Date: 16th - 20th October, 2019
Location: Westin Chicago North Shore, 601 N Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling, IL 60090, USA

Hello and welcome back to our continuing coverage of this 35th annual Pinball Expo.

Saturday is the last day of scheduled events at the show, with only the some of the tournaments continuing into Sunday.

There is a full seminar schedule though, and we begin our report with those.

10:30am – Steve Azzam: Restoring Pinball Artwork & Saving More Games

Steve began by telling the audience about how he first got into pinball with an Eight Ball Deluxe machine which he taught himself to repair. Before long he had thirty-five machines in his collection.

Steve Azzam
Steve Azzam

As part of his collection he got an electro-mechanical Mata Hari game but it needed the backglass to be restored. So he scanned what he had, used Photoshop to restore the artwork but had problems working out how to print it onto glass without having to produce fifty or more. He needed a way to print just single glasses.

He has documented on his BGResto website the techniques he used, but shared some tips here, including not using a flat-bed scanner but to use a dedicated photo scanner instead. He also spoke about creating your own printer colour profiles for your chosen printer so it produces the intended colours, and the problems matching both the colour and the density of ink so a restored area isn’t visible when back lit.

The speaker requested than his seminar not be recorded.

11:00am – Ryan Claytor: Coin-Op Carnival: Electrifying Tales of Mechanical Contraptions

Ryan’s seminar began with him talking about his work in comic books, illustration and how that combines with pinball. One product – the one he was at Expo to promote – is the Coin-Op Carnival comic book he and Nicholas Baldridge created.

Ryan Claytor
Ryan Claytor

Ryan then went through all the features in the first issue which he said they intend to continue through all four planned editions. Those include an interview with a well-known game designer (Wayne Neyens in the first issue), a review of a pinball machine, a review of a non-pinball coin-op game, a technical section and letters, all illustrated by Ryan.

At 1pm there was the regular autograph session which was held in a remodeled Seminars Hall.

The autograph session on Saturday
The autograph session on Saturday

There was the usual gathering of past and present pinball personalities ready to meet fans and sign assorted pinball items.

Sharpies were at the ready
Sharpies were at the ready
You never know who is going to turn up
You never know who is going to turn up
Fans brought many different items to be signed
Fans brought many different items to be signed

You can watch our video of the Autograph Session along with a look at Game Hall B in this exclusive Five Minute Tour video.

When the Autograph Session had finished, the room was returned to its previous layout and the seminars could continue.

3:00pm – Steve Ritchie – The Making of Black Knight

Steve’s introduced pictures of several members of the design team from Black Knight: Sword of Rage as well as Tim Sexton who joined him on the stage.

Steve Ritchie
Steve Ritchie
Tim Sexton
Tim Sexton

Steve said making Black Knight was like making two very different games, with the Pro and Premium/LE playfields being so different. Steve said there was no way he could produce a two-level game at the price point needed for a Pro model.

He then took questions from the audience including his reasons for bringing back the Black Knight, the way the classic mode was included, and what other classic Steve Ritchie titles could return?

4pm: Keith Elwin, Rick Naegele, Josh Clay, Harrison Drake, Danai Kittivathana, & Jerry Thompson – The Making of Jurassic Park

Keith introduced the team who helped him make Jurassic Park at Stern Pinball.

Keith Elwin
Keith Elwin
The Jurassic Park team on the stage
The Jurassic Park team on the stage

After a slideshow of pictures taken during the development of the game, they team took questions from the audience about how various aspects were created, the assets they had to work with, and why certain choices were made.that

Keith also covered how he got into pinball in the first place, made the Archer game with his brother and then how that led to his job at Stern.

More members of the Jurassic Park team
More members of the Jurassic Park team
The Jurassic Park team

5:00pm – Greg Freres, Tom Kopera, Dennis Nordman, Lyman Sheats, Jerry Thompson, Chuck Ernst, Paul Chamnankit, Lindsey Freres, Schubkegel and Special Guest Cassandra Peterson (Elvira): Elvira’s House of Horrors

The seminar began with Cassandra being inducted into the Pinball Expo Hall of Fame.

The Elvira's House of Horrors team
Greg Freres, Tom Kopera, Dennis Nordman, Lyman Sheats, Jerry Thompson, Chuck Ernst, Paul Chamnankit, Lindsey Freres, Schubkegel and Special Guest Cassandra Peterson (Elvira)
New inductee into the Pinball Expo Hall of Fame, Cassandra Peterson
New inductee into the Pinball Expo Hall of Fame, Cassandra Peterson

Greg then took over and described the many different aspects of of the game and how each of them were created by the team at Stern.

