26 August, 2015

Another tribute to Pat Lawlor

I have already written a tribute to Pat lawlor but with the recent release of Red & Ted's Road Show and Safecracker I felt that I had to do another post on the person I consider as the greatest pinball designer.

Pat Lawlor (born 1951) started his career as a video game designer and then moved to pinballs. His first project, Banzai Run, was already a masterpiece. Imagine: the ball was moved by an elevator to the backglass and one could continue playing on a vertical playfield.

Banzai Run has not yet been released by Farsight (I hope it does) but (almost all) the remaining Williams pinballs, Earthshaker, Whirlwind, FunHouse, Red & Ted's Road Show and No Good Gofers do already exist as simulations. The only exception is Wizard Blocks which was never officially released but of which a prototype (part of the Pinball 2000 project) does exist. I could not resist the temptation to include the video on Wizard Blocks

An outstanding pinball which will most probably never make its way to the Pinball Arcade.

While working for the Williams pinball line, Lawlor designed three masterpieces for the Bally/Midway line (also owned by Williams): The Addams Family, The Twilight Zone and Safecracker. All of them have been released by Farsight and, as far as I am concerned, the Addams Family pinball is the best I have laid hands on. After Williams closed its pinball division Lawlor founded the Pat Lawlor Design company and, working with Stern, designed half a dozen more tables of which only Ripley's Believe it or Not! has been released by Farsight.

In 2007 Pat Lawlor, talking at the Pinball Expo in Chicago predicted the complete demise of pinball manufacturing within 5 years, a prediction amply justified by the fact that at the time Stern was the only pinball manufacturer in the world. I do not think that the situation has significantly improved since that time, despite the fact that a new player, Jersey Jack Pinball, has entered the arena and has announced that Lawlor will be designing their third pinball machine, to be released in 2016.

When Adrian Barritt, in 2012, announced the revival of the Pro Pinball series he did present a grandiose project where the four "classical" ProPinballs were to be accompanied by a brand new one designed by Pat Lawlor. 

However the project was too ambitious, the Kickstarter campaign did not manage to get it funded and thus the project of a Pat lawlor digital-only design was put on hold. Ade Barritt is optimistic that, once all four ProPInballs are revived, there will be a possibility to produce a Lawlor pinball. I do not share his optimism given the present rate of advance of the Timeshock. Pat Lawlor may well have definitely retired by the time The Web gets remastered (if it ever does). 

At times I wonder how much it would cost to Farsight to have a pinball designed specifically for their Pinball Arcade line by this greatest of all pinball designers. Probably something that could be covered by a Kickstarter campaign.


  1. Nice blog entry. I love almost all Pat Lawlor designs. Addam's Family has got me hooked.

  2. Wow. Is that a shot of the actual Banzai run table? That's something else. Have to agree I like his designs... If it doesn't come out on Pinball Arcade it'll never be released for Mac, that's for sure. Nothing ever comes out for mac anymore. Still waiting for Cowboy Rodeo to keep their promise made 3 years ago to release Pinball Fantasies OSX version "in a few months".
    Well, OK, GameProm did release for Mac, zombie and fantasy pinball (no relation) .. nice feel, typical high quality sound and graphiics. And totally boring. :sigh:
    Good news though. Fireball and 8 ball deluxe got some of the highest votes in TPA's vote thing.. No, seriously, I have such frikkin horrible mental blocks lately I can't even remember a simple word like one for a voting thing..I've been trying for 10 minutes, Giving up now. Nevertheless, Fireball was over 25% of the votes, and 8 ball DLX wasn't far behind. Let's hope they listen...

  3. Ripley's has been released.