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 is overlooked by imposing chalk cliffs, with a funicular railway taking passengers to the top and back 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 There were two Pirates of the Caribbean games at Flip Expo and both features these animated mechanisms. The three-ring spinning map 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 You can hear our joint podcast here on Podcast Garden or with the player below. https://www.podcastgarden.com/login/audio-34/34113/Podcast02FlipExpo2018-JackGuarnieriinterview-olympicGoblin.mp3 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 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 Another set of 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 The Big Lebowski was especially popular PinSound had several games running their sound cards including this lovely Chrome Edition T2 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 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 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 Full-size custom video cabs We return to pinball as we look at the parts available. There were some nice repro backglasses on sale Sadly not all the backglasses survived the show 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 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… …flasher domes, sleeves, rebuild kits, electronic components… …and of course, flippers Not forgetting solenoids for all makes and eras 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 Can you guess which game these are for? Alien was just one of the titles available More playfields And more, along with a varied range of other pinball parts And a few more, along with backboxes, backglasses and aprons Our final set of playfields, with backglasses and assorted new and reclaimed parts Flipper-LED.com had replacement LEDs and illuminated perspex toppers Perspex toppers Lots and lots of parts for Gottlieb games which were very popular in France And even more parts for Gottlieb and other manufacturers If you have the wall space, how about a laser-cut pinball sign? 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 Naturally accompanied by a Star Wars pinball 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 Board fixing in progress More fault finding and fixing 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 Strength testers Tabletop games and glasses All things orange More brightly-coloured games items Computer and console games Wall-mounted games, coin doors, boards, control panels and more More video game controls More assorted buttons A different type of button – custom badges, mugs, lanyards, key fobs and more You could also pick up some flyers for your games 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 Sleek lines 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. Standing in the heat of the sun? You must be nuts! 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 Heading into the games hall, things were a little cooler. 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 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 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 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 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 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 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) 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 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 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 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.