Date: 22nd-24th March, 2019
Location: Embassy Suites Hotel & Convention Center, 7600 John Q Hammons Dr., Frisco, TX 75034, USA

The Texas Pinball Festival is back at the Embassy Suites in Frisco, and so are we.

The venue for the Texas Pinball Festival 2019, the Embassy Suites in Frisco
The venue for the Texas Pinball Festival 2019, the Embassy Suites in Frisco

We arrived on Thursday afternoon – a day before the show opens – so we can bring you all the details from the set-up through to the tear down, and we will be updating this report frequently so we can bring you all the events as they happen.

There will be plenty of vehicles with licence plates similar to this at the hotel this weekend
There will be plenty of vehicles with licence plates similar to this at the hotel this weekend
Hanging banners for the show
Hanging banners for the show

The TPF covers several rooms with the main hall being by far the largest.

Show merchandise and clothing at the entry desk
Show merchandise and clothing at the entry desk

On Thursday, set-up was progressing steadily on the show floor.

Pinballs waiting to be set up
Pinballs waiting to be set up

Machines are brought in through the rear loading doors, where a crew organises the unloading and directs owners to the appropriate staging point before games are taken to their spot in the hall.

The staging area is even more important at the close of the show when everyone wants to load-up and get away as quickly as possible.

The unloading/loading crew
The unloading/loading crew
The staging areas
The staging areas
The machine layout
The machine layout
The layout of the vendor stands
The layout of the vendor stands

Inside the main hall there is one stand-out stall, and that’s Marco Specialties’ Munster’s display.

Marco Specialties' stand
Marco Specialties’ stand
Lots of The Munsters machines
Lots of The Munsters machines

To go with The Munsters pinball, there are two very special vehicles.

Dragula, one of two The Munsters vehicles
Dragula, one of two The Munsters vehicles
Dragula
Dragula
The Dragula car has been signed by Pat Priest who will also be at the show
The Dragula car has been signed by Pat Priest who will also be at the show
The Munster's Koach
The Munster’s Koach
The Munster's Koach with Eddie Munster at the rear
The Munster’s Koach with Eddie Munster at the rear
The Munsters Koach with The Munsters pinball
The Munsters Koach with The Munsters pinball

Elsewhere in the hall, Kingpin Amusements are featuring games from multiple manufacturers.

The Kingpin stand during set-up
The Kingpin stand during set-up
Oktoberfest and Houdini machines on the American Pinball stand
Oktoberfest and Houdini machines on the American Pinball stand

The multiple tournaments held at the Texas Pinball Festival usually occupy an area at the front of the hall. This year, however, they have moved into a dedicated tournament room opposite the main hall.

The tournament room
The tournament room
Setting up the tournament machines
Setting up the tournament machines
Colin dials-in a World Cup Soccer
Colin dials-in a World Cup Soccer
Seating and standings
Seating and standings

Friday is the first day of the show with the doors opening to the public at 5pm. Before that though, there was plenty of activity in the main hall and outside, as more games and stands were set up

It was quiet at the ticket office now, but later...?
It was quiet at the ticket office now, but later…?
Team Worldwide were standing by to ship any games traded over the weekend
Team Worldwide were standing by to ship any games traded over the weekend

Inside, Suncoast Pinball were showing two examples of their upcoming Cosmic Carnival game.

The playfield from Cosmic Carnival by Suncoast Pinball
The playfield from Cosmic Carnival by Suncoast Pinball

The game was flipable and played a music track, but there were no rules or display effects on the backbox LCD other than one static screen.

The Cosmic Carnival backbox
The Cosmic Carnival backbox

The game features artwork by Dirty Donny on the playfield, cabinet and backbox.

The Cosmic Carnival cabinet art
The Cosmic Carnival cabinet art
Backbox side art
Backbox side art

Further into the hall, Marco Specialties were making final preparations, as were other vendors.

The Marco Specialties stand
The Marco Specialties stand
Some vendors were more ready than others
Some vendors were more ready than others
American Pinball were getting their games ready
American Pinball were getting their games ready
Jersey Jack Pinball were doing likewise
Jersey Jack Pinball were doing likewise
Flip N Out had both Oktoberfest and The Beatles on their stand
Flip N Out had both Oktoberfest and The Beatles on their stand
Pinball Inc. had their parts set up, with their Kingpin project game about to arrive too
Pinball Inc. had their parts set up, with their Kingpin project game about to arrive too
It's hard to ignore some of the beautiful lighted mods at the show
It’s hard to ignore some of the beautiful lighted mods at the show
Ryan Claytor and Nick Baldridge were preparing to sell the first copies of their Coin-Op Carnival publication
Ryan Claytor and Nick Baldridge were preparing to sell the first copies of their Coin-Op Carnival publication

Although the show didn’t open until 5pm on Friday, at 3pm there was a special VIP meet-and-greet session with two of the show’s special guests – Pat Priest and Butch Patrick from The Munsters, who were joined by members of the Stern Pinball design team from their The Munsters pinball.

The Stern team comprised John Borg, Dwight Sullivan, Jerry Thompson and Christopher Franchi.

There was a long line of VIP pass buyers waiting for their opportunity to meet the team and get their special commemorativeThe Munsters poster signed.

The line for the meet-and-greet with Pat, Butch and the Stern team
The line for the meet-and-greet with Pat, Butch and the Stern team
The signing table
The signing table
Pat Priest and Butch Patrick signing posters
Pat Priest and Butch Patrick signing posters
Pat Priest and Butch Patrick signing posters
Pat Priest and Butch Patrick signing posters
A signed commemorative poster with the happy owner
A signed commemorative poster with the happy owner

Over in the tournaments room, things were getting busy as qualifying for the tournaments was in full swing.

In the tournaments room
In the tournaments room
Trophies and plaques for the various tournaments
Trophies and plaques for the various tournaments

As the 5pm opening loomed, the lobby outside the main hall was packed with show guests anxious to get in.

