| SOUTH COAST SLAM
Date: January 23 & 24th, 2010
Pictures by Pinball News, Eric Andries, Dawn Raison and Ivan Durneen.
Coming out of a chance conversation about taking a few games to a local hall, the first South Coast Slam was held this past weekend in the seaside town of Worthing.
Organiser Will Barber arranged for collectors all across the UK and Ireland to bring their machines along to complement those of local owners and hired The Charmandean - a masonic hall in Worthing - to host the gathering.
The event was well supported and as an added bonus, all proceeds would go to the Rockinghorse charity to benefit sick children in Sussex.
On a wet Friday, cars and vans rolled up to unload their pinballs along with lots of power cables, items for sale, raffle prizes and the tournament computer scoring system.
By late afternoon almost 40 machines had arrived and been set up in the main room.
There was a second adjacent room which would be used for assorted tournaments during the show but which was in use and therefore unavailable on Friday.
With the bulk of the set-up work done, the team retired around 10pm to a local Chinese restaurant and assorted local bars to relax before the big day on Saturday.
On Saturday, the intrepid few arrived at 7am to start setting up more machines and to get the tournament area for the first competitive event of the weekend. By the time the show opened to the public at 10am, a total of 61 machines were available to play - 53 in the main hall and 8 in the tournament area.
The machines in the main hall were:
The hall was close to ideal for pinball. There were lots of power outlets, the wooden floor allowed machines to be moved easily, while the lighting was suitably subdued, without any harsh reflections on the playfield glass.
It wasn't all pinball though. This youngster spent many enjoyable minutes playing with a Motocross Go! driving game, despite it not working or even being plugged in.
Show entry costs £6 per day or £10 for both days and there was also a prize raffle where the main winner would be taking home a Popeye pinball machine, generously donated by Ivan Durneen.
Just along from the raffle machine, Gary Flower was there all day Saturday selling assorted pinball memorabilia and collectibles.
Saturday was also the day of the main tournament of the weekend - the first ever Super Slam Showdown, organised by Pinball News.
The format consisted of two sections - a qualifying round followed by a series of play-offs - and 48 players took part including competitors traveling from Belgium, France and Ireland to play.
The top players would receive crystal etched trophies, posters from Billy Mitchell and bottles of Rickey's World Famous Sauce. The winner would also be custodian of the Super Slam Showdown silver cup for the next 12 months.
In the qualifying round, players could choose any 5 of the 8 available machines on which to play a single game. The top three scorers on each machine were guaranteed a place in the play-offs, but if they also qualified on other machines, players in lower positions filled in for them to give a total of 24 qualifiers.
The machines used were Attack From Mars, Doctor Who, Maverick, Terminator 3, Frankenstein, The Shadow, Cosmos and Whitewater. Current scores were shown on a projector screen so players had an idea of the scores they would need to achieve in order to qualify.
Once the qualifying round was over the play changed to a head-to-head best-of-three knockout style as the 24 qualifiers were reduced to 12, then 6 and a final 3 who played in the final by each choosing one machine to play and earning 5 points for winning, 2 points for coming second and no points for a last place finish.
The final three were Franck Bona from France, Eddie Mole and Martin Ayub, both from England.
Eddie had first choice of machine and picked Frankenstein.
It proved to be a costly decision as Martin took first place with 2.3 billion points, ahead of Franck in second and Eddie third.
Martin chose next and despite knowing it was a favourite of Franck's, he picked the Whitewater which had earned him his qualifying place.
It took until his third ball for Martin's choice to be vindicated when a series of triple jackpots gave him first place on this game too, with Franck second and Eddie third.
With 10 points against Franck's 4 and Eddie's 0, Martin had already won the final going into the third and final game which was Franck's choice of Doctor Who. This time Eddie took control and won the game, leaving Martin in second and Franck in third.
Those 5 points nudged Eddie ahead of Franck and gave him overall second place.
In the 4th-6th place play-offs played in the same format as the final, Sean Rowe won to secure 4th place ahead of Stan Simpson and Mike Parkins in 5th and 6th respectively.
Will Barber awarded the prizes of crystal trophies, commemorative posters and hot sauce for the top 4 players and a silver cup to the winner.
The full results of the first Super Slam Showdown are:
The show wound down around 10pm on Saturday night as visitors left for the journey home or to the nearby hotel for post show drinks, food and a friendly poker session for those staying for the next day.
Sunday brought a few additional machines and a number of different activities to entertain the visitors.
At midday the London & South East region of the UK Pinball League held their first meeting of the 2010 season in the tournament area. Playing on Maverick, Theatre of Magic, The Machine - Bride of Pinbot, Party Zone and Tales from the Crypt they played alongside two new high score competitions.
