Is there a post-TPF impressions thread? Didn't find one... so let's start it!
Well folks... I must say that 2016 has been my favorite Texas Pinball Festival yet. So many great games spanning the gamut from the latest technology all the way back to pure mechanical machines. Every year I find something new to like and this time the prewar era "triple play" caught my attention: Fleet, Airway, and World Series. All of them were entertaining and yet so elegantly simple. It's amazing to realize these machines are closing in on the 100 year milestone yet continue to entertain us today.
I did not have time to play many of the newer games at the show: Multimorphic's latest creation, Rob Zombie, Ghostbusters, or GOT. But all of them looked great and it was especially gratifying to see and hear Ghostbusters in action... so many memorable sounds and callouts.
Safecracker remains one of the very best games of all time when played in a public location (key point) & filled with tokens (ditto). The line was always full & everyone cheered the winners along. Did you realize 80% of Dave & Buster's income comes from redemption games? Gotta hand it to Pat Lawlor for attempting to capitalize upon that market with pinball. I think the custom TPF tokens were a BRILLIANT idea and was thrilled to win one for myself. Kudos to Ed for pulling that hat trick at the last hour.
As a "Maker", I tend to be drawn to pinball machines and games which have been re-imagined and/or had new creative enhancements done "in the spirit of the creators". Reverse Flush was an astonishingly complete vision of a reversed pinball playfield... and boy was it difficult! I wasn't sure the concept was going to work but it looked as good as it played. Obviously, a great deal of work went into it. It was fun to experience an upside-down (and flipped!) POV for the first time. A VERY cool and memorable project indeed. Didn't get to see the custom category winner Spinal Tap since it was offline but will have a look next year.
For me, the biggest highlight was setting up a booth for VECTOR to showcase what our members at the Dallas Makerspace "arcade committee" have been up to over the past year. Collectively, we were honored to take home two "best of" categories (MKX arcade cab/Snow Derby EM) and a runner-up best restoration (Freedom prototype). But, most of all, it was a thrill to interact with all of you and watch our newest members participate in their first TPF and be received so well.
Our first time TPF'ers included:
Paul Wilson - Featured his work-in-progress tiki-retheme of Student Prince with its handsome carved zebrawood lockbar, rails, and veneered cabinet surfaces. Stay tuned... this is one very nice looking project! https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/new-tiki-themed-wooden-pop-bumper-caps#post-2642323
Rodney Black - His custom-built Mortal Kombat X arcade cabinet was designed and built entirely from scratch (!) at the Makerspace using our in-house CNC mill and other tools. It turned out incredibly well. If you'd like to build your own (or something like it)... Rodney teaches classes on arcade cab building and design at the Makerspace.
My 2001/Snow Derby/Freedom/and Top Score were also rebuilt in part at the Makerspace. It was an exhausting race to the finish line to get them ready for TPF, but I'm honored that so many people were able to enjoy them in person. I find the social aspects of pinball to be the most rewarding aspect of the hobby... it's what drives me forward the most.
Chuck Baber - Sinbad is Chuck's first pinball machine and has tirelessly transformed it with new LED displays, new lamp sockets, rebuilding every mech, repinning all connectors, installing LED's, and a new creative tweak: Swapping the default plastic spinner for a metal one which really flies. Chuck has shown an amazing level of dedication to his new hobby. Fun fact: Only hours before opening, he applied a custom-made saber decal to the spinner and clear coated it on the showroom floor! That's the kind of dedication people really appreciate and his game plays superbly well for all the trouble.
Jayson Woods - Jayson is the new chairperson of VECTOR this year and has already acquired a half-dozen pinball machines. In particular, his backglass touchup skills are superb. Slick Chick, MIBS, and Flipper Parade were extensively touched up... but you never noticed, right?
Shawn Christian - Shawn of DFW Pinball Club? Yes indeedy... and he is also a "VECTORIAN". His Slick Chick looked and played great and was rebuilt at the Makerspace with new lamp sockets, extensive backglass touchups, and other tweaks. The score motor unpredictably failed the last day but not before dozens of people had an opportunity to play this classic.
Nick Sainz - Nick's King Pin was the beneficiary of new custom vectorized stencils and a complete re-paint. It now looks and plays very well. We took a big risk painting Snow Derby only a week before TPF in a base blue w/white webbing instead of the standard Gottlieb black... but the result turned out so well it became "better than new". We're thrilled so many of you agreed. Nick and I often combine our skills to push restorations to the limit... and we'll be back again next year with more classic EM's taken "beyond original".
And last but not least... Stevo and Stacy - Owners of World Cup Soccer and Yukon. Stevo and Stacy are serious Makers who enjoy hacking pinball to whole new levels of experimentation. Yukon was outfitted with a reactive LED array and modded with custom callouts and music played during certain score thresholds. These two really push the limits!
Public tours of the Dallas Makerspace are every Thursday evening 6pm-9pm. C'mon by and we'll show you what is possible and hopefully provide you with a new resource for your own pinball/arcade restoration goals.
OK, plug done. TPF was a blast and already looking forward to 2017!