The little known history of Eagle Conversions Inc.

Lately I’ve been doing a fair amount of research on those little arcade companies in the 80’s, and how they managed to do business. It was in that process that I got exposure to a company by the name of Eagle Conversions Inc. I was surprised that some simple searches in the common places turn up little to nothing about them. One mention of Eagle Conversions on a set of The Glob instructions and a little bit of research led me to find a possible connection to Magic Electronics.

The Glob Sideart Snapshot

The Beginning – Eagle Conversions, Crazy Mazey and D-Rail

Update: Big thanks to Keith Smith at The Golden Age Arcade Historian for his tremendous help and time to provide information on this topic. This post has been edited to reflect some of that information provided.

By 1982, Frank Gaglione was already well traveled in the arcade industry. Through his company Omni Video Games, Frank had been involved in several lawsuits, including two that have been well published online and we won’t go into here, one v. Midway and one v. Stern.

These two lawsuits are important to note because, it would appear that Frank was largely leveraging existing games through another one of his companies – Ferncrest Distributors. It would seem the long term goal would be to add game publishing into the mix. In February with a gentleman by the name of Kevin McIntrye, Frank created a new entity named Eagle Conversions, named after the location at 25 Eagle Street Providence RI. Here is a snapshot of what that location looks like today:

Eagle Conversions 25 Eagle Street RI

Eagle started to make a push to release its first set of games. One of those games was Crazy Mazey, developed and copyrighted earlier in 1982 by a fellow named Ron Meadows for the Apple II. Frank had a short history with the industry and the AMOA shows and through his network was exposed to “Mazey”. In September of that year he filed a Trademark through Eagle to sell Crazy Mazey as a kit that could be put into an arcade machine.

Ever heard of Crazy Mazey? I hadn’t. A quick search on Klov shows the game, but does not credit Eagle Conversions as the “manufacturer”. Here is a photo from an eBay auction (Nov. of 2010) for a marquee sold in no other than Rochester, NY. 😉

Eagle Conversions Crazy Mazey Marquee

Eagle Conversions kept on trucking, and filed a trademark for another arcade game by the name of D-Rail, or Derail. D-Rail was one of several games that Frank had at the November 1982 AMOA show in Chicago. The filing says that the trademark was abandoned in May of 1984, and I was not able to turn up any traces of this game.

I would be taking a huge guess, and drawing a lot of assumptions, but what if D-Rail was actually this bootleg cabinet that I posted about in July? The theme seems to match the name, but I digress.

Eagle Conversions D-Rail Derail Cabinet (Long Shot)

With the first two kits in development, things were moving along for Eagle Conversions.

Then, along came a Glob.

EPOS Corporation, the Rise of Magic Conversion Co. and the birth of The Glob

A lot of things were happening in the arcade world in 1982.

In September 1982 in Alabama, EPOS Corporation was officially formed. EPOS’s primary business was in computer peripherals and had capabilities to develop and produce electronic products through its network in Alabama and regionally.

EPOS had a small taste of the amusement industry, and had worked previously through other partners like Photar. The latest game they had in development was called The Glob, a conversion kit that would work in old Pac-man cabinets.

The Glob Sideart

The Glob Sideart

The assumption I make is that Frank and his network of companies were now well known and had done well for themselves. Choosing to work with Eagle Conversions may have helped EPOS have a local office on the east coast to have better access to that market.

The Glob Instructions Sheet

The original reference to Eagle Conversions in the Glob instructions

In October, the Trademark for The Glob was filed in Alabama under Magic Conversion Co. This was just the first step. Taking Magic to the next level, an individual with EPOS traveled up to RI to conduct a little business.

In late 1983 Edwin Goldin (d. 2006) was in Providence on EPOS behalf. My guess would be that while Edwin was in Providence he worked out an agreement to exclude Frank, and filed formal paperwork in Providence. Magic Electronics Inc. – was born, and given the exclusive rights to The Glob. The Glob may have been the last game that EPOS turned over to another party. Later in 1983 EPOS decided to spin up a division just for gaming by the name of Cardinal Amusement Products.

Ramping up for Magic Electronics

The newly named Magic Electronics continued pushing forward. Magic Electronics Inc. became active licensing games from a number of different publishers like Jaleco, Seatongrove and Shinkai. This allowed them to build out their offerings of conversion games that largely ran on Midway Galaxian hardware and Nintendo games like Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr.

I also believe that Magic Electronics continued to work through Ferncrest Distributing to build regional partnerships in New York, New Jersey and Boston, MA to support their global publishing partnerships. But….that is another post for another time.

In Closing

Sadly, Eagle Conversions is no longer active. Frank Gaglione died in late 1997, and the business was dissolved around the same time.

