1958-1960 Bally Skill Games

The Bally "Skill" series consisted of five games:

  • Skill Roll, Bally #601, 3/58, 1500 produced.
  • Lite-A-Diamond, Bally #609, 6/59.
  • Skill Parade (standard and deluxe), Bally #616, 10/58, 500 total produced.
  • Skill Score, Bally #653, 4/60, 250 produced.
  • Skill Derby (standard and deluxe), Bally #656, 9/60.

If you have any of these Bally Skill Roll games for sale, please contact me at cfh@provide.net

There were five Bally "skill roll" type games made. Skill Roll #601 (3/58, 1500 produced) was the first in the series, and has eight nickel flipping levers (four on each side), and has no replay meter. This was a genuine skill game, and is quite addictive to play. The object is to drop a coin in the top slot and "flick" the eight handles to shoot it back and forth on eight rows. The better you shoot, the higher points. Highest score is 460 based on the max points on the way to the bottom. If the player gets to the bottom (eighth) row, the game will keep your coin at the bottom until a new game is started. The player can show his friends, "hey I got to the last row!" Sort of a "look what I did", kind of thing. Also if the player gets to the eighth row (regardless of their score), a star lights up on the backglass to the right of the "90" point graphic. This shows a "hi-score." (There's no free game or anything to win, just the satisfaction you beat the game.) It's not easy to get to the bottom (eighth) row, let alone get 460 points. About 2/3 the way through the game, it starts to get harder. You can lose the coin in any one of the "gobble" holes. Internally there is also a points adjustment from 320 to 380 points, which triggers a "hi-score" mechanical counter for the operator. There is also an eighth row mechanical counter. These let the operator know if the players are beating the game.

Next was Lite-A-Diamond #609 (6/59), which was the same game as Skill Roll for the first four nickel flips. But after that, the game turns into pure chance, as the nickel randomly flips up and tries to light diamonds. Lite-A-Diamond plays out in credits (has a replay meter). Lite-a-Diamond is pretty rare too, probably the rarest model of the five Bally "skill" games (please contact me if you have one as I would like to buy it, or at least get pictures!)

Third up was Skill Parade #616 (10/58, 500 produced). Skill Parade came in two versions, standard (novelty, first 250 produced) and deluxe (replay, last 250 produced). In the standard version, the player puts in a nickel, and plays with that nickel. Deluxe has a quarter or dime coin chute which give multiple credits, and the game is played with a recirculating Bally nickel. Skill Parade is basically a slot machine with three nickel flipping levers. If more nickels (coins) are added, the odds go up for a win. On Skill Parade you can change the replay awards on it via adjustment plugs in the back of the game. There are a set of plexi cards that insert and show through the backglass to display the scores.

Fourth was Skill Score #653 (4/60, 250 produced), which is very similar to Skill Parade, but with a few twists. First it's a sports theme (where Skill Parade is a carnival theme.) There are added score reels too, so the game gives a score, and there are six shots per play. Skill Score also uses a recirculating Bally coin instead of the player's nickel. And Skill Score does not use the Skill Roll style flip levers. Instead the game uses two pinball style plungers. Bally marketed this game as an upright pinball machine because of this. These changes made the game less like a slot machine, but it's still largely a chance game. But this version is an upgrade from the earlier Skill Parade. There is *some* skill with this game, as the plunger can influence where the coin lands in each of the three score areas. Also the game always has "3000 triple", "4000 triple" or "5000 triple" lit. This means if you hit a 3000 point score lever and "3000 triple" was lit, your score is tripled (3000x3=12,000 points.) There is also a 15,000 point score lane (or special) on the bottom score area. If lit and it's hit, you win one game (no points), or get 15,000 points if not lit. Also this game can win from 1 to 100 credits per game! Note if the game is turned off with credits, upon the next power on, the game will remove all credits (much like a Bally bingo.)

Last (fifth) was Skill Derby #656 (9/60), which came in standard and deluxe versions. This machine had a mechanical horse race on the top of the game. The player selected one of five horses before inserting their nickel. After the nickel was insert, the horse selector knob is frozen, and can not move. The player flipped the recycling Bally nickel through a pichinco type area, trying to get their selected horse to win (no skill, purely chance). Because there is only one player "plunge", and three sets of pachincho score areas, there really is no skill in this game. Note the standard version had no replay meter and no way to 'win' anything. Deluxe had a replay meter and the player could win games if their horse came in first. This is a pretty cool variant of the Skill series of games because of the mechanical horses. But aside from that, the game play is pretty poor. Just plunge the nickel, and watch it pachincho down the game randomly. There may be some skill in the plunge to the first pachincho area, but after that it's definitely all chance. If the horse you selected before the game started (shown on the score glass) is the "win" horse (also shown on the backglass), you have "won" the game. But other than that, there's no scoring. Also the replay version has inserts on the right side of the vertical playfield, showing potential replays that can be won. Note this game often has problems with the horse motor (which runs at 120 volts, and runs forward or reverse.) Because the horses' chains and cogs were greased at the factory, this grease usually turns to solid gunk, and strains (kills) the motor. The motor likes to break the armitures from its shaft, rendering the motor useless. Just keep this in mind if you are looking to buy this game. The motor can be fixed, but it's not an easy process.

Skill Roll (3/58) is the most fun of the series of these game, as the game actually takes a lot of skill to play. Skill Parade and Skill Derby are largely slot machines or chance machines where little skill is involved. Lite-a-Diamond is a mix of skill and chance. Skill Score has some skill and pinball style scoring, so it seem a bit more like a game of skill. Bally skill roll manual and schematics.

There was also a modern version of Skill Roll made by HanaHo Games Inc. of Cerritos, California called Skill Shot.

Skill Roll, Bally #601, 3/58, 1500 produced:

Skill Parade, Bally #616, 10/58, 500 total produced:

Skill Score, Bally #653, 4/60, 250 produced.

Repainted cabinet on this game:

Skill Derby (replay version), Bally #656, 9/60:

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