Date: 21st & 22nd April, 2018
Location: Salle Serge Reggiani, 1 Quai de la Retenue, 76470 Le Tréport, France

It’s been five years since we were last in Le Tréport on the northern French coast to visit Flip Expo, and there have been some changes in the interim.

The town is still the same picturesque fishing port, and it was looking especially attractive this weekend due to the 25C temperature, bright sunshine and blue skies.

The town of Le Tréport in France
The town of Le Tréport in France
The town is overlooked by chalk cliffs, with a funicular railway taking passengers to the top and back
The town is overlooked by imposing chalk cliffs, with a funicular railway taking passengers to the top and back
The town's harbour
The town’s harbour

The venue for Flip Expo is still the same – Salle Serge Reggiani, a large municipal hall on the eastern outskirts of the town – but the show has expanded into the adjacent sports hall – called Gymnase Leo Lagrange – too.

The venues for Flip Expo 2018
The venues for Flip Expo 2018

We arrived shortly before the doors opened at 10am on Saturday 21st April and there were queues of visitors outside both halls awaiting the official openings.

The queue outside the Salle Serge Reggiani
The queue outside the Salle Serge Reggiani
The queue outside the Salle Serge Reggiani
The queue outside the Salle Serge Reggiani
The queue outside Gymnase Leo Lagrange
The queue outside Gymnase Leo Lagrange

Both halls had separate registration desks, so some visitors took advantage of the shorter queue and entered the show through the second hall.  The price was a mere €4 ($4.89/£3.50) per person per day, which is achievable thanks to the municipal council offering use of the halls for free in return for attracting a large number of visitors to the town.

The gymnasium was home to all the vendor stands, and there was an impressive selection of vendors selling many different gaming-related products, although the emphasis was definitely on pinball.

Inside the gymnasium
Inside the gymnasium

With the gymnasium being used for the vendors, the Salle Serge Reggiani was home of the free play games and the tournaments.  However, several vendors were either distributors for one or more of the major pinball manufacturers, or they were selling their own machines.  So, there were quite a few pinballs to play in the vendor hall too, including most of the more-recent titles.

The first one we encountered was a Stern’s Guardians of the Galaxy, but sadly it was on pay-to-play and hence remained virtually untouched all weekend.  Thankfully, it was the exception and all the other games were set on free play.

It was nice to see a Guardians of the Galaxy game in the vendor hall, but a shame it was pay-to-play
It was nice to see a Guardians of the Galaxy game in the vendor hall, but a shame it was pay-to-play

Probably the most interesting new game there was the Olympic Goblin from Phenix Pinball.  This has the feel of a home-brew game but also could be a commercial product if marketed and priced correctly.

Olympic Goblin from Phenix Pinball
Olympic Goblin from Phenix Pinball
The backbox of Olympic Goblin from Phenix Pinball
The backbox of Olympic Goblin from Phenix Pinball

The playfield is a simple affair, with four top rollover lanes, feeding three pop bumpers, below which are three banks of three drop targets.  There are two flippers above which are two passive slingshots which don’t include any kickers.  Scoring is on a seven-segment LED displays to give the game a retro early solid-state feel, which is Phenix Pinball’s intention.

The Olympic Goblin playfield
The Olympic Goblin playfield

The game runs on one of Pascal Janin’s CPU/driver boards with a PinSound audio board to make this a true French production.  Gameplay is quite simple, with four stages to complete by shooting the lit drop targets, followed by a three-level wizard mode.  The artwork is a little rudimentary and we have doubts Phenix Pinball will be able to put the game into production using the ‘Olympic’ moniker since that title is closely controlled by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but it could be a fun cheap game for home or family location.

The other new game here was Jersey Jack Pinball’s Pirates of the Caribbean which was the recent topic of discussion when JJP announced that they had been forced to remove a couple of prominent mechanisms from the game due to reliability issues and had replaced them with simpler alternatives.  One was the three-ring spinning map and the other was the opening/closing chest which locked balls inside.

One of the two JJP line-ups
One of the two JJP line-ups

There were two Pirates of the Caribbean games at Flip Expo and both features these animated mechanisms.

The three-ring spinning map
The three-ring spinning map
The opening/closing chest
The opening/closing chest

Pinball News’ Martin Ayub teamed up with Jonathan Joosten from Pinball Magazine to interview JJP’s Jack Guarnieri about the changes.  Jack was the special guest at Flip Expo this year and we cornered him for an interview, finding a nice quiet grassy spot behind the gymnasium for the interview.

Jonathan (left) and Martin (right) interview Jack
Jonathan (left) and Martin (right) interview Jack

You can hear our joint podcast here on Podcast Garden or with the player below.

