All Packed Up!

Games For Sale,Shop Notes,Zapcon 27 April 2017 | 0 Comments

The games list for ZapCon has continued to grow, with almost 350 machines now promised for this weekend’s ultimate convention! We packed up our contingent on Wednesday, getting 15 machines out of the shop and into a very large truck. It was just as much fun as it sounds.
Check it out!


Late morning, and half the shop is ready to go!


Ah-ha, our reinforcements arrive, with their very large truck!


The key to moving anything: Good friends. Thanks, Chris and Rachel! You guys rock!


Of course, you have to pace yourself. Make sure to stop and play a game while you pack up. (Especially if the game is the new Ghostbusters that you’re moving for a friend and have never played before!)


Push, boss, push! Use that back!


There’s our mini Galaga machine, safely packed up. See our full list of ZapCon games here.


Fifteen games all ready to go!


And one big Firebird Pinball sign. Now we’re really ready to hit the road!

Good luck getting all your games down to Mesa, folks. Now everyone else get to ZapCon, too, and play the heck out of these things all weekend! We’ll see you there!

NEWS: Our ZapCon Games List

Games For Sale,Shop Notes,Zapcon 26 April 2017 | 0 Comments

It’s getting so close! ZapCon will be here in less than three days! To help further the excitement, here’s the list of games we’re taking to the show. Almost everything is for sale, so YOU can take home the best-ever ZapCon souvenir. Stop by the Firebird booth and see us!

Our Games:

Fish Tales

Fish Tales, by Williams, 1992. $2900.


Hardbody, by Bally, 1987. $1200.

Haunted House

Haunted House, by Gottlieb, 1982. $3000.

Iron Man

Iron Man, by Stern, 2010. Home-Use-Only! $5000.

Last Action Hero

Last Action Hero, by Data East, 1993. $2500.

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean, by Stern, 2006. Home-Use-Only! $5600.


Popeye Saves the Earth, by Bally, 1994. $2700.

Secret Service

Secret Service, by Data East, 1988. $2200.

Super Mario Bros

Super Mario Brothers, by Gottlieb, 1992. $3200.

The Shadow

The Shadow, by Bally, 1994. $4000.

World Cup Soccer

World Cup Soccer, by Bally, 1994. $3800.

Americas Most Haunted

America’s Most Haunted, by Spooky Pinball, 2014. Not for sale.

Chicago Cubs Triple Play

Chicago Cubs Triple Play, by Gottlieb, 1985. Not for sale.

Road Kings

Road Kings, by Williams, 1986. Not for sale.

NEWS: Best of ZapCon Returns!

NEWS,Pinball in Arizona,Pinball in Phoenix,Zapcon 25 April 2017 | 0 Comments

What’s the only thing better than ZapCon, that glorious feast of games headed our way this weekend? The Best of ZapCon, of course! And Firebird Pinball is proud to announce the return of the Best of ZapCon competition!
Once again, fans will have the chance to vote for their favorite pinball machine and arcade game at ZapCon, April 29-30 at the Mesa Convention Center. A panel of expert judges will choose six more games to honor.
Winners will receive our brand-new plaques*, made by our awesome new friends at HJ Trophies & Awards., along with the envy of peers and strangers alike.


*Best of ZapCon awards now come with working buttons! Seriously, aren’t these great? Thanks to Andy and everyone else at HJ!

Our expert judges this year:


Kathy Lovato, part of the brain trust behind StarFighters Arcade and member of the new Belles & Chimes pinball league.

Tim Stump

Tim stump, a longtime local collector who bought his first pin in 1982 and his first arcade game two years later.


Ariel Bracamonte, the driving force behind Cobra Arcade Bar and a former Best of ZapCon winner.

Wayne Saeger Cropped

Wayne Saeger, founder of the Tucson Pinball League, and a longtime silverball enthusiast.

kris Who

Kris Bliznick, co-owner of Firebird Pinball, the best pinball repair company in the valley!

