PINBALLZ LAKE CREEK

Pinballz in Austin, Texas

When the original Pinballz Arcade opened in Austin, Texas, in 2010, we were one of the first to tell the world about the amazing selection of pinballs and other arcade games bought and set-up in a bespoke gameroom by Darren and Mikki Spohn.

After a couple of years establishing the business and preparing for growth, they opened their second location – Pinballz Kingdom – situated around fifteen miles south of Austin.

Although there is some development work to complete at Pinballz Kingdom to finish the transformation from truck stop to pinball and arcade heaven, that hasn’t stopped the push to open a third location, and in May 2016 the Lake Creek branch became the third Pinballz operation.

Pinballz Lake Creek
Pinballz Lake Creek

While the first two Pinballz business are positioned to the north and south of Austin in rather isolated locations, this third Pinballz is a mere nine miles further north than the original location and can be found in the heart of the Lake Creek Festival shopping centre, nestled between a Burlington Coat Factory and a Hobby Lobby.

If you have been to either of the other two Pinballz businesses then the sight as you walk through the doors will be a familiar one. Rows of top pinballs stand waiting for you as you come in, with large single piece arcade games off to the side.

The view as you enter Pinballz Lake Creek
The view as you enter Pinballz Lake Creek

Two rows of around eighteen pinballs lead from the entry desk to the back of the building.

The left bank of pinballs
The left bank of pinballs

The right bank
The right bank

While these games might be considered a excellent collection by themselves, there are several rows more to explore.

More pinballs
More pinballs…

...and more, including the two High Speed games and both Pinball 2000s
…and more, including the two High Speed games and both Pinball 2000s

Pinballz uses a nice dual coinage system where either quarters or tokens can be used. Prices are typically either 75c or $1 per three-ball game. Replays can be won, as can extra balls, and the settings on the games we played seemed to be moderate to easy.

Beyond these rows of pinballs lies the newest Mikki’s Tavern and Wine Bar – the Pinballz bar and diner.

Behind the pinballs is Mikki's Tavern
Behind the pinballs is Mikki’s Tavern

Mikki's Tavern
Mikki’s Tavern

Any modern bar has to offer a wide range of local and guest craft beers, and Mikki’s Tavern is no different, offering thirty draft beers alongside a comprehensive selection of bottled beers, spirits and soft drinks.

The thirty beer taps
The thirty beer taps

They also serve a full menu of classic bar snacks and meals, including pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, salads, wings and BBQ dishes. You can check out the full menu here. Because our time here was fairly brief we didn’t get the opportunity to try any of the food or beverages, although the both looked highly tempting.

Move right from the Tavern and we find… yet more pinballs.

The second group of pinballs begins
The second group of pinballs begins

Some older machines
Some older machines

Some more unusual titles including Lights! Camera! Action! and Time Machine
Some more unusual titles including Lights! Camera! Action! and Time Machine

Here’s the list of the 77 pinballs we recorded on this visit:

Addams Family, The
America’s Most Haunted
Barb Wire
Baywatch
Big Hurt, Frank Thomas’s
Black Knight
Black Knight 2000
Black Rose
Bow and Arrow
Breakshot
Bride of Pinbot, The Machine
Capt. Fantastic & the Brown Dirt Cowboy
Champion Pub, The
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Cue Ball Wizard
Cyclone
Defender
Doctor Who
Dr. Dude
Dracula, Bram Stoker’s
Dungeons and Dragons
Earthshaker!
Elvis
Fire!
Firepower
Fish Tales
Flash
Flintstones, The
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s
Freddy: A Nightmare on Elm Street
Funhouse
Getaway, The: High Speed 2
Gilligan’s Island
Grand Lizard
Guns ‘N Roses
Haunted House
Hercules
High Speed
Hook
Independence Day
Indianapolis 500
Johnny Mnemonic
Jokerz!
Judge Dredd
Jurassic Park
Kiss (Bally)
Laser War
Lethal Weapon 3
Lights! Camera! Action!
Mata Hari
Maverick
Medieval Madness Remake
Meteor
Party Zone, The
Pinbot
Pistol Poker
Playboy (Stern)
Pool Sharks
Revenge from Mars
Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
Roadshow
Rollercoaster Tycoon
Shrek
Simpsons Pinball Party, The
South Park
Spider-Man
Star Trek Premium
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Wars (DE)
Star Wars Episode 1
Starship Troopers
Street Fighter 2
Tales from the Crypt
Theatre of Magic
Time Machine
Twilight Zone
Who Dunnit?

Most of the remainder of the floor space is taken up by large arcade video games, from single-person drivers to collaborate shooters, taking in dance machines and giant LED display versions of classic titles.

Dance and driving games in the video section
Dance and driving games in the video section

Skee-balls alongside collaborative shooter games
Skee-balls alongside collaborative shooter games

Giant Space Invaders Frenzy
Giant Space Invaders Frenzy

But giant games weren’t the preserve of the video and redemption realms. Pinball had a game to offer in that category too.

Hercules by Atari
Hercules by Atari

Large redemption pieces
Large redemption pieces

Redemption means tickets, and tickets mean prizes
Redemption means tickets, and tickets mean prizes

More large skill-based games
More large skill-based games

We said earlier that most of the floor space is given over to pinballs and arcade games, but Pinballz Lake Creek also has a room dedicated to playing laser tag.

The Galaxy Warz laser tag room
The Galaxy Warz laser tag room

One thing you might have noticed in our pictures is the lack of customers. Our visit was just after lunch on a Wednesday afternoon in March, which is far from prime-time and outside any school holidays. So, we don’t know how busy Pinballz gets on Friday nights or at the weekend.

Pinballz Lake Creek opens from 10am until midnight during the week, and stays open until 2am on Friday and Saturday nights.

The location is the best of the three branches as far as local shops and amenities are concerned – there are numerous shops, restaurants and even a movie theatre in the same complex – so it certainly should be an attractive destination.

Pinballz itself has good lighting, great games and looks attractive, from the clean surfaces, well-maintained pinballs and the custom carpet design.

The carpet design at Pinballz
The carpet design at Pinballz

The Pinballz operation seems to be going from strength to strength. The Austin area is very well served, so we understand thoughts of a fourth location are centred on the Dallas area, around a three-hour drive north.

With such a great mix of games, food and drinks, we look forward to visiting that branch as soon as it opens.

MEGA PLAY

In the ancient days, back when dinosaur poop was still warm (the 1980s), nearly every shopping center in the part of the country that I grew up in had a Family Fun Center or game arcade. I was even night manager of a Bally’s Aladdin’s Castle in West Main mall for a brief while.

The Aladdin’s Castle chains at that time were mostly stocked with pinball games and only had a few of those new-fangled video game things. During this time it was not at all unusual for young people to spend their pocket change playing games while their parents shopped.

In other words, arcades were a thing.

Unfortunately, at least in the greater Chicagoland area, the few arcade chains that remain have few or no pinball games; video games and other games of skill such as mini-golf, skeeball and claw machines have taken over.

There is a large arcade in a mall near my home called Tilt Studio that does not have ONE pinball game. I feel that’s an irony if there ever was one.

But I digress.

When on a road trip recently, I made a small side excursion to visit an arcade that is a genuine throwback to the days of disco and shopping centers with family entertainment centers.

Mega Play in Mishawaka, Indiana
Mega Play in Mishawaka, Indiana

Mega Play in the Town & Country Shopping Centre (not far from the campus of the University of Notre Dame) combines elements of the past and the present. They have an indoor mini-golf course, American Gladiator jousting area, air hockey, billiards, laser tag, ball pit, skeeball, whack-a-mole, virtual batting cages, kiddie playland, bumper cars, old school video as well as driving games….. and PINBALL!

