Looping Roundabouts - Move Its, Super Stars, Twin Spins...
The second half of the 1990s was determined by the drive
to create compact looping and spinning rides. The generic description
of such a family of rides would be a circular arrangements of seats that
ascended, rotated, and then flipped over on its own axis. An added element
on some of these rides would be a rotating base, producing infinite combinations
of movements and disorientating effects for the rider. Whilst the initial
driving force for such rides were forward-looking Continental companies,
the UK manufacturing base also stood up and made itself heard. The importance
of these looping roundabouts for UK fairground history is thus twofold
– we have seen a slow increase in the number of rides from manufacturers
such as KMG opening on our fairs, while at the same time have seen many
home-produced rides performing as the ‘big hitters’.
The KMG company from Holland, pioneered by the ever
inventive and productive Kroon family, developed the Spin Ball in 1994
for showman Jan van der Beek. The ride was a huge hit, unleashing all
the promised movements in a geometry that offered a floored platform of
24 seats, and giving a very hi-tech appearance that thrived on exemplifying
the movement of the ride as the power for the aesthetic. The appearance
of this ride at Tilburg signalled the start of something new. KMG announced
the proposal of the Move It series, starting with an ambitious 32 seater
ride. The prototype of this machine (named Overflight) was ordered by
a German showman for scheduled delivery in 1995, however the season came
and went with no sign of the machine. In effect, the showman had switched
suppliers and opted for another prototype developed by Italian company
Soriani and Moser – the Top Star Tour. Undeterred, KMG went forward
to produce their Move It, but were slightly shaded out of being first
in the race with Soriani and Moser. The Top Star Tour debuted in April
1996 on the German scene, giving a 40 rider capacity (10 sets of 4 seat
dangly feet cars) and christened with a new name ‘Transformer’.
KMG’s awesome 32 seat Move It followed a few weeks later.
Cox's Move It 32, a unique and astonishing machine.
Whilst the Move It 32 would eventually find its way
to the UK, we have not been in a position to see a Soriani and Moser Top
Star Tour (commonly known as Transformer) on these shores. This is in
part due to the UK staking its claim in the next parts of the development
of these rides. Oxfordshire based company ARM produced the Twin Spin at
the end of 1995, debuting with a 32 ‘seat’ model such that
the passengers rode standing up on a floor. Willie Wilson took delivery
of this ride and travelled it as Stargate, featuring a backflash depicting
scenes and imagery from the film of the same name, whereby a portal of
rotating lights offers a gateway through time and space. The ARM Twin
Spin did not have the extra (complex) motion of the rotating base platform,
however a bold colour scheme of red rings on the base platform actually
exploited this missing element and provided a strong visual drawing element
to the ride. A second twin Spin was constructed soon after for Louise
Stevens, the Megaspin having the same passenger capacity but using a seated
rather than standing arrangement. These rides proved a huge success, mesmerising
both passengers and spectators, and still travel as big-hitters on our
The Stargate shows its innovative artwork.
The next development came from Carol and David Ward
of Northern Amusements, already a well experienced company due to their
family’s single-handed development of the Meteorite into the UK.
Spring 1996 saw the sketches of their proposed Super Star, and the Autumn
of the year saw a ride debut for Patrick Burton. The ride had a different
approach to obtaining the looping and spinning motions, lifting a spinning
frame of 8 x 4 seat gondolas on a single boom arm which then twists around
its own axle. The fact that KMG’s Move It had not arrived in the
UK meant that the Super Star demanded a great deal of attention, and after
a year of exclusivity the company produced more rides in a quick series
of succession. Imaginative individual themes were adopted for each machine,
and the addition of a backflash came as an extra incentive. In addition,
further Super Star style rides were made by Protech, and so the Super
Star remains both prevalent and popular on UK fairs.
The original Super Star, under Stringfellow's ownership.
Benson's 'Body Count' Super Star.
On the European scene a new manufacturer, Top Fun of
Italy, had created their own version of the original Spin Ball, calling
this machine Mega Mix. This ride offered 34 seats in a floored arrangement,
and found its way to the UK in 2004, 7 years after its introduction in
1997. However, the vanguard position of construction was rightly taken
up by KMG, who announced a three size series of Move It machines in 1997.
The ‘junior’ version had an 18 seat capacity (2 banks of 9),
whilst the standard version had a 24 seat capacity (6 banks of 4). Gore
and DeKoning were the first UK showmen to take delivery of one of these
rides, opting for a purchase in the midst of the UK’s patriotism
for Super Stars. However, the success of these 24 seater rides (often
called ‘Spin Outs’ from their naming in Germany) had meant
that production had been farmed out to Richard Woolls Tivoli company.
So the eventual successful deployment of these rides in the UK also meant
that it was providing an important prop for our own construction business.
A further consequence of this fact was the improved appearance of these
rides due to using our own backflash artists, who had been nurturing their
extraordinary talents with the UK’s rise of the Miami. The KMG produced
machines all came with a rather rugged style of artwork in terms of both
execution and theming, though gradually many of the machines that reached
the UK as second-hand imports have slowly had new artwork incorporated.
At present the UK has a good balance of both 18 and 24 seat Move It variations.
Cullens Amusements' Move It 18 photographed in 2003.
Henry Evans' Move It 24 seen from above.
At the moment the final say on the development of these
rides returns almost to the start point with Soriani and Moser. Whilst
their Top Star Tour never made it (as yet) onto our shores, the company
went on to divide and develop their own rides. A later development from
Moser was the Power Surge, an ‘almost’ variant of the Super
Star utilising spinning cars. A model of this machine made its proud debut
on the UK scene in 2003, and remains a novelty.
click here for the next generation of looping rides