Report: EAG Expo 2015, day 1
Posted on January 14, 2015
The EAG Expo in London, UK, is the European tradeshow where anything new, related to coin-op amusement, is being showcased. As editor of Pinball Magazine I have been attending this show for years and this year is no exception. Below is my report of Tuesday january 13th.
I arrived at the show slightly after 11:00 AM, straight from the airport, which is conveniently next door. As most exhibitors get the same spot on the showfloor every year it wasn’t very hard to spot the Electrocoin stand which had 3 Stern pinball machines set up: The Walking Dead Premium and two WrestleMania Pro’s. Besides showing these new games Stern also wants to showcase their new Spike hardware system. In order to do so one of the WrestleMania games had cutouts in the cabinet and translite, displaying the new Spike board and the less wiring in the game.
As WrestleMania is the newest game I was curious to play it and played quite a few games on it. Unfortunately the game was running on very premature software code, meaning it only had a few voice calls and hardly any display animations. These are still being worked on and the game may be updated over the next days already. Keeping that in mind flipping the playfield was fun and interesting as the game has an interesting layout. Still, the lack of voicecalls, music and animations didn’t make it a wrestling game yet. To me it seemed the pinball action on the lower playfield level was kind of dull as it hardly seemed to award anything. You can start a match, or qualify for a multiball, but all the action is up in the ring. The game has all the potential to be a great game, but it is in drastic need of more software code right now.
While playing the game Gary Stern, president of Stern Pinball, came to say hello and informed me I could not shoot any video of the game. Reason was that last year I shot a video of Gary Stern playing The Walking Dead at an Amsterdam tradeshow. That was the first video footage of that game and Gary wasn’t the best player. I posted a second video of someone else playing the game, but on the Pinside forum the game got a lot of heat. I told Gary I’m not to blame for his poor flipper skills, but regardless I could not shoot video. We’ll see if they changed their mind tomorrow as others did shoot video, which can be found on Facebook and Youtube.
Stern was present with quite a heavy delegation as not only Gary Stern was present, but also Pat Powers and investor Dave Peterson.
Next stop was the Pinball Heaven stand where also three pinball machines were setup: The Hobbit (Jersey Jack Pinball), Medieval Madness remake (Planetary Pinball) and The Wizard of Oz (Jersey Jack Pinball). The Hobbit had completely new artwork compared to the game I played previously at Pinball Expo and Dutch Pinball Expo and I am impressed with how much it improved. A much brighter color scheme and some elements taken out in order to enable new shots. The game looked and played far more appealing than its first iteration.
The Wizard of Oz (WoZ) game was setup as a Pindemption game. Jack Guarnieri, owner of JJP, told me he wanted to do a redemption game of The Wizard of Oz before he started the JJP company. Any existing WoZ games can be upgraded with a ticketdispenser, some additional hardware and software to run as a Pindemption game. The hardware has to be bought, the software will be free. In Pindemption mode the game allows operators to set a fixed gameplay time of 45, 60 or 90 seconds. When this time is up the flippers die and the game is over. Instead of scoring points the player is scoring tickets which will be dispensed from the game right afterwards.
Jack was very pleased with the first results of the game. WoZ is already a good earning pinball machine for pinball operators, but the Pindemption version of the game earns even better. On one of the first locations to test the new version of the game WoZ was making $ 300 a week. As a redemption game it made way over $ 1000 a week. If the game keeps earning like that it means operators can earn back their investment in less than three months. As a bonus the game will introduce kids to pinball, which may help to grow the popularity of pinball in the future.
Last, but not least, Heighway Pinball were also present with a pretty large booth, presenting their Full Throttle game. In terms of dressing up the stand they really made a good effort: large display, flatscreen with promotional clips and three games on display. One of these was a prototype in an old version of the cabinet. The new version of the cabinet was also displayed on the other two games. Unfortunately the two ‘new cabinet’games suffered from some technical malfunction and were only used to display the game, playfield and cabinet. The Heighway team was working on fixing the games, so hopefully they will be playable later this week. The only playing version of Full Throttle turned out to have very powerful flippers, making it hardly impossible to play a decent game. That may not leave the best impression with visitors of the show, so hopefully these issues can be addressed before Day 2 starts.
Please note: Photos will be added later this week.
Others reporting from the same show: