PLAY EXPO 2016

Northern Lights Pinball at Play Expo 2016

We are back in Manchester at the EventCity exhibition complex for the annual Play Expo gaming show.

EventCity in Manchester
EventCity in Manchester

Although the show didn’t open until the next day, we were here for the set-up so we can get a preview of what’s in store for the thousands of visitors who will line up outside the following morning.

With the public entrance closed, we headed round the back to the loading bays to get in.

The rear of EventCity - our way in
The rear of EventCity – our way in

Heading into the main hall we found work well underway on setting up the scores of pinballs expected at the show, as well as the thousands of square metres of games of all kinds.

The pinball zone at Play Expo
The pinball zone at Play Expo

The organisers of the pinball zone – Northern Lights Pinball – were expecting more than 100 pinballs, and with many machines already here they were confident of reaching that target.

Setting up machines
Setting up machines
There is a good mix of older and the very newest titles
There was a good mix of older and the very newest titles

The newest titles were there courtesy of Pinball Heaven who had the latest offerings from Stern, Jersey Jack and Chicago Gaming, as well as some restored games.

New Stern titles
New Stern Pinball titles
Jersey Jack Pinball's first two titles
Jersey Jack Pinball’s first two titles
The Medieval Madness remake alongside two restored games
The Medieval Madness remake alongside two high=end restored games

Heighway Pinball’s Full Throttle was also here.

Heighway Pinball obviously take their game servicing very seriously
Heighway Pinball obviously take their game servicing very seriously

Before it is allowed to be played, each machine has to be tested for electrical safety (PAT tested).

No shocking events here
No shocking events here

There was also a nice line-up of Gottlieb solid-state machines here, including several lesser-spotted varieties.

Gottlieb games
Gottlieb games
Tag Team Pinball - one you don't see at shows very often
Tag Team Pinball – one you don’t see at shows very often
We have more on this later, and in a separate article
We have more on this later, and in a separate article
The tombola is always a popular part of the show
The tombola is always a popular part of the show

As important as it is, the Pinball Zone is only a small part of Play Expo, so let’s have a quick look around the rest of the hall.

There are hundreds of PCs and older 8-bit computers for visitors to play
There are hundreds of PCs and older 8-bit computers for visitors to play
Don't throw those old tube TVs away - someone wants them
Don’t throw those old tube TVs away – someone wants them
Plenty more CRTs in the video game zone
Plenty more CRTs in the Video Game Zone
The pinball and video game zones sit side-by-side
The Pinball and Video Game (Arcade) Zones sit side-by-side
Look out, it's the cops - or is it?
Look out, it’s the cops – or is it?
Transformers fans will know the meaning of this slogan on the cop car
Transformers fans will know the meaning of this slogan on the cop car
We are assured this isn't showing the way to the toilets
We are assured this isn’t showing the way to the toilets
Elsewhere, food trucks are set up to cater to the masses
Elsewhere, food trucks are set up to cater to the masses
Gamer food aplenty tomorrow
Gamer food aplenty

The Play Expo show opened to the public at 10am on Saturday, and as usual there was a large crowd queueing outside eager to get through the doors.

The queue outside just before opening time
The queue outside just before opening time
The queue continues
The queue continues
The doors open and the first guests are admitted
The doors open and the first guests are admitted

It didn’t take long before the aisles between the pinball machines became crowded and all the machines were occupied.

The scene in the Pinball Zone
The scene in the Pinball Zone
The machines were soon fully occupied
The machines were soon fully occupied
The Nautilus EM machine had see-through panels on the cabinet and backbox sides
The Nautilus EM machine had see-through panels on the cabinet and backbox sides
The machines stood up to constant playing well, with very few casualties
The machines stood up to constant playing well, with very few casualties
The Pinball Heaven machines were especially popular
The Pinball Heaven machines were especially popular

Here’s the list of free play pinballs at the show:

Free Play Machines
4 Aces
AC/DC Pro
Addams Family, The
Addams Family, The
Aerobatics
Arena
Austin Powers
Avatar
Avengers, The
Baby Pac-Man
Barracora
Batman, Dark Knight
Batman, Dark Knight
Big House
Black Knight
Black Knight 2000
Black Knight 2000
Black Rose
Blackwater 100
Bone Busters
Bride of Pinbot – The Machine
Bride of Pinbot – The Machine
Centaur
Circus
Congo
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Creature from the Black Lagoon
CSI
Deadly Weapon
Demolition Man
Diamond Lady
Dirty Harry
Dracula, Bram Stoker’s
Earthshaker!
Eight Ball Deluxe
Excalibur
Family Guy
Fireball
Fish Tales
Full Throttle
Funhouse
Funhouse
Game of Thrones Pro
Genesis
Getaway, The: High Speed 2
Ghostbusters Premium
Ghostbusters Pro
Godzilla
Gold Ball
Gorgar
Grand Lizard
Guns N’ Roses
Hobbit standard, The
Hollywood Heat
Indiana Jones (custom)
Indiana Jones (WMS)
Indianapolis 500
Iron Man
Jackbot
Johnny Mnemonic
Jokerz!
Judge Dredd
Kiss Pro
Last Action Hero
Lord of the Rings, The
Lord of the Rings, The
Medieval Madness Remake
Medusa
Metallica
Mousin’ Around
Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man*
Nautilus
NBA Fastbreak
Pinball Magic
Pinbot
Pirates of the Caribbean
Police Force
Police Force
Popeye Saves The Earth
Raven
Revenge from Mars
Revenge from Mars
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!
Road Kings
Roadshow*
Robo War
Robocop
Robot
Rock
Rocky & Bullwinkle
Rollergames
Rolling Stones (Stern), The
Roto Pool
Scared Stiff
Sorcerer
Space Invaders
Space Station
Space Station
Spider-Man
Spirit
Spring Break
Star Trek Pro
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Wars (DE)
Star Wars (DE)
Swords of Fury
Tag Team Pinball
Terminator 2
Theatre of Magic
Twilight Zone
TX Sector
Walking Dead, The
Whitewater
Wizard of Oz 75th, The
Wizard of Oz standard, The
World Poker Tour
X-Files, The
X-Men Pro

There were three competition machines amongst the mix. A Shrek was the junior high score machine, with a No Good Gofers next to it performing the same role for the adult event. A William’s Heat Wave was used for the EM Challenge, where players vied to either achieve the day’s highest score, or raise the temperature high enough to ‘Blow Your Top’ and win a cash prize.

The junior, adult and EM competition machines
The junior, adult and EM competition machines
Tournament Machines
Heat Wave
No Good Gofers
Shrek

 

A new high score is recorded
A new high score is recorded

Further into the Pinball Zone, the machines were just as popular with a few parts vendors setting up their stalls.

No free machines in this row
No free machines in this row
The Scottish Pinball Association and Paisley Pinball were sharing a stand
The Scottish Pinball Association and Paisley Pinball were sharing a stand
Pinball Daze had a large stand with numerous assorted pinball parts
Pinball Daze had a large stand with numerous assorted pinball parts
The North-East Retro Gaming (NERG) team was there to promote their event
The North-East Retro Gaming (NERG) team was there to promote their event

Jim Askey had his Hacking Lab to show a customised Stern Indiana Jones running a version of the Williams Indiana Jones rules, his replacement Stern flasher boards, custom saucers for Revenge from Mars, as well as demonstration PCBs and assorted pinball parts.

Jim Askey at his Hacking Lab
Jim Askey at his Hacking Lab
Pinball Heaven also had a stand in addition to the games they brought
Pinball Heaven also had a stand in addition to the games they brought

Making a return after its first outing at last year’s show was the Addams Family Challenge shock chair. Players sit in the chair and use the control handles to flip the flippers, but achieving certain objectives produces unexpected results from the chair’s lighting and sound effects, shaker motors and smoke machine.

The Addams Family Shocker Challenge chair was back after last year's debut
The Addams Family Challenge shock chair was back after last year’s debut
The previous player really smoked the game
The previous player really smoked the game
There were several alternate translites seen in the games, including this Game of Thrones one
There were several alternate translites seen in the games, including this Game of Thrones one

The Northern Lights Pinball team use this event to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust, and the charity was well represented at the show with their own stand.

The Teenage Cancer Trust stand
The Teenage Cancer Trust stand
They ran a competition to see if you could drop a parachuted toy soldier into one of the plastic cups
They ran a competition to see if you could drop a parachuted toy soldier into one of the plastic cups
It’s harder than it looks, but at least one player managed it

A predicted, the tombola stand was especially popular, with any ticket number ending in a 5 winning a prize. Tickets cost £1 for three, £5 for eighteen or £10 for forty.