If anyone involved with Eagle, Magic, or EPOS would like to add some additional detail to this article, please contact me. Additional information has come to light to expand the network of companies involved with Magic Electronics. I’d like to have some insight into the relationships between EPOS + Magic, as well as the relationships between Glak Associates + Omni Video Games + Eagle Conversions. If you are a family member or a former employee of one of these companies, please reach out – I’d love to talk with you as well.

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What an exciting connect the dots you’ve been playing! Lets hope someone can reach out with more details and confirm some of the detective work you’ve been doing. Crazy how these small little companies sprouted up in the shadows of the big boys…there was probably still lots of money to be made. Now you need to figure out that artist mark 🙂

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Chris Moore » Exciting to 2 people, maybe. But thank you. I am sure with the help of our journalist friend in California, we’ll nail down a solid theory, or be able to ID something solid.

TBBK has been vocal on Klov that two things are true when you see an Artic cab – No two cabs look alike (for hire fulfillment) and the games inside run on Galaxian hardware. I think that comment is significant.

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I’ve come across quite a bit of info on Magic and Eagle in various back issues of Play Meter and Replay. Magic, Eagle, Glak Associates, and Omni are all closely connected and they have ties to Montgomery Vending. Some of the companies seem a bit less than savory.
Here’s some info (probably more than you want to know).

First, the boring stuff.
Glak, Omni, and Eagle were almost interchangeable. RePlay and Play Meter referred to them as “Glak/Omni” and Eagle, aka Glak, aka Omni a number of times. Omni was a fairly well known producer of knock-off games. They were sued by Midway and Stern. As Eagle they were sued by Universal.

Frank Gaglione was president of both Omni and Glak. Omni was located at 66 Illinois Ave/St. in Warwick RI. Kevin McIntyre was the VP (Ferncrest Distributors was located at the same address with Gaglione and McIntyre as the principals). Glak was located at 25 Eagle St. in Providence (the same address as Eagle and later HQ for Magic). Omni might have incorporated on 6/24/80 but I’m not sure it’s the same company. Replay says that Magic was formed in late 1982 but it looks like they didn’t incorporate until 12/20/83. From what I’ve read, Glak was the company that made the games and released some of them under the Omni brand.

The slightly less boring stuff.
Omni (and Ferncrest) were parties in the Stern v Kaufmann suit. The suit primarily concerned a pirated version of Scramble that Omni had produced. Omni had apparently gotten a look at Scramble before it was released. In December, 1980, while Scramble was still in development at Konami (and before Stern had seen it – they didn’t see it until the following month), Frank Gaglione ordered 10 video game marquees bearing the name “Scramble” from a company called BCA posters in an attempt to get a trademark on the name. He took five of them and slapped them on cabinets for three other bootlegs Omni was producing: Space Guerilla, Space Carrier, and Rally-X. A short time later, they came out with their own game called Scramble. Stern sued them and they actually countersued claiming that Stern had violated THEIR trademark.

You can read some details here (including a link to the case itself):
http://allincolorforaquarter.blogspot.com/2012/09/some-legal-odds-and-ends.html

Anyhow, after the trial, Glak stopped using the Omni name (though they continued releasing games as Glak). I’m not sure if Glak just changed its name to Eagle or if they set up another company in the same location and shut Glak down (if so, it may have been due to the bad press).
In any event, Eagle had its own share of legal problems.

In March of 1983 (I believe), Universal filed suit against Eagle for infringing on the Mr. Do copyright (the 7/83 Replay says they filed suit in “March” but I believe a suit by Universal was also mentioned in the 1/15/83 Play Meter so it may have been March of 1982 or maybe there were two suits). On 5/16/83, the US District Court in Providence granted a temporary restraining order against Eagle ordering them to stop producing Mr. Do machines as well as any cabinet art, marquees etc. Gaglione said that Eagle was launching a countersuit and, interestingly, also said they were suing Eastern Micro (though the article doesn’t say why).

The 12/84 Replay says that Magic was founded in late 1982 in Cranston, RI by Kevin McIntyre. I think they may have meant 1983 because the 12/83 issue had an article on the formation of the company, reporting that they had six games in development (supposedly by designers who were all “avid video game players”). They also had a plant in Milbrook, AL. Kevin McIntyre had come to the US from Australia in 1973 and met his future wife (the niece of a client) in Rhode Island. He decided to stay and they got married the following year. It didn’t say how he got involved with Gaglione. Magic’s first game was The Glob, which debuted at the 1983 AMOA show. They also licensed it to Eagle, who sold it as a conversion kit for Pac Man. Magic followed with Eeekk. Some of the early flyers I’ve seen say “Manufacturer: Magic Electronics (or Conversions), Distributed by Eagle Conversions”.
At some point, it looks like Eagle (and Gaglione) went away – or at least weren’t mentioned.

