Thursday is the first full day of Pinball Expo, which traditionally starts with the Stern factory tour. This year taking photos was not allowed. There was a long cue of people outside the factory to take the tour. Stern employees from various departments gave the tours and explained how each element of the game is assembled an put together.


At the end of the tour there was a merchandise desk with t-shirts and other goodies, as well as a free souvenir pin and some 2015 trading cards. Pinball Magazine also had a table where Santiago Ciuffo’s PINBALL book was sold. Within an hour all books were sold, but those that missed out at the factory can still get a copy of the book at the stand of Mike Pacak.


When I got back to the Westin I went to see what happened to the pallet of books that disappeared the night before. Luckily they were found and I stocked them at the stand of Mike Pacak. I bought some translites from Mike as well, which will be a challenge to take home due to their size.


With so many pinball industry people walking around at Expo I had made a list of people to talk to for the next Issue of Pinball Magazine. I was able to talk to some of them, which turned out to be very nice. On one interview I found out my recording device had not recorded the interview, so I went back. The guy told me he wasn’t going to repeat it all and I had to do it from memory. In order to remember as much as he said I recorded myself talking about what he just told me.


I also attended a couple of seminars. John Popadiuk’s seminar was very interesting. He showed the rules of his company, which appealed to me a lot. I also watched a part of the Flash Gordon seminar by Claude Fernandez and Kevin O’Connor. After the seminar I took photos of Kevin’r original backglass art. I also talked for over an hour with Claude about his days at Capcom Pinball. This interview is likely to be published in the upcoming Issue of Pinball Magazine.


Later that night I attended the seminars by Dutch Pinball, about making The Big Lebowski and the Jersey Jack Pinball seminar about The Hobbit. Sadly Phil, who was doing most of the talking during the Dutch Pinball seminar was not using the microphone, which made it a bit hard to follow. At some point I left the JJP seminar to go to my room. I was stunned to discover I could watch a live stream of the seminar on my laptop. Great service. Later on I took a closer look to the playfield of the game. Personally it looked to me like the metal ramps could easily be made out of plastic, similar to the boat ramps in Fish Tales. Jack announced a gold version of the game, which will cost $ 9,000. To me it seems prices of new games are now really starting to become absurd.


In between seminars I was invited by Dennis Nordman to a dinner with the guys from Silver Castle Pinball. They are working on a real pinball version of Timeshock. Once they annunced their plans a few months ago I brought them in contact with Dennis as he had some suggestions for them. They appreciated his feedback a lot and the dinner was fun. Many obstacles you come across when building a pinball machine were discussed and Dennis gave some helpful tips and tricks.


Later that night I was invited to attend the Dutch pinball VIP party in the penthouse. All three Big Lebowski pinball machines were set up in the room and were played all the time. With other reporters also present it looked a bit like a press party, but it was great to be there. As I was pretty tired I left the party around 2:00 AM to get some sleep. My own seminar was coming up the next morning and I wanted to be awake in time to do the last preparations.


Photos will be added later on.


Free Pinball Expo Souvenir Guide download
While the seminars had started I received an email I was waiting for: With this being the 30th anniversary of Pinball Expo I had suggested to Rob Berk to host a PDF version of this year’s Souvenir Guide. I reasoned it would not only promote Expo, but benefit the advertisers in the Guide as well. Plus that it nice to share something with the pinball community. Rob loved the idea and the PDF had just been sent to me, so I quickly went upstairs to make it available. Click the link below, which will take you to the download page. Fill in your first name and email address in the required fields and you will instantly receive a link that will download the Souvenir Guide to your computer. Enjoy!

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