Pinball Expo 2014 report: Day 4 (Saturday)
Posted on October 20, 2014
The Saturday at Pinball Expo was another interesting day. Early in the morning Brian, who works at Team Play with former Williams VP Ken Fedesna, walked up to me to say hello and introduced me to Jack Hagar. Jack has done the latest artwork package for Heighway Pinball‘s Full Throttle, but he used to work as an artist in video at Williams, but he had done a few things for pinball as well. As mentioned in Pinball Magazine No. 2 he had sculpted the skull cave for Elvira and the Party Monsters. Jack told me he had brought some original concept artwork he did for pinball that was never used. Remembering how noisy it was when I interviewed Dave Christensen the day before, I invited Jack to my hotel room to show his artwork. We did an interview, of which elements are likely to be used in Pinball Magazine No. 3, and I took photos of his concept art for Pirates Island, Hey Bartender and World Tour. The last game he intended for Williams, but in the end Alvin G used the concept without Jack on Alvin G’s Garage Band World Tour. While all this artwork was never used, Jack does now finally have a pinball game in his portfolio that will get made as he redid the artwork for Heighway Pinball’s Full Throttle.
As Jack is looking to do more pinball art I was able to introduce him to another pinball art director who just happened to step into the elevator when Jack and I went back to the show floor. I strongly believe things happen for a reason, so who knows where this will lead to.
Early in the afternoon the autograph session was being held and I had some flyers signed by some of the present industry veterans. The plan was to talk to some of them for Issue 3, but unfortunately things were a bit chaotic and that didn’t work out as planned. However, I did manage to schedule a meeting with pinball artist John Youssi. For the second time that day I invited a pinball artist to my hotel room and John discussed all the games he did with Python Anghelo. Elements of this interview will show up in Issue 3, which will make it even more interesting than it already is.
Back in the hallway I ran into another pinball industry legend that’s on my list for Issue 3: Mike Stroll, who was in charge at Williams in the early ’80s and in the mid ’90s at Capcom. Mike didn’t understand why I wanted him to talk about when he worked with Python, as he already told me everything last year. I explained to him I was not able to record his comments last year, but now I could. Mike talked about the times he worked with Python and this interview will be published in the upcoming edition of Pinball Magazine. Later on we were joined by Eugene Jarvis, who was close with Python and was hired by Mike Stroll back in the early ’80s.
By that time the charity auction was about to begin. I donated a copy of the PINBALL book by Santiago Ciuffo, which was sold for $50.00. After the auction the annual banquet was held. I had not bought a ticket, but when I was about to leave the room I was offered a ticket by former pinball designer and marketeer Joe Kaminkow. So I have to thank Joe for being able to stay. Thanks Joe, I appreciate it a lot!
After the dinner Nolan Bushnell talked about his days at Atari Pinball. Following his talk Nolan Bushnell and former pinball designer Brian Eddy were inducted into the pinball hall of fame.
After the banquet I played some pinball, packed my bags as I would be checking out the next morning and then headed to the 15th floor again for another VIP party held by Dutch Pinball. Around 2:00 AM I went to look for my roommate who was playing pinball in the game room. I ended up playing Spooky Pinball‘s America’s Most Haunted and Skit-B Pinball‘s Predator with Andrew Heighway until 3:00 AM. Then I was too tired to enjoy playing and went off to get some sleep.
This year I didn’t stay around on Sunday as there is only the tournament going on. Most vendors were already packing up early Sunday morning. So this concludes Pinball Expo for this year. It was great! Dutch Pinball made a huge impact with their Big Lebowski game. And rightfully so. While their game absolutely stood out I’ve heard good comments on the other startup companies and their games too. So everybody wins. I did get the feeling there are maybe a few too many startups trying to push out a game or two, so we’ll have to see who will manage to stick around, but it has been a long time since there were this many games being developed at the same time by various parties. As I said in my seminar: these are exciting times for pinball. Let’s try to enjoy them to the fullest.
Besides thanking (and congratulating) Rob Berk and Mike Pacak for this year’s 30th Pinball Expo I also would like to thank everybody else involved in making this one of the best Expo’s so far. I already look forward to next year’s edition.