Greg Freres
Greg Freres

In a slideshow, Greg showed pictures of Dennis’s many versions of the haunted house made from foamcore (or Nordmanite as it has been termed).

Dennis Nordman
Dennis Nordman
Cassadra Peterson and the Elvira’s House Of Horrors team

6:00pm – Tom Nieman, Billy O’Donnell Jr., Jim Patla, Dave Christensen, Gary Gayton, Wally Welch, Ward Pemberton, Dennis Nordman, Greg Kmiec, Greg Freres, George Gomez, Paul Faris, Claude Fernandez, Kevin O’Conner, Norm Wurz & Ken Kupietz: Team Bally – A Reunion Of The Bally Family

Each member of the team was invited by moderator Gary Flower to introduce themselves and say a little about their job at Bally.

The Bally Team
The Bally Team

The start of licensing was then discussed, with the game Wizard! which wasn’t originally intended to be tied to the movie Tommy but was to be literally about a wizard before the film tie-in was negotiated.

The introduction of speech at Bally was initially rejected as too costly and unnecessary by management at Bally, but when Williams brought out Gorgar there was panic and the Squawk & Talk board was rushed out.

There were many more stories from the years working at Bally, so watch our video of the seminar to discover them.

7:45pm – Lloyd Olson: LTG 🙂

Lloyd’s seminar took the familiar format where the audience asks him questions about his many years in the coin-op business and his current job providing technical support for Jersey Jack Pinball, Planetary Pinball and Chicago Gaming.

Lloyd Olson
Lloyd Olson

Questions included, what is the next release for Jersey Jack, what was the most difficult technical issue he’s had to solve, what older game ideas should be reintroduced, what to do about spinners which stick horizontally, will there be any more The Big Lebowski machines, and which machine at his location has been the most resilient?

8:30pm – Jack Guarnieri & Staff: An Evening With Jersey Jack

Jack introduced the team from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory who then showed a number of pictures from the game’s development which included a number of features which changed before it went into production.

Jack Guarnieri
Jack Guarnieri
Jack with the team
Jack with the team

Joe from JJP also spoke about the new coin-op casual play mode they have added to the game which changes the rules to give casual players a more immediate experience of the game’s features.

The team also announced two new features which are coming to their games – bluetooth headphone support so players can use their headphones to listen to the game, and internet connectivity for software updates, removing the need for USB memory sticks to upgrade your game.

9:40pm – Chuck Gardner & Casey Gardner: VÜK and MOMs Pinball – The Story of Some of The Best Pinball on the East Coast

Chuck and Casey Gardner were here to talk about some great and passionate pinball locations on the east coast of the US – MOMs and VÜKs – and what makes them so attractive to pinball players.

Casey Gardner
Casey Gardner
Chuck Gardner
Chuck Gardner

They related the history of each location and why they wanted to have pinballs set up. Both locations have an impressive selection of machines, and Chuck and Casey explained the nuances of both sites and the demands of their respective clienteles.

That concludes our seminar coverage for this year, but if you haven’t checked out our Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday reports we still have much more to bring you from this 35th annual Pinball Expo including many more videos from the various halls and a look at the other attractions open to show visitors.

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4 Comments

  1. Adam Schwartz

    20th October, 2019 at 2:52pm

    Thank you for your fantastic coverage of Expo. I’ve been enjoying the videos of the seminars from your YouTube channel. Very much appreciated!

    One thing – I noticed this one was missing “The Making of Jurassic Park.”

    Did you record that one and if so do you plan on publishing it on YouTube?

    Reply

    • Pinball News

      20th October, 2019 at 6:07pm

      Hi Adam.

      Yes, I am uploading the final four seminars from Saturday’s schedule now.

      Cheers,

      Martin.

      Reply

  2. johnny norman

    21st October, 2019 at 12:06am

    martin in jack seminars did he say anything about toy story or guns and roses upcomming games thanks looking forward to texas pinball 2020 johnny norman

    Reply

    • Pinball News

      22nd October, 2019 at 5:31pm

      Hi Johnny.

      There was no mention of upcoming titles, which is not too surprising as no manufacturer likes to talk publicly about games they haven’t officially announced yet. Circumstances change, game production schedules/orders change, and sometimes a planned title can’t be produced at all.

      We shouldn’t have to wait too much longer for an announcement about the company’s next release.

      Reply

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