Bally Playboy

The Bally Playboy pinball machine came out in 1976 and was designed by Jim Patla with beautiful arts by Paul Farris. The backglass depicts Hugh Hefner with two of the most famous 1976 playmate rosters: Sondra Theodore (Blonde) and Patti McGuire (Brunette). This pinball was a huge success and more than 18,250 units sold quickly. Forty years later, this machine is still coveted and will call for a high premium on the used market.

Rebuilding a Bally Playboy Playfield

PB-01 My BALLY Playboy machine is limited to the playfield. I could not procure a complete unit for multiple reasons (lack of space being one of them) and decided to go instead with a decent playfield that was for sale, from a machine which body had been damaged due to water. This playfield was quite beat-up as shown in this picture and needed an extensive rebuild. It was complete, even though most plastic parts had to be replaced. 

The playfield shows the two playmates and the extensive damages of the area located between the flippers.


The plastics were warped and one of them was broken. Fortunately, I had been able to secure a set of very good plastics and purchased all the more standard parts from the Pinball Resource.


As it will become obvious in the next pictures, I wanted to rebuild that playfield in a very unique way, while preserving the original theme!


 The first step of the restoration was to remove all the parts from the top and bottom of the playfield. This was done with the help of multiple digital pictures in order to reassemble everything back to the way it was.

All the parts (above and below) were stored and have been cleaned individually, when new parts are not available. The playfield is shown here with all parts removed but before cleaning.

Quite a few areas will need to be repainted and redrawn. Fortunately, the two main playmates in the center of the playfield are in excellent condition. The area between the flippers is a complete mess and will have to be redone entirely.

The playfield is filthy as it can be seen, from years of abuse and poor storage. The dirt is deeply encroached and the original colors are barely distinguishable.


 This picture shows the playfield after a thorough clean-up. Cleaning of the playfield is done in multiple phases or passes.

First, I wipe the complete surface with 50% isopropyl alcohol and a soft rag, to remove most of the crud. This can be done multiple times, until the rags come up relatively clean. It is necessary to clean all the surface of the playfield, including the edges after removing the wood rails.

The second step of the cleaning involves the use of the magic sponge by Mr. Clean. This white pad acts like an eraser loaded with some mild chemicals. Suddenly, the original colors are starting to show up again, and the beige and blue of the playfield are coming back to life.

This magic sponge is a blessing for pinball enthusiasts and has been used for the cleaning of playfields, bodies and plastics with an enormous success.

The Mylar films around the bumpers and the slings are always the most difficult and painful parts to remove. One must go very slowly, applying heat gently and soaking the gap between the playfield and the Mylar with alcohol to dissolve the glue. It is a tedious labor of Love and patience.

PB-04  Here is the playfield, completely re-painted. The Bonus section between the flippers took a lot of work. 

Pretty much every single drawing, insert and line has been touched up or re-drawn.


Fortunately, the Liquitex Acrylic color Hibiscus matches perfectly the dark pink of the playfield. All other colors have been mixed to approach as closely as possible the original art work.


The white bunny was entirely redrawn from a Playboy logo. The faces of the two hostesses on each side of the Playboy mansion had to be touched up or completely redrawn.


The playmate bathing in the Grotto was enhanced so as to show more of her assets.


At this stage, the playfield is as good as an original one, if not better. All the dark circles around the inserts have been redefined and centered, which was not exactly true of the original playfield.


However, I had another idea in the back of my head and wanted to make this Playboy playfield a unique piece……by simply undressing the two main playmates.


 And here is the final version of my unique Playboy playfield.

Of course it is not as raunchy as Sexy Girl, but provides to the player a nice view of the playmate charms and assets from 1976.

The playmates were painted over their garments and I tried to recreate their anatomy by basing my drawings on the pictures published in Playboy magazine in 1976. At that time, Patti was proud of her furry beauty whereas Sondra was exhibiting a more discrete bush. In both cases, I tried to replicate their beauties as they were in 1976.

The wonderful thing about restoring pinball machines is that it combines all kind of skills: artistic, mechanical, electrical and even historical when you have to go through the 1976 Playboy magazine collection to research the materials.

At this stage, the only thing left is to varnish the playfield with Varathane and re-assemble it with all the new parts I have saved for this purpose.