Bally The Addams Family Pinball

Repairs, Restorations, Tweaks and Insights.


May 9, 2021

The Addams Family pinball, released in 1992, may be the most well known pinball machines from the 90s. It holds its own against recent pins even after 25 years and owns the record for being the best selling pinball machine of all time. It sold over 20,000 units. The Addams Family was so successful that in 1994 a "special collectors edition" was released and another 1,000 units were sold.

Why is The Addams Family such a great pinball machine?

Purchasing The Addams Family may have been one of the quickest pinball transactions I've performed. A friend offered to sell me his Addams Family on a Friday evening. On Saturday morning I drove 1 hour and 30 minutes to pick it up. It was in my car by 1PM, less than 18 hours later.

General Illumination Behind the Phone Plastic

August 4, 2021

My Addams Family came with LED lights in the General Illumination. They were blue and, as a result, caused too much of a blue haze for my liking. More troubling is that LEDs in the G.I. cause flickering and dimming issues (at least without a GIOCD product). I've been slowly taking out the LEDs and replacing them with incandescent bulbs.

I also noticed that the G.I. was creatinga lighting hotspot. Here's an image of the G.I. location and the hot spot effect.

I ran into trouble removing this platic section which holds the G.I. lamp. Although it is held in place by only 2 screws, these screws are difficult to access. They are even harder to get pack in place after removing! Once I removed the 2 screws I was able to lift up the section. I was surprised to see that the light socket has the bulb more or less pressed up against a piece of plastic. This is shown below.

I verified with another Addams Family owner that this is the original placemnet and not the result of someone making a change to the game over the years. While I was a bit concerned about having a incondescent bulb here, because it can get hot and potentially melt the plastic, I decided that was unlikley in my home environment. I slightly bent the lamp holder to keep the bulb from touching the surrounding plastic and put it back together.

No more LEDs in my Addams Family G.I.

Working on Thing

May 9, 2021

In The Addams Family pinball, Thing lives in the back right corner of the playfield. Thing, a disembodied hand, comes out of its box and takes the pinball. Sometimes the pinball will appear elsewhere on the playfield, other times Thing will return it to the original location (after being chastised by Gomez).

On my Addams Family, Thing looked a bit like it had been doing yard work and had some scuffs and scratches. Below is a picture of dirty Thing outside of the box.

I was originally concerned that it would be impossible to clean Thing up or that I'd need to try and match paint in order to do a quality repair. Fortunately, it was much easier than I expected. Using a combination of Novus #2, Magic Erase and Novus #1, I was able to make Thing look very good. Below is a picture of a clean Thing.

Upgrading to Addams Family "Special Collectors Edition"

May 9, 2021

When Bally released the "Special Collectors Edition" (also known as The Addams Family Gold) in 1994 it was more than just gold trim and gold ramps added to the game. The game's functionality was enhanced too. While there are several changes, for me the biggest is the addition of many new audio callouts.

The original Addams Family can run the "Special Collectors Edition" software. Upgrading requires the following.

If you are going to burn your own ROMs for the "Special Collectors Edition" (aka Gold), here are a couple of Things to keep in mind.

While it's obvious in retrospect that the u15 sound ROM is for a 2mbit 27020 part, I did not catch it initially. After installing the new CPU chip and the two sound ROMs, the game booted up and gave me a u15 checksum error.

The file sizes can be used to determine whether a 2mbit or 4mbit part should be used. The CPU and u18 sound files are 524KB while the u15 sound file is only 262KB.

Since 2mbit 27020 parts seem difficult to find and I had a spare 27040, I did the "double the image" approach to make the u15 image compatible with a 27040 chip. Generally speaking you can use a 2x larger EPROM if you take the original ROM image and append a copy of itself to the end.

With a corrected u15 sounds rom, my Addams Family booted without error.

Below is a picture of the Addams Family title screen with the original ROM followed by the title screen when running the "Special Collectors Edition" code. Note: Yes, I know that I unfortunately had the ColorDMD set to display the graphics in different modes between the pictures.

Backbox *THING* Lights and ColorDMD LCD

May 16, 2021

ColorDMD is an excellent product. It is replacement for the original plasma dot matrix display. However, instead of different shades of orange, ColorDMD colorizes the images! ColorDMD has two versions of their product, one that uses LED technology and one that uses LCD technology. While the LED variant is the same size as the original plasma display, the LCD version takes up more space.

When installing ColorDMD LCD on an Addams Family a problem pops up. Addams Family as a light board in the backbox which illuminates the "*THNIG*" graphics. Because theh ColorDMD LCD is larger than the original plasma display, the THING light board no longer fits. BTW, a few other games have this same problem such as Congo and Dr. Who.

There are many work arounds for this issue. A common one is to simply remove the THING light board. This is the worst solution, in my opinion, because the THING lights on the backglass are part of the original game and are nice and useful to look at. I suspect removal of the THING light board is done because it is the easiest solution. Other solutions involve modifications to the light board or purchasing a custom light board. When I got my Addams Family, the THING light board was not installed. The good news is the light board was provided with the game. I believe that more than a few of these original boards are lost or discarded.

Is there a better solution? In my option, Yes! Unfortunately, when you google ColorDMD and Addams Family, the better solution does not appear. The results are only show the older approaches. At the time of writing, the better solution, which is free and requires no modification to the THING light board, is hard to find. Happily, the better solution is trivial!

The ColorDMD company started using a new mounting bracket that allows the ColorDMD LCD to be mounted out of the way of the THING light. You don't need to do anything, just use the newer "lower" mounting hole. With this approach, you keep the original THING light board and no changes are required.

So what's the catch? There's a small one. Because the ColorDMD LCD is now mounted a bit higher, the top of the LCD prevents the backbox door from swinging open. But this is a relatively minor problem because it is solved by simply lifting out of speaker panel (which contains the ColorDMD display). This extra step takes only 5 addition seconds.

Below are a couple pictures showing the THING lights along with the ColorDMD LCD mounted "up higher".

I think using the new mounting holes on the ColorDMD LCD bracket is a great compromise.

Playfield Pictures

May 9, 2021

Pictures after first cleaning...