The lobby outside the show hall just before 5pm on Friday
The lobby outside the show hall just before 5pm on Friday

There was also a long line of visitors waiting to buy or collect pre-purchased tickets.

The line for tickets
The line for tickets

While they were waiting, there were vendors of hot food, snacks and drinks in the lobby, as well as food trucks outside.

Pizzas or chips n dips
Pizzas or chips n dips
More unhealthy snacks
More unhealthy snacks
Alcoholic drinks were available too
Alcoholic drinks were available too
Food trucks were outside the venue for all three days
Food trucks were outside the venue for all three days
A BBQ food truck was there too
A BBQ food truck was there too

Once the doors opened, it was only a matter of a few minutes before most of the machines were being played, while queues soon built up on the most popular new titles.

Ed Vanderveen reminds show guests to display their wristbands as the doors open
Ed Vanderveen reminds show guests to display their wristbands as the doors open
Very quickly the crowd spread through the hall to occupy any vacant machines
Very quickly the crowd spread through the hall to occupy any vacant machines
Charlie from Spooky Pinball points out some of the features of Alice Cooper's Nightmare Castle
Charlie from Spooky Pinball points out some of the features of Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle
American Pinball's Oktoberfest games were in high demand
American Pinball’s Oktoberfest games were in high demand
Chicago Gaming had a large display of their remake titles
Chicago Gaming had a large display of their remake titles
More games Attack from Mars and Monster Bash from Chicago
More games Attack from Mars and Monster Bash from Chicago Gaming
Pretty much every game was soon being enjoyed
Pretty much every game was soon being enjoyed

The seminar schedule began at 6pm, with Martin Ayub of Pinball News and Jonathan Joosten of Pinball Magazine hosting their popular So You Think You Know Pinball? quiz in the hotel’s bar area.

Jonathan Joosten and Martin Ayub
Jonathan Joosten and Martin Ayub – picture by Jim Schelberg

The quiz asked a series of questions with two possible answers. Contestants were asked to move to one side of the floor if they thought the first answer was correct or the opposite side if they thought the second answer was the right one.

Those who chose wisely stayed in, while those who were wrong sat down and waited for the next round. As soon as there were only a few contestants remaining they all got to pick prize tickets at random, with the tickets relating to one of the prizes on the long table of goodies.

Martin and Jonathan presented numerous prizes kindly donated by American Pinball, Spooky Pinball, Jersey Jack Pinball, Stern Pinball, Multimorphic, Christopher Franchi, Suncoast Pinball, Pinball News and Pinball Magazine.

Jonathan and Martin with some of the prizes
Jonathan and Martin with some of the prizes – picture by Jim Schelberg

Then at 7pm the seminars moved to their dedicated room at the back of the main hall as Jersey Jack Pinball took to the stage.

Jack Guarnieri was joined by John-Paul de Win, Butch Peel and Eric Meunier to talk about their latest games and answer questions from the audience.

Jack Guarnieri of Jersey Jack Pinball
Jack Guarnieri of Jersey Jack Pinball
The Jersey Jack Pinball team
The Jersey Jack Pinball team

After Jack introduced the team members, Eric spoke about his experiences designing his first game – Pirates of the Caribbean – for the company. 

Eric Meunier
Eric Meunier

Jack then turned to The Wizard of Oz and said it was still his favourite game because it held such a special place in his and the company’s history. He then unveiled the new Yellow Brick Road Limited Edition model.

Unveiling the Yellow Brick Road Limited Edition of The Wizard of Oz
Unveiling the Yellow Brick Road Limited Edition of The Wizard of Oz
The Yellow Brick Road Limited Edition version of The Wizard of Oz
The Yellow Brick Road Limited Edition version of The Wizard of Oz

The Yellow Brick Road Limited Edition of The Wizard of Oz is only available through distributors and is, Jack said, designed for those who haven’t bought a The Wizard of Oz yet.

The cost is $11,500 which includes art blades, yellow sparkle powder-coating on all armour, wireforms and on the apron and the playfield itself. 

The Yellow Brick Road Limited Edition playfield
The Yellow Brick Road Limited Edition playfield
Yellow sparkle powder-coating
Yellow sparkle powder-coating
Yellow sparkle powder-coating on the wireforms
Yellow sparkle powder-coating on the wireforms
The YBRLE marking on the backglass
The YBRLE marking on the backglass

Only 200 games are planned to be made this year, while the total could be up to 500.  Jack said he had renewed the The Wizard of Oz licence for another couple of years, and done the same with Pirates of the Caribbean too although there are no current plans to build more of that model.

JP spoke about the new artwork, how they were able to use more characters and add the interior art blades.  The Wizard of Oz: Yellow Brick Road Limited Edition is in production now and shipping next week.  Jack said from now on he doesn’t want to announce any games until they are available to buy.

Jean-Paul de Win then talked about how he came to work for Jack, and then played a showreel of his pinball work which is also viewable on his website.

Jean-Paul de Win
Jean-Paul de Win

He also showed the design progression of the graphical interface for
The Wizard of Oz, explaining how the scores, objectives and progress so far are conveyed to the player.

Questions were then taken from the audience about the differences between The Wizard of Oz: Yellow Brick Road Limited Edition and the Emerald City Limited Edition. The new model has Radcals for cabinet artwork instead of direct printing and has the new boardset and cabinet design as used on Dialed In! and Pirates of the Caribbean

Butch Peel
Butch Peel

The company redesigned a few of the playfield mechanisms to make them more reliable and easier to service but the new model doesn’t have winged monkey mech due to reliability issues.

Jersey Jack Pinball’s seminar

The next seminar began at 8pm and featured Ryan Claytor and Nick Baldridge who were speaking about the creation of the new Coin-Op Carnival publication.

They were joined on the stage by pinball historian Gordon Hasse who spoke about the history of coin-operated machine publications, from the 1920 through to the present day.

