Wayne Schmidt's Addams Family Game Modifications Changes that make my TAF unique.
Cloud Topper Light
Rather than spend the money for the typical neon cloud topper light, I purchased a 22-inch long fluorescent lamp from Walmart for $7.00 and covered the tube with transparent blue plastic from a student's report folder cover. Works great!
Thing Box Cover
I don't know why the designers of the Addams Family pinball game decided to use a bright red box for thing but it obviously doesn't match the original.
main box from the television series was dark wood with a
simple turned edge. (It's box by the harpsichord was lighter and
painted with a filigree pattern.)
I made a wood-like cover for my TAF Thing box to more closely match the original. You can see it in the "Toys" section at the bottom of the page.
Shooter Light and Collar
The lighting above the shooter is so subdued that it's impossible to tell how far back it's been pulled. I corrected this by painting the ring base of the rubber tip white and moving one of the coin slot lights over to illuminate it. Now it's easy to tell how far it's been pulled back... great for making skill shots.
I ordered a set of PinBall Pro speakers to improve the quality of the sound from my TAF.
Original speakers on top and new speakers on the bottom.
They helped a little, though not as much as I'd hoped. Several of the quotes still sound noisy, probably caused by the limitations of 1991 solid state recording technology.
Turn the volume up on any TAF and you're bound to hear a lot of rattles coming from the game. Vinyl tape in the cover glass helps, but there are simply too many parts to get them all nailed down. My solution was to remove the speakers from the case and place them in external mounts.
It works great! I can crank the volume to maximum and there's not a single rattle to be heard.
TAF Gold Upgrade
I'd read that the gold edition software greatly improved the game so I ordered a set of the chips for $29.
Installation was easy and the game started right up. I can't really say that the game plays any different. The added quotes are nice, particularly when Thing flips misses and Gomez says, "Missed! Slow down, Thing." I also enjoy Gomez's, "Not Bad," when the left ramp is made.
However, there are several downsides:
After every game the dot matrix display asks if I'd like to continue the game by buying and extra ball. Since I don't like this option and don't have an extra ball button I'd rather not have it displayed. Turning menu option A2-30 to "NO" solved this problem.
Several of the new quotes don't sound very much like Gomez.
While some of the quotes are nice, I really miss "Now you've done it!" to start multiball by shooting the vault. Now it says, "Not the Bermuda triangle!" which doesn't make much sense.
The random awards for starting mansion rooms seem like cheating. When I happen to get $25 million by accident it doesn't feel like I've earned it.
Many of the setup options in the Standard Adjustments menu are missing, particularly A3 #2-9 and several others. I assume this implies that other menu options are also missing, or perhaps these missing options have been replaced by others.
Finally, with the original software if I got tired of a particular game I could press the "start" button at any time and get an instant restart. I can't do that with the Gold software. It makes you play the remainder of the game.
Changing the Default Language from German to English
I asked around and found that the default language is determined by a bank of jumpers located next to the upper left corner of the large square U9 chip in the lower left of the backpanel.
On the backside of the cover to the manual is a chart showing which jumpers need to be in place for a particular language.
To make American the default language I needed to add a wire for W18, which I did.
To check it I pulled the batteries. When I put them back in the messages on the dot matrix display came up English. Problem fixed!
(A bonus was that now there are commas instead of periods in the numbers, which looks much more familiar.)
Improving Ball Kickout Consistency
Many ball ejector bodies are made with so much play between the ball and the sides of the ejector that the ejector doesn't consistently fire the ball in the same direction. While a little variation can be tolerated, in some cases the range of ejection angles is so great that it's impossible to develop an effective game strategy.
I corrected this problem in my TAF by lining one side of a sloppy ejector with a sheet of plastic cut from a scrapbook trimming sheet.
The amber-colored liner is held in place with double-faced tape.
The thickness of the liner has to be selected so that the ball is still free to roll while at the same time eliminating most of the gap between the side of the ejector body and the ball.
