Hello, Pinfriends! Although I'm a relative newbie, only a Pinside member for barely a year, and having only started my own collection in 2016, I feel like 2018 was such a fantastic year for pinball! I know the year isn't over, and there will be more to come in the next 6 weeks (Munsters, anyone???), but I feel like 2018 was a special year for pinheads. It was a special year for me, that's for sure. Really just a casual pinball fan in my 20's and 30's, I took my first deep dive in 2016 and bought my first pinball machine - The Wizard of Oz. I was dazzled by the incredible lightshow, artwork and craftsmanship that machine displayed. I was certain I only needed one machine, so I decided to really invest in something special, something that would last and never get old. I stayed with one machine for about 15 months. Then, Ghostbusters was released. "Only two," I told my wife. Two is plenty. Two is variety. Two is more than enough. I stayed at two machines for 6 weeks. Then, Spider-Man. We stayed at three pins to end 2017.
Then, 2018 arrived and suddenly, something strange happened. I became obsessed with pinball. Having bought just one machine in 2016 and two in 2017, I started buying and trading machines in February of this year. Then, the governor fell off...CSI, Lord of the Rings, Shrek, Metallica, Big Buck Hunter, Ripley's Believe it or Not, Indiana Jones, Tron, Aerosmith, Dialed In!, Monopoly, Batman Dark Knight, Houdini, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings (again), and Pirates of the Caribbean. 16 machines, so far, in 2018 and there are so many more that I wish I could buy or trade for. We attended our first expo in May, and another in October. We learned how to solder and maintain our machines. We made road trips to New York, Chicago, Wisconsin, and Ohio. We shipped pins to or from California, Texas, Pennsylvania and Chicago. We got to meet George Gomez, Steve Richie, Pat Lawlor, Jack Guarnieri, Jay Balcer, Keith Johnson and Christopher Franchi.
This year we saw incredible innovations in pinball. Jersey Jack released and started shipping their fourth machine, Pirates of the Caribbean, a dazzling and sophisticated machine. Stern crushed it with one of the best music pins of all time - Iron Maiden, then followed that blockbuster with another huge hit, Deadpool. They have their Beatlemania pin shipping soon and it looks like The Munsters (with gorgeous artwork) may soon be announced. We toured the Stern factory and saw some of the final Metallica machines being built, one of the greatest machines ever designed with an incredible 5 year production run. We saw the beautiful Batman 66 being built as well as Iron Maiden. American Pinball enjoyed success with the handsome and innovative Houdini and unveiled their second pin, the gorgeous looking Oktoberfest, due out in early 2019. Total Nuclear Annihilation, Alice Cooper's Nightmare Castle, Thunderbirds Are Go, Mafia and Lexi Lightspeed continued to impress and show that some of the newer pinball makers are serious about this industry. And Chicago Gaming Co. revealed their third remake, the much-anticipated Monster Bash, which looks to be yet another huge hit for the master of remakes.
2018 has been an incredible year for us, personally, and what a perfect year to become infatuated with pinball. After 15 years together, my wife and I finally tied the knot and were married. And, as if that wasn't enough, we are expecting our first baby this month! 2018 is simply a year we will never forget, and I am very grateful that pinball has been such an amazing part of it for us.