Date: 16th - 18th March, 2018
Location: Embassy Suites, 7600 John Q Hammons Dr., Frisco,, TX 75034, USA

Friday at the Texas Pinball Festival began with the set-up in the main hall and the start of the tournament qualifying sessions.

To make sure everyone knew they were going the right way, the corridor from reception to the hall and registration desk was branded with TPF banners.

The corridor to the hall
The corridor to the hall

At the end of the corridor was the registration desk where visitors collect their pre-purchased registration packs or by on-the-day entries.

The registration desk
The registration desk

Opposite the registration desk is the main entrance to the show hall.  Tournament qualification was well under way with a large crowd eager to set their best game scores for others to chase.

Tournament qualifying on Friday morning
Tournament qualifying on Friday morning
Main tournament qualifying
Main tournament qualifying
The Drains Tournament Manager system was used to record scores and manage players
The Drains Tournament Manager system was used to record scores and manage players
Main tournament qualifying
Main tournament qualifying
Classics qualifying
Classics qualifying
Some of the many plaques and trophies to be won
Some of the many plaques and trophies to be won

In the rest of the hall, the set-up of machines and stands was going well.  Machines were still being delivered and unloaded.  The show uses a staging system, where vans are unloaded into one of several staging areas so the loading dock can be freed-up as quickly as possible.  Machines are then moved from the staging areas to their final position.

Unloading one of the vans
Unloading one of the vans
The staging areas
The staging areas
Machines in one of the staging areas
Machines in one of the staging areas

So, let’s take a look around the hall during the set-up period.

Setting up some of the many free play machines
Setting up some of the many free play machines
Multimorphic have a good number of P3 machines to show
Multimorphic have a good number of P3 machines to show
Marco Specialties have twenty new-in-box Stern machines at the TPF, and another twenty over in California for Arcade Expo which is on the same weekend
Marco Specialties have twenty new-in-box Stern machines at the TPF, and another twenty over in California for Arcade Expo which is on the same weekend
A few of Marco's new Stern pinballs
A few of Marco’s new Stern pinballs along with some classic older games from Fun
CoinTaker have Houdini and Attack from Mars Remake, while a The Big Lebowski is also at the show
CoinTaker have Houdini and Attack from Mars Remake, while a The Big Lebowski is also at the show
The familiar sight of the DeLorean on the show floor
The familiar sight of the DeLorean on the show floor
Circus Maximus have their upcoming Kingpin game for guests to see and play
Circus Maximus have their upcoming Kingpin game for guests to see and play
Taking the wraps off
Taking the wraps off
We'll have a full look later, but this game still needed the decals applying
We’ll have a full look later, but this game still needed the decals applying

Kingpin game designer Mark Ritchie also stopped by to sign translites and see how the Circus Maximus team had built his game.

James, Paul, Mark and Jimmy with the new Kingpin game
James, Paul, Mark and Jimmy with the new Kingpin game
American Pinball have four Houdini games at the show
American Pinball has four Houdini games at the show
Chicago Gaming has six of their remakes - two Medieval Madness games and four Attack from Mars models
Chicago Gaming has six of their remakes – two Medieval Madness games and four Attack from Mars models
Universal Billiards brought two of each model of Valley Dynamo's All-Star Baseball pitch-and-bat game
Universal Billiards brought two of each model of Valley Dynamo’s All-Star Baseball pitch-and-bat game
Jersey Jack Pinball have a selection of their four titles for visitors to play, including their new Pirates of the Caribbean
Jersey Jack Pinball have a selection of their four titles for visitors to play, including their new Pirates of the Caribbean
Spooky Pinball have their new Alice Cooper's Nightmare Castle game here, but won't unveil the playfield until their seminar on Saturday
Spooky Pinball have their new Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle game here, but won’t unveil the playfield until their seminar on Saturday
In the meantime, here's the cabinet artwork
In the meantime, here’s the cabinet artwork
From the newest to the oldest, in the History of Pinball exhibit
From the newest to the oldest, in the History of Pinball exhibit
Will this concept Kosmic Khaos game ever be made?
Will this concept Kosmic Khaos game ever be made?  Find out later
Some of the many free-play machines
Some of the many free-play machines which can be played

The show opened to the public at 5pm on Friday.  A large crowd had built-up, eager to be one of the first to play the new games and snap up a great deal from the numerous vendors.

The show is about to open
The show is about to open

Soon after, the first seminars of the 2018 show began.

The first was the popular So You Think You Know Pinball prize quiz which was held in the hotel’s bar area and hosted by Pinball News Editor Martin Ayub and Pinball Magazine Editor Jonathan Joosten.  Dozens of prizes donated by Stern Pinball, Jersey Jack Pinball, American Pinball, Spooky Pinball, Marco Specialties, ColorDMD, CoinTaker and Pinball News were up for grabs for those who correctly selected the correct answers to more than 50 questions.  By a little before 7pm all the prizes had been awarded.

At 7pm the first seminar started in the dedicated seminar room as Captain Jack and the Jersey Jack Crew Take You On A Pinball Voyage.

Jack Guarnieri
Jack Guarnieri

This seminar began with Jack Guarnieri introducing Butch Peel and Eric Meunier who talked about the company’s latest title, Pirates of the Caribbean.

Jack, Butch and Eric
Jack, Butch and Eric

Eric described how he designed the Pirates games, cutting a playfield on his own CNC router and making his own ramps.  He shared pictures of the evolution of the game from the first whitewood playfield to the production-ready model, as well as the ship-in-a-bottle topper on the Collectors Edition game.

Eric talks about his Pirates of the Caribbean design
Eric talks about his Pirates of the Caribbean design

Jack praised Eric and the team behind Pirates, before describing how he acquired the licence for the game, saying he had wanted to get it for several years.

Download the audio of this seminar here

At 8pm it was the turn of artist Christopher Franchi to take to the stage to talk about how he created the art packages for Stern Pinball’s Guardians of the Galaxy title.

Christopher Franchi offering some signed artwork for the best audience question
Christopher Franchi offering some signed artwork for the best audience question

Christopher showed the sample piece depicting Groot and Rocket which he submitted to Marvel to convince them to allow him to draw the artwork for the Guardians game.  Those elements later featured in the final game art, as he said they were too good to waste.

He then showed his original concepts for the title which were rejected, before the final version was agreed upon.  The whole process took approximately nine months, from those initial concepts to delivery of the final artwork.  There are several ‘Easter eggs’ in that finished artwork which he illustrated, before showing his design for the game’s topper which is what Stern put into production.

Asked how ‘locked-down’ Marvel’s style-guide was for Guardians, Christoper said once his initial art had been approved Marvel game him pretty much a free-rein to implement his own designs.

Download the audio of this seminar here

The final seminar of Friday saw Steve Ritchie Hold Court.

In fact, Steve held a pinball confessional in which audience members were invited onto the stage to talk about their pinball sins and seek forgiveness.

Father Steve Ritchie welcomes his congregation
Father Steve Ritchie welcomes his congregation

Using a confession box crafted from pinball boxes, each sinner made their confession and sought forgiveness from Father Steve.

Matt Christiano confesses his pinball sins
Matt Christiano confesses his pinball sins

After confessional, Steve answered questions from the audience about his recent and past games, in particular about his experiences working on the Star Wars title with Lucasfilm, which was clearly a fractious time.

Download the audio of this seminar here

That concludes our look at the first day of Texas Pinball Festival 2018.  You can check out all of Saturday’s events on another packed day at the show here in Frisco.

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