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fishes

The «FATHOM» was manufactured by Bally in 1981 with a total production run of 3,500, featuring a bizarre ocean theme with mermaids and sea nymphs.

The game structure is one of the most imaginative and complex scenery of that era with 3-left outlanesball-multiball, 2 saucers, 6 inline drop targets, 3 flipper fingers, a spinner and a great out lane layout.

The artwork of the playfield and the backglass is outstanding. Due to the enormous amount of detail created by Greg Freres with only 12 colours the Fathom sets highest standards of pinball art and is well known among collectors all over the world.

Using the «Squawk and Talk Module» it came up with a great variety of clear sounds and voice.

Unfortunatly the game left the factory without a mylared playfield. If it has not been protected by mylar sheets it got damaged quite quickly. So it is hard to find a machine with a good playfield nowadays. To my knowledge there are no NOS-playfields available anywhere in the world.

backglassThe backglass was printed using the four-coloured technique developed by Bally [first used on Bally's LOST WORLD in 1978]. Freres used mirrored inserts to emulate shinny surfaces like scales, water and hair reflections or outlined type. The pin is equipped with yellow rubbers on the flipper fingers and white rubber rings all over the playfield.

The blue translucent bumper caps are customized by a silver octopus. There were no screws holding the caps on the bumpers so they became loose after a while and many operators used glue to fix them. Although remanufactured bumper caps bumpersare available, I was not able to find original ones without screw holes.

The cabinet and backbox were printed with 3 colours, using the classic stencil method.

What else happened to pinball around 1981?

1980

  • Bally came up with XENON, the first pinball with a female voice [by Suzanne Ciani].
  • Williams introduced «Magna-save» – a powerful magnet under the playfield enabling the player to prevent the ball from exiting the outlane by pressing an additional button on the side of the cabinet [first used on BLACK KNIGHT].
  • Williams FIREPOWER was the first pinball with the multiball feature.

1981

  • After designing FIREBALL II, artist David Christensen left Bally after 10 years.
  • Gottlieb produced their first two-level-game called BLACK HOLE.
  • Bally used a reverberation unit on CENTAUR to give the voice an echo.

1982

  • HAUNTED HOUSE by Gottlieb featured a three-level-playfield.
  • Stern closed down its pinball division.
  • Gottlieb built the first combination pinball/video machine named CAVEMAN


Other machines of that era:

Bally

  • BMX [1982, Greg Freres]
  • CENTAUR [1981, Paul Faris]
  • EIGHT BALL DELUXE [1981, Margaret Hudson]
  • EMBRYON [1981, Tony Ramunni]
  • FIREBALL II [1981, David Christensen]
  • FLASH GORDON [1981, Kevin O´Connor]
  • FRONTIER [1980, Greg Freres]
  • GROUNDSHAKER [1980, David Christensen]
  • MEDUSA [1981, Kevin O´Connor]
  • MR & MR PACMAN [1982, Pat McMahon]
  • MYSTIC [1980, Kevin O´Connor]
  • PAC-MAN [1982, Margaret Hudson]
  • ROLLING STONES [1980, Greg Freres]
  • SILVERBALL MANIA [1980, Kevin O´Connor]
  • SKATEBALL [1980, Greg Freres]
  • SPACE INVADERS [1980, Paul Faris]
  • VECTOR [1982, Greg Freres]
  • VIKING [1980, Kevin O´Connor]
  • XENON [1980, Paul Faris]

Gottlieb

  • BLACK HOLE [1981, Terry Doerzaph]
  • DEVILS DARE [1982, Doug Watson]
  • HAUNTED HOUSE [1982, Terry Doerzaph]
  • JAMES BOND [1980, Doug Watson]
  • MARS [1981, David A. Moore]
  • PANTHERA [1980, Doug Watson]
  • PUNK [1982, David A. Moore with Doerzaph]
  • ROCKY [1982, David A. Moore]
  • ROLLERDISCO [1980, Gordon Morison]
  • SPIDERMAN [1980, Gordon Morison]
  • TORCH [1980, Gordon Morison]

WILLIAMS

  • ALIEN POKER [1980, Tony Ramunni]
  • BARRACORA [1981, Doug Watson]
  • BLACK KNIGHT [1980, Tony Ramunni]
  • FIREPOWER [1980, Constantino Mitchell]
  • BLACKOUT [1980, Constantino Mitchell]
  • SCORPION [1980, Tony Ramunni]