The secret time capsule of Bally Midway

In February I got a non-descript email about a private owner looking to sell a couple of arcade games. I always look forward to these emails, but this one in particular soon unraveled to be more than the average Joe looking to sell a Pac-man. It was a short story about a father who used to be employed at the Bally / Midway plant in Franklin Park and had brought his work home with him nearly 25 years ago.

The Soda Jerk doing his thing

A visual history of 2 HUO games from Bally / Midway

For the last two weeks I’ve been hard on myself. How do I tell such a neat story in a different way, that is more engaging than the typical play by play with all the sorted details. Inspired by the flash in the pan ‘what my friends think I do’ meme, I thought I’d tell the story how I envisioned it happening back in the 1980’s. Don’t like fun? Just jump down to unveiling which HUO titles were found.

One day, a blue collar worker at Bally / Midway…

…decided, “I build these games, but I bet I’d be the golly gee coolest guy on the block if I owned a couple – IN MY HOME”.

Freddie (As we’ll refer to him now) walked into the front office and announced:

Freddie: Bill, I want to buy me some of those entertainment boxes.

Bill: What an excellent decision, and sound investment. These will be around forever, just you watch. And you can use your awesome employee benefit to get them at 10% over cost.

Freddie: Swell!

Freddie headed back out to the Bally / Midway plant floor. Celebratory high fives all around:

Rockin the high five Anchorman style

Freddie felt real neat, he had two arcade games, life was grand.

Whistling a happy tune for the two arcade games

With the two games strapped in back, he pulled up his perfect truck into his perfect neighborhood. He was home.

Two arcade games enter the perfect American neighborhood

Freddie pictured how life would be now that he had these grand, colorful arcade cases in his house:

Rockstar parties with the arcade games

But sadly the neighbors in the yellow, green, pink and blue houses didn’t view it in quite the romatic light. They thought – There is something not quite right with Freddie…

The junk hoarder brought home two arcade games

Soon, Freddie was all alone, frowny face.

No one wanted to play the arcade games with the lonely puppy

25 years later, forgotten and unloved, it was time to sell the two arcade games. But would anyone want them?

Two arcade games I couldn’t pass up

All kidding aside, the history behind these games made this a truly neat story. It is not often that you find two arcade games that had rolled off the line from Bally / Midway and had never seen another owner. I was so thrilled the son contacted me about making the purchase. Once I saw the initial photos I wanted to make sure I made a fair and generous offer (for two games I had not seen in person) to honor his initial reach out.

The offer was accepted – Excitement – for you see the two HUO arcade games were a…

Root Beer Tapper

HUO Root Beer Tapper arcade game

…and a Zwackery

HUO Bally / Midway Zwackery

The Zwackery (Chris tells me) was formerly a Bank Panic in some form. If you are interested to see a few more photos, and a constantly expanding library of photos of the Zwackery and Root Beer Tapper – view the album on Coinopspace.

Astounding to find two great arcade games that have never seen the light of day outside of this one former Bally / Midway employee.

Special Thanks

Again go out to both Chris Moore and Tom. Tom, if you read this, the above story is just fun – certainly don’t intend it to be mean spirited in anyway. Thank you for selling us the games. Chris – Thank you again for swooping in and being my local go to guy to pick up these games. Thank you to both of you for hauling them outside at risk of bad backs and splintered hands.

What are your memories from 1986?

In 1986 I was 7, and I lived in a tiny town. I played a lot of baseball, and collected baseball cards. But I never sat foot in a full arcade. I’d be interested to hear the first time you played these games, and what you may have been doing around 1986 when these games were being hauled up to Green Oaks, IL.

Additionally, if you are interested to know more about the Root Beer Tapper or Zwackery story, please leave me a comment below or contact me privately.

Here are some similar arcade posts

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Wow, what a find! I loved Zwackery. If you ever decide to sell it, please let me know. Great blog BTW. I’m loving all the details.

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Hey sir. I ended up selling it to a close friend in OH a few months ago.

I haven’t played it in 2 player thought…that is interesting. Where have you played it?

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Or if you ever decide to convert it back to bank panic and want to sell that hella cool marquee – i’m your man.

The person who converted it probably didn’t realize: the *very best* thing about Zwackery is multi-player mode. It’s just not the same in single player mode.

BTW – I remember the Bally/Midway building. It was visible, (and the only visible building) as you rounded the exit from 465-S on the way out to New Pal. I could probably find the exact location from a google map satellite view.

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My friend Marko and I were a mean Zwackery team. You move through the terrain a lot faster with two players. I’m endeavoring to build a two spinner cabinet just to relive the experience. 🙂

Anyway, we played at the Aladdin’s Castle in the Tippecanoe Mall, Lafayette, IN.

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BTW, if your friend in Ohio decides to sell it one day, please put him in touch with me. I’m still looking for a Zwackery machine. Thanks.

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