- HeighwayPinball is liquidated
- Thunderbirds is in production
- Iron Maiden LE revealed
- and more
The 12th annual Flip Expo was held April 21 and 22 in Le Treport, France. The show is organized by the Association Silverball. Pinball Magazine was present for the fifth time. Do also check our coverage on Phenix Pinball’s Olympic Goblin, which was presented at the event.
Flip Expo is hosted in two halls. In the main hall the free play area, tournament area and kitchen can be found. In the other hall all vendors have their stands. As this is a rather large gymnasium hall, the vendors have plenty space in their booths to display their merchandise. Zpeakaboncks probably had the largest stand. Aside from a huge display of all sorts of pinball parts they also displayed nine relatively new pinball machines: The Wizard of Oz, The Hobbit, Dialed In, Pirates of the Caribbean* (all four by Jersey Jack Pinball, Total Nuclear Annihilation*, Rob Zombie Spookshow International*, The Jetsons* (all by Spooky Pinball), Alien LE (Heighway Pinball) and The Big Lebowski* (Dutch Pinball). JJP was heavily represented with games as also Christian Lienard had a booth with four JJP games and another Dialed In was present in another stand. The games marked with an * were shown for the first time in France and there were constantly people waiting to play them. Of coarse there was also the Olympic Goblin prototype Phenix Pinball, which is made in France.
Jersey Jack Pinball’s Jack Guarnieri was the special guest at this year’s event. Although he didn’t do a seminar, he was present both days and talked to everybody who approached him. Pinball News and Pinball Magazine were able to interview Jack in a relatively quitarea outside the venue. Inside it was very noisy and awfully hot due to beautiful sunny weather. The entire inteview is available as a free audio podcast. I the same podcast the event itself is also discussed as well as Phenix Pinball’s Olympic Goblin game.
The entre weekend was very warm and sunny, causing the temperature in both halls to go up. Saturday was by far the busiest day, although Sunday wasn’t too bad either. People were still coming in on Sunday afternoon two hours before the show would close. For many coming over to play some pinball is just a fun activity in their free time, but they’re not going to spend the entire weekend at the show.
Saturday evening the show closed and organized a banquet for all vendors, volunteers and those who bought tickets for this banquet. As the weather was so nice, the banquet was held outside in the open air. A catering service brought in a huge grill on which chickens, hams, sausages and steak were grilled. About 150 people joined in and the ambiance was simply great. Absolute wonderful evening that reminded me a bit of the victory dinners for the Asterix comic books.
There were tournaments held on both days, but I didn’t follow any of these. I did notice that unlike previous years the game line-up in the tournament area was the same both days. On previous editions the Sunday would see some games move from the free play area to the tournament area and vice versa.
The number of games in the free play area was about 40, and included some rare electromechanical gems like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Charlie’s Angels. Most games were solid-state and wide variety of more modern pinball games. The newest games were all to be found in the vendor hall.
Having attended this show several times, this year’s edition was a very good one. The only complaint is the temperature in both halls due to the sunny weather, but other than that nothing but compliments to the show organisation. I’m already looking forward to next year’s edition.
For more details and photos, see Pinball News’ show report (coming soon).
While Pinball Magazine usually doesn’t review new pinball games, it is always interesting to play new games and report on them. Just before Flip Expo 2018 I had the chance to play Phenix Pinball’s Olympic Goblin. Pinball Magazine reported on this game two years ago, from the same event, when it was still in early development. Since then the game came a lot closer to a finished product, although it’s not completely finished at the moment.
Olympic Goblin is intended as a simple game, a throwback to the days of electromechanical pinball in terms of rule sets: easy to understand, difficult to master, but with a modern twist. Just like on most electromechanical games, most of the rules are indicated on the playfield. On Olympic Goblin mostly in a visual way. The game is about a green Goblin character who is apparently competing in some Olympic tournament, although the sports practiced aren’t actual Olympic sports. There are the following game modes: Get the pigs, Win the race, Eat em all, Beat em all, and the victory stage. All modes are played in order. The game starts with Get the pigs.
