features reviews

Location Spotlight: The Machine Shop

NW Location Spotlight on:

The Machine Shop

Since 2016, The Machine Shop has slowly become one of the premier pinball arcades in the Pacific Northwest. Located about an hour north of Seattle on Whidbey Island, The Machine Shop is located in what was once the Langley Lumber Supply building, built in the 1940’s. Over the years, the building has contained a number of businesses, including an antique store, a health food store, a dance studio, and a bakery. It was the owner of the bakery who first invited Machine Shop proprietor Tim Leonard to use an underutilized space in the bakery to set up a few of his games, which eventually led to the arcade taking over the whole building!

Physically, the arcade reflects the varied past of the building with many distinct areas. When you first enter, there are two different directions to go: a café area with tables and a food counter, or a nicely lit pinball room with a variety of games mixing newish Sterns like Tron and Kiss with older games like Road Kings and The Addams Family. Heading towards the back from there is a large dark room packed full of arcade games of all sorts; from shooter games like House of the Dead to early classics like Missile Command and Burger Time.

In a long back room of The Machine Shop is the crown jewel of the arcade, with a great number of electro-mechanical pinball machines (and a few solid state ones) mostly from the 70’s. There are rarities such as Fire Queen, Big Ben, Target Alpha, and Skylab; most of which you won’t find anywhere else. The next area of the arcade is a large room with a mirrored wall (from the building’s dance studio days) that contains more games as well as space for occasional live music. Lastly, in the very back area, you’ll find a large virtual reality game room, usually only open on weekends. This room has lots of padding, and a warning sign to watch out for flailing limbs!

If some of these pins sound familiar, it is probably because a lot of them are brought to the NW Pinball and Arcade Show every year. Tim didn’t own any pins until after his first visit to the show in 2013, when he became interested in the older machines. Since Tim is a metal fabricator and artist by trade who also works with neon lighting, The Machine Shop contains many examples of his work, both as lighting for the arcade and as art on the walls – all of which are for sale or available by commission.

The Machine Shop, 630 2nd St, Langley WA, 98260


features reviews

Comic Book Review: DESTROY CENTAUR

(2019, Bombshell Comics)

By Gordon Gordon (Originally published in Skill Shot 54)

It’s the year 2192: Centaur and Fly-girl are on a quest to get high scores on the remaining Centaur pinball machines still in existence. The earth is now an alien landscape of human mutants similar to those in a Mad Max movie, with some willing to kill to preserve their high scores. Mostly it is Fly-girl who plays the games until they arrive to their final destination: an arcade with a ramp where Centaur himself is able to play the game which they are based on!

Destroy Centaur is a pleasantly strange comic book: The creator Michael Jasorka obviously has a love for the Centaur machine and his drawings of both the title character and Fly-girl are pretty cool. Jasorka does a good job of drawing the desolate mutated landscape of 2192 with lots of surreal features and a panel layout that reflects the chaos of this bleak future. While the motivations and dialogue of the characters seem scattered for much of the comic, once they decide that it is time for Centaur to play Centaur it becomes more understandable. This leads to the highlight of the book, with the characters riding through a landscape that resembles the game while discussing the rules of it.

Printed on 44 heavy gloss pages, with a thick cover and a black, white, and red palette (which is the same as the pinball machine), Destroy Centaur also uses elements from the original promotional flyer of the game, including two reprinted pages from it. If you’re not a fan of Centaur (the pinball machine), your appreciation of this comic may vary, but if you are a fan of the pin you will love Destroy Centaur!

For ordering info go to

Images ©2019 by Michael Jasorka/Bombshell Comics

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In Your Ears, On Your Thumbs: The Skill Shot Pincast and Apps

In Your Ears, On Your Thumbs: The Skill Shot Pincast and Apps

by Graham Klym

In this crazy future-world where we all carry computers in our pockets that are connected to the universe (and 14 million cat videos), an independent zine on we-ain’t-foolin’ real life paper made from real life trees can be a strange concept to explain to the uninitiated. To others, Seattle Pinball Mapmaybe our dedicated output seems quaint. Well, we’re hip with the times. In addition to 41 issues of Skill Shot, we’ve got our home on the web at, where you can find archived back issues, a calendar of local events, and our essential pinball list. But these days we’ve got a lot more to offer you on your Palm Pilots, Blackberries, and Tricorders — apps to streamline your pinball hunt and a podcast to keep you company on your commute!

