Hidden artwork on pinball machines

Many pinball machines have some hidden artwork on their playfields. Small details that are hidden underneath a plastic or other assembly, that you cannot see without removing parts from the playfield.

Other machines don't hide artwork but have secret references that only insiders know of. Names, initials and other things are drawn on the playfield.

If you know more references or hidden artwork (and have pictures) you may always email me..

Apollo 13

Apollo 13
Seems mission control isn't launching a shuttle but is busy keeping an eye on squidboy..
Backglass detail, photo by Pascal Arts

Bad Cats

Bad Cats
The backglass of Bad Cats shows a lot of funny details (that mostly have to do with cats). One reference can be found at the bottom right corner: the Pinball Python is a reference to Python Anghelo who did the artwork on this game.

Breakshot

Breakshot
On Capcoms Breakshot there's a Godzilla hidden on the top right in the ferns on top of the pinball machine.
Photo by Erik Kleijn.

Captain Fantastic

Captain Fantastic
Hidden initials on Ballys Captain Fantastic. One of the plastics shows a woman with initials DGC on her shirt - for David G. Christensen who made the artwork.

Cirqus Voltaire

Cirqus Voltaire cleaning thankyou
This is probably the most known 'hidden artwork'. Everyone who shopped this game will like this thank you. It's at the left side of the game, above the menagerie standup target.

Cirqus Voltaire Popaduik CV Popaduik
This is a closeup of the left and right bottom slingshot switches. 'Pop' and 'Duke'. According to this website, Duke is a reference to the father of John Popaduik (the designer of this game).

Cirqus Voltaire names
Totally at the top of the playfield, hidden below plastics, are the first names of the people who worked on this game.

Cirqus Voltaire backglass

The artwork for this game was made by Linda Deal. John Popaduik is drawn as the acrobat on the backglass, and herself as the ringmaster.

The 'RRR' that can be found on this game refers to Cameron Silver. RRR are his initials for a highscore on a pinball machine.

Cirqus Voltaire cat Joos TNT
On the TNT box you notice the name Joos. This is a reference to Joe Joos Jr, who worked at Williams. See Theatre of Magic.

At the right you also see the name Hanley. This is a reference to Mike Hanley, a close friend of John Popaduik.
His name appears three times on the game, as you can see on the playfield, also on the backglass, and if you enter a secret code it will also show up on the display. No I won't tell you the secret combination.

Cirqus Voltaire cat
Cirqus Voltaire really has a lot of hidden artwork and other references.. too much to list it all.
If you look close at the backglass and playfield you'll notice a lot of names and initials.
Here's for example 'Redhawk Grille'. The cat is supposed to be John Popaduiks own cat (see also World Cup Soccer and Theatre of Magic).

Comet

Comet
On Comet PF plastics, there are several references to the people involved in the game.
One example is Barry's Game Gallery on the plastic next to the left flipper.
Another is Steve's Sweets, a reference to Steve Kordek (see Cyclone) - Photo by Jim P.
Cyclone plastic

Creature from the black lagoon

CFTBL car
The pink car at the bottom of the playfield has 'Trudeau' as brand name. John Trudeau is the designer of this game.

Cyclone

Cyclone plastic
Steve's Sweets is a reference to Steve Kordek, who was Barry Ourslers mentor (the game designer).
Photo by Jim P.

Diner

Diner Mark Ritchie
Mark's world famous chili is probably a refence to Mark Ritchie who designed the game (or Mark Sprenger who did the artwork ?).

Funhouse

Funhouse playfield
In the back (underneath the ramp) it has the interstate sign and Kansas - Feel the Power.
Both are a reference to Pat Lawlors earlier game Whirlwind.

Funhouse backglass
On the backglass are also references to Whirlwind, see picture. At the top it says 'Ride the Whirlwind' and at the bottom we learn Rudy was discovered in Kansas.

Funhouse backglass
According to this interview, John Youssi is the man with the kid on his shoulders. The boy is his son, who also was his inspiration for Rudy.

The Getaway and High Speed

getaway
Game designer Steve Richie is drawn on the Getaway backglass as the person driving the sports car. The idea for High Speed was based on a true story. He was actually chased by the cops at 146 mph in his 1979 Porsche 928.

Guns and Roses

guns and roses
A lot of games by John Borg have their name in a special way underneath the apron.. also Guns and (f..n) Roses..

Hurricane

Hurricane backglass
T-shirts of the people in the rollercoaster on the backglass say 'Comet' and 'Cyclone'. These were previous games by Williams with an amusement park theme.

Junk Yard

Tonys Palace
The backglass and playfield give a clue where this junk yard is located: it's behind Tony's Palace, the casino in Bally's Who Dunnit? pinball machine.

Lights, Camera, Action

Lights Camera Action cabinet
In the rocks the name 'Norris' is spelled out.. this is Jon Norris the game designer. (N of Norris starts below left support of Golden Gate bridge.)

