Saturday 24 February 2024

1967 Rifleman - ライフルマン by セガ (Sega)

Name: Rifleman - ライフルマン
Year: 1967
Company: セガ (Sega)

Rifleman is an iconic shooting game released by Sega in 1967.  It gives the player a chance to shoot 5 targets, marks the paper with their results, and gives the player their recorded results.  It appears to be based on a German machine that was released 1966 but patented 1958.  The first mention I've found in the English-language press is of the appearance of Rifleman at the 1967 MOA show.

Cash Box 1967-11-11

1969 machine directory entry

Japanese flyer, from the Sega official website

Cashbox 1968-07-07
the photo shows a a lineup of 6 Rifleman machines

The article does not actually mention Rifleman, I have only included it for the great photograph.  But here is the transcription anyways:


OSAKA An anniversary party to mark 10 years of close cooperation was sponsored jointly here last month by the directors of the Toho Motion Picture Company and Sega Enterprises Ltd. The occasion also marked the 10th birthday of Sega's 150-game Umeda Arcade in the Toho Theater Building in Osaka.

Over 300 guests from the amusement, recreation, and entertainment industries attended a buffet luncheon. Film stars under contract to Toho were invited, and their presence added greatly to the spirit of the occasion. The guests were each given a specially inscribed souvenir.

Toho and Sega have cooperated- always with success in several distinct areas of the amusement/recreation field. Further, most of the arcades established by Sega during the past 10 years have been in collaboration with Toho.

The Umeda arcade is one of the world's largest and busiest with more than 3,000 visitors per day. It is situated in a structure devoted to all types of recreation. Cinemas, mah-jong rooms, Olympia Centers, and restaurants are found throughout the massive building. The arcade, itself has 4 separate entranceways from several levels.

Anniversary toasts at the party were given by Toho Director of Operations Mr. G. Inoue and Sega President David Rosen, who both, in their remarks, looked forward to expanding cooperation on the sound basis of the many successful joint ventures inaugurated during the past decade.

Toho has its major studio in Tokyo and produces scores of films each year for showing in the company's hundreds of motion picture theaters in Japan and overseas, as well as on commercial television. In recent years they have successfully diversified into allied areas of the leisure industry.

Sega is Japan's largest manufacturer, distributor, importer, exporter, and operator of coin machines.


The 150 game Umeda Arcade is one of the world's busiest, with 3,000 visitors per day.

Rifleman, front and center!
via yomogi2017

via yomogi2017

2 Rifleman units at the back

Rifleman in the center, behind the man in the grey hacket

Rifleman in a USA arcade

Some through-the-lens gameplay footage:

English flyer, front

English flyer, back

Converting the specifications to metric:
Height 5'4" = 163 cm
Width 1'10" = 56 cm
Depth 2'7" = 79cm

Rifleman appears to be Sega's version of the German-made machine Schützenstand.

The patent was filed in 1958, and while you can translate the German text, focus on the mechanism on page 4. It is exactly the same mechanic as Rifleman.

German patent DE1268893B - page 1

German patent DE1268893B - page 2
German patent DE1268893B - page 3

German patent DE1268893B - page 4

There are actually 2 machines, but they appear to be basically the same.  The earliest, according to, is Rehbock Schützenstand from 1966.  (archive)

1966 Rehbock Schützenstand by Helmut Rehbock, Hamburg

1966 Rehbock Schützenstand by Helmut Rehbock, Hamburg

And in 1967, the same year Rifleman was released by Sega, the slightly more common version was released: Präzisions-Schützenstand by JDO-Apparatebau. (archive)

1967 Präzisions-Schützenstand by JDO-Apparatebau
From the specs sheet:
Let's compare this to the Rifleman measurements listed a few images up.  Rifleman is a bit bigger in each direction.
160 cm tall vs Rifelman's 163 cm
50 cm wide vs Rifleman's 56 cm
70 cm deep vs Rifleman's 79cm

Let's compare the advertisements:
Rifleman vs Präzisions-Schützenstand flyers

Target strips:
Präzisions-Schützenstand on top, Rifleman on bottom

We are lucky to have both Japanese and English videos taking us through the mechanics of Rifelman

Let's compare internals:

still take from 日本ゲーム博物館H澤店長 video

The paper-feed mechanism:

from the Kevin Keinert video

Back of the machine, opened:

from the Kevin Keinert video

Rifleman must have also been distributed to European countries, as this plate from Keinert video shows 220 V.

