Date: 6th - 9th September, 2018
Location: Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Center, 181 Roundhouse Mews, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2W3, Canada
Additional photography: Christina Staines

Hello and welcome to our live coverage from the Roundhouse of the Vancouver Flipout Pinball Expo 2018.

We’ll be here right across the three days of the show, and even the set up on Thursday, bringing you all the action from this, the largest Canadian pinball event of the calendar.

The venue for this year’s show is the Roundhouse Community & Arts Center in downtown Vancouver.  While previous shows had been held at the Holiday Inn hotel, also in downtown Vancouver, this year the show needed more space and so moved to the main exhibition hall at the Roundhouse.

The Roundhouse in Vancouver
The new home of the Roundhouse in Vancouver

It’s a ten-minute walk from the previous venue to the new one, but the Roundhouse certainly offers lots more space at the cost of not having your accommodation in the same building as the show.

The show was held in the Gerry Thorne Exhibition Hall
The show was held in the Gerry Thorne Exhibition Hall

Thursday

The actual show doesn’t open to the public until 10am on Friday but the tournaments can run for somewhat longer, so the qualifying rounds began on Thursday at 4pm, even as the rest of the show was still being set up.

Tournament qualifying games
Tournament qualifying games
Classic tournament qualifying
Classic tournament qualifying
More Classic games being played on Thursday afternoon
More Classic games being played on Thursday afternoon
Some of the plaques for the winners
Some of the plaques for the winners

The tournaments are held on the right side of the hall, while the central and left areas are where all the free play machines are located along with the vendor tables.  Most of these machines were set up by the time the tournament qualifying games began, but there were still a few more to be added.

A few more machines to be added to these rows of classic machines
A few more machines to be added to these rows of classic machines
Lots more electromechanical pinballs
Lots more electromechanical pinballs
There are plenty of newer machines to play too
There are plenty of newer machines to play too
More newer titles
More newer titles

Among the newest titles at the show are Thunderbirds from Homepin, Deadpool Pro from Stern Pinball and Pirates of the Caribbean from Jersey Jack Pinball.  Both Mike Kalinowski from Homepin and Jack Guarnieri from Jersey Jack Pinball are appearing at the Vancouver Flipout Pinball Expo.  In fact, Mike had arrived a couple of days earlier and was helping at the show by checking the machines were working and managing all the machine keys.

Thunderbirds from Homepin
Thunderbirds from Homepin
Mike Kalinowski sorts out the keys
Mike Kalinowski sorts out the keys
More of the modern pinballs at the show
More of the modern pinballs at the show
Work was continuing until midnight to get everything ready
Work was continuing until midnight to get everything ready
Banners needed to be put up
Banners needed to be put up
Lights needed adjusting
Lights needed adjusting
And the entry desk prepared for the arrival of paying guests
And the entry desk prepared for the arrival of paying guests
The left side of the hall is where the vendors will be located
The left side of the hall is where the vendors will be located
At the back of the exhibition hall is an outside seating area where the food trucks will be parked
At the back of the exhibition hall is an outside seating area where the food trucks will be parked.

Friday

We returned to the show in plenty of time for Friday’s 10am opening expecting a long queue of visitors eager to get in to play the 130+ machines on the show floor.  Friday, though, is a regular working day and so things got off to a relatively slow start.

The entrance to the exhibition hall
The entrance to the exhibition hall
The queue to get in as the show opened
The queue to get in as the show opened
Suzanne Floyd welcomes guests to the Vancouver Flipout Expo 2018
Suzanne Floyd welcomes guests to the Vancouver Flipout Pinball Expo 2018

Inside the hall, a row of six woodrail pinballs had been added along with a Skill Roll novelty game.

Jack 'N Jill, Bank-A-Ball, Derby Day, Classy Bowler, Universe and Nags
Jack ‘N Jill, Bank-A-Ball, Derby Day, Classy Bowler, Universe and Nags
As American as baseball and hot dogs
As American as baseball and hot dogs

Over on the left side of the hall, the vendor stands were filling up nicely.