Gordon Hasse, Nick Baldridge and Ryan Claytor
Gordon Hasse, Nick Baldridge and Ryan Claytor
Gordon explained how Coin-Op Carnival follows in a grand tradition of amusement machine publishing
Gordon explained how Coin-Op Carnival follows in a grand tradition of amusement machine publishing

Gordon spoke about – and showed examples of – coin-op publications through the decades, including titles such as Automatic Age which ran from 1925-1945, Automatic World which was published in the ’30s.  He also featured Billboard from the 1950s, Marketplace in the ’60s, continuing on to Playmeter, Replay and many more.

He then turned to more pinball-focused publications, including hobby and pinball association magazines of which there have been many, including numerous short-lived titles.

Ryan then introduced himself and the Coin-Op Carnival publication he has created with Nick Baldridge.  Ryan is a comic artist, university lecturer, pinball fan, and has worked on a number of pinball plastic reproductions.

Ryan Claytor
Ryan Claytor

Nick introduced himself.  Nick runs the For Amusement Only pinball podcast of which there are more than 400 episodes.  He also created the Multi-Bingo game which combines the gameplay of more than 100 different bingo games into one cabinet. The game is playable on the pair’s stand in the main hall.

Nick Baldridge
Nick Baldridge

Ryan explained how the two of them met and how Nick helped Ryan rebuild his Swinger EM pinball. They and their families became friends, taking vacations together which is where they came up with the idea of Coin-Op Carnival.

Nick talked about the common categories of content in each issue of the intended four-issue run, before Ryan showed pages from the publication and talked about the Papercraft models included in each issue, allowing buyers to build 7%-scale models of the games featured.

The duo then covered the production process, from the interview with the game designer – Wayne Neyens in the first issue – to the drawing and colouring of the cartoons which illustrate the interview.

They closed by discussing their two-yearly release schedule, saying they felt the two years between issues is a realistic timescale given their other lives, careers and other coin-op commitments.

Gordon Hasse, Nick Baldridge and Ryan Claytor’s seminar

Friday’s final seminar was at 9pm and was hosted by Stern Pinball duo Steve Ritchie and Mike Vinikour.

Mike Vinikour and Steve Ritchie
Mike Vinikour and Steve Ritchie

Steve welcomed everyone to the seminar before introducing Mike Vinikour who described his history in pinball and his current role at Stern Pinball.  Mike said he has known Steve for 25 years, first when they worked together at Williams, and now at Stern.

Mike Vinikour
Mike Vinikour

Steve denied rumours that he is retiring – he loves his job, he said, and loves working with his crew at Stern.  He said his team now is just as capable as they ever were at Williams.

Steve Ritchie
Steve Ritchie

Steve said he couldn’t talk about his next game, other than to say it will have six balls, will be made in three models, and will have two or more flippers.

Steve related how he got into the pinball business at Atari where he was working in the video game division.  He said it’s been a great business, and pinball is continuing to expand with more leagues, tournaments and shows. 

Mike related how he got into pinball as well, from spending all his time as a kid at an arcade where he always played pinball to some extent, even during the video game boom.

During the question-and-answer session, Steve spoke about how is it different designing games now compared to his time at Williams. He said it is more difficult in some ways, with more models of each title to make and more decisions now that there are so many options in different devices, RGB LEDs, etc.

Asked what his favourite feature or shot was on any of his game designs, Steve cited the innovation of Lane Change which first appeared on Firepower.

Steve also told the audience how he usually makes two whitewoods of each game.  Mike also advised that there is no timescale on when Stern games will have the online connectivity announced by George Gomez, although it is coming.

Asked what he did between leaving Williams after No Fear and his joining Stern Pinball, Steve said he saw the writing on the wall at Williams when they were concentrating on slots.  He joined Atari video games to work on racing games.  Steve called Gary and asked if they had a place for him at Stern and Gary said “Yes”.

Finally, Steve confirmed that both Star Trek and Game of Thrones were intended to have LCD screens when they were first designed, but the technology and skillsets were not there yet.

Mike Vinikour and Steve Ritchie’s seminar

Before the seminars began on Saturday, there was the regular swap meet organised by the DFW Pinball and Arcade Club. As usual, this was held in the parking lot at the back of the Convention Center.

The rain held off (just) for the swap meet
The rain held off (just) for the swap meet
Some of the items for sale at the swap meet
Some of the items for sale at the swap meet

Anyone could turn up, unload their car or truck, and start selling.

Collections could be large or small
Collections could be large or small
Items ranged from whole machines...
Items ranged from whole machines…
...to small parts collections
…to small parts collections
As the morning wore on, the crowds increased in number
As the morning wore on, the crowds increased in number
Free donuts and coffee might have been something to do with that
Free donuts and coffee might have been something to do with that

Saturday’s seminars began at 1pm as Damian Hartin of Haggis Pinball talks about the company and the creation of their first two game, one of which – Celts – was showing in prototype form on their stand in the main hall.

Damian Hartin from Haggis Pinball
Damian Hartin from Haggis Pinball

Damian was interviewed by Martin Robbins from the Head2Head pinball podcast and started by asking why Damian and business partner, Blair Gowans, had decided to make pinball machines. The name ‘Haggis’ is a combination of his and Blair’s surnames.

He said he liked a challenge and got to that point in life and his level of interest in pinball where it seems like a good idea, although he thought it would be easier than it turned out to be. He has been documenting the progress on Facebook with videos on his YouTube channel which proved to be a motivator in making sure they hit certain milestones. Documenting everything has brought amazing support, feedback and encouragement from the pinball community, he said.

Haggis Pinball’s first game was called Wraith. It was originally called Ghost, and was going to be a single-level playfield which would take six months to complete, but soon developed into something more which would not be ready for this year’s show. They do plan to have Wraith at the 2020 Texas Pinball Festival though.

Celts is a new game which they built in eight weeks once they decided not to bring Wraith to the show. They were determined to bring a machine, having already made that commitment.