American Gladiator jousting at Mega Play
American Gladiator jousting at Mega Play

It would have taken me a very long time to go around and write down the names of all of the video games at Mega Play; hopefully a list of their video games exists somewhere on-line? The majority of the games were 1980s and 1990s vintage, but in very good condition.

Mega Play had 11 pinball games in their own area apart from the video games.

The pinball line-up at Mega Play
The pinball line-up at Mega Play

One game was switched out while I was there so I was able to play 12 different games; it was a bonus for me, but probably not the typical experience.

The newly-added Corvette
The newly-added Corvette

Like many game centers in the 21st century such as Dave and Busters, at Mega Play you purchase credits on a plastic card and swipe to add credits on whatever game you want to play. If you don’t have a Mega Play card, the credit dispenser machines will sell you one for $1.

Card readers on the front of each machine
Card readers on the front of each machine

I have never seen ‘card swipe-enabled’ pinballs, but they have them here at Mega Play. In spite of being charged a dollar for a play card, I wanted to mention that the more credits you buy at one time, the more bonus credits that you get over and above the usual 4 credits for a dollar. For example- if you put $20 on your card, you get 110 credits. Mega Play also has party packages at what appear to be reasonable prices.

Card credit prices
Card credit prices

All of the pinball games were in very good condition and the only one showing any wear that I could see was South Park which had some wear around the edges of the ball exit holes under Kenny and Cartman.

South Park
South Park

FYI, this particular South Park game is uncensored with the early ‘profanity’ ROM that generates rude (but funny) character comments, the ‘carpet munching‘ game on the DMD and of course Mr. Hanky in the toilet tank and on the playfield graphic in full view.

The pinball games at Mega Play when I visited were:

Corvette, Bally-Midway

Star Wars, Data East

Attack from Mars, Midway

Batman Forever, Sega Pinball

The Simpsons Pinball Party, Stern Pinball

South Park, Sega Pinball

Black Knight 2000, Williams

Dirty Harry, Williams

Fish Tales, Williams

Star Trek: The Next Generation, Williams

Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Williams

Attack from Mars
Attack from Mars

The credits per game are not listed on the pinballs but they were a mix of 75 cents and $1 per three-ball game.

I wasn’t able to confirm this but it would appear that occasionally Mega Play has contests – most recently they had a Dance Dance Revolution contest.

There is a huge parking lot outside of Mega Play while inside they have sandwiches, snacks, pizza, desserts as well as soft drinks available to purchase at reasonable prices.

PS: I was told that there are two ‘kids pinballs’ at Mega Play. I was only able to find one:

Super Mario Brothers Mushroom World, Premier Technology

It has short legs fitted and is set up as a ticket redemption game for prizes.

I enjoyed my visit to Mega Play and wished that I hadn’t been quite as pressed for time and that I was able to stay a little longer. I felt the combination of the well maintained games and the achievable free credit thresholds made playing their games very fun and engaging. For sure I will visit Mega Play again soon.

It delights me to visit old school arcades that seem to be frozen in time; some other people seem to prefer having more current games to play. If you are like me and enjoy playing the late 1990s and early 2000s games as much as the current ones, then Mega Play is probably your kind of place too.

8BITFLIP 2017

8BitFlip at Arcade Club

As a change from our usual reporting style, this look at the annual 8BitFlip tournament weekend will be done as a personal blog by the Editor of Pinball News, Martin Ayub.

I signed up for 8BitFlip the moment the dates were announced, back in October last year. Knowing the nearest hotel quickly sells out, I made a booking for the Friday and Saturday nights for myself and a friend. We both went last year but had to stay at a more remote hotel, so I wanted to make sure we would be able to walk both to the show’s venue and the city centre for post-show entertainment.

Sadly, my friend had to cancel just before the 8BitFlip weekend, so I made the Good Friday journey to Bury, near Manchester, alone. The drive took four-and-a-half-hours, much of which was spent sitting in traffic jams in the many roadworks along the M6 motorway.

Good Friday traffic
Good Friday traffic

Fortunately though, there was no great rush to get to the venue as the show itself didn’t start until the next day. And after all, what else are public holidays for other than sitting in the car on a motorway going nowhere, discovering that the large white Americano coffee you bought at the service station ten miles back doesn’t have any milk in it?

But eventually the road signs start to point to Manchester, and then to Bury as we draw near.

8BitFlip is the competitive event run by the Northern Lights Pinball (NLP) group, who also organise the pinball part of the huge Play Expo show in Manchester in October as well as a number of other pinball events in the north of England.

Their main aims are to spread pinball’s reach to the general public and to raise money for charity. Their usual beneficiary is the Teenage Cancer Trust but this year the 8BitFlip’s chosen recipient was closer to home – the sister of one of the NLP organisers, Darren Ball, who needs money for a life-saving operation in America.

So it was that fifty pinballs were set up on the second floor of a large brick former mill in Bury, the home of Arcade Club.

Ela Mill - the home of Arcade Club
Ela Mill – the home of Arcade Club

Ela Mill is a strange building. It is now converted and partially refurbished so that numerous business start-ups can operate out of offices on the ground floor, while further up Arcade Club has taken over floors two and three from where it opens to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Arcade Club is discretely located upstairs
Arcade Club is discretely located upstairs

Before we get to the main pinball part, let’s have a look at Arcade Club which is a video game heaven for serious gamers in England’s northwest.

The third floor is where the bulk of the collection resides, and is also where the main reception area lives. Once inside, a large number of classic and modern video games await, including home consoles, sit-down driving games and assorted shooters. It’s kept pretty dark inside, so my phone’s camera struggled a little to get any good shots.

Classic video games at Arcade Club
Classic video games at Arcade Club

Classic video games at Arcade Club
Classic video games at Arcade Club

Assorted sit-down drivers
Assorted sit-down drivers

Classic games alongside Japanese imports
Classic games alongside Japanese imports

Stand-up drivers and shooters
Stand-up drivers and shooters

The home console area
The home console area

The lobby and cafe area
The lobby and cafe area

Hot and cold snacks and drinks are available at the cafe
Hot and cold snacks and drinks are available at the cafe

It's nearly all video games but there are three pinballs too
It’s nearly all video games but there are three pinballs too

Recently Arcade Club expanded onto the floor below, and it was here that the 8BitFlip event was hosted, combining NLP’s pinballs with Arcade Club’s games in one show.

We arrived as the set-up for the pinballs was underway.

Setting up the pinballs
Setting up the pinballs

Setting up the pinballs
Setting up the pinballs

The bulk of the pinballs were arranged in two rows running the length of the room, but there were eleven more owned by Arcade Club in a side room.

Entry to play the pinballs and all the video games cost £16 ($20/€19) per day for an adult (£6 for kids under 16) or a weekend ticket was available for £27 (£10 for kids). These tickets allowed you to play all the pinballs and videos on the second floor as well as access to Arcade Club’s main third floor.

Visitors enjoying the pinballs
Visitors enjoying the pinballs

The pinballs available to play were:

Addams Family, The
Attack from Mars
Batman, The Dark Knight
Big House
Bone Busters
Breakshot
Bride of Pinbot 2.0
Champion Pub, The
Cirqus Voltaire
Class of 1812
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Dracula, Bram Stoker’s
Dracula, Bram Stoker’s
Earthshaker!
Elvira & The Party Monsters
Excalibur
F-14 Tomcat
Flash Gordon
Flintstones, The
Funhouse
Galaxy
Genesis
Indiana Jones (WMS)
Jack in the Box
Jackbot
Johnny Mnemonic
Judge Dredd
Medusa
Metallica LE
NBA Fastbreak
Operation Thunder
Party Zone
Pinball Magic
Rescue 911
Rollergames
Scared Stiff
Shadow, The
Sharpshooter
Sopranos, The
Spider-Man
Spider-Man
Spring Break
Star Trek Pro (Stern)
Tag Team Pinball
Terminator 2
Twilight Zone
Victory
Whitewater
X-Files

Guests enjoying the machines
Guests enjoying the machines

Guests enjoying the machines
Guests enjoying the machines

Along with the free play machines there were three additional machines set up on the stage at the back of the room.

