Play Stuff Blog

Five ICHEG Acquisitions of 2013  

As Acquisitions Cataloger, I get to see every object ICHEG acquires. The CHEGheads have already written about some of our most influential new items of 2013, such as our collection of nearly 7,000 Japanese video games; a Fix-It Felix, Jr. arcade machine commissioned directly from Disney to promote their animated feature film Wreck-It Ralph; and Hercules Pinball, the largest commercial pinball machine ever created. Here are some of my other favorite acquisitions of this year. Gemini, donated by Glen Bayer, Courtesy of The Strong, Rochester, NY5. Jet Force Gemini Signed Picture:  In the late 1990s, Rare Ltd. held a contest and invited participants to submit a title for a magazine centered on the company’s mascot, a stick figure in red shorts named Mr. Pants. Glen Bayer’s submission, “Sports Illustrated: Mr. Thong Edition,” won first prize. Rare Ltd. presented Bayer with a picture of the Nintendo game Jet Force Gemini signed not only by the Gemini’s development team, but also by Mr. Pants.

4. World of Warcraft Playing Cards: At its peak, World of Warcraft (WoW) reached 12 million players and the game remains the world’s largest subscription-based Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. As with most electronic games, WoW players also enjoy a variety of other game-related accessories. ICHEG’s WoW collection includes a server blade and avatar FigurePrints (made-to-order figures based on a player’s individual character. This year, ICHEG added a collection of more than 1,200 cards from the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game, published by Upper Deck Entertainment. The card game, which is yet another example of WoW’s popularity, demonstrates how video games transfer to non-electronic media forms.

WoWCards, Courtesy of The Strong, Rochester, NY

3. Humpty Dumpty Pinball: In addition to Hercules Pinball, ICHEG acquired several other unique pinball machines this year, including Humpty Dumpty Pinball. Manufactured by D. Gottlieb & Co. and released in October 1947, Humpty Dumpty Pinball became the first pinball machine to include flippers. Designed by Harry Mabs, who initially named them “flipper bumpers,” these additions revolutionized the pinball industry and gave players more control they had over gameplay. Unlike modern pinball machines, Humpty Dumpty included six flippers instead of two, and the flippers faced outward instead of inward. Additionally, none of the flippers appeared at the very bottom of the playing field, as they do now. Humpty Dumpty Pinball provides insight into the evolution of a popular area of the gaming industry.

2. Time Zone: Written and designed by Roberta Williams and published in 1982 by On-Line Systems (later Sierra Entertainment), Time Zone proved the first large-scale video game in history. Made for play on an Apple II computer, the game consisted of 1,500 different screens on six double-sided floppy disks. In the early 1980s, most other video games only occupied one side of a disk. Time Zone performed poorly upon its initial release—many players considered the $99 price-tag too high. Many PC gamers today consider the game one of their favorites. TimeZone, On-Line Systems, 1982, Courtesy of The Strong

1. Ballyhoo Bagatelle-Style Pinball: In 1931, Raymond Moloney released one of the first commercial pinball machines,  Ballyhoo. The game bears little resemblance to the current crop of pinball machines Moloney did not include flippers or bumpers, or a single hole at the bottom of the playing field. Instead, players guided small metal balls through a maze of pins surrounding multiple holes, each worth between 100 and 500 points. The game sold well, no doubt in part to Moloney’s catchy slogan: "What they'll do through ‘32... Play Ballyhoo!"

And there you have some of my favorite highlights of the year. I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings. If you’re considering donating to ICHEG, remember to share your stories.