Date: 25th & 26th August, 2018 Location: Mercure Daventry Court Hotel, Sedgemoor Way, Daventry, NN11 0SG, UK We’re here at the Mercure Daventry Court Hotel in the town of Daventry near Northampton in the English Midlands for the very first UK Pinfest show. The Mercure Daventry Court Hotel Regular readers may recognise this hotel from some of our previous reports, and that’s because the Mercure used to be home of the UK Pinball Party when Andrew Heighway organised it from 2010 until 2014. After two years without a national show, Phillip Murphy stepped up with his UK Pinfest show, returning to Daventry to host it. Now taken over by Mercure, the hotel has had an interior facelift in the lobby and some of the rooms, but the main exhibit hall is pretty much unchanged. The hotel’s lobby The bar – expected home of several late nights The corridor to the main exhibit hall Friday When we arrived, setting up of machines was in full flow. Inside the main hall Setting up a Black Knight Preparing a Tecnoplay X Force Live streaming is set to be a big feature this weekend, with several rigs poised to broadcast games. One of the streaming rigs on a The Shadow machine Further into the hall, two banks of tournament machines are set up for the UK Pinball Open and UK Pinball Classic tournaments which begin at 10am on Saturday. Further machines were going to be added to both banks later on Friday. The UK Pinball Open machines The UK Pinball Classic machines At the back of the hall, a row of machines featured the latest titles from several manufacturers, including Homepin, Team Pinball, American Pinball, Jersey Jack Pinball and Stern Pinball. Players get a sneaky game on Thunderbirds Lots of the latest games Elsewhere in the hall, more machines were either ready for the opening or getting there. More machines ready to go Getting a final adjustment There are a few stands around the outer edges of the hall. Jim Askey’s stand with a custom Indiana Jones machine The Scottish Pinball Association are represented The Northern Lights Pinball crew are here too Although most machines are turned off until the start of the VIP session at 7pm on Friday, a few were powered up during the set-up period. Most machines are off, but not all Setting up even more machines Then at 7pm the doors were opened to the VIP ticket-holders. Tickets for the two days, this VIP session and Saturday evening’s session could be purchased for £45. Non-VIP tickets for the weekend were £30, while daily tickets cost £18 each. The VIP session on Friday evening There is a second VIP session on Saturday night Saturday The show opened to the public at 10:30am, but the first round of qualifying for the UK Pinball Open and Classic tournaments were both scheduled for 10am, so tournament players could enter the main hall and sign-in earlier, as could machine owners looking to set-up, clean or fix their games. The aisle from the entrance to the tournament desk The Pinnovating team setting up Kill Bill, The Matrix and Demolition Man on Steroids Cleaning the tournament machines Trophies for the Open, Classics and Apprentice Wizard tournaments Tournament qualifying was split into two sessions – 10am and 2pm. Those scheduled for 10am needed to sign-in and collect their player badges. Tournament players getting their badges and score cards Tournament director Peter Blakemore with the name badges Meanwhile, more machines were arriving and being set up By the end, there were 81 free-play pinballs plus 24 tournament and 6League machines (which were mostly also available for the public to play when not being used in the tournaments) for a total of 111 pinballs. Here’s the list: Free Play Pinballs AC/DC (Luci) Matrix, TheAddams Family, The Medieval MadnessAerobatics Metalllica (Pro)Avatar Monster BashBatman (DE) Mousin’ AroundBatman 66 Mr & Mrs Pac-ManBlack Knight 2000 NautilusBlack Knight* NBA FastbreakBlack Rose NBA FastbreakBlack Rose* NBA FastbreakBride of Pinbot: The Machine No FearBride of Pinbot: The Machine Pirates of the Caribbean (JJP)Bride of Pinbot: The Machine Pirates of the Caribbean (Stern)Circus Queen’s CastleCreature from the Black Lagoon Revenge from MarsDemolition Man on Steroids RoboCopDialed In! Rocket IIIDracula, Bram Stoker’s RockyDracula, Bram Stoker’s* Scared StiffEarth Wind & Fire Scared StiffFish Tales Shadow, TheFlash* Shadow, TheGame of Thrones (Pro) ShrekGetaway, The: High Speed 2* Ski JumpGold Ball Sopranos, TheGold Ball South ParkGuardians of the Galaxy (Pro) SpectrumHook Spider-Man (Pro)Houdini Star Trek (Pro)Indiana Jones (Stern) Star Wars (DE)Iron Maiden (Premium) Star Wars (Pro)Iron Maiden (Pro) StargateIron Maiden (Pro) Tales of the Arabian NightsJokerz! ThunderbirdsJunkyard TronJurassic Park