Damian said he thought the Celts title would immediately suggest a number of ideas and characters. He said he has cut almost 30 different whitewoods in developing the layout.

Damian was interviewed by Martin from Head2Head
Damian was interviewed by Martin from Head2Head

Having built the prototype in Australia, he disassembled it, put the parts in boxes, travelled from Australia to Dallas, got the use of an old Bally Star Trek cabinet, and rebuilt the game starting on Wednesday night.

He said the hardest part of the game design and build is the geometry – how to build ball guides so the ball smoothly goes where he wants it to go without any sharp angles or bumps.

When looking for an electronics system, he discovered P-ROC and has been using this along with the Mission Pinball framework which provides the basic functions to detect switches, fire solenoids and define rules and scoring.

Damian he would be happy to build production machines himself while the numbers are manageable, and would have a build-to-order system. He thought it would take approximately a week to build each machine.

Haggis Pinball’s seminar

The second seminar of Saturday was by Gerry Stellenberg from Multimorphic.

Gerry Stellenberg
Gerry Stellenberg

Gerry began by asking the audience how much innovation there has been in pinball over the past few decades.

After asking them to name any innovations he concluded nothing much has changed since the 1990s, saying this is due to prices going up and people still buying them in ever greater numbers, giving no incentive to change.

He said it has become a battle to get the most popular theme, and that games don’t need to be fun to play any more.

Multimorphic, he said, is innovating; firstly with their technologies of P-ROC/P3-ROC, software frameworks, online forums, and then with the P3 Pinball Platform.

Gerry explained the innovative features found in the P3 – dynamic & interactive playfield artwork, a rapid-fire multi-position ball trough, a multi-purpose set of walls & scoops, nudge detection which can be integrated into gameplay, modular swappable upper playfields, magnetic artwork, online player profiles, and a new optional backbox display.

Gerry with the P3 pinball platform running the Hoopin' It Up! game
Gerry with the P3 pinball platform running the Hoopin’ It Up! game

Gerry then demonstrated the Hoopin’ It Up! free game which is automatically available to all existing P3 owners with the Lexy Lightspeed upper playfield.

Finally, Gerry talked about the status of the company – how they have fulfilled all pre-orders and are now building games to order. They moved to new production facility in Round Rock where they are ramping up their game assembly capabilities.

Gerry Stellenberg’s seminar

The next seminar brought onto the stage four members of the Stern Pinball team to talk about the making of their The Munsters game.

Dwight Sullivan, Christopher Franchi, Jerry Thompson and John Borg
Dwight Sullivan, Christopher Franchi, Jerry Thompson and John Borg

The team introduced themselves by showing a slideshow of pictures, starting with John’s desk with all the Munsters episodes on DVD so he could shotlist it and make notes of the timings of useful clips.

John Borg
John Borg

Chris showed a montage of images featuring his pinball artwork from various different games.

Christopher Franchi
Christopher Franchi

Jerry then did the same with a shot of his first new-in-box machine, The Simpsons Pinball Party, and pictures with Adam West, Steve Kordek, Norm Clarke, Ed Robertson and more.

Jerry Thompson
Jerry Thompson

Dwight also had a similar montage which was followed by another from Greg Freres.

Dwight Sullivan

Dwight Sullivan

The team revealed how Michael Airington is one of the voice actors in the game, while Gale Van Cott does the voice of Marilyn.

John then showed pictures of the Raven molding which will appear on the game’s topper. John got to voice the Raven.

A couple of montages then followed, showing John along with the whole team working on his first game, Star Wars in 1992, leading to later pictures with Dirty Donny and Dave Christensen, as well as pictures from the Stern Pinball factory and assorted pinball shows.

John then talked through a series of pictures showing how the The Munsters game changed from the initial playfield and mech design through to the production version, along with John’s initial ideas for features and artwork, and how they ended up.

John talks about how the game changed from the initial concept
John talks about how the game changed from the initial concept
Development of the Herman model
Development of the Herman model

Questions from the audience then followed, which included:

  • Were there originally drop targets at the side rather than standups? – No, not really.
  • What Easter eggs did Chris Franchi include in the artwork? – Several, mostly under the plastics but some more visible such as John and Dwight on the playfield just above the bottom apron.
  • Any secret flipper codes? – CF5 (BLLLRLLLLLLRLLLLLRR, where B=both flipper buttons, L=left & R=right) brings up Christopher Franchi’s picture on the display.
The Munsters’ team’s seminar

The next seminar came from the Circus Maximus team of James Loflin, Paul Kiefert and Jimmy Lipham.

James Loflin
James Loflin

The three team members introduced themselves before Paul brought everyone up to date with progress on their Python’s Pinball Circus project.

Paul Kiefert
Paul Kiefert

He covered the background to the game’s creation, why it never entered production, and what the Circus Maximus team have been doing to make it a better-playing game.

James talked about why they decided to make the Kingpin remake before returning to finish Pinball Circus, while Paul detailed some of the challenges of working with both existing legacy and new engineering drawings which have to be made for every part in the game before it can be fabricated.

Jimmy explained how they are producing two sets of rules for the Kingpin game – one using the original emulated code, and the other being the team’s version with a much more extensive feature-set.

Jimmy Lipham
Jimmy Lipham

Jimmy described some of the problems implementing an old, poorly-documented system on modern hardware using LEDs instead of incandescent lamps and how pre-warming of lamps built-in to the software caused flashers to come on unexpectedly.

James said they are determined not to take pre-order money and to fund start-up manufacturing themselves. To help they have been selling a limited edition run of 250 Kingpin translites, signed by Mark Ritchie and Stan Fukuoka, with a guaranteed place in line to buy a Kingpin game.

Jimmy and James
Jimmy and James

The original Kingpin artwork is going to be changed by Stan to brighten it up and make it less gloomy, while the cabinet side grey colour might be changed too.

They are also selling limited edition artwork prints to help raise funds.
Finally, Jimmy announced that Pinball Inc. had acquired the Kingpin trademark from Planetary Pinball for use in pinball.

