Skill Shot hosted the biennial Powder Puff Tournament at Shorty’s on May 26th and it was a blast! 31 women participated, and while most were Seattleites, some came from as far as Portland, OR and Vancouver, BC. It’s great to see so many of our favorite ladies all together in a head-to-head battle. As usual, we had a limited edition Skill Shot t-shirt for Powder Puff, given to women who have contributed to the zine. Also as usual, Jeff Groper helped run things with the handy dandy Brackelope Tournament Builder. It was really cool that many women who never (or rarely) play in tourneys showed up to compete against players like Zoe Vrabel (2011’s winner), Bonnie Bedford (2009’s champ) and Kayla Greet (SPL’s current #1). Despite seasoned locals familiar with Shorty’s pins, many out-of-towners did very well and took three of the top four spots, leaving Amanda Kunzi as the lone Seattleite at third place. Portland once again upset the locals when Emma Eichhorn came in first, winning a custom-made Twin Win back glass in her prize package! We had fun at this event and hope everyone else did too. Girl Power!
The Northwest Pinball and Arcade Show (PAAS) held at the Tacoma Convention Center on June 7th – 9th was bigger and better than ever. Unlike previous shows at the Seattle Center, all the games fit into the same room. It was overwhelming at first, with over 350 games, and easy to just walk around and be mesmerized. Some obvious highlights were the Marco Specialties exhibit with three new Metallica pins and Jersey Jack’s first release Wizard of Oz, both of which always had lines waiting to play. Tucked away in the middle of the show was the new Predator pin by Skit-B, a new pinball manufacturer who seem to be flying a bit under the radar. Some other standout pins were Apollo 13 (13 ball multi-ball), Hercules (the largest pin ever made) and Gottlieb’s Haunted House (which worked this year). It was, as always, a good mix of both old and new games.
Like many Seattleites, we had some trepidation about PAAS moving to Tacoma. Despite a direct bus from downtown Seattle to the Tacoma Convention Center, the hour-long ride (one way) took some spontaneity away from when we could walk to the event. The bus also stopped running well before the midnight closing time. We got a hotel room, which gave us time to explore Tacoma and visit Dorky’s. If we were from out of the area, we think Seattle would be a better place to stay because there’s more places to go — especially at night. We may be biased and Tacoma is less expensive both for hotel rooms and convention centers so we guess it balances out. The convention center is a nice building with many spacious rooms and a large load-in area that made people donating their time and games happy. That’s no small thing for a non-profit like PAAS. We were sad that there was no guerilla BBQ this year, though.
There were other perks to the Convention Center like a food vendor/dining area in the main room and conference rooms with good acoustics for guest speakers. Speakers this year included Gary Stern, local game operator Bill Masterman, pin artist Kevin O’Connor (Silverball Mania) and legendary game designer Python Anghelo (PINBOT). We were particularly interested in the Python seminars and were rewarded when he gave Skill Shot a big shout out. During his fireside talk Python raved about Skill Shot and said we’ve helped make Seattle the center of pinball culture! (Listen to his fireside chat here. Python talks about us at the 4:55 mark.) Of more importance was Python’s announcement about the rebirth of his legendary pin, Pinball Circus! He was short on details, but if we understood correctly there will be a new version of Pinball Circus from a new manufacturer in the near future, with an official press release expected by end of year. That is exciting news as there were only two copies ever made and yet this game has become rather well-known due to its unique shape and multi-level playfield.
Tournaments and raffles were a big part of PAAS. The official Metallica Launch Party tournament was held on the first day of the show and had 85 contestants! The Seattle Pinball Museum hosted family-friendly tournaments open to any non-IFPA-ranked player as part of the show admission. There were also two IFPA-sponsored tournaments, Classics on older EMs organized by James Edes and the Main Tournament ran by Chase Nunes from GeekGamer.tv. These two tourneys both drew about 70 experienced players, making them two of the biggest annual tournaments in the region. The raffles this year were also cool because a $1 ticket gave a chance to win a Williams Bad Cats pinball machine! The raffle announcements were hard to hear in the main room but raffle hostess Cheeseboat overcame this obstacle with her loud and commanding control of the mic. All in all, this was a fun event and a great way to start the summer. Tacoma!
