Originally published in Skill Shot issue 5, August 2008

Curiously, both Shorty’s and the Madison Pub replaced their Lord of the Rings with the new Indiana Jones pinball machine! Since both places were having problems with LotR, we guess it wasn’t a big surprise, though the Pub did take the new game as an opportunity to raise the prices of all their pinball machines to 75¢! They also recently raised the price of beer, and we’re left wondering what’s next: pay toilets?

While we are speaking of the Madison Pub, it has come to our attention that Stern’s new Batman pinball is going to be there soon. It’s going to be a classic Marvel versus DC (comics) battle, and it looks like DC is going to win! Apparently there’s some kind of delay at the factory because the game was originally supposed to be released in time for the new movie. Another thing that’s been delayed is the return of Gilligan’s Island to the Lava Lounge. It’s been gone so long now that people are beginning to think that we made it up, and that the Fish Tales has always been there!

And speaking of Fish Tales, there’s a new one in Seattle at the Comet Tavern! The Comet’s one of the oldest bars in Seattle, and back in the day they had a bunch of games, so it’s nice to see that pinball is back. Especially since the other pin they have is No Good Gofers, which we love. Meanwhile next door, the King Cobra has recently been put up for sale; let’s hope whoever buys the place keeps the pinball!

Did you go to the Northwest Pinball and Game Room Show at the beginning of the summer? It was a big success, and there are already plans for another one next year! Read our complete review of the show below. The next big pinball event in Seattle will be the 11th Annual Pinball Tournament at Shorty’s on November 9th, so mark it on your calendars now! And we’re not just saying that because they bought our back page ad either.

The Northwest Pinball and Game Room Show

June 6 -8 at the Seattle Center

The first annual NW Pinball Show was great fun with over 100 pinball machines all set at free play! It was only $25 for the weekend and we certainly got our money’s worth after being there all three days. The pins were from the 1960’s up to the most current Stern releases, with lots of both classic machines and some rarities (but no flipperless pins which we were hoping to see/play).

As soon as you entered the hall there was a long row of older electro-mechanical machines and it was really neat to see so many of these pins set up together. Their bells and buzzers and old school back glass art work were exciting to see and gave a cool first impression. Another area of the show that had older games was devoted to Silverage Silverball, owned by Dominique, who had a home-built machine opened up to display the mechanics involved. He also purchased the Sure Shot pinball machine to put into the Sure Shot Café in the U-District!

The show had many newer games that are not currently available to the Seattle public such as Star Gate, The Shadow, and Godzilla, as well as more accessible favorites like Guns N’ Roses, Centaur, No Fear and Attack from Mars. Older solid-state classics such as Eight Ball Delux, Firepower, and Black Knight were also represented throughout the hall.

While the new Indiana Jones and Shrek pins were understandably popular, the busiest part of the hall was the section that had the awesome line-up of Monster Bash, Theater of Magic, Medieval Madness, Tales of the Arabian Knights, Cactus Canyon, and Bay Watch. In this group, Bay Watch was the biggest curiosity for us because there isn’t one around town, so imagine our surprise when we got a “special” and saw the babes wiggling out of their pants on the dot matrix display: Hilarious!

Classic video games were also represented (Tron, Galaga, Asteroids, and of course Donkey Kong) and Steve Wiebe from the movie “The King of Kong” made an appearance during the weekend with a short talk and answering questions.

Steve Richie (currently at Stern) also had a well attended seminar about his many years working in the pinball industry. Mr. Richie is responsible for designing many classic games, most of which were grouped together at the show. Airborne Avenger, Flash, High Speed, Hyperball, and No Fear are among the games he worked on. Apparently Richie is working on a top secret pin due out in 2010. Rumor is that it will be based on the television show 24, but anyone who knows at this point is sworn to secrecy.

Another exciting part of the show was the IFPA Pinball Tournament that attracted players from around the country and Canada. Royal Flush, Harlem Globetrotters, Funhouse, Whirlwind, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Indiana Jones, and (Black Costume) Spider-Man were the games used for the contest which was won by Keith Elwin from Carlsbad, CA (the pro division) and 9 year old Garrett Dubofsky (in the novice tournament).

There were many raffles during the weekend, with the two notable ones being for Stern’s Pinball machine (won by a very excited woman) and a Black Spider-Man game won by our friend Keith Nelson! But one of the best things we saw this weekend were all the little kids playing pinball (some of them even carrying around their own stepstools: cute!). All in all the future of pinball is looking mighty fine after this great event.

Other notable Pins at the show:

Banzai Run had a motocross theme and a playfield that ran straight up the back glass.

Safe Cracker is a time based game; it would give you an unlimited number of balls as long as you could keep adding to your clock, so even if you didn’t drain the ball your game could still end if you ran out of “time.”

An Atari wide body Superman pinball (designed by Steve Richie) that had a ton of drop targets!

The Devil Riders was a game suffering on and off again malfunctions, and its playfield glass even shattered at one point.

Spectrum seems part pinball and part Master Mind (the board game). It didn’t have a plunger and the playfield was ringed with various color banks and ball traps. It’s a very unique and challenging game that we would love to play again (and again).