Date: 23rd March, 2023

Hello and welcome to our extended coverage of this year’s Texas Pinball Festival, held as usual at the Frisco Convention Center which adjoins the Embassy Suites hotel.

The home for the Texas Pinball Festival since 2014
The home for the Texas Pinball Festival since 2014

The history of the Texas Pinball Festival has seen it held at the Hilton in Grapevine, The Hilton Anatole in downtown Dallas and, since 2014, at the Frisco Convention Center. Although it could be argued that the Convention Center is not large enough for the ambitions of the show, it has proved to be a valuable and co-operative partner, with an outstanding range of accommodation options nearby once the host Embassy Suites sells out (which it regularly does within minutes of the show’s allocation of discounted rooms going on sale).

One of the show banners
One of the show banners

This year’s Texas Pinball Festival hosts an extraordinary selection of new titles from various manufacturers, including Foo Fighters from Stern Pinball, The Godfather from Jersey Jack Pinball, Scooby-Doo: Where Are You! from Spooky Pinball, Final Resistance from Multimorphic, Galactic Tank Force from American Pinball and Pulp Fiction from Chicago Gaming and Play Mechanix, with more new games possibly making an appearance.

The Texas Pinball Festival floor plan
The Texas Pinball Festival floor plan

This year’s TPF is going to be like no other, so join us for our extensive coverage of the whole show which will be updated throughout the event’s three days of public access.

The ticket booth outside the main hall is where on-the-day and pre-purchased ticked can be collected
The ticket booth outside the main hall is where on-the-day and pre-purchased ticked can be collected

THURSDAY

Thursday is set-up day which means that the show hall is not open to the public. Naturally, Pinball News has all-areas access and we can show you the setting up and what is going to be available to play once the doors open at 5pm on Friday.

Inside the main show hall
Inside the main show hall

One of the companies with a new title to promote is Jersey Jack Pinball who have brought multiple The Godfather machines to the show.

Some of the machines brought by Jersey Jack Pinball
Some of the machines brought by Jersey Jack Pinball
You can play a Collector's Edition model here too
You can play a Collector’s Edition model here too

We had a preview of the Collector’s Edition and the playfield artwork sparkle effect around many of the features is quite extraordinary. We’ll have more on that later.

We popped back a little later to see how the JJP stand was progressing and saw some of the many games set-up in preparation for Friday’s opening.

The Jersey Jack Pinball stand starts to take shape
The Jersey Jack Pinball stand starts to take shape

Stern Pinball also have a new title to promote. They had many copies of their Foo Fighters game on their stand run in association with Fun! Billiards & Gameroom Superstore in Mesquite, Texas.

Lots of Foo Fighters games from Stern Pinball
Lots of Foo Fighters games from Stern Pinball

Although Foo Fighters is their latest, it isn’t the only title from Stern Pinball at the show, as they also have multiple Dr. No James Bond games on the floor.

Dr. No couldn't say 'No' to the TPF
Dr. No couldn’t say ‘No’ to the TPF

Another company with a recent announcement was Spooky Pinball who brought six of their new Scooby-Doo: Where Are You! machines together with a Mystery Machine and a claw game to dispense prizes to show visitors.

The six Scooby-Doo games from Spooky Pinball
The six Scooby-Doo games from Spooky Pinball
The Mystery Machine VW Camper
The Mystery Machine VW Camper
The Spooky Pinball grabber
The Spooky Pinball grabber

Although it is hard to gauge before the show opens, one of the most eagerly-anticipated new titles on the floor comes from Play Mechanix and Chicago Gaming.

Pulp Fiction from Play Mechanix and Chicago Gaming
Pulp Fiction from Play Mechanix and Chicago Gaming

Four Pulp Fiction games have been brought to the show for the public to play.

Two of the four Pulp Fiction games at the show
Two of the four Pulp Fiction games at the show

Pinball Brothers have a stand with three of their Queen pinballs and two Aliens. Two more Queen machines are available to play on their distributor Coin Taker’s stand.

The Pinball Brothers' stand during set-up
The Pinball Brothers’ stand during set-up

At the time of our visit, neither American Pinball nor Multimorphic had yet arrived with their newest titles, however Haggis Pinball were there with their Fathom Revisited game and their first title, Celts.

Haggis Pinball's stand with Celts and Fathom Revisited
Haggis Pinball’s stand with Celts and Fathom Revisited

In a late update, we popped back into the hall after everyone else had left and confirmed American Pinball’s new Galactic Tank Force game had indeed arrived. On the way back we spotted game designer Dennis Nordman checking into the show hotel ahead of the American Pinball seminar about his game at 5pm on Friday.

While the newest releases grab all the attention, the Texas Pinball Festival is all about the full range of pinballs through the years.

It's not all new games though as there are plenty of classics too
It’s not all new games though as there are plenty of classics too
It's not all about flipper games either, as these pre-flipper mechanical marvels demonstrate
It’s not all about flipper games either, as these pre-flipper mechanical marvels in the History of Pinball exhibit demonstrate
Setting up some of the many privately-owned pinballs at the show
Setting up some of the many privately-owned pinballs at the show
Many of the privately-owned games at the show
More of the privately-owned games at the show

The TPF organisers used their tried-and-tested system for unloading trucks at the back door of the hall in order to get the games out, checked in, and the trucks away as efficiently as possible.

