PLAY EXPO 2014
Date: 11th & 12th October, 2014
Play Expo is the UK's largest console, computer and arcade games exhibition and it returned to EventCity in Manchester for its third year. As in previous years, it is largely about console and retro computing, but the cavernous hall is also home to the country's largest public pinball collection.
We will be reporting live from the show across the weekend, but today is set-up day, so let's have a look to see what has arrived so far.
A short walk from the pinballs, the video game guys were setting up their own impressive display of arcade machines.
The show opened to the public at 11am on Saturday, but the queues were building up outside long before the doors finally opened.
There were plenty of visitors dressed as game characters. We shall see more of them later in this report.
You can see the queue in this short video.
The doors duly opened at 11am and the flood of visitors began to pour into the show hall. Once it started, the line moved remarkably quickly, and it wasn't long before everyone was admitted to the show.
Some additional stands had been set up on Saturday morning. Pinball Palace had a stand with ColorDMD displays and Rottendog boards, as well as copies of Pinball Wizard magazine.
The Forbidden Planet game was also set up, although it was only in attract mode and not playable yet. Here's our exclusive look at the machine so far.
At the end of one row of pinballs, the Teenage Cancer Trust has a stand to promote their work. The TCT is the chosen charity for the Northern Lights Pinball team.
A little further along the same row, Stern's new The Walking Dead was available to play, and a queue to play it soon built up.
Gary Stern arrived at the show on Saturday morning to help promote the game and install the latest version of the software.
Gary later had a special medical.
Pinball Heaven also has a The Wizard of Oz, an Iron Man Vault Edition and Star Trek Pro which were available to play, and one which was not - a pristine refurbished Funhouse for the princely sum of £6,995 ($11,200, €8,650).
The pinballs were arranged in seven long back-to-back rows, while the size of the venue meant there was plenty of room between the rows.
Here's a list of the 118 pinballs we recorded on Sunday morning.
While we saw a number of costumed visitors in the queue outside, there were far more in evidence once the show was in full swing.
Dressing up as your favourite character is known as Cosplay (costume play) and is a big thing at games conventions such as this. It had its own seminars area and changing rooms.
You can take our exclusive video wal around the show which this year is even longer than ever. Enjoy our Eighteen Minute Tour of Play Expo 2014.
The Pinball Mania NBA Challenge finals took place at 4:45pm on Saturday.
After a close final it was Colin Clunie who triumphed over second-placed Ad Jonker. Richard Rothwell-Jackson was third.
Straight after the NBA Challenge final, the play-offs for the AC/DC Shoot to Thrill competition began.
In the qualifying round, players could choose a song and play a one ball game. Whoever lasted longest on that song would progress to the play-offs.
This gave twelve quarter finalists who played in groups of three to reduce the numbers down to the final four.
In the final, the last man or woman still playing without trapping the ball would be the winner.
One by one they dropped out. First Kate, then Richard, leaving Franck and Jim to see who could keep plaing their single ball the longest. In the end it was Jim who kept going to take first place.
Sunday's action began at 10am, and without the queues from the previous day. In fact the show was noticeably quieter, meaning it was possible to find a free pinball to play without any waiting.
Sunday was also the day for the Pinball News PinGolf Tournament, which ran from 11am until 3pm.
Three machines were used - X-Men Magneto LE, The Lord of the Rings and NBA Fastbreak - each of which had two objectives (or 'holes') which had to be completed in the fewest number of balls (or 'shots'). The total number of shots used for all six holes gave the course total.
Last year's winner Wayne Johns raced to the top of the leader board with his score of 11. Franck Bona pipped him with a course total of 10, but it was Andrew Foster who returned to the clubhouse with the lowest score on his card with a 9. Trophies were presented by Pinball News editor, Martin Ayub.
With the PinGolf Tournament completed it was time for us to pack everything away, jump in the car and head for the airport to fly to Pinball Expo.
This year's Play Expo was a big success for everyone involved. Visitor numbers appeared to be significantly up on the previous year, and visitors flocked to the Northern Lights Pinball area, keeping the machines busy all weekend.
The number of side events also increased. Jim Askey's lab contained some very unusual machines which proved popular with visitors, especially those connected to the dance mat and the games controller. The South Coast Slam brought their AC/DC Shoot to Thrill competition along for the first time, while the high score, NBA Challenge and PinGolf competitions all returned to provide a challenge and help raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
The Northern Lights Pinball team put on a great show in their enlarged area of the EventCity hall, and although it will be hard to beat, they will no doubt be back again next year for an even bigger showing.
© Pinball News 2014