About the same time in mid-1999 that I was getting my “project” Eight Ball machine I found someone selling a Xenon in the western suburbs of Chicago. My recollection is that he listed it on the Mr Pinball Classified ads. Unlike Eight Ball, this machine turned out to be in absolutely mint condition. After some email negotiations I agreed to pick it up one Saturday morning in late May.
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After my adventures with my first pinball machine, Mata Hari (which amounted to a crash course in pinball machine repair), I figured I was ready for a new challenge. As I’ve already described, I had been in extensive email contact with the guys in North Carolina who sold me Mata Hari on eBay. In the course of all this I found out that they had an Eight Ball machine in storage that they were thinking of selling or restoring. They were quick to point out that this one really wasn’t in very good shape (unlike the Mata Hari…hah!). It was a restoration project with playfield wear, a beat-up cabinet, a rotten backglass, and an acid-eaten MPU board.
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So there I was, browsing this new site I had just discovered in the spring of 1999. It was called “eBay”. It occurred to me that it might be fun to search for pinball machines — surely somebody somewhere was selling one, right? I can still remember bumming nickels from my mother to play during her weekly bowling league circa 1965 when I was all of six years old. I loved playing pinball as a kid and later in college, and I had harbored hopes then (long since forgotten in 1999) of having a machine of my very own one day. Lo and behold, eBay was chock full of pinball machines. I selected Mata Hari from a seller in North Carolina. I remembered playing Mata Hari during my freshman year of college in 1978. Made by Bally in that same year, Mata Hari was one of the first generation of solid-state machines. (For aficionados, my backglass has the writing on the dagger.)
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I picked up this machine from a seller west of Madison, WI in the fall of 2000. I saw his listing in the Mr. Pinball Classified ads and stopped by to check it out on a Thanksgiving drive down to visit my sister’s family in Chicago. We agreed I’d be back the next weekend with a vehicle spacious enough to transport the machine (my wife’s Honda CR-V).
Continue reading “Captain Fantastic”