Alien Pinball was here set on £1 per play and fitted with a streaming rig by Pinball Live.

Heighway Pinball's Alien pinball
Heighway Pinball’s Alien pinball

On the other side of the stage were two competition machines. The first was a Buckaroo where £1 bought two games with completing various objectives earning a cash prize. The second game was a The Flintstones which hosted a simple £1 high score competition each day, with the winner taking 50% of the cash box takings.

The two competition machines - Buckaroo and The Flintstones
The two competition machines – Buckaroo and The Flintstones

Along with the pinballs, the second floor was also home to some larger dedicated arcade machines such as dancing and music playing games, and a large PC gaming set-up with numerous high-end gaming PCs.

The gaming PCs
The gaming PCs

Virtual Reality kit could also be tried
Virtual Reality kit could also be tried

More arcade games and consoles
More arcade games and consoles

Candy cabs
Candy cabs

Some larger arcade games
Some larger arcade games

More dance and music machines
More dance and music machines

Nick and Kirk show off their dancing skills
Nick and Kirk show off their dancing skills

The second floor had its own cafe with a well-stocked fridge providing a nice selection of soft and alcoholic drinks at reasonable prices as well as a constant flow of tea and coffee.

The cafe area on the second floor
The cafe area on the second floor

Sandwiches, yoghurts and other chilled snacks
Sandwiches, cakes, yoghurts and other chilled snacks

The drinks available
The drinks available

The price list
The price list

In addition to the cafe, a small kiosk sold confectionary and gaming merchandise.

More nibbles and gaming mementos
More nibbles and gaming mementos

There's also a library of gaming publications
There’s also a library of gaming publications

There were two tournaments held over the weekend. On Saturday, there was the main The Big Flip event which was run by David Dutton (shown above on The Flintstones), while on Sunday we had The Old Flip which was organised by Carl Spiby.

The Big Flip began soon after the venue opened at 11am. It cost £10 to enter in addition to paid entry to 8BitFlip.

Players signed in and were paired up to play a set of three head-to-head games on randomly-chosen machines out of all those in the hall. If a game was being played by a non-tournament player, you just had to wait until they had finished before playing your tournament game.

This was a ‘seeding round’ where the winner of the best-of-three went to the A division and the loser into the B division. It’s not as bad as it might sound as the A and B divisions eventually merge.

So losing your first round match is not terminal for any hopes of winning, which was just as well as I was soundly beaten on my allocated games of The Addams Family and Whitewater. Those would normally be great choices for me, but not today.

On to the second round, and players in each division were put into groups of four to play a five-game match where the winner of each game earned themselves nine points. Second place got five points, third place two points with no points for coming last.

The top two players in each group progressed to round three, but in the A division the group winner got a bye through to round four. In both divisions, the third and fourth placed players were eliminated from the tournament, but they had the consolation of getting their £10 tournament fee refunded so they could drown their sorrows.

My luck improved after such a bad start and I won my B division group to keep going. However, because I was in the B division I didn’t get a bye for winning and so went into round three.

Round three was like round two with four-player groups, except only three games were played and, crucially, only the winner progressed. The other tree dropped out at that point.

It would be tough to win, but somehow I managed to scrape through and made it into round four where I joined the winners from the A division’s round two and those who also survived the ’round of death’ – round three.

That made fourteen players in all who were paired up for seven best-of-three matches. The seven winners progressed along with the ‘best performing’ loser. All scores were recorded and the losing player with the best percentage of their scores compared to their opponent went through too.

Contrary to expectations, things seemed to be getting a bit easier for me and I won the first two games, meaning the third only counted towards calculating whether my opponent also progressed.

With eight players remaining, tournament organiser David Dutton called everyone together to explain how the semi-final and final would work.

David explains the format for the rest of The Big Flip
David explains the format for the rest of The Big Flip

Round five was much the same as the previous round – three game head-to-head matches with the winner progressing and the loser dropping out. This time there was no ‘best loser’ so only the four winners would go through to the final.

I had a couple of reasonable games and so won the round 2-0 to make it to the final. We needed to play the third to decide seeding in the final, and I was able to win that game too.

The four finalists were Matt Vince, me, Craig Pullen and Aid Cooper. Matt and I won 3-0 in the fifth round, but he had a better percentage win in round four so took the top seed position. Craig and Aid won 2-1 in the semi-final and were seeded third and fourth for the final.

In the final, each player could choose a machine to play, starting with Aid and followed by Craig, me and Matt. That was also the play order for the first game which then rotated one place each time, meaning the player choosing the machine always played first. The familiar 9/5/2/0 points system was employed to score each game.

Aid’s choice was Breakshot by Capcom, a game on which he had set the grand champion score earlier in the day and so felt pretty confident picking.

Aid starts on Breakshot
Aid starts on Breakshot

However, as often seems to be the case, after a great game the following one just doesn’t compare, and that was the case here as Aid ended up last on his own choice of machine.

Craig and Matt seemed to know what they were doing, but Breakshot isn’t a game with which I’m overly familiar so I just followed what seemed to be working for them. And it worked for me too. After ball two I had a reasonable lead with 30M racked up, while the third ball consolidated that to end up just shy of 60M, setting the new grand champion score in the process.

Not a bad start for me. Craig was second, Matt close behind in third and Aid fourth.

Then we moved on to Craig’s choice of Bride of Pinbot 2.0. The curse of playing the machine you picked continued as his first two balls drained quickly. I put up a reasonable score as did Matt with Aid not having much luck again. After Craig’s third ball only performed a little better, it was between Matt and I to take the top two positions. Matt ended up winning, with me second, Aid third and Craig fourth.

Then it was my choice of machine, and I decided to mix things up a bit and play a title I didn’t think anyone would know well. So, I picked Premier’s Excalibur.

Would the curse continue?

Well, no, it didn’t. I put up a decent 1.8M total score which looked to be in danger from Craig during our third and last balls, but it held on to give me a second win. Craig was second, Matt third and Aid fourth.

I managed to get a ball stuck on the ramp during my game, so I amused the crowd by getting my phone out and taking a ‘selfie’.

Stuck ball? Time for a selfie
Stuck ball? Time for a selfie

By this stage, with two wins and a second place for a total of 23 points I had already won, so I took the opportunity to buy everyone a drink before we played the fourth and last game of the final.

This was to be Matt’s choice of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and like my choice it worked well for the player picking it. Craig had already put up a great score on his second ball, so it was up to Matt to beat it for the win. He got close, but in the end Craig won, Matt was second, I was third and Aid was fourth.

That meant the result of the final was:

Main Tournament A Division Results
Pos Name Score
1
2
3
4
Martin Ayub
Craig Pullen
Matt Vince
Aid Cooper
25
19
18
2

A new feature which was utilised this year was the ability to print images on mugs, so prior to the final I took pictures of all four finalists and e-mailed them to Mark Robinson who printed the mugs overnight ready for the trophy presentation the next day.

My 'mug shot'
My ‘mug shot’

The trophy presentation was held back until after Sunday’s tournaments had finished, but here are the pictures anyway, with presentations made by tournament director David Dutton.