Circus Maximus’s seminar

The final conventional seminar of the Texas Pinball Festival 2019 was hosted by the American Pinball team who were there to talk about their Oktoberfest game.

Before they began though, American Pinball served free food and drinks for all seminar attendees.

Free beer - the best kind
Free beer – the best kind
Pretzels, sausages, onions, sauerkraut and bread rolls
Pretzels, sausages, onions, sauerkraut and bread rolls

When most people had their food, the team of Joe Balcer, Josh Kugler, Jim Thornton and Dan Selakovich began their presentation.

Dan Selakovich, Jim Thornton, Josh Kugler and Joe Balcer
Dan Selakovich, Jim Thornton, Josh Kugler and Joe Balcer

The team started with their version of the game Jeopardy, where the answer to a question was shown on the screen and the audience had to guess the matching question.

The first related to Oktoberfest, as Joe talked about what had changed on the game between the reveal of the prototype at Pinball Expo until production, namely the scoop, the upper flipper, the opening shot and the right ramp.

Joe Balcer
Joe Balcer

Joe said he had been wanting to make an Oktoberfest-themed game since the mid-’90s as he thinks it is a timeless theme which isn’t all about excessive drinking but is a family event which, by the addition of the ‘Pinball on Tap’ to the name, would be a year-round title.

Josh said he thought Joe was mad originally but came around to the theme by stressing the carnival nature and the family elements. He agreed that it is a timeless theme, as people will still be celebrating Oktoberfest in 100 years’ time.

Josh Kugler
Josh Kugler

Talking about the new factory we previewed last October, Jim said the new 35,000 sq. ft. building will have room for three lines – one for the main game, one for smaller runs, and one for other products.

Jim talking about the new factory American Pinball will be moving into this Summer
Jim talking about the new factory American Pinball will be moving into this Summer

Josh said the company has replaced the power supply in all new games shipping from the factory and solutions are available for those using the old power supply.

Asked about what the third line might be, Josh said the company plans to build redemption games and also do contract manufacturing for anyone looking to build their game but without the means of building it.

Dan Selakovich, API Sales Manager
Dan Selakovich, API Sales Manager

In a straw poll of the four titles recently registered as trademarks by API, Sherlock Holmes was by far the most popular choice for a future game, with Robin Hood a long way behind, followed by Poker Run and Valkyries.

American Pinball’s seminar

After American Pinball, Bowen Kerins took to the seminar room floor to demonstrate how to play pinball in a new version of the hugely popular challenge he set himself last year.

Bowen Kerins
Bowen Kerins

In 2018 the aim was to complete reactor 9 on Spooky Pinball’s Total Nuclear Annihilation. This year he was aiming to complete the Billion Dollar Babies wizard mode on the Spooky Pinball game Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle. Bowen works for Spooky Pinball on game and rule development, so has a special insight into how the features work.

Spooky Pinball head, Charlie Emery, introduces Bowen's Billion Dollar Babies challenge
Spooky Pinball head, Charlie Emery, introduces Bowen’s Billion Dollar Babies challenge
Bowen playing Alice Cooper's Nightmare Castle
Bowen playing Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle

In the event, although Bowen did indeed reach the wizard mode, he narrowly missed out on completing it to get the additional one billion points.

The audience watches Bowen play
The audience watches Bowen play

After playing for over an hour and completing all the game’s features except that one, his score was just over 500 million, so the one billion extra bonus would have been a huge boost.

Bowen after the game
Bowen after the game
Bowen Kerins’s seminar

After a long day watching, photographing and recording the seminars, we took the opportunity to join a large group of fellow pinheads who had left to go to a local BBQ restaurant, Hard Eight to get some dinner.

As we left, an autograph session was taking place in the hallway outside the seminar room featuring show guest from the pinball world. We also ran into Steve Ritchie, Mark Ritchie and Trudy Ritchie talking with special show guest John Rhys-Davies, the actor who, amongst his many movie roles played Gimli and voiced Treebeard in The Lord of the Rings, and played Sallah in the original Indiana Jones trilogy. He also did voice callout work for Williams for the Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure and Stern for The Lord of the Rings pinballs

Trudy Ritchie, Mark Ritchie, John Rhys-Davies and Steve Ritchie
Trudy Ritchie, Mark Ritchie, John Rhys-Davies and Steve Ritchie
The queue to get signatures at the autograph session
The queue to get signatures at the autograph session
Jerry, Dwight and Mike sign flyers, posters and translites
Jerry, Dwight and Mike sign flyers, posters and translites
Mark, Steve, Butch, Eric and Christopher at the autograph session
Mark, Steve, Butch, Eric and Christopher at the autograph session

While we were out eating, a new awards show took place in the seminar room.

The TWIPPY awards
The TWIPPY awards

The website This Week in Pinball had held a reader poll for the top games, people, companies or publications in a number of categories, and these awards were presented on Saturday evening.

You can watch the awards in this video of the live stream:

Now we’ll turn to the main hall and look at all the vendors, manufacturers and businesses represented, along with some interesting machine exhibits. Note: We’ll be updating this with many more pictures and details over the next day or so.

The front desk did brisk business selling show T-shirts from this and previous years, as well as other show merchandise and tickets to the daily raffles and the major prize draw to win a brand new The Munsters pinball
The front desk did brisk business selling show T-shirts from this and previous years, as well as other show merchandise and tickets to the daily raffles and the major prize draw to win a brand new The Munsters pinball
The grand prize - a new The Munsters pinball
The grand prize – a new The Munsters pinball

At the entrance are several banks of pinballs. On the left are some from the DFW Pinball & Arcade Club.

Machines from the DFW Pinball & Arcade Club
Machines from the DFW Pinball & Arcade Club

Directly in front of guests as the entered were two rows of beautiful machines starting with a stalwart of the TPF – Safecracker. This is filled with TPF-specific tokens for players to win, although this year’s tokens didn’t arrive in time for the show, so last year’s tokens were used instead. Regardless, playing the game and winning a TPF token is a rite-of-passage for all regular attendees.