Trucks unload at the hall's back doors
Trucks are unloaded at the hall’s back doors
Games go into a staging area before moving into the main hall
Games go into a staging area before moving into the main hall

It’s not all games, either. There are plenty of vendor stands selling mods, artworks, spares, and much more. We’ll cover those a little later in this report once the show opens.

3D artwork is a definite theme of this year's Texas Pinball Festival
3D artwork is a definite theme of this year’s Texas Pinball Festival
We look forward to seeing exactly what this vendor's stand is selling
We look forward to seeing exactly what this vendor’s stand is selling

Not all the action takes place in the main hall, as there are multiple tournaments held in some of the adjacent conference rooms.

The tournaments area
The tournaments area
Inside the tournaments room
Inside the tournaments room
The main TPF tournaments don't begin until Friday but there was plenty of play on the machines on Thursday
The main TPF tournaments don’t begin until Friday but there was plenty of play on the machines on Thursday
The main TPF tournaments will also be streamed live
The main TPF tournaments will also be streamed live

FRIDAY

Setting-up continued on Friday morning, with the show really starting to take shape.

Friday morning in the main show hall
Friday morning in the main show hall

Jersey Jack Pinball had all their machines out of their boxes and in position, with some minor tweaks to the set-up and additions such as the overhead cameras to get them ready for the long weekend ahead.

The Jersey Jack Pinball stand
The Jersey Jack Pinball stand

Stern Pinball is represented by Fun! and Marco Specialties. They have around twenty-one Foo Fighter games as well as multiple James Bond 007 Pro and Premium machines and a selection of other titles.

Stern Pinball is represented by Fun! and Marco Specialties
Stern Pinball is represented by Fun! and Marco Specialties

With so many manufacturers of pinballs exhibiting, they are often located next to each other in the hall. Spooky Pinball, American Pinball and Chicago Gaming/Play Mechanix are all close together.

The playfield from Scooby-Doo: Where Are You!
The playfield from Scooby-Doo: Where Are You!
Spooky Pinball's Mystery Machine faces part of the American Pinball stand
Spooky Pinball’s Mystery Machine faces part of the American Pinball stand

American Pinball were setting up the machines on their stand, including their latest game, Galactic Tank Force.

Two Galactic Tank Force Deluxe Edition games are unboxed
Two Galactic Tank Force Deluxe Edition games are unboxed
One of the Galactic Tank Force towers on the American Pinball stand
One of the Galactic Tank Force towers on the American Pinball stand
Meanwhile, Chicago Gaming & Play Mechanix have their Pulp Fiction games next door
Meanwhile, Chicago Gaming & Play Mechanix have their Pulp Fiction games next door
The Pulp Fiction playfield
The Pulp Fiction playfield
The bottom of the playfield
The bottom of the playfield
The top of the playfield
The top of the playfield

Another new entrant to the pinball marketplace is Turner Pinball headed up by Chris Turner. He had announced his intention to build pinballs, but he wasn’t expected to be in a position to show anything by this Texas Pinball Festival. However, although it is still at the prototype stage, he is here exhibiting what will be his company’s his first title, Ninja Eclipse.

Turner Pinball, Chris Turner, with his Ninja Eclipse original design
Turner Pinball, Chris Turner, with his Ninja Eclipse original design

The game is flippable with some basic rules incorporated. It’s a fast flowing, brightly-lit three-flippered design with some unusual playfield features. It is designed by the game’s artist, Brad Duke, in collaboration with Jon Norris. Chris is also looking for feedback on the design and features from visitors to the show.

The Ninja Eclipse playfield
The Ninja Eclipse playfield

Not all the games come from commercial companies, however. The homebrew section showcases the talents of those who want to create their own games but are not (yet) employed by any of the major manufacturers.

Some of the homebrew titles at TPF
Some of the homebrew titles at TPF

Qualifying for the Wizards and Classics tournaments began at 10am on Friday in the tournaments room on the upper level. The Wizards qualifying continues through until 4pm on Saturday, but the Classics qualifying ends at 1am tomorrow morning. On Sunday, the Texas Takedown women’s tournament is held in the same room with an early 8am start time.

Qualifying times for the tournaments
Qualifying times for the tournaments

By lunchtime, American Pinball had got their Galactic Tank Force games set up. There were no Signature or Limited Editions with the tank-style cabinet just yet, but the Deluxe model was making an appearance.

The Galactic Tank Force playfield
The Galactic Tank Force playfield
The top of the playfield when powered
The top of the playfield when powered
The tank toy in the centre
The tank toy in the centre
The illuminated upper part of the playfield
The illuminated upper part of the playfield
The centre and lower playfield area
The centre and lower playfield area
The backbox artwork and illuminated speakers
The backbox artwork and illuminated speakers

Meanwhile, Chicago Gaming had reshuffled their stand, putting the four Pulp Fiction games out front, with their Cactus Canyon remakes behind.

The Chicago Gaming stand
The Chicago Gaming stand

We had the opportunity to play Scooby-Doo: Where Are You!, The Godfather and Pulp Fiction and thoroughly enjoyed all three. They are obviously very different styles of games, but all hit the mark with what they were trying to achieve. Later today we hope to get some time on Galactic Tank Force and Foo Fighters.