Winner of The Big Flip, Martin Ayub
Winner of The Big Flip, Martin Ayub

Second place, Craig Pullen
Second place, Craig Pullen
(Craig wasn’t returning on Sunday, so this picture was taken on Saturday)

Third place, Matt Vince
Third place, Matt Vince

Fourth place, Aid Cooper
Fourth place, Aid Cooper

Here are the full results:

The Big Flip 2017 Results
Pos Name
1 Martin Ayub
2 Craig Pullen
3 Matt Vince
4 Aid Cooper
5 Wayne Johns
6 John Parkins
7 Frederico Dominguez
8 Garry Speight
9 Tom Fletcher
10 Darren Ball
11 Ian Walmsley
12 Krzysztof Gwiazda
13 Helmut Langenbruch
14 Andrew Foster
15 Paul Garner UK
16 Tim Porter
16 David Dodds
19 Paul Brookfield
19 Colin Clunie
19 Harry Bolt
19 Kirk Sadler
22 Chris Edis
23 Richard Garbutt
24 Nick Hamill
25 Dan Lewell
27 Vicki Oxlade
27 Greg Mott
27 Stewart Judson
27 Steven Smith
31 David Dutton
31 John Gray
31 Matthew Sutcliffe
34 Dan Hardy
34 Dave Willcox
34 Peter Blakemore
36 Mike Kindler
39 Steven Kielty
39 Paul Pattinson
39 Simon Oxlade
39 Mark O’Rourke
39 Alan Syson
39 Malc Lashley
43 Christopher Wilson
45 Chris Miller
45 Paul Owen
45 Ailsa Clunie
47 Daniel Bradford
47 Julie Chambers
49 Stephen Sutcliffe
50 Kristian Rossi
51 Graeme Haynes
52 Emil ED Dreiborg

The final of The Big Flip brought Saturday’s activities to a close. Arcade Club would re-open on Sunday morning at 11am for day two of 8BitFlip.

Meanwhile, we enjoyed a few more drinks at the bar before heading off for a Chinese meal and more beers at a nice craft beer bar called The Trackside, which is a repurposed railway station which serves a nice selection of craft beers at very sensible prices of around £2.80 ($3.60/€3.35) for a proper 20oz pint.

The beer selection at The Trackside
The beer selection at The Trackside

With no trace of a hangover whatsoever, Sunday at 8BitFlip began at 11am with the qualifying round of The Old Flip, 8BitFlip’s classic tournament.

This tournament had a slightly unusual format.

Eight older machines were set up and entrants could choose to play any four of them in an attempt to get the highest score of the day on any one of them. If desired they could then replay any one of them using their ‘soft’ joker, where a better score replaced an earlier attempt, but a worse score was discarded.

The Old Flip machines
The Old Flip machines:
Jack in the Box, Bonebusters, Big House, Excalibur, Medusa, Flash Gordon, Tag Team Pinball and Spring Break

An entry cost £5, but If one entry was not enough, a second entry could also be purchased for another $5. Only the top scorer on each machine moved on to the semi-finals, athough if someone had the top score on more than one machine, the machine on which they had the greatest margin of victory would be the one which counted and the second-placed player on the other machine would progress instead.

The top players mid-way through The Old Flip
The top players mid-way through The Old Flip

I started off well, getting the top scores on both Flash Gordon and Jack in the Box. However, I misunderstood the qualifying format and thought all the game scores would be ranked (and with four good scores I thought I would be in a strong position).

Play in The Old Flip
Play in The Old Flip

However, as the qualifying period progressed my score on Flash Gordon was narrowly beaten, and then right at the end my Jack in the Box score was beaten too, putting me in second place on both games but without a top score qualifying position.

The eight who did make it through were Wayne Johns, Greg Mott, Matt Vince, David Dutton, Andrew Foster, Paul Garner, Dan Lewell and Tom Fletcher.

They played a pair of three-game matches with four players per group. Scores were 7-5-2-1 on each game, and the two players with the most points progressed to the final.

Paul plays in the semi-finals
Paul plays in the semi-finals

They were Matt Vince, Greg Mott, Andrew Foster and David Dutton.

The chosen games for the final were picked by the top three qualifiers and were Bonebusters, Medusa and Excalibur.

Bonebuster was chosen by David and it worked well for him, giving him the win and the full seven points. Andrew Foster was second, Greg Mott third and Matt Vince fourth.

Play then moved on to Greg’s choice of Medusa.

Andrew Foster plays Medusa in the final of The Old Flip
Andrew Foster plays Medusa in the final of The Old Flip

Despite putting up the top score in qualifying, Greg didn’t do so well on the same game in the final, only managing third place. Matt won the game, with David second and Andrew fourth.

David is exasperated as he fails to win with his last ball
David is exasperated as he fails to win with his last ball

David led with 12 points going into the third and final game, but Matt was close behind on 8 points. Andrew had 6 points and so was unlikely to win while Greg’s 4 points put him out of contention for the win but able to take second or lower if the result of the final game went his way.

That final game was on Excalibur and the outcome produced an interesting three-way tie. Andrew won, Matt was second, Greg third and David fourth. That meant David, Andrew and Matt all had 13 points and so had to play a deciding game on Jack in the Box.

The deciding game on Jack in the Box
The deciding game on Jack in the Box

David had a great last ball to take the win. Andrew looked like he was all set to win but had ot settle for second, while Matt ended in third. The prizes were presented by tournament director Carl.

Winner of The Old Flip 2017, David Dutton
Winner of The Old Flip 2017, David Dutton

Second place, Andrew Foster
Second place, Andrew Foster

Third place, Matt Vince
Third place, Matt Vince

Fourth place, Greg Mott
Fourth place, Greg Mott

Here are the full results:

The Old Flip 2017 Results
1 David Dutton
2 Andrew Foster
3 Matt Vince
4 Greg Mott
5 Tom Fletcher
6 Dan Lewell
7 Paul Garner UK
8 Wayne Johns
10 Martin Ayub
10 Nick Hamill
10 Ian Walmsley
10 Emil ED Dreiborg
13 Dave Willcox
13 Daniel Bradford
16 Mike Kindler
16 John Parkins
16 Phoebe Lewell
16 Ronnie P.
19 Stewart Judson
19 Kristian Rossi
22 Peter Blakemore
22 Tim Porter
22 Steven Kielty
24 Julie Chambers
24 Steve Akroyd
26 Chris Jones
27 Stephen Sutcliffe
28 Colin Clunie
29 Ailsa Clunie
30 Matthew Sutcliffe

With the tournament over, machines began to be broken down and visitors drifted away as another 8BitFlip event came to a close.

The venue of Arcade Club was much improved since last year’s inaugural 8BitFlip at the Bury location. The renovations made the second floor of Ela Mill a much more inviting location with better facilities and a wider range of games to play.

This, combined with the two tournaments made it a very worthwhile (if lengthy) trip for me. The social aspect of any event outweighs the games to play and we certainly had a couple of enjoyable evenings out on the town, catching up with old friends, enjoying the food, drinks and sights, and talking a lot of rubbish.

So, it was another thoroughly enjoyable pinball weekend thanks to the Northern Lights Pinball team and Arcade Club. I’ll certainly hope to be back next year for more of the same.

TEXAS PINBALL FESTIVAL 2017

Visitors to the Texas Pinball Festival 2017

Welcome to the start of our coverage of the Texas Pinball Festival 2017. We have been regular attendees to the TPF for many years, and we are back in the familiar surroundings of the Embassy Suites hotel in Frisco, Texas.

The weather here is usually pretty nice in March, but this year the weather on Friday turned to dark clouds and scattered showers amidst the sunny intervals.

The Embassy Suites in Frisco
The Embassy Suites in Frisco

Any doubts we were at the right hotel were soon dispelled
Any possible doubts we were at the right hotel were soon dispelled

Fortunately, the rain had cleared before a false fire alarm forced hotel guests outside while the fire marshall checked it was safe to return.

Two fire trucks showed up
Two fire trucks showed up

Apparently it wasn't a promotion for Ghostbusters pinball
Apparently it wasn’t a promotion for Ghostbusters pinball

The show opened at 5pm, but before that we got a behind-the-scenes look at the games and the people setting up.

