Treasure Cove Pinball Decals
Review by Kevin Steele
Treasure Cove have certainly been branching out recently. Already known for their meticulous pinball machine restorations, they've now added a polishing kit (see review) and decal sets to their offerings.
Treasure Cove's decal sets basically fall into two categories: restoration decals, and "add-on" decals. The restoration decals are designed to replace damaged or missing artwork that was originally included with the machine. The "add-on" decals are new, custom artwork designed to enhance the appearance of a machine.
One of the more interesting restoration decal sets offered by Treasure Cove is their "shop-out" decal sheet, a set of operator instructions and warnings that you wouldn't normally see unless you opened up the machine.
The decals are very professional die-cut vinyl, and include everything from the high-voltage warning to "Inspected by" stickers. While these decals aren't necessary from an external "appearance" standpoint, they do offer that final bit of authenticity in the restoration process. Perhaps only a perfectionist collector would care, but those are exactly the type of people who buy from Treasure Cove.
There are a number of other decal sets from Treasure Cove which reproduce original playfield artwork, such as the apron or target decals, for machines such as Terminator 2, Medieval Madness, Monster Bash, and many more. These decal sets are printed using an inkjet onto photo paper and then laminated with a heavy mylar covering, making them extremely durable. They're self-adhesive as well.
Overall, the artwork is pretty good — the colors seem to be a good match, although some of the actual line art is a tad "thicker" than the originals, although this would only be obvious if you did a side-by-side comparison. The inkjet printing does add a small amount of "graininess" to the artwork, but it's only noticeable close up.
There is one downside to the lamination and printing method, and that is that the decals are very thick, almost like card stock. You'll need to mark the edges of the decals with a black Sharpie pen before putting them in place to avoid seeing the white edge, and they do "stick up" a bit, at least on the playfield apron, when compared to the original decals.
The adhesive seems to be a soft-tack, meaning it doesn't "grab hard" when you initially put it into place. This is nice, as it allows you to fine-tune the positioning of the decals, although I worry a bit about the long-term holding power for high-impact areas such as targets. I'll have to report back in a few months.
Treasure Cove Original Artwork
The most exciting decal offerings from Treasure cove, in my opinion, were their own custom artwork additions, such as backboard graphics. These decals are artwork that Treasure Cove has created to add extra flair to a machine, filling in empty spots on a pinball playfield that look like they should have had artwork to begin with.
Like the reproduction artwork, the custom decals are inkjet prints laminated with mylar. To use the decals, you simply cut them out , remove the backing paper, and press them into place.
The new lamination is a big plus for the backboard graphics (where the thickness of the decal is irrelevant) — I have one of Treasure Cove's earlier backboard graphics, without the lamination, and I did manage to accidentally wipe off some of the artwork when I got some cleaning solution on the art. The new mylar artwork prevents that problem, making the artwork relatively impervious to cleaners.
The mylar is also a great addition for the custom target decals, which add an alien face to each of the AFM "M-A-R-T-I-A-N" targets.
These targets decals make for an extra bit of color on the playfield, adding a bit of extra "pizzazz" to the otherwise plain targets in Attack from Mars.
The backboard decal fills in the otherwise plain black background with a cityscape designed to match the translite artwork. The change in appearance is dramatic, and it definitely brightens up the back of the playfield.
Overall, I liked the decal sets from Treasure Cove. While there were a few nits to pick (such as the thick card stock feel of the decals and occasionally over-thick artwork lines in the reproduction art), they still offer quite a lot of value, especially since much of the reproduction artwork they offer is not available elsewhere. Their collection of reproduction decals focuses primarily on the highly-collectible 1990's-vintage pinball machines.
The Treasure Cove custom artwork may be a matter of personal taste — some purists are not going to want to add anything to a machine that wasn't there originally, but others may find Treasure Cove's additions and enhancements a welcome improvement. I personally love the Attack from Mars backboard graphic, while the custom target artwork just didn't appeal to me.
What I can say is that if you like the way the artwork looks, it's printed to last for a very long time. The mylar coating should really give the artwork long-term durability. The decal set prices range from $8.95 to $24.95, all very reasonable for what you get. If you're looking for that tough-to-find piece of artwork for your pinball restoration project, or just want to make your pinball machine even more colorful, be sure to check out Treasure Cove's decals.