The TPF show floor on Friday mid-morning
The TPF show floor on Friday mid-morning

There were two seminars and two screenings scheduled for Friday night.

The first seminar was by American Pinball to launch their Galactic Tank Force game. It was introduced by American Pinball’s Executive Vice President, David Fix who presented his panel who all worked on the company’s latest release.

American Pinball's David Fix introduces the seminar
American Pinball’s David Fix introduces the seminar
The American Pinball team
The American Pinball team

Game creators Dennis Nordman and Paul Reno were on the panel, along with Art Director Jack Haeger, artist Christopher Franchi and rules and marketing boss, Steven Bowden.

Dennis Nordman
Dennis Nordman
Paul Reno
Paul Reno
Jack Haeger
Jack Haeger
Christopher Franchi
Christopher Franchi
Steven Bowden
Steven Bowden

The team talked about the creation of the Galactic Tank Force game, how the concept of a tank-like cabinet evolved and the approximately 5,000 media assets included in the game – roughly double any previous American Pinball title.

American Pinball game designer Ryan McQuaid then guided the tank-shaped version of the game as it was self-propelled into the hall.

The tank rolls in
The tank rolls in
The tank has arrived
The tank has arrived

After the tank had parked, David Fix showed a lenticular 3D version of the backglass artwork. This 3D version will be part of the Signature Edition model’s offer.

David shows the new 3D backglass
David shows the new 3D backglass

Finally, the team posed around the game.

American Pinball's Galactic Tank Force team
American Pinball’s Galactic Tank Force team

The second seminar was by Jersey Jack Pinball to talk about the creation of the The Godfather game.

Jack Guarnieri introduced game designer Eric Meunier and coder Bill Grupp.

Jack Guarnieri
Jack Guarnieri
Eric Meunier
Eric Meunier
Bill Grupp
Bill Grupp

Eric showed the audience around the playfield, explaining how the shots work and all the possible shot options. He also played the three versions of the theme to The Godfather included in the game, from the instrumental by Slash, to the vocal versions sung by Mark Tremonti and another version sung by Eric himself.

Eric presents his latest game design, The Godfather
Eric presents his latest game design, The Godfather
Eric and Jack with JJP's The Godfather game
Eric and Jack with JJP’s The Godfather game

Following the first two seminars, a special screening of the short film Skill Shot, Baby! Pinball Epiphany.

This is a short version of a planned full-length feature which was funded by a $15,000 Kickstarter campaign last August. The film was introduced by Jeff Teolis and Martin Robbins of the Final Round Pinball Podcast.

Jeff Teolis
Jeff Teolis
Martin Robbins
Martin Robbins

After the screening, filmmaker Imoto Harney and star of the short Todd Tuckey answered questions from the audience.

Imoto Harney
Imoto Harney
Todd Tuckey
Todd Tuckey

The final event in the Seminars Room was a screening of the movie Pinball: The Man Who Saved The Game about a period in the life of Roger Sharpe. Roger was due to attend and answer questions, but was unwell and not able to be at the Texas Pinball Festival.

Mike Faist plays Roger Sharpe in the movie
Mike Faist plays Roger Sharpe in the movie

As we had already seen – and reported on – the movie last November, we didn’t stay for the showing and instead took the opportunity to get some dinner.

The Texas Pinball Festival hall closed at 1am, but it was busy until the very end with visitors hoping to make the very most of the first day of the show.

SATURDAY

It’s traditional for Saturday at the TPF to begin with the swap meet held in the car park outside the Conference Center and run by the DFW Pinball & Arcade Club. It’s been that way right back to the days when the show was held at the Hilton in Grapevine. While the weather can be chilly in March, we can only recall one instance of the swap meet being cancelled due to bad weather.

Today there were no such problems, as it was mild and sunny.

Saturday morning means the swap meet at TPF
Saturday morning means the swap meet at TPF

It is also traditional for coffee and Dunkin Donuts to be offered, courtesy of the swap meet’s organisers.

Everyone can get a sweet deal at the swap meet
Everyone can find a sweet deal at the swap meet

The arrangement is simple. Sellers turn up in assorted vehicles ranging from private cars to rental trucks, unload their sale items onto the ground and people make them offers.

One half of the swap meet
One side of the swap meet

There is a palpable buzz of excitement when a new vehicle arrives and begins to unload.

The other side
The other side
Checking out the items for sale
Checking out the items for sale
Items for sale ranged from complete games to...
Items for sale ranged from complete games to…
...individual parts and manuals
…individual parts and manuals
You never know what will turn up
You never know what will turn up
One thing's for sure though... Cash is King!
One thing’s for sure though… Cash is King!

Saturday is always the busiest day of the three, so it was no surprise that there was a long queue of visitors waiting for the doors to open at 10am.

The line for show entry just before 10am
The line for show entry just before 10am
The queue snakes around the entrance lobby and down the corridor towards the hotel
The queue snakes around the entrance lobby and down the corridor towards the hotel

The hall doors were indeed opened promptly at 10am, when a rush of pre-paid pass-holders showed their wristbands as they headed inside to find their favourite machines to play.

