Date: May 24th - 26th 2008
With the aroma of barbequed burgers drifting through the air, the third annual Pinballers Anonymous Monster Meet got well and truly under way on this public holiday weekend at the end of May.
Based on a farm about 30 miles north-west of London, the company sells machines and spares around the world. But once a year, Pins Anon's Nick Bennett opens up their building to host three days of pinball play, chat and tournaments, called the Monster Meet. Entry cost £5 and covered any or all of the days.
This third event was held in their third different home, because since last year's Monster Meet, they made the move into new, larger premises right next door to their old building. The extra space allowed more machines and more room to move around which was certainly appreciated by everyone who attended.
There were 38 machines set up for recreational and tournament play. They were:
In addition, some video games and other assorted amusements were scattered around the building just in case visitors tired of the pinball.
The Monster Meet saw plenty of sales and trades taking place which meant some games were only available for part of the event's duration before being loaded into vehicles and driven off, while others were unloaded and set up to take their place.
Some running repairs took place to get a few machines up and running for the meet or to get others back in action as soon as possible after a fault appeared.
So there was a good selection of games to play but those looking for spare parts were not forgotten.
Visitors could browse the shelves of assorted components, or rummage through the boxes of circuit boards and bags of game-specific parts in the gazebo at the back of the building.
Saturday brought some great weather so the barbeque was fired up and people cooked assorted meaty and veggie favourites they'd brought along. The kitchen fridges were well stocked with food as well as the numerous beverages donated to the cause by visitors. In addition there were two coolers stocked with cans of Monster energy drinks provided by the makers which succeeded in keeping players alert into the small hours of the night.
Saturday also saw round five of the London & South East division of the UK Pinball League organised by David and Anne Raison. The league was played on Attack From Mars, Medieval Madness, Pinball Magic, Tales Of The Arabian Nights and Spider-Man. Sean Rowe took the honours here, although David Dutton would have grabbed top spot were he not a member of the Northern division instead and therefore not eligible.
Sunday was the second day of the Monster Meet and saw the second competitive event of the long weekend - the UK Pinball Cup. This WPPR-ranked tournament emulates the sudden-death style of the English FA Cup football competition where everyone is put into the draw and then pulled out in pairs to play a single game on a randomly drawn machine.
The winner would get their name engraved on the cup, receive a small replica to keep and would cut the pinball cake, provided by Nick. Additional prizes included promotional umbrellas from Bowers & Wilkins, fantasy figurines from Adrian Donati, music DVDs and promotional Monster Meet and Pinball Mania mugs.
A record 62 players entered this year's tournament so a qualifying round was played first with groups of three and four drawn on a random machine with the top two going into the first round proper.
Five rounds then followed to reduce the number of players from 32 to a final 2 who were Will Barber and Greg Mott. They played a final on a machine neither they, nor the two beaten semi-finalists Martin Ayub and John Oliver, had played. This turned out to be Tales Of The Arabian Nights.
In a nervous final, neither player took control but it was Will who came out ahead to win the UK Pinball Cup for 2008.
So Will Barber was first, Greg Mott second, Martin Ayub won the play off for third place, making John Oliver fourth.
Monday is traditionally the more relaxed day with a couple of less-formal competitions. In the one-handed Spider-Man contest, Nick came top of the 26 competitors but excluded himself to give first place to Richard Harvey with his 27,306,980. Second was Pete Hannan and third was Martin Riley.
The cross-handed Family Guy competition went to David Dutton with his score of 9,693,700 followed closely by Greg Ward with Grahame Fairall in third.
The winners of both competitions took home fantasy figurines while the runners-up received Monster Meet mugs.
All of which brings us to the end of this year's Monster Meet. The move to a large building certainly helped make this year's show a success along with the addition of a separate kitchen area and chill-out room.
The games were varied and interesting. Stan Simpson's Attack From Mars fitted with four powerballs caused much amusement as did the moment the Haunted House was brought back to life only to be drowned out by the Indiana Jones next door who was feeling left out and so switched to maximum volume.
Next year's Monster Meet is provisionally planned for the same holiday weekend next year but check our Diary section for confirmed dates when they are announced.