Date: 23rd - 25th August, 2019
Location: Mercure Daventry Court, Sedgemoor Way, Daventry, Northamptonshire, NN11 0SG, UK

August in the UK means it’s time for our national pinball show held in the familiar surroundings of the Mercure Daventry Court hotel, and Pinball News is here to report live on events across the three days.

The Mercure Daventry Court hotel, in.... err.... Daventry
The Mercure Daventry Court hotel, in…. err…. Daventry

‘Familiar’ because we’ve been here before, first in 2010 and 2011 (as the Barcelo Daventry), then again in 2012, 2013 and 2014 (Daventry Court Hotel), and more-recently last year (Mercure Daventry Court). The first five visits were for the UK Pinball Party, but last year a new event called UKPinfest took over the reins of the national UK pinball show.

The entrance to the Mercure Daventry Court
The entrance to the Mercure Daventry Court
The hotel’s lobby and reception area
The area which is almost as important as the show hall - the bar
The area which is almost as important as the show hall – the bar

UKPinfest is run by Philip Murphy who also runs a wider-scoped show in the north-east of England called the North East Retro Gaming show (or NERG for short).

This way to the fun
This way to the fun

Tickets for UKPinfest cost £20 ($24.50/€22.10) a day for Saturday and Sunday (plus booking fee) or £35 for both days. Kids tickets were £5 less per day. In addition, a VIP pass was available for £50 ($61.30/€55.30) covering both days as well as exclusive Friday and Saturday evening sessions. For everyone else the show closed at 6pm on Saturday and 4:30pm on Sunday.

UKPinfest is held at a hotel, so naturally accommodation was available. Rooms were priced at £60 (single) or £70 (double/twin) per night, including breakfast.

The Mercure Daventry Court is a mid-level 4-star hotel featuring a pool, jacuzzi, sauna and fitness equipment, as well as a bar and restaurant. It is in a somewhat remote location on the outskirts of Daventry, which meant a decent walk to get to alternative eateries but plenty of free on-site car/van parking.

With pinball folk having a reputation for being somewhat thirsty, the beer selection was an important part of the show mix, as is somewhere nice to enjoy it. Fortunately, there were some drinks specials for the show, with several beers and ciders being available for £3.50 per pint, which is not bad at all for a hotel bar. The weather also cooperated in making sure the outside seating area could be enjoyed.

There is a patio and courtyard area encompassed by the accommodation buildings
There is a patio and courtyard area encompassed by the accommodation buildings
There are seating and games areas as part of the courtyard
There are seating and games areas as part of the courtyard

The show is held in the Danetree Suite which is a large hall capable of being sub-divided into three smaller halls. There is a stage at the far end and a second larger bar along the side featuring the same selection of drinks as the bar in the reception area.

The UKPinfest set-up in the Danetree Suite
The UKPinfest set-up in the Danetree Suite
The bar in the main hall
The bar in the main hall

As you can see, the number of machines is somewhat reduced from the high points of the UK Pinball Party, but as more machines arrived later on Friday the room began to fill up.

Setting up machine on Friday
Setting up machine on Friday
The Bride gets some new ramps before the doors open
The Bride gets some new ramps before the doors open
The Pinball Amigos are here with their Despicable Me title
The Pinball Amigos are here with their Despicable Me title
How's the set-up going?
How’s the set-up going?
More machines arriving and being set up
More machines arriving and being set up

In front of the stage are machines for the main tournament, qualifying for which is being run on Saturday and Sunday morning.

There is a tournament being held at the show, and these are the machines which will be used
There is a tournament being held at the show, and these are the machines which will be used

The tournament used the Drains Tournament Manager (DTM) software to track the scores and generate the standings.

The DTM system is being use to run the main tournament
The DTM system is being use to run the main tournament

There will be other tournaments held around the show hall at various times during both days.

The Scottish Pinball Association will be running the NBA Challenge on two linked NBA Fastbreak machines
The Scottish Pinball Association will be running the NBA Challenge on two linked NBA Fastbreak machines
There will also be an Alice Cooper's Nightmare Castle tournament
There will also be an Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle tournament

The Northern Lights Pinball Addams Family Challenge shocker chair is here too, to offer an alternative way to play the classic game. You can read all about it in the Pinball News article here.

