UK PINBALL SHOW 2007
Date: 29th - 30th September 2007
Pictures by: Malcolm Lashley, Calvers, Pinmanic, Melody Images, Phillip Eaton & Pete Clare.
The move was prompted by a combination of excessive costs for the previous venue and the desire to provide something for all the family to enjoy apart from the chance to immerse yourself in pinball for a weekend. Wicksteed Park has a wide range of activities and rides for youngsters and non-playing partners as well as being set in pleasant countryside with camping facilities.
To help fund the show, several members of the UK Pinball Group came together to donate £100 ($200) each as a deposit for the venue. If the show paid for itself they could expect some or all of that back, but nothing was guaranteed. In the end though, Nokia - the sponsor of the first two UK Pinball Shows - agreed to sponsor this third show too, courtesy of Nokia's Mark Squires.
The show was held in The Pavilion - a large hall divided into three sections. An adult one day pass was £10 ($20) which included a child pass too, or £17 ($34) for the whole weekend, also with an equivalent child pass. Child passes were £2.50 ($5) a day or £4 ($8) for the weekend. Those who brought machines to the show were entitled to a free adult and child pass for the whole weekend for each machine they brought.
Searching for a suitable new venue was a lengthy process and by the time one was found it was already booked for the evening before the show, which meant all the set-up had to take place on the morning of the first show day.
So, at 6am on Saturday machines began to be unloaded, stands were set up, banners hung, the electrical cabling installed and the tournament systems connected and tested.
The Pavilion is divided into three broad areas - The Foyer, The Ballroom and The North Bar. Visitors entered the show through The North Bar where there was an information desk run by Extreme Tilt to answer visitors' questions and allow them to report problems with the machines as well as buy show souvenirs and merchandise.
The North Bar included Chris Poibug's Pinball Thru The Ages display of 14 machines in pinball's many years of evolution, ranging from a 1932 Mills Official bagatelle through to a 2007 Stern Family Guy with information cards explaining each machine's importance.
There were also several vendors in the North Bar. 777 Heaven had a display of Japanese Pachislo slot machines and Pachinko ball bearing games. Gary Flower had a table of assorted pinball parts and collectibles while Scott Hawkins was showing his Electropin concept pinball game.
The Ballroom was largely occupied by the various tournaments which we'll look at shortly, and a seating area for spectators.
The Foyer was a mixture of parts and machines. Show organisers Pinballers Anonymous teamed up with Gazza's Pinballs to occupy the central area with table after table of assorted pinball parts and spares. There were so many, you could easily have spent half a day just rummaging through the bags and boxes, unearthing many buried treasures along the way.
They were joined by Albert Medaillon who was selling lighting products. He had a number of neon signs suitable for a game room, but he was also selling LED kits for various modern Williams/Bally machines - designed to completely replace all incandescent lamps with LED equivalents. The kits ranged from Earthshaker at £53 ($106) up to Medieval Madness at £78 ($156).
Machines were arranged around the outer walls of The Foyer, in two rows either side of the long corridor leading to the North Bar, and in several rows in the North Bar itself.
In The Ballroom, Cosmic Amusements has two UltraPin machines for demonstration and sale. They attracted a lot of interest and at least one of them was sold during the show.
When the show was in the planning stages, there was some concern that after two years, enthusiasm for the show may have subsided and some complacency set in, which might not produce enough machines for a decent show. That suspicion continued until a couple of weeks before the event, when Mark Squires set up a Wiki web site where those bringing their machines could register and also see what others were bringing so duplicates could be minimised.
Unofficially, people were talking about 70 machines being enough to make a good show and if the number rose to 100, everyone would be very happy. Within a few days of the Wiki being set up, the number of machines was already nudging 100 and it was known there were others who didn't know about the site bringing more machines.
There was never going to be the number of machines at the previous show when a record 176 were present, but when every game had been unloaded and set up, there was a total of 148 pinball machines and the 2 UltraPins. Clearly, we had a show.
There was a central key repository in case of machine issues, and head technician Andy Netherwood of Pinball Mania fame was kept busy throughout, running around sorting out problems and faults as they occurred.
As with the previous two shows, the Pinball News team were running a number of tournaments but some changes had been made for 2007. For a start, the old single-day High Score Competitions we had run in 2005 and 2006 were boosted into a brand new two-day tournament - the UK Pinball Open.
Over the past year, competitive play in the UK has grown quite considerably, thanks to the establishment of a national league and events such as the UK Pinball Cup. The High Score Competition was designed to get players used to playing competitively and now, with over 100 players taking part in the league and 54 in the Cup, it was time to capitalise on that enthusiasm.
Registration for the qualifying round of the Open began shortly after 11am with Adeline Prevost at the tournament desk. The £5 ($10) entry fee got you a game on each of the six machines used for qualifying. They were: High Speed 2 - The Getaway, Medieval Madness, Fathom, Attack From Mars, Jurassic Park and Champion Pub.
Players could only try to qualify once and their scores on each machine were ranked against all other scores on the machine to earn ranking points. The top score earned 100 points and the lowest score 1 point. (Any unplayed machines scored 0 points.)