Above the flippers is an image pictured of the Goblin grabbing two pigs. The pigs, and most other collectible animals, are represented by drop targets. There are three banks of each three drop targets on the playfield; one on the left, one in the middle at the top, and one on the right, opposite of the drop targets on the left. To Get the pigs the lower drop targets on the left and right bank start blinking, as do the pigs portrayed in the image above the flippers. Shooting the lower left drop target collects the pig pictured on the left, and vice versa for the right pig. The pigs, and other animals in other modes, don’t have to be collected in order. When both pigs are collected a short fanfare sound is played, the drop targets reset while the ball is still in play and the second mode starts immediately: Win the race.
Again the concept is similar: this time four drop targets will be blinking and need to be collected. When completed the game moves on to the next round, Eat em all, where five drop targets on the left side of the playfield need to be shot. When completed the game moves on to Beat them all, where five drop targets on the right side need to be completed. When you get to the podium modes all drop targets need to be completed to complete a stage on the podium. When completed these stages also award an Extra Ball or other awards.
At the top of the playfield are four rollover lanes named Corrupted Judges. The goal is to collect all four. Unlike the game modes, these rollover lanes reset after every drain, so ideally they must be collected on each ball. The rollover lanes can be moved around with lane change. Each collected rollover lane enables an increased lit score for certain pop bumpers and rollover lanes further down the playfield. What’s interesting about that is that each rollover lane is connected to certain popbumpers or rollover lanes, but when using lane change the lit increased values also move around across the playfield. So in order to collect 1,000 points at the inlane leading to one of the flippers, you have to flip a few times to light up that inlane first. Obviously, when more top rollover lanes are completed, the less lane changing is needed to illuminate a certain lane that the ball is about to roll in to.
As far as game rules, this is about it. There is no multiball or wizard mode. An easy to understand concept, probably fun for kids to get acquainted with pinball. The game is likely intended to be operated in arcades, camping sites and redemption game centers. A ticket dispenser would be recommended to make the game more interesting for such redemption centers. Tickets could be awarded for completing each mode, where the number of tickets awarded increases with each mode. But at the moment such ticket dispenser isn’t part of the game yet as ticket dispensing games are not allowed in France.
Also interesting to notice is that the game has two “slingshots,” one above each flipper, but they don’t contain a kicker. Despite the lack of a kicker the do bounce the ball around quite good.
Ever since the first images of this game were published the artwork has been criticized by many. Yes, it’s a different style than we’ve been used to on most modern pinball games, but the game isn’t trying to compete with those games. What matters is whether kids find it attractive. Pinball Magazine also found out that due to the use of a PinSound audio board, the music and sound effects are fully customizable. It might even be possible to send in custom artwork and have that applied to the game.
Flip Expo was held April 21 and 22 in Le Treport, France. Other new and uncommon games present at the show include: Total Nuclear Annihilation (Spooky Pinball), Rob Zombie (Spooky Pinball), The Big Lebowski (Dutch Pinball), The Jetsons (The Pinball Company), Alien LE (Heighway Pinball) and Pirates of the Caribbean (Jersey Jack Pinball). JJP’s Jack Guarnieri is also present at the show.
Pinball Magazine is now taking advertisements for Pinball Magazine No. 5! If you’re offering any pinball-related products, parts, services, organize a pinball show, offer pinball on location, run a barcade, have a pinball related podcast, or something else pinball related, Pinball Magazine No. 5 is the best place for you to advertise and reach all these dedicated pinball enthusiasts.
Pinball Magazine did send out a newsletter to potential advertisers about advertising in Pinball Magazine No. 5. In case you didn’t get such an email notification, you may either not be on our advertiser’s mailing list, or the email bounced. Please send an email to: editor @ pinball-magazine . com (no spaces) so I can direct you to the details on the content of issue 5, Early Bird advertising rates and such. Please note: the back cover and inside covers have been reserved for previous advertisers. Pinball Magazine No. 5 will hopefully be printed and available in April 2018.
Here’s a tip for those interested in advertising, but not capable of making a proper advertisement: On fiverr.com it should be really easy to find someone who can make you an ad for just $5. Look at the Advertising or Graphics & Design section.
Like all posters in the Pinball Magazine webshop they are priced at Euro 6.50, or any three posters for Euro 15.00. The posters are sized 50 x 70 cm. Note that all three posters have a white border all around the center image.
