As many of you know, we've started a pinball museum near Ann Arbor Michigan called Ann Arbor Pinball Museum or aka VFW pinball (vintage flipper world.)
Web site: http://www.vfwpinball.com
We are doing our second pinball show Friday May 15 to Sunday May 17, 2015.
We had a thread about this last year, but there are some updates and some changes in ideas/plans to make this show even better.
I've been going to pinball shows for nearly 20 years. I've seen a lot of stuff and a lot of ideas. But basically the biggest problem is that every show models itself on other shows. There isn't a lot of solutions to common problems. With the Ann Arbor Pinball Show, we feel we've addressed nearly every concern, making this model a far better total pinball experience.
Generally people go to pinball shows for one big reason, the games. And pinball shows rely on the public, collectors, operators to bring their games. That means they have to tear them down, get them up the stairs, get them to the show, set up the game, and then baby sit the game during the show. After the show there's a limited amount of time to tear down the game, load it back up, drive back home, bring it back down the stairs, and then set it back up. Also the quality of said games can really vary from great to junk.
So what is your compensation for the public bring a game to a show? Free entry. Now if someone said to me, "hey can i rent your pinball for the weekend, and you deliver it, and you have set up, and you have to fix anything that breaks, and you have to remove and bring it home, and i'll give you $25." Most people would probably not do that. But in the guilt statement of "helping pinball" for a show, we all do it, like it or not.
At the Ann Arbor pinball show, the majority of the games are already there. In fact, there's 250 games already on site ready for the 2015 show. Last year (2014) we really discouraged people from bring games. But what we realized is that people *like* to bring games (even given the hassle that is involved in doing so.)
So with this in mind, for 2015 we are doing a "call out" to everyone to bring games. We think bring games is cool and appreciated. And of course we'll give you free admission (like every other show.) And to make things even easier, you can bring and pick up your game(s) before or after the show, even days/week in advance or post show. Meaning you don't have to rush to get your game there on set up day, and rush to bring it home on closing day. Your game can come early, be safely stored on site, and be picked up at your leisure days after the show is over. Also loading/unloading is all ground level, no steps, and lots of pinball carts are on site to borrow. And you have complete control over your game, if you want to sell it, and when it comes or goes (early or late.)
To avoid duplicate game titles, we do ask that you look at our list of games. And that you please don't bring a duplicate title. Also please no "show whores" (junky, barely working games, used to get in free, or get it fixed for free. (Heck i know show promoters that bring broken games to their own show so that the volunteers fix it for free!) This is a big problem at a lot of shows and one we really want to avoid.
Games at the show: http://www.vfwpinball.com/games.php
Another idea we are implementing with the 2015 show are headphones. We have notice at shows it's really difficult to hear the solid state games. It's a shame, because a lot of these games have excellent sound. So to make the whole pinball experience better, we are installing head phone jacks on many of our solid state pinballs. Not every game will have it, but a lot will. Meaning you can bring your ear buds and "plug in" to hear the game you are playing! This should make the whole pinball show experience much better for the players.
Another problem at shows is the "people-to-game" ratio is terrible. If there's lines 5 deep to play every game, how much fun is that? Heck can you even move around in that environment? Show promoters generally aren't the types that are going to turn people away at the door. Heck they want your money. Some may say they are making money on the backs of their volunteer help. But regardless, i've never ever been to a show that turned people away.
At the Ann Arbor show, we're doing it differently. That is, we cap the number of tickets available. We did this in 2014 and worked *really* well. So when the cap number is reach, like a concert, it's sold out. In 2014 we sold out on Friday and Saturday (Sunday did not sell out.) This kept the people-to-game ratio nice, so there's no lines to play. Sure there will be more people likely wanting to play Medieval Madness than Flip Flop, but even still, if the number of tickets sold closely matches the total number of games, isn't that a better situation?
Put frankly, tournaments are good for a very small number of people. If you're one of those people, great, but most show goers are not tournament players. So why do shows take a row of 10 or 20 prime games, and limit them just to tourney players? Talk about the needs of the few getting higher priority of the needs of the many.
At the Ann Arbor pinball show we too will have tournaments. But ours are different. Like in 2014, the emphasis of the show is not tournaments. But the tournaments we do have will be "classic" and "EM" tourneys only. So you won't see the most popular and newest solid state games being used in the tourneys. Finally the tourney games can also be played, at ALL times, by show goers (at no cost) whom aren't participating in a tourney. So even the games in the tourney are not "locked away" from the masses.
Most facilities that have pinball shows are not set up well for pinball. Have to take a game to the show and use an elevator or stairs? Yea right! like that goes really well at the end of the show when everyone wants to get their game out, and are lined up waiting. Or going across the parking lot 300 feet with a hand truck and a game. Or electrical and lighting that just sucks for large numbers of games.
At the Ann Arbor show, the facility is a full time pinball venue. That is, it's designed for pinball. The electric is robust. The load in/load out is all ground level and 10 feet from a drive up zone. The lighting is optimal for pinball, as is the heating and cooling. We're designed for this, not adapted from some hotel or expo hall that also has a show for motorcycles or cats.
We learned a lot from our first show in 2014. With the May 2015 show, we hope to make things even better! The whole idea is to make the show going experience as good as possible for attendees. We would love to hear other ideas too! thank you.