Twilight ZoneKill Bill Wizard!Lethal Weapon 3 World Poker TourLord of the Rings, The X ForceMafia, The X-Files, TheMagic Castle And here are the tournament machines: UK Pinball Open Pinballs UK Pinball Classic PinballsAvatar Back to the FutureGetaway, The: High Speed 2 Dark Shadow*Junkyard FathomMedieval Madness FirepowerMonster Bash Gold WingsPinball Magic GorgarScared Stiff Pink PantherTerminator 2: Judgement Day Road KingsTotal Nuclear Annihilation SeawitchTron Space HawksWalking Dead, The Space InvadersWhitewater Spider-Man, The Amazing And these are the League final machines: UK Pinball League Pinballs Addams Family, The Flintstones, TheBatman: The Dark Knight Game of Thrones (Pro)Creature from the Black Lagoon* Twilight Zone At 10:30am the doors were opened to paying guests and it wasn’t long before most machines were occupied. Another guest gets their wristband UK Pinfest organiser, Philip Murphy Free play machines in the front, tournament machines behind The row of free play machines in front of the stage After a little confusion over score cards, the first tournament games began using twelve modern machines for the Open and twelve solid-state titles for the Classic. Playing in the UK Pinball Open UK Pinball Classic matches Both tournaments followed the same format. Players were divided into eight groups of ten or eleven, and played a single three-ball game against every other member of their group. When all the games were over, the top four players from each group progressed to the knockout stages to be held on Sunday. Away from the competitive environment, there were plenty of interesting titles to pay in the hall. Three Zaccaria EMs in this row – Queen’s Castle, Circus and Nautilus More modern titles The three Pinnovating titles were up and running The new Kill Bill machine – a converted World Cup Soccer The new arrivals set up and being enjoyed Although there is a bar in the hotel’s lobby, there is also one in the main hall, letting people enjoy a drink with their game. The main hall’s bar The bar wasn’t the only place for visitors to spend their money. 1 Stop Pinball has a good selection of common and game-specific parts on their stand. 1 Stop Pinball’s stand Jim Askey was showing his work on Indiana Jones and other games Northern Lights Pinball were raising money for charity and looking after the keys and machine repairs They also brought along their pair of linked NBA Fastbreak machines Here’s a further look around the show, the people and the machines at UK Pinfest 2018. Playing the free play machines Enjoying the latest titles from six different manufacturers The Team Pinball team with their new The Mafia game Speaking of new releases, Jonathan Joosten was at the show with a preview copy of Pinball Magazine issue 5 This Nautilus game had clear windows to show the workings of the electromechanical system At 2pm the first of the show’s three seminars too place in a small room just off the hotel’s lobby. The seminars room The first talk was by Team Pinball who were telling the audience about the making of their The Mafia game. Team Pinball – Janos Kiss, Otília Pasaréti and Romain Fontaine The team began by introducing themselves before describing how Team Pinball was established in 2016 and the timeline for the development of their The Mafia game, from the ten iterations of paper drawing, through computer simulation to the first prototype, the second prototype (which they had in the room) and the production models. Romain explained how the game’s electronics were designed using commonly-available discrete components and through-hole devices for easy repair, just as the playfield uses standard Williams/Bally components for the common mechanisms and components. He also described the six-week process for getting FCC and CE certification so they could sell the game in the US and Europe. The team showed the process of backbox and cabinet decal application, along with the combining of the backbox, cabinet and playfield to produce a complete game. Although they made the first ten games themselves with help from family members, they plan to get extra help to build the next run. Show organiser Phil with Team Pinball after their seminar You can hear the Team Pinball seminar at UK Pinfest below or by clicking here. It was also streamed live by Domino Pinball and you can watch it below. Later, at 5pm, the pairing of Dennis Van der Pas and Gerard van De Sanden began their seminar about the Kill Bill game from Pinnovating. Gerard van De Sanden and Dennis Van der Pas Gerard started by talking about his passion for pinball and his wish to make a The Matrix pinball. He didn’t have the skills himself, but spoke with Dennis who had created the Demolition Man