It’s January, which means the first European coin-op amusement tradeshow of the year is coming up: EAG Expo. The event is held in the Excel building in the London Docklands. It’s a three-day event, this year running from January 16 to 18. Contrary to previous years the 2018 edition covered more floor space, more exhibitors and the number of pinball machines presented at the show was also up this year. Let’s see who were there and what was on display.
Stern Pinball usually has a few games set up in the stand of Electrocoin, their UK distributor. This year was no exception to that, and the company had four games on display: Ghostbusters, Star Wars, Batman and Guardian of the Galaxy. Besides having four games this year, one more than we’ve seen being displayed the past number of years, Stern also showed up with a heavy delegation of management. On the opening day of the show, Tuesday January 16th, the company was represented by the inevitable Gary Stern (President), Dave Peterson (head of the investor group that owns Stern Pinball), John Buscaglia (Chief Revenue Officer), George Gomez (Vice President of Game Design) and Jim Belt (Director of Distributor Sales).
Unfortunately, the Guardians of the Galaxy game was dealing with a technical issue on the opening day of the show. A spare part wasn’t instantly available and had to be collected from the Electrocoin offices, resulting in that game – while being turned on – wasn’tnt playable for most of the day. It wasn’t until late in the afternoon before the game was fixed.
On the second day of the show, none of Stern’s delegation appeared to be at the show floor in the morning. In previous years Stern used to have a special invite-only meeting with their European distributors about how the company is doing and what they expect to be coming out with this year, and – while unconfirmed – it seemed like a similar meeting was held again this year. The size of the Stern’s delegation at the show may have had to do with that as well.
Update: An anonymous source informed us that Stern Pinball announced the availability of the following games for January 2018: Guardians of the Galaxy Premium and LE, Star Wars Pro and Premium, Aerosmith Premium, Batman Premium, Ghostbusters Premium and Wrestlemania Pro. For the rest of Quarter 1 of 2018 the following games should be available: Guardians of the Galaxy Pro and Premium, AC/DC Luci Premium Vault Edition, Star Wars Pro and Premium, Aerosmith Pro, Batman Premium, Ghostbusters Pro and Premium, Metallica Pro. Stern’s next new title is likely to be announced in April, which according to rumors, should be Keith Elwin’s first game with artwork by ZombieYeti.
As far as I could tell as a visitor three of the four games held their own during the show. Guardians, however, seemed to have an issue on Wednesday as well. The game has a single drop target in front of the orb-toy in the center of the playfield. Players can temporarily lock a ball behind that drop target. The problem at the show was that the game can’t detect whether there is a ball behind the drop target. What happened repeatedly over the course of the day was that a ball would end up behind the drop target, but the drop target would not drop down to release it. Instead, the game went into ball search mode. After a minute or two it would simply go into the End of ball sequence and fire a new ball into the shooter lane for the next player. This took away a bit of the fun of playing the game. Note that this may be something that is easy to fix that should typically not be an issue, but as I’m reporting on what went on at the show, I can’t ignore it either. Aside from that – with this being the first time for me to be able to play the game – I was pleasantly surprised with the game. Running on code 0.85 the game was fun to play.
After being absent for a few years, Pinball Heaven was back at the show with a stand with more games present than ever before. Pinball Heaven is the UK distributor for Jersey Jack Pinball and Chicago Gaming. To represent these companies Jack Guarnieri (JJP) and Doug Skor (Chicago Gaming) were at the show as well. JJP had three games at the stand: The Hobbit, Dialed In and the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean. Chicago Gaming was represented with their remakes of Medieval Madness and Attack from Mars.
Pirates of the Caribbean seemed to be running on game code that was further developed than when it was shown at Pinball Expo in October 2017. The LCD in the backbox was displaying random tips to the player after the End of ball sequence. These would tell the player something like, “To play longer, don’t drain the ball,” or to use the action button on the lockbar to collect gold during gameplay. As I only played a few short games, I couldn’t discover any major additions to the rules or gameplay.
Dutch Pinball was also present with The Big Lebowski at the Pinball Heaven stand, completing the total number of available games to six. The game had a note on it that the game should be available after the summer of 2018. On the Tuesday of the show, some of the playfield lights on The Big Lebowski didn’t work. That problem was solved quickly after the show closed on Tuesday and the game played fine on Wednesday.
