Date: 18th-21st October 2022 Location: Schaumburg Convention Center, 1551 Thoreau Dr N, Schaumburg, IL 60173 Welcome to the start of our coverage of Pinball Expo 2023, held at the Schaumburg Convention Center in the city of Schaumburg near Chicago. The Schaumburg Convention Center, home of Pinball Expo The Convention Center is attached to the huge Renaissance hotel – part of the Marriott chain – and it is here where most out-of-town guest stay for Pinball Expo. The Renaissance hotel The show occupies the Discovery and Adventure halls, which are located at ground level, allowing vendors and machine-bringers to drive their stands and games straight into position. One of the two entrances onto the show floor Wednesday We begin our coverage on Wednesday afternoon. At this point, the show hall is still being set up ahead of the public opening on Thursday at noon. So this part of the report looks at the set up and previews what will be available for guests. The main entrance is through the Discovery hall Show information is posted outside As you enter the hall, on the right are several laptops where those looking to buy on-the-day tickets can register and make their purchases. On-the-day registration On the left is the registration desk where anyone who pre-registered could collect their entry pack for the days and events they purchased. The Registration Desk So, let’s take a picture tour of the main show hall during set-up on Wednesday. The view of the hall More of the show hall Jersey Jack Pinball had lots of games, but their newest title isn’t here just yet Chicago Gaming have lots of Cactus Canyon and Pulp Fiction machines New manufacturer Barrels of Fun have brought loads of Labyrinth games American Pinball also have a large number of games on their stand Another new entrant, Turner Pinball have brought several Ninja Eclipse games Don’t expect a coin door on these games It’s not all new stuff though – plenty of older items on sale too Some older titles too Back to the new games though, and Spooky Pinball will have a nice display Stern Pinball and Marco Specialties have teamed up to create an especially impressive display Lots of Godzilla, Venom, Foo Fighters and James Bond games on their stand There is more than just games though, with Great American Pinball having plenty of mods, add-ons and spares available Ways to make pinball more accessible are featured too There are several artists selling their artworks at the show The show floor layout Play nice! Across the corridor from the main hall entrance is the tournaments room, where several competitive events will be held during the show, with the main Flip Out tournament ending on Sunday afternoon. The Tournaments Room Seating for viewers of the live stream The Classics machines are arriving Machines for the Women’s Tournament Machines for the Flip Out tournament At 7pm, buses departed from the Convention Center for the short drive to Enterrium in the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg which was hosting the Bumper Blast welcome party. Enterrium in Schaumburg As guests entered the building they were told what food and drink was available, as well as how the smart cards they were given worked on the multitude of arcade games available to play. A quick briefing on the goodies awaiting inside There was a dedicated dining room where guests could help themselves to the hot food and cold drinks. Additional paid food options as well as a full bar were also available in the main bar area if that was preferable. Some of the free food available The soft drinks After dinner, almost the entire array of amusement machines were available to play for free using the provided Enterrium smart card. This card added credit to the games throughout the evening until closing time at 10pm, but didn’t collect any redemption tickets you might be awarded. The games included pinballs, shooters, driving games, skill games and many more, including Enterrium’s bowling lanes. The bowling lanes The venue was also hosting the finals of the Stern Pro Circuit Championship, using two banks of machines set up alongside the bowling lanes. The Championship is a series of twenty tournaments held predominantly in the US but also comprising events in Canada, the UK and Australia. The Stern Pro Circuit Championship finals were held at Enterrium alongside the Bumper Blast party Machines used for the Championship finals Last year the finals commandeered nearly all the pinballs in Enterrium, leaving only a select few for Bumper Blast guests to play. Fortunately, this situation was rectified for 2023, with plenty of pinballs available. A bank of games on free play from American Pinball Two Legends of Valhalla games Some of the other pinballs available for guests to enjoy The Championship finals came down to a battle between two young players – Jared August and Escher Lefkoff. Escher triumphed, collecting the prize of $5,000 plus a new Stern Pinball Pro machine. Jared, in second place won $2,000, while cash prizes were awarded to all 32 competitors, down to $250 for the eight players knocked out in the first round. Winner of the Stern Pro Circuit Championship finals, Escher Lefkoff Buses ran between the Convention Center and Enterrium throughout the evening, allowing guests to come and go as they pleased. The final buses departed Enterrium at 10pm, taking guests back to the Convention Center and the hotel, ready for the events on Thursday which began with the Stern Pinball factory tour. Thursday The buses for the Stern Pinball factory tour arrived on-time at 9am. By then, the queue to board them extended from the doors right down the length of the hallway. Just the start of the line for the Stern Pinball tour buses More of the line for the tour buses For our coverage of Pinball Expo we have concentrated on bringing you the extensive schedule of forty-five seminar talks and presentations. That meant setting up all the audio, video and computer equipment in the seminar hall on Thursday morning while the Stern Pinball factory tour was taking place. As a result, we weren’t able to join the tour ourselves. However, we do have pictures courtesy of Jonathan Joosten from Pinball Magazine who was assisting us with the seminar recordings but was able to take time out from the set-up to visit Stern Pinball. The buses taking guests to the Stern Pinball factory tour(picture: Jonathan Joosten) The queue for entry snaked around the parking area(picture: Jonathan Joosten) Seth Davis, Chief Executive Officer and President of the company, was on-hand alongside Chairman of the Board, Gary Stern, to welcome guests to their new factory. Seth Davis and Gary