Wristbands please!
Wristbands please!

The queues from outside soon turned to queues inside, as lines formed for the most popular new titles.

Visitors waiting to play Pulp Fiction
Visitors waiting to play Pulp Fiction
More Pulp Fiction wannabe players for the other two machines
More Pulp Fiction wannabe players for the other two machines
All six Scooby-Doo machines had lines waiting to play
All six Scooby-Doo machines had lines waiting to play
Galactic Tank Force was also very popular with show visitors
Galactic Tank Force was also very popular with show visitors
It may be a six-year-old title, but The Big Lebowski still draws a crowd
It may be a six-year-old title, but The Big Lebowski still draws a crowd

Meanwhile, up on the second floor, the Classics Tournament had completed its qualify rounds the previous night, leaving the play-offs to take place on Saturday morning and afternoon.

The first round of play-offs in the Classics Tournament
The first round of play-offs in the Classics Tournament

Qualifying in the Wizards Tournament continues until 4pm after which their play-offs will begin.

Qualifying in the Wizards Tournament at TPF
Qualifying in the Wizards Tournament at TPF

The tournaments are being run by the Tournament Director and top competitive player, Colin MacAlpine.

Tournament Director, Colin MacAlpine
Tournament Director, Colin MacAlpine

There were five seminars taking place on Saturday, followed by the autograph session and the So You Thin You Know Pinball? prize quiz.

The first of these featured Chris Turner from Turner Pinball along with members of his design team.

12pm – Turner Pinball New Game Prototype Reveal

Chris Turner
Chris Turner
The Turner Pinball team
The Turner Pinball team

They had brought along their Ninja Eclipse game shown earlier in this report. Game designer Brad Duke (left, above) talked about the playfield layout and the rules. Chris then explained about how the company was formed and what he wants to achieve with their first title.

Ninja Eclipse in the seminar room
Ninja Eclipse in the seminar room

He said they plan to have the game released by the end of the year with an initial build of 100 machines. It will be built in small batches in-house in their San Antonio facility. He said if they can sell the first run and make a well-built, reliable and fun game then he will consider that a success.

1pm: Dino Gaspari – Shipping a pinball machine is easier than you think!

Dino Gaspari
Dino Gaspari

Dino runs the ShipMyPinball.com website which specialises in providing near-instant quotes for shipping pinball machines across North America and beyond.

In his seminar he demonstrated how the process works and invited the audience to visit his website to set up example shipping requests for themselves, explaining the options available for collection, delivery and insurance.

Dino demonstrates how the website works
Dino demonstrates how the website works

2pm: FAST Pinball

Two of the member of the FAST Pinball team – Brian Madden and Aaron Davis – were joined on stage by Ernie Silverberg and Steve Kondris.

Brian Madden
Brian Madden
Aaron Davis
Aaron Davis

Ernie is from Trident Pinball who make homebrew kits to simplify the process of creating your own pinball. Steve founded The Pinball Room which is an online resource with videos and tech articles dedicated to making your own pinball.

Ernie Silverberg
Ernie Silverberg
Steve Kondris
Steve Kondris

The panel talked about the best ways to approach a homebrew build and many of the resources available to help that process.

3pm: Multimorphic and the P3 – One Machine, Many Games

The team from Multimorphic has a new game to show at this Texas Pinball Festival, and so company head Gerry Stellenberg was joined by the designer of Final Resistance, Scott Danesi, the rules wizard Bowen Kerins and mechanical engineer TJ Weaver.

Gerry Stellenberg
Gerry Stellenberg
Scott Danesi
Scott Danesi
Bowen Kerins
Bowen Kerins
TJ Weaver
TJ Weaver

The group talked about the creation and development of Final Resistance, along with the game’s concept, how it is an extension of Scott’s previous Total Nuclear Annihilation game crossed with Attack From Mars.

They spoke about the ball lock mechanism and how quickly it fires out the three locked balls (0.5 seconds).

4pm: Hey, Mark Ritchie! What’s Up?

Without doubt, one of the most anticipated new games premiering at the Texas Pinball Festival was Pulp Fiction from Play Mechanix and Chicago Gaming. So, game designer Mark Ritchie from Play Mechanix was joined by Butch Peel from Chicago gaming to talk about how Pulp Fiction was created.

Mark Ritchie
Mark Ritchie
Butch Peel
Butch Peel

Mark explained how the game was originally built for the director of Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino, who wanted a pinball of the movie, but was very specific in the kind of playfield design he wanted and didn’t want.

He wanted something reminiscent of the early ’80s, with a single level playfield, alphanumeric displays, no video monitor and rules typical of the era. After an initial playfield was rejected, a second draft resulted in approval and the green light to produce it commercially.

With all the seminars completed, at 5pm there was the autograph session held outside the seminars room. Many famous faces from the pinball world were seated at a long table, ready to sign pinball flyers, translites, backglasses, playfields or anything the show visitors placed before them.

