I’ve often mentioned that his show is a great resource.  If there is an issue you’re having, odds are that Nick did an episode about it.  He also did a lot of great interviews with gaming luminaries (*cough* like Don and Jeff *cough*), and did many shows that focused on individual machines.  Much like the This Old Pinball/Pinball Ninja archives that many of us ran into during out early days in the hobby, Nick has built a resource that should keep games running and keep bringing new gamers going with technical support.

Not only all of that *whew* but Nick also designed and invented the Multi-bingo Machine!  He created a virtual/physical hybrid bingo machine that emulates dozens of rare bingo games from yesteryear, in one cabinet!  Read all about it here on Pinside.  It’s a modern marvel and a TON OF WORK.  And if that’s not enough, he and his artistic sidekick Ryan Claytor of are working on a brand new electromechanical game!  Read all about ROBO-FRENZY here.

Seriously, the dude sleeps 20 minutes a day.

(Yeah, yeah, yeah…there was a typo and I misspelled nic-H-olas on his trophy.  I FEEL SHAME.)

Kudos to Nick for his tireless enthusiasm and the wave of positivity he brings to our hobby.  He’s a soft-spoken gentleman and a knowledgable tutor.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the drama in our hobby (for whatever reason), but it’s also easy to overlook the brilliant innovators that keep our hobby always moving forward as it’s woven itself into the ‘fabric of life’.  Without guys like Nick, AND SPECIFICALLY NICHOLAS BALDRIDGE HIMSELF, we’d have a lot more games collecting dust in our garages/landfills, and a lot less folks smiling when they score that hard-earned ‘Special’ or as they watch their children roll a game over for the first time.

Thank you, Nick,


Don (and Jeff and the rest of the pinball community)

Episode 85 – The Most Heinous DMD Hater

This week, we were joined by Nick Baldridge to discuss his Multi-Bingo project, some Ghostbusters LE (and film talk) and he helps us suss out an impromptu Pinball Olympics awards ceremony.  Then we complain about MMr color dots pricing.  EDIT!  Nick forgot to mention is planning on bringing his Multi-Bingo to the York show this year!

The Pinball Podcast is sponsored by NiftyLED.

We are now schilling for  and and! Go get some! has given us the code MILLIONAIRE to share with you for 5% off your order! is offering an exclusive coupon for listeners of TPP! The Coupon Code is now active and may be used by July 31, 2016.

The code: PINBALLPODCAST (all one word) and will save you 20% on all of your pinball MOD purchases by simply going to > Personalized Items/Gifts > Pinball MODs is offering the code MAUDE for 15% off any Mezel-made items in their store!  Enter code at checkout.


Medal Count Awarded by Game – I awarded three points for gold, two for silver and one for bronze.  These are just the top scoring games mentioned.

  1. Wizard of Oz (+3 for TH) – 25
  2. Ghostbusters – 14
  3. AC/DC – 7
  4. (tie) America’s Most Haunted/P3 Multimorphic – 6
  5. The Big Lebowski – 5
  6. (tie) The Walking Dead/Metallica – 4

Episode 63 – EM-barrassed by Nick Baldridge

The Pinball Podcast is sponsored by NiftyLED.

We are now schilling for  and! Go get some!

You can now buy The Pinball Podcast Maverick Paddlewheel shirts too! Email pinballpodcast at gmail dot com for information!  $16 shipped in the USA!


(David Paul modded his Mav speakers)


(Nick’s super sweet scratched Circus playfield)

The Ra’s Al Ghul of Bingo

bountybackfront(image taken from via google image search)

Long-time contributor to the podcast, Nicholas Baldridge, wrote in with a detailed argument on why his Bounty bingo machine was an even deeper gameplay experience than the Twilight Zone pinball machine we all know and love.  The argument was so detailed, that we only touched on it in Episode 51.  Nicholas gave his blessing for us to copy and post his in-depth analysis of the game right here…

Subject: Bingo vs. Twilight Zone for depth?  Easy.

I’m going to use one of mine, as I am most familiar with their gameplay and features (since I fixed ’em).  Bounty is the machine of choice.  It is a very highly rated and feature-packed game.

There are multiple games involved in every bingo.

1) Betting phase – this is where the machine pseudo-randomly awards increased odds or features based on the button pressed.  Press the green button, you get an increased chance of features being added.  Blue, and increased chance of increasing your odds.  Red, a fairly even mix of both.  Note that based on the features and odds already enabled, the machine will tighten down to eat more money.  Each button press costs a nickel.  If the stars (cams) are not in proper alignment, you will sometimes receive nothing at all.

