EAG INTERNATIONAL 2017

The show hall

The first major trade show of the year is traditionally held in London and now goes by the name EAG International. It is held at the ExCel London Exhibition Centre which is in the Docklands area of East London.

The ExCel London Exhibition Centre
The ExCel London Exhibition Centre

The exhibition last three days – Tuesday to Thursday – with a welcome party held on the Wednesday evening. We visited for just the first day, getting there around 10:30am at which point hall N2 was still relatively quiet.

The empty aisles at the show on Tuesday morning
The empty aisles at the show on Tuesday morning

Things certainly got busier as the day wore on, but the show did seem noticeably quieter than previous years. That may have changed on the second and third days, and the number of exhibitors seemed consistent with last year.

The EAG International 2017 show
The EAG International 2017 show

Despite the plethora of amusement machines on display, we were at EAG International for the pinballs, and the show was a good opportunity to play the latest titles.

We’ll start at the Electrocoin stand where Stern Pinball – represented by Gary Stern and Dave Peterson – were showing three machines.

The Electrocoin stand
The Electrocoin stand
The Stern Pinball distributor had three pinballs
The Stern Pinball distributor had three pinballs

The newest of the three was Aerosmith which was having its European premiere at the show.

Stern Pinball's Aerosmith Pro model
Stern Pinball’s Aerosmith Pro model

We have several high-resolution pictures of the game below, plus we have a five minute video of the game being played, showing you the shots, the basic rules and the new LCD animations.

The Aerosmith translite
The Aerosmith translite
The display and speaker panel
The display and speaker panel
The opening song selection screen
The opening song selection screen
The back of the playfield
The back of the playfield
The lower part of the playfield
The lower part of the playfield
The long right ramp
The long right ramp
Visitors from across Europe were enjoying the games
Visitors from across Europe were enjoying the games

Next door to Aerosmith was a Premium Batman 66. From talking to players, they unanimously preferred the Aerosmith to the Batman 66, with the latter feeling more like a Pro-level game than a Premium model.

Batman 66 Premium
Batman 66 Premium

The Batman 66 did have a number of nice touches to it though, especially in the display animations.

If a player gets a high score, the information is shown as a newspaper front page.

Player two gets a high score
Player two gets a high score
Once the name is entered
Once the name is entered

The match sequence is then shown on the Bat Computer, using old-style Nixie tubes for the digits.

The match sequence
The match sequence

Batman seems to be an enduring theme, with the Caped Crusader popping up in all kinds of places at the show, including on slot machines.

Batman slot machines
Batman slot machines

The third machine was a Ghostbusters Pro.

Ghostbusters Pro
Ghostbusters Pro

Before we move on though, Gary Stern took time out to show us what’s inside the new backbox of Stern Pinball’s games. We see the new Spike 2 board, the LCD panel design, the backbox lighting and much more.

At the front of the hall was the Heighway Pinball stand, where they had two Alien games and three Full Throttle machines.

Full Throttles on the Heighway Pinball stand
Full Throttles on the Heighway Pinball stand
The two Alien games
The two Alien games

The Alien machines were not playable while we were there, although they could be played later on the second day and then on the third day too. However, we did take some pictures of the playfield.

The Xenomorph head and third monitor
The Xenomorph head and third monitor
The pop bumpers area
The pop bumpers area
The mid-left area
The mid-left area
The upper part of the playfield
The upper part of the playfield
The central part of the playfield
The central part of the playfield
The lower part of the playfield
The lower part of the playfield
The whole playfield
The whole playfield

Heighway and Stern were the only companies exhibiting real full-size pinball machines. As usual though, there were several pinball-like games on display at vendor stands around the hall.

Here’s our round-up of them.

Mini-pinball games
Mini-pinball games
Mini-pinball games
Mini-pinball games
Mini-pinball games
Mini-pinball games
Mini-pinball games
Mini-pinball games

Then there were the larger games with flipper bats.

UFO Ice Hockey, with flippers
UFO Ice Hockey, with flippers
Yours for a just £1,995 plus tax
Yours for a just £1,995 plus tax
This Rockin' and Rollin's game also had large flipper bats
This Rockin’ and Rollin’s game also had large flipper bats

The Hazel Electronics stand next to Heighway Pinball also had a pinball reference, along with a few couple of ideas which might be useful on a pinball.

Get yourself a pinball sign for the game room
Get yourself a pinball sign for the game room
Although intended for slot machines, this could be good on a pinball too
Although intended for slot machines, this USB charger would be good on a pinball too
These LED buttons could be good for pinballs with launch buttons
These LED buttons could be good for pinballs with launch buttons

The overall theme of the show seemed to be ‘bigger is better’ – an attempt to provide the kind of large-scale entertainment which game players can’t easily enjoy at home.

