The Silverball Reviews: Data East’s King Kong

by Lauren Sisselman

101022B-1024x536 The Silverball Reviews: Data East's King KongSince 1933, King Kong has entertained audiences worldwide while also becoming a horror icon. The movie is considered one of the greatest horror films of all time, and the titular character has grown and evolved since his debut. Over the years King Kong has gone up against the king of Kaiju — Godzilla — to see who truly is the more dominant monster. Merchandise based on the character is plentiful, but there are some rare items for collectors to search for.

One of the rarest collectibles for Kong fans is Data East’s 1990 King Kong: The Eight Wonder of the World pinball machine.

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Based on the King Kong pinball from the early 1930s, this game was designed for greatness. Yet, unlike its predecessor, Data East only made 9 prototypes before canceling the project. Lucky for us, all 9 machines went to private collectors. Sometimes, a King Kong will show up at a pinball expo, but for the most part, these are kept pretty hidden away from the public. But thanks to the internet, some collectors have provided ample photos and videos of this rare machine.

The Players

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Designed by Jerry Armstrong (Millionaire), and art by Kevin O’Connor (KISS), this machine would have been an absolute feast for players. To start, the backglass had a few Easter Eggs on it, with the first one designed to attract kids to play the game. The planes flying and shooting at Kong on the backglass were inspired by Hasbro’s “Cobra Condor” toy plane, one of the hottest toys in 1989. Kong is also climbing the Sears Tower in Chicago, a nice nod to pinball’s historic ties to the city.

This game would have also been the first to receive an MPU Version 3 — which is essentially a plug-and-play board — and was very powerful for the time. Instead, Data East put that into their upcoming Back to the Future Game.

People who have been lucky to play one, or multiple, have noted that the game does feel incomplete.

Yet, despite the incomplete feeling, fans unanimously agree that this game should have been released. While there’s no official reason why Data East canned the project, it can be assumed that licensing fees for the character became too expensive. One could hope that Stern, the company that (in a roundabout way) both started Data East and then absorbed Data East, would bring the Eighth Wonder of the World back to life.

It’s rare that one of these becomes available for sale.

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The last known sale was in 2013, when one of the 9 machines sold for over $20,000. Prior to that, sales had been near the $7,000 mark. By comparison, new pinball machines can cost upward of $18,000, so it can be assumed that King Kong has now gone up in price.

You may still be able to find an original King Kong machine from the early 1930s, but to this day, I’ve personally not found one — I haven’t even seen a photo of it. If pinball is something you’re interested in as an investment, you certainly couldn’t do worse. If you enjoy the thrill of the hunt, King Kong is perfect for you. After all, it seems to be in man’s blood to hunt for the Eight Wonder of the World!

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012822A2-1 The Silverball Reviews: Data East's King Kong*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.

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