The tombola stand
The tombola stand
The Pinball Zone
The Pinball Zone

You can take our exclusive Twelve Minute Tour of the Pinball Zone by clicking below, or by visiting the Pinball News YouTube channel.

While it was obviously our favourite bit, the Pinball Zone was a relatively small part of the overall Play Expo show.

The rest of the Play Expo show
The rest of the Play Expo show
The show floor plan with the Pinball Zone highlighted
The show floor plan with the Pinball Zone highlighted

So let’s have a quick look at some of the other stands and exhibits.

Right next door to the pinballs in other half of the Arcade Zone were the arcade video games.

Everything from sit-down to stand-up arcade video games
Everything from sit-down to stand-up arcade video games
It was an impressive display of videos
It was an impressive display of videos with some unusual titles

Not everything needs to have a power supply to be fun. Tabletop games were a popular part of the show.

Card, simulation and fantasy tabletop games were on sale and being played
Card, simulation and fantasy tabletop games were on sale and being played
Card games can be played anywhere you can find a flat surface
Card games can be played anywhere you can find a flat surface

However, if you could find a power outlet…

It was good to see youngsters stop sitting in front of the TV at home and come to the show to sit in front of the TV
It was good to see gamers stop sitting in front of the TV at home and come to the show to… err… sit in front of the TV
PC gaming appeals to all ages
PC gaming appeals to all ages
There was no shortage of PC games to try
There was no shortage of PC games to try
If you wanted to socially interact, there was a full Rock Band set-up
If you wanted to socially interact, there was a full Rock Band set-up
If you wanted to learn from the experts there were plenty of seminars to watch
If you wanted to learn from the experts there were plenty of seminars to watch
In another area they were relating the history of gaming
In another area they were relating the history of gaming
Virtual reality is a small but growing part of the show
Virtual reality is a small but growing part of the show
But it's still hard to look cool wearing these
But it’s still hard to look cool wearing these
Console gaming was well represented, such as this ring of X-Boxes
Console gaming was well represented, such as this ring of X-Boxes
There were also multiple rows of PS4 console games
There were also multiple rows of PS4 console games
It may be a retro title, but Battle Zone still had them queueing round the block
It may be a retro title, but Battle Zone still had them queueing round the block
Just as timeless was this little chap who roamed the show floor
Just as timeless was this little chap who roamed the show floor
Yet another retor theme, but this time Barracade had been joined by Bumblebee
Yet another retro theme, but this time Barricade had been joined by Bumblebee

Play Expo also featured an Education Zone, where college courses could be explored and gaming skills learned. One stand we especially appreciated was teaching visitors soldering skills – something often overlooked when everything seems to come pre-assembled with no user-fixable parts.

Learning soldering skills in the Education Zone
Learning soldering skills in the Education Zone
Training the next generation of Electrical Engineers?
Training the next generation of Electrical Engineers?

When it all got too much, there were several food stand at the front and back of the hall.

Lunch time
Lunch time
We thought Wicked Wraps & Kebabs had the longest queue, until...
We thought Wicked Wraps & Kebabs had the longest queue, until…
...the Longest Queue At The Show award went to the cash machine
…the Longest Queue At The Show award went to the cash machine

Needless to say, there were dozens of vendor stands selling everything from knives and swords to T-shirts, framed prints, plush toys, game discs and cartridges, retro consoles and character models.

Here are just a few of them.

Masses of T-shirts were available on multiple stands
Masses of T-shirts were available on multiple stands
See. Told you.
See. Told you.
If it was gaming or super-hero movie related you could probably find it here
If it was gaming or super-hero movie related you could probably find it here
Lots of fantasy artworks too
Lots of fantasy artworks too
If you thought your retro gaming console was worth a lot of money by now, it's not - there are loads of them around
If you thought your retro gaming console was worth a lot of money by now, it’s not – there are loads of them around
See. Told you.
See. Told you.
Pokemons need a cuddle too
Pokemons need a cuddle too

You can see all the stands and gaming areas in our Twenty Nine Minute Tour video below.

And that concludes our look at Play Expo 2016 and the Northern Lights Pinball’s collection of machines. The team raised an amazing grand total of £6,950.41 for the Teenage Cancer Trust charity.

Members of the NLP crew
Members of the NLP crew

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer scale of Play Expo and the number of different types of gaming on display, but at the end of the day this mantra still holds true…

Sage advice
Sage advice