on Steroids conversion to see if he could help. Along with another friend, the three of them converted a Johnny Mnemonic to The Matrix. After The Matrix, Gerard went on to found the Dutch Pinball Museum, but Dennis wanted to make a game based on the movie Kill Bill. Now, after more than 3,000 hours’ work, Kill Bill is in the state presented at the show. Dennis then took over and explained how he took a World Cup Soccer game and removed the spinning ball so he could add an additional shot which left to the scoop but also had two up-posts. He also removed one of the three pop bumpers, replacing it with an upper flipper, changed the left orbit shot so it fed more naturally to the left flipper, modified the upper mini-playfield ball lock, and added a new centre ramp shot on which balls could be locked. Finally, Dennis gave a quick rundown of the rules, showing how to progress through several of the modes. Dennis with his Kill Bill game Here’s the audio recording of the seminar or you can download it here. You can also watch the Domino Pinball recording of it below. The show closed to the public at 6pm, but there was another VIP session from 7pm and play in the UK Pinball Classics qualifying ran past the 6pm closure allowing those competitors to continue their matches. In fact, the VIP session also continued beyond the its scheduled end at 11pm, with the last stragglers drifting out of the hall around twenty minutes past midnight. Sunday The show didn’t open to the public until 10:30am, but for the 32 qualifiers in the UK Pinball Open the first rounds began at 9am. Qualified players for the UK Pinball Open assemble for the start of the play-offs The play-offs split the 32 qualified players into 16 pairs, with each pair playing a best-of-three match on three randomly-chosen machines. The winner progressed to the next round of the Winner Bracket while the loser entered the Loser Bracket where a single head-to-head game decided who continued and who was out. The winner of the loser bracket could only achieve third place, so it was really a single-elimination format. The UK Pinball Open play-offs begin The equivalent play-offs for the UK Pinball Classic would start at 2pm, but there was also the finals of the UK Pinball League organised by Wayne Johns for those players from across the country who had qualified through their regional leagues. Trophies for the UK Pinball League finals and regional winners These League final games ran throughout the day and were held in the corridor outside the main hall on six machines – Creature from the Black Lagoon, Twilight Zone, Game of Thrones, The Addams Family, Batman: The Dark Knight and The Flintstones. Play in the national finals of the UK Pinball League Classic machines for use later in the day While the Open play-offs were underway, there was a presentation to the owner of the Best-in-Show machine at UK Pinfest. This went to John Bateson for his beautiful Zaccaria Ski Jump. John Bateson receives his Best-in-Show award from Phil As the rounds continued, the number of players remaining in the UK Pinball Open dwindled. Peter Blakemore playing in the Open Just before 1:30pm, the two players remaining in the Winner Bracket were decided – Rich Mallett and Rafael Masedo. The two finalists in the UK Pinball Open – Rich Mallett and Rafael Masedo The final was a best-of-three match on three randomly-chose machines. The final began on Terminator 2. Rafael begins the final on Terminator 2 Rich starts his game on Terminator 2 The first game went to Rich, which meant play moved on to game two which was on Monster Bash. Rich played first on Monster Bash After his third ball, Rich had set a target of 47M for Rafael to chase. Rafael begins the chase to save the final Despite starting Werewolf mode and then Frankenstein Multiball, his third ball ended with just 41M on the board, giving game two and the championship to Rich. So Rich Mallet was the winner of the UK Pinball Open 2018. Rafael Masedo was second. In a play-off for the Loser Bracket, Craig Pullen won to take third place, with Gabriel Ortiz in fourth. All four won crystal laser-etched trophies as well as cash prizes of £240/£120/£80/£40. In addition, players in 5th-8th won £25 while those in 9th-16th won their £15 entry fee back. Trophies were presented by Peter Blakemore. Winner of the UK Pinball Open 2018, Rich Mallett Second place, Rafael Masedo Third place, Craig Pullen Fourth place, Gabriel Ortiz The top four in the UK Pinball Open 2018 At 2pm it was time for the seminar by Homepin’s Mike Kalinowski. This, like all the seminars, was held in a side room near the hotel lobby and off the corridor leading to the show hall. Mike Kalinowski’s seminar about Homepin and his