While the presence of Dutch Pinball at the Pinball Heaven led to some people assuming that Pinball Heaven will be distributing their game in the UK, that may be a bit premature to assume. Regardless it’s a good thing to see Dutch Pinball being present at the show.
Heighway Pinball was present with a black-trimmed Alien. Contrary to previous years the company didn’t have a stand of their own. Instead, the game was set up in the stand of Home Leisure Direct, one of the major pinball stores in the UK that also sell other gaming equipment. Representatives of the company said they were very happy with how the game had further developed under the new management at Heighway Pinball. Unfortunately, I didn’t spot any management representatives of Heighway Pinball on the Tuesday or Wednesday morning of the show, but I was told someone should be there on Thursday.
To my pleasant surprise, Valley Dynamo was also present at the show with a stand of their own in which they displayed their All-Star Baseball game. This is a pitch and bat game, designed by pinball designer Dennis Nordman and his team. The game is available in two different versions; the other being Zombie League All-Stars, but for this show, the company figured the classic Baseball-themed game would make more sense. The game features a running man-unit in the backbox. Unfortunately, the running man-unit appeared not to be running the second day of the show. Aside from that, with Europe not being very Baseball-minded, it was a pleasant surprise to see that Valley Dynamo brought the game along with their other products.
Was this all? As far as exhibiting companies goes yes, but there was more. At these trade shows, a variety of international magazines is presenting themselves as well, and promotional copies of the latest issues are being distributed for free. As editor of Pinball Magazine, I’m usually taking a copy of each to go over and see if there is anything interesting pinball related content in them. This year I found an Italian full-page ad from Tecnoplay for Stern’s Aerosmith in a special edition of Play Machine Europe. The artwork and layout of this ad is different than the flyers that Stern put out, so for that reason I find them interesting.
In the Asian publications often ads can be found in which pinball styled bingo/gambling games are advertised. Hot Games Annual is an Asian publication that featured several adds for 3D pinball machines as well. These are usually the virtual type of pinball games that can be played in a pinball shaped cabinet, but with a large LCD instead of a physical playfield. One add, from Guang Zhou Lu Xing Animation Tech Co Ltd, caught my attention as it showed a 3D Multi-Pinball with a translite image of Stern’s X-Men and a playfield that appears to be a digital version of the same game. Stern is known to work with The Pinball Arcade on their virtual emulations of their tables, but I haven’t seen any news come from Stern that they are in some way involved in this product as well. Else I’m sure they would have communicated about it. I will check with Stern, but for now, I’m just observing.
Last, but not least, I found an ad in another Asian publication from Wee Chin Electronic Machinery Inc, a cabinet company. This ad included what appears to be a physical head-to-head pinball machine that reminds of Williams’ Joust from 1983. While the cabinet says Space War, the game is mentioned as Super Pinball Pong Pong Bar. In the ad, the image of the game is a little smaller than the size of a business card, but scanning the ad made it possible to enlarge the game, to see more detail. As far as I can see this appears to be a 3D render and not a photo of an existing game. Based on the angle the game is pictured in, and the items on the playfields, it does appear to portray a physical pinball machine. However, when zooming in it appears the flipper don’t have any rubbers on them. Each playfield only has a set of flippers and two slingshots on it. There also seem to be two sets of numeric red displays in the center of each playfield. As this strongly appears to be a rendered image and not a photo of a game, it remains to be seen whether the game exists in physical form. I have contacted the manufacturer for more info.
Update: The Wee Chin Electronic Machinery Inc responded to Pinball Magazine’s email and they claim that Super Pinball Pong Pong Bar is a new product, totally developed by themselves. They call themselves “a professional company from Taiwan to provide customers one-stop integrated services from machine chassis design, sheet metal chassis manufacturing, mechanical & electrical integration, harness & wiring, to assembly and testing, in gaming, amusement, kiosk, vending, and industrials fields for almost 40 years.” The Pong Pong Bar is a key product for them for 2018. Here are some more quoted details about the game:
The company will be present at Amusement Expo in Las Vegas at the end of February (Booth 605) and they plan to demonstrate the game there as well.