The queue for the autograph table
The queue for the autograph table
Gerry Stellenberg, Scott Danesi and Steve Ritchie
Gerry Stellenberg, Scott Danesi and Steve Ritchie
Christopher Franchi, Jack Danger, Dwight Sullivan and Jerry Thompson
Christopher Franchi, Jack Danger, Dwight Sullivan and Jerry Thompson
Mike Vinikour and Mark Ritchie
Mike Vinikour and Mark Ritchie

There were still more events to go on Saturday, with the next one taking place in the hotel’s bar area as Pinball News Editor, Martin Ayub and Pinball Magazine Editor, Jonathan Joosten, ran their popular So You Think You Know Pinball? free prize quiz.

Jonathan Joosten and Martin Ayub with some of the prizes they gave away
Jonathan Joosten and Martin Ayub with some of the prizes they gave away
(Picture: Ross Simpson)

The duo asked the assembled crow to choose one of two possible answer to a series of questions. Thos who got each question correct continued to the next one until there were only a few players remaining. They all got prizes and a new round began with everyone back in.

Some of the prizes at the So You Think You Know Pinball? quiz
Some of the prizes at the So You Think You Know Pinball? quiz

Prizes were donated by (in alphabetical order) American Pinball, Chicago Gaming, ColorDMD, Dutch Pinball, Dutch Pinball Museum, Jersey Jack Pinball, Multimorphic, Pedretti Gaming, Play Mechanix, Pinball Brothers, Pinball Magazine, Pinball News, Spooky Pinball, Stern Pinball, Wormhole Pinball, and many more.

For those looking for dinner without leaving the venue, there were several options. A couple of food vendors were set-up in the lobby outside the show hall selling pizza, hot dogs, nachos and other suitably un-healthy pinball fuel, along with bottled beers, wine and sodas.

Meanwhile, two food trucks were stationed in the parking area outside the Convention Center.

One of the two food trucks outside the Convention Center
One of the two food trucks outside the Convention Center
The second food truck
The second food truck

If yo didn’t mind a short walk, Wild Pitch – a kind of Hooters sports bar with scantily-clad waitresses – offered a larger menu and a decent drinks selection. A favourite of ours, although it was a longer walk away, was Kelly’s sports bar which served better food and had a wider drinks selection. Most other local eateries were a short drive away.

At 8pm the warm-up for the TWIPY awards ceremony began in the seminars room, ahead of the full ceremony starting at 8:30pm.

The TWIPPYs awards
The TWIPY awards

This year the hosts were Imoto Harney and Todd Tuckey.

On stage at the TWIPYs
On stage at the TWIPYs

Full results in each category are available at the TWIPY awards website but Rush was the biggest winner, collecting Best Rules, Best Sound, Best Playfield and Game of the Year.

Mike Vinikour collects the award for Best Rules for Rush
Mike Vinikour collects the award for Best Rules for Rush

While the TWIPY awards were being given out, we took the opportunity to explore the main show hall and bring you what we found.

Your friendly front desk team
Your friendly front desk team
The row of machines next to the main entrance
The row of machines next to the main entrance
The four machines in front as you enter the main hall
The four machines in front as you enter the main hall
Four more showcase machines to play at the front of the hall
Another group of showcase machines to play at the front of the hall
More showcase machines near the entrance
More showcase machines near the entrance
The prize in the raffle - a newly-unboxed The Simpsons Pinball Party
The prize in the raffle – a newly-unboxed The Simpsons Pinball Party
More collector machines for guests to enjoy
More collector machines for guests to enjoy
The Jersey Jack Pinball stand was the most visible vendor booth as you entered the hall
The Jersey Jack Pinball stand was the most visible vendor booth as you entered the hall
More of the Jersey Jack Pinball stand
More of the Jersey Jack Pinball stand
Borthers Timothée and Nicolas Manaud on the PinSound stand
Borthers Timothée and Nicolas Manaud on the PinSound stand
Pinballs with the PinSound system installed
Pinballs with the PinSound system installed
The four Pulp Fiction games on the Chicago Gaming stand
The four Pulp Fiction games on the Chicago Gaming stand
The American Pinball stand
The American Pinball stand
Two of the Galactic Tank Force games on the American Pinball stand
Two of the Galactic Tank Force games on the American Pinball stand
Six Scooby-Doo machines and a Total Nuclear Annihilation
Six Scooby-Doo machines and a Total Nuclear Annihilation on the Spooky Pinball stand
Another TNA and a Halloween join the Spooky Pinball line-up
Another TNA and a Halloween join the Spooky Pinball line-up
The Spooky Pinball grabber machine
The Spooky Pinball grabber machine
Items for sale on the Spooky Pinball stand
Items for sale on the Spooky Pinball stand
Plenty of translites for sale too
Plenty of translites for sale too
If your budget stretches to it, you could own the Mystery Machine too
If your budget stretches to it, you could own the Mystery Machine too
At the time of our visit the PinJack team were away
At the time of our visit the PinJack team were away
The Pixelized Princess has a very large range of video game character standups
The Pixelized Princess has a very large range of video game character standups
More collector games at the show
More collector games at the show
More collector games at the show
More collector games at the show
Wormhole Pinball's stand
Wormhole Pinball’s stand
Lighted Pinball Mods' stand
Lighted Pinball Mods’ stand

One of the most popular features of the Texas Pinball Festival is the History of Pinball stand which features many pre-flipper games.

