Date: 18th-21st November, 2021 Location: Sturbridge Host Hotel & Conference Center, 366 Main St Sturbridge, MA 01566, USA The final leg of our 2021 US tour brings us to the town of Sturbridge, around an hour’s drive west of Boston. The Sturbridge Host Hotel & Conference Center is the venue for the Pintastic Pinball & Game Room Expo, hereafter just called Pintastic. The entrance to the show The Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center is a complex of buildings housing the reception, the pavilions, a pool, numerous accommodation blocks, multiple conference rooms and at least two large show halls. The hotel end of the complex The complex has seen multiple expansions over the years, so there is a mix of styles across some of the different blocks. Here’s a look around a few of these areas. The hotel’s reception area The corridor from reception to the pavilions area The pavilions The pool area Pintastic has been running since 2015 and has a large team working in the months leading up to the show on its many different aspects, such as the free play machines, the vendors, the seminars, the publicity, the website, the logistics and so on. For the free play machines they have built a custom game registration, check-in, game information and fault tracking system called MyFlipR which allows game bringers to register their machines, have them tracked as they are brought into the building and have any faults which develop logged against them for the maintenance crew to address. The entrance for the free play machines The machine registration team at the show One of the machine signs with a link to its details page, sale price and contact number Thursday We arrived at Thursday lunchtime as the Free Play Room was being set up ready for the public opening at 6pm. The Free Play Room Some of the machines in the Free Play Room during set-up on Thursday Some of the machines in the Free Play Room during set-up on Thursday The central aisle will be filled with more machines later At the far end of the building, the Vendor Hall was also being readied, although that room doesn’t open to the public until Friday at 11am. The Vendor Hall during set-up on Thursday The Vendor Hall during set-up on Thursday The main tournament takes place in the Vendor Hall too Here’s the list of the 63 pinballs set up in the Vendor Hall by lunchtime on Saturday: Vendor HallAddams Family, TheAerosmithAerosmithAerosmithAvengers, The: Infinity QuestAvengers, The: Infinity QuestAvengers, The: Infinity QuestAvengers, The: Infinity QuestAztecBaywatchCactus Canyon remakeCueDemolition ManDominoElvira & the Party MonstersFlipper ClownGodzilla (Premium)Godzilla (Premium)Godzilla (Premium)Godzilla (Premium)Godzilla (Premium)Godzilla (Pro)Godzilla (Pro)Godzilla (Pro)Godzilla (Pro)Guardians of the GalaxyGuardians of the GalaxyGulfstreamGuns N’ Roses (Limited Edition, JJP)HalloweenHerculesHot WheelsHoudiniJudge DreddJurassic Park (Stern)Last Action HeroLed Zeppelin (Premium)Led Zeppelin (Pro)Legends of ValhallaLegends of ValhallaMetallicaNo FearOperation ThunderPinball MagicRiverboat GamblerRoadshow, Red & Ted’sSimpsons Pinball Party, TheStar Trek: The Next GenerationStar Trek: The Next GenerationStar Wars (Pro)Star Wars Pin (Comic Art)Star Wars PremiumStranger ThingsTales from the CryptTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Stern)Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Stern)Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Stern)Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Stern)The MandalorianTransporter: The RescueVolcanoWhitewaterWilly Wonka & the Chocolate Factory There is a separate custom-built Seminars Room of which we will see more a little later, once the first seminar begins at 7pm today. In addition, a special Extra Ball Lounge is available to guests who purchase a limited edition pass when registering. These sold out quickly, so only a small number of guests and event staff will get to play these games. The Extra Ball Lounge Here’s a list of the 23 pinballs set up to play in the Extra Ball Lounge: Extra Ball LoungeAC/DC (Luci)Attack from MarsBride of Pinbot, The Machine:Cirqus VoltaireCongoDialed In!Dracula, Bram Stoker’sFerris Bueller’s Day OffFull ThrottleGuns ‘N Roses (DE)Guns ‘N Roses (JJP, LE)HoudiniIndianapolis 500Metallica (Pro)Monster BashShadow, TheShadow, TheTales of the Arabian NightsTheatre of Magic*Twilight ZoneWalking Dead, TheWilly Wonka & the Chocolate FactoryWWF Royal Rumble* indicates machine was not working or switched off when we made this list There are various signs and banners in the corridors detailing the weekend’s tournaments, rules of pinball etiquette and various designs for the Pintastic logo from famed pinball artists. Play nicely The tournaments schedule The 2016 show logo by John Youssi The 2017 show logo by Zombie Yeti The 2018 show logo by Christopher Franchi The 2019 show logo by Joel de Guzman The Free Play Room opened to the public at 6pm, although there were more games being brought in throughout the evening. 