Date: 18th-20th May, 2018
Location: Lodi Grape Festival Fairgrounds, 413 E. Lockeford Street, Lodi, California 95240, USA

The final day of GSPF 2018 began at 9am but it’s a shorter day with the doors closing at 5pm.

As usual, I headed straight to the Jackson Hall to prepare for the first of the day’s three Pin-U talks.

The team from Spooky Pinball were making their first visit to California and came to GSPF to talk about the history of the company, the games they have built, and to explain how their latest title Alice Cooper’s Nighmare Castle works.

The Spooky Pinball team
The Spooky Pinball team

Charlie Emery narrated a picture and video slideshow looking at how their games are made and some of the personalities involved such as Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper.

Charlie talks about working with Alice Cooper
Charlie talks about working with Alice Cooper

Charlie then moved to the Alice Cooper game to demonstrate the shots, and show how the features and rules work.

Download the audio of this seminar here

At 1pm David Volansky took to the stage to explain how to read and use electromechanical games’ schematics.

David Volansky
David Volansky

After examining a number of case studies where faults were diagnosed by using the schematics, David explained how an electromechanical pinball’s electrical system works and broke it down into the key sub-systems such as the score motor and the score reels.

Download the audio of this seminar here

The final Pin-U talk was by pinball repairer, restorer, operator and seller, Chris Kuntz.

The subject of Chris’s talk was Stern Pinball’s Spike control system and to help describe it he brought along a Stern Star Wars machine.

Chris Kuntz
Chris Kuntz

He described the differences between the previous generation of control boards – the SAM system – and then how the first generation of Spike compares to the current second generation which can drive colour LCD monitors.

Chris then moved on to the different types of node boards used in a game, from the core and cabinet boards to the satellite boards under the playfield or mounted elsewhere depending on the model.

Download the audio of this seminar here

Chris’s talk concluded the first year’s Pin-U schedule which was put together by Ron Chan.  Ron got all the speakers to sign a special canvas GSPF poster to help commemorate this inaugural event.

Ron Chan with his signed GSPF poster
Ron Chan with his signed GSPF poster

One problem with working at Pin-U is missing some of the other events and there are quite a few including the pin-golf tournament and the machine raffle drawings and the Flippin’ Friday Kick-Off Party at which Cliff Rinear was presented with the new Steve Charland Spirit Award.

The Flippin’ Friday Kick-Off Party
The Flippin’ Friday Kick-Off Party (picture: Art Perez)
Cliffy Rinear received the Steve Charland Spirit Award
Cliffy Rinear received the Steve Charland Spirit Award (picture: Art Perez)
Cliffy's is the inaugural name on the list of Steve Charland Spirit Award recipients
Cliffy’s is the inaugural name on the list of Steve Charland Spirit Award recipients

In the pin-golf tournament, the winner was Per Schwarzenberger who finished ahead of second place Nick Fitzpatrick.  Brian O’Neill was third and Nic Stein fourth.  Full results are available at: gspf.tomlogic.com.

While I might have been busy at Pin-U during Saturday’s draw for the first of two pinball machines, the stage and equipment had been torn down and packed away by the time Sunday’s draw took place.

Saturday’s winner chose the Lethal Weapon 3, leaving the Sorcerer for Sunday’s winner to take home.

Sunday's prize draw machine
Sunday’s prize draw machine

The draw took place at 4:30pm.

The winning ticket is chosen
The winning ticket is chosen

The winning ticket was bought by Michael Bender.

Michael and his prize
Michael and his prize

Following the pinball machine draw, the regular raffle was drawn.  This consisted

of multiple prizes from which entrants could choose.  Tickets for the raffle cost $1 each or six tickets for $5.  Tickets could be applied to any of the prizes, and when the raffle ended at 4:30pm, a winning ticket was drawn for each prize.

The crowd waiting for the winning ticket numbers to be announced
The crowd waiting for the winning ticket numbers to be announced
Another winning ticket is drawn
Another winning ticket is drawn

By the time all the prizes had been awarded (no, I didn’t win anything) it was just about 5pm which meant the end of the show and the turning off of power to all the machines.

I have the power..oh wait, no I don't
I have the power..oh wait, no I don’t

The packing away of stands and machines then began in earnest.

Show's over
Show’s over

As a memento of their contribution to the show, all machine donors received this commemorative fob for their keys.

The GSPF 2018 key fob for all machine donors (picture: Brad Grant)
The GSPF 2018 key fob for all machine donors (picture: Brad Grant)

All of which brings my Golden State Pinball Festival 2018 coverage to an end.

There’s no doubt that this new show continued the ‘spirit’ of the classic Pin-A-Go-Go shows from recent years, but expanded it to give more of everything.  More games, more vendors, more visitors and more education.

Key to this latter aspect was the Pinball University schedule of talks.  These took their cue from the Pacific Pinball Museum’s quest to promote the different aspects of pinball – the science, technology, education and mathematics.  Put together a great selection of games and vendors and you certainly have a show, but talks or seminars can become landmark events which make people come and stay.

However, keeping the relaxed, laid-back feel from previous years is also a key differentiator for the GSPF, and that comes from several angles.  The adjacent camping area encourages a party atmosphere, while the casual tournaments ensure there’s none of the high-tension dramatics seen in more competitive events.

It doesn't get more laid back than this
It doesn’t get more laid back than this

I’m certainly looking forward to coming back to enjoy more of the fun, sun, wine and the great west-coast hospitality next year.

 

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