The kids high score competition was played on Attack From Mars while next door, the adult version was held on The Lord of the Rings.
Meanwhile, there was a most unusual high score competition being played in a specially adapted gazebo as the Psych Out Tournament took place.
Arranged by Ivan Durneen, for £1 a go players could try to play a Twilight Zone while various techniques were employed to prevent you, from smoke, bright lights and loud psychedelic music to wearing kaleidoscopic glasses.
Here, Greg Mott tries to get the high score without freaking out.
You can take a video look around the Psych-Out zone in the video below on YouTube.
Just after 1pm, a special guest was spotted in the hall playing a Monster Bash.
Suspicions were confirmed when he entered the Psych Out tent to try on some new eyewear.
After touring the show, Gary Stern went to the quieter bar area to talk to an audience of pinball fans about Stern Pinball's history, its plans for future games, the state of the amusement business as well as some licensing ideas which never made it.
Gary began by explaining the history of the company, how his father Sam Stern got into pinball in the first place, how the present company began in 1986 as Data East Pinball, how Sega bought the division in 1994 and how they sold it in 1999 to create Stern Pinball.
He spoke briefly about the layoffs at the end of 2008 and the new investment first reported here in November, before moving on to his oft-repeated prediction that any other company attempting to build pinballs would fail, either on their own or drag Stern down with them.
For the first time Gary spoke publicly about creating a succession so that the company could continue after he retires, suggesting the new investors could provide that continuity.
Talking about the market now, he said 40-50% of his machine sales were exported, mostly to Europe and Australia. Exports were one of the three markets for his machines, he said. The others were operators and home buyers in the US and he stressed that home buyers were by and large not the expert players and enthusiasts, but the casual players who want a machine for their games room.
Gary continued by talking about his aim to inject more chance into his products to reduce the dominance of the skilled player and make the rules simpler and more understandable to the casual player. He said games were 90% skill and 10% chance, while he wants to create equal amounts of both in his games to create 3 minute games rather than 45 minute ones.
After extolling the virtues of playing pinball on location and encouraging bar owners to install and promote their machines, he spoke about the new Big Buck Hunter Pro machine he would be showing at the EAG-Expo exhibition over the coming week.
Now you can listen to Gary Stern's talk. Either click below to stream it to your computer or click on the link below to listen or download it as an MP3 file.
Get the Flash Player to hear this audio clip.
After his talk, Gary answered questions from the audience and then toured the show talking to pinball fans. The UK Pinball League meeting also picked up just in time to complete the remaining games before some of the machines had to be taken back home.
Just after 3pm it was time for the prize raffle. Apart from the grand prize of the Popeye machine, there were also many additional prizes donated by Pinball Heaven, Harvey brewery, Steve Ritchie, Pinball Renaissance, Lloyd Olson and several other generous donors. The included beer and champagne gift sets, fleeces, t-shirts, toys, umbrellas and a signed playfield design.
The top prize was won by Doug Smith and once again, all proceeds from the raffle went to the Rockinghorse charity.
After the raffle draw, a seminar all about the FreeWPC pinball controller system was presented by Ewan Meadows.
Ewan has been using FreeWPC to write new rules for his Twilight Zone machine and used the seminar to explain how the system works, the possibilities it offers and to engage with others who might be able to contribute to the FreeWPC project.
Created by Brian Dominy, FreeWPC allows new code to be written and burned to ROMs to drive the existing WPC hardware in a machine. It completely replaces the Williams code and so allows different rules and display animations to be created without having to replace any of the boards in the backbox.
Ewan used VPinMAME to show how rules could be created, tested and played before trying them on a real machine.
The high score competitions on The Lord of the Rings and Attack From Mars continued throughout the afternoon, as did the Psych Out Tournament but at 4pm the winners were announced.
The junior high score competition was won by Martyn Raison who received his trophy and prizes from Will.
The adult high score competition was won by Nick Marshall who had to leave for the journey home before the trophy presentation could take place.
Nick continued his success by winning the Psych-Out Trophy, playing in the Freak Out tent with those kaleidoscopic glasses to score an amazing 200M on Twilight Zone.
With all the competitions decided, the raffle prizes awarded and seminars presented, the first ever South Coast Slam drew to a close and it was time to start packing away.
The last of the machines weren't picked up until the next day but by 7pm on Sunday the hall was pretty much empty, leaving a weekend of great memories and the chance to catch up with old friends (both human and electro-mechanical) to chase away the winter blues. Plus the 'Slam raised around £700 ($1100) for the Rockinghorse children's charity.
© Pinball News 2010