PINTASTIC 2017

Pintastic 2017

On July 6, 7 and 8, 2017, over 2,000 people converged at the crossroads of New England, USA to experience the region’s only major pinball exposition, the Pintastic Pinball and Game Room Expo.

Each facet of the show is represented by an icon
Each facet of the show is represented by an icon

Dave Marston talks with the WSKB morning team
Dave Marston talks with the WSKB morning team

Back for its third year in 2017 at the only lakeside venue in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, the Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center, Pintastic featured over 200 pinball machines from the 1950s right up to this year’s new releases, including the world premiere of the highly-anticipated Star Wars machine from Stern Pinball!

There were many hard-to- find games, sometimes even in duplicate
There were many hard-to- find games, sometimes even in duplicate

Many recent games were in two different rooms for day and night shifts, allowing more playing time
Many recent games were in two different rooms for day and night shifts,
allowing more playing time

New England band Aerosmith had to be represented at a New England show while in the background, the booth where buyers could get at-show financing
New England band Aerosmith had to be represented at a New England show
while in the background, the booth where buyers could get at-show financing

The world premiere of Stern's Star Wars pinball
The world premiere of Stern’s Star Wars pinball

There were several Dialed In! games, both Pro and Limited Edition
There were several Dialed In! games, both Pro and Limited Edition

There was a generous supply of stools to support up-and- coming players
There was a generous supply of stools to support up-and-coming players

Panorama of the main free-play room where EMs dominate the wall positions
Panorama of the main free-play room where EMs dominate the wall positions

There were technicians in abundance. Can you identify this game?
There were technicians in abundance. Can you identify this game?

Not all games were coin-op
Not all games were coin-op

The hotel served food and drinks right outside the main free-play room
The hotel served food and drinks right outside the main free-play room

Enthusiastic guests and collectors delighted at the chance to witness over eighty years’ of pinball innovation, as well as classic video games, entertainment for kids, a massive vendor hall featuring the coolest ideas for your home and game room, pinball and video game tournaments for adults and kids, pinball machine auctions, an outdoor flea market in strolling distance of Cedar Lake, as well as informative seminars and lively entertainment, all in one convenient and well-equipped venue.

There were some vendors selling pop culture items
There were some vendors selling pop culture items

Pintastic New England has several T-shirt styles
Pintastic New England has several T-shirt styles

There were re-themed games at the show, and the ingredients to start your own re-theme
There were re-themed games at the show,
and the ingredients to start your own re-theme

PinBox 3000 kits were for sale at the Cardboard Teck booth
PinBox 3000 kits were for sale at the Cardboard Teck booth

The vendor hall had some free-play games in the middle, and the tournaments at the back
The vendor hall had some free-play games in the middle
and the tournaments at the back

The tournament games
The tournament games

Tournament prizes and Pintastic pint glasses
Tournament prizes and Pintastic pint glasses

Pintastic Founder Gabriel D'Annunzio congratulates the winner of the Kids' Tournament
Pintastic Founder Gabriel D’Annunzio congratulates the winner of the Kids’ Tournament

Entertainers were brought in to broaden the family appeal
Entertainers were brought in to broaden the family appeal

After the outdoor flea market closed, fire juggler Eric Girardi stoked the crowd
After the outdoor flea market closed, fire juggler Eric Girardi stoked the crowd

Pintastic was thrilled to welcome honored guests and seminar presenters including legendary game designer Barry Oursler, pinball artist Jeremy ‘Zombie Yeti’ Packer, Todd Tuckey of TNT Amusements, pinball sound and music creator David Thiel, and Butch Peel of Jersey Jack Pinball clued us in on the intricacies of Dialed In!

Jeremy 'Zombie Yeti' Packer gives his first-ever solo pinball seminar
Jeremy ‘Zombie Yeti’ Packer gives his first-ever solo pinball seminar

Todd Tuckey makes a rare visit to a distant pinball show - his seminar included many video clips, of course
Todd Tuckey makes a rare visit to a distant pinball show
– his seminar included many video clips, of course

Free rectangular pizza at the Jersey Jack update seminar
Free rectangular pizza at the Jersey Jack update seminar

Butch Peel of Jersey Jack Pinball gave a seminar on Dialed In! that included holding a video camera inside the game
Butch Peel of Jersey Jack Pinball gave a seminar on Dialed In! that included
holding a video camera inside the game

Barry Oursler and Jeremy Packer start the autograph session. The poster on the table was done by Packer for the Pintastic show
Barry Oursler and Jeremy Packer start the autograph session.
The poster on the table was done by Packer for the Pintastic show

Pintastic and its guests also supported several charities during the event including the Worcester County Food Bank, Project Pinball, The 200 Foundation, and The Andrea Ritz Clinics of Paraguay through a charity auction and several games set up for paid play.