Thunderbirds game Mike began his talk by describing his first job as a Radio and TV engineer, where he did a lot of model aircraft flying and learned all about electronics and radio frequencies. He got a job working for Music Time repairing pinball machines before moving to Cairns to work for another operator, before that company folded. That pushed him to start his own business. After someone on an Australian forum enquired about the availability of opto boards for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mike thought he could do it and that board became the first Homepin product. It’s still a board they make today, albeit with a different design and in batches of 100 pieces. Mike Kalinowski of Homepin Around twelve years ago he was asked if he could help importing various products into Australia from China. Mike saw the demand and thought it could make a viable business, getting a warehouse in China to gather all the purchases before shipping them to Oz. After running this business shipping other people’s products for several years, Mike and his business partner decided they would rather manufacture products for themselves. Mike wanted to make pinballs while his partner preferred printers. They found a facility to build them in, and mike began manufacturing Hankin video games and Homepin products while he built-up the equipment and skills needed to build complete pinballs. Mike explained how the death of his wife hit him not only emotionally but also financially, as she had owned all the assets and he had to spend a year sorting out the financial situation so he could finally get on running the business. He was also hit by the death of an employee who had been writing the code for Thunderbirds, including testing a colour display. All those code assets were lost, and Mike had to pay a substantial sum to the family of the deceased worker. Mike with some colour display samples He said that due to the complexity of the paperwork needed to import parts into China, the easiest solution is to manufacture all the parts either themselves or using local facilities. All the required skills are available, and the prices allow a much-improved quality of product for minimal or even zero price difference. He cited how it was as cheap to get the ball trough made out of stainless steel as plain steel. Mike shows a Lexan sheet from which the game’s plastics were produced Mike said he has just moved to a new factory after the authorities in the region in which he was based decided to push all manufacturing out of the area so they could concentrate on high-tech businesses instead. The move should be complete by the time he returned from this trip to the UK. You can listen to Mike’s talk here or download it here. You can also watch it below thanks to Domino Pinball. Once the UK Pinball Open was concluded, the play-offs for the UK Pinball Classic began. The format was the same as that used in the Open, only the machines used were different. After several rounds of head-to-head matches, the final two would would play to be the Classic Champion were Ad Jonker and – in his second final of the day – Rafael Masedo. They played a best-of-three final match on randomly-chosen machines, starting with The Amazing Spider-Man. The UK Pinball Classic final began on The Amazing Spider-Man Rafael played the game by repeatedly shooting up the inlanes with the tips of the flippers (or Shatzing) to build up the bonus multiplier while Ad played a more traditional game by shooting the drop targets. Rafael’s strategy was more risky – and he lost one ball by shooting too late and letting it roll off the end of the flipper – but ultimately more rewarding as he won the first game of the final. Play then moved on to Fathom and this time it was Ad’s turn to win, taking the final into a deciding third game. This was played on Gorgar, and while both players had some unexpected bounces down the oulanes, it was Rafael who set the pace, leaving Ad a target of 135K to reach on his final ball. He looked set to reach it when the outlane claimed the ball with his total score on 103,960. So, Rafael was the winner; his plunged last ball gave him a game total of 140,100. Ad was second, and in the play-off for third place it was Rich Mallett who beat John van der Wulp. Once again, Peter Blakemore made the presentations with the same crystal trophies and £240/£120/£80/£40 cash payouts for the top four places. Winner of the UK Pinball Classic 2018, Rafael Madedo Second place, Ad Jonker Third place, Rich Mallett Fourth place, John van der Wulp Rafael with his second place (Open) and first place (Classic) trophies In addition to the UK Pinball Open and Classic tournaments, on Sunday there was an Apprentice