The History of Pinball stand
The History of Pinball stand
Some of the History of Pinball games
Some of the History of Pinball games
Wings, The Joy Game and Fisticuffs
Wings, The Joy Game and Fisticuffs
Airway and an untitled game
Airway and an untitled game
Favorite and Ballyround
Favorite and Ballyround
Play Ball and The Imp
Play Ball! and The Imp
Another Play Ball! and another Airway
Another Play Ball! and another Airway
Another Play Ball!, Blue-Ribbon and It's Army vs Navy
Another Play Ball!, Blue-Ribbon and It’s Army vs Navy
Fleet, an unknown game and Relay
Fleet, an unknown game and Relay
Bumper and Fleet
Bumper and Fleet
Cavalcade and Kings
Cavalcade and Kings
Despite its name, the Texas Pinball Festival isn't all about pinball
Despite its name, the Texas Pinball Festival isn’t purely about pinball
More collector games
More collector games
Two long rows of machines ran down the centre of the hall
Two long rows of machines ran down the centre of the hall
The other row of collector games
The other row of collector games
Chris Munro's stand
Chris Munro’s stand
Some of the numerous marquee glasses on Chris Munro's stand
Some of the numerous marquee glasses on Chris Munro’s stand
More free play machines
More free play machines
The three Queen and two Alien machines on the Pinball Brothers stand
The three Queen and two Alien machines on the Pinball Brothers stand
The Wizard Enterprises stand
The Wizard Enterprises stand
The Custom Shooter Rods stand
The Custom Shooter Rods stand
Besides co-hosting the newest Stern Pinball title, Fun! also had their own stand
Besides co-hosting the newest Stern Pinball title, Fun! also had their own stand
Fun!'s co-host, Marco Specialties, also had a stand of their own
Fun!’s co-host, Marco Specialties, also had a stand of their own
As usual, online orders placed at the show qualified for free domestic shipping
As usual, online orders placed at the show qualified for free domestic shipping
Marco and Fun! together hosted Stern Pinball display of new titles
Marco and Fun! together hosted Stern Pinball display of new titles
Foo Fighters is Stern's latest release
Foo Fighters is Stern’s latest release
There were around 21 new Foo Fighters machines - mostly Pros with a few Premiums
There were around 21 new Foo Fighters machines – mostly Pros with a few Premiums
The Pinball Place stand
The Pinball Place stand
The Pinball Place were demonstrating their stair-climbing pinball dolly
The Pinball Place were demonstrating their stair-climbing pinball dolly
Planetary Pinball Supply's stand
Planetary Pinball Supply’s stand
Some of the items on PPS's stand
Some of the items on PPS’s stand
A new '2.0' Black Rose: Skull and Bones kit
A new ‘2.0’ Black Rose: Skull and Bones kit licensed by PPS
Cardona Pinball also have a No Good Gofers: The Battle for the Green upgrade kit
Cardona Pinball also have a No Good Gofers: The Battle for the Green upgrade kit
Haggis Pinball had their stand here
Haggis Pinball had their stand here
Both Haggis titles - Celts and Fathom Revisited - were here for players to sample
Both Haggis titles – Celts and Fathom Revisited – were here for players to sample
Martin Robbins and Damian Hartin on the Haggis Pinball stand
Martin Robbins and Damian Hartin on the Haggis Pinball stand
Scorbit's stand
Scorbit’s stand
The Pinball Art USA stand
The Pinball Art USA stand
Christopher Franchi wasn't at his stand when we visited
Christopher Franchi wasn’t at his stand when we visited
The CoinTaker stand
The CoinTaker stand
Among the many products available on the CoinTaker stand were two more Queen pinballs
Among the many products available on the CoinTaker stand were two more Queen pinballs
The main desk on the CoinTaker stand
The main desk on the CoinTaker stand
The Silverball Swag stand
The Silverball Swag stand
The ColorDMD stand
The ColorDMD stand
The Electric Playground stand
The Electric Playground stand
The Electric Playground's impressive animated Twilight Zone topper
The Electric Playground’s impressive animated Twilight Zone topper
Artist Flint's stand
Artist Flint’s stand
The Turner Pinball crew were away when we visited
The Turner Pinball crew were away when we visited
The Arcade Things stand
The Arcade Things stand
More from the Arcade Things stand
More from the Arcade Things stand
Five different Star Trek pinballs
Five different Star Trek pinballs
The Multimorphic stand
The Multimorphic stand
The Multimorphic stand featured ten P3 machines
The Multimorphic stand featured ten P3 machines running assorted titles
Artist Brad Albright's 3D artworks
Artist Brad Albright’s 3D artworks
The Titan Pinball stand was also closed during our visit
The Titan Pinball stand was also closed during our visit
Jimmy Lipham's 86 Pixels shared the Titan Pinball stand with these animated back panels
Jimmy Lipham’s 86 Pixels shared the Titan Pinball stand with these animated back panels
The Double Danger stand
The Double Danger stand
The Back Alley Creations stand
The Back Alley Creations stand
More items for sale on the Back Alley Creations stand
More items for sale on the Back Alley Creations stand
The Evolution Mods stand
The Evolution Mods stand
The DFW Pinball League's stand
The DFW Pinball League’s stand
The Kimballs Pinballs stand
The Kimballs Pinballs stand
More from the Kimballs Pinballs stand
More from the Kimballs Pinballs stand
The Pinball Pimp stand
The Pinball Pimp stand
The Precision Pinball stand
The Precision Pinball stand
Bob Herbison and Ken Head's Headsup Pinball stand
Bob Herbison and Ken Head’s Headsup Pinball stand
The Mezel Mods stand
The Mezel Mods stand
The Rocket City Pinball stand
The Rocket City Pinball stand
The Pinball Wheezer stand
The Pinball Wheezer stand

Not all vendors were in the main hall though. Several took up position in the main corridor from the show hall entrance to the seminars hall.

