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daveslot
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Supermatic 5 reeler bandit! most unusual bandit ever?

Postby daveslot » Fri Aug 24, 2007 11:44 am

This has to be the weirdest, most unusual bandit made. According to the splendid book Arcades and Slot Machines, this was made in 1934 by Brenner. Has anyone seen one work and can you describe the action? I am trying to get this one to function - and does anyone know any history of Supermatic? This is very well made so they must have been expecting to make a few.
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Re: Supermatic 5 reeler bandit! most unusual bandit ever?

Postby pennymachines » Wed Aug 29, 2007 12:59 am

The Multiplay was the brainchild of Bernard Brenner, son of John Brenner who also designed amusement machines, including some interesting arcade fortune tellers. Bernard seems to have had something in common with William Bryan (with whom he was well acquainted) in his instinct for innovative, creative invention. He designed the ingenious Skill Fun allwin (Get the Ball Past the Arrow) which was very successful and probably remained in production (with several re-designs) for longer than any other allwin.

Mode of operation: insert coin; pull handle; top reel spins for a few seconds before halting (or can be stopped earlier by depressing adjacent button). If the reel hits anything but the Union Jack - game over; if it stops on our flag, the reel below suddenly kicks into motion. If this reel loses, the game ends and two coins are paid out; if it wins, two coins are paid and the reel below automatically spins, etc. The payout increases exponentially with each Union Jack and all five get the jackpot as well (which is immediately refilled from the reserve above). Can't recall the precise payouts. Are they visible on the totalisator?

Because there are just four diametrically arranged British flag winning symbols on each reel and the skill buttons really do stop them when pressed, I believe a practiced player can actually improve the chance of winning by skillful timing - but perhaps I shouldn't go there...

It's apparent from the 37 page patent 439238 and the effort that went into completely re-designing a one arm bandit that Brenner had high hopes this would prove a ground-breaking addition to the amusement machine genre in 1936. He set up the Supermatic company specifically to manufacture and market the machine. It must have been very disappointing when it didn't take off. Although it was advertised in the World's Fair and is pictured at one of the amusement machine trade stands (Sampson Novelty, I think), judging by surviving examples, not many were made.

There are probably several reasons why it flopped. Born out of the British operators' demand for a true gambling device that could pass itself off as an amusement machine (hence the 5 reels with their flag symbols and prominent skill stop buttons) it faced various obstacles. Although five reels allowed it to offer greater rewards than three (a real incentive to the player) they also counted against the machine in the eyes of the authorities who did not look favourably on large payouts. An operator prepared to risk a run in with the law might as well go for an American bandit. Not only were they relatively cheap and plentiful but most punters, given the choice, would gravitate towards the game they knew and loved in preference to an unfamiliar oddball machine. This is probably why none of the efforts to produce a British answer to the one arm bandit had much success.

It would be interesting to know the original retail price of the Multiplay. Such a complex machine would not have been cheap to make. Remember, unlike in the U.S., British manufacturers were essentially hand-building, not mass-producing, because the market was too small to warrant it. There were also plenty of second-hand bandits knocking about.

Complexity also tends to impact upon reliability and maintainance. The few examples of the Multiplay I've come across all seem to be "out of order" like yours, so perhaps there were problems. This may be why the machine was redesigned and simplified later into a version without a jackpot and with many other changes to the mechanism. One very large mainspring at the top of the machine, similar to those found in wind-up gramophones, has to hold enough energy to spin and halt all five reels, one after the other, and trigger the payouts and jackpot.

Finally, perhaps there is a flaw in the game-play. It's exciting when you start to win but most of the time you don't of course, which means most of the time the play is brief because you only get to spin the top reel. This is not as satisfying as watching 3 reels spin and clunk into position one after the other.
Last edited by pennymachines on Wed Aug 29, 2007 12:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Supermatic 5 reeler bandit! most unusual bandit ever?

Postby coin-op » Wed Aug 29, 2007 11:56 am

It's definitely as weird as they come (I recall there was one of these on ebay maybe two years ago now). However, as it has the standard reel format, I'd still say the Bryans Hidden Treasure and Tick Tock are the the absolute weirdest and unusual takes on a bandit ever made. Can anyone think of any other real weird bandits out there?

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Re: Supermatic 5 reeler bandit! most unusual bandit ever?

Postby cheeky » Fri Aug 31, 2007 2:24 pm

That is one weird bandit Dave. You have my vote but it isn't going to help you get it repaired. I have never ever seen one before. I would love to see it up and running and if anyone can fix it, you can................