East Van Amusements had brought a row of classic videos
East Van Amusements had brought a row of classic videos
Pinball Vancouver has some nicely restored classic pinballs for sale
Pinball Vancouver has some nicely restored classic pinballs for sale
Dirty Donny would be at the show later to display, sell and sign his artwork
Dirty Donny would be at the show later to display, sell and sign his artwork
Show organiser Tommy Floyd's company, Nitro Amusements, were selling common parts and upgrades
Show organiser Tommy Floyd’s company, Nitro Amusements, were selling common parts and upgrades
Some of the parts on the Nitro stand
Some of the parts on the Nitro stand

Let’s take a look around the hall as the doors open to the public just after 10am on Friday.

The vendor stands on the left, free play machines in most of the rest of the hall
The vendor stands on the left, free play machines in most of the rest of the hall
More of the free play pinballs
More of the free play pinballs
More of the free play pinballs
More of the free play pinballs
More of the free play pinballs
More of the free play pinballs
More of the free play pinballs
More of the free play pinballs

The tournament area soon became busy once the doors opened, with players trying to qualify in the Open and Classic divisions.

The tournament area
The tournament area
Qualifying in the Open
Qualifying in the Open
Some of the Classic machines
Some of the Classic machines

Outside, three food trucks had arrived and were setting up to serve food at lunchtime and into the evening to show guests.

One of the food trucks
One of the food trucks
Anyone for a tandoori tikka dog?
Anyone for a tandoori tikka dog?
We're not quite sure what type of food is sold here, but more will be revealed later
We’re not quite sure what type of food is sold here, but more might be revealed later

After a break, we returned to the show in the evening to find the grand prize in the show raffle – a new-in-box Iron Maiden pinball – was on display next to the front desk.  Tickets could be purchased for $20 with the draw taking place at 3pm on Sunday.

The $20 grand raffle prize of a new-in-box Iron Maiden was at the front desk
The $20 grand raffle prize of a new-in-box Iron Maiden was at the front desk
The grand prize
The grand prize

We had returned just in time for the start of the VIP party which began at 7pm in an adjacent room.

This was a buffet-style sit-down dinner, with drinks provided by the sponsor Pabst Blue Ribbon and music DJ’d by Pinball Magazine’s Jonathan Joosten.  In addition, a prize raffle was held, with everyone attending given a numbered ticket for the draw.

Tommy Floyd and Jack Guarnieri pick the first winning ticket of the evening
Tommy Floyd and Jack Guarnieri pick the first winning ticket of the evening
Looking for the holder of the winning ticket
Looking for the holder of the winning ticket

At the end of the raffle, everyone who hadn’t won a prize was invited to come up and pick from the remaining items as Jonathan pumped up the music.

Jonathan was the DJ for the evening
Jonathan was the DJ for the evening
Jonathan and Tommy
Jonathan and Tommy

Saturday

Saturday’s action began at 10am. While the hall certainly got busy later in the day, there was only a handful of visitors waiting for the show to open.

Saturday's opening
Saturday’s opening
The main hall later in the day on Saturday
The main hall later in the day on Saturday
There were usually games available to play straight away, otherwise it was normally only a short wait
There were usually games available to play straight away, otherwise it was normally only a short wait
Even the very newest titles only had a couple of people waiting to play them
Even the very newest titles only had a couple of people waiting to play them
Jack Danger from DeadFlip was streaming live from the show
Jack Danger from DeadFlip was streaming live from the show
Dirty Donny was at the show signing pinball items and copies of his book
Dirty Donny was at the show signing pinball items and copies of his book

Saturday was also ‘Seminars Day’, with three presentations in the afternoon in the adjacent theatre.

The first was scheduled to begin at 12:30pm, but before that free pizza was served, provided by show organiser Tommy Floyd of Nitro Pinball.

Free pizza in the theatre
Free pizza in the theatre
Food and drink weren't permitted in the seating area
Food and drink weren’t permitted in the seating area

Once everyone had enjoyed their food, they took their seats and the first seminar could begin.  This was from the American Pinball team of Joe Balcer and Nirmal Vasani.

The first seminar in the theatre
The first seminar in the theatre

Joe began by describing how he got into the pinball business and the companies he worked for, including Data East/Sega/Stern, Jersey Jack and now American.