Lost World

Lost World
Dinos playing pinball !! Hidden at the bottom left of the playfield under the apron, it says: John Borg (the designer) and 'Jurassic Park Lost World'.

The Machine: Bride of Pinbot

BOP face
This face is hidden in the artwork on the cabinet.. try to find it.
It's a self-portrat of the artist Kevin O'Connor (see also Silverball Mania).

Mary Shelly's Frankenstein

Sega Frankenstien
Same like on Lost World, hidden at the bottom left of the playfield under the apron, it says: J. Borg (the designer) and 'Frankenstien' (notice the incorrect spelling).

Pirates of the Caribbean

POTC Disney

POTC Mickey Mouse
As Pirates of the Caribbean is a Disney license (which is indicated in the right outlane), there are some hidden references to this. Underneath the flippers the Mickey Mouse silhout is clearly visible (3 black circles, in picture right on top of the Shoot Again insert).

No Good Gofers

No Goof Gofers
No Good Gofers has at the far back of the playfield behind the water hazard hole: FULL THROTTLE! ...IGNORE THE WALL!
Photo by Daniel Bradford.

Safe Cracker

Safe Cracker hand
Not really hidden on the backglass but not something you notice immediately.. as this is a Pat Lawlor game there is the joystick thing with red button on it.

Scared Stiff

CV cat
Elvira's control.. turn her on and off, hot and cold.. The brand name is SOSUMI, 'So sue me'. More references are explained on Robert Winters Scared Stiff website.

Silverball Mania


Silverball mania
Silverball mania
There's a face hidden on the right reflected in a pinball. It's a self-portrat of the artist, Kevin O'Connor himself (also see The Machine: Bride of Pinbot)
His name and that of game designer Jim Patla appear on the Wizard backglass pictured on the game.
Photos by Jan Izaks.

Space Station

2001 Monolith
On Space Station the monolith from the movie 2001 is hidden underneath a plastic.
Photo by Bill

Star Wars

Star Wars hand
Seems Williams / Bally artists were not the only ones adding hidden things to their playfields.
Data East Star Wars has a hand sticking out 2 fingers underneath the Deathstar assembly.

Star Wars episode 1

Star Wars ep 1
At the top of a Star Wars episode 1 playfield is 'this is so wizard'. Photo from ipdb.

Super Sonic

Greg Kmiec Supersonic
The pilot at the top left corner of the playfield is Greg Kmiec, who was the game designer.
Photo by Jan Izaks.

Tales of the Arabian Nights

An explenation of the hidden references can be found on this website.

Theatre of Magic

Theatre cats
According to a post on rec.games.pinball, these cats on the backglass (the black one is difficult to see) are the cats of Linda Deal (who made the artwork) and John Popaduik (the game designer).
See also Cirqus Voltaire and World Cup Soccer.

Joos Lock
The locks on the cabinet are of the brand 'Joos Lock Company'. This is a reference to Joe Joos Jr. who used to work for Williams.
Joos Jokerz
Jokerz is for instance one of the games Joe worked on and is credited for on the playfield.
See Cirqus Voltaire.

Touchdown

Gottlieb Touchdown
On Gottliebs Touchdown, the names of some of the people involved are written on the players jerseys - Dave Zabriskie and Larry Day.

Truck Stop

Truck Stop dangerous curves Truck Stop merger

Truck Stop was the first game made after the merger between Williams and Bally.
On the right side of the playfield this plastic refers to the merger.
At the left side there's also has an 'interesting' plastic. Pictures by Clark Mills.

Twilight Zone

TZ tv land

This 'TV Land' plastic is hidden at the top right corner underneath the ramp. It's not very visible, especially not on a dirty game on location.
It is a reference to the games Pat Lawlor made before Twilight Zone.

  • Tokyo: Banzai Run
  • Los Angeles: Earthshaker
  • Kansas: Whirlwind
  • Chicago: Funhouse
  • TV Land: The Addams Family

In the backglass there's a book 'My travels with Rudy' by P.M.L., a reference to Funhouse.

Whirlwind

Whirlwind visit the fault

In the back left corner of the playfield underneath the ramp, it says 'visit the fault'. This is a reference to Earthshaker, the previous game Pat Lawlor designed.

Whitewater

Wet Willy Colville

In the bottom left corner of the translight we see carved in the rocks 'M. Fink', 'Wet Willy Colville runned these here rapids - 1848' and a figure playing a pinball machine.

According to this interview with John Youssi, who made the artwork on this game, is the geeky man and girl on the backglass.

World Cup Soccer

According to a post on rec.games.pinball, the cat on the speaker panel of this game is that of John Popaduik (the game designer).
The man kicking a football on the backglass is Wade Domet, an operator in Toronto. John worked for him in the past.
See also Theatre of Magic and cirqus Voltaire.

X-Files

Sega Sonic on X-Files
Sega's X-Files has another popular Sega icon hidden underneath the apron: Sonic.
Photo by Peter Koch.