Qualification began at midday and continued until 5pm when no further entries were allowed, although those already playing could continue with their six games. By 5:30pm we had the final results of all 51 competitors, with the top 19 continuing on to Sunday's final rounds.
The qualifying results were:
Another new feature for 2007 was the scoring system. Created by systems team Phillip Eaton and David Raison, it used two projectors and three monitors to display scores and rankings throughout both days and it allowed UK Pinball Open head Richard Wade to enter scores directly into the system using wireless PDAs.
Scores were tapped in at the machine and then immediately sent by Wi-Fi to the main system for inclusion in the rankings. The score was then sent back to the PDA and shown to the player so they could confirm the recorded score was correctly entered.
After a few teething problems establishing the connection, the wireless score entry worked reliably and is something that can be used for future UK Pinball tournaments.
During the Open tournament, random prize draws were made giving all competitors the chance to win prizes such as hot chilli sauces from the Funspot Tournament donated by Walter Day of Twin Galaxies and pinball t-shirts from SS Billiards and Pinball Renaissance.
While the Open was taking place on one side of The Ballroom, over on the other side, the UK Pinball Team Tournament was under way. Sixteen teams of four players had signed up to take part at a cost of £10 ($20) per team.
Several of the teams wore matching team t-shirts with one - Tony Mellows's Magic Moments team - taking the theme to the extreme.
Teams were split into two pools - A and B - and played a four-player game on each of the three machines in their pool. As in the Open, each team member's score was then ranked against all other scores on that machine and they earned ranking points. The sum of the individual team members' scores was the score for the team.
The sixteen teams registered were:
German Pinheads - Albert Medaillon, Martin Hotze,
Gregor Zimmerer, Peter Scheldt
Play was delayed by an unfortunate number of machine breakdowns both from the original line-up and even the machines that were brought in as replacements subsequently failed. Pool A was especially affected as they got through a Judge Dredd, a replacement Judge Dredd, a Black Rose, a Shadow, a NASCAR before finally settling on a Pirates Of The Caribbean as the replacement machine. To speed things along, only 2 out of the intended 3 machines were played. Pool B had an easy time of things by comparison with just a sticky flipper on Scared Stiff and a failed coil sleeve on Baywatch delaying play.
Eventually though, both pools got through their opening rounds to produce the following results:
The top two teams from each pool then played again on the machines in their opposite pool which meant the German Pinheads and Brummie Ball Bangers played on Lord Of The Rings and Scared Stiff, while the Yorkshire Flippers and Martians Attack played on Baywatch and Indiana Jones.
This produced a very tight outcome in pool B as you can see below with the top team going through to the final.
So it was the Yorkshire Flippers versus the German Pinheads in the final, played out on the Mystery Machine - a machine wrapped up in a big black bag until this point, so nobody could get an advantage by playing it, or practicing on another one elsewhere in the hall.
The bag was removed to reveal a Stern Spider-Man, supplied by Stern's UK distributor Electrocoin.
The German Pinheads played their 4-player game first to record their scores. The Yorkshire Flippers then followed, with points awarded for each position. The scores were...
...which resulted in the German Pinheads winning by a combined score of 225 to 150.
The Yorkshire Flippers were second, the Brummie Ball Bangers third and the Martians Attack fourth. WPPR ranking points ranging from 12.5 to 0.5 were awarded to all Team Tournament players with Peter Scheldt earning maximum points for being in the top 25% of players in rounds 1 and 2, as well as being in the winning team.
As if all that wasn't enough, back over by the Open tournament, the UK Pinball Kids Tournament was taking place on a beautifully modified Theatre Of Magic - complete with working tiger saw and centre post. The tournament was open to kids aged 13 and under, and cost just £1 ($2) to enter, with players able to enter as often as they wanted.
The grand prize for the winner was a Zizzle Marvel - Heroes and Villains home pinball machine, kindly donated by John Popadiuk Jr and brought back to the UK by Keith. The prize was set up and on display for competitors to play.
When the tournament closed at 5pm, the winner was Martyn Raison whose score of 503,376,100 won him a trophy and the Zizzle machine.
Second place went to Ben Inett with 367,150,250 while third was Michael Donati with his score of 353,255,360 both of whom received trophies and prizes donated by Pinball Renaissance.
The show ended its first day officially at 7pm but in practice stayed open until later for those who could stand the pace. For many though, the 6am start and the hard work involved in setting everything up so quickly took their toll.
Sunday's action began at 10am and although a few machines had been removed or sold, the vast majority were still present and ready to play.
Over in the tournament area, some rearranging had taken place to set up the 9 machines required for the first round of the finals of the UK Pinball Open.
The 19 qualifiers from the previous day were joined by 17 pre-qualifiers - players from the UK Pinball League who had finished at the top of their regional leagues. They were:
Eddie Mole, Ian Thurston, Tom Hare, Andrew Stockdale, Nick Marshall, Greg Mott, Martin Ayub, Roy Bussink, Garry Speight, Dan Prachar, Stan Simpson, Kevin Burrows, Phil Dixon, Andy Sims, Martyn Raison, Eddie Lehan and Aid Cooper.