Skill Shot – The App! Download it at List

Hey Android users: did you know we’ve had a Skill Shot app for you for 2 years now? It’s true — go check it out. The Skill Shot app gives you faster and more direct access to our ever-so-convenient pinball list for Seattle and the surrounding area.

Hey iPhone users: join the party! We just released an iOS version of the Skill Shot app for you and yours this January.

The apps, designed by Andrew Cole and Will Clarke, can be found in their respective smartphone stores (the iTunes and Google Play stores), but just type into your phone and you’ll be automatically redirected to download the right app for your device. Put down this issue and do it now!

The Skill Shot Pincast!

Ok, now pick this back up.

Back in May, Kayla and I kicked off a brand new project for the mighty Skill Shot empire — the Skill Shot Pincast! Our episodes arrive every 2 grahamatwo weeks on Wednesdays, and we’ve covered a wide variety of games and topics with a fantastic series of local and international guests. You can learn how to play featured games, hear pinball origin stories from Todd MacColluch and other notable players, get the operator’s point of view from Bobby Conover and Pinheads, and listen in on discussions about women in pinball, the dirty details on running competitive team-based leagues, and so much more!

We think you’ll enjoy the Pincast, but don’t just take our word for it — we just won an award from the Classic Consolekayla Gamernews podcast for Best New Pinball Podcast (and Best Opening Sequence) and have received tons of good feedback from the pinball community. As of writing this article we’re 18 episodes deep, and by the time you’ve got this in your hands episode 19 will have dropped. You can find us on Soundcloud (,, iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you normally find and subscribe to podcasts.

Subscribe today and join the fun! We want to hear your thoughts and suggestions, too. Write to us at and be a part of the conversation!

And of course you can also find us on Facebook and Twitter. Search for Skill Shot and the Skill Shot Pincast on Facebook and like our pages to get updates in your newsfeed, and follow us on Twitter at @SkillshotSeattl (no e!). Get connected!

(Originally published in Skill Shot 41)


Editors note: If you are curious about the physical hardcopy  issues of Skill Shot check out the Zine link at the top of this page for our cover gallery. Information about back issues and subscriptions can be found under the Shop link.


The Highs and Lows of Pinball Manufacturing

by Andrew Cole

The last few years have seen a growing number of challengers to Stern’s monopoly in the pinball manufacturing marketplace. Many of theseTroll companies have found out that making a 250 pound ruggedized computer / furniture / robot / artwork / toy is harder than it sounds.

LOW: Wayne Gillard AKA Mr. Pinball Australia had a long-discussed plan to build new Medieval Madness machines from the planetary logooriginal design. Gillard acquired the rights to various Bally / Williams intellectual property in 2005, and took deposits from hopeful buyers, but the games were never produced. There hasn’t been much news about what happened to those deposits since the rights were sold again to Planetary Pinball in 2010, except that Planetary was not responsible for fulfilling those deposits.

HIGH: Since their acquisition of the rights, Planetary Pinball has partnered with Stern and Chicago Gaming to do a separate remake of Medieval Madness. Big LebowskiAs of September 2014 this project has progressed to the point where people have seen pre-production games, so it seems like it might succeed!

HIGH: Dutch Pinball (DP), after demonstrating their pinball programming skills on an extensively modified Bride of Pinbot, secured the rights to manufacture a Big Lebowski pinball machine, which they would do in The Netherlands.

LOW: Scandal erupted around the Lebowski project in late 2014 when a member dutch pinball logoof the DP team very publicly aired their dirty laundry, complaining of artwork disagreements with the licensor and deceptive advertising to pre-order customers. The issues seem to have since been resolved and the project is still on track, at least according to DP.

HIGH: Heighway Pinball announced in 2012 that they would begin manufacturing pins using a unique new system that would allow different playfields and artwork to beheighway logo easily swapped in a single cabinet. After a false start with a mythology-themed title and successfully completing a flipperless promotional game for Bacardi, the Welsh company seems on track to deliver their first title this year.

LOW: Well-known pinball designer Dennis Nordman left Heighway pinball in late 2014. Nordman dissociated himself from the company’s second title, Alien, and expressed doubts about Heighway’s timeline for the project.

