Date: 27h July, 2013
The arrival of each new Stern Pinball machine is usually greeted with an IFPA-sanctioned launch party, but this was the first such event held in the UK and was held to celebrate Matt Vince's purchase of a Master of Puppets Limited Edition Metallica machine, which he will be operating at The Pipeline in central London.
Matt already operates three machines here - The Addams Family, Scared Stiff and Whitewater, which sit alongside three owned by The Pipeline's owner, Thomas: AC/DC Premium, World Cup Soccer and Twilight Zone.
To celebrate Metallica's arrival, Matt suggested holding a launch party and the idea took off in less than two weeks.
Support came from Pinball Heaven who manage most home sales of Stern machines in the UK. They paid for the trophies, while the IFPA arranged for a Sparky model to be sent over. Stern, through their distributor Electrocoin, provided a translite, T-shirts, flyers and assorted promotional plastics, while Pinball Magazine provided a copy of the new second edition and numerous preview editions for the competitors. The Pipeline donated Pistonhead beers, T-shirts and beer buckets, and the IFPA's UK Country Director added some Metallica posters and a Metallica Master of Puppets T-shirt.
There were some last minute problems to sort out with the Metallica game. Like all UK LE and Premium games (along with many European and some US games), the hammer ball lock mechanism didn't work correctly. A new software release which was made available just a few hours before the party did improved the situation, but it certainly didn't cure it.
Then, the first of the three grave marker drop targets snapped off just before the party. A quick application of some Mylar over the resulting hole in the playfield removed the ball trap and made the game playable again.
The main event of the day was a free double high score tournament held on the new Metallica. Competitors could play two games at any point during the day, and they were ranked on the average of those two scores. The player with the highest average score would be declared the winner.
Scores were recorded by Justin Walker and shown on the bar's projector screen.
With scores of 41.7M and 98.5M making an average of 70.1M, Franck Bona was the winner. In second place was Stan Simpson on 57.7M and narrowly behind in third place was Matt Vince on 55.8M.
Franck was making a day trip to London from France, and took back with him the Sparky trophy, a Metallica party poster, a copy of Pinball Magazine #2, and a bucket of Pistonhead beer along with a T-shirt.
Here are the full results:
The top three in the Kids Division were:
Meanwhile, the top three in the Women's Division were:
The end of the main tournament was by no means the end of the launch party, as there was also a side-tournament to be played.
Starting at 8:30pm, this was also free to enter other than to pay for games played on the coin-operated machines. The format was a straight single elimination single game knockout, with the winner progressing to the next round and the loser out of the tournament. Fourteen players stayed behind to take part, with the matches and the machines drawn at random.
Matt Vince made up for his disappointment in the main tournament by winning the side event in a final played on... Metallica.
Here are the full results:
The party wrapped up around 10pm, when the Metallica was put on coin play and available for everyone to play along with the other machines at The Pipeline.
Everyone agreed the day had been a big success and, hopefully, it has laid the path for future Launch Parties to be held in the UK.
© Pinball News 2013