Giant Galaga and Space Invaders
Giant Galaga and Space Invaders
Big screens turned up everywhere, even on photo booths
Big screens turned up everywhere, even on photo booths
Big multi-player driving games are always popular here
Big multi-player driving games are always popular here
The classic Daytona racer is back with an updated version
The classic Daytona racer is back with an updated version
The prize for the biggest product goes to this inflatable go-kart track
The prize for the biggest product goes to this inflatable go-kart track
Even the ice creams were oversize
Even the ice creams were oversize

Finally, what are the chances of two guys wearing the same Pac-Man suits at the same show on the same day at the same stand?

Pac-Men
Pac-Men

That concludes our look at the EAG International show for 2017, but you can take a detailed look around for yourself with our exclusive Pinball News Twenty-Three Minute Tour video of the show.

 

BREWDOG SHEPHERD’S BUSH

Brewdog, Shepherd's Bush

BrewDog is a Scottish craft beer brewery with an ever-expanding estate of their self-branded bars. At the time of writing, they have twenty-eight bars in the UK and sixteen internationally, including places such as Barcelona, Brussels, Helsinki, Hong Kong and São Paulo.

Each bar sticks to the same winning formula of largely BrewDog-brewed beers, with a mix of interesting guest beers.

The Shepherd’s Bush branch opened three years ago and is located close to the Goldhawk Road tube station, a short walk from Shepherd’s Bush Market.

Brewdog Shepherd's Bush
Brewdog Shepherd’s Bush
The front of the bar
The front of the bar

Inside, the bar is spacious and trendy, with mood lighting and a large bar lined with beer taps.

The interior of BrewDog Shepherd's Bush
The interior of BrewDog Shepherd’s Bush
Plenty of tables and seating
Plenty of tables and seating
The bar
The bar

The beers on offer are shown on large illuminated boards behind the bar. One shows BrewDog’s own standard selection while the other lists their prototype and experimental beers and the guest beers. All beers are priced around the £5 ($6.66/€5.97) mark, whether that is for a full pint, or a two-thirds, half or third of a pint for stronger brews.

Be aware though, they are not big on non-beer drinks. You might get a couple of different wines, and a boutique cola or two, but beer is what BrewDog is all about.

One of the beer lists
One of the beer lists

A limited food menu is also available. We have tried the pizzas and the chicken wings on previous visits and they were very tasty indeed and come recommended.

However, much as we love the beer and the food, we were here this time for the pinball, and BrewDog Shepherd’s Bush has four machines located at the back of the bar.

The four pinballs
The four pinballs

When we arrived, the machines were just being swapped over by the operator. A Simpsons Pinball Party and a Getaway were leaving, to be replaced by a Congo and a Fish Tales. They joined the existing AC/DC Premium and the UK-made Full Throttle.

Full Throttle at BrewDog
Full Throttle at BrewDog

All games are priced at £1 ($1.33/€1.20) per game or 3 games for £2, which seems to be standard London pricing. The games are visited by the operator frequently and any problems quickly fixed. While we were there, ColorDMD screens were being installed in AC/DC and Fish Tales.

Nearby seating is available
Nearby seating is available

The selection changes approximately every three months which coincides with the start of the next season of the London Pinball Selfie League which operates here and at the Four Quarters in Peckham. On certain League event days, additional machines are brought in and a fixed entry fee gets you unlimited games.

The BrewDog management and staff are very supportive of the pinballs, providing vouchers as prizes for the League and joining in the fun on event days.

In fact it’s not at all uncommon for UK BrewDog bars to feature pinball machines – something we obviously applaud – but we also wondered why this was.

So we spoke to BrewDog and they told us, “BrewDog bars allow us to put all the things we love in one place and pinball is one of them. Customers love getting their retro gaming heads on and we’re glad that people recognise our bars as a place to do this. Americana is a theme that lends itself to BrewDog and the beer we make as we take a lot of influence from the incredibly inspiring American beer scene. In keeping with this, the traditional pinball arcade fits right in. Our customers (and staff) love the pinball machines, and we love to expand our collection when new bars open.

With the recent closure of The Pipeline bar, West London’s BrewDog Shepherd’s Bush is now the bar with the most pinballs in the capital (although nearby Chief Coffee has more pinballs). There may only be four of them, but it’s a great mix of pinball, beer and food, and – even better – it’s on our way home from work.

A final couple of words about the beer.

US readers will be pleased to know BrewDog are soon to open their US brewery and distribution centre in Columbus, OH. Also, the Shepherd’s Bush branch is one of only three BrewDog bars which has a Crowler canning facility, meaning you can take away any of their beers in a special 950ml can, which they fill and seal for you.

We’re enjoying this lovely Electric India saison as we write this review (which might explain any spelling mistakes).

Review fuel
Review fuel

More details about this branch of BrewDog can be found on their website, while the London Pinball Selfie League’s Facebook page has details of how to play and submit your scores.