Pinball Spotlight Series:
This is 1976’s Target Alpha manufactured by Gottlieb right at the end of their spectacular many decades run of market dominance. This is a game featuring the dynamic duo of Ed Krynski on game design with Gordon Morison on the art package.
This is likely the most iconic drop target game of all time. Drop targets are a playfield feature that stand up by themselves or in a row (banks) and once hit by the ball, they drop under the playfield. Ed Krynski created the first modern drop target for his game Crescendo (1970). But he is most remembered for his later use of banks of drop targets that once completed, reset themselves and usually for a much greater scoring value.
Target Alpha is a four flippered, asymmetrical masterpiece. In fact the game was so good, and enduringly popular, Gottlieb re-skinned it a total of six other times. Beginning with the single player wedgehead El Dorado in 1975, up to 1984’s solid state version El Dorado City of Gold. Both of these were western skins of this game.
It was not uncommon at the time for manufacturers, particularly Gottlieb, to make multiple versions of the same game. Usually these were variations on the number of scoring reels in a game (more players at a time) or the difference between add a ball and replay games. However it was certainly unusual to re-skin the same playfield to make 7 different titles.
Of all of the skins, Target Alpha was the best selling at over 7000 units, and is the one in our collection. It was recently shouted out in our Willamette Week article as their favorite Gottlieb in the building and I will confess it is mine as well. Drop targets are one of the coolest features in classic pinball machines, and no one ever did them better than the innovator Ed Krynski at Gottlieb, and maybe he never better implemented them than in this design right here. Come feel the power and lure of trying to complete the banks today!