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The Pinball Compendium: 1970-1981 (Schiffer Book for Collectors)
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Its my first read of Michael Shalhoub's work and I really wanted to like this book - the author being a fellow Australian and obviously a committed pinball enthusiast and historian. Schiffer Publishing books are also presented beautifully and right from the first viewing of the dust jacket, I wanted to see what was inside! But as a read, this book just doesn't cut it IMO.

A 'compendium' is, literally, a short complete summary, or list of various items. And in that regard, this book seeks to highlight every release, from each Manufacturer, for a given year. So the intention is absolutely fine. But there are two ways to tackle such a task. One would be to approach it entirely technically, and discuss the mechanics of each machine to pretty much the exclusion of anything else. The other would be to place each machine into its appropriate historical or cultural significance within the pinball genre, and discuss perhaps everything *but* the mechanics. Or, you could perhaps try both. In this instance, unfortunately for me, Shalhoub has tried only the former approach. Each machine has a paragraph right underneath the relevant photo and it is usually a summary of just the scoring features on the table, with only a few machines getting any in-depth history about them or the cultural significance those machines may have had. To me, this equals 240 pages of mind-numbing technical boredom.

Yes, there is some history here. The author has gone to great lengths to interview some of the absolute legends behind the scenes and these have been spliced in as a sort of page filler between each machines' stats. But really, this kind of historical effort deserved another whole book of its own. There is precious little history directly related to the pinball machines themselves and to my mind, if its titled a 'Compendium', it should have stuck to being exactly that.

The lack of titleing on each page (for example, you forget what year you are reading about, because its only mentioned once at the start of each Chapter) is also annoying. How hard would it have been to footnote each page with the Chapter name and number?

Photos of machines make or break a book like this IMHO. We all want to see the absolute best photos of the machines nearest to our hearts. And I would say generally in this hobby, aside from the photography probvided by the manufacturers themselves, the photography standard is fairly poor - there are many other poorly put together pinball books that lay testament to this fact. That's probably no surprise though - very few of us are trained to photograph the things we love best, whether its a family member or a pinball machine. But a book of this nature should have the very best photography available IMO.

Unfortunately, the photography, while extensive, is certainly not of a quality that is comparable with other hobbyist books in and out of this genre. Many of the shots of major players from Gottlieb/Williams etc appear to be snap-shots taken from the same Conferences the author (or others) have visited while in the United States. Quite a few machines appear fuzzy, out of focus, the color separations all over the place and the general standard of machine photography quite amateurish. Of course, access to these key people and older rarer machines is limited, and so the author has had to use whatever photo resources he can muster. I understand that fully. But that doesn't change the fact that the use of such non-professional photos, which an author based in the Unites States perhaps *may* have been able to work around, lowers the overall quality feel of this work. And in my estimation, marks it way down. Other authors have been able to do this better, for whatever reason.

In summary: if you're after a blow by blow scoring instruction on each of these machines from this period, some OK personal photos from real collections, and a good overall history of the behind-the-scenes players of the Big 3, then you'll enjoy this somewhat rambling journey. For me, chasing a good read and some reminders about the machines themselves and their place in the history of the game (instead of how to play them), I was left wanting a lot more.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
What an incredible book! I use the term 2nd golden age since the 1930's was the first.

This is the second of a three book set written by Michael Shalhoub, and is a must-have for any serious pinball collector or enthusiast. The book is an exhaustive study of each manufacturers (The "Big Three"-Bally, Gottlieb and Williams - also Stern + Chicago Coin and others) output of pins between 1970-1981 when pinball ruled the arcades. During this particular time period more quarters were dropped in pinball machines than was spent at the movie theater box office in the United States!

What makes this book so special (as well as Mr Shalhoub's other titles)is the fact that he interviews so many of the pioneers (artists, designers etc) of pinball, which is no easy task on the authors part since he lives in Australia and almost 90% of all pinball machines were produced in the United States (Chicago)- also some of the individuals interviewed and pictured are well past 80 years old.

The book is a simple read (if you can look away from the great pictures)and each new chapter covers a different year with many highlights (interviews) included, the subject matter/questions the author presents contains specific information related to the particular individual highlighted. The authors enthusiasm is contageous as he explains the features and strategy of each particular game.

Today sadly only 1 manufacturer remains "Stern", but they are committed to pinball and still produce several thousand machines a year. This book is like a great walk down memory lane for anyone (35 and over...) who played the games before video games dominated. I highly recomend this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
What can I say? A comprehensive volume (just like the other two of the series), with (mostly) high quality playfield and backglass photographs plus a LOT of insightful first-hand background stories about and from the people who brought us all these wonderful moments of our lives. You'll even like the tables you've never seen (and probably won't ever see) in your life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Michael has dne a great job with this, the middle in a trilogy of books covering the history of pinball machines up to 2004. An Australian fascinated by the silver ball, he set out to comprehensively document the development of this unique mechanical and electronic game.

He has done such an in-depth job that the work has had to be split over three volumes. This one concentrates on an era of change, where pinballs changed from mostly mechanical with some electronics to solid state led scoring machines.

Loads of pictures of games with a short description of each are backed up by fascinating behind the scenes interviews with designers, engineers and artists.

My criticism would be some of the photos of machines are not as clear as they could be - usually due to the top end of the playfield being darker than the flipper end where the flash has lit the playfield unevenly. Also the layout of the book itself is a bit 'cut and paste' with some pages being full of text and pictures and others with lots of unconsidered (to me) white space, sometimes filled with a greyscale image of a pinball, a flipper or a popbumper - sometimes not.

Other than that, a great read which will keep you flipping through (gettit?) the pages for ages!
Paul 'Spike' Reddington
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Well, I finally went ahead and took the plunge and got all 3 of the Pinball Compendium book. Sure, they're not exactly cheap, but I found the best price on them anywhere on Amazon. I have to tell you, these books are ESSENTIAL reading and must haves for anyone who collects pinball machines, or just interested in their history, and a pretty complete synopsis of all the major games put out by each of the major manufacturers, from the 30's all the way to just a few years ago. The books are very well laid out, packed with TONS of history of both the games evolution and of the manufacturers, interviews with the designers and artists, and TONS of pictures. Get the books for the pics if nothing else! Do yourself a favor and pick these up, you won't be disappointed! These are pretty much an Encyclopedia for pinball machines and collectors. Well worth the money, Highly recommended!

Jeff Scott
Orlando, FL
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on September 18, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Good follow up to previous book.Possibly,difficult one to do as previous book had most of the classic games and style.The 70's were more about refining these games and adding new and clever rulesets/gameplays.Trying to come up with something gimmicky to attract a player over their competitor(as Bally turned out to do to become the leader by the late 70's).Excellent in detailing the transition from electro'mechanical to solid state games and offers comparisons.One poor aspect is lack of detail on quite a number of foreign manufacturers.This was a period when countries outside USA took a foothold in the market and showed a fresh approach.This book and the follow up tend to stay USA centralised-I think putting graphics of American to European machines would enhance it considerably.
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on December 15, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
this book proved invaluable giving some useful info by putting all tables in a book series, makes finding a new machine that much easier. i just wish they had went into details on some of the rules in the game for the tables
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on September 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover
These are great books for the collector. Lots of great color pictures. Worth the money. Get all of Michael Shalhoub, you won"t be disappointed.
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on December 6, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
High quality book. A must have if your into this vintage of pinball. Required for any well rounded pinball library.
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on September 3, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Great book for the pinball enthusiast. A lot of great pictures. A must have if you own a machine.
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