Immediately we are through the door we meet Jaap, Tommy, Suzanne and Andrew
Immediately we are through the door we meet Jaap, Tommy, Suzanne and Andrew

Charlie from Spooky Pinball sets up the two The Jetsons pinballs along with a Rob Zombie and Domino's
Charlie from Spooky Pinball sets up the two The Jetsons pinballs
along with a Rob Zombie and Domino’s

Ultra-Violet light is often seen as detrimental to pinball artwork, but two games at the TPF are using UV to highlight playfield artwork and models.

UV lighting for Attack from Mars and Ghostbusters
UV lighting for Attack from Mars and Ghostbusters

And Attack from Mars is well represented on Chicago Gaming Company’s stand where three remake models are on display – one LE, one SE and one standard. They sit alongside a Medieval Madness remake.

The Chicago Gaming booth
The Chicago Gaming booth

Attack from Mars remake LE
Attack from Mars remake LE

Attack from Mars remake LE
Attack from Mars remake LE

Attack from Mars remake LE topper
Attack from Mars remake LE topper

Elsewhere in the hall, machines were being set up for the start of the show.

A display of home machines from Bally and Brunswick
A display of home machines from Bally and Brunswick

In other areas of the show hall, machines were being put together.

Assembling games for the show
Assembling games for the show

More games arriving
More games arriving

Just moving a game often creates problems
Just moving a game often creates problems

CoinTaker had three Alien games awaiting set-up
CoinTaker had three Alien games awaiting set-up

Marco had two Batman 66s and three Aerosmiths
Marco had two Batman 66s and three Aerosmiths

Wizard Enterprises were building their display of lighted pinball items
Wizard Enterprises were building their display of illuminated pinball items

Lots of pinball bling at Pinball Plating
Lots of pinball bling at Pinball Plating

Brett Butler of Clear Gem had generously brought his Batman 66 Super LE along for everyone to enjoy
Brett Butler of Clear Gem had generously brought his Batman 66 Super LE
along for everyone to enjoy

Multimorphic had a large display of eight P3 machines
Multimorphic had a large display of eight P3 machines

These were in addition to several P-ROC-based games
These were in addition to several P-ROC-based games

The tournaments were the first part of the show to open on Friday. Qualifying began at 11am in the tournament area at the front of the hall.

Tournament qualifying is under way
Tournament qualifying is under way

Tournament play on Friday afternoon
Tournament play on Friday afternoon

Tournament trophies up for grabs
Tournament trophies up for grabs

Top trophies
Top trophies

Trophies for the various divisions of play
Trophies for the various divisions of play

As usual, there was a raffle to win a new game
As usual, there was a raffle to win a new game

Lots of pinball swag available to buy
Lots of pinball swag available to buy

Registration for the show could be done online or in person at the ticket counter located just outside the hall.

The ticket counter
The ticket counter

Just along from the ticket counter was Rob Anthony’s room where he had his usual assortment of pinball parts and a board repair service.

Rob Anthony's Pinball Classics room
Rob Anthony’s Pinball Classics room

The TPF had a healthy schedule of seminars and screenings. They were mostly held in the seminar room at the far end of the building from where they would be streamed and recorded.

The seminar room
The seminar room

However, the very first seminar was held in the bar area at 6pm on Friday to coincide with the manager’s reception which provided free drinks and snacks to hotel guests.

6pm – So You Think You Know Pinball? – Jonathan Joosten and Martin Ayub

Jonathan and Martin ask the questions
Jonathan and Martin ask the questions

This pinball quiz was run by the Editor of Pinball News, Martin Ayub and the Editor of Pinball Magazine, Jonathan Joosten. They asked guests to choose between two possible answers to pinball-related questions. Those who picked the right answer moved on to the next round, and as soon as there were around five players left, they all drew tickets for one of the many prizes donated by sponsors.

Martin splits the players according to their answer choices
Martin splits the players according to their answer choices

At 7pm, the seminars moved to the main seminar room with Dennis Nordman revealing just what he had been working on for the past couple of years.

The seminar room audience
The seminar room audience

All the presentations in the seminar room were captured on a web stream. On Friday there was a problem with the internet connection which made live streaming impossible, but the stream was recorded and should appear on YouTube in due course.

7pm: Another Homerun From… – Dennis Nordman

Dennis Nordman
Dennis Nordman

Dennis revealed the pitch and bat game he and Paul Reno developed a couple of years ago. It uses an established gameplay style, but adds some new features and retains some pinball-like elements to the design. He also introduced the team who had worked on the game and a second ‘zombiefied’ version with different artwork and sound calls.

Dennis, Paul and the team
Dennis, Paul and the team

The team then unveiled the game, and the second variant with the zombie theme.

The baseball game is revealled
The baseball game is revealed

The zombie-fied version
The zombiefied version

Dennis with the game
Dennis with the game

Then came the seminar with the team from American Pinball.

8pm: American Pinball Update – American Pinball

The American Pinball team (L-R)
The American Pinball team (L-R)
Jeff Busch, Jim Thornton, Jolly Backer, Dhaval Vasani, Josh Kugler,
Joe Balcer & Scott Goldberg

The team was here to unveil their new Houdini game which is a total redesign from the John Popaduik version of the game showed at Pinball Expo in October. Since then, Joe Balcer has created his own game design and the title has also changed slightly from Houdini: Master Mystery to Houdini: Master of Mystery.

Before the reveal, Scott spoke about the company’s aims and the work they have been doing so far. Joe then talked about his concept for the game, some of the features and how they are linked to the theme, and introduced Jeff who created the artwork and Josh who programmed it.

Joe Balcer
Joe Balcer

The game is still very much a work-in-progress with many hardware, software and artwork changes expected before it goes into production. However, we do know that the game runs on a P-ROC board and this will remain in the production version, with the team saying it makes sense for a rapid start-up company like American Pinball to get off the ground with an established and capable system rather than trying to develop their own from scratch.

The game was then revealed.

Joe removes the covers from the game
Joe removes the covers from the game

American Pinball's Houdini: Master of Mystery
American Pinball’s Houdini: Master of Mystery

The game's backglass with the LCD monitor
The game’s backglass with the LCD monitor

There was one final seminar on Friday, and this was with the actor who played Flash Gordon in the movie of the same name.

9pm: Q&A with Flash Gordon actor Sam J. Jones

Sam spoke about his acting career including how he got the role in the Flash Gordon movie.

Sam J. Jones
Sam J. Jones

As it had been a long day and the session wasn’t strictly pinball-related we didn’t stay for the whole seminar. We also needed to prepare for Saturday’s full day of events which began bright and early at 8am.

8am: Swap Meet – DFW Pinball & Arcade Club

This regular part of the TPF takes place in the car park at the back of the hotel, and is the opportunity for casual sellers to offer games, parts, paperwork and other gaming-related items.

The Swap Meet at the rear of the hotel
The Swap Meet at the rear of the hotel

Manuals, parts bins and playfields
Manuals, parts bins and playfields

Whole games and assorted parts at the swap meet
Whole games and assorted parts for sale

Each new seller's wares are closely inspected
Each new seller’s wares are closely inspected

Previous years had seen rain and snow on the Saturday morning
Previous years had seen rain and snow on the Saturday morning,
but there was no such problems this year

Free pinball cabinets and backboxes
Free pinball cabinets and backboxes

The first of the day’s seminars began at 11am with Jim Schelberg’s latest Pinball in the Media presentation.

11am: Politically Provocative Pinball – Jim Schelberg

Jim Schelberg
Jim Schelberg

Jim showed a mix of classic and new media clips featuring pinball in one way or another, including several music videos and commercials.

12pm: Multimorphic and the P3: Game On! – Gerry Stellenberg

Before the seminar got under way, Gerry invited everyone to enjoy some Texan BBQ food for lunch which he generously provided for all audience members.

