Mars: God of War inner backglass reproduction project

The story so far:
Since so many people have been asking me about this in a wide variety of places, from flickr to yahoo mail to gmail to usenet to livejournal, I decided to make this page to consolidate all of the information about this project in one place, so that now when someone asks about it I can just direct them here.

In May of 2008, I bought my first pinball machine, a Mars: God of War. Like most Mars machines, this one was missing the inner backglass. If you're reading this page because you need an inner backglass for your own Mars, then I don't need to explain to you why they're usually missing. If, however, you're interested in all the things I did to fix up this machine, I documented the whole process with lots of pictures here. Well, actually, my Mars did have an inner backglass, but the entire figure in the center had cooked and flaked off.

Using hi-res pictures I took of the graphics that were still intact on my inner backglass, some pictures I found online of complete inner backglasses, and a LOT of Photoshop, I recreated the image for the inner backglass. I took the image to a local printer, and had them print it and affix it to plexiglass in two layers with a layer of mirror film on top. The final product looks almost identical to the original inner backglass when the machine is on and the backbox is lit up, but when the machine is off the mirror film makes the graphic totally disappear, which I think is really cool and like even better than the original.

I posted pictures of my work to, and many people there encouraged me to get permission from Gottlieb to make more of these and sell them. I contacted Robert Fesjian (of Mondial, the current owner of Gottlieb's IPs) and Steve Young (of Pinball Resource, the only company licensed by Mondial to make reproduction parts for Gottlieb machines), and sent Steve Young the backglass I'd made for approval. Unfortunately, although I thought it looked awesome with the mirror film over the top, hiding the graphics when the machine was off, Steve said that Mondial was a big stickler for reproduction parts looking exactly like the originals, and it was too big a change.

I'd had a lot of communication problems with the printer I was using, so I subsequently went to a different local printer for the next round. This new printer printed and lasercut the graphics to lie on top of the mirror film, so it would look closer to the original, but this also failed to get approval because there were bubbles under the mirror film and the graphic printed on a decal looked too flimsy. Steve did say, however, that if the printer was able to get rid of the bubbles and screen-print the graphic directly on the mirror film that he would give it his approval.

So, the current status of the project is that the printer is looking into screenprinting and thermal printing options. He said that he tried to screenprint it once, but since his screenprinter is setup for t-shirts, it didn't work so well on mirror film. He's told me that he should have more information by Wednesday (2/25/2009), so I'll update this page when I hear from him then.

In the meantime, it looks like some people are printing out unmirrored backglasses using the low-res image at the top of this page (which is also on my flickr account) and selling them on ebay. I don't really care that this is happening, and if the resolution is good enough for you then great (and you can make it mirrored by just getting some "mirror privacy film" from Home Depot or Lowe's and putting it over the top), but these aren't "official", and when I finally get approval on mine they will be higher quality.

Also in the meantime, CPR has one of their artists working on their own reproduction Mars backglass, and I've even sent that artist my files to help him along, but from CPR's schedule it looks like that project will be done toward the end of this year, and they're also having trouble with the mirroring. So, hopefully, my backglass will be done and on sale before then, but in the worst-case scenario you can just buy one of theirs if I'm still tied-up at that point.

So, that's the scoop!


3/5/2009: The printer has still not had any luck with researching alternate printing methods. I'm going to talk to him today and figure out where to go from there.
3/6/2009: The printer has determined that he definitely can't screenprint on the mirror film. He's been trying to get ahold of another printer who does thermal printing, but hasn't been able to get him to do any test prints yet.
3/25/2009: After seven months and two different printers, I've come to the conclusion that I can't find the resources to print a repro Mars backglass that's high enough quality for Gottlieb to sign off on. Steve Young's been very accommodating about trying to meet us halfway at a glass with the image printed on the mirror film, but my printer has come up empty-handed on both trying to silkscreen it, and on finding someone who can thermal print it.

I've also sold my Mars machine, so I don't have much personal interest in the project anymore.

I've invited Steve and my printer to continue to work together -- and even use the artwork files I created -- to try to see this project through, and I know that CPR also has their own version in the works that will be finished toward the end of the year.

Otherwise, I still have all of the files, so if you have a Mars: God of War machine and need a reproduction inner backglass for it, email me and I'll see what I can do.
4/11/2009: John of is working on some other reproduction backglasses with mirroring, so I asked him to take a look at this project and see if he could make any headway on it. I've also sent my files to Doc Pinball -- who's doing the reproduction Mars backglass for CPR -- to help him out, so one way or the other there should be a repro Mars inner backglass that I've helped out on by the end of the year.