The Hutchinson family has a long love affair with pinball. So much so that’s it’s become entrenched in Hutchies’ office culture.
Chairman Scott Hutchinson has fond childhood memories of playing with his Grandmother’s Bagatelle set. It was through this game — an early precursor to pinball — that Scott originally got hooked. Family holidays soon found him playing pinball in fun parlours and local shops, and later on in pubs with uni mates.
When his then girlfriend — now wife — Mary-Jeanne bought Scott a vintage Williams ‘Playboy’ machine to play at home, there was no turning back. They even found themselves dropping in to pinball halls and pubs to play a few games before dinner or a concert. On family holidays, the Hutchinsons always check out the local arcades and amusement centres. They have played pinball all around the world.
For a number of years, the fascination with pinball became more than a hobby for Scott and Mary-Jeanne’s son Jack Jnr, who has played competitively, He is even a ranked player with the International Flipper Pinball Association.
Scott is passionate about Gottlieb machines, which ruled the roost in the heyday of pinball during the 70s. He continues to collect Series 1 Gottliebs and these are the ones that you’ll find in Hutchies’ offices around the country.
The Hutchinsons’ passion for pinball has become ingrained in the broader Hutchies business and culture. Every office has a pinball machine in the foyer. There are currently 31 machines in Hutchies’ offices around Australia, with more on the way. The machines — and the high scores — have become a point of pride with our people.
“Whenever we open a new office, one of the first things they ask me about is what pinball machine they will be getting and when it will arrive”, says Scott. “They feel like it legitimises the office ... I think it shows that we don’t take ourselves too seriously”.
Some of the offices, like Queensland’s Sunshine Coast team, have really embraced the spirit and purchased their own additional machines.
Pinball machines are now the signature mark of Hutchies’ special occasions and events. A bank of machines always features at our five yearly birthday celebrations. Our Managing Director, Greg Quinn, was presented his own latest release machine called “Dialed In” [sic] as a 60th birthday gift from the company. And previous Toowoomba Team Leader Robert Weymouth will also receive a machine to celebrate his retirement.
“We even have clients who have asked if we could help them find machines for their own offices”, said Scott. “It’s cool that they want to adopt a bit of the Hutchies culture”.
Hutchies is proud to be sponsoring the Brisbane Pinball and Arcade Collective Showcase 2019, which will be hosted at the Brisbane ‘Ekka’. The showcase will be home to ten days straight of IFPA endorsed events and will feature 50 pinball machines and 20 original arcade games.
Although his first machine was a Williams, Scott collects vintage Series 1 Gottlieb machines. When it comes to pinball, these are his number one. So what’s the big deal?
Gottlieb was an American arcade game company whose pinball machines featured during the 1970s heyday of pinball machines. Their simple game design and robust production made them perfect for devoted enthusiasts who played virtually all day. Hutchies’ Chairman Scott Hutchinson favours Gottlieb machines for their simplicity: “You can pick the games up quickly”, he says. “Modern machines are more complex and need to be researched to do well on them”.
The current resurgence in the popularity of pinball has seen Stern dominate as the premier machine manufacturer, but Scott’s pinball hear will always belong to Gottlieb.
Featured in Hutchies' Truth
From classic old machine to a modern work of art
A Gottlieb pinball machine has been rebuilt and rebadged to create a special Hutchies’ Truth game to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the company’s popular quarterly publication.
Hutchies’ Truth, as it is known today, first appeared in late 1993.
The new Hutchies’ machine to be unveiled this year was converted from a 1984 Gottlieb classic, The Games, based loosely on the Olympic Games held in Los Angeles that same year.
The score-raising “pages” of the Hutchies’ Truth pinball machine feature readers’ favourites like Travelling Undies, Budgie Smugglers, Hutchies’ Honeybees, Hatched and Matched, Jobs Update, Scratch-its and includes five generations of Jacks.
Hutchies currently has 31 pinball machines in the national network with more on the way.
Chairman Scott Hutchinson said that pinball machines had proven popular since being installed in reception areas in many offices around the country.“Intra-office pinball competitions are strong team-building tools that bring people together in friendly rivalry as they are both entertaining and involve skill,” said Scott.
“Pinball machines use amazing technology and more modern pinball games have increasingly complicated rule sets that require strategy and planning by the player for maximum scoring; they’re not just a mindless pastime”.
Competitive pinball has made a resurgence and has become increasingly popular in recent years, with the relaunch of the International Flipper Pinball Association (IFPA) and the Professional and Amateur Pinball Association (PAPA).
Scott said old pinball machines had become collectors’ items and refurbished machines were now good investments for the future.
“Some companies have priceless art collections in the boardrooms, but Hutchies is different – we have pinball machines in the foyers,” he said.
“The machines are like Rock ‘n’ Roll George’s FX Holden which we have in storage at the Queensland Museum, in that they are important pieces of social and mechanical history worth saving for posterity.”
Hutchies wanted something really special and unique to mark the 25 year milestone of Hutchies’ Truth.
“This is a one- off and one of a kind machine that will provide enjoyment for many team members, clients and visitors to our offices for a long time to come," said Scott.
THE origin of pinball machines can be traced back to the Elizabethan era when many games were played outdoors by rolling balls or stones on grass.
Outdoor games led to indoor versions, including billiards, that could be played on a table top.
Between the 1750s and 1770s, a coiled spring and plunger replaced the cue at the player’s end of the table – a device that remains in use in pinball machines today.
By the 1930s, manufacturers were producing coin-operated “pin games”.
In 1931, David Gottlieb’s Baffle Ball became the first hit of the coin-operated era and established Gottlieb as the first major manufacturer of pinball machines.
Four years later, Gottlieb released an electro-mechanical standing version of Baffle Ball with a payout.
Major advances were made in pinball design during the 1930s with the introduction of electrification and Chicago, USA, became the centre of pinball machine manufacture.
At the end of World War II, a generation of Americans looked for amusement in bars and malt shops and pinball enjoyed another golden age.
In 1947, Gottlieb added player-controlled flippers to keep the ball in play longer, adding a skill factor to the game.
Up until then, players would bump and tilt the machines, known as “nudging”, in order to sway the ball’s gravity and direction.
Solid-state electronics and digital displays introduced in the 1970s popularised the games further, but the emergence of new video games in the 1980s signalled the end of the boom for pinball.
After the collapse of the coin-operated video game industry, pinball had another comeback in the 1990s and this new popularity has continued.
In recent years, pinball scoring objectives have become much more complex and require a series of targets to be hit in a particular order.
The primary skills of pinball involve use of the proper timing and technique to the operation of the flippers and choosing targets for scores or extra features.
A skilled player can quickly “learn the angles”, gain a high level of control of the ball’s movement and play for long periods of time.
By earning extra balls, a single game can be stretched out for a longer duration and, if the player is playing well, he or she can earn replays for an even longer game.
Competitive pinball has become increasingly popular in recent years with the relaunch of the Professional and Amateur Pinball Association (PAPA) and the International Flipper Pinball Association (IFPA) with both associations monitoring and recording rankings for competitive players worldwide.