Check out more photos from PAAS 2013 here: flicker
The Northwest Pinball Championships took place in Marysville from June 21st – 23rd and is another of the biggest tournaments in the area. While it doesn’t draw the same numbers as the PAAS tournaments, the prize money and WPPR points bring players from all over the country. Hosted by Cayle George and Eden Stamm, the NWPC is a weekend of pinball as competitive as they come. The rules are similar to PAPA’s where contestants have the chance to qualify on a variety of games by buying tickets, with their best scores moving them up the ranks. Like similar tournaments, doing the math and determining which games you must score best on is almost as important as playing well. It’s possible for a family member or partner to help things with a higher score on certain games to reduce the qualifying points of other opponents, which we heard may have happened that weekend. Scandalous? Perhaps, but also totally legal, which is why we prefer head-to-head tournaments where you win or lose to a specific opponent. Still, this tournament style makes things exciting as prize money increases with more tickets sold. Ultimately, the locals were defeated and the main tournament final four were all visiting players, including Chicago’s Zach Sharpe, who took first place. Chicago!
Our neighbors in Vancouver, BC have a flourishing pinball scene with many tournaments, one of which was the Full Metal Flipoff Metallica Pro Pinball Tournament on June 1st. Drama unfolded on Facebook weeks after the event when people discovered the tournament was reduced from a full IFPA points event to a Stern Launch Party Tournament, which gives fewer points. Apparently this was partly because the “launch party” was held about the same time as others nationwide with a similar format of $5 per try. Vancouver IFPA rep Eden Stamm ultimately made the call to downgrade and took a lot of heat for both that and comments criticizing the event on the Vancouver Regional Pinball Association (VPRA) website. Some have accused Eden of posting personal attacks on the VPRA website, leading to his temporary suspension from the group (which surprised us as we always thought he was the VRPA). Added to the mix is the new IFPA State Championship Series, a yearly contest that adds up players’ ranking points in a state (or province) in order to qualify for a North American tournament slated for 2014. Some are touchy about the criticism and some about the points, but we hope things work out for Eden as we’ve seen firsthand how passionately he loves this sport. We’re happy this kind of drama didn’t happen in Seattle. Oh Canada!
Meanwhile back in Seattle, Bobby Conover and Aaron Bendickson have begun hosting weekly Monday tournaments at Full Tilt Ballard and drawing a decent crowd. This gives Seattle its 3rd weekly tourney and the first one open to all ages. Naturally this is a draw for some of the best underage players in town, like Raymond Davidson who is ranked 51st worldwide (5th in the state). This has caused some casual players to disparage these tournaments (those damn kids!) but we had fun competing for the other prizes, like the one for the “first person out”. We were a little disappointed when we showed up one day to play the new Wizard of Oz and it wasn’t working. Apparently there’s a glitch that keeps the whole machine from working if there’s a faulty LED switch. Hopefully a fix from Jersey Jack is in the works. In other Full Tilt news: the Queen Anne location is still under development but no word when or if it will open, their burgers/pinball spin-off Hi Score Burgers may open a location on Capitol Hill, and there are plans to expand their U-District spot which would finally give them space for pinball machines. Tilt!
The other weekly tournaments happen at Add-a-Ball Amusements and John John’s Game Room, sister locations owned by Travis and Add-a-Brad. We were pleasantly surprised when long-time Skill Shot subscriber Jeffery Neumann took first and second place respectively at those tournaments the week he visited from Reno, NV. We usually can’t make these weeknight tournaments but we almost always make a Saturday night visit to John John’s because it’s close to the Skill Shot Office. They always do funny things, like the life-sized male blow-up doll hanging outside during gay pride weekend. Add-a-Ball is fun too and their summer concert series on the front patio hosted a secret show by Feral Children weeks before their Capitol Hill Block Party set. Add-a-Ball is at the tail-end of expanding with the new area called Point Break opening soon-ish, adding about 8 more pins. Both locations are operated by pinball godfather Rod Olsen, who does a good job of switching games around and keeping things fresh. We were surprised he didn’t hustle The Sopranos pin into Add-a-Ball ASAP when James Gandolfini recently died since we heard it was happening weeks before (the pin moving there, that is). RIP.