Joe talked about his career in pinball
Joe talked about his career in pinball

The main focus of his talk was the Houdini machine from American Pinball, and Joe described how the company first showed their initial design from another game designer in October 2016 at Pinball Expo, but Joe subsequently redesigned it and the team brought the new playable machine to the Texas Pinball Festival in March the following year, a mere four months later.

Joe with the Houdini machine
Joe with the Houdini machine

Joe and Nirmal had brought with the some special prizes which they took back to the show floor to give to the best players on the Houdini machine.

Houdini prizes
Houdini prizes

But they didn’t leave without giving a sneak preview on the screen of American Pinball’s second title.

Oktoberfest: Pinball on Tap will be the name of American Pinball's second title
Oktoberfest: Pinball on Tap will be the name of American Pinball’s second title
A shot of the playfield
A shot of the playfield
Joe shows one of the characters from the game
Joe shows one of the characters from the game

You can watch Joe and Nirmal in their presentation with the video below.

The second seminar featured Mike Kalinowski of Homepin.

Mike Kalinowski
Mike Kalinowski

Mike gave a slideshow documenting his early years working with electronics and the formation of his company, Homepin.  He showed how the factory he created in Shenzhen, China, grew and how they were able to start producing Thunderbirds pinballs there.  He described the personal and professional hurdles he had to overcome along the way,  as well as explaining the processes used and the decisions made about various features in the Thunderbirds game.

The final seminar was from the Jersey Jack Pinball duo of Jack Guarnieri and Butch Peel.

Jack Guarnieri
Jack Guarnieri
Butch Peel
Butch Peel

While Butch controlled the slideshow, Jack talked about his early years in the business, how he formed Jersey Jack Pinball, the company’s first four titles – The Wizard of Oz, The Hobbit, Dialed In! and Pirates of the Caribbean.  He spoke about the visitors he has at the factory and how his choice of licenses is made, with the emphasis on selecting family-friendly themes.

Sunday

Maybe it was the wet weather, but whatever the reason Sunday turned out to be the busiest day of all at the show.

Early signs suggested a busy day on Sunday
Early signs suggested a busy day on Sunday
Lots of youngsters were playing both on the pinballs...
Lots of youngsters were playing both on the pinballs…
...and on the video games
…and on the video games
It wasn't long before almost every machine was in use
It wasn’t long before almost every machine was in use
At times it was tricky to walk down the aisles with the volume of people playing or waiting
At times it was tricky to walk down the aisles with the volume of people playing or waiting

Here’s a full list of all the pinballs at the show:

AC/DC Pro Lady Luck
Addams Family, The Lethal Weapon 3
Amigo Lord of the Rings, The
Attack From Mars Remake Std Majorettes
Bad Cats Mario Andretti
Bank A Ball Medieval Madness
Batman 66 Premium Melody
Black Hole Metallica Pro
Black Knight Meteor
Black Knight 2000 Monster Bash
Black Rose Mustang Pro
Blackwater 100 Nags
Bow and Arrow No Good Gofers
Bride of Pinbot, The Machine Paradise
Bride of Pinbot, The Machine Paragon
Capt. Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy Pharaoh
Centigrade 37 Pink Panther
Champion Pub, The Pin-Up
Cherry Bell Playboy (Bally)
Classy Bowler Power Play, Bobby Orr
Count-Down Priates of the Caribbean LE (JJP)
Creature from the Black Lagoon Prospector
Cross Town Raven
Deadpool Pro Revenge from Mars
Demolition Man Rob Zombie’s Spookshow International
Derby Day Royal Flush
Dialed In! Safecracker
Diner Scared Stiff
Dirty Harry Seawitch
Dracula, Bram Stoker’s Shadow, The
Eight Ball Sinbad
Elvira & The Party Monsters Slick Chick
F-14 Tomcat Space Invaders
Fish Tales Space Odyssey
Flight 2000 Star Trek: The Next Generation
Four Million B.C. Starship Troopers
Frontier Stellar Wars
Galaxy Street Fighter II
Getaway, The: High Speed 2 Strikes and Spares
Gigi Surf ‘N Safari
Gilligan’s Island Tales of the Arabian Nights
Gold Rush Terminator 2
Golden Arrow Terminator 3
Grand Lizard Theatre of Magic
Gridiron Thunderbirds
Haunted House Tommy, The Who’s
High Hand Top Score
Hobbit, The Total Nuclear Annihilation
Houdini Twilight Zone
Indiana Jones (WMS) Universe
Jack ‘N Jill Walking Dead Pro, The
Jackbot Whitewater
Jacks Open Who Dunnit?
Jive Time Wizard of Oz, The
Jurassic Park Wizard!
King of Diamonds World Poker Tour
Kings & Queens WWE Wrestlemania
Lady Luck

You can take a look around the show floor in our exclusive Ten Minute Tour video from Vancouver Flipout Pinball Expo 2018.