LOW: In 2012, a new company Skit-B Pinball announced that they had secured the rightsSkit B logo to produce a game themed after the movie Predator. After taking deposits on the game and demonstrating mostly complete models at many pinball shows, the company failed to ship games and information became increasingly scarce. By 2015 it became public that Fox had not licensed the “Predator” theme to Skit-B, and had actually told them to stop making the games.

HIGH: Jersey Jack Pinball successfully shipped their first title, Wizard of Oz, to widespread praise in 2013.Jersey Jack logo The game has the solid feel of a 90’s Williams machine but with greatly updated electronics including factory LED lighting and a video LCD panel in the backglass. Jersey Jack is due to ship their second title, The Hobbit, in 2015.

LOW: While Stern Pinball should be praised for releasing games at a regular interval, they have rarely significantly innovatedStern logo in the last 20 years. Even their recent introduction of LED lighting seems to be a reaction to competition and new modern standards. They seem to even regress at times, such as with their most recent announcement of and public relations for the embarrassingly sexist Whoa Nellie.

Despite all the difficulties experienced by emergent pinball manufacturers, we see it as a sign of great promise for the game that so many are trying in the first place.

Wizard of Oz

Originally published in Skill Shot 38. We’d like to give a big shout out to as the source for much of this!


Hitched To The Side

by Bernard Blvd.

Originally published in Skill Shot 25, August 2012

It’s time for another great new way to play pinball: Seattle Side Saddle!

Invented by Claire and Headley, Seattle Side Saddle (SSS) requires two-player teams to stand alongside the tourney machine, with each player using the hand that is closest to their respective flipper. If you’re standing on the left side of the table, you’d use your right hand. If you’re on the right side, use your left hand. This can be a little disorienting at first, but give it a ball or two. Trust me, you’ll be hooked.

This style of playing seems more competitive and less intimate than Half and Half, because you’re facing your teammate instead of standing next to them while staring at the playfield. And you can say encouraging things over the table, like “let’s just have fun with it!” while gazing into their eyes.

Skill Shot was lucky and honored to host a Seattle Side Saddle Tournament at Alyson and 4th Place Andy’s Rock and Roll Wedding Reception at the Georgetown Ballroom on June 24th. The machine was Headley’s Future Spa (such a kind, old sport used for many Skill Shot tourneys past.) As it was also a King For A Day style tournament, we called it the “Royal Couple For A Day Seattle Side Saddle Tournament”, and A & A were the Royal Couple. Whatever they scored Side Saddle, other teams had to attempt to match above or below their score as closely as possible. After the Royal Couple played their game, however, it became sort of a Biggest Loser SSS tournament because their score was so low (they might have been a little distracted for some reason… oh yeah, they’d just got married.)

Seattle Side Saddle is one of the tournaments we’re hosting at Skill Shot’s 5 Year Anniversary Party at Shorty’s on August 5th. It’ll be for the highest score, so bring your A-game!

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Get Off My Crown

Another excellent new way to play pinball with your friends:  King for a Day!  Here’s how to play:  Go to a pinball-related event and find the host or person of honor.  He/she then picks their favorite (or least favorite) pinball machine in the room and plays a one-player game on it.  That person’s score is recorded as the King (or Queen) for a Day score.  Contestants try to match that score in a one-player game.  The contestant with the closest score wins!  You can play for money (I like $1 buy-ins for 4 tries, winner-take-all) or prizes (bragging rights included).  You can go over or under the King’s score, and the decision to allow tilting is up to the tournament official.  It’s more fun to play on a game that the King or Queen dislikes (or is bad at) because the score will likely be low enough to allow for more inexperienced contestants to have a chance.

King for a Day is a super-easy way to play and it’s usually a big hit.  It works great at birthday parties (mine, won by King Micah Parrish, who took Sagel’s prize money and used it to get drunk), holiday get-togethers (Thanksgiving at Liberty House, won by Queen Katy Jacobson, who gave her prize money to Kevin Pittman to buy socks) and babyshowers, like the Add-a-Baby Tournament held at Headley and Claire’s and won by King Brian Chesbrough and Queen Katy Jacobson.  And congrats to Simon and Stephanie Stocker on their new arrival!!