6pm and time for the Free Play Room to officially open Still plenty more machines arriving outside Here’s a list of the 113 pinballs set up to play in the Free Play Room on Saturday lunchtime: Free Play Room2001Addams Family, TheAlien PokerAmigoAtlantisBeatles: Beatlemania Pinball, The (Gold)Big GunsBlack HoleBobby Orr’s Power PlayBonanzaCarribean Cruise, Point BlankCasinoClub HouseCorvetteCount-DownCyclone*Dancing LadyDominoDracula, Bram Stoker’sDrop-A-CardDuotronEarthshaker!Elvira’s House of Horrors (LE)EmbryonFireFire QueenFireballFireballFireball ClassicFirepower*FlashFlash GordonFlight 2000Flipper ClownGladiatorsGorgarGorgarGorgarGrand LizardGrand LizardGrand SlamGuns ‘N Roses (JJP, Standard)Hollywood HeatHot HandHot ShotHurricaneHurricaneJackbotJungle QueenJurassic Park (DE)Kewpie DollKnockout*Laser WarLethal Weapon 3Liberty BellLost in SpaceMars: God of WarMata HariMelodyMetallica (Pro)MeteorMotordomeMousin’ Around!NASCAR*New YorkOh Yeah!Out of SightPhantom of the Opera*PinbotPinbotPincraftPokerRed BaronRick and MortyRob Zombie’s Spookshow InternationalRobo WarRock Lives!SeawitchShaq AttaqShaq AttaqSharkey’s ShootoutSimpsons Pinball Party, TheSimpsons, TheSing AlongSkateball*SoccerSolar CitySolar FireSonic SpinballSorcererSouth ParkSpace StationSpeak EasySpy Hunter*Star Trek (Bally)Star Trek (Bally)Star Trek (Bally)*Star Wars (Pro)Star Wars TrilogyStar Wars: Episode 1StarsStreet Fighter IISupermanTeam OneTerminator 2: Judgement DayTime WarpTwilight ZoneVolcanoWiggler, TheWild FyreWorld Poker TourWWF Royal RumbleX-Files, The * indicates machine was not working or switched off when we made this list The first of the show’s seminars began at 7pm when Levi Nayman hosted a talk and demonstration on how to do commentary for live streaming of pinball matches. Levi Nayman To illustrate his points, several matches were played on an Attack from Mars pinball which were streamed and had live commentary added. The first saw Bowen Kerins play against Mitch Curtis. Commentating on the Attack from Mars match Bowen and Mitch play for a prize pot of $3 The Free Play Room stayed open until 2am and reopens on Friday at 10am, with the Vendor Hall also opening at 10am on Friday. Friday There were still more games arriving in the Free Play Room and others being worked on as the doors opened to the public at 10am. More are expected until around 1pm according to the organisers. Setting up and adjusting the games as the doors open 10am and the Free Play Room is officially open Meanwhile, the first of the days presentations was starting in the Seminars Room. Tasker Smith, a Technical Instructor at MIT spoke about the concept of flow states and how they can be channelled to improve your gameplay and get into ‘the zone’. Tasker Smith He explained how, when a flow state is achieved, a person will experience a narrowing of their focus, how they become immersed in what’s happening now, will have a reduced sense of self-awareness, a distorted sense of time passing and achieve exceptional performance. He went on to describe the conditions and techniques players can use to take advantage of this state. Tasker’s Flow States seminar Later in the afternoon the seminars resumed at 2pm when Mike Minchew presented his seminar about pinball flyer collecting. Mike Minchew Mike spoke about the way flyers evolved over the years and how the quality of their printing and production can be used to determine the relative financial positions of various companies. He also held regular quiz questions, distributing prize packs of flyers to those with the correct answers. Mike talking about how flyers helped build the pinball industry After Mike, Jersey Jack Pinball game designer, Eric Meunier, presented his story of the making of the Guns ‘N Roses pinball. Eric Meunier Accompanied by a Collectors Edition model, Eric related stories about the creation of assorted elements which go to make up the game, including the collaboration with the band and Slash in particular, the recording of the voice calls, getting approval to use certain music tracks, how the cabinet and display artwork was created, the evolution of the playfield layout and getting sound effects which matched the pitch of the track currently playing. Eric with a Guns ‘N Roses machine You can watch Eric’s presentation from the Pintastic YouTube channel here. Jersey Jack Pinball’s latest recruit to the game designer team is Mark Seiden who came from the work of homebrew games. Mark joined the panel for the next seminar which was hosted by Jillian Haffner and was all about the best ways and the pitfalls of creating your own homebrew custom machine. The homebrew pinball discussion panel All those on the panel had created their own custom game and shared their tip about the best operating system to use in order to programme it, what type of wood to use for the playfield and the best way to prototype a whitewood playfield before committing to the design. The final seminar for Friday bean at 7pm when TNT Amusements head, Todd Tuckey brought along for of his crew to provide buying advice when purchasing a game, and how to spot a lemon. Todd Tuckey