This modification may be controversial because many people believe pinball machines should have a large randomness factor. For myself, I consider pinballs machines as games of skill and therefore prefer them to be as consistent as possible.
The small metal safe toy is a popular addition to Addams Family pinball games. I tried one and after just three games removed it. The problem was that it completely blocks your view of the THING hole (saucer kickout) so you can't see the ball drop into it when you make a skill shot. This almost completely eliminates the satisfaction of making the shot. Additionally, not being able to see exactly when the ball is kicked out makes setting up for the left ramp shot much harder.
I cringe every time I rotate the playfield up because the far end drags along hundreds of wires. One day all this wear is going to start breaking them or at least wear off enough insulation to cause a short. Considering the location it would be extremely difficult to trouble shoot.
My solution was to place a sheet of black poster board between the wires and the playfield. (The poster board is the gray rectangle in the photo above.) Now the playfield rubs along the poster board instead of the wires.
NEW!!! Reflection Shield:
Light from the dot matrix display reflects off the playfield cover glass and into the player's eye. These reflections obscure most of the action and toys in the top quarter of the playfield. I found that these reflections could be blocked by taking a 20-inch long by 7-inch wide piece of black poster board, bending 3/4-inch of one long edge up about 30-degrees
and then sliding the bent flange into the gap between the playfield box and the backbox.
By bending it up or down a little the shield can be adjusted so that the player views it edge-on, making it virtually invisible. It completely blocks light from the DMD from reflecting off the coverglass. Total cost: 35-cents.
If you want to go high-tech, purchase some aluminum flashing from a hardware store, cut it to shape with a scissors and spray paint it flat black. Just make sure you round all the edges so it doesn't cut someone.
NEW!!! New Safe Location... with a Bag of Gold Inside
While I didn't like the safe's position over the vault because it blocked a player's view of the skill shot, I hated not having the safe somewhere in the game. I found that it fits very nicely on the triangular playfield plastic behind Thing's box. I placed it there and then got the idea of using metallic gold cloth and metallic gold braid to make a tiny sack of gold to place inside the vault. It turned out better than I had imagined.
The metallic cloth has a fine glittery look that adds a lot of sparkle to what had been a very dark corner.
Standard Toy Additions
At first I didn't want to add the standard toys but now that I've gotten used to them I really like them. Here's what I have so far:
Starting from the lower left and going up: Uncle Fester with a yellow LED in his mouth in the electric chair, Cousin It doll, the train in the upper left corner, a "Beware of the Thing" sign above the Thing ramp, a polar bear over the bear kick ramp, the suit of armor (you can just make out his feet. The suit of armor catches the light when the flashers go off and is more effective than his buried location would suggest.), the faux-wood covering over Thing's box, a decal of book ends on the lower panel of the bookcase, and finally a green light in the Swamp to brighten this important area.
NEW!!! New Electric Chair
Please take a close look at the electric chair in the previous image. Maybe I'm too critical but to me it looks insipid, like a lump of beige oatmeal molded into a chair. I believe I improved it considerably by using black permanent markers to color in the flat panels and brown permanent markers to color the wood beams. Then I covered the studs with aluminum foil tape. Here's how it turned out:
I think it looks much more real. It was difficult getting it back on the metal bracket but after a lot pushing and shoving I managed to do so. Unfortunately, all this handling wiped off some of the ink from the corners and edges of the chair. I started to touch it up but decided not to because from the normal playing distance it gives the chair an aged look that's appropriate for a old family heirloom. It's amazing the impact this mod has on the overall appearance of the playfield. It gives it a richer, more sophisticated look. The chair is high and in the center of the playfield so it attracts a lot of attention. Improving its appearance does a lot for the game.
The last thing I want to add is the telephone. I haven't been able to find a source for it by itself.
(Click on main site to browse 70 other topics ranging from exotic kaleidoscope designs to the strange world of lucid dreaming. There you will also find several other pages dealing with the Addams Family pinball game.)