Stern(picture: Jonathan Joosten) The most-recently announced new title, the Blood Red Kiss edition of Elvira’s House of Horrors, was on-show to visitors to the factory. The Blood Red Kiss edition of Elvira’s House of Horrors(picture: Jonathan Joosten) The Blood Red Kiss edition of Elvira’s House of Horrors(picture: Jonathan Joosten) At the end of the tour, the Stern Store was open to sell branded merchandise(picture: Jonathan Joosten) The Stern Store inside the factory(picture: Jonathan Joosten) A similar range was available inside the Pinball Expo show hall at the Stern Pinball booth(picture: Jonathan Joosten) Stern Pinball decided not to let anyone take pictures during the tour – including media representatives. They policed the policy very tightly with staff all along the tour route making sure nobody took out a camera or a phone. Sorry we can’t show you more(picture: Jonathan Joosten) Seminars The first seminar began at 1pm on Thursday in the dedicated seminars room on the floor above the entrance to the show hall. The schedule was published in the show guide, online on the Pinball Expo website, and we have it here too for future reference. The schedule for Pinball Expo 2023 You can watch all of these seminars either below or in the Pinball Expo 2023 playlist on our Pinball News YouTube channel where they are joined by many more videos from this and previous shows. The seminars room Thursday’s Seminars: 1:00pm – Mike GulloSolid State Repair Tips & Horror Stories Mike Gullo Mike describes some of the hacks and basic errors he found when repairing solid-state pinball, as well as the damaging effects of battery corrosion on circuit boards. 2:00pm – Jim Schelberg1,2,3 PINBALL! And A Peek Behind The Curtain at American Pinball Jim Schelberg The publisher of the PinGame Journal shows some new media clips containing pinball references, well-known people from the industry and hobby saying “pinball”, and a visit to Dennis Nordman at American Pinball. Note: In the seminar recording below, a couple of Jim’s clips had to be removed for copyright reasons. 2:45pm – Tanner Walters “The Pinball Scientist”Pinball Mods, Kits, & Restoration & Getting Kids Involved! Tanner Walters Pinball repairer and restorer, Tanner, talks about the creation of his high score records add-on for electromechanical machines as well as a device to add attract-mode lighting effects. 3:30pm – Mark Patzke & Vince PatzkeMulti Products Update (The Motor Guy) Mark Patzke & Vince Patzke Mark and Vince are the father and son team running Multi Products, a company which has a long history of supplying motors and gearboxes to manufacturers in many industries, including coin-op. They talk about the motors they developed for pinball toys, the requirements, the problems, and the design process. 4:00pm – Jeff Cernava, Corbin Angeli, Zach Angeli, Kyle Crison & Don GarrisonMarketing to New Audiences and the Power of Pinball Jeff Cernava Corbin Angeli, Zach Angeli, Kyle Crison & Don Garrison The panel explore the different ways pinball is currently marketed and how those methods can be expanded to extend pinball’s appeal. 4:45pm – Joe NewhartHoney I Bought a Church! Joe Newhart Joe runs the PinballSTAR Amusements company and described how his pinball collecting hobby turned into his business, how he needed a new building which could house his collection, and where that led. 5:30pm – Brett DavisTroubleshooting Aftermarket Electronics Brett Davis Brett designs and sells the X-Pin range of replacement pinball displays and circuit boards. He spoke about some of the poor design choices, hacks, or outright wrongly installed components he’s seen on various pinball boards over the years. 6:00pm – Rob Rath & Alec GleasonAbove & Beyond: Topper Talk with The Electric Playground Rob Rath & Alec Gleason The Electric Playground burst onto the pinball scene at the start of the year with their animated topper for Twilight Zone. The duo talked about the development of that product, as well as their new Godzilla topper. 6:45pm – Mark Ritchie, Josh Sharpe, Scott Pikulski, & George PetroThe Making of Pulp Fiction Pinball Scott Pikulski, Mark Ritchie, Gary Flower, George Petro & Josh Sharpe The team behind the design, programming, rules and artwork of the Play Mechanix/Chicago Gaming pinball, Pulp Fiction, describe the journey from initial concepts to getting final approval for the game. 7:30pm – Dan Rosenstein, Ernie Silverberg, Aaron Davis, Greg Brault & John ManuelianUnder the Playfield Aaron Davis, John Manuelian, Dan Rosenstein, Ernie Silverberg & Greg Brault The panel describe how each of them got to build their own homebrew machine together with the skills they brought to their projects and those they needed to develop along the way. 8:00pm – Jack Guarnieri & Steve RitchieAn Evening with Jersey Jack Pinball Steve Ritchie This was the public reveal of Steve Ritchie’s first design for Jersey Jack Pinball, the Elton John game. Steve introduced and thanked the many people who had worked on the game, before three models were made available for seminar attendees to play. 9:00pm – Ken HeadMeet Evel Knievel Ken Head Ken Head has earned a reputation as the go-to guy if you want an Evel Knievel pinball. He explains how he converts another more-common title, the work involved, and shows the result. 9:30pm – Michael Gottlieb & Roger SharpePinball: The Man Who Saved the Game Roger Sharpe & Michael Gottlieb Michael introduced Roger who spoke about the history of the movie project and shared some of the behind-the-scenes details as it evolved into the movie about to be screened. We have this introduction to the movie but, as it is a commercial production, we aren’t able to bring you the whole feature here. It will be available to purchase soon, both on streaming platforms and on physical media. Friday’s Seminars: 8:15am – Ron Coon, Jr.Adventures in Repairing Foreign Pinball Machines Ron Coon, Jr. Ron is back with a collection of repair horror-stories and audience questions about pinballs imported into the US along with each company’s idiosyncrasies. 9:00am – Brian ColinBrian Colin’s Arcade History Tour Brian Colin Besides being the creator of such video game classics as Rampage and General Chaos, Brian has a long history as animator, artist and game designer at Bally/Midway and his own company, Game Refuge. In this seminar he recalls the many highlights and occasional lowlights of his games industry career. 10:00am – Colin AlsheimerBuilding a Stronger Pinball Community – The Three P’s of Pinball with Kineticist Colin Alsheimer Colin is the founder of the Kineticist website and in this seminar tells us his history in marketing and promotions and how that knowledge can be applied to growing the industry and extending the player base into new areas. 