Get your ballot at the door, and vote at the Firebird Pinball booth. Winners will be announced at 4:30 p.m. Sunday. And if you need some inspiration, check out the glory of the previous years!
2016 Winners
2015 Winners
2014 Winners

The Big APPL Tourney

Pinball in Arizona,Pinball in Phoenix,Shop Notes,Tournaments 24 April 2017 | 0 Comments

We were excited to host a pinball tournament on Saturday!
Check it out!


Several dozen members of the Arizona Pinball Players League descended upon Firebird central on Saturday for the league’s monthly tournament.


After catching up on pinball news (ZapCon still could use more volunteers, folks!), and having a few snacks, these serious players were ready to play.


Here’s the boss, checking things out as the action begins.


With nearly 30 competitors on nine games, there was definitely time to catch up In between games.


There also was time for some thematically correct refreshments!


These guys might have drank all the beer, but they left behind some cool glasses. Thank you!


Thanks for coming over, everyone! And if anyone wants to learn more about APPL, check it out here. This is an awesome group of people!

We Played it for the Articles

Shop Notes 20 April 2017 | Comments Off on We Played it for the Articles

We just had this Bally Playboy pinball machine come through the shop. This one’s an old one, but definitely a good one. Plus, it looked great when it left! Check it out!


Bally came out with Playboy in 1978, and produced more than 18,000 games. (IPDB)


The game was the first of three that have been modeled after that most-famous magazine and its associated empire.


The Playboy empire was so big at one point that it included supper clubs across the country and a TV show. The theme from the 1969 show “Playboy After Dark” is incorporated in this game.


Bonus Trivia: The backglass depicts Hugh Hefner with 1976 Playmate Patti McGuire and 1977 Playmate Sondra Theodore.


We gave this game a full shop job, pulling everything off the playfield to be buffed, polished, washed, tumbled, or otherwise cleaned. We installed Cointaker LEDs throughout and touched up the playfield and the cabinet. 


We added a few custom touches, too, including Super Bands and color-coded post rubbers. Enjoy the game, Mitchell!

The Power of the Wind

Shop Notes 12 April 2017 | Comments Off on The Power of the Wind

We just finished a full shop on this Whirlwind pinball machine. This game is always fun, and is popular among fans and novices alike due to its great theme and quick game play.
Check it out!


Williams came out with Whirlwind in 1990, and went on to produce more than 7,300 games. (IPDB)


This game’s popularity hinges on its storm-chaser theme, replete with spinning discs on the playfield, and a fan atop the head that turns on during bonus modes.


Among its other toys are the cellar hole, and six pop bumpers, plus lots of multiball modes.


We gave this game a full shop job, tearing everything off the playfield to be polished, washed, tumbled, buffed, or otherwise cleaned.


Then we installed Cointaker LEDs throughout the game. Check out the difference!


We added a few special touches, too, including Super Bands, color-coded post rubbers, and new disc decals.


“Feel the power of the wind!” Enjoy the game, Gray!

Belles & Chimes at StarFighters!

Pinball in Arizona,Pinball in Phoenix,Tournaments 10 April 2017 | Comments Off on Belles & Chimes at StarFighters!

Saturday was a good day. The whole family spent the afternoon at StarFighters Arcade in Mesa, catching up on some awesome arcade games and cheering on Leslie at the latest edition of Belles & Chimes. If you haven’t been to StarFighters, go NOW. And if you haven’t checked out Belles & Chimes, do it NOW.
Need more convincing? Check out these pics:


Within this nondescript warehouse complex in east Mesa (and behind the kid you won’t believe is only 7 years old) resides one of the best places in the Valley, StarFighters Arcade!


StarFighters opened around the corner in 2014 and moved to this location, 4840 E. Jasmine St., #102, two years ago. The good folks behind the place, Mike and Kathy Lovato and “Wolfman” Steve Thomas, longtime video game enthusiasts, wanted to share their personal game collection with other fans.


Along the walls of the place, you can find all kinds of video game goodies, 150 of them in fact, from Journey the game to stalwarts like Centipede, Q-Bert and more. Of course, there’s Paperboy, as Milo found early on.