Wizards tournament for the younger players. This was held on a Shrek pinball, and awarded trophies to the top scorers in two categories – Kids and Youth. Entry cost just £0.50 per game and there were trophies for the top players in two divisions – Youth (for aged 11-15) and Junior (10 and under). In the Junior Division, it was a win for 9-year-old Daniel Davis with a score of 10,953,890. Oona Bradbury got an impressive 6,282,640 to take second place, while Evelyn Butler was close behind in third place and Freja Bradley fourth. First place in the Junior Division, Daniel Davis Second place, Oona Bradbury Third place, Evelyn Butler In the Youth Division, the winner was Marcus Hilton with a great score of 53,607,230. Tyler Keeping took second place with his 10,612,280 score. Second place in the Youth Division, Tyler Keeping Meanwhile, there was more competitive action in the corridor outside the main hall where the finals of the UK Pinball League were taking place. The regional winners had been decided weeks or month before following multiple local meetings in each region. The winners were presented their trophies at the show where they could also represent their region in the national final. The trophies were presented by League co-ordinator, Wayne Johns who began with his own trophy. The winner of the Midlands league, Wayne Johns Winner of the London & South-East region, Matt Vince Winner of the Northern region, Andrew Foster Winner of the Irish region, Ian Craig The national final was split into an A and a B Division with the top few players from each region competing in A and the next few in B – the exact numbers depending on how many players each region had. The final saw the players play for score on five machines and have their scores ranked. The top two went straight into the final with the next four battling for the other two places. The final four then played three games with a 4-2-1-0 scoring system. Andrew won the first two games to earn 8 points, with the other places spread around so that he couldn’t be caught on the last game on The Addams Family. Matt Vince got closest to take second place, Krzysztof Gwiadza was third, with Wayne Johns in fourth. Andrew Foster wins the UK Pinball League final for 2018 and gets to keep the Pinball Wizard trophy for a third consecutive year Second place in the A Division, Matt Vince Third place in the A Division, Krzysztof Gwiadza Fourth place in the A Division, Wayne Johns Details of the B Division winners coming up, but in the meantime here’s our exclusive Pinball News Seven Minute Tour walk around the main show hall. Conclusion It was great to have a national UK show back, and returning to Daventry did feel like the pinball was coming home. There had been changes though. The hotel room pricing was much more reasonable than on previous visits at £65-a-night, and the hotel facilities seemed slightly upgraded (although a quick peek behind the scenes in the main hall showed nothing had changed there in the past four years). The hotel bar and the food available in the lobby had also improved, but the restaurant was closed all weekend except for breakfast with a very limited selection of dishes served in the lobby. The show hours had been scaled back, with Saturday’s public session running from 10am until 6pm, and Sunday’s from 10:30am to 4:30pm. Both days were priced at £18 ($23.20/€19.90), or £30 ($38.66/€33.16) for for a weekend ticket. Anyone wanting to play in the evening needed one of the limited number of VIP tickets at £45 ($58.00/€49.74) for both days. Inside the hall there was an impressive selection of the latest titles, with only the newest Deadpool game not quite getting to the UK in time. The Northern Lights Pinball crew did sterling work keeping the games up and running across the two days, and could always be seen with their collective heads under playfields, soldering irons in hands. Attendance seemed lower than previous years but with this being the first show after being on hiatus for a while that’s not entirely unexpected, and it did mean the hall wasn’t unduly crowded for most of the show. The selection of seminars was very welcome, with some interesting observations and recollections from people making new games in different ways. For competitive players there was a busy schedule if they were playing in the Open, Classic and League finals. The Open got off to a slightly chaotic start, but pretty soon things were sorted out and players worked out what they needed to do to play their games. The timescales were tight and the space allocated not the best, but everything was just about squeezed in. So, the first UK Pinfest was a success, and planning for next year’s second show is already underway.