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 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 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
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
The main entrance is through the Discovery hall
Show information is posted outside
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-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
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
The view of the hall
More of the show hall
More of the show hall
Jersey Jack Pinball had lots of games, but their newest title isn't here just yet
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
Chicago Gaming have lots of Cactus Canyon and Pulp Fiction machines
New manufacturer Barrels of Fun have brought loads of Labyrinth games
New manufacturer Barrels of Fun have brought loads of Labyrinth games
American Pinball also have a large number of games on their stand
American Pinball also have a large number of games on their stand
Another new entrant, Turner Pinball have brought several Ninja Eclipse games
Another new entrant, Turner Pinball have brought several Ninja Eclipse games
Don't expect a coin door on these games
Don’t expect a coin door on these games
It's not all new stuff though - plenty of older items on sale
It’s not all new stuff though – plenty of older items on sale too
Some older titles too
Some older titles too
Back to the new games though, and Spooky Pinball will have a nice display
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
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
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
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
Ways to make pinball more accessible are featured too
There are several artists selling their artworks at the show
There are several artists selling their artworks at the show
The show floor layout
The show floor layout
Play nice!
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
The Tournaments Room
Seating for viewers of the live stream
Seating for viewers of the live stream
The Classics machines are arriving
The Classics machines are arriving
Machines for the Women's Tournament
Machines for the Women’s Tournament
Machines for the Flip Out 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
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
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
Some of the free food available
The soft drinks
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 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
The Stern Pro Circuit Championship finals were held at Enterrium alongside the Bumper Blast party
Machines used for the Championship finals
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
A bank of games on free play from American Pinball
Two Legends of Valhalla games
Two Legends of Valhalla games
Some of the other pinballs available for guests to enjoy
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
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
Just the start of the line for the Stern Pinball tour buses
More of the line for the 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
The buses taking guests to the Stern Pinball factory tour
(picture: Jonathan Joosten)
The queue for entry snaked around the parking area
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
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
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
The Blood Red Kiss edition of Elvira’s House of Horrors
(picture: Jonathan Joosten)
At the end of the tour, the Stern Shop was open to sell branded merchandise
At the end of the tour, the Stern Store was open to sell branded merchandise
(picture: Jonathan Joosten)
The Stern Store inside the factory
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
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
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
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
The seminars room

Thursday’s Seminars:

1:00pm – Mike Gullo
Solid State Repair Tips & Horror Stories
Mike Gullo
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 Schelberg
1,2,3 PINBALL! And A Peek Behind The Curtain at American Pinball
Jim Schelberg
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
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 Patzke
Multi Products Update (The Motor Guy)
Mark Patzke & Vince Patzke
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 Garrison
Marketing to New Audiences and the Power of Pinball
Jeff Cernava
Jeff Cernava
Corbin Angeli, Zach Angeli, Kyle Crison & Don Garrison
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 Newhart
Honey I Bought a Church!
Joe Newhart
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 Davis
Troubleshooting Aftermarket Electronics
Brett Davis
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 Gleason
Above & Beyond: Topper Talk with The Electric Playground
Rob Rath & Alec Gleason
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 Petro
The Making of Pulp Fiction Pinball
Scott Pikulski, Mark Ritchie, Gary Flower, George Petro & Josh Sharpe
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 Manuelian
Under the Playfield
Aaron Davis, John Manuelian, Dan Rosenstein, Ernie Silverberg & Greg Brault
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 Ritchie
An Evening with Jersey Jack Pinball
Steve Ritchie
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 Head
Meet Evel Knievel
Ken Head
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 Sharpe
Pinball: The Man Who Saved the Game
Roger Sharpe & Michael Gottlieb
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 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 Colin
Brian Colin’s Arcade History Tour
Brian Colin
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 Alsheimer
Building a Stronger Pinball Community – The Three P’s of Pinball with Kineticist
Colin Alsheimer
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 Poore
Mappin‘ Around (with Pinball Map)
Scott Wainstock, Ryan Gratzer & Beth Poore
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 & Guests
How We Make Pinball Accessible
Jim Austin, Rusty Key, Kathy Camden & Zach Christopherson
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 Castaneda
Meet the Captain of Captain’s Auction Warehouse
Chris Campbell & CC Castaneda
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 Team
Token Taverns’ Q&A
Bob Rose & Retro Ralph
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 Trigueros
Screen XL – Display and Sound
Oscar Terol & Juan José Trigueros
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 Duke
Turner Pinball – Innovating Outside (& Inside) the Box
Chris Turner
Chris Turner
The Turner Pinball team
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 Yeti
The Making of Venom
Stern 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 Team
Foo Fighters
Jack Danger & the Foo Fighters Team
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 Vinikour
007 Game Rules Deep Dive
Mike Vinikour & Lonnie Ropp
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 Burnham
How to Become a Pinball Operator
With 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 Spolar
Pinball Is For Everyone
Dan Spolar & Guests
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 & Guests
Pinball Expo Hall Of Fame Inductions
The 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 Team
American Pinball: Galactic Tank Force, Save the Cows & Eat Ice Cream
David Fix
David Fix
Jack Haeger
Jack Haeger
Clementine Morfoot, Kerri Hoskins, Jeff Hoover & Mitchell Politt
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 Olson
LTG
Lloyd Olson
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 Team
Take Your Seat at the Table
Eric Meunier & JP De Win
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 Marston
Highlights and Lowlights in the History of Books on Coin-Op
Dave Marston
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 Gaspari
How the YRC Freight Bankruptcy Affects You!
Dino Gaspari
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 Moehring
What is a Hard Top… and What Isn’t It?
Scott Moehring & Bruce Westfall
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 Blanco
Playfield Restoration from A to Z: LIVE!
Marcelo Adrian Blanco
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 Martin
Affordable Pinball Components for Your Custom Pinball Machine
Rolando Martin
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 Alverson
Owning and Operating a Pinball Museum
Gerard van de Sanden, Rob Berk, Charlie Martin, & Dave Alverson
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 Graham
Female Lead: How Digital Pinball Can Pave the Way for More Women Driven Pinball Everywhere
Christopher Wells Graham & Anna Lengyel
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 McRae
Stumblor Mods – The Art of Making Pinball Modifications
Neil McRae & Davey Price
Neil McRae & Davey Price
Davey Price a.k.a. Stumblor
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 McRae
What it Takes to Run a Large Pinball Tournament
Neil 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 Cicognani
Pinball Restoration: A Radical Change from the Desert of Cyprus through the Italy Flood to Pinball Expo
Ivan Cicognani
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)
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 Askey
Magic Girl – The Story Continued
Eric Bartels & Jim Askey
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 Gregoire
Clocked In: a Dozen Heads Inside a 7 in. Tall Box – the Pinball Clock Story
Phillipe Gregoire
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 Ohler
Pinball and Arcade Video Game YouTube Content Creation
Todd Tuckey, Frank Lindenmuth, Imoto Harney & Retro Ralph
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 Silver
How We Design Games at Multimorphic
Stephen Silver
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 Stup
Let’s Make A Deal
Dwight Sullivan
Dwight Sullivan
Playing Let's Make A Deal
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
To the left as you enter the main hall was this block of American Pinball machines
The Belles & Chimes team
The Belles & Chimes team
Ken Head had his two Evel Knievel machines here
Ken Head had his two Evel Knievel machines here
Next to Ken were these Zaccaria pinballs
Next to Ken were these Zaccaria pinballs
The Pinball Brothers stand had Queen and Alien machines to play
The Pinball Brothers stand had Queen and Alien machines to play
One Alien was the new Ellen Ripley version
One Alien was the new Ellen Ripley version
A prototype of the new Alien topper
A prototype of the new Alien topper
The new Alien version also brings a range of upgrades for new and existing Alien owners
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
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
Pinball Brothers are represented in the US by Melissa and Chris at CoinTaker
CoinTaker also has two The Big Lebowski machines by Dutch Pinball
CoinTaker also has two The Big Lebowski machines by Dutch Pinball
Two Pistol Pokers and a good deal on anti-reflective glass
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
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
Black Rose: Skull & Bones from Cardona Pinball Designs
Jaws and Pinball Expo 35th custom machines from Dino Gaspari on the shipmypinball.com stand
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
Starship Fantasy had their familiar vast array of pinball ramps for sale
And more ramps
And more ramps
They also had some playfields from Classic Playfield Reproductions
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
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
Mayfair Amusement also had a big stand of manuals, flyers, parts and backglasses
Parts on the Mayfair Amusement stand
Parts on the Mayfair Amusement stand
Plus lots of backglasses and translites
Plus lots of backglasses and translites
Opposite Starship Fantasy was Sterling Adams with this eclectic collection of items
Opposite Starship Fantasy was this eclectic collection of items
More 'collectables'
More ‘collectables’
The we came to the American Pinball stand
The we came to the American Pinball stand
American Pinball's current title is Galactic Tank Force, so there were plenty of those around
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 objective is to stop aliens abducting the cows… like this
The editions with the illuminated tank tracks were on the stand too
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 autograph session
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
Special character posters were printed for the autograph session
Plotnik and Annoya eye up the new recruit
Plotnik and Annoya eye up the new Galactic Tank Force recruit
Empress Annoya looks down on 'lesser' games
Empress Annoya looks down on ‘lesser’ games
More American Pinball titles on their stand
More American Pinball titles on their stand
One of Christopher Franchi's character development pieces
One of Christopher Franchi’s character development pieces
It was good to see Mike Pacak back at Pinball Expo
It was good to see Mike Pacak back at Pinball Expo
Rocket City Pinball were selling game mods as well as pinball photography
Rocket City Pinball were selling game mods as well as pinball photography
Themed start buttons and coin slot plates
Themed start buttons and coin slot plates
Perfect wall decoration for your pinball room
Perfect wall decoration for your pinball room
One of the neons from Neon Warehouse would look good too
One of the neons from Neon Warehouse would look good too
Chicago Pinball had complete games and game parts
Chicago Pinball had complete games and game parts
Double Danger had brought their range of gaming clothing
Double Danger had brought their range of gaming clothing
New pinball company, Barrels of Fun, had four of their Labyrinth games on their stand
New pinball company, Barrels of Fun, had four of their Labyrinth games on their stand
The Barrels of Fun desk on their stand
The Barrels of Fun desk on their stand
Barrels of Fun's new Labyrinth game
Barrels of Fun’s new Labyrinth game
Labyrinth's playfield
Labyrinth’s playfield
The display & speaker panel area
The display & speaker panel area
The main display
The main display
The back panel display
The back panel display
The animated topper
The animated topper
The custom shooter rod
The custom shooter rod
Who better to help promote this David Bowie movie pinball?  Step forward Ron Coon, Jr.
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
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
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
Rocketland had backglasses and much more on their stand
Snacks and drinks were available at the kiosk at the back of the hall
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
Prices were a little high but not extortionate like some exhibitions
There were options for those wanting something a little stronger
There were options for those wanting something a little stronger
X-Pin were back with replacement boards and displays for pinballs
X-Pin were back with replacement boards and displays for pinballs
PinDoc Restorations were offering repairs and restorations as well as restoration equipment
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
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
Spooky Pinball brought a range of their titles and merchandise to Expo
More Spooky Pinball games - this time five Scooby-Doo machines
More Spooky Pinball games – this time five Scooby-Doo machines
Bug at the Spooky Pinball desk
Bug at the Spooky Pinball desk
A staple of Expos, this Flintstones pinball from ICE always manages to surprise some visitors
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
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
If you REALLY wanted a Magic Girl, here’s one new-in-box
Mezel Mods has their stand with mods for many different titles
Mezel Mods has their stand with mods for many different titles
Chicago Gaming's stand had four Cactus Canyon remake machines plus...
Chicago Gaming’s stand had four Cactus Canyon remake machines plus…
...six Pulp Fiction machines, although delivery times on both titles was unclear
…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
Triple G Gaming had plenty of video game marquees and much more on their stand
Some of the many marquees
Some of the many marquees
Super Skill Shot had a big display of custom shooter rods
Super Skill Shot had a big display of custom shooter rods
Emily Unruh - The Unruly Quilter - had rails of gamer clothing available
Emily Unruh – The Unruly Quilter – had rails of gamer clothing available
Poorman's Flea Market had an eclectic mix of pinball and game room items
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
Ayscrim Studios were selling the score reel clocks from Phillipe Gregoire as seen in his seminar above
Phillipe's mini pinball clocks
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
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
A few of Rob’s machines
Many of the free play machines were available to buy too
Many of the free play machines were available to buy too
Nicolas and Romain on the PinSound stand
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
There were plenty of PinSound-fitted games where players could experience the new sound packages for popular titles
More PinSound-equipped freeplay games
More PinSound-equipped free play games
Pinball playing is hungry work, so round off your game room with a branded popcorn machine
Pinball playing is hungry work, so round off your game room with a branded popcorn machine
One of several long rows of freeplay pinballs
One of several long rows of free play pinballs
Project Pinball had a large presence in the main hall
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
Porject Pinball were running a silent auction fundraiser with scores of one-of-a-kind items available
Some of the silent auction lots
Some of the silent auction lots
More one-of-a-kind items to bid on
More one-of-a-kind items to bid on
There was also a Charity Challenge high score contest running
There was also a Charity Challenge high score contest running
There was also the Freedom To Play inclusive pinball tournament open to all
There was also the Freedom To Play inclusive pinball tournament open to all
Foot-operated pinball controls
Foot-operated pinball controls
These accessible pinball controllers were available for everyone to try
These accessible pinball controllers were available for everyone to try
Players using the accessible controls to play the games
Players using the accessible controls to play the games
Also making pinball more inclusive are Adaptive Game Products who had their accessible controller
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
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
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
The Pinball Adventures stand with Punny Factory and Elements games to play
Andrew with his Elements prototype
Andrew with his Elements prototype
The Elements playfield
The Elements playfield
The top display
The top display
The bottom apron display
The bottom apron display
Pinball Adventures were also showing playfields from Punny Factory, Elements, and what we believe is Forsaken Ninja
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
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
P3 machines and modules on the Wise Trailer stand
Some of the P3 playfield modules
Some of the P3 playfield modules
Game room supplier, AVS Home Arcade brought a selection of their products
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
Along with having a seminar, Tanner Walters also had his The Pinball Scientist stand at Pinball Expo
He was selling his high score recording kits for electromechanical games
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
The homebrew section
Battle Stations is a 2-playerr head-to-head game
Battle Stations is a 2-playerr head-to-head game
Pincraft is a pinball adaption of the Minecraft theme
Pincraft is a pinball adaption of the Minecraft theme
Trashland is a game about reusing pinball parts
Trashland is a game about reusing pinball parts
Beerfest is an Oktoberfest-themed game that's not Oktoberfest
Beerfest is an Oktoberfest-themed game that’s not Oktoberfest
Japanese cyberpunk-themed Ghost In The Shell is a regular visitor to Pinball Expo
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
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
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
The Nightmare Before Christmas is another Expo regular
This Create Life homebrew takes a novel approach to the pinball backbox
This Create Life homebrew takes a novel approach to the pinball backbox
Complete features to start the creation process
Complete features to start the creation process
The Haunted Cruise is one of two Pinball 2000-style game designs
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
The Magic Forest takes a similar approach but has a very different theme
Eight Ball Beyond is very close to being the complete package
Eight Ball Beyond is very close to being the complete package
It has an amazing art package from the backglass to the playfield
It has an amazing art package from the backglass to the playfield
Eight Ball Beyond's playfield
Eight Ball Beyond’s playfield
Little surprise it won the award for Best Homebrew
Little surprise it won the award for Best Homebrew
Another very popular theme is Bevis and Butt-Head
Another very popular theme is Bevis and Butt-Head
This time, Bevis and Butt-Head Do Pinball
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
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
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
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
More interesting items from As Found Arcade Machines
Also, some very attractive jukeboxes
Also, some very attractive jukeboxes and interesting new-in-box machines
Pinball Pimp were offering $10 off pinball banners at the show
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 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
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 would usually be here, but were attending a screening when we visited
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
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
This Week in Pinball had a stand selling promotional merchandise
Artist Brad Albright had his stand packed with gaming-related artwork prints
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
Outside Edge had a big stand promoting and selling their Hardtop playfield overlays
The back of their stand showed some of their Hardtop products
The back of their stand showed some of their Hardtop products
Great American Pinball had a large display of their machines, mods, and game room accessories
Great American Pinball had a large display of their machines, mods, spares and game room accessories
The pinballs on the Great American Pinball stand
The pinballs on the Great American Pinball stand
Lots of mods, add-ons and clothing
Lots of mods, add-ons and clothing
Bags of assorted used game parts
Bags of assorted used game parts
The first of another two rows of freeplay games
The first of another two rows of free play games
And here's the second row
And here’s the second row
ATGames of America had a nice display of their Legends Pinball 4KP digital pinballs
ATGames of America had a nice display of their Legends Pinball 4KP digital pinballs
The Legends Pinball 4KP digital pinball
The Legends Pinball 4KP digital pinball
And another row of free play pinballs
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
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
KingPin Games packed a lot into their stand
They also had plenty of games at the show
They also had plenty of games at the show
More pinballs from KingPin Games
More pinballs from KingPin Games
The first of another two rows of free play pinballs
The first of another two rows of free play pinballs
Behind the first row was this second row
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 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
We didn’t even know ‘Croc Charms’ were a thing
Collectable game cards are popular too
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
Tilt Amusements had a stand in the main hall, but most of their machines were in the tournament room
Most, but not all
Most, but not all
Stern Pinball teamed up with Marco Specialties to put on the display of Stern's machines
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
Carnage from the Venom story and game made a big impression
Some of the Venom machines on the Stern Pinball/Marco Specialties stand
Some of the Venom machines on the Stern Pinball/Marco Specialties stand
More Venom
More Venom
Although Venom is the current game, Foo Fighters were here in big numbers too
Although Venom is the current game, Foo Fighters were here in big numbers too
Iron Maiden was well represented
Iron Maiden was well represented
As was 007 James Bond
As was 007 James Bond
And Godzilla
And Godzilla
If you wanted some swag, the Stern Shop was open
If you wanted some swag, the Stern Shop was open
Items ranged from a $30 hat to a $2,000 Pinball Alley sign
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
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
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
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
Brian Colin had a large stand with posters from his many game designs
More of Brian's creations
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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 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 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
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
Winner of the Women’s Tournament, Elizabeth Gieske

Here are the full results of the Women’s Tournament:

1stElizabeth Gieske
2ndJane Verwys
3rdKeri Wing
4thShannon Ducharme
5thMandy Peel
5thChristine Doherty
7thJillian Towne
7thChristina Capra
9thKarrie Hill
9thAnna Neal
9thErin Malysa
9thRebecca Salam
13thJen Ruper
13thCassie Begay
13thRebecca Hinsdale
13thStephanie Guida
17thDori Zielinski
17thKristen Gregory
17thEmily Anderson
17thAlysa Parks
17thLindsey Shute
17thBre Reynolds
17thLily Piazza
17thAmber Valdivia
25thMelinda Salminen
26thSydnee Deventer
27thBeth Poore
38thEmily Sweeney
29thDonna Wai
30thTina Reil
31stVictoria Herring
32ndAllison Thrower
33rdKristin Machalek
34thJenny Lamberson
35thStacey Siegel
36thAshley Resurreccion
37thAshleigh Kolla
38thKaren Montgomery
39thNaiviv Sillerico
40thRegi Bradley
41stJen Cox
42ndVeronica Carbonell
43rdKytte 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 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 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
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
Fourth place, Jason Zahler
Third place, Zach McCarthy
Third place, Zach McCarthy
Second place, Dalton Ely
Second place, Dalton Ely
Winner of Flip Out 2023, Escher Lefkoff
Winner of Flip Out 2023, Escher Lefkoff
The top four; Jason, Dalton, Escher and Zach
The top four; Jason, Dalton, Escher and Zach

Here are the full results of the main Flip Out tournament:

1stEscher Lefkoff
2ndDalton Ely
3rdZach McCarthy
4thJason Zahler
5thGreg Kennedy
5thZach Parks
7thDonavan Stepp
7thWalt Wood
9thCarlos DeLaSerda
9thArvid Flygare
9thRaymond Davidson
9thNick Weyna
13thSterling Mitoska
13thAndy Bagwell
13thJosh Sharpe
13thAaron Rich
17thDerek Price
17thMike Pantoliano
17thLewis Bevans
17thJared August
17thNick DeStefano
17thZach Sharpe
17thSteve Bowden
17thAdam Lefkoff
25thPaul Madison
25thStanley Sowa Jr
25thJason Werdrick
25thZachary Frey
29thPreston Currie
29thCody Webb
29thRobert Byers
29thGreg Lapa
36thEspen Andresen
36thKeri Wing
36thNick Kennedy
36thChris Eagle
36thSheldon Olson
36thChuck Sanderson
36thAndrew Foard
36thTyrus Eagle
44thJoe Lemire
44thMatt Wilson
44thSteve Zahler
44thDaniel Brennan
44thNick Campbell
44thAndrew Wilkening
44thChris Grace
44thKevin Kolodziej
52ndTommy Vernieri
52ndBob Twichell
52ndOliver Baker
52ndChris Pascaretti
52ndTim Tournay
52ndJokton Strealy
52ndDominic Labella
52ndLiam Bradley
60thJamie Caton
60thTrent Augenstein
60thAndy Burton
60thJane Verwys
60thMike Kolman
60thChris Szatmary
60thColin Krawcyk
60thTom Graf
68thMaurice Smith II
68thBrian Dye
68thJohnathan Brown
68thTom Menge
68thTim Zollner
68thChristina Capra
68thJon Rangel
68thMark Pearson
76thJesse Huber
76thScott Slifka
76thKristen Gregory
76thTed Brockly
76thJason Montgomery
76thDave Chapman
76thPatrick Rhomberg
76thTravis Lancaster
84thJoseph Landas
84thRick Miller
84thGene Hwang
84thRoss Unruh
84thZoltan Pataki
84thMichael Rivelli
84thKirsten Adam
84thDirk Elzholz
92ndTom Knorst
92ndStephen Ely
92ndJard Cassell
92ndWalter Dony
92ndIan Lukidis
92ndJeremy Dorling
92ndWill Cooper CA
92ndMandy Peel
99thCassie Begay
99thMichael Bradley
99thPaul Younis
99thGlenn Habas
99thAndrew Huxley
99thDamon 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 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 fights to save the final
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
Fourth place, Robert Byers
Third place, Nick Weyna
Third place, Nick Weyna
Second place, Lewis Bevans
Second place, Lewis Bevans
Winner of the Classics tournament, Zach Parks
Winner of the Classics tournament, Zach Parks
The top three, Lewis, Nick and Zach
The top three; Lewis, Nick and Zach

Here are the full results of the Classics tournament:

1stZach Parks
2ndLewis Bevans
3rdNick Weyna
4thRobert Byers
5thGreg Kennedy
5thTom Knorst
7thBob Matthews
7thSteve Zahler
9thDominic Labella
9thRyan Dunn
9thJeff Teolis
9thTommy Vernieri
13thWilly Allen
13thZach Sharpe
13thPreston Currie
13thCody Webb
17thKeri Wing
17thJeremy Dorling
17thDave POnce
17thNick Campbell
17thNick DeStefano
17thEspen Andresen
17thAndy Bagwell
17thJosh Sharpe
25thMatt Wilson
25thChris Campbell
25thNick Kennedy
25thAlex Lecky
25thTom Menge
25thAndrew Foard
25thMark Pearson
25thTim Tournay
33rdKristen Gregory
34thJillian Towne
35thMike Weyenberg
36thLiam Bradley
37thKoi Morris
38thMike Pantoliano
39thNick Squires
40thBrian Dye
41stStacey Siegel
42ndGreg Lapa
43rdShannon Ducharme
44thJeff Rank
45thMike Conlon
46thDon Coons
47thMatt Lemoine
48thMatthew Sitko
49thLily Piazza
49thShane Jackson
51stLuke Sheahan
52ndAnna Neal
53rdWhayne T Rouse
54thDerek Lehmann
55thKyle Tarter
56thEj Osis
57thSydnee Deventer
58thSteven Bowden
59thTyrus Eagle
60thGlenn Habas
61stMaurice Smith II
62ndWill Cooper
63rdTroy Hall
64thCC Castaneda
65thAlysa Parks
66thHagan Major
67thNate Timperley
68thMichael Bender
69thMatt Rowbottom
70thBill Lembesis
71stDino Gaspari
72ndDalton Ely
73rdJard Cassell
74thMike Carmoney
75thJohan Flygare
76thBen Sauter
77thBob S. Johnson
78thRob Wintler-Cox
79thDan Reeves
80thWalt Wood
81stWalter Dony
81stJamie Caton
83rdZachary Frey
84thJokton Strealy
85thAndrew Wilkening
86thStephanie Guida
87thRicky Bryant
88thRich Morgan
89thRoss Unruh
90thAustin Deventer
91stMike Burgess
92ndMike Polisky
93rdVince Giannini
94thKarrie Hill
95thBob Twichell
96thNaiviv Sillerico
97thAmy Gunson
98thRich Wagner
99thArmando Rodriguez
100thDonna Wai
101stKevin Kolodziej
102ndPaul Borth
102ndVeronica Carbonell
104thMark Faje
105thSteve Martin
106thNeil McRae
107thScott Weigum
108thMichael Bradley
109thAshleigh Kolla
110thRick Miller
111thGreg Durant
112thCassie Begay
113thJack Spark
114thChuck Sanderson
115thDavid Spark
116thTim Zollner
117thEmily Sweeney
117thDeb Kapke
119thChris Szatmary
120thZoltan Pataki
121stKytte Burke
122ndSheldon Olson
123rdJoe Madia
124thRoland Nitsche
125thRobert Werner
126thChris Grosvenor
127thChris Vaaler
128thTrisha Burgess
129thRegi Bradley
130thMichael Rivelli
131stNikki Miller
132ndKristin Machalek
133rdLizz McD
134thWyatt Winters
135thRoger Sharpe
136thScott Slifka
136thJordan Allen
138thChristina Capra
139thWill Long
140thMicah Adams
141stJesse Huber
142ndKyle Ingrelli
143rdDamon Beals
144thMarty Kraft
145thJenny Lamberson
146thDavid Rowland
147thMatt Severin
148thAmber Valdivia
149thDave Chapman
150thJon Rangel
151stErin Malysa
152ndStanley Sowa jr
153rdNick Naruz
154thBradley Smith
155thMark Bjorkquist
156thDeborah Tahlman
157thChristopher Cacioppo
158thScott 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
Inside the main hall on Sunday
Lots of Stern Pinball machines to take back
Lots of Stern Pinball machines to take back
Tilt Amusements started packing away some of their machines during the Flip Out play-offs
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
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... This!
In case you’ve wondered how they move so many machines around… This!
And 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.

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