The combined competitors were then split into two groups - A and B - with the lowest placed qualifiers from Saturday and the League (Group A) playing first at 11am, the higher placed qualifiers (Group B) got an extra couple of hours of rest as they didn't start playing until 1pm. Three competitors either didn't turn up in time or chose not to play, so stand-by qualifiers Will Barber, Alexander Zurkowski and Helen Colman took their places to make up the 36 players.
The 18 players in Group A were divided into pairs and allocated a machine on which to play two 2-player games. Players took it in turns to be player 1 and took their best score of the two games.
When the two games had been played, competitors moved to a new machine and played two games with a different partner. They then did this a third time to complete the first round for their group.
Before each new machine was played, competitors were given 30 seconds of warm-up time to get a feel for the machine. After 30 seconds were elapsed, the second player also got the same 30 seconds before the real games commenced.
When Group A finished their games, Group B took over and played theirs in the same manner. Once again, all players' scores were ranked against everyone else's scores on each machine and ranking points awarded. Their total score was the sum of their ranking points on the three machines they played.
The results were as follows, with the top 8 players progressing to the Semi-Finals.
For the semi-finals, competitors were again split into two groups - positions 1,3,5 & 7 went into one group while positions 2,4,6 & 8 went into the other. They played a single 4-player game on different machines - Lord Of The Rings for the first group and Whitewater for the second.
Like all the machines used in the tournament, they were pre-selected by Open Tournament head Richard Wade as fair and exciting machines for use in a tournament. Once the previous round was over, they were brought into the tournament area and set up ready for the semi-finals. The top two in each game would go through to the final.
The two matches brought some upsets as the top qualifiers in both groups went out. The results from the two semi-finals were:
Lord Of The Rings
And so we came to the final of the UK Pinball Open. Players chose their play order with the lowest numbered qualifier choosing first as the Spider-Man machine from yesterdays Team Tournament finals was set up.
In a tense game, Eddie gained the lead early on and his 54 million score proved to be unassailable after the other players' three balls, making him the first UK Pinball Open champion.
Shortly afterwards in the awards ceremony Eddie received his trophy.
Second, third and fourth placed trophies were then awarded to the runners-up.
In addition to their trophies, the top four also received cash prizes made up from the tournament entry fees from Saturday of £127.50 for first, £63.75 for second, £38.25 for third and £25.50 for fourth.
Plus they also received prizes donated by Nokia of mobile phones and branded sportswear, a £50 voucher for Pinball Mania donated by Julian Hepworth and a Tilt! The Battle To Save Pinball DVD from director/producer Greg Maletic.
The Open also incorporated the finals of the UK Pinball League, so final placings for the League were decided by finishing positions of League players. Both Eddie Lehan, Martin Ayub and Tom Hare play in the League, so they finished first, second and third respectively. Fourth place was decided by the results from the semi-finals. With the highest percentage of the winner's score, Greg Mott clinched fourth place in the League finals.
As winner of the League national finals, Eddie won a glass trophy and has his name engraved on the annual Pinball Wizard Trophy, donated by Pinball Wizard magazine.
The final award went to show organiser Nick Bennett. The boxed medal included an engraved plaque in gratitude for the huge amount of work he has put into running the three UK Pinball Shows.
And so, with all the awards presented, it was time to close the show. After two days of pinball action, machines could be dismantled, computers unplugged, stands packed away and cables rolled up and put away. Trucks and vans rolled up as machines and crates were loaded and what had taken five hours to set up, took just over two hours to take down.
For many, the show didn't end there but continued over the following days as machines were returned to their owners, vans driven back to the hire company and boxes were emptied. Special thanks must go to Stan Simpson who spent three days before the show collecting machines from private collectors and two days after, returning them all.
While Nick is undoubtedly the driving force behind the show, it couldn't happen without the contribution of machines and effort of many others. The members of the UK Pinball Group came together once again to supply the vast majority of the machines present from their private collections while members of the Tournament Team spent many weeks before the show working out the format, rules and machines to be used, and setting up and testing the various parts of the registration, scoring and display systems.
Moving to a new venue is always a learning experience and this show was no different. Some lessons have been learned to make the next show even better and with luck there will be a day before the next show to set everything up and iron out any problems.
The new tournament formats were well received and the UK Pinball Open will form the basis of future tournaments including, perhaps, the European Championships if the UK holds it at some point. There may also be another tournament added on Sunday for those visitors who can only make it for one day.
But most importantly, the UK Pinball Show has survived the move away from Birmingham and when all the sums have been done, may even have returned a small profit. As with other shows around the world, it demonstrates what great things can happen when a group of pinball enthusiasts join forces to promote pinball.
The dates have now been confirmed for the 2008 UK Pinball Show. It will take place at the same venue - Wicksteed Park - on the last weekend in August but with the addition of a Friday set-up and a Friday evening public session which should really help get everything ready in time and provide an early-bird buying opportunity.
So that's August 29-31 2008 at Wicksteed Park. Check the newly designed show website at: www.ukpinballshow.co.uk for more details.
You've read about the show but now you can see it for yourself with our exclusive Pinball News Three Minute Tour. Simply click on the play button below and take a walk around the show.
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