The regular TPF Safecracker game
The regular TPF Safecracker game
Four restored Gottlieb Joker Poker machines - two electromechanical & two solid-state
Four restored Gottlieb Joker Poker machines – two electromechanical & two solid-state
An acrylic Super Straight showing the inner workings of this EM machine
An acrylic Super Straight showing the inner workings of this EM machine
Eight beautiful restorations in a row at the front of the hall
Eight beautiful restorations in a row at the front of the hall

Joining DFW Pinball & Arcade Club on the front wall were three vendors; George Sedlak Studios, Tornado Terry’s and PinSound.

George Sedlak Studios
George Sedlak Studios
Tornado Terry's was showcasing CKWilliamsArt pieces
Tornado Terry’s was showcasing CKWilliamsArt pieces
PinSound had their own stand but also had other games around the hall demonstrating their sound system
PinSound had their own stand but also had other games around the hall demonstrating their sound system

In front of Tornado Terry’s was a block of vendor stands fronted by Suncoast Pinball.

Suncoast Pinball had two Cosmic Carnival demonstration machines plus assorted branded apparel
Suncoast Pinball had two Cosmic Carnival demonstration machines plus assorted branded apparel

John Rhys-Davies had a stand behind Suncoast Pinball but spent much of his time at a table in the corridor next to the main hall entrance.

John Rhys-Davies at his desk in front of the hall signing autographs and appearing in selfies
John Rhys-Davies at his desk in front of the hall signing autographs and appearing in selfies

The next vendor booth belonged to ColorDMD who were showing their 192×64 large displays for Sega pinballs Maverick, Baywatch, Batman Forever and Frankenstein alongside Jackbot and Game of Thrones regular-size displays. However, by the time we got there the larger model had been packed away.

The ColorDMD stand
The ColorDMD stand

Next door was a stand promoting Diamond Jim Taylor’s magic teachings, along with a suitable machine.

Diamond Jim Taylor's magic products
Diamond Jim Taylor’s magic products
Double Danger's pinballwear stand
Double Danger’s pinballwear stand

Running down the row of vendor booths in the next row, we start with Free Play Arcade who have locations in Arlington, Denton and Richardson.

Free Play Arcade's stand
Free Play Arcade’s stand
Pinball Pimp's display of cabinet stencil mods
Pinball Pimp’s display of cabinet stencil mods
Chris Cramer's stand of assorted pinball parts
Chris Cramer’s stand of assorted pinball parts

At the end of this row was the traditional History of Pinball exhibit, featuring pre-war and early flipperless pinballs, many of which used impressive mechanisms to provide animated playfield features without the use of electricity.

The History of Pinball exhibit
The History of Pinball exhibit
The first Play-Boy game - this is from 1932
The first Play-Boy game – this is from 1932
A full-size bagatelle alongside Kings and Bumper games
A full-size bagatelle alongside Kings and Bumper games
Two well-known mechanical flipperless games - Play Ball and Air Way
Two well-known mechanical flipperless games – Play Ball and Air Way
These games were made around 80 years before she was born
These games were made around 80 years before she was born

A set of five Star Trek machines covered the Bally, Data East, Williams and Stern eras, as well as the custom Mirror Universe game.

The Data East, Williams and Stern Star Trek games
The Data East, Williams and Stern Star Trek games
The Bally Star Trek, with the Mirror Universe model on the left
The Bally Star Trek, with the Mirror Universe model on the left

The next block of vendors started with Lermods’ range of pinball add-ons.

Lermods' stand
Lermods’ stand
Total Pinball Restoration's games showed the quality of their work
Total Pinball Restoration’s games showed the quality of their work
Mezel Mods' stand
Mezel Mods’ stand
Spooky Pinball had two Alice Cooper games as well as pinball swag
Spooky Pinball had two Alice Cooper games as well as pinball swag
Back Alley Creations had their pinball mods and..
Back Alley Creations had their pinball mods and..
..they also showed their EZ Slide replacement playfield sliders
..they also showed their EZ Slide replacement playfield sliders
Fun teamed up with Marco to promote the newest Stern titles
Fun teamed up with Marco to promote the newest Stern titles
Fun also had plenty of new and restored games on their own stand
Fun also had plenty of new and restored games on their own stand

Starting the long row of vendors along the right wall was Starship Fantasy with their large selection of pinball ramps, backglasses and playfields.