10:45am – Ryan Gratzer, Scott Wainstock & Beth PooreMappin‘ Around (with Pinball Map) Scott Wainstock, Ryan Gratzer & Beth Poore Ryan and Scott are the founders of the Portland pinball locations database which, with Beth’s involvement, later expanded into a global list with its own app and a dedicated community to provide location updates and add new machines. 11:30am – Kathy Camden & GuestsHow We Make Pinball Accessible Jim Austin, Rusty Key, Kathy Camden & Zach Christopherson For many, the ability to operate a pinball machine is something we take for granted, but there are many players (and potential players) who aren’t able to use the control buttons or even see the playfield clearly. Kathy asked her guests to explain how simple modifications can be made to provide alternative control surfaces which allow more players to enjoy the game. 12:00pm – Captain Chris Campbell & CC CastanedaMeet the Captain of Captain’s Auction Warehouse Chris Campbell & CC Castaneda Captain’s Auction Warehouse is a California-based auction company specialising in coin-op and amusement machines which came to prominence when they organised the liquidation of the Museum of Pinball collection in Banning. Chris talks about that as well as all the company’s other activities. 12:30pm – Retro Ralph, Bob Rose & the Token Taverns TeamToken Taverns’ Q&A Bob Rose & Retro Ralph Members of the team behind the Token Taverns movie about the resurgence of bar arcades take questions from the Pinball Expo audience about its making. 1:00pm – Oscar Terol & Juan José TriguerosScreen XL – Display and Sound Oscar Terol & Juan José Trigueros Screen XL is an upgrade kit which gives Stern Spike games a larger 18.5-inch LCD screen together with improved illuminated 4-way Pioneer stereo speakers. The team were at Expo to show how the kit is installed and answer questions about its creation. 2:00pm – Chris Turner, Matthew Brozusky, Gabe Hernandez & Brad DukeTurner Pinball – Innovating Outside (& Inside) the Box Chris Turner The Turner Pinball team Turner Pinball were at Pinball Expo with the production prototype of their first title, Ninja Eclipse. Company founder, Chris, demonstrated their novel cabinet design and asked for feedback from the audience on that and their other unique game features. 3:00pm – Brian Eddy, Dwight Sullivan, Mark Tremonti & Zombie YetiThe Making of VenomStern Pinball’s design team, led by Brian, talked about the initial ideas for the Venom game, the way they developed, and the many elements and skills which go to make the final version seen on the show floor. 4:00pm – Jack Danger, Tanio Klyce & the Foo Fighters TeamFoo Fighters Jack Danger & the Foo Fighters Team Foo Fighters is Jack Danger’s first full-featured production game design for Stern Pinball, and he was here together with other members of the creative team to explain what he wanted the game to be, working with the band, what ended up in the game, as well as what didn’t. 5:00pm – Lonnie Ropp & Mike Vinikour007 Game Rules Deep Dive Mike Vinikour & Lonnie Ropp The rules for 007 James Bond have expanded hugely since the game was first announced just over a year ago, so software designers Lonnie and Mike explained how all the key features in the game work and how to optimise the scoring opportunities. 6:00pm – Roper Fuentes & Bob BurnhamHow to Become a Pinball OperatorWith many collectors outgrowing their gameroom space, there is a trend to look at operating some of their machines, so Roper and Bob look at the pros and cons, as well as the common pitfalls when putting your games out for the public to play. 7:00pm – Dan SpolarPinball Is For Everyone Dan Spolar & Guests In a follow-up seminar to the morning’s talk about making pinball accessible, Dan talks about Project Pinball’s work to help develop a common controller which can be used to access a pinball’s flipper and launch buttons and work with operators to add connectors for the controller into location machines. 7:45pm – Rob Berk & GuestsPinball Expo Hall Of Fame InductionsThe latest inductions into the Pinball Expo Hall Of Fame were announced at the show, with citations for each inductee read out by one of their peers. There were also two inductions into the Service & Support category. 8:00pm – David Fix & the Creative TeamAmerican Pinball: Galactic Tank Force, Save the Cows & Eat Ice Cream David Fix Jack Haeger Clementine Morfoot, Kerri Hoskins, Jeff Hoover & Mitchell Politt David was joined on stage by the four actors who play the principal roles in the Galactic Tank Force game: Kerri Hoskins, Clementine Morfoot, Jeff Hoover and Mitchell Politt to talk about their interests in pinball and the work they did in the game, along with artistic director Jack Haeger. 9:00pm – Lloyd OlsonLTG Lloyd Olson Owner and operator of SS Billiard just out Minneapolis, Lloyd relates stories from a lifetime operating all kinds of coin-op amusement games but with the focus on his arcade’s extensive pinball collection. Saturday’s seminars 9:00am – Eric Meunier, Mark Tremonti & The Godfather Design TeamTake Your Seat at the Table Eric Meunier & JP De Win Game designer, Eric Meunier, is joined by the team behind the recent The Godfather game to show the evolution of the design, artwork and playfield mechanisms, while Mark Tremonti give a behind-the-scenes peek from the recording session for the game’s soundtrack. 10:00am – Dave MarstonHighlights and Lowlights in the History of Books on Coin-Op Dave Marston Dave gives an overview of the history of printed game-related publications, with the focus on dedicated books about coin-op and the industries which created and supported it. He also wrote a bibliography of the books referenced in his seminar and those for further reading, which is printed in the Pinball Expo show guide. 10:30am – Dino GaspariHow the YRC Freight Bankruptcy Affects You! Dino Gaspari Dino runs the shipmypinball.com self-service shipping website and was at Expo to talk about the state of the freight shipping industry in North America and the fallout from the recent bankruptcy of shipping company YRC Freight. 11:00am – Bruce Westfall & Scott MoehringWhat is a Hard Top… and What Isn’t It? Scott Moehring & Bruce Westfall Bruce and Scott from Outside Edge explain how their Hardtop playfield overlay is a semi-rigid, printed polycarbonate sheet with a permanent adhesive which is applied to the top of a stripped, smoothed playfield. They dispel some of the preconceptions and show examples from some of the 35 titles for which they now offer Hardtops. 