The Cool(ing)est Toy

Uh-oh! Looks like rain!

Of all the toys, gadgets, and other distractors placed in & on pinball machines, by far the most useful is the one in Whirlwind.  This table has a fan on top of the backbox that blows air right on the player during certain parts of the game.  So imagine this…you’re in the middle of a lock sequence, making shots, things are getting a little intense…and then here comes this cooling breeze!  It is really quite refreshing and a good reminder to slow down and take a breath (the fan is not running during any hurry-up modes).

There are those who find the fan distracting, or even feel anxious about having wind blowing on them while they’re trying to concentrate.  Like everything else in life, it’s all about perspective.

Backbox toys and other game-wide features were a novelty in the late 1980s, although they are common today.  Other examples from this period include the shaker motor in Earthshaker, the bell on top of the backbox in Fire!, and the spinning wheels in both Cyclone and Hurricane, just to name a few.

Whirwind was considered by many players to be the sequel to Earthshaker as part of a natural disaster theme, although no official word from Williams was ever made about that.

This game features the usual playing elements, including a million-point shot which was nearly a requirement in all Williams games after the release of Comet.  The Cellar Door shot is widely credited with being the first “cellar hole” type of target and has been found in many games since, in particular the Electric Chair in The Addams Family.

Williams didn’t waste any time on producing this game, making and shipping 7,304 units in just 3 months.  While the game is a lot of fun to play, its collectors value isn’t as high as some other games so it’s not too hard to find one at your favorite arcade.  What can be hard is to find one with a working fan.  Some operators disable it, some never fix it if it breaks–too bad, because it’s the perfect table to play after a really intense game!