Another thing that Rod does well is throw a party, and his annual 4th of July party is one of the highlights of our summer! Besides having cool pins on hand like AC/DC and Tommy, there was good food, tank battles, and a Pat Benatar cover band! Great friends and fun times were had and there was so much beer leftover we thought he could have had another party with it. That beer would have been handy at the July Seattle Pinball League (SPL) tournament at Mitch Anderson’s a few weeks later since there was more drinking demand than supply that day. Hey, it’s rude to leave it up to the host to go on a beer run when he’s already done so much for us. Anyways, this SPL was the annual Bally Open which means pin-golf on all Bally machines like Xenon and Paragon, with many pins placed outside and around the house. This is a really fun event and a unique way to have a tournament. Even if you didn’t make it to the finals there were plenty of other pins to play like White Water and Elvis, as well as a few side tournaments. Super-Duper!
The NW Pinball Swap Meet took place at Specialty Coin in Kent on July 21st and is another annual summer tradition. At this event people are encouraged to bring unwanted pinball parts and memorabilia to sell out of their vehicles in the parking lot. We saw playfields, ramps, and pinball machines, amongst other useful items and if you know how to work on pins, it could save you both time and money. Diligent buyers could pre-find what they wanted by posting on the Washington Pinball Crazies list or on the event’s Facebook page. For us, the main attraction is seeing friends and meeting new people, although we did have our eye open for a new pinball poster. Specialty Coin opens their showroom for the event so you can see and play some of their pins. If you got there early, there were also free hot dogs. Free! Hot! Dogs!
At a recent visit to the Seattle Pinball Museum (SPM) we discovered that their Upper Playfield is now open all the time. The newly designed room expands the number of pins available to play and holds a number of the pins once located downstairs such as Future Spa and Gorgar. Part of the reason these old games have been usurped from the main room is the steadily increasing number of newer pins at the SPM like Metallica and TRON and popular 90’s games like Theatre of Magic. The SPM also plans to expand their hours with the addition of a new employee! Proprietors Charlie and Cindy Martin are fabulous hosts and we hope they hire someone as nice as they are. Nice!
Skill Shot News: We’ve released two new t-shirts since our last issue! One was a limited edition Powder Puff shirt and another with a larger production run features the Skill Shot 27 cover (Banzai Run). The initial release of the SS27 shirt came in three colors (grey, green or white) but the green version has mostly sold out. The other shirts are still available in most sizes, so if you want one send us an email to check availability. You may have noticed two other Skill Shots on Facebook: Skill Shot ICT in Wichita, KS and Skill Shot MKE from Milwaukee, WI. Both are directly influenced by us and have asked to use the Skill Shot name to help publicize pinball in their areas, much as we do here in Seattle. We think that’s pretty neat. The ICT and MKE in their names are the airport codes of their respective cities and as we are the original Skill Shot we guess that makes us Skill Shot Prime. At PAAS we encountered a new company called the Skill Shot Pinball Company, building an easily programmable platform for the creation of new pins. It sounds like a cool project and we wish them success with their venture, even if we are unsure about their name choice. Skill Shot!
Pinball Tidbits: Shorty’s has a Metallica Premium. It’s a sweet game and probably our favorite new Stern. Since no one defeated the MAK score at Orange Dracula it is now The One To Beat! * Maka recently moved to Kansas City so we guess it’s time to beat all of his scores or at least put up a few TED’s. * Wheel of Fortune is now at the Narwhal after its long years of exile at Beth’s. Thanks Avout! * Did you hear that Replay Café in Everett moved? They are now across the street from their old location. * The arcade/bar in Renton you may have heard about has been seriously delayed thanks to sprinkler issues. * While it’s no Macklemore, Claire’s Dolly Parton pin has a new home at the Lucky Vintage Thrift Store. It is not for sale. * Bridle Trails Pizza in Kirkland closed after 30 years and while the pins are now gone their pizza is still available at the local Red Apple. * We want to give a big shout out to Ben Flaster who graciously donated a camera to us after ours broke. Thanks Ben! * This zine wouldn’t happen without all our volunteers! * Goodbye Monster Bash, Shorty’s now has a Wizard of Oz! * Support Local Pinball!