This may have been because Magic was actually quite successful for a while (late 1984 and 1985) and may have wanted to distance themselves from Eagle/Glak/Omni/Gaglione. Magic released a lot of conversion kits, mostly licensed from other companies. One of their most interesting efforts was the Child’s Play line of kiddie video games, introduced at the 1985 AMOA show. This was almost the same idea as the infamous Moppet line, but the games were easier and geared more toward younger children. They also manufactured Legend of Kage for Taito America (since they had shut down their Illinois plant in the crash).

In December, 1985 Magic moved into a new 25,000 square foot building in Providence at the corner of Eagle and Valley, consolidating all their operations under one roof..

While they were successful for a time, Magic went downhill fast. On 4/14/86 McIntyre petitioned the Rhode Island courts for debtor protection (i.e. filed for bankruptcy). He also filed suit against a number of companies and individuals for “licensing him games they had no right to”. On 5/23 he went before the Superior Court of Rhode Island to get permission to sell off the assets of the bankrupt Magic Electronics/Magic Conversions. On 6/12, Bob Henry of Hi Tech Coin Distributors bought all the assets of Magic (they were physically located on the 3rd floor of Magic’s HQ at, yep, 25 Eagle Street in Providence). The price? $1,000 (yes, you read that right). The judge was reportedly shocked by the amount. McIntyre reportedly had previously had to sell his Rhode Island home. Bob Henry was no stranger to such deals. He had previously bought the assets of Eastern Micro Electronics (hmm – another Eastern Micro connection). The same article that reported this said that McIntyre’s had earlier set up a number of companies, including Glak, Montgomery Vending (which one issue referred to as Magic’s “partner”), and Associated Overseas.

Other names associated with Eagle are Gus Paglia, Ron Boreieri, and Rich Procaccini. Names associated with Magic include Mark Capitanio, Mike Schwyn, and Allan Shine (the court-appointed trustee – I originally thought he might be associated with Sine Electronics, but I think they were in California). For Glak, try Mike Guidi, and Vincent Calise.

As for the mysterious logo that was discussed on KLOV, one article mentioned that Glak had its own silk screening department and artist.

Epos

I don’t know what the connection was between Magic and Epos (if any, other than licensed games). I do know, however, that Cardinal Amusements was the amusement game division of Epos. Epos started out making computer peripherals. They eventually began creating games. At first, they sold the manufacturing rights to other companies (like Photar, who did Megadon and Catapult). With 1984’s Beastie Feastie, Epos decided to keep the manufacturing rights and formed Cardinal Amusements.
Games associated with both Epos/Cardinal and Magic/Eagle include The Glob, Igmo, Atlantic City Action, and Revenger.

D-Rail

I haven’t seen a picture of the game, but RePlay and Play Meter reported that Glak showed the game at the 1982 AMOA show, along with Lasso and Woodpecker.

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OK. A bit more info on Epos/Cardinal.

The 1/85 RePlay had an article on Cardinal that delved a bit into its history:

“EPOS itself has been around since 1981 when it was founded by President Fred Byrd and the VP of Amusement Software Tim Johnson. Initial products included a line of computer peripherals such as buffers for printers and have since expanded to include the assistance of a Florida firm in the development of an optical-tracking system . They also became involved with the amusement game industry when they began the production of subassemblies for the games ‘ Glob, ‘ ‘Super Glob’ and ‘Eeek’ for sale to other manufacturers.”

Another flyer reads “Cardinal Amusement Products, the creator, designer and PC-Board manufacturer of the GLOB® and SUPER GLOB”

The other article seemed to imply that Magic designed The Glob, but it looks like Epos/Cardinal may have been the designer and sold it to Eagle/Magic. The other article did mention that Magic had a plant in Milbrook, AL (which is about an hour from Auburn, where Cardinal was located).

Cardinal didn’t even last as long as Magic.
From the 12/85 Replay:
“CALLING IT A DAY – Cardinal Amusements of Auburn, Ala. has called it a day in the video kit business. Saying they’re just too tired hassling with distributors and trying to impla nt their ‘Street Heat’ into the market chain, they’re liquidating their stock (but say they’ll continue to provide service for past buye rs). Cardinal has other projects outside this industry they’ll concentrate on.”

I am currently trying to contact a designer for Cardinal.

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I just read the article in RePlay July ’86 about the $1000 liquidation sale to Bob Henry. He was the only coin man who showed up to the auction and “nobody else knew what they were looking at.” In the full page news story he offers the parts up to ops who are put on delivery hold by Wico, etc.” and ops looking for magic and CVS parts. The stock was also apparently brimming with general coin-op parts – monitors joysticks buttons overlays, etc.

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