And what’s more fun than Paperboy? A whole family playing Paperboy!


There are a good number of driving games, too, as Max quickly found. There’s a whole room of fighting games, and another room full of Dance Dance Revolution.


But Saturday was mostly about pinball, as Belles & Chimes, the new city-wide women’s league, held its fourth tournament.


StarFighters has greatly expanded its pinball collection in the past year, and now has 28 games in the middle of the room. That’s the largest collection in Phoenix. They saw some good games on Saturday, to be sure.


And then there was the worst ball ever on Atlantis. Go, Leslie!


After a grueling eleven rounds of competition, the winners emerged! Tracy, Casey, and Jennifer, L-R. (Photo courtesy Tracy.)


Hey, what’s almost as good as winning? Consolation prizes! Hurray! (Photo courtesy Tracy.)

Seriously, this was a great afternoon. Many thanks to StarFighters for hosting this event, and also for hosting a lot of other great events, and for giving back to the community with such philanthropy and love. These guys are really following through on their mission of preserving, protecting, and promoting classic arcade games. Get down there now, or at least Friday through Sunday, when they’re open.



Shop Notes 6 April 2017 | Comments Off on Photobombed

At first, this photo looked great. Good lighting, good timing, good framing. Then we looked more closely and saw the photobomb. Can you see it too? Maybe everyone just wants to play The Simpsons Pinball Party.

TSPP bug photobomb

There’s our new friend in the bottom left. Can you see it now?

You can check out the other, non-bug-photobombed images of The Simpsons here. (Disclaimer: No bugs were harmed in the taking of these photos.)

Have a Pinball Machine, Man

Shop Notes 4 April 2017 | Comments Off on Have a Pinball Machine, Man

The Simpsons Pinball Party is a great pinball machine, full of fun toys and funny references to the show we’ve all loved at some point. We had a particularly nice example of the machine come through the shop last week. It looked even better when it left.


Stern came out with The Simpsons Pinball Party in 2003, and went on to produce around 4,000 machines. (IPDB)


It’s based, of course, on the TV cartoon, which is in its 29th season now, with more than 615 episodes to its name. (IMDB)


The game is well-regarded among fans and pinball enthusiasts alike, and it’s usually pretty well-played, too, resulting in cabinet fade and playfield wear.


But not this game! This one was the brightest cabinet we’ve ever seen, and the playfield was perfect.


We added Cointaker LEDs throughout the machine.


We changed out the rings, cleaned the entire game, and gave it some special touches, too, including Super Bands, and color-coded post rubbers.


Interesting note on this game: All the voice work was by Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright, and Hank Azaria, custom recorded for the game. Cabinet and backglass art was created by Simpsons’ guru Matt Groening’s team. (IPDB)


Here’s another special touch we like to add to this game: A green LED to make the nuclear towers glow that special shade of radioactive.


Here’s one of those toys that help make this game so great: The mini playfield in the upper left corner of the game looks just like the family’s living room.


Another cool feature: Homer’s head swivels depending on game action. Enjoy the game, Erik! It’s a good one!

An Angelic Game

Shop Notes 30 March 2017 | Comments Off on An Angelic Game

We just finished a full shop job on this Charlie’s Angels pinball machine. Check it out!


Gottlieb came out with this Charlie’s Angels machine in 1978, and produced nearly 8,000 units. (IPDB)


The machine came out at the height of popularity of the TV show by the same name, which ran for five seasons and produced 110 episodes. (IMDB)


The franchise about the beautiful and formidable private eyes has spawned reboots, of course. There have been two movie versions, and a shortly lived TV revamp since the original.


The backglass features the original angels, Jaclyn Smith, Kate Jackson, and Cheryl Ladd.


We gave this machine a full shop job, tearing everything off the playfield to be polished, buffed, tumbled, washed, or otherwise cleaned.


We had a lot of touchups on the playfield, some mechanical fixes, and some cabinet work to do on top of it.


We installed Cointaker LEDs throughout as well, and added some extra touches, such as these Super Band flippers.


Bosley approves! Enjoy the game, Jessica!