Date: January 24th - 26th, 2012
Just a mention of the name "EAG-Expo" seem to be enough to summon the rain clouds, and this year was no exception as the annual amusement trade show opened on a wet Tuesday morning at the ExCel London exhibition centre in London's Docklands.
EAG-Expo is not exclusively non-gaming products as there were plenty of reel-based (or 'analogue' as they are called) slot machines at the show, but the serious gaming and casino devices were set up across the other side of London at the ICE 2012 show in Earls Court.
We'll pay them a visit later, but like ICE, entry to EAG-Expo was free, although it was officially restricted to just trade visitors. Registration could be done on-line or at the entrance desk outside hall S2.
Inside the hall, the show appeared about as busy as usual but there were insufficient exhibitors to completely fill the hall, and oddly, several of the booths remained empty throughout the three days.
There may have been a wide variety of amusement devices, prizes and novelties on display, but we were there to check out the pinball and pinball-related products, and to highlight any oddities which grabbed our attention.
For pinball, the first stop had to be the Electrocoin stand where Stern's latest game AC/DC was being promoted.
The two games attracted a good crowd and seemed to be enjoyed by everyone who played them, surprising many who were not expecting them to be as much fun as they were.
Both Gary Stern and George Gomez were in attendance to help promote the game, signing assorted pinball products, and talking to fans and potential buyers.
The two AC/DC games on the Electrocoin stand weren't the only such games at the exhibition complex. In the Fox bar just outside the venue's entrance, attendees at the EAG-Expo welcome party on Tuesday night could play a third AC/DC machine.
Stern's didn't have the full-size pinball market to themselves at the EAG-Expo show, as Spanish manufacturer MarsaPlay were also in attendance on the stand of Spanish distributor Expendedora Kalash S.L.
The New Canasta game was attracting attention from casual visitors and industry professionals alike.
The Expendedora Kalash stand was filled with pinball in three different forms. Next to New Canasta was a new kids pinball and capsule dispenser called Zoo-Park Marisali (no, we don't know what it means either).
Unusually for this type of product, the game uses full-size flippers and a normal steel pinball, with a large red LED score display in the centre of the playfield. Collecting all twelve animals results in a toy capsule being dispensed at the front of the cabinet.
The third side of the Expendedora Kalash stand presented two dual-screen Nova Pinball Action video pinball machines from Axtion Pinball of Portugal.
The games were set up to showcase the on-line tournament system rather than the actual pinball games themselves, which is just as well as they were some pretty terrible video simulations from circa 1985.
Adjacent to the games was a video monitor showing the tournament system, the types of information captured from both the players and from the machine, and the configuration options available.
Elsewhere at the show, pinball turned up in a couple of places we'd seen it before, such as in these kids capsule and gumball dispensers which featured on several different exhibitors' stands.
The Trio-Tech Typhoon simulator ride also included a pinball game which put the rider in the place of the ball as they were shot, flipped and bounced around a playfield.
That's all the pinball we found at EAG-Expo, but here are a couple of items we found interesting at the show.
These guys are called Mandeville and Wenlock, and you'll be seeing quite a lot of them over the next six months as they are the official mascots of the London 2012 Summer Olympics which will be held just a couple of miles away from the EAG-Expo venue.
A totally unrelated product was being displayed on the Sega stand.
With video games now available on TVs, consoles, phones and tablets, at least there was always one place where you could escape the competitive frenzy and relax.
Well, not any more.
If you're feeling flush you might want to splash out on a urinal fighting game from Sega's IP Media Unit, where strength, stamina and precision are the skills if you want to finish first (or last).
Rather than end this report with that particular product, let's skip across London to Earls Court and pop into the ICE 2012 gaming show.
There was no sign of any recession at the ICE gaming show, where both halls of the Earls Court Exhibition Centre were packed with slots, cards and roulette table manufacturers.
Last year we brought you the Attack from Mars vs Revenge from Mars video slot from WMS Gaming, and once again it was WMS who kept the pinball theme alive with their new Mega Multiplier Super Shot video slots top box game.
Unfortunately there's little interaction with the pinball display - you get to drag back the plunger to launch the ball, but after that it just does what it does, and you end up with whatever it decides to award you.
We did think this flipper-shaped stand topper from Novomatic might herald another pinball-related slot machine...
What we found underneath the sign was not exactly what we were expecting.
These ladies were taking a break from promoting the company's new Marilyn slot machine to play some Rise of the Dragon (or at least make use the chairs on the stand).
So the WMS game was the only pinball involvement we found at ICE, and on that note we'll end this report from this year's EAG-Expo and ICE.
Next year ICE also moves to ExCel London, although it will be held in early February - a week after EAG-Expo - which will be the first time the two shows haven't run concurrently.
© Pinball News 2012