Money was raised for several charities, including an auction of this donated machine
Money was raised for several charities, including an auction of this donated machine

There was a pick-your- prize raffle
There was a pick-your- prize raffle

Folks at this year’s show were particularly excited to get their flipping fingers on Stern’s new Aerosmith table, the John Trudeau-designed Ghostbusters, Pat Lawlor’s Dialed In! from Jersey Jack and of course, the belle of the ball was Stern’s new Star Wars table!

Visitors came from the six New England states and well beyond
Visitors came from the six New England states and well beyond

Stay tuned for next year’s dates coming soon and visit the website Pintastic at pintasticnewengland.com.

ART & SCIENCE OF PINBALL EXHIBITION

We have reported on a number of pinball exhibitions in the past, but a new one has recent opened at the Chabot Space & Science Center in Northern California. Scott Horton tells us about it.

The science, engineering, design, whimsy and style covering nearly 200 years of the evolution of pinball will be featured in a new exhibition through September 24, 2017 at Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland, CA.

The Art & Science of Pinball Exhibition
The Art & Science of Pinball Exhibition

Co-curated by Michael Schiess and Melissa Harmon of the Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda, The Art and Science of Pinball careens from bagatelle boards to the sophisticated contemporary machines.

Thirty-five pinball machines – the public can play all but two of them – are featured, from Parlor Bagatelle and Surf Queens, early flipperless games, all the way to the Hobbit from 2016. In addition, two see-through machine, models and diagrams that de-mystify and explain how the machines work and a full complement of public activities and programs will be presented through the exhibition run.

Thirty-three pinballs at the exhibition are available to play
Thirty-three pinballs at the exhibition are available to play

During the exhibition, Chabot Space & Science Center will be energized with the sounds of bells, buzzers and bumpers as pinball machines old and new fill the space and the public can enjoy an adrenaline rush learning about science in a completely new, interactive way. Pinball’s compelling mix of skill and chance together with increasingly ingenious and complex designs, engineering, science and art have made it enduringly popular for two centuries.

Some of the exhibits demonstrating the science of pinball
Some of the exhibits demonstrating the science of pinball

The Art and Science of Pinball unpacks the historical roots and the science and art behind the gravity-defying game using a selection of machines the public can actually play and learn about.

Score and credit reels explained
Score and credit reels explained

“Pinball is an amazing American art form, interactive kinetic art that is pay to play,” says exhibition co-curator Michael Schiess. “Its aesthetics are rooted in attraction and distraction as an attempt to remove coins from the pockets of what started out as a predominately male audience.  At first, the bright colors, flashing lights, bells, chimes and wild action of the ball zipping around the playfield brings an excitement to the player. Slowly, you realize the thing that enticed you to put a coin in and try your skill and luck is designed to distract and impede your abilities. But it does it in such a fun, entertaining way you don’t even care.”

Seeing how the game functions with the Visible Pinball
Seeing how the game functions with the Visible Pinball

Co-curator Melissa Harmon adds, “The Art and Science of Pinball tells stories on many levels.   Visitors view the fun and fantasy shown in the art, leading them to think creatively about the social situations at the time the machine was made.  They have a scientific vision of how pinball mechanisms evolved from pins in a board, and complexity grew over the last century. Then the visitor becomes a player and makes his or her own flashy combinations of silver ball magic!  The Chabot Space and Science Center is a great place for this exhibit, extending people’s imaginations from gaming into the final frontier, outer space.”

The exhibition runs until September 24th
The exhibition runs until September 24th

For information on the The Art and Science of Pinball exhibition visit www.chabotspace.org.

FLIP FLIP, DING DING

Call it fate, call it serendipity, but whatever it was, it was a nice surprise to stumble over Flip Flip, Ding Ding on the way back from a nice meal at Stellar Pizza in Georgetown, south of Seattle.

We were staying in Georgetown and using it as a base to explore the greater Seattle region prior to the Northwest Pinball & Arcade Show. Hotels in central Seattle are notoriously expensive, so we picked the Georgetown Inn as a good compromise location.