One of the stands in the corridor outside the main hall
The Artsy Ninja stand
The Eight Bit Dreams stand
The Eight Bit Dreams stand
More arcade video games were available in the corridor
More arcade video games were available in the corridor

The show hall closed to the public at midnight on Saturday, but remained open to vendors for another two hours so they had an opportunity to close their stands and play all the games.

SUNDAY

We returned on Sunday morning to shoot our exclusive Thirty-Three Minute Tour walkthrough video of the main hall.

Here it is. We hope you enjoy it.

The main hall reopened at 9am on Sunday. It was a a shorter day than Saturday, with the show wrapping up around 2:30pm when the Best-in-Show awards ceremony took place in the seminars room, followed by the draw to win a freshly unboxed The Simpsons Pinball Party pinball machine.

TPF co-organiser, Ed Vanderveen, presented the closing ceremony
TPF co-organiser, Ed Vanderveen, presented the closing ceremony

There was a full house for the ceremony to see who won in each category and who was the lucky winner whose ticket was drawn to win the pinball machine.

The audience for the closing ceremony
The audience for the closing ceremony

Bill Morrison presented the Best-in-Show awards, as part of the four-person voting committee.

'Mayor' Bill Morrison announces the winners
‘Mayor’ Bill Morrison announces the winners

The runners-up and winners in each category were:

Pre-’60s
Runners-up: Bob Herbison for Grand Slam & Bryan Redshaw for Fleet
Winner: John Harris for Humpty Dumpty

Best ’60s
Runners-up: Leigh Richards for Slik Ckick & Ken Head for Kings and Queens
Winner: Scott McClure/Matt Pluff for Merry Go Round

Best ’70s Electromechanical
Runners-up: Aaron B for Bronco & Chris Sockrider for Astro
Winner: Ken Head for Evel Knievel

Best ’70s Solid State
Runners-up: Scott Heffern for Paragon & Jeff Bulich for Dolly Parton
Winner: Rick Ward for Harlem Globetrotters

Best ’80s
Runners-up: Kevin Hilty for Black Belt & Linda Gerst for Hardbody
Winner: Bill stahly for Genesis

Best ’90s
Runners-up: Hangar Pinball for Twister & Cary Hardy for Last Action Hero
Winner: Lonny Payne for Back to the Future

Best 2000s
Runners-up: Glitches Arcade for Elvis & Harrison Maxwell for Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
Winner: Ben Bassinger for Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Best Modern
Runners-up: Hangar Pinball for Transformers & Bobby Niefer/Lord of the Game Room for The Mandalorian
Winner: Kim & Terri Keist for James Bond 007

Best Original
Runners-up: James Alexander for Lectronamo & Wormhole Pinball for Warlok
Winner: Austin Trent for Spirit of 76

Best Restoration
Runners-up: Jeff Frick for Army Navy & Cary Hardy for Johnny Mnemonic
Winner: Kevin Moore for Baby Pac-Man

Best Custom Pinball:
Runners-up: Jake Danzig for Dukes of Hazzard & Trident Pinball for League of Legends – Battle of the Baron
Winner: Algel Montano for Mechwarrior 5 Mercenary Pinball

Best Classic Arcade Video Game
Runners-up: Jealanne Gillam for Bubbles & Darren Sulfridge for Warlords
Winner: James Alexander for Ms. Pac-Man

Best Custom/Innovative Video Game
Runners up: Josh Lee for Cuphead
Winner: Rodney Black for Morpheus Custom Arcade

Grand Champion
Winner: James Kemp for Fish Tales

After the awards were presented, the draw for the newly unboxed The Simpsons Pinball Party took place.

Tickets for the draw cost $5 each or 5 for $20. Proceeds from the raffle were divided between the Texas-based children’s charity Kidd’s Kids and the National Videogame Museum.

The drum of tickets is given a final spin
The drum of tickets is given a final spin

Once a ticket was drawn, the winner was announced as Morgan Stickney who was delighted with her and her family’s new game.

The name on the winning ticket is read out
The name on the winning ticket is read out
Winner of the TPF 2023 prize raffle, Morgan Stickney and family with their prize
Winner of the TPF 2023 prize raffle, Morgan Stickney and family with their prize

While the closing ceremony was taking place, vendors and machine owners had begun dismantling their booths and games. By the time the ceremony was over, the show hall looked very different.

Immediately after the closing ceremony had ended
Immediately after the closing ceremony had ended
The 2:30pm finish gave everyone plenty of time to pack up and return home
The 2:30pm finish gave everyone plenty of time to pack up and return home
Soon, pinball machines were scooting around the hall towards the loading bay at the back
Soon, pinball machines were scooting around the hall towards the loading bay at the back
Some made it under their own power, however...
Some made it under their own power, however…
...Accidents will happen!
…accidents will happen!