There were two main events taking place on Sunday.  First, at 3pm the draw for the grand prize of a new-in-box Iron Maiden pinball took place.

Tickets for this had been sold at the front desk all three days, at a price of $20 each.  Mike Kalinowski of Homepin helped Tommy Floyd with the draw.

Mike holds the bag of tickets while Tommy draws a winner
Mike holds the bag of tickets while Tommy draws a winner
We have a winner!
We have a winner!
The holder of the winning ticket comes to claim their prize
The holder of the winning ticket comes to claim their prize
The winner was actually Gary Ellingson from Calgary but his granddaughter was the one holding the ticket at the show
The winner was actually Gary Ellingson from Calgary but his granddaughter was the one holding the ticket at the show

There were multiple tournaments held over the show’s three days and the extended qualifying session on Thursday, but the main one was the Modern Tournament which reached its conclusion on Sunday afternoon.

There were two divisions – Open and Novice, with the Open being exactly that and the Novice for those with IFPA rankings below 2,500.  Both used the Drains Tournament Manager system for qualifying and play-offs, with the full results being available online here.

The winner of the Open Division was current World Champion, Raymond Davidson, who was top qualifier and won two of the three games in the final. In second place was Johnny Modica, while third and fourth were decided by a play-off, with Colin Urban winning and Mike Tzanakos ending in fourth.

Mike (4th), Colin (3rd), Johnny (2nd) & Raymond (1st)
Mike (4th), Colin (3rd), Johnny (2nd) & Raymond (1st)

In the Novice Division it was a close final which resulted in a win for Curtis Dowhaniuk, ahead of Billy Gordon in second, Geoff Millman in third and Rick Exner in fourth.

Geoff (3rd), Rick (4th), Billy (2nd) & Curtis (1st)
Geoff (3rd), Rick (4th), Billy (2nd) & Curtis (1st)

This was our first tie visiting the Vancouver Flipout Pinball Expo in person, so we couldn’t do a direct comparison between this year’s show at the Roundhouse and the earlier two shows at the Holiday Inn, but it was clear that the move to the new venue was sorely-needed given the number of machines.  Even with 115 pinballs set up, organiser Tommy was turning away around 30 more due to lack of available space for them.  Of course, more machines also means more problems and so more technical help needed, but there was no lack of helpers who could regularly be seen with their heads buried inside a game, bringing it back to life.

Although there were food trucks outside the hall, there were also plenty of local stores providing a wide range of refreshments.  We seemed to spend most of our mealtimes in Urban Craft across the street which served excellent, good value food, had a wide assortment of fruit, vegetables and delicatessen items, and served hot drinks, beer and cider, even having a happy hour from 4pm each day.  Meanwhile, just a couple of minutes away were two streets packed with bars and restaurants.  With such a choice, it was probably only the rain which persuaded show guests to take advantage of the food trucks.

Having the three seminars on Saturday was a useful diversion from the show floor.  The attendance wasn’t the greatest despite Tommy providing free pizza in the theatre, but for the devoted pinball fans there was a lot of useful and interesting information imparted as we hope you can see and hear in our recordings above.

There was also an impressive selection of tournaments run by Dave Stewart, Germain Mariolle, and Rob Moller, which multiple divisions for all skill levels, ages and sexes.  There were too many for us to cover in full, but you can find player rankings, qualifying standings and final results for a number of them on the VPO2018 page at NeverDrains.com.

All of which concludes our coverage of this year’s Vancouver Flipout Pinball Expo.  We hope you enjoyed our four days of reports and we look forward to returning to Vancouver next year for an even bigger show.

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One Comment

  1. Gary Flower

    September 10, 2018 at 7:52 am

    Great photo reportage.

    Reply

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