The queue for lunch
The queue for lunch

Potato, corn, sausage, beef, turkey, onions, chilies, pickles and bread, all with BBQ sauce
Potato, corn, sausage, beef, turkey, onions, chilies, pickles and bread,
all served with BBQ sauce

All washed down with ice tea (natural or sweetened)
All washed down with ice tea (natural or sweetened)

After many years detailing the development and benefits of the P3 pinball platform, this year Gerry was able to announce that the first production run of P3 machines.

Gerry announces details of the first production run
Gerry announces details of the first production run

He detailed how Multimorphic is working with a contract manufacturer in the Austin area so that the first run of machines and assemblies can be built, leading to the second run, orders for which were being taken now with expected delivery in Q3 2017. The first eight production machines were at the show set-up in various configurations to demonstrate the capabilities of the different playfield modules and games.

Gerry Stellenberg
Gerry Stellenberg

Gerry was joined on stage by Michael Ocean who uses the P-ROC and P3 to teach students to program a pinball game as well as working on some of the other P-ROC game projects out there, and BJ Wilson who talked about some of the P3 software features he has developed for Multimorphic.

Michael Ocean and BJ Wilson
Michael Ocean and BJ Wilson

Next onto the stage were two brothers with a long history in the pinball design business.

1pm: Growing up Ritchie – Mark and Steve Ritchie

Mark Ritchie and Steve Ritchie
Mark Ritchie and Steve Ritchie

Mark and Steve spoke about their upbringings, about how their father and mother behaved and instilled in them both certain values. They continued by describing how they each were introduced to arcade games and pinball in particular, and then how they both became involved in the pinball business, starting at Atari in California before moving to Chicago to join Williams.

Mark and Steve
Mark and Steve

They then took questions from the audience about events from their youth as well as the background to some of their more recent game projects.

Earlier in the day Cassandra Peterson, who is perhaps better known as her alter ego Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, was at the show to meet fans and sign autographs for $20 each.

A sizeable queue built up to meet Cassandra long before she arrived in the hall.

The line to meet Cassandra
The line to meet Cassandra

Cassandra signs Elvira-related items
Cassandra signs Elvira-related items

After her appearance in the show hall, Cassandra then joined Greg Freres and Dennis Nordman – the design and art team behind the two Elvira-themed games – to talk about the design processes in a panel discussion hosted by Charlie Emery.

2pm: Getting Up with Elvira – Cassandra Peterson, Dennis Nordman, Greg Freres & Charlie Emery

Charlie, Dennis, Cassandra and Greg
Charlie, Dennis, Cassandra and Greg

Greg and Dennis described how the idea for the first Elvira game – Elvira & The Party Monsters – came up, and how they developed the characters in the game to appear alongside Elvira.

Charlie, Dennis, Cassandra, Greg and a bunch of leapers
Charlie, Dennis, Cassandra, Greg are joined by a bunch of leapers

A packed seminar room
A packed seminar room

The big announcement was that Greg and Dennis’s second game following Whoa Nellie! would be their as-yet-unnamed third Elvira-themed game, following on from Elvira & the Party Monsters and Scared Stiff.

Dennis & Greg announced joining up with Elvira again at the seminar hosted by Charlie Emery
Dennis & Greg announced joining up with Elvira again
at the seminar hosted by Charlie Emery

No date for the game was announced, but it is expected to be built by Stern Pinball as one of their ‘studio’ titles.

Next onto the stage at Frisco was Jaap Nauta from Dutch Pinball.

3pm: Dutch Pinball Update – Jaap Nauta

There was a lot of news, rumour and speculation surrounding Dutch Pinball’s The Big Lebowski game, and Jaap was here to tell the story of what has happened to the both the game and the company.

Jaap Nauta of Dutch Pinball
Jaap Nauta of Dutch Pinball

Jaap related the history of the game, the agreements Dutch Pinball has with ARA to build the game, and how those agreements were broken when the price was increased by €1,000 and the agreement to build the remaining games as well as a number of Dutch Pinball’s second game was not kept.

He said eventually Dutch Pinball had enough and couldn’t give in to ARA’s demands, which put them in a stalemate situation where ARA had around 40 completed games in their factory but wouldn’t release them until the new, higher price per game was paid.

Jaap explained the Dutch legal process and said their intended way forward was to build their second title with a new contract manufacturer in the Netherlands called VDL, sell it, and raise enough operating capital to continue production of The Big Lebowski at VDL. Or maybe ARA would see reason and come to a deal.

That second title hadn’t been announced until the TPF, but now it was revealed as Bride of Pinbot 25th Anniversary.

The Bride of Pinbot 25th Anniversary logo
The Bride of Pinbot 25th Anniversary logo

This takes the Bride of Pinbot 2.0 ruleset and builds upon it to produce a complete game with a new cabinet and remade playfield incorporating the 2.0 modifications.

The playfield design is the same as the original Bride of Pinbot, but with updated inserts, display, lighting and sound. They plan to make up to 150 Super Limited Editions by the end of 2017, followed by a run of standard games and – hopefully – the remaining The Big Lebowski games.

The Bride of Pinbot 25th Anniversary translite
The Bride of Pinbot 25th Anniversary translite Click to expand

The Super LE’s would have 100 machines sent to North America and split between DP distributors CoinTaker and Nitro Pinball. The remaining 50 would go to the rest of the world. The first batch of 25 is scheduled for June 1017.

Bride of Pinbot 25th Anniversary
Bride of Pinbot 25th Anniversary

The next speaker was Andrew Heighway of Heighway Pinball.

4pm: Heighway Pinball Update – Andrew Heighway

Andrew Heighway
Andrew Heighway

Andrew was back at the TPF to bring the latest news from the Heighway Pinball factory in south Wales and update us on progress on the company’s Alien Pinball title. Three Alien Pinball machines were in the show hall for guests to play.

The three Alien Pinball machines in the show hall
The three Alien Pinball machines in the show hall

Andrew talked about the new facilities at the company’s factory in Ebbw Vale and their production schedule for both Alien and Full Throttle. You can see Andrew show us around the Heighway Pinball factory in our exclusive Pinball News video shot right before the Texas show.

The next speaker at this year’s TPF was Jack Guarnieri of Jersey Jack Pinball.

5pm: Jersey Jack Pinball Update – Jack Guarnieri

Jack Guarnieri
Jack Guarnieri

Jack updated the seminar audience on the latest happenings at the Jersey Jack Pinball factory, including production details of The Wizard of Oz, The Hobbit, and shorty, Dialed In!. Regarding Dialed In!, Jack told how he and game designer Pat Lawlor met and agreed to collaborate on creating the company’s third title.

Jack was joined on stage by Eric Meunier and Butch Peel from JJP who spoke about the technical aspects of the game, including the lighting system and the upcoming manual for The Hobbit.

Eric Meunier and Butch Peel
Eric Meunier and Butch Peel

After Jack’s seminar there was an autograph session on a table outside the seminar hall. People queued with items to be signed – such as translites, backglasses, playfields and flyers – or simply to meet the pinball celebrities and talk about their work.

The queue for the autograph table
The queue for the autograph table

John Trudeau signs a Ghostbusters plastic
John Trudeau signs a Ghostbusters plastic

Batman 66 artist Christopher Franchi signs a flyer for the game
Batman 66 artist Christopher Franchi signs a flyer for the game

Steve Ritchie, Mark Ritchie and George Gomez greet guests to the autograph session
Steve Ritchie, Mark Ritchie and George Gomez greet guests to the autograph table

Once the signing session was over, George Gomez took to the stage in the seminar room for his talk about the happenings at Stern Pinball.

7pm: Stern Pinball Update – George Gomez

George Gomez
George Gomez

George told the audience about the games Stern Pinball currently has in production, and the different types of games the company produces which he separated into ‘Cornerstone’ titles – regular in-house designs – Studio Games brought to the company by external designers, Vault Titles remade from previous title when demand is seen, The Pin home models, Contract Games made for, and marketed by other companies, Virtual Games such as the Stern Pinball Arcade with Farsight, and their accessories business selling mods, clothing, collectibles and the like.

