Hi fellow Pinsiders... I've prepared a photo collage for those who missed Pintastic this year. You don't want to miss it again next year!
I flew back from Florida on Tuesday and prepared for the show on Wednesday. Here's an image of my rare "gold edition" JM ready for loading.
I took off early on Thursday morning determined not to miss anything - and arrived about noon on Thursday. My first stop was to check in to the hotel and drop off my bag. The rooms are nice!
Next I was off to find Gabe and Derek.
On my way I noticed the rides setup by the flea market for the kiddos! I was sure to send copies of this picture to my kids who stayed in Florida so they would want to go next year. lol
I found Gabe "hiding" in the free play area.
He wasted no time putting me to work setting up Derek's pinball machines. Here's a panoramic view of the show! I took this on Saturday morning - and I assure you there were no "holes" in the lineup on Friday but several of the machines were sold during the course of the day.
Panoramic View of Free Playjpg.jpg
Ok Gabe - I admit it - I couldn't resist sneaking in a couple of games on The Hobbit on Friday evening.
WOZ is a beautiful machine - but it was not my cup of tea. The Hobbit is another story entirely. I have only one word - WOW! JJP hit it out of the park on this one! The gameplay gets FAST at times (just like I like it) and Hobbit has great flow. The video sequences are beautiful, perfectly designed, and immersive! The LED Lighting is incredible both in it's layout and integration. This machine is no Smeagle - it is as fun to play as it is beautiful! I had an opportunity to speak with Jack on Thursday night during the vendor setup and again on Saturday evening during the last seminar with Lloyd Olson (LTG). Jack was friendly, helpful, down-to-earth, and freely shared his knowledge and experience as an operator and manufacturer. I have attended other shows - but have not experienced this level of access to industry leaders. All of that said - I couldn't resist playing a couple of games on the WOZ 75th edition - this machine is pure art! The lighting is incredible and if you like WOZ you will LOVE the 75th edition! I'll give you fair warning - you don't want to play the 75th Edition - or you'll be selling your WOZ emerald edition to upgrade!
We worked until after midnight as several vendors were still setting up but the free play area was ready and the vendor side was close. Fortunately - there was still time in the morning before the show opened to help the vendors finish setting up.
One of the really cool things about the show was the full schedule of seminars. I was so busy I forgot about them (even though they were announced) and only managed to catch two. On Saturday morning I took a break and enjoyed the vendor area. I picked up a few sheets of "show glass" for my machines to replace my old ones, got a couple of the Project Pinball T-Shirts for my wife and I, and loaded up my car with bargains on hard to find parts and accessories! I seriously did find some tremendous bargains on some plastics and other items. The vendor side of the show was amazing! They even had the MAD MAX car there!!
Heighway Pinball brought TWO full throttle pins! These are definitely not your father's pinball machines! They re-wrote the book on cabinet design with this one - and when I peeked inside - the innovation continued inside of the cabinet too! The playfield glass is built into a frame and lifts off instead of sliding out. The side panels of the pin are translucent and backlit with LEDs. If a collector or operator decides to upgrade the pin - one simply removes the playfield glass and the side panels lift out. The playfield changes with a couple of plugs and you swap the backglass. Its done in seconds - and for collectors with space issues - the old playfield can be boxed and stored under the machine! If you like a racing theme - you will love Full Throttle! On a final note - speaking with Andrew Heighway was a special treat. I found him curious, thoughtful, open, and engaging. Simply put - Andrew is a gentleman and one I would not hesitate to patronize knowing he is a person of integrity who will stand behind his product.
I had seen MultiMorphic's "Lexy Lightyear" pin online and was pretty sure that I wouldn't like it. I am not a fan of the artwork because it looks like a line drawing and I prefer "comic book" artwork if a pin's art is not done in a photo-realistic style. The "line drawing" style and what I believe are dull colors used in illustrating the artwork are in my opinion unacceptable for a machine that I believe boasts the most unique and innovative designs of the show. When I watched the videos online I believed this machine would "feel" like a video pinball machine and not a traditional pin. I also believed that lacking "toys" on the lower video playfield might make gameplay difficult or boring.
BOY WAS I WRONG!
I played one game of the Lexy prototype at the show - and I am hooked. Aside from the artwork, this game offers EVERYTHING I love about pinball. FAST game play, ball interaction with the video playfield, playfield updates and "zooms in and out" to support the storyline and create new gameplay during an active game, an excellent story / theme, exquisite execution, beautiful and unique mechanical designs such as the floating and cantilevered flippers and bumpers. This game offers incredible gameplay and is for me the ONLY machine that rivals my other Grail title - AC/DC LE. (Please don't flame me - it's my honest opinion) There are so many disruptive and breakthrough technologies implemented in this machine - I pre-ordered one on the spot. I have never purchased any NIB pins much less pre-ordered one - but after playing this one, resistance was futile! It is well worth waiting in line to play if you have an opportunity - don't miss out.
While I was pre-ordering a Lexy from Gerry - Roger Sharpe walked up and I got to watch (and record) how the game plays with an exceptional player at the flippers - absolutely incredible! I watched in awe as Roger effortlessly stroked Lexy into a new high score! Machine aside - Gerry is a good guy. Adjectives I would use to describe him are "Brilliant, thoughtful, and open" He is a solid guy and I have no reservation buying from him. I cannot wait until it's ready for production! Oh, one last thing - if you play and then pre-order a Lexy as a result of my review - please put Mike Snell as the person who referred you!
On Friday night after the show closed JJP sponsored an after party for the staff, those who were staying at the hotel, and collectors who were kind enough to bring their machines to the show. THANKS JACK!! One of the cool things about this show is that the organizers thought about making it family friendly. There was a video game tourney for the kids and it was PACKED each day. They even had face painting clowns! One of the acts was a wonderful magician. He was extremely talented and a really nice guy. I had the opportunity to sit and chat with him at the afterparty and learned he is the brother of one of the organizers! I kept him busy giving me a private magic show while Art macked on his girlfriend (Just kidding Art .
It was a great time and although it was supposed to close at 1am I didnt get back to my room until after 2:30 because we were helping Derek with SouthPark. Derek - I love you brother - and for a technically challenged individual - you got skillz bra! (Don't ask how many pinsiders it takes to change a DMD - you don't want to know the answer!) I blame Derek for me oversleeping and not getting to the show until 9am on Saturday!
Saturday was awesome and amazingly - the flea market vendors restocked and there was even more cool stuff then! At the end of the day about time to break down the show - the organizers brought in a band to play during the tear down! First class all the way! The highlight of my Saturday was taking time out to attend LTG's last seminar. If you don't already know - LTG is a badass - but a nice one.
The discussion was awesome - and leveraged his expert knowledge of operating a gaming business, his background in technical support and his humor and quick wit to deliver an exceptional discussion. Jack also attended this event and a lively frank discussion ensued regarding where pinball has been and where (he and LTG believes) it is going in the future. You can't put a price on the value of learning by standing on the shoulders of the giants who lived through the heyday of coin op and continue to shape and lead the direction of the industry!
As I said, LTG is a badass - and he's got Moxie (Thanks to David Marston) so I guess attending his presentation was worth the mugging I got.
I met so many awesome pinsiders (some in my own backyard) and I cannot wait to connect with you all during this next year.
I'm excited about Pintastic 2016 - and hope that if you missed this inaugural event - you make plans now to attend next year!!
One word for Derek and Gabe - Aces!