How Bally Stenciled Ms. Pac-man Cabinets

Short but fun and informative post, here are a couple of photos showing that Bally / Midway didn’t paint the plywood boards solid blue and then add the pink and the yellow. They had a blue stencil that left areas of the cabinet blank, exposed to primer to allow application of the lighter colors later on.

Should Vinyl Ms. Pac-man stencils be made in this fashion?

I don’t know, what do you guys think? My initial opinion is that the files from Paul Murphy to make our own Ms. Pac stencils are great. They would take some reworking, work that I am sure he wouldn’t want to do, and I know that I probably won’t do either.

But I will say, I would guess that having the blue as a stencil would make spraying easier for the yellow paint. But would the additional cost for another set of stencils for each side, making 12 stencils in total be worth the extra cost? I also lean towards no on that one.

Here is a photo of the bottom of a Pac-Land. Pac-Land’s were produced later on, after Ms. Pac-mans. You can see Bally resused some Ms. Pac-man board scrap to make the bottom and we get to see a glimpse of how they stenciled the artwork.

Unfinished Ms. Pac-man stencil artwork

The artwork was laid down on a solid board and then probably CNC cut to the shape of the cabinet. This photo shows that this piece must have had an error or something right before the pink was laid down.

Also, here is a detail shot on my second backup Ms. Pac-man that shows some of the overlap of the blue and the yellow. Pretty darn good registration all over, this was one of the few spots I could find and even these are hard to see. Look on the yellow and pink horizontal / vertical bars. By the ‘V’ you can see a faint overlap, and towards the slanted point you can also see the yellow covering the blue.

Classic Ms. Pac-man Stencil Registration Detail 1Classic Ms. Pac-man Stencil Registration Detail 2

What do you think?

If you are one of the collectors who got a set of Joymonkey Ms. Pac-man stencils, would you rather have a stencil for the blue, or paint the blue solid and have to add a lot more paint for coverage with the yellow? What about you guys that may do this in the future now that I have painstakingly gone over a ton of details of restoration painting a Ms. Pac?

Here are some similar arcade posts

If you enjoyed this post, please consider to leave a comment or subscribe to the feed and get future articles delivered to your feed reader.

User Gravatar

That photo is odd. Since when are Ms Pac-Man’s eye lids blue?

Also, it goes against the many machines out there with faded or damaged sideart where the yellow or pink has gone away to reveal blue or yellow underneath them.

But the photo is very curious. It just seems so…weird. Different processes at different times?

User Gravatar


I haven’t ever seen a Ms. Pac-man fade significantly in any other color other than the pink, and when I see the pink, it fades to white. I don’t know if that is the pink losing the pigmentation, or if that is the primer showing through. I would guess the first idea.

However, I have never seen yellow or pink fade to blue. Do you have a photo of this?

As for the eyes, yeah, she doesn’t have blue eyes. Maybe you caught the error on why this stencil became scrap. But you would think if the process was automated it wouldn’t be able to paint a section a completely wrong color, right? I suppose these could have been later in the run of Ms. Pacs.

User Gravatar

That’s a pretty cool picture, especially how it was painted before they cut the curve out. Is that your Pac-Land?

User Gravatar


This is not my Pac-Land, it is my understanding that this photo came up on one of the arcade forums this past week or so.

User Gravatar

I didn’t think so…just checking.

User Gravatar

Perhaps her eyelids are blue because that area was covered by a stencil used to paint down a white layer of primer? Hence the “white lashes” in those areas? This is just speculation but it would explain the blue eyelids. Perhaps, instead of a blue stencil, they had a stencil to paint down white primer on the art areas, they they applied color.

Just an alternative explanation. Look again at that pic with my theory in mind, what do you guys think? Improbable?

User Gravatar

BTW…a primer stencil would also explain why, when I sanded through the pink and yellow layers, there was blue. I must have sanded through the primer layer that was over the blue. That is, if my theory is true. In fact, you can see what I am talking about in first sanding photo of mine Jeff listed in his tutorial.

User Gravatar

I don’t have a photo of what I’m talking about but I have seen it. It’s possible it could have been from some other reason (repaint gone bad), but I’ve seen the fading, etc, on multiple cabs. But I also think Donnie may be on to something. It’s possible there were both primer and color layers applied.

The photo still bothers me though. There are areas with primer that should just be flat yellow. The arc near the bow, why is that even there? The entire eye itself (not just the eyelid) should all be yellow. And why is there no primer on the cheek that is to be pink? Or heck, 90% of the ghost is primer as well. Perhaps this is part of the screwup but given some of it is done correctly, it just seems really weird.

Do we know if this is an original cab and the original bottom? The only thing I can think of is there were a lot more stencils and a lot more layers put on that we knew about. But given cost constraints companies go through to put out products, that doesn’t seem likely.

User Gravatar

I will tend to second the idea of solid blue paint on the whole surface of the cab, then some primer added where other colors should be applied.

This white mask will protect against color melting that may lead to strange results, and will give a more solid look to yellow and pink.
this will be the same process than the one used on silk screening, final white layer to give a solid look.

User Gravatar

well there could be varaitaios of the art the pic on klov shows the eyelids blue. and they are blue on the marquee.
from this pic it looks like the white was first only because the blue looks pretty scuffed up and you can see the white. havign the white where the yellow and pink is needed not only helps the color vibrancy but will use less paint to cover Yellow down on blue not a very good idea. 🙁

User Gravatar

Whoa, Rich is right, the cab photo on KLOV exactly matches the Pac-Land pic. Right down the to blue eyes, all pink ghost, etc. Even includes white as a base color! Never noticed this before. What we’re looking at here is a totally different 5-color variation. Pretty interesting.

User Gravatar

Yes, but those are stickers on the KLOV cabinet pic. As production was winding down, Midway went with those stickers that have a the different colors. That cab on KLOV wasn’t stenciled.

User Gravatar

@Donnie M.:

Mmmm, so you are thinking that Bally painted solid blue, and then went back and applied a primer stencil, and then applied the lighter colors like the blue and the yellow.

For anyone looking for the photo Donnie is referencing, check out part 1 of the Ms. Pac-man stenciling tutorial.

User Gravatar

@asmblr / Donnie:

I thought that the photo of a Ms. Pac-man on Klov was bizarree too. I was talking with Chris Moore before I started, and he was asking if I had a white stencil as well. I was like, what? There’s no white on Ms. Pac. He was looking at this photo on klov, which I could tell right away by the shade of blue that this was a vinyl decal / sticker of some sort. The fact that the eyelids are blue re-enforces that.

But I do think that there are probably other small variations on the Ms. Pac-man artwork, stencil version, that might make a fun post. If any of you find anything while you are doing arcade surfing, send them to me and I will do a comparison post.

User Gravatar

just my 2 cents, but after careful examination of my ms.pacs, it seems that the black was probably laid down using a screen. i can’t see mass producing such detail with a stencil. i wonder if a silk screen shop could make one that big.

User Gravatar

After all my discussions with silk screening shops of late, I’m inclined to believe it is possible. Perhaps that’s what they did. Automated the process using machine run screening on large panels for registration, then cut them out after. Very bizarre if that’s the case. Would love to talk to some ex-bally production guys.

User Gravatar

Believe what is possible, the last piece of the stencil was a using vinyl? And the other colors mass produced with a brass stencil or some other re-usable material?

Leave a comment

Your email address is never displayed and cannot be spammed. If your comments are excessively self-promotional you will be banned from commenting. Read our comment privacy policy.