29th October 2002

In the second part of our review of Pinball Expo we look at the seminars on Thursday afternoon and what happened when the show halls opened.

Thursday afternoon

The seminars begin - for me one of the major reasons for going to Pinball Expo is to see and hear from the seminar speakers. They're not always amazingly entertaining but they do all have something to say and they're almost always worthwhile listening to.

Pinball Down Under -
Michael Shalhoub

Given the task for speaking first was Michael Shalhoub from Australia who talked about the current situation with pinball down under and about his book.

A fan of pinball since he was 6 years old, Michael hails from Sydney where pinball has all but died out after video poker was legalised in 1998. Now 90% of all pinball game sales are for the home.

He also spoke about the plans for the first pinball museum. He and Alan Tate now have around 800 games for the project and they hope to start building in Brisbane next year. Not content with that many games they are still on the look out for examples of classic or landmark machines to complete the collection.

Michael is the author of The Pinball Compendium and he talked about what inspired him to write the book, what it contains and how it compares with other author's volumes.

Finally, he distributed jars of Vegemite and key rings through a trivia quiz.


Basic Pinball Photography - Mark Bakula and Don Caldwell

Don started off describing the steps required to take decent pictures using a film camera, including some examples of common mistakes people make when trying to photograph a pinball game.

The number one rule is to always remove the playfield glass and replace the lockdown bar. Other tips included the use of a tripod, lighting techniques, background choices, framing, the use of a polarizing filter and the depth of field effect and how to control it. After that he looked at how to build a simple photographic studio to give the maximum control over the final results.

He included the differences between SLR and point-and-shoot film cameras and how to get the best out of both types.

Mark then stepped up and talked about digital photography, its advantages over film if you observe the basic rules previously described.

He explored the resolution choices available and the extra uses to which you can put the resulting images, such as shot maps, business cards, brochures and greeting cards.

They concluded the talk by giving away a selection of goodies in another trivia quiz.


Chicago Gaming - Consumer Pinball

Unfortunately, the scheduled speaker for this seminar, Doug Duba wasn't available to speak, but in his place veteran game designer Steve Kordek spoke about the same subject, albeit without any notice or preparation.

Chicago Gaming, part of Churchill Cabinets - a company that makes game cabinets for Stern - has designed a pinball game for the home market called Vacation America.

The designer of that game John Trudeau left the company to work for Innovative Concepts in Entertainment, in Iowa and Steve stepped into the breach to finish the design and develop a simpler ruleset for home use. The game is specifically designed not to be used on location and doesn't have any coin slots.

Vacation America, like Red & Ted's RoadShow is based on a trip across America, completing tasks at major cities along the way. It is a two flipper, two player game and uses large dedicated PCBs under the playfield as opposed to all the wiring we are accustomed to and uses dedicated lamp drivers instead of a matrix.

The game is expected to cost around half the price of a new Stern machine and is only the first of the games expected from Chicago Gaming with the second game out in about six months' time.

Learn How To Play Pinball - Richard Shapero plus guests.

This is an annual institution - learn the basic ball control skills as described in the Pinball News Learn section, the drop catch, the flipper pass etc.

As I already know how to do these, I didn't attend the seminar so I can't report how it went. I can report how the Honker's Ale went though - very nicely.


Thursday Evening

The exhibition hall opened promptly for 6pm and finally we get the chance to take a look at the myriad of games and parts. The tournament game is - naturally enough - RollerCoaster Tycoon and there are eight of these set up in two banks of four. These games don't have the tournament system installed, but there is a Playboy game in the hall with it fitted. This is set on $1 a game play with the proceeds going to charity.

The halls game the impression of being pretty full both with games and parts vendors. The majority of the 114 games were working and set to free play (or an easy replay score if the game didn't have a free play setting). Inevitably there were a number of dead games (19) and one or two working machines not set on free play. There were also a couple of games on vendors' stands which were not for play but to demonstrate how their products looked in situ.