The Addams Family Challenge 'shocker' chair is set up to electrify proceedings
The Addams Family Challenge ‘shocker’ chair is set up to electrify proceedings
Everyone can enjoy this - there's no 'charge'
Everyone can enjoy this – there’s no ‘charge’
UKPinfest organiser Phillip Murphy enjoying the Addams Family Challenge
UKPinfest organiser Philip Murphy enjoying the Addams Family Challenge

In addition to the tournaments, the finals of the UK Pinball League will also be held here at UKPinfest. The trophies for this and the other tournaments were set up on a table in the main tournament area.

Trophies for the main tournament and UK Pinball League
Trophies for the main tournament and UK Pinball League

There are a few side-rooms which are usually available for any show-related activities such as seminars or demonstrations. There were no seminars scheduled for this year, but you never know who might make an appearance.

One of several side-rooms available
One of several side-rooms available

On Friday afternoon, the last of the machines were being set up ahead of the opening for the VIP session that evening.

Ad Jonker's The Matrix machines is here for everyone to enjoy
Ad Jonker’s The Matrix machines is here for everyone to enjoy
Some of the many pinballs at UKPinfest 2019
Some of the many pinballs at UKPinfest 2019
More of the pinballs at UKPinfest 2019
More of the pinballs at UKPinfest 2019
More of the pinballs at UKPinfest 2019
More of the pinballs at UKPinfest 2019
More of the pinballs at UKPinfest 2019
More of the pinballs at UKPinfest 2019
Some last-minute testing
Some last-minute testing

Power can often be an issue at pinball shows, but hopefully UKPinfest has this fully-covered.

The power requirements have been professionally handled
The power requirements have been professionally handled

The VIP session began at 7pm on Friday, giving those who purchased the special pass access to the machines before general opening on Saturday morning.

Friday night's VIP session
Friday night’s VIP session
Phillip checks out the hall during the VIP session
Philip checks out the hall during the VIP session

When the first day of the show drew to a close around 11pm everyone was ushered out, with many heading to the main bar only to find it had been closed. Apparently, the hotel manager thought there were not enough people using it, so they shut it down and locked it up, even though everyone was in the show hall using the bar there until 11pm. Not that that prevented several guests staying up into the small hours of Saturday morning.

For others though, after breakfast in the hotel’s dining area, the next event was the opening of the show to the general public at 10:30am on Saturday.

The main reception desk outside the show hall
The main reception desk outside the show hall
Along with show entry, magazines, books and posters were available to purchase
Along with show entry, magazines, books and posters were available to purchase
The queue outside the doors just prior to opening at 10:30am
The queue outside the doors just prior to opening at 10:30am
The first guests through the doors
The first guests through the doors

Within a matter of seconds, nearly all the machines in the hall were in use.

One of the long rows of machines
One of the long rows of machines
More machines being played
More machines being played
More machines being played
More machines being played

In front of the stage were ten machines used for the UK Pinfest Battle – the show’s main tournament. The machines were:

  • F-14 Tomcat
  • Iron Maiden
  • High Speed 2: The Getaway
  • Aerosmith
  • World Poker Tour
  • Roadshow
  • Circus
  • Total Nuclear Annihilation
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon
The main tournament machines
The main tournament machines

There was a problem with the Drains Tournament Manager software which took a couple of hours to resolve, during which time scores were recorded on paper rather than directly into the system. The DTM system was back up later, meaning electronic score entry could begin and the backlog of scores entered by hand.

The main tournament machines were kept busy all day
The main tournament machines were kept busy all day

Qualifying ran through Saturday, with an additional two hours on Sunday morning from 10am to midday.

The qualifying format consisted of a self-selected three-game entry which cost £5. Unlimited entries could be purchased at £5 each. Scores on all machines were ranked and a player’s highest-scoring entry gave them their qualifying position. The top 24 players would qualify for Sunday afternoon’s head-to-head best-of-three single-elimination play-offs.

The show hall on Saturday morning
The show hall on Saturday morning

Just outside the tournament area was a bank of six machines. These games were used for the finals of the UK Pinball League. The machines were:

  • Batman (Stern)
  • Indianapolis 500
  • Indiana Jones (Williams)
  • Batman 66
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Dialed In!
Machines for the UK PInball League finals
Machines for the UK Pinball League finals

The B-Division finals began soon after the doors opened at 10:30, while the A-Division started at 1:30pm. The A-Division finals continued beyond the closure of the show but the eventual winner was Matthew Vince.

Matthew Vince playing in the UK Pinball League's A-Division finals
Matthew Vince playing in the UK Pinball League’s A-Division finals

Nick Marshall was second and Chris Poyntz was third.