After showing numerous examples of seemingly trashed games which had been brought to him for repair and refurbishment, he said the most import part of any machine when it came to condition is the cabinet, as that reveals how the game had been kept and maintained over the years. The T.N.T. crew Severe water damage might make the game beyond economic repair. After that, the condition of the boards and the playfield were both major indicators and give a good idea how much any repair or restoration will cost, assuming the parts are still available. Todd’s talk, like all those taking place this weekend are planned to be released to watch on YouTube or similar soon after the show. Saturday There were plenty more seminars on Saturday starting at 9:30am with David Marston hosting a Breaking News section where several speakers were invited to update speakers on their latest news. David Marston The topics included a new Delaware Pinball Collective club, the latest from Daniel Spolar on the Project Pinball charity’s work installing pinball machines in children’s hospitals, and a discussion on the latest trends in coin-op seen at the recent IAAPA show in Orlando from a panel including David Fix of American Pinball, Brian McCauley from Pintastic and Martin Ayub of Pinball News. You can watch a recording of the IAAPA show section here from the Pintastic YouTube Channel. Then at 11am, pinball artist Kevin O’Connor was interviewed by David Marston about Kevin’s career creating art for numerous pinball games over the past 40+ years starting with his first game, Galaxy Ranger. Kevin O’Connor and David Marston Kevin told how he had been working on point-of-sale marketing material before applying for a job at an undisclosed coin-op company which turned out to be Bally. There, he was recruited by Paul Faris for the firm’s new art department. He stayed there for fifteen years after which he did work for Data East, Williams/Bally/Midway, Bromley and most recently, Stern. Kevin O’Connor Kevin spoke about and showed pictures of many of his projects including many famous titles such as Kiss (both Bally and Stern), Strikes and Spares, Silverball Mania, Playboy and Monster Bash. After Kevin, Stern Pinball’s newest recruit, Marketing Manager Michael Grant spoke about his journey in pinball, how he get into the business working in Marketing at American Pinball before recently moving over to Stern. Michael Grant Michael also talked about the Stern Army initiative and how it helps boost location play, and the Stern Insider Connected system, what it currently and how it is going to grow to offer greater rewards and functionality. You can watch Michael’s seminar here from the Pintastic YouTube Channel. The director of the Arcade Dreams documentary, Zach Weddington, was due to speak next, but he was unable to attend due to filming commitments. He did, however, send a special video message and new material he has been shooting. Zach Weddington send a message to the Pintastic audience A little later, Ryan White of Chicago Gaming updated the audience on the latest news about the company’s latest release, the Cactus Canyon remake. Ryan White Chicago Gaming recently announced a SE Plus edition of the game, which is like the standard version but adds the interactive topper which had previously only been available on the Limited Edition which sold out almost immediately it was announced. You can watch Ryan’s talk here from the Pintastic YouTube channel. After Ryan, Martin Ayub of Pinball News joined David Marston on the stage for a discussion on how and why Pinball News began, comparing the state of the pinball industry then (2000) and now. Martin Ayub Next, David Fix of American Pinball talked about their latest game, Legends of Valhalla. David Fix David spoke about how the company changes once parent company Aimtron appointed David to run American Pinball, bringing in a bunch of new recruits and running a series of promotion initiatives, including a special advertorial Legends of Valhalla edition of the PinGame Journal which was sent out to all current and previous subscribers, and making sure the game was available to play in a handful of locations in the US as soon as it was officially announced. We took the opportunity of a break between seminars to shoot our Pinball News Twenty-One Minute Tour video, showing you all the halls, the games, the vendors, and everything else at Pintastic 2021. Here it is: There was an autograph session held in the Seminars Room at 5pm where many of Pintastic’s special guests greeted guests and signed flyers, artwork or other promotional items. The Autograph Session The special guests present were Brian Soares and Reby Hardy of the Ferris Bueller custom pinball conversion, Joel de Guzman, Eric Meunier, Jack Guarnieri, Kevin O’Connor, John Borg, David Fix, Todd Tuckey and Frank Lindenmuth. Brian and Reby Eric, Jack and Kevin The final seminar of Pintastic 2021 was a fireside chat with Pinball News Editor Martin Ayub interviewing Jersey Jack Pinball founder, Jack Guarnieri. Before the chat began though, Jack invited