Before that though, Jack was meeting and greeting in the vendor hall.  At midday on Saturday there was a glass raised to toast the success of the show’s organisers in holding this twelth edition.  The drink of choice as the local favourite, Ricard, but Martini and scotch were also available.

Midday on Saturday and time for a toast
Midday on Saturday and time for a toast
Jack with Flip Expo organiser, Franck Michaux and The mayor of Le Treport, Laurent Jacques
Jack with Flip Expo organiser, Franck Michaux and The mayor of Le Treport, Laurent Jacques

Let’s continue in the vendor hall and see what other games, parts and add-ons they had on display or for sale.

Inside the vendor hall
Inside the vendor hall
Another set of JJP titles
Another set of JJP titles
All four JJP titles
All four JJP titles

There was a good showing of titles from Spooky Pinball.  Rob Zombie’s Spookshow International was joined by The Jetsons and Total Nuclear Annihilation.  Alongside them was an Alien from Heighway Pinball and a The Big Lebowski from Dutch Pinball.

TNA, Rob Zombie and The Jetsons by Spooky Pinball with Alien by Heighway Pinball
TNA, Rob Zombie and The Jetsons by Spooky Pinball with Alien by Heighway Pinball
The Big Lebowski was especially popular
The Big Lebowski was especially popular
PinSound had several games running their sound cards
PinSound had several games running their sound cards including this lovely Chrome Edition T2
PinSound also had a Getaway to play and hear
PinSound also had a Getaway to play and hear
This purple Bride of Pinbot 2.0 had different playfield artwork and multiple purple accents throughout
This purple Bride of Pinbot 2.0 had different playfield artwork and multiple purple accents throughout
The new playfield artwork
The new playfield artwork

If you wanted to build your own custom game, Art Cab could fix you up.

Art Cab's plain and custom pinball cabinets
Art Cab’s plain and custom pinball cabinets
If you don't have space for a full-size pinball, here's a little alternative
If you don’t have space for a full-size pinball, here’s a little alternative

These video pinballs weren’t the only video games in the vendor hall.

Table-top videos
Table-top videos
Full-size custom video cabs
Full-size custom video cabs

We return to pinball as we look at the parts available.

There were some nice repro backglasses on sale
There were some nice repro backglasses on sale
Sadly not all the backglasses survived the show
Sadly not all the backglasses survived the show
If you preferred plain glass, you could get standard, widebody and super widebody here
If you preferred unbroken, plain glass you could get standard, widebody and super widebody here
In fact the selection of parts available was the best we have seen for a long time
In fact the selection of parts available was the best we have seen for a long time
While vendors at most shows only bring a small selection of parts, you could find almost anything you wanted at Flip Expo
While vendors at most shows only bring a small selection of parts, you could find almost anything you wanted at Flip Expo
Hundreds of posts, rubbers, buttons, switches, caps...
Hundreds of posts, rubbers, buttons, switches, caps…
...flasher domes, sleeves, rebuild kits, electronic components...
…flasher domes, sleeves, rebuild kits, electronic components…
...and of course, flippers
…and of course, flippers
Not forgetting solenoids for all makes and eras
Not forgetting solenoids for all makes and eras
Multiple vendors were selling the standard leg bolts, leg levellers, balls and other common parts
Multiple vendors were selling the standard leg bolts, leg levellers, balls and other common parts

There was also a nice selection of new, refurbished or original playfields, with Mirco leading the way.  As he could drive to this show, his range and number of playfields available certainly looked impressive.

Some of the playfields and parts on Mirco's stand
Some of the playfields and parts on Mirco’s stand
Can you guess which game these are for?
Can you guess which game these are for?
Alien was just one of the titles available
Alien was just one of the titles available
More playfields
More playfields
And more, along with a varied range of other pinball parts
And more, along with a varied range of other pinball parts
And a few more, along with backboxes, backglasses and aprons
And a few more, along with backboxes, backglasses and aprons
Our final set of playfields, with backglasses and assorted new and reclaimed parts
Our final set of playfields, with backglasses and assorted new and reclaimed parts
Flipper-LED.com had replacement LEDs and illuminated perspex toppers
Flipper-LED.com had replacement LEDs and illuminated perspex toppers
Perspex toppers
Perspex toppers
Lots and lots of parts for Gottlieb games which were very popular in France
Lots and lots of parts for Gottlieb games which were very popular in France
And even more parts for Gottlieb and other manufacturers
And even more parts for Gottlieb and other manufacturers
If you had the wall space, how about a laser-cut pinball sign?
If you have the wall space, how about a laser-cut pinball sign?
Assorted pinball parts, translites and plastic sets
Assorted pinball parts, translites and plastic sets

There was also an impressive collection of Star Wars figures, although these weren’t for sale.