As I left in the afternoon of the second day of the show, I didn’t attend the traditional exhibitor party on Wednesday evening, but that’s usually more of a social gathering with no news reveals. So this concludes all I can report about the 2018 edition EAG Expo. I did talk to all pinball managers at the show, but as is unclear what I was told off the record and what was on the record, I’ll verify that first and what can be revealed will be added to the above mentioned Who’s Working On What?-page.
In conclusion, I’m happy to see the show appears to be growing, occupying more space in the hall and more exhibitors presenting at the show. With 11 pinball machines and a pitch & bat game present pinball certainly is more present at the show. Hopefully, this will be a trend for future years.
At Pinball Expo 2017 Pinball News and Pinball Magazine had the opportunity to talk to pinball designer Eric Meunier and Jack Guarnieri about Jersey Jack Pinball’s newest game Pirates of the Caribbean. Below please find the 45-minute in-depth interview in which gives great insights about the design of the game and the challenges the design team had to overcome.
As there are some developments going on, please find the latest news regarding Pinball Magazine below:
Due to a minimum required quantity of packages Pinball Magazine ships its incoming orders (books, posters and magazines) in monthly batches. This also qualifies us for a more economical postal rate, which helps since it’s such a heavy magazine and it’s being shipped from The Netherlands (Europe). The next shipment is scheduled for the first week of March 2018. In case the minimum required number of orders is met prior to that, they will ship earlier. To order Pinball Magazine No. 1, Pinball Magazine No. 3, Pinball Magazine No. 4, Santiago Ciuffo’s PINBALL book a package deal of the magazines and book and/or PINBALL Posters (discounted when ordered 3, 6, 9 etc.) please visit the Pinball Magazine webshop.
Effective January 1st, 2017 Pinball Magazine will invoice orders for advertisements and bulk orders for magazines and book only in Euro. This means the invoices should be paid in Euro as well. When paid via PayPal the costs for such transaction (currency exchange and costs Paypal applies for transferring money) should be at the expense of the paying party. The easiest way to handle this is to indicate the transfer is a gift. Alternative payment options are a bank transfer, or transferring money via Transferwise.com.
To order your copy of Pinball Magazine No.4 visit the Pinball Magazine webshop.
Below is a selection of reviews and feedback received on Pinball Magazine No. 3.
Michael: “If you’re a KISS colloctor, a KISS magazine collector, if you own a KISS pinball machine – the original or the new one – you want this.”
Tommy: “It’s amazing!”
Michael: “About one third of this magazine is devoted to KISS pinball stuff. There’s a ton of photos of behind the scenes stuff. This is just so freaking cool and well done.”
Tommy: “When I started going through this I was like, here’s another article, here’s another photo, it’s just boom-boom-boom-boom thoughout the whole thing.”
Michael: “By all means: get it! …. This is qlearly in-depth. … I would guess the people behind this are KISS fans.”
Tommy: “It’s too cool not to be.”
Michael: “The quality and the depth they put into this is not done by someone who is assigned a project to write a story about KISS. … I feel like this was written by somebody who understands KISS.”
Pinball Magazine No. 3 contents:
Pinball Magazine No. 3 can be ordered in the Pinball Magazine web shop
“We received a book today. Younger son Nate (4) could not hide his excitement. He recognized couple of pinball machines from our small collection and happily took a picture with a new book. Thanks Pinball Magazine and Santiago for bringing pins back to life and promoting them to the young generations.” – Teo
Click READ MORE below for more feedback >>>
As mentioned earlier Pinball Magazine got the rights to publish the international edition of PINBALL, a beautiful photo book by Argentinean photographer Santiago Ciuffo. The book (hard cover, 208 pages, 11.3 inch x 8.7 inch) is now available and can be ordered in the Pinball Magazine webshop.
To get an idea of the photos in the book, see the pictures below:
Martin Ayub (Pinball News) and Jonathan Joosten (Pinball Magazine) joined forces in their first combined audio podcast. The idea was to turn Pinball Magazine’s monthly news recap into a podcast where both reporters discuss the latest developments in the pinball industry. This first episode discusses all the news coming out of Texas Pinball Festival and the Iron Maiden reveal. What was supposed to be a 10-minute first show ended up running over 2 hours, but it was fun to do. Hope it will be fun to listen to as well 🙂