Starship Fantasy's stand
Starship Fantasy’s stand
Artfroh's display of bespoke drawings and comic book covers
Artfroh’s display of bespoke drawings and comic book covers
Bishop Cidercade also brought along some of their games
Bishop Cidercade also brought along some of their games
Titan Pinball's stand
Titan Pinball’s stand
Pin Stadium's pinball lighting was being demonstrated on a long row of machines
Pin Stadium’s pinball lighting was being demonstrated on a long row of machines
Bob Herbison had his display of beautiful EMs, wedgeheads and woodrails
Bob Herbison had his display of beautiful EMs, wedgeheads and woodrails
Thankfully not too many dead flippers in the hall
Thankfully not too many dead flippers in the hall
Pinball Wheezer's apparel and accessories
Pinball Wheezer’s apparel and accessories
Balls of Steel Pinball Lounge brought some machines to play
Balls of Steel Pinball Lounge brought some machines to play
Scorbit were demonstrating their pinball score recording system
Scorbit were demonstrating their pinball score recording system
Wizard Enterprises had their pinball nightlights and more on their stand
Wizard Enterprises had their pinball nightlights and more on their stand
CoinTaker had their replacement LEDs but much more too
CoinTaker had their replacement LEDs but much more too
More on the CoinTaker stand
More on the CoinTaker stand
Lighted Pinball Mods' colourful stand
Lighted Pinball Mods’ colourful stand
Haggis Pinball had their Celts game on their stand
Haggis Pinball had their Celts game on their stand
Retrocade were promoting their machine sales, service and restorations
Retrocade were promoting their machine sales, service and restorations
Tilt Graphics had their art blades on display
Tilt Graphics had their art blades on display
Artist Flint was showing a selection of his work
Artist Flint was showing a selection of his work
Gameroom Mods had a selection of LED displays
Gameroom Mods had a selection of LED displays
Regeneration Arcade Bar brought a selection of their games for people to play
Regeneration Arcade Bar brought a selection of their games for people to play
VP Cabs had their wide range of virtual gaming cabinets
VP Cabs had their wide range of virtual gaming cabinets
Armadillo Ale Works had a stand in the centre of the hall
Armadillo Ale Works had a stand in the centre of the hall
Artist Brad Albright had a stand showing his creations
Artist Brad Albright had a stand showing his creations
Super Skill Shot had racks of custom shooter rod designs
Super Skill Shot had racks of custom shooter rod designs
Pinball Art had artwork miniatures from classic titles
Pinball Art had artwork miniatures from classic titles
Arcade Fix It's stand with all kinds of gaming goodies
Arcade Fix It’s stand with all kinds of gaming goodies
Mirco Playfields had lots of brand new... err... playfields
Mirco Playfields had lots of brand new… err… playfields
Chris Munro had his usual wide selection of assorted coin-op parts
Chris Munro had his usual wide selection of assorted coin-op parts
Lots of video game marquees on Chris's stand
Lots of video game marquees on Chris’s stand
Arcade Factory's display included lots of neons, most of which sold quickly
Arcade Factory’s display included lots of neons, most of which sold quickly
This DeLorean and Back to the Future pinball were on Rusty Key's Key Arcades stand
This DeLorean and Back to the Future pinball were on Rusty Key’s Key Arcades stand
Along with the many parts shown earlier, Circus Maximus also has various signed limited edition prints
Along with the many parts shown earlier, Circus Maximus also has various signed limited edition prints
Circus Maximus were also showing their prototype Kingpin remake
Circus Maximus were also showing their prototype Kingpin remake
American Pinball brought four Oktoberfest and one Houdini games for their stand
American Pinball brought four Oktoberfest and one Houdini games for their stand
There were lines to play all five machines all weekend
There were lines to play all five machines all weekend
Solid State Pinball has pinball parts, T-shirts and an Iron Maiden
Solid State Pinball has pinball parts, T-shirts and an Iron Maiden
The National Video Game Museum has a stand at the TPF
The National Video Game Museum has a stand at the TPF
Kingpin had a large stand showcasing lots of new releases, including the JJP titles
Kingpin had a large stand showcasing lots of new releases, including the JJP titles
There were rules guides for the games, as well as printed manuals
There were rules guides for the games, as well as printed manuals
Flip N Out's stand with new machines and stair lifters
Flip N Out’s stand with new machines and stair lifters
Pin-Port's extended USB connection and PinGraffix's art blades shared a stand
Pin-Port’s extended USB connection and PinGraffix’s art blades shared a stand
PinGraffix also has a Magic Girl game on their stand
PinGraffix also has a Magic Girl game on their stand
Kimballs Pinballs had this heavily-customised Iron Maiden on their stand
Kimballs Pinballs had this heavily-customised Iron Maiden on their stand
Pinball Pro had their speaker systems and other mods
Pinball Pro had their speaker systems and other mods
Multimorphic had a large display featuring four linked P3 machines playing Cosmic Cart Racing
Multimorphic had a large display featuring four linked P3 machines playing Cosmic Cart Racing
Multimorphic also had three more P3s running other games
Multimorphic also had three more P3s running other games
If you wanted playfield glass, Multimorphic had you covered
If you wanted playfield glass, Multimorphic had you covered
Rob Kahr with his Kahr.US Circuits stand
Rob Kahr with his Kahr.US Circuits stand
MI Pinball Refinery were showcasing their customisations
MI Pinball Refinery were showcasing their customisations
Laseriffic had many illuminated toppers and other game mods
Laseriffic had many illuminated toppers and other game mods

The full list of vendors and exhibitors at the Texas Pinball Festival 2019 is:

  • 1984 Arcade
  • American Pinball
  • Arcade Factory
  • Arcade Fixit
  • Armadillo Aleworks
  • ArkLaTex
  • Artfroh
  • Back Alley Creations
  • Bob Herbison
  • BOS Pinball
  • Brad Albright
  • Bubba Flint
  • Butch Patrick
  • Chicago Gaming
  • Chris Cramer
  • Chris Munro
  • Circus Maximus
  • Coin-Op Carnival
  • CoinTaker
  • ColorDMD
  • Dallas Makers Space
  • Delicious Doom (corridor)
  • DFW Pinball & Arcade Club
  • Diamond Jim Tyler
  • Double Danger
  • Eight Bit Dreams (corridor)
  • Flip N Out Pinball
  • Free Play Arcade
  • Fun!
  • Gameroom Mods
  • George Sedlak Studios
  • Haggis Pinball
  • John Greatwich
  • John Rhys-Davies
  • Kimballs Pinballs
  • Kingpin
  • Laseriffic
  • Lermods
  • Lighted Pinball Mods
  • LM Amusements (corridor)
  • Marco Specialties
  • Mezel Mods
  • MI Pinball Refinery
  • Mirco Playfields
  • Multimorphic
  • National Video Game Museum
  • Ozarks Pinball Syndicate
  • Pat Priest
  • Pinball Art
  • Pinball in the Basement
  • Pinball Pimp
  • Pinball Pro
  • Pinball Wheezer
  • PinGraffix
  • Pinport
  • PinSound
  • Pin Stadium
  • Queen City Pinball
  • Regeration Arcade Bar
  • Retrocade
  • Rusty Key
  • Scorbit
  • Snag A Game
  • Solid State Pinball
  • Spooky Pinball
  • Starship Fantasy
  • Suncoast Pinball
  • Super Skillshot
  • Tilt Graphics
  • Titan Pinball
  • Tornado Terry’s
  • Total Pinball Restoration
  • Virtual Game World (corridor)
  • VP Cabs
  • Wizard Enterprises

There are no seminars on Sunday, so the Seminar Room was opened up and used to present the closing ceremony which began at 2:30pm.