11:30am – Marcelo Adrian BlancoPlayfield Restoration from A to Z: LIVE! Marcelo Adrian Blanco Marcelo begins his restoration seminar with paint matching, describing the additive and subtractive colour-mixing systems and the preparation of the wood surface prior to painting, listing the tools and products he uses. 12:00pm – Rolando MartinAffordable Pinball Components for Your Custom Pinball Machine Rolando Martin Rolando explained how he built a Black Knight game from scratch, cutting his own playfield, winding his own coils, and printing and applying a graphical overlay. During this process he discovered methods to produce various game components in much more cost-effective and customisable ways. 12:30pm – Gerard van de Sanden, Rob Berk, Charlie Martin, & Dave AlversonOwning and Operating a Pinball Museum Gerard van de Sanden, Rob Berk, Charlie Martin, & Dave Alverson Gerard from the Dutch Pinball Museum, Rob from Past Times, Charlie from the Seattle Pinball Museum and Dave from Classic Arcade Pinball Museum each spoke about their businesses, why they started them, what makes them unique, and what anyone else looking to do the same should know in advance. 1:30pm – Anna Lengyel & Christopher Wells GrahamFemale Lead: How Digital Pinball Can Pave the Way for More Women Driven Pinball Everywhere Christopher Wells Graham & Anna Lengyel Anna is here as the first female designer of a pinball machine, thanks to the games she created for digital pinball publisher, Zen Studios in Budapest. She describes her motivation to get into game design, her education and some of the video games she worked on, before joining Zen’s pinball division, and what that ultimately led to. 2:00pm – Davey Price & Neil McRaeStumblor Mods – The Art of Making Pinball Modifications Neil McRae & Davey Price Davey Price a.k.a. Stumblor Davey talks about how he got into making pinball mods starting in 2019, what qualifies as a mod, the different types available – static, interactive and game-altering – how his projects have developed over the years, and how not all mods are going to appeal to everyone. 2:30pm – Neil McRaeWhat it Takes to Run a Large Pinball TournamentNeil is joined by streamer, Marc Patenaude from Backhand Pinball, as he talks about the dos and don’ts of running a large pinball tournament such as the recent UK Open. That includes remembering the event is held for the players when choosing a format, and what to look for in a tournament venue. 3:00pm – Ivan CicognaniPinball Restoration: A Radical Change from the Desert of Cyprus through the Italy Flood to Pinball Expo Ivan Cicognani Ivan began with shocking pictures of the devastation and destruction of pinball and arcade machines caused by the floods in Italy earlier this year. He then turned to how he had totally transformed a Radical! pinball, describing the methods he used to restore and create new parts for the game. 4:00pm – Chris Franchi & Zombie Yeti (Jeremy Packer)The Dynamic Duo: Pinball Art with Franchi & Yeti Christopher Franchi & Jeremy Packer (Zombie Yeti) Chris and Jeremy both begin by talking about how they were introduced into the pinball business. For Chris it was from his Batman artwork when Stern Pinball needed an artist for their Batman 66 game, while for Jeremy it was through some zombie illustration he had done which were noticed by John Popadiuk who needed an artist for his planned Ben Heck’s Zombie Adventureland game. 4:45pm – Eric Bartels & Jim AskeyMagic Girl – The Story Continued Eric Bartels & Jim Askey Eric has been on a mission to transform the unplayable Magic Girl machines produced by John Popadiuk’s Zidware to turn them into fully-functioning games with a complete ruleset. Jim, meanwhile, wrote the original code and has returned to it to develop it further and make the game function as they think was always intended. 5:30pm – Phillipe GregoireClocked In: a Dozen Heads Inside a 7 in. Tall Box – the Pinball Clock Story Phillipe Gregoire Phillipe created the miniature pinball clock which uses score-reels to display the time of day. He described how the final project evolved, including the way the reels are controlled and the various cabinets used to house the device. 6:00pm – Todd Tuckey, Frank Lindenmuth, Imoto Harney, Retro Ralph & Jeff OhlerPinball and Arcade Video Game YouTube Content Creation Todd Tuckey, Frank Lindenmuth, Imoto Harney & Retro Ralph This seminar concentrated on the ways to make successful social media posts and YouTube videos which will drive your follower numbers, enhance your business and lead to more professional content creation in future projects, with each panellist giving their top tips. 6:45pm – Stephen SilverHow We Design Games at Multimorphic Stephen Silver Stephen Silver is a game designer at Multimorphic leading the team for Heist!, but today he was talking about the different way games can be created for the P3 pinball platform from in-house designs to third-party developers who can create their own playfield modules or repurpose existing ones with different themes and rulesets. 9:15pm – Dwight Sullivan & Corey StupLet’s Make A Deal Dwight Sullivan Playing Let’s Make A Deal It’s gameshow time, as Dwight and Corey invite the audience to participate in a special version of the US classic show Let’s Make A Deal, with prizes up for grabs and Deal Dollars given out which could be exchanged for prizes at the Stern Shop. Just don’t get the Zonk! Between covering all the seminars, we managed time to pay a visit one floor below to the main Pinball Expo show hall. Here are our pictures from there showing the vendors and the machines available to play in the order we discovered them. You’ll also find these in the Thirty Five Minute Tour video at the end of this report. To the left as you enter the main hall was this block of American Pinball machines The Belles & Chimes team Ken Head had his two Evel Knievel machines here Next to Ken were these Zaccaria pinballs The Pinball Brothers stand had Queen and Alien machines to play One Alien was the new Ellen Ripley version A prototype of the new Alien topper The new Alien version also brings a range of upgrades for new and existing Alien owners Taito’s Ice Cold Beer is always a popular game and is back in production Pinball Brothers are represented in the US by Melissa and Chris at CoinTaker CoinTaker also has two The Big Lebowski machines by Dutch Pinball Two Pistol Pokers and a good deal on anti-reflective glass Cardona Pinball Designs were showing their two 2.0 kits – No Good Gofers: Battle for the Green and Black Rose: Skull & Bones Black Rose: Skull & Bones from Cardona Pinball Designs Jaws and Pinball Expo 35th custom machines from Dino Gaspari on the shipmypinball.com