Bola Salvada!

news & gossip reviews

Lose Yourself

It’s time for another great way to compete with your pinball buddies:  The Biggest Loser Pinball Tournament!  “But I play to win,” you might say.  You can still win with the Biggest Loser! Just get the lowest score.  The Biggest Loser is the big winner!

The rules to Biggest Loser are simple.  One machine is chosen and players try to get the lowest score within a given amount of time on that game.  Players can try as many times as they want.  No tilting! Try to pick a machine where the ball has to go through pop bumpers, saucers, rollovers, and sling shots.  More obstacles = more fun!  Find the “sweet spot” and try not to hit anything.  And avoid the urge to use the flippers!

Biggest Loser is a really exciting way to play pinball. We’re doing it at NW PAGS this year!  Late 70’s Bally games are great for this type of tournament, so we’ve picked Future Spa again.  The tournament will be on Sunday June 5 between noon and 2pm.  If you are knocked out of the NW PAGS tourney, come over to Future Spa and see if you can lose again, but this time in a good way.  The prize is a Skill Shot T-shirt!!

The Biggest Loser Pinball Tournament is best played in a free-play environment, like PAGS, or as a side tourney at SPL meetings.  If you have a game in your home or office, try it with family or coworkers! It’s great at the Seattle Pinball Museum, where you make a donation and get to play all the games as much as you want.  Pick a game and throw down a tournament, Biggest Loser style.

You’ve gotta play to lose!


news & gossip reviews

100 Pinball Game Equation

An Interview with Math Professor Luke

BB:   X = a player. Z = the number of games played. Y = the number of games needed to win. Can you write this out in math? Basically, for the best two out of three, three out of five, etc.  This is for a two player pinball tournament article in Skill Shot.

Luke:   Hey skipper! I can do my best. Let’s see here. You want to play an odd number of games, so things can’t end in a tie, so for some number nZ = 2n+1. (That is, we can let n be any whole number we want, and then Z will be the n-th odd number; if n=1 we get Z=3games, if n=2 we get Z=5 games, and so on.) So then it’ll takeY=n+1 games to win. I introduced n as a convenience, but we can easily remove it now. As we see, Z = 2Y-1, or equivalently, Y = (Z+1)/2.  Does that help?


Luke:  I’m glad all those years I spent in grad school weren’t wasted after all! How’s it all going, mister?

BB:   It’s going great. Working on Skill Shot 16.  So Gordon and I played a 2-player 100 game pinball tournament. It took about a week, and he won 71, I won 29.  Afterwards, we played a 10 game tournament, and I won 6, he won 4. So 100 games or 10, we’re still close in skill. How’s your life?

G2:  Hi Luke. We need another pinball equation for determining a fraction or percentage of a pinball tournament where it is possible to have a tie score.  For example: If player X and player Y played 100games of pinball, the equation would express the results as percentages. The equation could also be used in a tournament of 8games or 7 or whatever. We’re thinking about calling the article “Percentages”. It would help people rank themselves.

Luke:  Hey Gord! Let’s see here. Suppose you play a total of T games (100, or 8, or 7, or whatever) and win X of them. Then you’ve won100*X/T percent of your games. We can turn any fraction into a percentage this way, just by multiplying by 100: 0.6 or 6/10 is the same as 60%, etc. Just type 100*X/T into Google and press enter (replacing X and T with the actual numbers, of course) and it’ll even do the computation for you. I freaking love Google.

BB:   Hey Luke, one more question. Do these equations apply to tournaments with more than 2 players?

Luke:   Oh! Good question! The percentage one, definitely. In a tournament, if there are T games played in all, and a certain player wins X of them, he’s won 100X/T percent of all games in the tournament. If a certain player wins X games and that same player plays a total of say D games (maybe he doesn’t play every single game in the tournament; if there are a total of say 30 games in the tournament but this player only plays in 10 of them, then T=30 butD=10) then he’s won 100X/D percent of the games he’s (or she’s) personally played.

The formula for the number of games required to win will still work in a multi-player tournament, *if* a single player has to win more than half of all games to win the tournament. If you just have to win more games than any other player it’d become a lot more complicated! I’ll have to think about that one.

BB:  Anyway, this type of tournament isn’t really all about winning, it’s more of a way to rate your skill against other players. I mean, winning is great, but every game has to be played, even after one player has won the number of games required to beat the other(s). In the 100game tournament, Gordon and I played all 100 games, long after he had already won the tournament by winning 51.