One area we haven’t spoken about so far is the four tournaments held in a separate room on the upper floor behind the main show hall.

Starting at 10am on Friday, the qualifying for the Classics, Wizards and Kids tournaments ran throughout the day. The Classics final then began at 9am on Saturday, the Kids at 2:30pm and the Wizards at 5pm.

Sunday was devoted to the Women’s tournament with qualifying from 9am and the finals beginning at midday.

The tournament schedule
The tournament schedule

With so much going on in the show hall, in the seminars and elsewhere at the show, as well as keeping this report updated throughout the four days, we weren’t able to spend time following these four competitive events.

Fortunately, though, Wormhole Pinball were streaming the Classic,s, Wizards and Women’s tournaments live on their Twitch channel, and have recordings available to watch now.

Wormhole Pinball on Twitch
Wormhole Pinball on Twitch

Their coverage of the tournaments can be found here:

Congratulations to all the winners (no spoilers), to the organisers and to everyone commentating on the streams. The Texas Pinball Festival tournaments have grown in status over the years and are now attracting the world’s best players to Frisco.

With that we wrap up our coverage of this year’s Texas Pinball Festival.

A sign for the show outside the Convention Center
A sign for the show outside the Convention Center

This was an extraordinary show with an unprecedented number of new games launched in the days before and premiering here.

If you wanted to play Foo Fighters, The Godfather, Galactic Tank Force, Scooby-Doo, Final Resistance and Pulp Fiction, this was the only place in the world you could find them all under one roof. Plus, you could catch up with what Haggis Pinball have been doing with their Fathom Revisited and find out about Turner Pinball’s plans for their Ninja Eclipse and future games.

That’s not including the hundreds and hundreds of collector games, the History of Pinball exhibition, the dozens of vendor stands, the homebrew games, the amazing restorations, all the seminars, the TWIPY awards and the many pinball stars attending and happy to talk about their latest projects.

It’s no surprise how the show hotel and many of the surrounding hotels sell out very quickly, so make sure you put the dates for the 2024 show in your diary.

Banners promoting the 2024 TPF
Banners promoting the 2024 TPF

The Texas Pinball Festival is staying at the Frisco Convention Center for at least the next two years.

During Covid, the Convention Center cancelled all future bookings, including the TPF’s booking for 2024. When they started taking bookings again, they had already allocated the TPF’s expected dates to another event. As a result, next year the TPF is a week earlier (15th-17th March, 2024) than it would usually be held, but is back on the 21st-23rd March in 2025.

Those are the Friday to Sunday show hall dates, but the TPF party really kicks off on the Thursday, if not on the Wednesday. There are thoughts about setting up the hall even earlier and making Friday a full show day like Saturday, but the organisers will announce any changes on their website and social media feeds.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our coverage here on Pinball News with over 240 pictures and more than 30 minutes of video. We’ll be back next year, bringing you the best reporting anywhere.

In the meantime, don’t forget to check out our thoughts on the show and all the new game launches in the March edition of the Pinball Industry News PINcast we do with Pinball Magazine which will be released in the first few days of April and will include some special interviews conducted during the show.

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4 Comments

  1. Jennifer

    28th March, 2023 at 2:28am

    Ummmmm…you talk about everything that happened at TPF and the tournaments on Friday & Saturday, but completely ignore the Women’s tournament on Sunday. It’s gotten really frustrating how the women are treated like 2nd class citizens in the pinball world. We only get the scraps and get completely forgotten about by everyone including you guys. Any woman who plays in the TPF tournament sacrifices an entire day of the festival because we’re allocated the last day that encompasses all of Sunday’s hours of the Festival. The pinball world needs to top ignoring the women! We have some amazing players and organizers of the various Bells & Chimes chapters. At least give us a mention!

    Reply

    • Mike

      31st March, 2023 at 1:58am

      Jennifer, I don’t really feel like this is fair. Every player in the tournament is sacrificing time away from the main hall, be it the Wizards, Classics, Women, etc. At least Sunday you are only missing a half day, compared to many players missing much of Friday and Saturday. Secondly, covering the entire show is next to impossible for one person (Martin), as the show has arguably gotten too big to really see everything. That said, I believe he did a great job linking coverage to other websites covering the tournaments (Wormhole’s Twitch stream for instance). I know I had many friends in the tournament area, and I simply didn’t have enough time to see everything, everyone and follow along with the tournaments.

      Finally, as husband and father to two of the Belles and Chimes members in Houston, and friends with many of the rest of the Houston Chapter, I believe the Belles are some of the most active and competitive players out there. Not sure why you believe you are portrayed as second class citizens: I view you more as leading ambassadors in expanding pinball to new players.

      Anyway, hope you had a good show and a good tournament.

      Reply

  2. Jeff Frick

    30th March, 2023 at 10:09pm

    Thanks for the nice photos of the History of Pinball booth!

    Reply

  3. Mike Thomas

    5th April, 2023 at 10:10pm

    The “Mystery Machine” on display in the Spooky booth was a Chevrolet “Chevy Van” G-10 not a VW camper

    Reply

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