stand Starship Fantasy had their familiar vast array of pinball ramps for sale And more ramps Starship Fantasy also had some playfields available from Classic Playfield Reproductions A fairly random block of machines on free play, including a Bride of Pinbot 2.0 Mayfair Amusement also had a big stand of manuals, flyers, parts and backglasses Parts on the Mayfair Amusement stand Plus lots of backglasses and translites Opposite Starship Fantasy was this eclectic collection of items More ‘collectables’ The we came to the American Pinball stand American Pinball’s current title is Galactic Tank Force, so there were plenty of those around The objective is to stop aliens abducting the cows… like this The editions with the illuminated tank tracks were on the stand too On Saturday at noon, the four actors from the Galactic Tank Force game who appeared in the 8pm Friday seminar returned, this time in full costume and joined by game artist Christopher Franchi, to sign posters and flyers on the American Pinball stand. Clementine Morfoot (Captain Kyan), Mitchell Politt (Duke Moonwalker), Jeff Hoover (Professor Plotnik) and Kerri Hoskins (Empress Annoya) at the American Pinball autograph session Special character posters were printed for the autograph session Plotnik and Annoya eye up the new Galactic Tank Force recruit Empress Annoya looks down on ‘lesser’ games More American Pinball titles on their stand One of Christopher Franchi’s character development pieces It was good to see Mike Pacak back at Pinball Expo Rocket City Pinball were selling game mods as well as pinball photography Themed start buttons and coin slot plates Perfect wall decoration for your pinball room One of the neons from Neon Warehouse would look good too Chicago Pinball had complete games and game parts Double Danger had brought their range of gaming clothing New pinball company, Barrels of Fun, had four of their Labyrinth games on their stand The Barrels of Fun desk on their stand Barrels of Fun’s new Labyrinth game Labyrinth’s playfield The display & speaker panel area The main display The back panel display The animated topper The custom shooter rod Who better to help promote this David Bowie movie pinball? Step forward Ron Coon, Jr. After their premiere in March, Turner Pinball were showing a pre-production sample of their Ninja Eclipse game From their seminar at the show, the design of the cabinet may change before it is manufactured Rocketland had backglasses and much more on their stand Snacks and drinks were available at the kiosk at the back of the hall Prices were a little high but not extortionate like some exhibitions There were options for those wanting something a little stronger X-Pin were back with replacement boards and displays for pinballs PinDoc Restorations were offering repairs and restorations as well as restoration equipment BHOP from nearby Vernon Hills run e-sports tournaments and sponsor competition teams through their gamer community Spooky Pinball brought a range of their titles and merchandise to Expo More Spooky Pinball games – this time five Scooby-Doo machines Bug at the Spooky Pinball desk A staple of Expos, this Flintstones pinball from ICE always manages to surprise some visitors The ‘finished’ Magic Girl was on the show floor for visitors to play If you REALLY wanted a Magic Girl, here’s one new-in-box Mezel Mods has their stand with mods for many different titles Chicago Gaming’s stand had four Cactus Canyon remake machines plus… …six Pulp Fiction machines, although delivery times on both titles was unclear Triple G Gaming had plenty of video game marquees and much more on their stand Some of the many marquees Super Skill Shot had a big display of custom shooter rods Emily Unruh – The Unruly Quilter – had rails of gamer clothing available Poor Man’s Flea Market had an eclectic mix of pinball and game room items Ayscrim Studios were selling the score reel clocks from Phillipe Gregoire as seen in his seminar above Phillipe’s mini pinball clocks As well as organising the show and bringing tons of games from his Past Times arcade, Rob Berk also has a stand to sell surplus items A few of Rob’s machines Many of the free play machines were available to buy too Nicolas and Romain on the PinSound stand There were plenty of PinSound-fitted games where players could experience the new sound packages for popular titles More PinSound-equipped free play games Pinball playing is hungry work, so round off your game room with a branded popcorn machine One of several long rows of free play pinballs Project Pinball had a large presence in the main hall Porject Pinball were running a silent auction fundraiser with scores of one-of-a-kind items available Some of the silent auction lots More one-of-a-kind items to bid on There was also a Charity Challenge high score contest running There was also the Freedom To Play inclusive pinball tournament open to all Foot-operated pinball controls These accessible pinball controllers were available for everyone to try Players using the accessible controls to play the games Also making pinball more inclusive are Adaptive Game Products who had their accessible controller Although it was mostly pinball, there were some video games from Galloping Ghost Arcade The main hall is a huge room packed with pinball awesomeness, but there were still a few spaces unused and a couple of Expo regulars who weren’t attending this year such as Mark Gibson’s Fun With Pinball. Some of the unused space in the main hall Someone who was here is Andrew McBain with his Pinball Adventures company. He had brought the first Pinball Adventures title, Punny Factory, as well as a prototype of the next game, Elements. The Pinball Adventures stand with Punny Factory and Elements games to play Andrew with his Elements prototype The Elements playfield The top display The bottom apron display Pinball Adventures were also showing playfields from Punny Factory, Elements, and what we believe is Forsaken Ninja We think this is the Forsaken Ninja playfield Multimorphic didn’t have their own stand, but were represented at Expo once again by Wise Trailer Sales who had three P3 machines and a selection of P3 game modules. P3 machines and modules on the Wise Trailer stand Some of the P3 playfield modules Game room supplier, AVS Home Arcade brought a selection of their products Along with having a seminar, Tanner Walters also had his The Pinball Scientist stand at Pinball Expo He was selling his EM Score Keeper high score recording kits for electromechanical games Now we come to the homebrew machine section – a collection of games created by people (currently) outside the industry as