One last advertisement:
Cash Box 1968-07-07

Friday 23 February 2024

1963 Red Gun - レッド・ガン by 関西精機 (Kansai Seiki)

Name: Red Gun - レッド・ガン
Year: 1963
Company: 関西精機 (Kansai Seiki)

Red Gun was Kansai Seiki's first of 5 gun games released in the 1960s which all share the same cabinet shape.

From an article in Amusement Journal on Kansai Seiki history:

Amusement Journal 2018-08




Machine translation:

From 1962 onwards, Kansai Seiki Seisakusho also began developing and releasing gun games.

The company first developed the "Red Gun," which had a jungle theme and had a bright red gun in its casing, as the name suggests, followed by the sea-themed "Marine Gun," which was equipped with an underwater gun, and then a bird-catching gun. Developed a themed "Birdie Gun".

That article says they began development of gun games in 1962, but in the Mini Drive Encyclopedia, we are told that Red Gun was released in 1963:

ミニドライブ大百科 (Mini-Drive Encyclopedia)



Machine translation:

During this period, a domestic gun game using the "Dale Gun" mechanism was also created. In 1961, the first gun game under the SEGA brand, ``Jungle Gun'' (manufactured by Nippon Kyoto Bussan), was released, and Kansai Seiki Seisakusho also developed ``Red Gun'' in 1963, followed by ``Marine Gun.'' and “Birdie Gun” have been released one after another.

The Kansai Seiki gun games of the 1960s all use a cabinet that appears to be based on a German machine from 1957:
1957 Schießautomat by Wiegandt
Automatenmarkt 1957/02
via (archive)

The only other photo I could find:

via (archive)

The article says the German game measures (cm) 175 tall x 60 wide x 90 deep.  This is much smaller than similar games from the USA.

From a 1956 Mike Munves catalogue, you can see numerous gun games with a similar protruding pedestal...

1956 Mike Munves catalogue excerpt

The only games that come close to what we've been looking at are the Genco ones:

note how the back cabinet angles forward, the gap between the main cab and the protrusion.

We know these Genco gun games existed in Japan in 1963, thanks to the NHK documentary.

1954 Big Top Rifle by Genco
via pinrepair (archive)

The important thing to note in the above advertisement is that the game is 29.5 inches, that is 75 cm.

In this auction, the machine is listed as 31" across, or 78.8 cm.

1955 Criss Cross Wild West Gallery by Genco

The size is important, because the Kansai Seiki gun games are listed as 56cm wide:

from a Kansai Seiki flyer, around 1968

While the Genco gun games were a major stylistic influence, I do not think Kansai Seiki modeled their cabinets after Genco.  The German gun game is 175 tall x 60 wide x 90 deep, much more in line with what the Kansai Seiki catalogue shows.

Now let us compare details of the head. They both share the same soft borders around the marquee, and share nearly identical sizes/proportions.

(image flipped for demonstration purposes)

I do not have proof of this, but I believe the Kansai Seiki gun games, or at least the cabinet design, were based off German machines.  Since they share the same cabinet design, this would include all 5 of the Kansai Seiki gun games from the 1960s.

from Amusement Journal 2018-08
1963 Red Gun - レッド・ガン by 関西精機 (Kansai Seiki)
[~1965 Marine Gun - マリーンガン by 関西精機 (Kansai Seiki)
~1967 Birdie Gun - バーディガン (Bird gun) by 関西精機 (Kansai Seiki)