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Re: Supermatic 5 reeler bandit! most unusual bandit ever?

Postby pennymachines » Sun Sep 02, 2007 6:44 pm

I'd say all British bandits are weird - because they had to be, but how do we define a one arm bandit? Clearly it has to be essentially a game of luck with a handle to put it in motion - but does it have to have reels? If so, how many? We call the Boland Screen Stars a bandit, although it only has one, but what about a Bryan's Clock which has none?

A Clock works like a two reel bandit with the hour hand acting as a second reel with a single winning (jackpot) symbol. I recall Jim Bryan boasting that they never manufactured a bandit, but clearly the Hidden Treasure and Tick-Tock are really four and three reel bandits in disguise. As you say, the oscillating pendulum was the most radical alternative to the spinning reel.

If we count any gambling machine with at least one randomized element, the O.K Novelty Co. Carousel with its rotating glass jackpot tubes could be a contender for "most unusual". The BMR Brooklands Racer and other BDR bandits with their three spinning concentric annular discs are more obviously based upon the fruit machine even though they are mechanically quite different. Does the Bradshaw Little Stockbroker count as a bandit, even though it isn't random?

I never regard the Caille Commercial as a bandit because it's based upon the roulette-style betting machines that predate Charlie Fey's design, but how about the AC Novelty Multibell, a three reel bandit which allows you to bet on any of the seven symbols, rather like the roulettes? There are several American "disguised bandits" such as the Superior Races with horses taking the place of reels and the Western, Mills, Buckley and Bally dice machines with apparently freely thrown dice taking the place of reels.

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Re: Supermatic 5 reeler bandit! most unusual bandit ever?

Postby pennymachines » Thu Sep 06, 2007 7:19 pm

Going further off-topic - another contender for weirdest British "bandit", this twin disc machine works like the Little Stockbroker. The discs don't spin so much as rock, giving an impression of randomness, but payouts are predetermined and received on the turn after the symbols indicate a win (future payout), hearts paying 1-3; stars paying 5-12. The symbols on the discs are not original though. One other known. Formerly owned by John Carter. Like the Little Stockbroker, it appears to be made by Bradshaw.
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Re: Supermatic 5 reeler bandit! most unusual bandit ever?

Postby JC » Thu Sep 06, 2007 10:18 pm

Wow! What a beautiful art-deco machine. Hard to believe it is from the same stable as the Little Stockbroker, which I've always thought were ugly lumps of cast iron (probably because they are ugly lumps of cast iron)!
I wonder which came first? Perhaps Bradshaw realised how ugly the Stockbroker was, and decided to pull out a few more stops with this machine. I want one!

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Re: Supermatic 5 reeler bandit! most unusual bandit ever?

Postby pennymachines » Fri Sep 07, 2007 6:57 pm

Ugly lump of cast iron? Absolutely not!
It's aluminium.
Apart from the innards.

Coin-Op has tried to prove you wrong on the other point too by entrusting the Museum with a photo of a nicely restored Little Stockbroker.
I rather like the heavy cast street-furniture style and a rounded cabinet makes a change from the rectanglular shape of almost every other machine.
Now if you said it was the most boring game to play I might have to agree with you...

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Re: Supermatic 5 reeler bandit! most unusual bandit ever?

Postby JC » Fri Sep 07, 2007 7:59 pm

So, it's Aluminium eh? To be honest, I'd always imagined they were cast iron as they are so bloody heavy! As for the ugly bit, perhaps I just have an unwarranted hatred for these machines.
Many years ago, I was given one to repair (this particular one was in a wooden case - the only one I've ever seen). The mech. was totaly seized and very dirty. Having stripped down the machine and cleaned every part, I reassembled it and got it to work perfectly.....except for the payouts.
The disc is held in position by four studs, so there are four ways in which it can be mounted. I was certain I had put the disc back in the same position as I had taken it off, but just couldn't get it to pay out. I tried the disc in every position, several times, but with no luck. It was after I'd messed about with the bloody contraption for two days, that I realised it must work on future play. I asked someone, who confirmed this to be the case. If only I'd asked earlier.

By the way, I just had a look at Coin-Op's machine in the museum.......very nice. :D

(But still bloody ugly) Sorry, I must try not to hate these machines so much.

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Re: Supermatic 5 reeler bandit! most unusual bandit ever?

Postby JC » Sat Sep 08, 2007 12:31 am

By the way, I thought 'heavy cast street furniture' was very generous.
I was thinking along the lines of Heavy Victorian industrial machinery....
The gear guard from the end of a loom comes to mind!

Sorry, I've tried really hard, but I really don't like them.


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