| CP PINBALL
St. LOUIS'S PREMIERE
Date: November 2010
Report by Joey Springer
Who knew pinball Mecca was only 25 miles from downtown St. Louis? Well, if you have been lucky enough to make it here once, I am sure you pine for those magical four nights a month when $10 grants you six hours of access to owner Chuck Sanderson’s incredible collection of about 80 meticulously-maintained machines all set on free play. It is wall to wall pinball here.
As you park in the shadow of looming incinerators and untold miles of twisting pipe that make up an industrial lubricants plant, you leave behind the buzz and whir of chemical engineering, open the door, cross the unassuming threshold like a giddy newlywed and enter the paradise that is CP.
This really deserves to be experienced, not described. Patrons are both allowed and encouraged to bring their own drinks and food, as CP only offers bottled water and soda for sale. There is not much around, so you should probably bring something along, or nourish your mind and body before arrival to ready yourself for up to six hours of pure pinball.
The main room houses about 50 machines with a few amenities and distractions thrown in; a refrigerator for patrons to keep their beer cold, a jukebox, a toilet and several multicade systems to satisfy any old school arcade game needs. A second room (just in case the first did not blow your mind) houses another 30 pins and a candy machine.
It is difficult to impress upon a reader the overall magnificent quality of the machines. It is rare even to find a bulb that is out, or the occasional rubber wearing thin. You can go from machine to machine to machine (yeah this can go on for a while) and every playfield is clean as could be, every flipper is strong and sound, every switch registers the proper shot, every display is perfect. These pins get their fair share of play and abuse, but the continuously exceptional quality is due to the skillful owner, Chuck Sanderson - knowledge, enthusiasm and pride show through in every game.
It is amazing to spend twelve hours of your weekend playing pinball, only to leave thinking, “Man, I did not even play: Monster Bash, Attack from Mars, Funhouse, Getaway, Whitewater, Shadow, Doctor Who, Fish Tales, Jet Spin, T2, Spider-Man, Simpsons....”
This is just a hint of the great beauty of CP; you can spend hours playing awesome pins, look around at the dreaded closing time and realize that there are probably forty more games that you want to play that you have not even touched yet! There are a few '70s EMs, a handful of late '70s early '80s SSs, but the crux of the collection reads like the best of the '90s list, followed by a nice collection of recent Sterns. If your favorite game is not actually here... bummer, get over it quick because there are 80 other perfect games to play, and probably at least eight of your top ten.
CP has also hosted one-day tournaments that have drawn exceptional players for a fun day of competitive pinball. Check the pinball websites and put the next tournament on your calendar. On a nightly basis the competitive instinct can be nourished by aiming for a high score. The top score lists on each machine are preserved well, and offer up great challenges. CWS and RSS (Chuck and his brother Rob) dominate the leader boards and can be found on just about every machine, with a handful of others strewn about: BOZ, JWS, ZED, J R, MRK, DAV, CAR.
Occasionally there will be a pin or three for sale. Although I have not had the distinct pleasure of owning my own pin, this would certainly be my most trusted source for a used machine, and I frequently reflect on the sale of an absolutely beautiful NOS Comet - congratulations to whoever scored this flawless gem. I picture it standing agelessly, blissfully next to its siblings, Cyclone and Hurricane, in someone’s materialized dream room. If a better example of a game is acquired, the previous is put up for sale. The space is pleasantly packed with pins, so one machine in pretty much equates to one machine out.
There is also the tantalizing possibility for you and the Simpsons to host a private pinball party that is sure to delight all in attendance; check www.cppinball.com for contact info.
If you live even remotely nearby, and maybe just sort of like pinball, it would be ridiculous not to come. For a casual player, this is always well worth even an extreme drive from the surrounding area. For an avid enthusiast, this is a prime holiday destination! Typically open the 2nd and 3rd Fridays and Saturdays of each month (check the website for up to date info), so you could spend nine days in the greater St. Louis area and be assured of four nights of incredible pinball. For the regulars, a night at CP is perfection, and missing an open night is a crushing blow.
It is midnight (the Funhouse is closed), the 3rd Saturday of the month. Steam bellows above sharp spikes of orange fire, while bumpers continue to pop and super jackpots are still ringing out in your head. You realize - CP won’t be open for another twenty days... life can be so cruel.
© Pinball News 2010