everyone to enjoy some of the pizza he had arranged to be delivered. Pizza for everyone at the fireside chat Because this reporter was interviewing Jack and not able to take photographs, here’s one we took right before the fireside chat began. Jack Guarnieri with John Borg and Kevin O’Connor The interview covered the founding of Pinball Sale – Jack’s machine sales business – the creation of Jersey Jack Pinball, the development of the first title, The Wizard of Oz, how investors were brought in to support the company’s finances, the move of the manufacturing and development to the new facility in Elk Grove Village, the previous and future growth of the home buyer sector and the large pipeline of future game compared to the relatively sedate release schedule. You can watch Jack’s fireside chat with Martin from the Pintastic YouTube channel here. Jersey Jack Pinball’s current title is Guns ‘N Roses, so after the seminars were over the GnR tribute band Welcome to the Jungle played many of the groups famous tracks in the pavilions area of the hotel to a large and appreciative audience. Welcome to the Jungle, the Guns ‘N Roses tribute band The band drew a large crowd Welcome to the Jungle band members Welcome to the Jungle band members Welcome to the Jungle band members Also taking place in on Saturday evening was the final of the main tournament at Pintastic, the Silverball Rumble. The final took place between Mitchell Curtis and Zachary Frey. It was a best-of-five final which came down to the final fifth game on Total Nuclear Annihilation after both player had won two game. Mitch started, completing his three balls for a 1.4M total. However, when Zachary was on his final ball, the lower playfield insert lighting and ball saver timer stopped working. After an initial repair, the last ball restarted only for the fault to recur. Problems with the game on the last ball of the final Eventually the game was repaired and the last ball could continue, but Zachary couldn’t catch Mitchell’s total, giving Mitchell the win. Zachary was second, Joe Lemire was third and Anna Wolk fourth. All four won trophies and sizeable cash prizes with over $1,000 going to the winner. The presentations were made by Jim Swain from The Sanctum. Silverball Rumble winner, Mitchell Curtis Second place, Zahcary Frey Third place, Joe Lemire Fourth place, Anna Wolk The final took place in the Vendor Hall after it had closed to the public at 9pm. It was being torn down as the tournament reached its conclusion. Tearing down the stands in the Vendor Hall Sunday Although the Vendor Hall had now closed, the Free Play Room was open to the public from 10am on Sunday for continued play until 4pm. A fair number of machines had been removed or we not working by Sunday, but there were still plenty more for guests to enjoy. Quite a number of machines had been removed by Sunday morning Quite a few gaps in the rows Still a good number of machines to play though More machines to play between 10am and 4pm Meanwhile, in the Clubs Room the SilverBelle Brawl women’s tournament was taking place, starting with three hours of Flip Frenzy qualifying. These were the twenty machines set up in the Club Room: Club Room24Alien PokerAsteroid Annie & the AliensCharlie’s AngelsDeadpoolF-14: TomcatFoxy LadyGrand Prix (Williams)HoudiniJacks OpenLethal Weapon 3Lord of the Rings, TheLost WorldNBA FastbreakPantheraSharp Shooter 2Spider-ManTarget PoolTime FantasyX-Men (Wolverine LE) Qualifying in the SilverBelle Brawl Qualifying in the SilverBelle Brawl Once the qualifying was over, the names of top four players who would advance to the finals were announced. The final four are announced The four finalists were Jody Stahlman, Zoe Vrabel, Stephanie Guida and Jade Ang, and they would be playing Time Fantasy, Deadpool and NBA Fastbreak using a 7-5-3-1 points system for first to fourth. The final begins on Time Fantasy Jade won on Time Fantasy, with Zoe second, Stephanie was third and Jody fourth. On Deadpool it was a win for Zoe with Jody second, Jade third and Stephanie fourth. Going into the final game, NBA Fastbreak, it looked like a battle between Zoe (12pts) and Jade (10pts) for the win, with Jody on 6pts and Stephanie on 4pts. In the end, Stephanie won, Jody was second, Zoe third and Jade fourth which meant Zoe had won overall with a total of 15 points but all the others were tied on 11 points, resulting in a tie-breaker game in Charlie’s Angels. In that tie-breaker, Stephanie was the winner giving her second overall, Jade was second for overall third place, while Jody was third to take fourth place. Jody (4th), Jade (3rd), Stephanie (2nd) and Zoe (1st) With the SilverBelle Brawl decided we end our coverage of Pintastic 2021. We hope you enjoyed it. A big thanks to show organisers Gabe and David for making our first visit to Sturbridge and Pintastic such a fun time. Pintastic will be back at the Sturbridge Host Hotel & Conference Center in 2022 with a return to its usual June dates. Check the Pintastic website for the confirmed dates, to buy advance tickets and to book accommodation.