Star Wars figures
Star Wars figures
Naturally accompanied by a Star Wars pinball
Naturally accompanied by a Star Wars pinball
Not sure this is an official Lucasfilm-licensed mod
Not sure this is an official Lucasfilm-licensed mod

If you had any faulty PCBs you could probably get them fixed at the show while you waited.

PCB diagnosis and repair
PCB diagnosis and repair
Board fixing in progress
Board fixing in progress
More fault finding and fixing
More fault finding and fixing
If you don't have a board to fix, buy a new one
If you don’t have a board to fix, buy a new one

Finally for the vendor hall there were the stands selling assorted memorabilia or curiosities, along with assorted games, parts or components.

Various boards and components
Various boards and components
Strength testers
Strength testers
Tabletop games and glasses
Tabletop games and glasses
All things orange
All things orange
More brightly-coloured games items
More brightly-coloured games items
Computer and console games
Computer and console games
Wall-mounted games, coin doors, boards, control panels and more
Wall-mounted games, coin doors, boards, control panels and more
More video game controls
More video game controls
More assorted buttons
More assorted buttons
A different type of button - custom badges, mugs, lanyards, key fobs and more
A different type of button – custom badges, mugs, lanyards, key fobs and more
You could also pick up some flyers for your games
You could also pick up some flyers for your games
A real mix of retro console games and parts
A real mix of retro console games and parts

This was a particularly hot weekend for April, so the temperature inside the hall soon made things uncomfortable.  Side windows were opened later in the day to provide some much-needed ventiallation.

That’s just about everything from the vendor hall, so let’s head next door into the games hall.  Our €4 entry included a hand-stamp which allowed us to move freely between the two rooms, but on the way we couldn’t help but notice a collection of classic retro cars parked outside and some suitably-dressed women accompanying them.

American vehicles
American vehicles
Sleek lines
Sleek lines
Ditto
Ditto

The event was to promote a retro event being held in a restaurant in the town of Le Tréport later on Saturday evening.

Also set up outside were a couple of food trucks, one serving different types of nuts, while the other sold bagels – either smoked salmon, bacon and egg, or vegetarian.

You must be nuts
Standing in the heat of the sun?  You must be nuts!
Serving toasted bagels on such a hot day must be a crumby job
Serving toasted bagels on such a hot day must be a crumby job

Later on, a third truck arrived to roast chickens and various meats for a banquet held on Saturday evening.

Food for Saturday evening's banquet meal
Food for Saturday evening’s banquet meal

Heading into the games hall, things were a little cooler.

The games hall
The games hall

The majority of the games hall was occupied by the free play pinballs.  These were mostly arranged in small ‘islands’ of around six machines.

Some of the free play machines in the games hall
Some of the free play machines in the games hall
More free play pinballs
More free play pinballs
More free play pinballs
More free play pinballs
More free play pinballs
More free play pinballs
More free play pinballs
More free play pinballs

One curiosity was this Hot Ball machine which was a steampunk-themed customisation of a Williams Big Deal.

Hot Ball
Hot Ball
Hot Ball
Hot Ball
Hot Ball backbox detail
Hot Ball backbox detail

Here’s the full list of the 54 free-play machines in the games hall.

A.G. Football
Arena
Attack from Mars
Attack from Mars
Back to the Future
Black Pyramid
Bride of Pinbot, The Machine:
Buck Rogers
Cactus Jack
Charlie’s Angels
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (EM)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (EM)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (solid-state)
Count-Down
Cyclone
Dracula, Bram Stoker’s
Dragon
Evel Knievel*
Fast Draw
Four Million B.C.
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s
Getaway, High Speed 2: The
Harlem Globetrotters
Hot Ball (custom)
Indianapolis 500
James Bond*
Jungle Queen*
Last Action Hero
Matrix, The
Monster Bash
Monte Carlo
Mousin’ Around
Mystic
Night Rider (solid-state)
Pinball Pool
Playboy (Bally)
Scared Stiff
Six Million Dollar Man, The
Six Million Dollar Man, The*
Space Jam
Star Trek (Bally)
Star Wars (Data East)
Striker Xtreme
Strikes and Spares
Surf Champ
Sweet Hearts
Time Machine (Data East)
Vulcan
Whirlwind*
Whitewater
Whitewater
World Cup Soccer
World Cup Soccer
World Cup Soccer

* Indicates the machine was not working during our survey

In addition, there was a Dirty Harry set up in the lobby which was the tombola prize, three table football (foosball/baby foot) games were in the hall, as were a handful of video games including Atari’s Pinball.

