Originally published in Skill Shot issue 54 (May 2019)

2019 is shaping up to be the year of new pinball machines! As mentioned last issue, the latest Stern Pinball machine, The Munsters, has since been released and two of the three versions of the game can be found around Seattle (we’re still waiting to see the black and white Premium version). Stern’s not waiting around for anyone to wonder what their next offering is going to be; it’s Black Knight: Sword of Rage by designer Steve Richie. This is the third Black Knight game since the original in 1980 – all designed by Richie, and notable for being the first pinball machine released by Stern that isn’t based on an existing non-pinball license since Striker Xtreme in 2000. Past Stern games have received software updates that often make them seem new, such as Deadpool, which has added another easy-to-achieve multiball mode, among other features. They have also released a Deadpool music “CD” as a free download on their website! Future releases rumored to be coming up from the company include Jurassic World by Brian Eddy (Medieval Madness) and a new Elvira game. Rumors!

Jersey Jack Pinball has also unveiled their next pinball machine: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory! Initial reports about this game have elicited some rave reviews from those who have seen and played it. Part of the excitement is because it was designed by Pat Lawlor, who not only designed JJP’s Dialed In, but also The Addams Family, amongst other popular pins. Jersey Jack has also released a different version of the Wizard of Oz. Their Pirates of the Caribbean machine hasn’t been operated locally at very many locations, so that game will still seem new to many people as well. Fresh!

Other pinball machines that we haven’t seen in the area (yet) include Spooky Pinball’s new pin Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle and American Pinball’s Oktoberfest. Tokyo Perfect Drift is a game created by a Spanish company, Quetzal Pinball, and it looks interesting – although this pin is apparently only going to be made-to-order, so it’s uncertain if we’ll ever see one of these on location locally. If we are lucky, all of these games will be at this year’s NW Pinball and Arcade Show or eventually at Another Castle Marysville’s Nitro Showroom. Rounding out the new games for possible release this year are the mysterious projects hinted at by a new company, Deeproot Pinball. Deeproot’s motto is “pinball for the masses”, and they claim to have created 12 different whitewoods – although it is unclear whether these are all for different games. Apparently they have promised some sort of big reveal this summer, and we are curious to hear what it is. Curious!

On the local front, the pinball community continues to grow, with more people not only enjoying all of the pinball machines and locations we are endowed with regionally, but also by joining in the tournament scene. To meet this demand, more tournaments seem to be added regularly. The Kraken is now holding a weekly Sunday afternoon tourney (which is sometimes skipped if there is a live band booked), hosted by Paul White. Over at the A1 Hop Shop 144th on Greenwood Ave. Michael WARfield is hosting a weekly Tuesday night event. Up at the Getaway Tavern in Mountlake Terrace, Robbie Finnigan has begun a monthly Saturday afternoon tournament. In Tacoma, at Half Pint Pizza, Dickie Hornaman has begun a weekly Tuesday night tourney. New Bremerton location, Tik Tok’s Workshop, has added more options across the Sound by offering both weekly and monthly tournaments. A different take is the new 8-Bit Player of the Month League, which takes the standings from their Tuesday night 3-strikes tournament and then invites the top 50% of the qualified players back for a Sunday night finals tourney. The winner of this gets some money and a trophy. Endowed!

Women-only tournaments are also growing and going strong in the area, with the Airport Tavern adding a monthly last Thursday tournament hosted by Rachel Kahalekulu. At The Ice Box, Dwayne LaMont Collins is the host of the WOW (Women Only Weekly) tourneys, held every Thursday – except the first Thursday, when Babes in Pinland happens at Add-a-Ball. WOW is notable because it has free entry and karaoke. The Hounds Tooth Pub also hosts a women’s tourney on the third Friday of the month, although host Megan Czarhar may soon turn it over to someone else. The Annual Powder Puff Tournament happens at Shorty’s on May 26th, and will be hosted by Babes director Maureen Hendrix. This event has the distinction of being the last annual event Shorty’s will have in their original location. Babes!

All of the women-only events that register for International Flipper Pinball Association’s (IFPA) World Pinball Player Ranking points this year will qualify players for the first Women’s Evergreen State Pinball Championship held in 2020. This tournament will be held with the top 16 female players of 2019; 8 from women-only events and 8 from open (mixed) tournaments. This is sure to be a competitive battle since 17 out of the top 50 players listed on the current IFPA Women’s Rankings list (out of 2609 altogether) hail from our area! This will be somewhat similar to the IFPA Women’s World Pinball Championship that was held this year in Las Vegas on March 28th (which was well represented by Seattle players). This year’s event had 5 Seattle women playing, with wild-card contestant Maureen Hendrix making it all the way to 2nd place! Awesome!

