IN THE HALL
It's something of a tradition at Expo that the grand opening of the hall never takes place on time. This year that tradition was upheld.
There's no doubt that Pinball Expo is a smaller show now. There is a significant amount of empty floor space in the two exhibition halls and this is largely due to the reduced number of games set up to play.
The type of games available has also changed - there are fewer new games which means that there is a good spread across all years. Curiously, this year I found I was playing older games from the '70s out of choice. There were some really excellent games from that era and from the '80s which tend to be ignored by those of us more used to the games of the last 10 years.
That's not to suggest that there was any shortage of more modern games. If you only wanted to play dot matrix games you could exist on a diet of these alone.
A problem from previous years is the unavailability of some of the games that were set up. This was a problem to some extent again. There were several games that were not set on free play for some reason and other older games needed a means of racking up credits such as a very low replay score.
There wasn't a huge problem with games disappearing part way through the show although a few did just that after being sold.
Credit must go to those who brought custom or prototype games along as they were especially popular - the Circus Voltare with outline artwork and prototype rules was an interesting exhibit, and there was the production version alongside to make comparisons.
It's pleasing to be able to report that there was a good selection of spares and game parts for sale from several vendors.
Mike Pacak has his usual collection of flyers, backglasses, translites, books and playfields for sale and in a nice gesture, he was giving away flyers in the rack shown above. The sign requested that people only take one of each flyer per day and happily most people complied with this.
Mayfair Amusements has an excellent selection of spares for most games and they got a lot of my money with translites at $15, but I refused to go down the path of replacing all my pinballs with special "Mirror-finish" versions at $10 for 4. I was quite content to come back with a bag of 20 regular pinballs to weigh down my luggage.
The competition was played out on Stern's new Monopoly game. There were eight machines set up on fairly steep slopes which helped cut down game times but even then there were lengthy waits to play at most times of day or night.
The results were:
One of the most interesting games in the exhibit came from a company called Clippard. Their Air Command pinball was unique as it ran not on electricity but compressed air.
At the start of each game you give the machine an initial charge of compressed air and you have to use this charge to operate the flippers and all the targets. Once the air has run out the game is over. You can use as many balls as the air supply allows.
Each target, when hit, uses some of the air to trigger the target and some to add to your score. In keeping with the design, the score is kept by an analogue rotary pressure meter in the backbox. This means that your exact score can only ever be estimated and in the only game I played the score went off the end of the scale but you can't "roll over" the score like a more regular game.
The Air Command pinball game was the subject of one of the seminars held at Pinball Expo.
In part three we will look at what the various seminar speakers had to say and show to the audience.
Click here to see part three.
Click here to see part one.
© Pinball News 2002