The other part of the games hall was taken up by the tournaments run by Nico Flip.  A fenced-off area contained either eleven (Saturday) or ten (Sunday) machines which were used by the main, kids and side tournaments.

The tournament machines
The tournament machines

The tournament machines were:

Avatar
Blackout
Doctor Who
Getaway, High Speed 2: The
Grand Prix
Iron Man
Paragon
Pinball Pool
Striker Xtreme
Tales from the Crypt
Theatre of Magic

Current scores and standings were shown on a projector screen behind the tournament machines.

The main tournament was held and completed on Saturday. 93 players took part and they played a single game on any five of the machines, with the scores ranked.  A joker was available to allow them to replay one of their games if they wanted to try to improve their score.

The top 32 players qualified for the play-offs which were played in groups of four, with the top two players progressing to the next round and the bottom two dropping out.

The last eight were:

Stéphane Swaenepoel

Olivier Moïseef

Nicolas Linqué

Vincent Fourcault

Mickaël Farigoul

Laurent Blin

Archibald Lefevre

Julien Geneslay

The semi-finals
The semi-finals
The semi-finals
The semi-finals

The winners of the semi-finals were Stéphane, Nicolas, Archibald and Laurent, so they contested the final.

The four finalists in the main tournament: Laurent, Nicolas, Stéphane & Archibald
The four finalists in the main tournament: Laurent, Nicolas, Stéphane & Archibald.

The final was played on four machines picked by the finalists, with Archibald Lefevre ending up in first place.  Stéphane Swaenepoel was second, followed by Laurent Blin with Nicolas Linqué fourth.

A ball hang-up on Theatre of Magic causes some excitement
A ball hang-up on Theatre of Magic causes some excitement
The audience watches the final
The audience watches the final

Prizes included a games console, a PinSound card, a drone and a gift basket.

The winners with their prizes (picture: NicoFlip)
The winners with their prizes (picture: NicoFlip)

On Saturday evening there was a banquet held in the car park outside the games hall for the organisers, those who brought machines, and anyone else who bought one of the €17 tickets.  The wine flowed and there was plenty of food including the roasted chicken, sausage and other meats from the rotisserie van we saw earlier, as the banquet continued into the night.

We opted instead to take advantage of the lovely warm evening by dining at a French bistro overlooking the harbour.

Dinner overlooking the harbour at Le Treport
Dinner overlooking the harbour at Le Tréport

Sunday’s action at Flip Expo began again at 10am.  Unlike the previous day, things got off to a slow start.

The vendor hall on Sunday morning
The vendor hall on Sunday morning

For those who got there early, that meant the best choice of machines to play and unfettered access to the parts tables.  Both halls got busier later in the day, with new guests turning up throughout the afternoon.  The low entry fee encouraged many locals to pop in just to while away a couple of hours playing a few games.  It was a good way to attract people from the town and  build a good relationship with the local community.

There were two mini-tournaments held on Sunday.  A Kids Tournament took place in the morning where all 35 contestants played four machines but only their top two scores were used to decide who qualified for the play-offs.  Then the Side Tournament used a cut-down version of Saturday’s rules using three machines instead of five, although the joker was also available to each of the 43 competitors.

Sign-up for the Side Tournament
Sign-up for the Side Tournament

We’ll have all the results from all three tournaments once they have been verified.

We left Flip Expo around 14:30 for the two hour drive to the ferry terminal and the boat back to England.

Flip Expo is an greatly-enjoyable, laid-back weekend of pinball held in an attractive fishing town.  The weather certainly helped with our enjoyment, but so did the company, the great vendors and the casual atmosphere.  OK, the free play selection might not have been the greatest with a few games either not on free play or having no balls installed which seemed a little pointless (literally), and those which were there were mostly from the ’70s or early ’80s but, to counter that, the vendor hall had a very nice selection of the latest titles.

Having missed the last four Flip Expos, we won’t make that mistake again and certainly plan to return in 2019.

Finally, if you want to experience the sights and sounds of Flip Expo 2018 for yourself, here’s our exclusive Twenty Minute Tour video walk around the two halls filmed on Saturday afternoon.

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to check out all our other reports here at Pinball News.

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3 Comments

  1. L. Jacques

    April 25, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    Thank you very much for this great report ! Your pictures are wonderful are your comments so kind. Please, don’t wait 5 years to come back again and visit us.
    We’re waiting for you in 2019 !

    Laurent Jacques, Mayor of Le Tréport (Normandy)

    Reply

    • Pinball News

      April 25, 2018 at 3:13 pm

      Thank you kindly, M. Mayor. We are already looking forward to returning.

      Reply

  2. Thierry

    May 22, 2018 at 11:13 am

    Very nice and extremely complete report.
    Sure it’s a very professional job, thanks !

    Reply

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