PINBALL WIZARDS CONVENTION 2007
Pinball Wizards Convention a.k.a. Allentown 2007
Allentown Travel Log by John Reuter
I set out on Friday morning, May 4th, from my place in Maine, an 8 hour trip, with a stop along the way in Mass. to pick up 2 fellow Pinheads We were headed to the Mecca, The Pinball Wizards Convention in Allentown, Pa. Our crew was part of a larger Boston Pinball Association contingency of at least 10 that made the trek from New England.
This was my 6th year in a row, and I have to say that it has always been worth the trip. The excitement in the air was palpable, with the great memories of past conventions increasing the anticipation.
There are many reasons I go, but number one is the chance to reconnect with tons of people who share the same passion. Where else can you find so many die hard Pinballers in one place for 3 days? Only a few places at best, and this one is ONLY 400 miles from my house.
So friends, old and new, are what it’s all about for me. In fact, I met Martin in person for the first time at Allentown last year, and Chuck Smith, a local collector with a killer fleet of (mostly) classic Ballys from nearby Quakertown, my first year. Hey Chuck!
I’ve bought a few machines and many parts at Allentown. With 104 pins to keep running I need a veritable parts depot at the house. Last year I brought home a Kings Of Steel with intact side decals, checking off another pin from my “gotta have” list.
Over the years I’ve found a nice looking Meteor for a friend, several backglasses from Mayfair and others, replacement ramps from Pinball Inc., multiple circuit boards, decals, plastic sets, and the usual assortment of coils, hardware, manuals, cleaning products and marital aids (at least that’s what they told me) from Gameroom Magazine, Marco Specialties, Pinball Parts Plus, Pinball Resource and all the fabulous flea market vendors who brave the scorching sun and torrential downpours that seem to alternate appearances at any outdoor event I attend.
Speaking of the weather, this year it was fantastic and that, along with an expanded area and several new vendors, made for the best flea market I can remember.
For those of you, like my traveling companions, Mark Ross and the mysterious “Smitty” (proud owner of a spanking new BBB), who relish the hunt, this is where Allentown really shines.
Needless to say, it’s all there if you just keep looking.
Of course the upgraded venue at the fairground is another recent improvement, far more comfortable and roomy than the old location, and without the fear of losing your parking spot if you leave for 5 minutes.
As a bonus, you get the world’s largest “food court” (without getting “malled”) right across the street, although as a possible downside, it may have put a dent in the hot dog sales. The awesome variety of home cooked food is almost worth the trip by itself.
Another big step has been the addition of the P3 tournament last year to the competitive line up. While the original “high score” contests are still a lot of fun, adding more events for serious players has only enhanced the appeal of the convention. The work of the P3 to organize and run the new format is greatly appreciated. As someone who has been hosting tournaments for 11 years myself, I understand the time and care that goes into planning and running an event that is fun, fair, workable and exciting to play in or watch. It’s a tall order, and even though there is always room for improvement, the P3 at Allentown is already recognized as one of the top competitive pinball events on the tour.
BPA homeboy Bowen also took 1st in the No Limit Expert and Ethan Blonder took 1st in the No Limit Advanced.
Nice going by all!
Now, in case you’re starting to think I’m just a homer, I do have one criticism of the convention. When I started going, I assumed I’d have a great playing experience. After all, with all those machines in one place, what else would you expect? So initially I was pretty disappointed to find so many of the pins in disrepair. You know, dead or stuck flippers, switch errors, eternal ball searches, and the one that baffles me the most, perfectly shopped, beautiful machines that no one bothers to level so they lean 3 inches to the right. Did all the levels in Pennsylvania get scooped up along with the duct tape during the last government disinformation campaign? Must have.
This brings me to the last part of the Allentown experience, the after parties. What else would a bunch of drooling pinball fanatics do after a full day of sensory overload, but go and play pinball half the night? This year, thanks to a couple of very accommodating local collectors, some of our BPA crew were treated to some awesome private collections.
On Friday night we took a little side trip towards Philly to the home of Todd MacCullough, known to many Allentown guests as “that really tall guy.”
Todd, who is the radio color commentator for the 76’ers and a former NBA center, has a nice mix of coin op stuff, including some beautifully restored mannequin style sports games and many cool pins, including Bonzai Run and Joust.
At last count, I think he had around 50 machines, or at least that’s what he’s been telling his wife. Todd was interviewed recently by Clay Harrell on TOPcast and anyone interested should check that out.
Thanks for the hospitality my friend.
Saturday after the show we stayed right in Allentown and paid a visit to Scott Charles, known as Seymour Shabow on rgp. Scott has another outstanding collection, with an emphasis on the classics.
I was introduced to Scott via the infamous Dr, Dave O’Neil, a noted classic Stern and Bally fan from the BPA. Scott has a lot of the same machines I own, so I knew right away he had good taste.
Highlights for me included a gorgeous Cheetah, my favorite old Stern, that kicked my ass, Medusa, Flight 2000, Sea Witch and a spectacular 8 Ball Deluxe.
Scott is a great host and a pretty fair player as well. I hope to return the favor if he ever finds himself in NE.
All in all it was an incredible weekend and it took me a couple of days just to come down from the endorphin buzz. I can’t wait until next year. I’m the guy with the idiotic grin, hope I see you there.