George describes the different strands of the business
George describes the different strands of the business

After George there was a break from the seminar format with the world premier of a new pinball documentary.

8pm: Official World Premier of ‘Things That Go Bump In the Night: The Spooky Pinball Story’

The full-length documentary details the creation and business expansion of Spooky Pinball in Benton, Wisconsin, USA through interviews with the team involved in starting and running the business, as well as those creating the games.

Charlie Emery talks about founding the company
Charlie Emery talks about founding the company

The film was made by Joel and Dana Reeves and they were here to talk about its creation, from concept to shooting and editing.

Joel and Dana Reeves
Joel and Dana Reeves

The audience for the documentary screening
The audience for the documentary screening

After the documentary screening, there was a panel discussion with members of the Spooky team where the company’s next title was revealed as Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle. A teaser video has also been produced.

For those otherwise engaged on Saturday evening, the documentary was repeated in the seminar hall at 10am on Sunday morning.

Let’s return to the main show hall and see how the TPF looked on Saturday evening.

Into the main show hall
Into the main show hall

Nicolas and Timothie Manaud from Pinsound
Nicolas and Timothie Manaud from Pinsound

They had several games fitted with PinSound boards
They had several games fitted with PinSound boards

Including these Last Actionn Hero and Tommy games
Including these Last Action Hero and Tommy games

Game Over Videogames had classic consoles, handhelds and games
Game Over Videogames had classic consoles, handhelds and games

Flip N Out Pinball had their Escalera stair-climbing handtrucks
Flip N Out Pinball had their Escalera stair-climbing handtrucks

This stall was selling pinball items to raise money for the family of Jimmy Hefne, owner of Metro Pinball and Video who passed away in October 2016
This stall was selling pinball items to raise money for the family of Jimmy Hefner, owner of Metro Pinball and Video who passed away in October 2016

Spooky Pinball brought a Rob Zombie's Spookshow International, two The Jetsons and a Domino's Pizza pinball
Spooky Pinball brought a Rob Zombie’s Spookshow International,
two The Jetsons and a Domino’s Pizza pinball

The Jetsons
The Jetsons

The Spooky Pinball stand
The Spooky Pinball stand

KAHR.US Circuits were selling power supply boards amd volume controls for Williams games
KAHR.US Circuits were selling power supply boards and volume controls for Williams games

Starship Fantasy had their usual large selection of pinball ramps, playfields and backglasses
Starship Fantasy had their usual large selection of pinball ramps, playfields and backglasses

Tim at Mezel Mods had numerous ways to enhance your game
Tim at Mezel Mods had numerous ways to enhance your game

Lermods also wanted to make your game extra-special
Lermods also wanted to make your game extra-special

Some of Lermods illuminated add-ons
Some of Lermods illuminated add-ons

Kimball's Pinballs was showing two super-blinged games
Kimball’s Pinballs was showing two super-blinged games

Their Ghostbusters had numerous lighting enhancements
Their Ghostbusters had numerous lighting enhancements

Playing games can be thirsty work, so there was a bar to provide refreshments
Playing games can be thirsty work, so there was a bar to provide refreshments

For more solid refreshment there was also a snack bar
For more solid refreshment there was also a snack bar

Prices at the snack bar
Prices at the snack bar

Marco Specialties had three Aerosmith and two Batman 66 games
Marco Specialties had three Aerosmith and two Batman 66 games

Enjoying the new Aerosmith game on the Marco stand
Enjoying the new Aerosmith game on the Marco stand

Marco Specialties also had a small selection of parts available
Marco also had a small selection of parts available

Along with the games and parts Marco Specialties had Stern clothing
Along with the games and parts Marco had Stern clothing

The Gulf Coast Pinball Club had a nice selection of quality games to play
The Gulf Coast Pinball Club had a nice selection of quality games to play

Pinballz were promoting their three Austin arcade locations
Pinballz were promoting their three Austin arcade locations

Pinball Plating has lots of shiny and vivid pinball trim parts
Pinball Plating has lots of shiny and vivid pinball trim parts

Chrome and gold finishes
Chrome and gold finishes

Legs of many colours
Legs of many colours

Double Danger had a big range of pinball T-shirts
Double Danger had a big range of pinball T-shirts

Devin Lawson of Spicy Donut was showing her artwork prints and posters
Devin Lawson of Spicy Donut was showing her artwork prints and posters

Total Pinball Restorations brought their Frontier and Flash Gordon projects
Total Pinball Restorations brought their Frontier and Flash Gordon projects

The DFW Pinball Arcade Club has a great display of pinballs and videos
The DFW Pinball Arcade Club has a great display of pinballs and videos

KingPin Games had the newest JJP titles
KingPin Games had the newest JJP titles

KingPin Games had two Dialed In! games which were in constant demand
KingPin Games had two Dialed In! games which were in constant demand

Fun! had a line-up of new and classic games
Fun! had a line-up of new and classic games

Fun! featured new Stern and JJP titles
Fun! featured new Stern and JJP titles

Fun! were also showing the new Stern Pinball HD anti-glare glass
Fun! were also showing the new Stern Pinball HD anti-glare glass

Here's a side-by-side comparison (HD glass on the left)
Here’s a side-by-side comparison (HD glass on the left) Click to expand

Fun! were also selling the new Attack from Mars remakes at $7,999 for the LE and $7,299 for the special edition
Fun! were also selling the new Attack from Mars remakes at $7,999 for the LE and $7,299 for the special edition

Both had the high-resolution colour graphics
Both had the large high-resolution colour graphics, although the standard edition at $6,499 has the original smaller monochrome display

Although there were some glitches, they generally looked very attractive
Although there were some glitches, they generally looked very attractive

A look under the playfield
A look under the playfield

American Pinball were debuting their Houdini game at the TPF
American Pinball were debuting their Houdini game at the TPF

Game designer Joe Balcer and programmer Josh Kugler were on hand to talk about the game
Game designer Joe Balcer and programmer Josh Kugler were on hand to talk about the game

There were long lines to play the two Houdini games
There were long lines to play the two Houdini games

It's not all new games at the show
It’s not all new games at the show

You never know who you'll meet at the TPF
You never know who you’ll meet at the TPF

Pinball Side Mirrors had some demonstrator games to showcase their products
Pinball Side Mirrors had some demonstrator games to showcase their products

Comic Wreck had books, posters and other prints of sci-fi or horror themes
Comic Wreck had books, posters and other prints of sci-fi and horror themes

The Vector crew had an nice mix of electromechanical pinball and arcade games
The Vector crew had an nice mix of electromechanical pinball and modern arcade games

This Polynesia game looked interesting but sadly seemed to be out of order throughout the show
This Polynesia game on the Vector stand looked interesting but sadly seemed to be out-of-order throughout the show

Bob Herbison had some more of his wonderful EM restorations
Bob Herbison had some more of his wonderful EM restorations

This stand at the back of the hall is a regular fixture selling assorted marquees as well as manuals, plastics and all kinds of gaming paraphernalia
This stand at the back of the hall is a regular TPF fixture selling assorted marquees as well as manuals, plastics and all kinds of gaming paraphernalia

Coin Taker had their regular LEDs but also games from Heighway Pinball and Dutch Pinball
Coin Taker had their regular LEDs but also games from both Heighway Pinball and Dutch Pinball

There were three Alien pinballsto play
There were three Alien pinballs to play

The long line to play them remained throughout the show
The long line to play them remained throughout the show

CoinTaker also has the Dutch Pinball Brideo fo Pinbot 2.0 on which the new 25th Anniversary edition will be based
CoinTaker also has the Dutch Pinball Bride of Pinbot 2.0 upon which the new 25th Anniversary edition will be based