After thanking all the machine donors, vendors and visitors, show co-organiser, Ed Vanderveen, drew several names out of a box to award cash prizes as a thank you for bringing machines to play.

Then tournaments organiser, Colin McAlpine, presented trophies to the top players in the Wizards Tournament main and classics divisions.

Colin McAlpine presents trophies to the tournament winners
Colin McAlpine presents trophies to the tournament winners

The winner of the main division was Raymond Davidson.

Winner of the Wizards Tournament main division, Raymond Davidson
Winner of the Wizards Tournament main division, Raymond Davidson

The winner of the classics division was Bob Matthews.

Winner of the classics division, Bob Matthews
Winner of the classics division, Bob Matthews

First, the Best-in-Show awards were presented to the winners in fourteen different categories. One or two runners-up were announced, followed by the winner who also received a cash prize along with their plaque and rosette.

Plaques and rosettes for the winners
Plaques and rosettes for the winners

The winners were:

Best Classic Arcade Video Game
Winner: Kevin Moore for Computer Space
Runners-Up: Jeremy/April Pruitt, Joe “Hollywood” Reyna
Kevin Moore
Kevin Moore
Best Custom Arcade Video Game
Winner: Rodney Black for Morpheus
Runner-Up: Tornado Terry’s
Rodney Black
Rodney Black
Best Pre-1960 Game
Winner: Jeff Frick for Army vs. Navy
Runners-Up: Bill Wightman, Barry Posterick
Jeff Frick
Jeff Frick
Best 1960s Game
Winner: Chris Schnick for Cross Town
Runners-Up: Ken Head, Bob Herbison
Chris Schnick
Chris Schnick
Best 1970s Electromechanical
Winner: Sam Thompson for Twin Win
Runners-Up: Ken Head/Kevin Moore, Bill Wightman
Sam Thompson
Sam Thompson
Best 1970s Solid-State
Winner: Jeff Bulger for Tri Zone
Runners-Up: Ron Pennington/Chad Lower
Jeff Bulger
Jeff Bulger
Best 1980s
Winner: Ron Pennington for Galaxy
Runners-Up: Bobby Niefer, Bill Stahly
Ron Pennington
Ron Pennington
Best 1990s
Winner: Lonny Payne for Harley Davidson
Runners-Up: James Alexander, Adam Streeter
Lonny Payne
Lonny Payne
Best ’00s
Winner: Garrett Hlavinka for The Lord of the Rings
Runner-Up: Kim Keist
Garrett Hlavinka
Garrett Hlavinka
Best Modern
Winner: Kim Keist for Iron Maiden
Runner-Up: Jean Caps
Kim Keist
Kim Keist
Best Original
Winner: Howard Isaacson for Paradise
Runners-Up: Randolf Kubler, Pat Danis
Howard Isaacson
Howard Isaacson
Best Restoration
Winner: Aaron Beasecker/Bill Wightman for Bonanza
Runners-Up: Bobby Niefer, Ken Kemp/Marcus Trevino
Bill Wightman and Aaron Beasecker
Bill Wightman and Aaron Beasecker
Best Custom Pinball
Winner: Nick Baldridge for Multi-Bingo
Runners-Up: Colin Dowling, Zitt Zitterkof
Nick Baldridge
Nick Baldridge
Grand Champion
Winner: Kevin Moore for Tales of the Arabian Nights
Kevin Moore
Kevin Moore

To close events at the Texas Pinball Festival, the draw was made for the grand prize. Entries were put into a wire drum, given several spins, and one winning ticket was pulled out at random.

The winning ticket is picked
The winning ticket is picked
Ed reads out the winner of the grand prize
Ed reads out the winner of the grand prize
Grand Prize Draw winner, Michael Jolls, with his prize of a The Munsters pinball
Grand Prize Draw winner, Michael Jolls, with his prize of a The Munsters pinball

There’s no doubt that this was the biggest and most successful Texas Pinball Festival to date. The move of the tournaments into their own room released additional space in the main hall for more machines and vendors.

This extra space was needed due to the two The Munsters cars and the autograph desks which clearly themed the show around the show and Stern Pinball’s latest release.

The move of the tournaments did give them their own (somewhat limited) space in which they could keep their own hours, but the side-effect of that was to remove the competitive events from the eyes of the general public, making tournament play less inclusive than before.

The seminars schedule featured all the major players from the big manufacturers as well as a few more esoteric talks. The number of seminars felt about right – covering the latest news without being too exhausting.

With the lead time to secure special guests this was always going to be a The Munsters-themed show, and it did an exceptional job at that. But there was one elephant in the room which simultaneously felt inevitable and yet remained a little odd.

That was Stern Pinball’s announcement of their next title just hours after the Texas Pinball Festival closed on Sunday. The designer and other members of the design team were at the show, but couldn’t talk about the game everyone knew they had been working on. That said, the fact that all the The Munsters machines at the show were pre-sold and the length of the lines which formed at the VIP meet-and-greet showed there was still huge enthusiasm for the residents of 1313 Mockingbird Lane.

The Texas Pinball Festival returns to the Embassy Suites in Frisco on 27th-29th March, 2020. Hotel rooms at the Embassy Suites sell out very quickly, so if you are planning to attend you should book yours as soon as they become available on the show website. If you do miss out, not all is lost as there are several alternative hotels available within walking distance.

We will be back next year, but in the meantime here’s our extensive, in-depth look around the 2019 show in our exclusive Forty-Five Minute Tour.

The Pinball News Forty-Five Minute Tour
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