The Women’s World Championship was held concurrently with the IFPA North American Championship in the same space. The 2018 WA State Championship was won by Sagel Frazier, and he represented our state at the event attended by state and provincial champions from both Canada and the USA. Apparently with both events happening at the same time in the same tiny room, it was a bit crowded, and left many wondering why it wasn’t held somewhere more spacious (like the Pinball Hall of Fame) with better facilities (like more than one toilet).  One person who benefited from the events happening at the same place was Keri Wing from Kansas, who qualified for both tournaments, eventually winning the Women’s title. Kansas!

Hopefully April 14th may have finally proved that Seattle has enough players to hold multiple big events at the same time. The 4th Annual AARP Tournament was held at Add-a-Ball, in which contestants had to be at least 40 years or older to compete. The AARP may have been bolstered by the fact that it was Claire Sutcliffe’s birthday party, but 27 players in a $10 entry winner-takes-all contest is a respectable showing (and grand prize). Meanwhile at the 1st (annual?) Hounds Tooth Player Appreciation Tourney, 60 people competed for both glory and a chance to win raffle prizes that included a Black Jack pinball machine and a moped! Further north at Another Castle Marysville’s anniversary party, a tournament hosted by Nitro Pinball had another 40 players competing in a tourney with a $750 pot splash. Big!

The 8th Annual Tommy Tournament happened at Shorty’s on April 8th, and had 27 teams of two (with funny team names) playing blindfolded pinball for fun and prizes! The Gorgeous Ladies of Pinball (GLOP) had a winning strategy of not having played many of the games before, yet somehow being able to achieve multiballs and higher scores while blindfolded than any other team. A special shout-out has to go to Shannon Bett of GLOP, who brought a tear to our eye when she gave the skateboard that she won to Chris Thrasher – who had wanted to win it so badly. The Annual Add-a-Ball 420 Tournament was on 4/20 with over 130 contestants – many more than went to the event back when it was known as the Greenwood Open. To many, this is the social event of the year as well as the beginning of the summer pinball season, since (despite the date) it is almost always sunny. A hoverboard, green fog, and dubious exotic birds set the stage for this usually controversial event. The grand prize this year was a Wizard of Oz pinball machine donated by Jeff Rogers and won by Raymond Davidson – who promptly listed it for sale at a bargain price. Bargains!

Pinball Tidbits
After 15 years, Sureshot Espresso in the U-district closed their doors for good. Since the early days of Skill Shot, the cafe has been a place to play many pins not often found at other locations, and we are sad to see them go. Sad! * The Seattle Eagle has once again added pinball machines to their location after removing them years ago during a remodel. Good news for the gay-friendly set who prefer the west side of Capitol Hill. * Raygun Lounge (also on the Hill) have begun hosting Queer Pinball Meetups as a way of introducing LGBTQIA+ players to each other. The first meetup included a super-casual tournament; so casual that it didn’t even finish before people began playing just for fun! Look for future events to happen on the last Sunday of the month. * Jason Trojan hosted a viewing party at The Ice Box when his brother Jeff was a recent contestant on Jeopardy!. Excitement built when Jeff was tied for first place at the Final Jeopardy round, but then every contestant got the answer wrong and the top two players went to zero! * Add-a-Ball’s weekly Wednesday Flip-off Tournaments are now for WPPR points. The bar will pay the IFPA fees. * Monday Night Pinball will finish up their current season in May. This has been perhaps the most exciting season yet, with many strong teams jockeying for the number one spot. Keep an eye out on Facebook or their website for new teams or openings if you wish to join the league for the fall season. * The Eastlake Zoo Tavern is one of the locations rumored to soon be expanding their pinball selection. We assume this means that they may want to join MNP. Stay tuned…

* Have you played the new Monster Bash remake yet? It looks sweet! There is also an alternative translite available for the game created by artist Brian Allen. Brian’s work has previously appeared on the ill-fated Alien pinball machine and will also be on some future pins that haven’t been announced yet. Secrets! * Another secret is that a pinball machine based on the Alien franchise may again be in the works. After the original company making the pin folded, there is the possibility that the movie license is one of the assets sold during its liquidation. It may be based on the previously released game, or something totally different.  * The Skill Shot Pincast is back up and running after taking a break due to both Kayla and Graham moving to new digs. We’ll post links to the new episodes when they are available on both our website and Facebook. * Also on our website is the Skill Shot Pinball Calendar, where you can find listings for all of the tournaments and pinball-related events in the greater Seattle region. Check it out and don’t forget to let us know if you want your event added to the calendar! * The new Skill Shot hoodie mentioned last issue is now available for preorder. See our ad in the back listings of this issue. Once they are printed, we will hold a hoodie distribution party somewhere local so you can pick yours up in person. * Support Local Pinball!