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Bally Reserve 1938


Pinball Wizard
I just ran across a bit of an anomaly about this game. In the interest of setting the historical record straight, I figured who better to bring it up with than my good pals (and blooming experts on the subject) over here?

In short (and it won't be...it gets complicated) I was playing around with redswals vp rec when I noticed that the glass on his table was different than that in the flyer that he has pictured next to the table.

Were there two different glasses made? Was one a prototype and one production? Did he just alter his glass for some reason?

Out of curiosity I went to the ipdb.

Turns out there were two games made, Reserve and Reserve Jr. Of that bit of information I've little doubt, since they give two solid model numbers (I hardly think they made them up!).

Unfortunately, the only thing they have on file for Jr. is a picture of a flyer.

They've plenty of stuff for (what we'll call) Sr., however, and that's where the funny business comes in. About half of the pics they have match one of the glasses and the other half match the other! All that would indicate that at some point in time the glasses just changed (for whatever reason), except...

They also have a flyer (the same one that's on redswal's game) which, it turns out, matches EXACTLY the one they show for Jr.! Not quite the same flyer, mind you, but the exact same picture (and obviously that same particular glass) and (most tellingly of all) the same price! If nothing else, wouldn't a "Jr." game be CHEAPER than a "Sr?"

What's more, there's absolutely nothing I can see in the flyer under Jr. that actually labels it as such, or would serve to differentiate it in any way from the other game. (The only real difference between the two flyers is that the one used for Sr. only advertises the novelty game, whereas the one in Jr. also mentions the freeplay version, admittedly at a different price, so there's always the possibility that THAT'S the difference between the two games...but not necessarily. Bally could have added a freeplay version of either later on, they could have had separate flyers for each at one time, etc.)

Aside from the above (parenthesized) possibility, it's also possible that the flyer under Jr. has no business being there since it's actually a flyer for Sr., and that it's those two glasses which made the actual difference (one of them, therefore...evidently the one redswal used, since it's the one not pictured in the flyers...being Jr.).

Or any other combination of all of the above.

In the interests of historical accuracy (since tracking the history of the machines...not to mention the machines themselves...down is complicated enough as it is!), does anyone out there know the straight dope on this?


PN co-founder
Good question, and while I can't say for sure what the exact answer might be, I'll take a stab at it. Quite often Bally, as well as other companies back then, made several versions, for different reasons. One reason was that some states were cracking down on payout games, so a second "free play" version was offered, which wasn't free, but simply didn't pay for wins. Other times, there would be more than one production run, and improvements/changes would be made. Some were made to lower manufactuering costs, sometimes to fix/adjust flaws in the designs. Keep in mind that the coin-op business was just getting started. Bally's Favorite, which Patrick and I did, is an interesting example. There were two production runs, and each has a different playfield, although the layouts are the same. Here's a link to check it out: http://www.ipdb.org/machine.cgi?id=3089

As for Redswal's Bally Reserve, I'm guessing that the different backglasses may have been used to allow them to mark the Payout version and the "free" version with only a minor change being made. Another interesting possibility is that most Jr versions were smaller than Sr versions. This would happen if a game proved to be very popular, or as was somethimes the case back then, the Jr could have been a home sale version, or a version offered to business locations that didn't want to allow gambling. These old games sure are interesting not only to play but also to discuss, aren't they?



Pinball Wizard
Well, my "educated" guess (ignorant as it is! lol) is that the two different backflashes are the two different games, and that the flyer the ipdb has under Jr. actually belongs to Sr. (and that both versions were just variations on Sr.).

I'm with you, I think that Jr. was probably a smaller version of the game rather than the freeplay vs. the novelty, or vice-versa. As such, they could have offered two different versions of Sr. with that glass...and a smaller, "Jr." version with a different glass.

Still, any of the other possibilities are still...possible!