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I'm not a big fan of the original Stern games (1977-82 era). This was during my arcade "heyday" and they were present just about everywhere (not that anybody was playing them!). They seemed very dated compared to the Williams and Bally releases of the day. Even the dreaded Gottlieb system 1 games, as simple as they were, seemed to play better. So with that said, why a Flight 2000 page?
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acquired a Flight 2000 in a deal with a Williams Firepower II. I've been
looking for a Firepower II for a couple of years now, but almost all of the
ones I came across (including the one I owned), had a playfield that was worn
down to the wood. I spotted an ad on Mr. Pinball for a Firepower II in
Northern New Jersey and jumped on it. The lady selling the machine replied
that she was trying to sell both a Firepower II and a Stern Flight 2000 and
would rather sell them as a pair. She had one person coming over that
evening to look at both and if he only took one or turned them down, she would
sell the FPII by itself. The next day she emailed back stating that both
machines were still available and she would knock a hundred dollars off if I
bought both. I really didn't want the Stern, but said "What the
heck!" and drove up.
The couple that was selling the machines had owned them since 1988 (and even had the receipts to prove it!). They had played them for a few years and then stored them in their basement along with a few video games. They were in the process of finishing the basement and wanted to get rid of the pins and videos. She had called Kevin McHugh at Classic Pinball and he wouldn't touch them (no surprise there!), but suggested she sell them on Mr. Pinball, which is how I found them. She had paid $450 each for them back in 1984 and that's what she wanted to get for them! However, a few other folks before me had told her she asking too much, so she lowered the price to $700 for the pair (or $400 each). I had high expectations traveling up since these machines were both HUO since 1988. Well, as I have learned in this hobby, a good skill to acquire is how to temper your expectations. The Flight 2000, as you can see (click on the photo for a larger image) showed signs of those wonderful "owner fixes". The cabinet was touched up in a blue about 20 shades darker than the original, leaving it looking like it had some pinball form of chicken pox. The backglass also suffered from some extreme flaking in the lettering.
According to the wife, the machine worked with the exception of the right flipper, which her husband "was working on" and would be working when I arrived. When I got there, I hit the power switch, got 6 "dings" and then nothing. "Hmmm, strange.." they said, "it worked fine last night, got the voice and everything..". Have you heard this one before? I sure have! Tried a few more times, just 6 dings, nothing else... Now, I'm a Williams guy, I don't own any Bally SS games and the one other Stern I own has a Lizard board in it. I had no idea that getting to 6 dings (or flashes) basically meant that the solenoid fuse was blown! Opening up the backbox showed that the battery had puked all over the place, so I showed them this, and stated that coupled with the fact that the game won't boot, I didn't want it, and I wasn't going to pay $400 for the FPII (we got that one working, but had a tough time with it). I would give them $500 for both of them however. They agreed, and off I went with both in the truck.
I got home, searched on RGP about the 6 flashes, found out that it most likely was a bad fuse, and went and looked and sure enough, the solenoid fuse was blown. It also happened to be held in by electrical tape, with the fuse holder snapped. Blown fuses on machines this old can sometimes (most times!) point to other more serious problems, so I just left the machine in the garage to be worked on later.
Another collector who lives in town asked if I wanted to trade the game for some stuff he had, and since I really wasn't motivated to work on the game, I agreed. I wound up trading the game for a Williams (United) Taurus Shuffle Alley and an old Atari Super Breakout video game. My wife has "suggested" that I put more than just pins down in the basement. The Shuffle Alley is really a System 4 Williams pinball game, so I have every thing I need to get it working. The Super Breakout is another thing, but the manual was stuffed in with it, so we'll see.
Back to the Flight 2000.... I wanted to see if the game actually did work, so I set it up and replaced the fuse (I had cut the battery out as soon as I got the game home.) Surprise, it booted! The right flipper was out, with the ground wires being cut off of the solenoid. I jumpered them back on, but all that resulted in was the game resetting when you hit the flipper button.
The game played, 3 of the 4 displays worked, and it even uttered a word now and then. I never could get it to start multi-ball, even hitting the switches by hand. The game does have some cool features. There are 4 slingshots to help move the ball across the wide body playfield, and the ball locking is a neat effect. When you lock the second ball, the first locked ball is shot into another "stage". Locking the third ball shoots the first ball back into play and the second into the next stage.
This was Stern's first "talking" pinball, but its pretty quiet compared to other machines of its vintage. I'm not heart broken that I traded it away. A classic Stern collector would probably shoot me! My Big Game plays fast, Flight 2000 plays a lot slower and would get boring very quickly (of course I'll never know!)
There is one mystery about the game however... So who is Carlos? Unloading it off the truck, I noticed that the inside of the cabinet had been signed by somebody named "Carlos". The signature started under the mounting board for the line filter. Removing the board shows the full signature. My guess is that this was signed by the person who made the cabinet at the factory. It would be next to impossible to lean into the cabinet and sign it the way he did, plus the fact that the signature starts under a board that was added later in the building process. (click here to see the signature).
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