I’ve never liked arcade video games much, but I’ve always been really into pinball machines. So much so that in the last few years I’ve joined a local pinball league (great fun!) and visited a few pinball conventions. I’ve even driven way out of my way to visit specific coffee shops and pizzerias just because some model I hadn’t played before was available to use.
So over the weekend I come across an amazing image of a “Punk!” pinball machine from D. Gottlieb & Company, universally known as “Gottlieb,” that dates from the year 1982. I’ve never even seen an image of this game before, much less played it. Every DM reader is aware of the cross-pollination involved between punk and new wave, there’s a lot to be said on that subject, and yet….. there’s something off about this game.
It’s amusing to see how some of the major punk acts are “implied” in a non-licensed way by having scrawled graffiti with certain letters blocked out so that nobody could really say which band starting with “S-I-O” is being referenced.
So you can spot Siouxsie Sioux being invoked on the right-hand side; at the bottom you have “EAD BO” which is surely the Dead Boys. At the top you’ve got the Ramones and the Jam and the Clash being signaled. Interesting to see Joy Division tucked away up there as well. On the backglass, behind the guitarist’s left leg, you have what appears to be the word “DAMNED” partially blocked, all the more enticing to a teen demographic because it involves a curse word.
But wait—what’s that on the left-hand side there? “PECH—M—”? How did Depeche Mode get involved with this?? They are definitely not punk!
Remember, 1981 was the high point of the synth-pop movement, with Soft Cell, Ultravox, and OMD all in their prime. This machine may say “Punk!” on it but it mainly has me thinking of Square Pegs and Valley Girl.
On this Pinside forum there’s a lively discussion about the game—not surprisingly, Punk! is a very difficult game to find from a collector’s perspective. One observer comments that “it is among the most difficult and nearly impossible pins to aquire.” Fewer than 1,000 were made, and even though the gameplay does not look all that interesting, it’s such a great item to have around that people who have it probably seldom let it go.
Price estimates run around $800, which is a fairly ordinary price for a machine of this type. Given its rarity, if the gameplay were actually engaging the sky would be the limit here!
More after the jump…