30th April 2005
Richard Wade reports on the first day of UK's only show dedicated to pinball, the Pinball Extravaganza in Margate, Kent.
It was an easy drive from London to Margate so we arrived early! The doors opened at 11.00am which meant there was a mini meeting of fellow collectors outside the main area. It made for a great opportunity to catch up with other pinball fans before the doors opened and the distractions began.
Five pounds to get in, once inside the first thing to strike you was just how many machines there were - loads.
There were multiple vendors, this year there seemed to be more second hand bargains, especially back glasses, My bargain this year was a Zaccaria generation 2 CPU board with no battery leakage & CPU intact for five pounds.
Cups of tea were only sixty pence which was most excellent. One of the great things about the show, other than the number of machines was the low ambient lighting which was perfect for playing pinball & terrible for taking photos, so sorry for the poor quality.
Nick from Pinballers Anonymous was there with his brand new Pinball Today magazine which upon initial and closer inspection is most excellent.
All the traders I talked to were most helpful & knowledgeable and had tons of stuff. Although there did not appear to be any major sellers stands (selling Novus by the litre, etc), those who were there had an excellent collection of bits & pieces.
Stands specialised in things such as second hand PCB’s, neon lights, playfield salvaged parts, manuals, Pin LED stuff, back glasses, pinball art, pinball badges, light bulbs by the box, flipper rebuild kits & many more other things too (for example loads of ROM burners).
There appeared to be a competition going on with the Stern Elvis pinball machine & there were loads of trophies awaiting those skillful winners as well.
Just like last year, I arrived early on Saturday and left early too, however unlike last year there were tons mores games, and in my books makes it far better than last year.
To try and be critical though, quite a few friends I spoke to said that they were annoyed at having to wait to play a game, but the quantity, condition, ambient lighting conditions, free play (for the vast majority of games), etc was a welcome thing for this kind of occasion (the only place I don’t personally expect to queue to play pinball is in someone’s house.)
Day two turned out much quieter than the first day and getting to play the games certainly wasn't a problem.
One of the things that struck me immediately was the lack of jukeboxes, video games and other assorted paraphernalia. The meant that the show area was slightly smaller than last year but that space was almost entirely dedicated to pinball games and parts.
One of the most exciting stands was from PinLED who were showing three new products.
This replacement dot matrix controller board for Williams WPC games is available now for £50 and is a redesigned circuit intended to reduce the stress on components and has switchable voltages to help preserve new DMD displays and extend the life of older ones.
PinLED also had their replacement power driver board, again for WPC systems. This isn't yet available but should be in late summer and will probably come in two flavours - one for WPC and WPC-S, and another for WPC-95. The board features much thicker tracks and an improved design to prevent burned components and connectors. It also features LED indicators all over the board to show fuse and supply conditions.
Available a little sooner is this Fliptronic board.
Designed to replace both Fliptronic 1 and 2 boards, it features the same LED design traits with surface mount components and LED indicators. This board should be ready in a couple of weeks.
Of course, getting the grand champion on the first play might have helped my decision but it also got me ready for my one and only go at the competition machine - Elvis. The game was new out of the box for the show but had a severe sound problem leaving many of the effects and much of the music garbled or distorted.
There were two daily competitions and an overall high score for the weekend, with trophies for all three. My earlier luck held out and the 230M score was enough to win both the Sunday prize and the overall competition too.
Although I could only stay a couple of hours, the number of things I didn't get to see and games I didn't get to play makes me think pinball fans could easily spend two days here without getting bored.
© Pinball News 2005