Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pinball Mods: Custom Apron Cards

You know those two information cards at the bottom of the playfield, above the ball trough?  That area's called the apron, and those are known as "apron cards".  For pinballs in public, they will usually be the game rules on the left, and the price to play on the right.

Image by robinvanmourik via Flickr

In a home environment, of course, "price to play" is a waste of space.  Enter custom apron cards.  If you're good with graphic design, the world is your oyster (and please, post your creations for the rest of us!), but if not, the internet is full of 'em.

Lord of the Rings custom apron card by PinZach

One maker of custom cards I kept coming across was Zach Wolf of  You can also see his apron card work in his section on Pinball Rebel, but he does a lot more with pinball than just cards.  I contacted him and asked a few questions.

Interview with Zach Wolf

Keeping My Cool: When and how did you first get into pinball?  How quickly did you become a collector?

Zach: Have played pinball for 40 years (since I was little).  Had my first machine in my house when I was a teenager – Paragon.  Always had 2-4 machines until about 10 years ago when I started collecting in earnest.  I have 20+ games now.

KMC: When did you first get the idea to make apron cards?

Zach: Around 2006 I saw a few custom cards on machines I bought and also read about others on pinball discussion sites (RGP, Pinside).  I also happened upon the granddaddy of custom card sites, and saw their great collection.  Since I like fooling around with Photoshop, I thought I‘d give it a whirl.

KMC: You have a sizable set of cards on your website.  How do you choose what games to make custom cards for?

Zach: Many are games that I own or owned.  Some are new Stern machines because I know people want them.  But mostly, they have been requests from people who saw my cards – of course the game has to interest me too.

The Simpsons Pinball Party custom apron card by PinZach

KMC: How would you walk a newbie through making their own cards, especially as far as getting the format right for printing, and the best format in which to share them with other pinheads?

Zach: It depends on their computer knowledge.  I create all my stuff as composites in Photoshop.  You can find out the correct size for your machine from many sites (pinballrebel and others).  I make my cards available in both jpgs and PDF files.  Jpgs can be a little dicey for other people to use because some photo and printing software will automatically resize them.  If you know how to create PDFs, the size is standardized and anyone with a little knowledge should be able to print them successfully.

KMC: Are you still making cards?

Zach: Haven’t in about a year, but I run in streaks.  I’m sure I will again.  I’ve been focusing on my classic arcade site.

KMC: You seem to be pretty dedicated to the hobby.  What are some of the other things people can find on your site?

Zach: If they are interested, you can also find a bunch of flipper decals I created.  They are art templates that you can print on clear decal paper on any inkjet printer.  Then, you stick them on your flippers to add design to them.  There are some other things on the website, some is dedicated to the Internet Play-at-home Pinball League I used to run, the RGPL.  Also, it’s the home of “Pinanigans”, the pinball comic my wife and I do for PinGame Journal.

Pinanigans comic by PinZach

KMC: What are some of your favorite pins?

Zach: Paragon, Iron Man, Flash Gordon, Guns and Roses, Volcano, and Congo.


Thanks for taking the time to chat, Zach!  I look forward to seeing more of your great designs. Can you do Champion Pub next? :)

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