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.
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.
Now here are the photos of what is assumed is 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.
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 smaller companies that 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 photos, I would actually argue that the Time Pilot is maybe 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.
So, if that second cabinet that should be a ‘Time Pilot’ is actually a Vanguard, then maybe the first cabinet is a Time Pilot. Or 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 have in common is some pre-existing success. But let’s now updated that list;
- 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 time for mentions of the Mr. Do! but with no success. I’ve even theorized that a smaller bootleg company (Falcon or Orca) produced these cabinets as well. But there aren’t enough visual examples to confirm.
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.
Here are some similar arcade posts
- Strange Jungle King Cabinet Artwork
- Another character sideart Ladybug in St. Louis, MO
- One of the coolest classic Japanese imports from Taito
- Factory dedicated original Mr. Do Run Run’s?
- Bootleg or Willis Mr. Do! Artwork