Greetings from Georgetown
Greetings from Georgetown

Georgetown is an up-and-coming suburb which has that ‘shabby-chic’ semi-industrial feel to it. Sitting in the shadow of the I-5 to the east and bounded by Boeing Field to the south, the Duwamish Waterway to the west and the BNSF railroad to the north, it looks rougher than it feels.

Former home of the Rainier Brewery, Georgetown is now home to several newer beer makers, including Elysian Brewing, Machine House Brewery, Georgetown Brewery, Lowercase Brewing, Counterbalance Brewing and Jellyfish Brewing.

On our way back to the hotel from Airport Way on Sunday night, we spotted what looked like a pinball machine in the window of a distant shop unit on 12th Ave S.

12th Ave S in Georgetown
12th Ave S in Georgetown

Upon closer investigation, we discovered it was actually the well-known Flip Flip, Ding Ding pinball bar/arcade. We were so unprepared we didn’t even have our good camera with us, so please excuse the mobile phone pictures here.

Flip Flip, Ding Ding
Flip Flip, Ding Ding

We had heard good things about Flip Flip, Ding Ding, so wasted no time investigating what they had to offer.

Seattle, like much of the Pacific Northwest of the US, has a seemingly unquenchable thirst for both craft beer and pinball. So any bar/arcade hoping to succeed here needs to have plentiful supplies of both.

First, to the beer. Flip Flip, Ding Ding has eight taps mostly dedicated to local craft beers but with a nod to the staples such as Bud Light.

The bar
The bar

The draft beer selection

Additional cans are available from their large fridges.

The refrigerators next to the bar
The refrigerators next to the bar

The bar area is suitably functional and characterful, featuring numerous bumper stickers offering words of wisdom to patrons.

Sobering thoughts on the bar front
Sobering thoughts on the bar front

And so onto the games.

Flip Flip, Ding Ding has a mix of pinball and videos, with pinball dominating as you might expect from the name. We counted twenty-seven pinballs in total:

Addams Family, The
Atlantis
Black Knight 2000
Buccaneer
Champion Pub, The
Circus Voltaire
Diner
Earthshaker!
Fire!
Funhouse
Game of Thrones
Grand Lizard
Judge Dredd
No Good Gofers*
Phantom of the Opera
Pinbot
Robocop
Rollercoaster Tycoon
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Starship Troopers
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Twilight Zone
Walking Dead, The
Wheel of Fortune
Whirlwind
World Cup Soccer
Xenon

*indicates machine not working

Wheel of Fortune, Judge Dredd and Star Trek: The Next Generation
Wheel of Fortune, Judge Dredd and Star Trek: The Next Generation

Grand Lizard and Fire!
Grand Lizard and Fire!

The business’s floor area is not huge, so the games are split between two floors with the addition of a side room containing another eight machines. We found the pinballs to be in good condition with reasonable tilt settings and priced even quite conservatively. The all take quarters (there’s a change machine by the stairs) and were mostly 50c a game.

The Champion Pub, Phantom of the Opera and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The Champion Pub, Phantom of the Opera and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Diner, No Good Gofers and Atlantis
Diner, No Good Gofers and Atlantis

Xenon, Pinbot, Starship Troopers and Rollercoaster Tycoon
Xenon, Pinbot, Starship Troopers and Rollercoaster Tycoon

Videos mixed in with World Cup Soccer, Robocop, Black Knight 2000 and Earthshaker!
Videos mixed in with World Cup Soccer, Robocop, Black Knight 2000 and Earthshaker!

More videos - a multi-game cabinet and Mario Bros.
More videos – a multi-game cabinet and Mario Bros.

A multi-player Hydro Thunder
A multi-player Hydro Thunder

As befits the area, there’s a cool and laid-back vibe at Flip Flip, Ding Ding, with customers spilling out onto the street or just sitting at the bar, ignoring all the games surrounding them.

There are plenty of food options at neighbouring restaurants, at the end of the street, and along Airport Way, from great burritos to multiple pizza choices and some solid burger combinations.

Although everything is very casual here, if you want something a little more organised they run a monthly pingolf tournament at 1pm on the last Sunday of each month. It’s $10 to enter with a limit of 36 players.

If you can’t make that date, other tournaments are often held here too, along with league meetings.

Flip Flip, Ding Ding is an unassuming but welcoming place to visit. It’s a short way outside the centre of Seattle, but a 124 bus or a $10 taxi ride quickly gets you there.

It’s the essence of a good pinball bar – great games and great drinks in a truly fun atmosphere.