PINBALL AND WORLD WAR 2 (2nd Edition) by Terry Cumming, (No ISBN
number) 120p, spiral bound, 8.5" x 11" illustrated, b/w.
Canadian pinball enthusiast Terry Cumming has again chosen a slice of
silverball history and delivers this interesting study of wartime conversion
pingames and the culture that spawned them. This was an era of factory
re-toolings and flamboyant patriotism, entire industries fitted with new
manufacturing equipment to produce vital supplies for the massive war effort.
Not even the lowly pinball manufacturers were immune; D. Gottlieb, Bally,
Genco, Chicago Coin and the others were required to cease game production. This
four-year production halt provided an opportunity for the entrepreneurial minded
to keep the supply of new titles flowing via conversion kits and techniques. By
recycling pre-war equipment donning new backglasses and playfield art, thematic
creations such as Smack the Japs, Bomb the Axis Rats and Keep
'Em Flying were unleashed upon a unified country. Providing a visceral
outlet for the pervasive disdain towards America's enemies, they boosted morale
and helped maintain the fighting spirit "back home."
To mount the tale, Cumming relied heavily on period Billboard
magazines to provide the visual and historic documentation. It's an enormous
undertaking, but the author doesn't simply slap pictures on a page. He reveals
a larger portrait of a populace thinking, breathing, and moving in unison. It's
an interesting assembly because you're reliving the war from the coin-op
Among the many chapters are the patriotic advertisements from the
manufacturers. Bally's efforts ... "contributes to the deadly efficiency
of American battle planes," Exhibit's plant "is dedicated to war work,"
and Chicago Coin devoted, "100% of our efforts to vital war mechanisms."
This proud outcry of the determination to win by the amusement machine community
is combined with chapters that include a conversion machine game list, industry
stories, period images of all sorts, and even a pinball historian checklist!
This second edition corrects the earlier edition's image clarity problems
and while some adverts still suffer from their murky origins, to simply have
them all under one cover is achievement enough. Cumming's homegrown publishing
empire has produced another winner and we recommend his other book, A
Catalog of Early 30's Pinball Ads (see
review GameRoom, Dec 97) as the pair are a terrific way to quickly
grasp the early days of the silverball.
© Tim Ferrante and GameRoom magazine, 1998.