More bootleg artwork cabinets – Time Pilot & Vanguard?

As collectors, we all have our fragmented historical interests when it comes to a certain manufacturer or game creator. Each time more photos pop up of these white cabinets with the painted sideart that would illicit a disparage from purists, it further imbues my wish of having been older and aware during the classic period of gaming. This time, someone forwarded me photos of a Time Pilot and I found photos of one other unknown cabinet that maybe someone has a guess on identity.

Mr. Do’s Castle Conversion with a Space Explorer theme

Here are the photos to the first cabinet, a Mr. Do’s Castle conversion that has a theme that could be easily argued as any number of games. The shape of the cabinet matches the white Lady Bug bootleg, with the angled lower back and the curve below the coin door.

Mr. Do's Castle White Bootleg Cabinet 1 - Time Pilot?Mr. Do's Castle White Bootleg Cabinet 2 - Time Pilot?Mr. Do's Castle White Bootleg Cabinet 3 - Time Pilot?Mr. Do's Castle White Bootleg Cabinet 4 - Time Pilot?

I find it interesting that most of these cabinets seemed to paint their artwork to 1″ of the edge of the cabinet, but on this one it would appear that the artwork goes right to the edge. This might imply that the artwork was printed and then the cabinet shape was cut, but also, at the top, it does look like the alignment is off so either the did print directly after the cutout and it misaligned, or their cutting was sloppy.

Update July 2013 – I now believe that this Mr. Do! Castle is in a Mars cabinet.

Update June 2014 – Due to the great research by Keith Smith, it is possible that this cabinet with the same sideart was also used for Devil Fish, modified to omit the Mars logo at the bottom.

Now here are the photos of a cabinet that was converted into a ‘Time Pilot’. There were some photos included showing the dip switch settings, but that doesn’t mean that this cabinet was necessarily a Time Pilot. I would guess that the bootleg company used similar documentation from the licensor.

Vaguard / Time Pilot White Bootleg Cabinet 1Vaguard / Time Pilot White Bootleg Cabinet 2Vaguard / Time Pilot White Bootleg Cabinet 4Vaguard / Time Pilot White Bootleg Cabinet 3Vaguard / Time Pilot White Bootleg Cabinet 5 - Dip Switches

Update June 2014 – Due to the great research by Keith Smith, it is possible that this cabinet originally contained a game called Red Clash.

Now that we have number 4 and 5 games with the same style, artwork wear, and even illustration style I started to look at the cabinets I’ve found so far.

The span of years is about right, smack during the peak years and no indication that this company lasted longer than a handful. These were licensing games from Universal and Taito, which also makes sense, two companies that may have relied on others for a distribution network and seemed to have multiple variations of their games. It would seem as though they also had two variations of cabinets, one with a straight down from with a zig zag pattern and one without any printing.

If you look close at the second photo, I would argue that this cabinet could have possibly been for Vanguard, also a Centuri game. The grid artwork on the side of the cabinet matches the bezel. When looking at Klov’s entry for Vanguard, if that Vanguard is factory then the bezels match.

It could be any other number of space themed games from that period – Tunnel Hunt (unlikely with Atari ties), Space Seeker, or Zarzon. Who knows. I would speculate though that it isn’t one of those, because the one thing these games seem to have in common is some pre-existing notoriety. Let’s look at an updated list with the speculated Vanguard, and when each game was originally released;

  • Lady Bug – Universal, 1981
  • Vanguard / Time Pilot – Centuri 1981 / 1982
  • Mr. Do! – Universal, 1982
  • Jungle King (Maybe Jungle Boy?) – Taito, 1982

Not completely out of the question that Centuri would have licensed their games to the right distributor.

What kills me is that none of these games seem to have any clues in the cabinets. No documentation, no stamping, no nameplates, nothing. I’ve had people look through Playmeters and other industry magazines of the era for mentions of the Mr. Do! but with no success. I’ve even theorized that a smaller company (Falcon or Orca) produced these cabinets as well. But there aren’t enough visual clues to make a firm confirmation.

Special Thanks – Additional Information

Thanks to Fred for sending the link my way, and Steve23 for his photos of his ‘Time Pilot’. If anyone else has seen any other photos of similar cabinets with this style of artwork, drop me a line or leave a comment.

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It looks like a Stern cabinet.

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Actually, the more I look at it – yeah. It looks like a Vanguard.

That pointy top gives it that Stern look.

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These bootleg cabs sure do have a Stern look to them…could or could not be a clue. The middle section is much larger, enough though the profile is similar…and the marquee isn’t angled I don’t believe. I’ve only seen my Mr. Do! once in person….should have it here at the house sometime in August.

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The early 80’s time frame, when the big money was flowing into op pockets is the catalyst for all of these bootlegs, if the cabs are in fact bootlegs. I’m going to hypothesize that perhaps they are not bootlegs, but simply generic, empty cabinets. If you could buy Willis repro graphics at the same time you could buy original graphics from the manufacturer, the same could apply to cabinets. The operator looking to save some money could buy the cheaper kit version of a game and then buy one of these generic cabs to install it in. When the kit for Time Pilot ’84 could be had for a mere $245 (Playmeter 5/85) vs. the full size cabinet that was likely $1400 or more, which would you buy? The generic cabinet probably cost $500 (+/- ) new and even with the kit installed you are saving big money over buying the complete upright. Not only that, but when you want to change games out, you’ve already got the generic cab. Costs go down even more. Now we just need to figure out who was actually making these generic cabs!

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I think this is an interesting idea…but are you saying generic cab as in ‘generic artwork’? That these two cabinets shown here don’t really present a specific game?

Or, if just the cabinets were sold without the artwork, that would seem plausible, except, the artwork is obviously printed onto the wood, not a laminate…

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I’m thinking generic cabinet package. Cabinet, artwork, plexi bezel ~ of which we’ve seen a few ~ probably a blank cp and maybe jamma harness or maybe empty. If you look at my Arcade Resources Page and scroll down to marketing there is a pdf of elcon. They did generic cabs, ugly generic cabs. It stands to reason that someone was doing it right, or at least better. No?

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Every 100% original, dedicated Vanguard I’ve seen has the bezel shown here: http://arcadeflyers.com/?page=flyer&db=videodb&id=2460&image=2

The image on KLOV might have a bootleg or other replacement bezel (Pleiades?) even though the cab itself is original.

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You are very right, that bezel for the Vanguard is the true original. Thanks for pointing that out.

This Tehkan bezel does very much look like a Vanguard theme as well as the sideart on the one cab….started tracking Vanguard on eBay to see if a complete Tehkan Vanguard eventually pops up, if one exists.

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