There were several interesting project machines at the show, some of which we saw earlier during the set-up. Pinball Amigos had their The Crazy Mansion and Despicable Me games. Both titles feature some innovative concepts and mechanisms. The Despicable Me game, for example, has a side-mounted Fart Blaster toy which is used to shoot at a character when they are revealed in the backbox.

The Crazy Mansion by Pinball Amigos
The Crazy Mansion by Pinball Amigos
The Crazy Mansion is 'under construction' and has been for some time
The Crazy Mansion is ‘under construction’ and has been for some time
Despicable Me is also a work-in-progress
Despicable Me is also a work-in-progress

Next to the Pinball Amigos was Phil Dixon’s Forbidden Planet project which was originally designed by John Trudeau but has had a number of modifications and additions since then. It features an acrylic playfield topper which is rounded at the front to incorporate the lock bar hand rest area.

The project game Forbidden Planet was at the show, alongside the production Alien game
The project game Forbidden Planet was at the show, alongside the production Alien game

In total there were 81 machines set up in the free play area, of which two were not working at the time of our survey. The full list is:

AC/DCLucky Seven*
Addams Family, TheMatrix, The
Addams Family, TheMetallica
AerobaticsMonster Bash
AirborneMr. & Mrs. Pac-Man
Alice Cooper’s Nightmare CastleNautilus
AlienNBA Fastbreak
Austin PowersNBA Fastbreak
Batman (Data East)NBA Fastbreak
Batman 66No Good Gofers
Batman: The Dark Knight (Stern)Orbitor 1
Batman: The Dark Knight (Stern)Queen’s Castle
BaywatchRevenge from Mars
Big Buck Hunter ProRevenge from Mars
Black JackRiverboat Gambler
Black KnightRoboCop
Black Knight 2000Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends
Black Knight: Sword of RageSafecracker
Bride of Pinbot, The MachineShadow, The
Creature from the Black LagoonSki Jump
Creature from the Black LagoonSopranos, The
Demolition ManSpace Invaders*
Dialed In!Space Jam
DominoSpace Shuttle (Zaccaria)
Dracula, Bram Stoker’sSpider-Man
Family GuySpider-Man
FlashStar Trek: The Next Generation
Flintstones, TheStar Wars (Data East)
Flipper FootballStar Wars (Data East)
Forbidden PlanetStar Wars (Sonic)
Getaway, High Speed 2: TheStargate
Guardians of the GalaxyStrikes and Spares (Bally)
High SpeedTag Team Pinball
Indiana Jones (Stern)Tales from the Crypt
Indiana Jones (Williams)Tales of the Arabian Nights
Indianapolis 500Terminator 2
Jokerz!Total Nuclear Annihilation
JunkyardWalking Dead, The
Jurassic Park (Data East)Whitewater
Last Action HeroWizard!
Lord of the Rings, The


From all the machines at the show, one was picked as the Best-In-Show. This year that accolade went to Stan Simpson for his Safecracker.

Stan Simpson with his Best-In-Show Safecracker
Stan Simpson with his Best-In-Show Safecracker

While several of the machines in the hall were for sale, there were also four vendors selling pinball parts or machines.

Jon Melleny of 1 Stop Pinball had a table inside the hall where he had pinball staples such as rubbers, lamps and cleaners as well as mods such as shaker motors, cabinet protectors and game add-on toys.

The 1 Stop Pinball stand
The 1 Stop Pinball stand

On Saturday, Chris Brimacombe had several tables set up outside the hall where he had a wide range of reclaimed pinball parts of all kinds taken from projects and restorations.

Chris Brimacombe's pinball parts
Chris Brimacombe’s pinball parts

Next to Chris were six electromechanical games in various states from Joe Fletcher. All were definitely project games, with prices around the £350 mark.

The six EM games for sale
The six EM games for sale
The six EM games for sale
The six EM games for sale

Finally, on Sunday Dave Wilcox of Pinball Daze set up a few tables outside the hall with more new and reclaimed pinball parts.

The Pinball Daze stand
The Pinball Daze stand

Back inside the hall there were multiple tournaments run over the three days. On Friday and Saturday nights, during the VIP sessions, Neil McRae ran a Stall Ball tournament on a The Shadow machine.

Neil setting up his streaming rig on the StallBall machine, The Shadow
Neil setting up his streaming rig on the StallBall machine, The Shadow

The tournament format puts all players in a line, with the first one stepping up to the machine. They play the game, with the intention of parking the ball in a saucer or a ball lock. If they do that without draining then they hand over to the next player in line and join the back of the queue. If they drain then they are eliminated from the tournament. This continues until just one player is left.