~1968 ウルトラガン (Ultra gun) by 関西精機 (Kansai Seiki)
~1968 Combat - コンバットガン (Combat Gun) by 関西精機 (Kansai Seiki)
~1967 Birdie Gun - バーディガン (Bird gun) by 関西精機 (Kansai Seiki)
1963 Red Gun - レッド・ガン by 関西精機 (Kansai Seiki)

Monday 19 February 2024

1966 Basketball - バスケットボール by セガ (Sega)

1966 version

1968 version

Name: Basketball - バスケットボール
Year: 1966, new version 1968
Company: セガ (Sega)

Sega's Basketball is one of the most iconic arcade machines of the electromechanical era.   It is among the first Japanese machines to use a plastic dome.

In the English-language press, the earliest mention I've found is in reporting on the 23rd A.T.E. show in London, England.

1966-12-17 Cash Box
1966-12-17 Cash Box excerpt:
"Among other games the Sega basketball found favour with visitors,"

From May 1967, this article discusses Sega's plans for low-priced amusement machines, a desire to co-exist with USA companies instead of just compete with them, and how U.S. manufacturers are interested in licensing Sega's games to make them available in the USA.

1967-05-27 Billboard magazine

Magazine readers also get their first image of Sega's Basketball, which is unlike what most people think of:

Sega's original Basketball
1967-05-27 Billboard magazine

We then see this model in advertisement a month and a half later:

1967-07-08 Cash Box

1967-07-08 Cash Box
by the buttons it says "SEGA BASKET BALL"

There is no gap between BASKET and BALL in this detail of a control panel

Already we have seen 2 variations in the scoreboards:

Look at the 1967-05-27 photograph, the scoreboard resembles this:

"SEGA BASKETBALL" is visible on the scoreboard in red letter on black. Top scores are red and white, and bottom scores are black and white.

And from the 1967-07-08 advertisement, the scoreboard is like this:

no space above the two lines of scores, but an area that can light up saying "BASKET BALL" in the white space beneath.

A brief mention in this article confirms Sega's Basketball appeared at the Paris Fair 1967:

1967-06-17 Cash Box

1967-07-22: Midway is showing interest in licensing Basketball from Sega for the USA market.

1967-07-22 Billboard

1967-07-22 Billboard excerpt:
Seeking other areas of innovation, Midway has shown licensing interest in various games developed by the big Japanese firm, Sega. It has been reported that Midway will manufacture a basketball game under license to Sega for the U. S. market."

It is hard to see in this photo, but between the two people, beneath the man's extended arm, you can see Sega's Basketball with the angular dome.
1967-10-21 Cash Box

For the MOA show in 1967, this confirms Sega has yet to decide on how to deal with the USA market, but they are expected to announce things for the show.
1967-10-28 Billboard
relevant transcription: "The firm has not announced that it will market its low-cost games in this country, but during the show make known whether it will appoint its own distributors in the U. S. or license a U. S. game manufacturer to pro- duce and market its games. One of the new games to be shown by Sega will be a basketball game widely tested in the U. S. President David Rosen and a large staff will be on hand to meet U. S. operators."

1967-10-28 Cash Box advertisement announcing Sega at the MOA show.

From the MOA show, we read that Taito was also their with their similar Crown Basketball machine

1967-11-11 Cash Box

At the show it was revealed that Williams would be getting the licensing deal:
1967-11-18 Cash Box
Transcription: [emphasis mine]
Williams to Wholesale Sega Games in U.S.
CHICAGO - During the recent MOA Trade Show, it was disclosed that Williams Electronics, Inc. had entered into an arrangement with Sega Enterprises and president David Rosen to distribute Sega's line of amusement equipment in the United States through the Williams distributor network.
It is the first deal of its kind involving the distribution and marketing of a Japanese made amusement line in the United States. Sega is expected to take on a prominent role in the U.S. as a result of the deal.
Rosen recently announced that Sega would begin introducing five new games per year, to be manufactured in their multi-million dollar plant in Tokyo.
The three Sega games ready for delivery now are the Sega Basketball Game, Sega Punching Bag and the Rifleman... a gun game that vends a target to let the shooter know how accurate his aim is.
1967-12-16 Cash Box
confirms that Williams is distributing Sega machines, with some Basketball units sold within the USA by mid-December

