In one room, more modern machines dominate, elaborately designed and endlessly inventive pastiches of pop-art tableaux — complete with pinging. A machine called Big Bang Bar taunts and tantalizes players, mocking those who can't seem to master the game — "That didn't last long," its voicebox squawks when a ball skips right past the flippers and into oblivion — and offering pole-dancing aliens for players who rack-up enough points.
From the 1960s, there's "Slick Chick," with its rabbit-eared ersatz Playboy bunnies, carefully drawn so the game's designers wouldn't have to pay Hugh Hefner any royalties. The '80s are represented by games designed to invoke "The Addams Family" (complete with a hand that emerges from the game floor and snatches unwary balls) and "The Twilight Zone," as well as Indiana Jones.
Silverman, a Silver Spring landscape designer who has been collecting pinball machines since the 1970s, is still trying to catch his breath after moving from Washington; he and his staff had only three days between the date the Baltimore lease was finalized and the day they had to be out of Georgetown. Although the new location offers four floors of space, his initial plans are to use only two. Eventually, however, he hopes to expand into the third and fourth floors, adding a theater, classrooms and additional displays.
"This is part of American history," says Silverman. "This is a true American pastime."
If you go
The National Pinball Museum opens Jan. 14 in the old Chocolate Factory building at 608 Water St. Hours are noon-8 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturdays and noon-6 p.m. Sundays. Tickets, which include unlimited game play, are $10 for two hours, $15 for four hours, $20 for all day. Call 443-438-1241 or go to nationalpinballmuseum.org.