a showcase for their talents or just to make a game of their favourite theme. Most are still work-in-progress, but all display impressive levels of creativity and commitment. The homebrew section Battle Stations is a 2-playerr head-to-head game Pincraft is a pinball adaption of the Minecraft theme Trashland is a game about reusing pinball parts Beerfest is an Oktoberfest-themed game that’s not Oktoberfest Japanese cyberpunk-themed Ghost In The Shell is a regular visitor to Pinball Expo Fans of National Lampoon’s Animal House finally get their game Video games are a rich source of material for pinball themes, as this Mass Effect 2 machine shows The Nightmare Before Christmas is another Expo regular This Create Life homebrew takes a novel approach to the pinball backbox Complete features to start the creation process The Haunted Cruise is one of two Pinball 2000-style game designs The Magic Forest takes a similar approach but has a very different theme Eight Ball Beyond is very close to being the complete package It has an amazing art package from the backglass to the playfield Eight Ball Beyond’s playfield Little surprise it won the award for Best Homebrew Another very popular theme is Bevis and Butt-Head This time, Bevis and Butt-Head Do Pinball The FAST Pinball stand had a display of their boardset as well as some of the games using it Some of the conversion kits and custom games using the FAST Pinball system These The Fabulous 50’s cocktail pinballs by Viza are pretty rare, but As Found Arcade Machines had two of them More interesting items from As Found Arcade Machines Also, some very attractive jukeboxes and interesting new-in-box machines Pinball Pimp were offering $10 off pinball banners at the show Brian Allen had a large stand showcasing his artwork prints and re-imagined pinball translites Brian’s translites for Theatre of Magic, Monster Bash, Whitewater, Cactus Canyon, Attack from Mars, Tales of the Arabian Nights and Fish Tales The team from the Token Taverns movie could usually be found here, but were attending a screening when we visited If you need a cabinet for your homebrew arcade game, Retro-Cade can probably make it for you This Week in Pinball had a stand selling promotional merchandise Artist Brad Albright had his stand packed with gaming-related artwork prints Outside Edge had a big stand promoting and selling their Hardtop playfield overlays The back of their stand showed some of their Hardtop products Great American Pinball had a large display of their machines, mods, spares and game room accessories The pinballs on the Great American Pinball stand Lots of mods, add-ons and clothing Bags of assorted used game parts The first of another two rows of free play games And here’s the second row ATGames of America had a nice display of their Legends Pinball 4KP digital pinballs The Legends Pinball 4KP digital pinball And another row of free play pinballs The History of Pinball exhibit of flipperless games is usually found at the Texas Pinball Festival, but they had a small display at Pinball Expo too KingPin Games packed a lot into their stand They also had plenty of games at the show More pinballs from KingPin Games The first of another two rows of free play pinballs Behind the first row was this second row “We Buy Everything” is a bold claim, but Play It Retro certainly did have a huge assortment of retro gaming cartridges and consoles We didn’t even know ‘Croc Charms’ were a thing Collectable game cards are popular too Tilt Amusements had a stand in the main hall, but most of their machines were in the tournament room Most, but not all Stern Pinball teamed up with Marco Specialties to put on the display of Stern’s machines Carnage from the Venom story and game made a big impression Some of the Venom machines on the Stern Pinball/Marco Specialties stand More Venom Although Venom is the current game, Foo Fighters were here in big numbers too Iron Maiden was well represented As was 007 James Bond And Godzilla If you wanted some swag, the Stern Shop was open Items ranged from a $30 hat to a $2,000 Pinball Alley sign After making a big impression with their Twilight Zone topper, The Electric Playground were showing their next release – a topper for Godzilla It’s still in the prototype stage, but the alien ship rises on this version Several game makers had their own stands at Expo, including Paul E. Niemeyer and Jeff Lee Brian Colin had a large stand with posters from his many game designs More of Brian’s creations Popular pinball artist, Christopher Franchi, was busy signing posters on the American Pinball stand, but had a stand of his own selling his artworks Right at the back of the main hall was yet another row of free play pinballs Paul Zimmerman had a selection of retro gaming hardware, books, DVDs and trading cards on his stand Think Quick Events had some tricky puzzles to solve Throughout the show, Walter Day presented trading cards to noted celebrities as part of his huge trading card universe If you wanted something printing, chances are Graphic Dimensions can make it happen On Saturday evening the draw for a brand new Jersey Jack Pinball machine took place. The winner could choose either a Godfather or Toy Story 4, with all proceeds going to benefit the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital. Game designer, Eric Meunier, explains how the chosen hospital means so much to his family Ken Cromwell draws the winning ticket – sadly the winner wasn’t at the show to receive their congratulations in person You’ve seen the pictures, so check out our exclusive Thirty Five Minute Tour video walkaround of the main hall, as well as looks at the tournaments, seminars and autograph signing rooms. Main Hall Autograph Session Tournaments and Seminars Rooms Tournaments The tournaments held at Pinball Expo each year have always been a big reason for many to attend the show. When Expo was held at the Westin, all the tournaments were held in a glass-fronted corridor which caused congestion and suffered from excessive sunlight as the day wore on. However, since Expo moved to the Schaumburg Convention Center, the tournaments have had their own dedicated suite of four rooms (Schaumburg E, F, G & H). The entrance to the tournaments room There were three banks of machines. The largest was for the main Flip Out tournament which consisted of thirty-two recent Stern Pinball titles provided, like all the Stern machines in the room, by Tilt Amusements. Inside the tournaments room The machines in the main bank were: 4 x 007 James Bond Premium 2 x Deadpool 4 x Foo Fighters 4 x Godzilla 4 x Iron Maiden 4 x Jurassic Park 2 x Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4 