Stall Ball was free to enter with some great prizes. The recordings from Stall Ball will doubtless be on Neil’s Twitch channel.

Meanwhile, Neil also ran Flight Club where players self-submitted scores on ten out of fifteen machines in the hall.

The NBA Challenge returned this year, but it was run by the Scottish Pinball Association with assistance from the Northern Lights Pinball team. Registration cost £5 per person and all thirty-two places sold out on Saturday afternoon, with the tournament running on Sunday.

The NBA Challenge was played on two linked NBA Fastbreak machines
The NBA Challenge was played on two linked NBA Fastbreak machines

The players were divided into eight groups of four, with everyone playing a single head-to-head game against the other three players in their group. The top two progressed to the next round, with single head-to-head games used to decide the overall winner.

That winner was Andy Foster.

Winner of the NBA Challenge, Andy Foster, with show organiser Philip Murphy
Winner of the NBA Challenge, Andy Foster, with show organiser Philip Murphy

Qualifying in the UKPinfest Battle continued for two hours on Sunday morning from 10am. After that concluded, the top twenty-four players continued to the play-offs, with the top eight getting a bye through the first round.

The qualifying results can be seen here, while the top twenty-four are shown below.

1Rich Mallet283#1 on CIRC, #2 on HS2, #5 on IMDN
2David Mainwaring268#1 on HS2, #7 on RS, #11 on ASMTH
3Wayne Johns266#3 on WPT, #4 on IMDN, #6 on F14
4Andy Foster262#3 on CFTBL, #3 on HS2, #11 on RS
5Craig Pullen261#4 on F14, #6 on HS2, #8 on IMDN
6Nick Marshall259#3 on F14, #7 on HS2, #10 on IMDN
7Peter Blakemore255#7 on ASMTH, #8 on CIRC, #9 on HS2
8Ian Walmsley253#2 on CIRC, #11 on CFTBL, #17 on WPT
8James Adams253#6 on CIRC, #6 on TNA, #14 on WPT
10Vin Jauhal245#1 on F14, #16 on ASMTH, #25 on TNA
11Tim Thornton244#1 on RCOP, #5 on F14, #37 on ASMTH
12Thomas Evrenos243#11 on TNA, #12 on F14, #13 on WPT
13Ian Wallace239#3 on CIRC, #18 on ASMTH, #19 on RCOP
13Matt Vince239#2 on CFTBL, #2 on TNA, #44 on HS2
15Greg Mott235#4 on CIRC, #13 on RCOP, #27 on IMDN
16Garry Speight231#8 on RS, #10 on CFTBL, #30 on ASMTH
17Shaun Harvey227#7 on TNA, #21 on CIRC, #24 on IMDN
18Sam McCourt226#5 on RCOP, #8 on TNA, #40 on IMDN
18Nathan Garwood226#1 on WPT, #25 on RS, #35 on ASMTH
20Paul Owen223#1 on RS, #29 on IMDN, #34 on WPT
20Steven Smith223#5 on RS, #19 on HS2, #32 on IMDN
22Luke Grayson221#9 on TNA, #15 on RCOP, #34 on CFTBL
23John Parkins218#6 on RCOP, #16 on RS, #39 on WPT
23Dave Blake218#4 on ASMTH, #18 on HS2, #39 on RS

After the initial sixteen were whittled down to eight and then joined by the top eight qualifiers for the second round, the last eight remaining were the same as the top eight qualifiers.

They were: Andy Foster, Craig Pullen, David Mainwaring, Ian Walmsley, Nick Marshall, Peter Blakemore, Rich Mallet & Wayne Johns

The semi-finals saw wins for Craig, Ian, Nick and Peter, so these four played in the final. Andy, David, Rich and Wayne were all joint sixth.

Rich, Andy, David and Wayne were all joint sixth
Rich, Andy, David and Wayne were all joint sixth

The final was played on three machines – RoboCop, Roadshow and World Poker Tour – with 4-2-1-0 scoring for each game.

The four finalists: Ian, Craig, Nick and Peter
The four finalists: Ian, Craig, Nick and Peter

It was streamed live on the Pinball Live Twitch channel, and you can watch a replay of events there.

The audience watching the stream
The audience watching the stream

Ian began on RoboCop, followed by Peter and Nick, but it was Craig who took charge, scoring nearly a million on his first ball and bumping that up to over three million on his second.

Craig playing the first game of three in the final - RoboCop
Craig playing the first game of three in the final – RoboCop

As player four he didn’t need to play his third ball to take the win. Peter was second on just over a million, while Nick was third and Ian fourth.

