PIGS CLEARED FOR TAKE-OFF
Story dated: 3rd June 2007
Some said it could never happen, some scoffed at the very notion, while others were all too willing to take a punt on him pulling it off.
When we first announced Gene Cunningham's plans to build new Big Bang Bar machines back on the 11th October 2004, pinball fans around the world were split on whether he could ever turn the games from a pipe dream into reality. The $4,500 price tag was not the issue, but few thought a company hitherto thought lethargic and unambitious by some could mount the resources necessary to actually build new games.
Yes, he had the circuit boards needed, but - as others have discovered - there's a lot more to building games than just owning some of the parts. Gene, himself, has not been shy about the obstacles and difficulties he has encountered along the way with his pinball manufacturing company (PMI) and the various parts suppliers. Promises were not fulfilled, delays were incurred and prices mounted.
But his regular feedback through the closed forum kept those who paid their money updated on progress and the vast majority kept the faith. Several pinball personalities pitched in to help make the dream happen - working at the assembly plant, building parts and games, responding to questions and keeping the project's momentum.
The patience of a lucky few was rewarded in Europe when, to beat the deadline on the import of products containing lead, they received the first batch of games in July last year. Although the intention was to release all the games simultaneously, the new RoHS laws forced PMI's hand.
But it was a massive boost to the project's supporters because there was finally proof games did exist, and PMI were capable of manufacturing the remainder in the not-too-distant future.
Well, that time has now arrived and all the obstacles have been overcome. This weekend buyers could turn up at the assembly facilities in Bloomington, Illinois and collect the game they ordered for $4,500 back in November 2004.
Their faith had been amply rewarded by a game that cost - by Gene's estimates - $6,500 for him to produce (he took the hit on the extra costs), and as well as enjoying a welcome party, visitors received a tour of Gene's personal collection. Those not in a position to collect will have their games shipped to them this week.
It's been a massive undertaking and the dedication and commitment of those involved cannot be underestimated, so congratulations not only to Gene and everyone at PMI for having the vision and turning it into real pinball machines, but also to all the lucky owners who have discovered the old adage is indeed true, that good things come to those who wait.
© Pinball News 2007