x The Avengers: Infinity Quest 4 x Venom They were evenly split between Pro-level machines and Premiums, with the Pros on the right and Premiums on the left. The main Flip Out tournament bank On the other side of the room were two more banks of machines. One was for the Women’s Tournament and the other for the Classics. The Women’s Tournament machines The eight Women’s Tournament machines were: 2 x Venom 2 x Foo Fighters 2 x Iron Maiden 2 x Jurassic Park In the Classics Tournament there were ten machines used. The Classic Tournament The machines were: Trident Kick Off! King of Diamonds Domino High Hand Drop-A-Card Star Pool Harlem Globetrotters Hot Tip Bristol Hills Throughout the show, tournament action was streamed live on Twitch by Fox Cities Pinball from northeast Wisconsin. They were joined by an assortment of tournament players who dropped in to assist with the commentary. The Fox Cities Pinball commentary team The stream was also fed to a monitor in the tournament room where the audience could see the action more easily. The standings and the live stream were available to watch There was, however, a delay of around 10 seconds between what was happening in the tournaments room and what appeared on the screen. That mean whenever there was a cheer or groan by the commentary team, people could turn to the monitor to watch a replay what just happened. In addition to these tournaments, there were several more held in the main show hall. On Thursday there was a Virtual Pinball Tournament from noon until 10pm, and the Pinball Expo World Cup Tournament began at 4pm. There was also the Freedom To Play Pinball Tournament using accessible controllers and on Saturday, back in the tournaments room, a Kids Tournament for those aged 14 and under. Sadly, our duties running and recording all the seminars left us unable to cover all the tournaments except those which wrapped-up on Sunday once all the other events had concluded, namely the main Flip Out and the Classics. However, we did manage to catch up with the winner of the Women’s Tournament, Elizabeth Gieske, on Saturday evening soon after she triumphed in the final over second-placed Jane Verwys. Winner of the Women’s Tournament, Elizabeth Gieske Here are the full results of the Women’s Tournament: 1stElizabeth Gieske2ndJane Verwys3rdKeri Wing4thShannon Ducharme5thMandy Peel5thChristine Doherty7thJillian Towne7thChristina Capra9thKarrie Hill9thAnna Neal9thErin Malysa9thRebecca Salam13thJen Ruper13thCassie Begay13thRebecca Hinsdale13thStephanie Guida17thDori Zielinski17thKristen Gregory17thEmily Anderson17thAlysa Parks17thLindsey Shute17thBre Reynolds17thLily Piazza17thAmber Valdivia25thMelinda Salminen26thSydnee Deventer27thBeth Poore38thEmily Sweeney29thDonna Wai30thTina Reil31stVictoria Herring32ndAllison Thrower33rdKristin Machalek34thJenny Lamberson35thStacey Siegel36thAshley Resurreccion37thAshleigh Kolla38thKaren Montgomery39thNaiviv Sillerico40thRegi Bradley41stJen Cox42ndVeronica Carbonell43rdKytte Burke The Classics and Flip Out tournament were both concluded on Sunday. In previous years many of the same players would be competing in the finals of both tournaments, leading to delays in completing the finals. Fortunately there were no such issues this year. The trophies for the main Flip Out tournament The Flip Out main tournament final was between Escher Lefkoff and Dalton Ely. Escher had qualified in first place, Dalton in seventh. Both remained undefeated in the double-elimination, best-of-five play-offs until they met in the semi-finals where Escher had won. Dalton then defeated Zach McCarthy in the best-of-three loser bracket to face Escher again in the main final. Escher had only to win the best-of-five match to win overall. Dalton would have to beat Escher once and then beat him again in the best-of-three loser bracket final. Dalton did win the best-of-five by 3-0, meaning they had both lost one match and were level. The best-of-three would decide things. Having just lost to Dalton didn’t appear to faze Escher, as he won the fist game and headed to Jurassic Park for what could be the decider. Escher and Dalton play Jurassic Park in the final Escher won that game too, to take the final 2-0. Dalton was second, Zach McCarthy third and Jason Zahler fourth. Dalton congratulated Escher on his win Trophies and prizes of cash, or a new Stern pinball to the winner, were made by Tournament Director Deborah Tahlman. Fourth place, Jason Zahler Third place, Zach McCarthy Second place, Dalton Ely Winner of Flip Out 2023, Escher Lefkoff The top four; Jason, Dalton, Escher and Zach Here are the full results of the main Flip Out tournament: 1stEscher Lefkoff2ndDalton Ely3rdZach McCarthy4thJason Zahler5thGreg Kennedy5thZach Parks7thDonavan Stepp7thWalt Wood9thCarlos DeLaSerda9thArvid Flygare9thRaymond Davidson9thNick Weyna13thSterling Mitoska13thAndy Bagwell13thJosh Sharpe13thAaron Rich17thDerek Price17thMike Pantoliano17thLewis Bevans17thJared August17thNick DeStefano17thZach Sharpe17thSteve Bowden17thAdam Lefkoff25thPaul Madison25thStanley Sowa Jr25thJason Werdrick25thZachary Frey29thPreston Currie29thCody Webb29thRobert Byers29thGreg Lapa36thEspen Andresen36thKeri Wing36thNick Kennedy36thChris Eagle36thSheldon Olson36thChuck Sanderson36thAndrew Foard36thTyrus Eagle44thJoe Lemire44thMatt Wilson44thSteve Zahler44thDaniel Brennan44thNick Campbell44thAndrew Wilkening44thChris Grace44thKevin Kolodziej52ndTommy Vernieri52ndBob Twichell52ndOliver Baker52ndChris Pascaretti52ndTim Tournay52ndJokton Strealy52ndDominic Labella52ndLiam Bradley60thJamie Caton60thTrent Augenstein60thAndy Burton60thJane Verwys60thMike Kolman60thChris Szatmary60thColin Krawcyk60thTom Graf68thMaurice Smith II68thBrian Dye68thJohnathan Brown68thTom Menge68thTim Zollner68thChristina Capra68thJon Rangel68thMark Pearson76thJesse Huber76thScott Slifka76thKristen Gregory76thTed Brockly76thJason Montgomery76thDave Chapman76thPatrick Rhomberg76thTravis Lancaster84thJoseph Landas84thRick Miller84thGene Hwang84thRoss Unruh84thZoltan Pataki84thMichael Rivelli84thKirsten Adam84thDirk Elzholz92ndTom Knorst92ndStephen Ely92ndJard Cassell92ndWalter Dony92ndIan Lukidis92ndJeremy Dorling92ndWill Cooper CA92ndMandy Peel99thCassie Begay99thMichael Bradley99thPaul Younis99thGlenn Habas99thAndrew Huxley99thDamon Conner The B-Division of the main tournament concluded while we were in the seminars, but it was won by Miles Bradley, with Anna Neal in second, Frank Marion third and Ryan Dunn fourth. That only leaves the Classics Tournament to decide. The Classics play-offs followed the same format as the main, with a double-elimination format where