Game two on Roadshow had a somewhat different outcome, for most players at least.

Nick took the lead after the first ball with 81M, while Peter was second on 61M, Ian third on 22M and Craig fourth on 18M.

Ian plays his second ball on Roadshow
Ian plays his second ball on Roadshow

It was all still to play for going into ball two, but all four players more-or-less doubled their ball one scores. So Nick still lead over Peter by 212M to 146M.

Nick leads going into ball three
Nick leads going into ball three

On ball three Peter came close to catching Nick but couldn’t quite reach his 261M total, ending on 253M. Ian had 93M and while Craig tried to beat Nick’s score and effectively win the final there, he ended his game in third place on 155M.

So, going into the third and final game, Craig and Nick had 5 points each, Peter had 4 points, while Ian had yet to score and couldn’t win the final, but he could create a tie between any of the others if he won on World Poker Tour.

The last game of the final begins with Ian playing first
The last game of the final begins with Ian playing first

Ian began again, scoring 3.6M on his first ball. Craig played second getting just 1.5M. Peter did best with 4.4M while Nick scored 2.8M making it all very tight going into ball two.

Craig pulled it back to take a slender lead into the third ball. His 15.1M was followed by Ian on 14.1M, Peter on 10.6M and Nick on 5.9M. Not huge scores by any means, and still wide open.

Ian’s last ball gave him the lead, albeit a slight one with a game end score of 17.745M. Craig immediately overtook him with his ball three total of 25.482M. Peter’s third ball didn’t give him any help, ending his final on 11.761M. While Nick had his best ball of the final, it still wasn’t enough to overtake Craig, finishing with 17.808M for second place overall.

So, Craig won, Nick was second, Peter third and Ian fourth. Trophies were presented by Tournament Director Wayne Johns and show organiser Philip Murphy.

Winner of the UKPinfest Battle, Craig Pullen
Winner of the UKPinfest Battle, Craig Pullen
Second place, Nick Marshall
Second place, Nick Marshall
Third place, Peter Blakemore
Third place, Peter Blakemore
Fourth place, Ian Walmsley
Fourth place, Ian Walmsley

Along with the trophies, each of the top eight players also received cash awards from the tournament entry fees. The split was 35%, 20%, 15% and 10% for the top four, with the four joint-sixth players all receiving 5%. That meant Craig received more than £500 for his win.

The trophy presentation took place after the show had closed at 4:30pm on Sunday, bringing the three days of events to a conclusion.

Everyone who went to this year’s UKPinfest seemed to enjoy themselves. The high temperature outside left the air conditioning in the hall struggling to cope with the combination of 91 pinballs and even more eager players.

With twenty fewer machines at the show this year and a dedicated tournament area, there was more room to move about so conditions never got too bad, and a trip to the reception or bar areas also helped guests cool down.

Despite the slightly smaller number of free play machines, you wouldn’t have had to wait long to get on a machine of your choice. Outside the very busiest periods there was usually a free machine available if you didn’t mind which one you played. The number of inoperable machines was admirably few – just two when we did our survey, which is unusually low – thanks to the team of machine repairers who quickly fixed most issues.

There were no talks, seminars, discussions, displays or demonstrations this year – the first year this element has been missing from the national UK show and something we look forward to returning in future years.

As usual, all the machines at the show were brought by collectors, so a huge thanks to them for donating and transporting their valuable toys for everyone to enjoy. There were some nice unusual titles there, including many single-player Zaccaria electromechanicals which are surprisingly fun to play, especially if you like a valuable spinner shot.

A final thanks to Philip and his team for keeping the show running smoothly, staffing the reception desk and answering questions from guests. There always seemed to be plenty of people around in ‘staff’ shirts milling around and outside the hall in case anyone had a query.

Finally, to wrap up our coverage of the show, here’s the exclusive Pinball News Eight Minute Tour of UKPinfest 2019.

The Pinball News Eight Minute Tour of UKPinfest 2019
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2 Comments

  1. Moon Monkeys

    27th August, 2019 at 3:22pm

    Terrible shame about the cheating during qualifiers..

    https://www.twitch.tv/videos/471620341?t=02h13m41s

    Reply

  2. martin fox

    19th October, 2019 at 6:42pm

    I know this really doesn’t matter much, and I’m late to the party. But Andy didn’t win the NBA fastbreak tournament – I did. I beat him in the final. I had a feeling at the time that you’d only photographed him receiving his trophy, and not me receiving mine 🙂

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/dsGRd555LNvVMrc38

    Reply

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