Date: 12th October & 13th October, 2017
Location: 11930 Oak Creek Parkway, Huntley, IL 60142, USA

One of the unfortunate side-effects of working in the Seminars Room at Pinball Expo is how we end up missing all the fun at the annual Pinball Life Open House party.

The Pinball Life World Headquarters
The Pinball Life World Headquarters

Every year, Terry opens up the Pinball Life building on an industrial park in Huntley – around 45 minutes from Pinball Expo by car – for guests to come along and play pinball, buy parts, enjoy some silly games, talk to other pinball people, drink some beer and try out the latest releases alongside other interesting titles.

Terry Dezwarte hard at work dealing with parts orders
Terry Dezwarte hard at work dealing with parts orders

Because we knew we wouldn’t be able to attend we paid Terry and the team at Pinball Life a visit the day before the first of the Open House’s two days, while everything was still being set up.

Setting up in the games area
Setting up in the games area
Lasers set on stun
Lasers set on stun

One of the stars of the show was a Playboy machines mounted on a turntable which made it very difficult to play.  An Orbitor 1 was placed in a darkened tent inside a rotating illuminated ‘time tunnel’ style tube, causing the player to become disorientated.

The Playboy on the turntable
The Playboy on the turntable

As if that wasn’t enough, there was a mechanical bull for guests to try their riding skills.

The mechanical bull
The mechanical bull

Also setting up was Scott Danesi who created the popular Total Nuclear Annihilation (TNA) game which is being built by Spooky Pinball.  He brought along a production sample and an earlier prototype game.

Scott Danesi with his Total Nuclear Annihilation game
Scott Danesi with his Total Nuclear Annihilation game

Scott showed us around the game and explained the ruleset, so let’s take a look at it here.

The Total Nuclear Annihilation playfield
The Total Nuclear Annihilation playfield
The inline drop targets and ball lock
The inline drop targets and ball lock
The mini-playfield area
The mini-playfield area
The game features LED segment displays as well as an LCD monitor
The game features LED seven-segment displays as well as an LCD monitor
Scott shows us inside the backbox
Scott shows us inside the backbox
This is a sample game - the production version has much less wiring and is far neater under the playfield
This is a sample game – the production version has much less wiring and is far neater under the playfield
The Total Nuclear Annihilation translite
The Total Nuclear Annihilation translite

Elsewhere in the Pinball Life building, pre-orders were being prepared for collection at the Open House party.

Picking parts to make up orders for collection
Picking parts to make up orders for collection
Some of the completed orders
Some of the completed orders

While we were back at the Westin hotel during the Open House, Jess Kroha was back in Huntley and reports on the fun being had there once the doors opened.

Despite the hype and the decline in the number of vendors at the Wheeling show, Pinball Life and their Open House party are almost exclusively keeping the ‘fun’ in Expo.

This year they opened their doors for not just one, but two days of pinball with a general open house on the first day as well as a ticketed event on the second, with all proceeds going to charity. With free drinks, food, an amazing line-up that included not only the most loved games of all time, novelty shooter games and rare pinball gems, and the offer of exclusive play on upcoming and recently released games like TNA, it was definitely THE event to be at during Expo week.

Lasers lit up the games and players in the darkened room
Lasers lit up the games and players in the darkened room
More games to play
More games to play
A third TnA had been added by the time the party began
A third TNA had been added by the time the party began

Beyond the games available to play–and keeping with their tradition of going all-out for this event – there was also a variety of novelty attractions all revolving around pinball (some literally).

A Playboy game on a rotating platform forced players to reckon with gravity general physics and slight nausea. They also had a game positioned in a funhouse tunnel where even the best flippers had to struggle for bearings. Slightly disorientating and extremely fun.

Playing the rotating Playboy
Playing the rotating Playboy

They also offered some great deals on parts and supplies during the event. Discounted glass and many other parts were all available both days for what I considered a steal.

Over all I’d rate the event a ’10 out of 10′. Maybe even a 12 if you got to see one of the employees in his man-kini.  In case you missed the ‘in-person’ version, they also had a cardboard welcome sign for those not wanting to miss out.

A warm welcome
A warm welcome

My thanks to Pinball Life for being the highlight of organized Expo-related events.

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