This is a list of all the games in the halls on Friday (by which time most people who were going to bring games would have arrived and set them up). Those marked * were not working - i.e. not powered up - at the time the list was made. Not all of those that were powered up necessarily worked fully.

Main Hall (51 games):


Theatre of Magic


Juke Box*


Rock Star

Sky Line

Bowling Queen

Spanish Eyes

Egg Head*

Flight 2000

Evel Knielel




Stern Harley Davidson

Stern Playboy


Ice Revue

Big Deal

WWF Royal Rumble

Gilliganís Island


Fast Draw


Swords of Fury




Attila the Hun

Independence Day


Black Knight

Black Knight 2000

Heat Wave


Cirqus Voltaire

Bally Star Trek



Capt. Fantastic


Pat Hand

Incredible Hulk



Ro Go



Flipper Football





Side Hall (63 games):

Twilight Zone


Indiana Jones

The Getaway

Eight Ball Champ

TMN Turtles*



Bride of Pinbot



Terminator 2*





Rescure 911

Queen of Diamonds*

Baby Pacman

Trade Winds*

Grand Prix

Set Up

Demolition Man


Harlem Globetrotters

Big Flipper

Ship Ahoy

Card Trix

Lucky Seven*

Gilliganís Island

Nitro Ground Shaker*



Grand Prix*





Flying Carpet


Buck Rogers

Bram Stokerís Dracula

No Good Gofers

Lost in Space

Austin Powers

South Park

Space Jam

Starship Troopers


Stern Playboy




Shaq Attaq


No Fear





Four Million BC

Memory Lane

Eight Ball.




There were a number of interesting parts for sale from the vendors' stands, especially a lot of new plastics and ramps. Both Illinois Pinball and Pinball Inc were showing clear plastic ramps with Pinball Inc's made from a thicker grade of plastic and Illinois Pinball's being either NOS or remanufactured as per the originals.

Pinball Inc were also selling replacement metal ramps made in one piece rather than using a few spot welds which inevitably break with prolonged use.

Illinois Pinball were selling replacement cabinet artwork for The Addams Family as well as newly manufactured replacement Kiss playfields and various other plastic parts.

Game enhancements were in abundance with gold legs, bolts, height adjusters and balls, replacement subwoofers, DMD drivers, cabinet artwork and of course playfields. Show discounts were available on many of these items, so if you were thinking about buying any of them it made sense to see them here first and save some money too.

There was the usual good selection of backglasses and translates, flyers, rubbers and miscellaneous pinball parts. Prices on these varied hugely but were all on the high side of what I was prepared to pay. Pinball parts prices have risen over that past few years and that was definitely reflected here but there were some good deals to be found and it cannot be over-emphasised how important it is to see the goods first hand before buying, especially when it is a non-original replacement part. You need to see how good the match is.

Unusually for me I hardly bought anything, but that's mainly because I was waiting for the end of the show to see if there would be any clearance bargains. I was happy with the last minute deal of slingshot plastics for my Addams Family, RoadShow and Demolition Man for $10 a pair. The TAF has been waiting six years for new slingshot plastics and now I have them.

Those vendors with permanent stands at the show:

For Amusement Only

Illinois Pin Ball

K&K Amusements

Pinball Inc.

Pinball Exchange

Mayfair Amusement Co.

Mike Pacak

Pinball Pro

Pingame Journal

Tim Arnold

Chicago Pinball

Mantis Amusements

Coin-op Contraptions

Larryís Pin Stuff

Donal Murphy

LM Amusements

Shifted Bit Systems




There were other vendors but they either did not have a stand or did not have a permanent presence.

In the next part of the Pinball News review of Pinball Expo, we will continue with the remaining seminars (including Gary Stern and Gene Cunningham), report from the Banquet and bring you the full competition results.

Back to the Expo 2002 page

Back to the Shows page

Back to the front page

© Pinball News 2002