Today was another busy day and Expo hasn’t even started yet. This year Stern Pinball is not allowing any pictures to be taken during the factory tour, which is scheduled for tomorrow morning. Being press Martin Ayub, Jim Schelberg and me were invited for a private tour today, so Martin and I headed to Stern this morning. It was pretty busy at the factory and while we waited for Jody Dankberg to hook us up with a tour guide we got to play The Walking Dead with the latest (1.06) software code. The game has a lot more voice call outs than when I played it a few weeks ago in Amsterdam. We were soon joined by the game’s designer, John Borg and discussed the game and its developement with him.


Jody hooked us up with pinball designer John Trudeau for a tour around the factory. Since this will be the last factory tour given in the current building, as Stern will be moving to a new building in February 2015, Martin suggested to record the entire tour on video, including John’s commentary. The entire tour took about 17 minutes, but that is likely to be edited into a shorter version. John gave a great tour and was nice as always.


Following the tour I ran into Robin and Martijn van Mourik, the brothers who run the Pinside community. As they are from The Netherlands, just like me, we quickly caught up. Martin and John Borg joined us as well which became an interesting conversation about Pinside, game developement and lots of other interesting stuff.


Stern investor Dave Peterson kindly invited us for lunch at a nearby mexican place. Afterwards Jody printed us the press release of today about Stern Pinball releasing custom accesories for The walking Dead. These include a fish tank topper, a zombie head shooter rod, side panels for the inside of the cabinet and blood splattered side armor. Stern will be coming with another press release later this week, which I think is something to look forward to.


After Stern Martin and I drove to Pinball Life to pick up and order for a friend. Pinball Life is hosting an open house this Friday and they were busy making all the preparations. There were about 40 games setup to be played including the beer dispensing pinball machine and a construction around an Iron Man game, which is called Lionman. It’s like playing pinball with a handicap, which can be fun to do or watch others do. Other interesting games in the line up were white woods of Lord of the Rings and Cirqus Voltaire. Plus the latest games from Stern and a lot of other elder fun games. We didn’t stay that long and headed for the Westin in Wheeling, IL next. This hotel will be the center of pinball for the next four days.


We arrived around 5:00 PM and it turned out there were already quite a lot Expo visitors in the hotel. Games were still being setup. Around 8:00 PM the Bumperblast party started with free food (pasta, meatballs and chicken) and softdrinks. This year the music was provided by a band that featured pinball designer John Trudeau. They played rock classics and were actually pretty good, although the loud volume made it difficult to talk with other people in the room.


The setup of Expo is different than previous years, with the game room being in the former seminar room. That room is larger so more games are set up. There’s a nice variety of electro mechanical, solid state and dmd games.  Meanwhile the first vendors were setting up in the also larger vendor hall. Expo is about meeting people and it was great to see many familiar faces, or to get introduced to people you only know from online forums. All in all another great day and we haven’t even started yet 🙂 More reports in the coming days. This report will also be updated with photos and possibly some additional details that slipped my mind at the moment.