How I spent my summer vacation. Whoops! I meant, what I saw at Expo:
Stern tour showed Elvira + JP + SW comic art edition all being assembled. Assembly sure is labor intensive (we're lucky it is still being done in the USA). Gary Stern likes people taking selfies with him (and doesn't charge for it). The Elvira LEs on line and boxed up all had Euro price cards in them and tags noting Belgium and Italy and France, etc. Games have code names (such as Furry Hat for GotG, JAWS for JP, curves for Elvira). Playfields are cut and routed at Stern, sent out for printing and clear coat, then returned to Stern where they are placed in racks and left for weeks to let the clear cure (did our tour guide tell us this for a reason?).
Thursday and Friday seminars were sparsely attended (Saturday seminars should be better). Did you know there have been 68 pinball manufacturers in Spain who have produced a total of 603 different title games? Including 3 by Quetzal which can be seen at Expo. Derek Fugate hosted the "what is my game worth?" segment and mostly asked the audience why current prices are so much higher than they were just five years ago. The Banzai Run for sale at Expo for $14K was questioned (I said games these days cost about $7K and only have one playfield while it has two playfields, so...). Pinball artists Watson and Youssi recapped their interesting careers. Pat Lawlor explained why pinball popularity surges briefly after each major innovation (flippers, digital scoring, dot matrix display) and gave credit to his employer JJP for the latest resurgence by adding LCD screens and RGB lighting and forcing the rest of the industry to follow suit. He said P2K was dropped by WMS because it wasn't as profitable as gambling devices even though RFM sold well.
It looks like CGC toppers have forced Stern to up its game with the new Black Knight topper. The new CGC topper for MM looks great and has lighting effects tied into the new RGB lighting in the game, but the figures are stationary. Cassandra Peterson (not dressed as Elvira) is really nice and still looks great. The Game Exchange party in JJ's room Friday evening was great, with Chick-fil-A catering, an open bar and several new Stern games to play. I did have fun playing pinball now and then, but mostly I liked chatting with other pinball enthusiasts, whether at that party or while in the seminars or while waiting in line together or just wandering the vendor hall. I saw and talked with some old friends, but also met a whole lot of new people at Expo (including several Pinsiders).
Gary aka littlecammi