But that is not the last of Midway in this article, for 2 months later there is buzz about Midway's new Basketball game.  I do not feel it is a coincidence that the game is positioned as a lower priced machine, a strategy Sega announced for their Basketball game in May of the prior year.
1968-02-03 Cash Box

And soon after, we can see a photograph, show
1968-02-17 Billboard

It appears Midway has taken Sega's Basketball design and given is a sleeker look.  The buttons panels are on a slight angle towards the player, but the big difference is the smooth dome top.  Sega's basketball has wooden legs more common to pinball machines of the 1950s while Midway's legs were pointed and modern.  Please note: while KLOV lists 1964 as the year for Midway's Basketball, the correct year is 1968.  SegaRetro has it correct.
1968 Basketball by Midway

1968 Basketball by Midway
1968-07-07 Cash Box

So did the licensing deal with Midway fall through, and then Midway retaliated by releasing their own improved version of Sega's Basketball?  Did Midway steal the design from Taito's Crown Basketball?  
1968-07-07 Cash Box

While Midway's machine has buttons that resemble Sega's Basketball, the cabinet and dome design more matches Taito's Crown Basketball, which has a different style of buttons:
1967 Crown Basketball by Taito

I do not know if Sega was responding to Midway, or if Sega had shown them the idea for the dome top.  My instinct is to say that Midway stole Sega's game design, so Sega stole Midway's cabinet design, but it'd be hard to discount the influence Taito had then too.
By August 1968, we see a photograph of Sega's domed Basketball redesign.

1968-08-10 Billboard

1968-08-31 Billboard: Teruko Hino behind Sega's domed Basketball

This brings us to the iconic flyer and machine design that almost everyone knows:

English flyer

It is featured prominently on the cover of the 1969 machine directory, with this wonderful photo of Sega's showroom:

1969 machine directory

scoreboard detail

control panel

1969 machine directory entry

In the company index of the 1969 machine directory, Sega lists "バスケット・ボール(ドーム式・スタンダード)", "Basketball (dome type/standard)".  The assumption here is that the smooth dome one with the sloped control panel is the "dome type", and the angular top with the flat control panel is the "standard".

The 1972 machine directory features BOTH versions of Sega's Basketball games:

1972 machine directory entry

1972 machine directory entry

In the index, they are both listed as by Sega.  Did Sega continue manufacturing the old-style basketball game domestically while simultaneously selling the 1968 redesign?
The domed-top machine appears in the 1973 directory, but the angular version does not.

Sega's 1971 price list catalogue shows the early Basketball design, except with the domed top:
Sega 1971 Price List

For the time being, I am considering this a separate model and slotting it in 1971.

The original / angular version of Sega's Basketball appears in many iconic Japanese arcade photographs.

via yomogi2017

via yomogi2017

via yomogi2017

via sukhumvit39

via sukhumvit39

via yomogi2017

Sega's Basketball also (seemingly) made waves across Europe.  I do not know for sure that these machines all came after Sega's machine, but I am readily assuming so.  

Were these machines built from Sega parts?  Faithful copies?  I do not know, but they give us a detailed look at some of the common design features.

Pallacanestro Elettrica by L'Automatico

Note that inside the dome, the corners of the playfield look like a wooden panel. We see this on Sega's machines, sometimes with a cutout area that can light up.

Sega's Basketball

Sega's Basketball

You can see the corner wood panels, and illuminated cutouts, well on this version.  Mind you, n    ote the slight angle to to the control panel, suggesting this one is a copy and not using the Sega chassis.

International Basket

International Basket, where the corners say "International Basket"

Another one with the same corner design:

Basket by Walmatic
the corner lights up to say "Hop Ball"

This corner feature is also found on Midway's Basketball, though they use different dimensions for it.

1968 Basketball by Midway

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