2) On Bounty, there is a unique fourth button, used for a skill shot.  The skill shot can only be completed on the first ball.  After you get your features and odds to the appropriate level, you press the white button to increase the odds specific to the skill shot.   Again, this is a nickel a pop.  The nice thing about the white button is that it will always increase with each button press.  You will never get a ‘dead’ press.  Pressing the gold button on the lockdown bar will flash one or two lamps to tell you which numbers to shoot for on your first shot.

    For example, if I have increased my odds to 120 for the skill shot, then press the gold button, the machine will flash a lamp behind #1.  If I land in #1, I collect all 120 replays!  This is a separate meta-game from the normal bingo 3/4/5 in a row.

3) Normal gameplay – try to shoot for and land with three in a row for Green, Red or Yellow.  This allows you to press the R button to collect the replays.  But wait!  There’s more to do before that!

4) Extra ball meta-game.  You can wager replays to attempt to get up to three extra balls.  This may allow you to accomplish a goal that you have almost reached, or if you’re like me, it will cause you to wipe out and get nothing (TILT).  It essentially extends the game.  However, note that the ability to receive an extra ball is tied to the odds and features achieved and the number of replays already earned.  My machine currently operates as per factory.  This means that if I get on a winning streak, it usually tightens up until I have to put in a dollar or two to light the normally easy to achieve features and odds.

5) Magic Screen gameplay – if you have A-F lit on the magic screen, you can also move the screen horizontally.  The screen will reveal red, green, yellow and blue colored sections which are arranged differently than the typical vertical or horizontal line winners of the regular bingo card.  Having a section winner scores the same number of replays as if you scored a vertical or horizontal line in that color.

Wizard Mode – Blue section – three numbers, collectible in two positions, up to 600 replays on collect!

If that’s not enough, you can also light a feature that allows you to score 2 as 3 in a particular section.

6) Time tree: the machine will allow you to press the left and right buttons until the lit lockout. If you are lucky enough (or spend-y enough) to light before 5th or after 5th, you can score in multiple colors on the same play!

The machine starts at before fourth, meaning that you have to make your choice before shooting your fourth ball. There are rollover buttons that can be lit to light before and after 5th if a ball hits it.

7) red letter game – OK! – Bally bingos have a feature called a red letter game. Bounty has a special orange section that will give you the lit red letter game if you get two in the orange section.  Holding down the replay checker will start the red letter game. The red letter game is an entirely new game with guaranteed odds and features.

Bounty has something called super ok and extra ok. It allows you to move the orange section over an additional one or two spaces!  You’re still limited by the time tree.

Is that enough depth? Tz has many modes, but each has a different set of shots. Using the 26 possible trap/return holes, there are many variations on the same game. There’s technically only one way to win tz (or two if you count replay score).  There are several ways to win any bingo.

It should be noted that Bounty is the most complex magic screen game. It is the game that I play the most in my collection. Nothing beats running up several hundred replays, then wasting them all.

Two additional points:

1) The “2 as 3” feature – there are two specially colored sections – a red with white stripes, and a yellow with black stripes – that have a separate feature light. Normally they score as normal red or yellow sections. This means you get three/four/five in that section, and you win the associated score highlighted on the backglass (chosen at betting phase). BUT! When the special “2 as 3” for either colored section is lit, if you drop only two balls in that section, it will score as if you dropped 3. “Spotting” you the 3rd ball. Even better: 3 in that section will score as 4 and 4 will score as 5! Huge potential if you don’t choke.

2) The feature you’ve mentioned a couple of times about putting replays on as a bar owner. This was called a “kumbackey”. It was a special key that did just that. When you ” came back”, the barkeep would let you get your replays instead of having to pay you off. Neat stuff.

They only added kumbackey later in the bingo life cycle – around mystic lines. My mystic line game has a kumbackey, and a special separate cash box that allows the bar owner to get their take without accessing the inside of the machine!  Really cool, and the special diverter for this is normally removed (wonder why?) but I restored mine.

Now I access the secondary drop to get a nice slug of quarters without a key. 🙂

Another note on the kumbackey – mine gave me fits as it has a switch that overrides the default reset behavior. If the lock cam pressure is not just right at rest, the whole machine breaks in interesting ways. I wonder how that worked on location?  It is also horribly tedious to add replays this way. On my machine, it is quite possible to score in the 1000s fairly easily. If you left and came back without a payout? Man, wait all day to play.


 Thanks for teaching us all a bit more about pinball’s first-cousin, the bingo machine!