Pinball Refinery had some nicely upgraded games on their stand
Pinball Refinery had some nicely upgraded games on their stand

Chrome plating, powder coating, additional lighting and more
Chrome plating, powder coating, additional lighting and more

Mirco Steffen was at the TPF selling reproduction playfields
Mirco Steffen was at the TPF selling reproduction playfields

Pinball Wheezer were selling pinball appareil and cup holders
Pinball Wheezer were selling pinball apparel and cup holders

Tilt Graphics were promoting their big range of cabinet interior decals
Tilt Graphics were promoting their big range of cabinet interior decals

William 'Bubba' Flint was presenting a selection of his artworks
William ‘Bubba’ Flint was presenting a selection of his artworks

Dennis Nordman's Gizmo Game Design presented the two pitch and bat games
Dennis Nordman, Paul Reno and Tom Taylor’s Gizmo Game Design company presented their two pitch and bat games

Titan Pinball were selling their silicone pinball 'rubbers'
Titan Pinball were selling their silicone pinball ‘rubbers’

The History of Pinball exhibit featured an array of pre-flipper mechanical games
The History of Pinball exhibit featured an array of pre-flipper mechanical games

No power needed to play these games
No power needed to play these games

Goofy and Fleet
Goofy and Fleet

Two table-top games
Two table-top games

Sam J. Jones was often to be found on his stand signing autographs and talking to guests
Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon) was often to be found on his stand signing autographs and talking to guests

The Multimorphic stand was showing multiple P3 machines in various configurations to show off its capabilities
The Multimorphic stand was showing multiple P3 machines in various configurations to show off its capabilities

Next to the Multimorphic stand was a row of P-ROC-powered custom games including this work-in-progress Total Annhiliation machine...
Next to the Multimorphic stand was a row of P-ROC-powered custom games including this original work-in-progress Total Annihilation machine…

...and two Buffy the Vampire Slayer machines
…and two Buffy the Vampire Slayer conversion games

Doom was another P-ROC custom game on display
Doom was another P-ROC custom game on display

The unreleased third Pinball 2000 title Wizard Blocks is being made using a P-ROC
The un-released and un-finished third Pinball 2000 title, Wizard Blocks, is being made using a P-ROC

Passionately Rivalicious had a big selection of sports clothing
Passionately Rivalicious had a big selection of sports clothing

This perspex Super Straight was a popular attraction
This Perspex Super Straight was a popular attraction

The games were pretty busy throughout the show
The games were pretty busy throughout the show

Although it was mostly about the pinball, there were plenty of video games too
Although it was mostly about the pinball, there were plenty of video games too

Wizard Enterprises were showing their pop bumper nightlights and illuminated backglasses
Wizard Enterprises were showing their pop bumper night lights and framed illuminated backglasses

Rockin' Robin were selling pop art posters
Rockin’ Robin were selling pop art posters

More shiny bling for your game at Pinball Plating and More
More shiny bling for your game at Pinball Plating and More

If you wanted an oscilliscope, multimeter, wave generator, logic probe or othertest equipment, Arcade Components had you covered
If you wanted an oscilloscope, multimeter, wave generator, logic probe or other test equipment, Arcade Components had you covered

It's almost a tradition to pair these two at any pinball show
It’s almost a tradition to pair these two at any pinball show

VP Cabs had a gazebo display of assorted virtual pinball cabinets
VP Cabs had a gazebo display of assorted virtual pinball cabinets

Here’s our exclusive Thirty Minute Tour video of the show hall which was shot on Sunday morning.

The Pinball News Thirty Minute Tour of the Texas Pinball Festival 2017

At the end of the show on Sunday afternoon, there were numerous presentations for the Best-in-Show awards in various categories at a ceremony hosted by Ed Vanderveen and Bill Morrison.

Plaques and rosettes for the winners
Plaques and rosettes for the winners

Bill announces the winners
Bill announces the winners

The awards were chosen by the TPF team of Bill Morrison, Keith Holbrook, Scott Martin and Rich Wiski and went to:

Best Video Game
Star Wars – Kevin Moore

 

Best Antique
World’s Fair Jigsaw – Chris Schnick

 

Best 1960s
Cow Poke – Howard Isaacson

 

Best 1970s EM
Grand Prix – Lonnie & Robin McDonald

 

Best 1970s Solid State
Night Rider – Jeff Bolich

 

Best 1980s
Fathom – Wesley Goodin

 

Best 1990s
Congo – Lonny Payne

 

Best Modern
Iron Man – Gary Stuart

 

Best Original
Farfalla – Josh & Jennifer Tidmore

 

Best Restoration
Freddy: A Nightmare on Elm Street
– West Texas Ballers

 

Best Custom
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
– David Nelson

 

Grand Champion
The Machine: Bride of Pinbot
– Kevin Moore

 

Kevin Moore receives his Grand Champion award
Kevin Moore receives his Grand Champion award

The winning game
The winning game with hand-painted artwork

The show finished with draws for cash prizes for those who brought machines, and the grand Pinball for Patriots prize draw for a virtual pinball from VP Cabs.

VP Cabs' virtual pinball machine
VP Cabs’ virtual pinball machine

Ed looks for a volunteer to draw the prize
Ed looks for a volunteer to draw the prize

The tickets are given a spin
The tickets are given a spin

The winning ticket is picked
The winning ticket is picked

The lucky winner takes home the VP Cabs game
The lucky winner takes home the VP Cabs game

The show then wrapped up and the breakdown of machines and stands could begin.

Show's over folks!
Show’s over folks!

Load 'em up!
Load ’em up!

We’ll be back with to complete this report with the results of the tournaments and our closing thoughts, but until then we’ll just thank the Texas Pinball Festival organisers Ed, Kim, Paul and Ken for their help and hospitality.

Ed & Kim Vanderveen, Paul McKinney and Ken Kemp
Ed & Kim Vanderveen, Paul McKinney and Ken Kemp

ITALIAN PINBALL OPEN 2017

Players in the IPO 2017

A new event in a new location, and both dedicated to sports pinball.

It is the Italian Pinball Open (IPO) – the Italian national pinball championship – organised by IFPA Italia at the showroom of Double Pinball, the new Italian company exclusively dedicated to pinball which became exclusive supplier of Jersey Jack pinballs for Italy and of spare parts for all kinds of games.

The Double Pinball premises
The Double Pinball premises

A selection of the games at Double Pinball
A selection of the games at Double Pinball

The tournament took place on the weekend of 25th & 26th March in the Assago office of the company, close to Milan, and as well as declaring the new Italian champion of sports pinball, the tournament also represented the only Italian stage of the European Championship Series or ECS.

The trophy for the Italian Champion
The trophy for the Italian Champion

Play in the IPO 2017
Play in the IPO 2017

The Swiss player Levente Tregova won the competition, prevailing out of the 64 players in the competition who came from all over the country as well as several other nations, including Switzerland, Poland and Hungary.

Players from several countries competed
Players from several countries competed

The path to winning the IPO
The path to winning the IPO

Winner of the IPO 2017, Levente Tregova
Winner of the IPO 2017, Levente Tregova

Second place went to the Italian Roberto Pedroni, who thus becomes the 2017 Champion of Italy, by virtue of his position as the highest finishing Italian player in the final IPO ranking. The player from Milan ending an impressive March, having triumphed just few days earlier at the Spring Pinball Tournament at ENADA, in Rimini.

Second place and Champion of Italy, Roberto Pedroni
Second place and Champion of Italy, Roberto Pedroni

Third place went to Davide Della Ianna and fourth place for Gabriele Tedeschi from Rome.

IPO players
Some of the players in the IPO

A second side tournament also took place during the two days of sports pinball in Milan, won by Manuel Cereda from Milan. Second place went to the Venetian Paolo Luise and Roberto Pedroni placing again, ending here in third place.