it was best-of-five games in the winners bracket and best-of-three in the loser bracket. Whoever won the loser bracket would need to beat the winner of the winner bracket twice if they are to win overall. Zach Parks remained undefeated, having also been the top qualifier. He faced Lewis Bevans who he had already beaten in the quarter-finals but had won the loser bracket to play Zach again in the final. Zach won on Kick Off! while Lewis won on Domino, making the third game on Trident the decider. Zach Parks in the final on Trident Zach had a good second ball putting him comfortably in the lead, even though his third ball drained quickly. Could Lewis match and overtake him? Lewis Bevan fighting to win the final It wasn’t to be. Zach won the final of the Classics tournament, with Lewis second, Nick Weyna was third and Robert Byers (who had to leave early for a flight home) was fourth. Fourth place, Robert Byers Third place, Nick Weyna Second place, Lewis Bevans Winner of the Classics tournament, Zach Parks The top three; Lewis, Nick and Zach Here are the full results of the Classics tournament: 1stZach Parks2ndLewis Bevans3rdNick Weyna4thRobert Byers5thGreg Kennedy5thTom Knorst7thBob Matthews7thSteve Zahler9thDominic Labella9thRyan Dunn9thJeff Teolis9thTommy Vernieri13thWilly Allen13thZach Sharpe13thPreston Currie13thCody Webb17thKeri Wing17thJeremy Dorling17thDave POnce17thNick Campbell17thNick DeStefano17thEspen Andresen17thAndy Bagwell17thJosh Sharpe25thMatt Wilson25thChris Campbell25thNick Kennedy25thAlex Lecky25thTom Menge25thAndrew Foard25thMark Pearson25thTim Tournay33rdKristen Gregory34thJillian Towne35thMike Weyenberg36thLiam Bradley37thKoi Morris38thMike Pantoliano39thNick Squires40thBrian Dye41stStacey Siegel42ndGreg Lapa43rdShannon Ducharme44thJeff Rank45thMike Conlon46thDon Coons47thMatt Lemoine48thMatthew Sitko49thLily Piazza49thShane Jackson51stLuke Sheahan52ndAnna Neal53rdWhayne T Rouse54thDerek Lehmann55thKyle Tarter56thEj Osis57thSydnee Deventer58thSteven Bowden59thTyrus Eagle60thGlenn Habas61stMaurice Smith II62ndWill Cooper63rdTroy Hall64thCC Castaneda65thAlysa Parks66thHagan Major67thNate Timperley68thMichael Bender69thMatt Rowbottom70thBill Lembesis71stDino Gaspari72ndDalton Ely73rdJard Cassell74thMike Carmoney75thJohan Flygare76thBen Sauter77thBob S. Johnson78thRob Wintler-Cox79thDan Reeves80thWalt Wood81stWalter Dony81stJamie Caton83rdZachary Frey84thJokton Strealy85thAndrew Wilkening86thStephanie Guida87thRicky Bryant88thRich Morgan89thRoss Unruh90thAustin Deventer91stMike Burgess92ndMike Polisky93rdVince Giannini94thKarrie Hill95thBob Twichell96thNaiviv Sillerico97thAmy Gunson98thRich Wagner99thArmando Rodriguez100thDonna Wai101stKevin Kolodziej102ndPaul Borth102ndVeronica Carbonell104thMark Faje105thSteve Martin106thNeil McRae107thScott Weigum108thMichael Bradley109thAshleigh Kolla110thRick Miller111thGreg Durant112thCassie Begay113thJack Spark114thChuck Sanderson115thDavid Spark116thTim Zollner117thEmily Sweeney117thDeb Kapke119thChris Szatmary120thZoltan Pataki121stKytte Burke122ndSheldon Olson123rdJoe Madia124thRoland Nitsche125thRobert Werner126thChris Grosvenor127thChris Vaaler128thTrisha Burgess129thRegi Bradley130thMichael Rivelli131stNikki Miller132ndKristin Machalek133rdLizz McD134thWyatt Winters135thRoger Sharpe136thScott Slifka136thJordan Allen138thChristina Capra139thWill Long140thMicah Adams141stJesse Huber142ndKyle Ingrelli143rdDamon Beals144thMarty Kraft145thJenny Lamberson146thDavid Rowland147thMatt Severin148thAmber Valdivia149thDave Chapman150thJon Rangel151stErin Malysa152ndStanley Sowa jr153rdNick Naruz154thBradley Smith155thMark Bjorkquist156thDeborah Tahlman157thChristopher Cacioppo158thScott Elliott Although it’s the day of the finals for the two major tournament, Sunday is tear-down day in the main hall. No games can be played and the power is switched off to the vendor stands. Inside the main hall on Sunday Lots of Stern Pinball machines to take back Tilt Amusements started packing away some of their machines during the Flip Out play-offs Lots of American Pinball machines too, although one GTF is running on battery power In case you’ve wondered how they move so many machines around… This! And this! And with the closing of the show, we wrap up our coverage of Pinball Expo 2023. This 39th year show was undoubtedly a big success with the issue of non-working free play games on the show floor being greatly reduced. In part that’s thanks to show organiser Rob Berk having a large collection of maintained, interesting games already set up at his Past Times arcade in Girard, Ohio. It’s a long drive to bring them to Expo, but it pays dividends. This year also attracted several new game launches. Biggest of all has to be Jersey Jack Pinball’s Elton John game, but new pinball company Barrels of Fun made their debut here with their Labyrinth, while Turner Pinball brought a close-to-production-ready Ninja Eclipse and Pinball Adventures did likewise with their Elements, although both these latter two will probably undergo some changes before we see them next. With American Pinball bringing their cast of Galactic Tank Force to the show, it was more a matter of who wasn’t at Expo, and why? There are now two clear markers in the pinball calendar around which you need to launch your new game – the Texas Pinball Festival and Pinball Expo. Of course there is far more to Pinball Expo than we have been able to cover in this report – and plenty that happens in the Renaissance hotel’s two bars and around the fire pit that’s best not recounted here – but we hope you get a good flavour of the five days we spent in Schaumburg. Any negatives to Pinball Expo this year? Well, the show seemed quieter than last year in terms of visitor numbers. There were also a few gaps on the show floor where more games or vendors could go. We know a last-minute rearrangement of the floor plan was required when the Convention Center realised they’d given the wrong dimension to the organisers, so we’re happy to cut them a little slack there. From a purely selfish point of view, although three days of back-to-back seminars provides plenty of variety for the audience, we’d appreciate an earlier finish so we actually get to see the show, and more set-up time between seminars to give speakers space to get set up and get any unexpected technical requirements sorted out. Despite that, we hope you enjoyed our extensive coverage of Pinball Expo 2023, containing 300 pictures and over 28 hours of video recordings. We’ll be back next year for the 40th year of Pinball Expo. It’s promising to be even bigger, with talk of starting events a day earlier to pack everything in.