Originally published in Skill Shot 15, August 2010

For the third year in a row, summer in Seattle began with the NW Pinball and Gameroom Show (PAGS) at Seattle Center on June 11 – 13th. We always have a great time at this event, and this year was even better when we were allowed in the night before the show started to take pictures of Black Hole for the cover! It was fun and interesting to see everything that goes on the night before the show with pins being assembled, leveled, and fine-tuned for the big opening. Naturally, we played a bunch of games and also found more cool pin-art to take photos of for future issues. Big thanks to Rod Olson and James Edes for the VIP treatment!

If you don’t already know, all the games at PAGS are supplied by private collectors from around the Pacific Northwest. There were lots of great games that we rarely see anywhere else, such as Mousin’ Around, Spectrum, and Banzai Run, as well as local favorites that are usually broken, like Doctor Who and Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure. While some popular pins were missing from the line-up, there were plenty of cool games that were new to PAGS this year, like River Boat Gambler, Ice Fever, and Class of 1812 (featuring a huge beating heart!).

Other games that had neat gimmicks included Hollywood (with multiple kick-outs) and 4 NBA Fastbreak machines, with 2 of them connected together for two-player matches. One of the NBAs was also a raffle prize this year (along with a Congo pin)! Some machines were also for sale such as Super Mario Bros. and Vector (which was purchased by Brian Hasbro). Besides buying pinball machines, a current trend seems to be people making their own games, and Galactic Girl and Cosmic Colony were the examples this year. We’ve seen and heard of others working on their own pin designs, and we expect there to be more of them next year. Right, CIB?

On Saturday, guest speakers such as George Gomez (designer of Lord of the Rings), John Trudeau (designer of Bride of Pinbot), and Steve Wiebe (star of The King of Kong) gave talks, and Headley hosted a spontaneous outside BBQ. The finals of the pinball tournaments were Sunday, with Zoe Vrabel winning the Women’s Championship and Keith Elwin winning the Northwest Pinball Championship after a nail-biting finish against Robert Gagno, Cayle George, and one of the Sharpe Brothers, that lasted well after PAGS was over and people were loading out their games. The whole weekend was a blast and we look forward to going again next year. Thanks Dan!

Meanwhile, The Seattle Pinball League keeps gathering new members and having fun events on a monthly basis. The July meeting/tournament was at Mitch’s house and was a Bally-only event that also incorporated Pinball Golf into the format. It sounded like loads of fun and we are sorry we missed it! (Damn those Saturday tournaments.) The previous month’s meeting was held at Rod’s house and we also missed that, but we did make it to his 4th of July Pinball Party a week later, which had all of the machines still set up. That was a great party with fireworks, hoola hoops, countertop dancing, and lotsa pinball! The Cartoons were also celebrating their 10th anniversary that day and Cathy surprised Steve with the Chicago Coins’ Hollywood pinball machine that we had previously admired at PAGS. What a great gift!

Another great gift was when all the folks came out to the Skill Shot Folding Party we had at The Lookout for our last issue. We played pinball, drank PBR, and watched Sagel beat ELF’s high score on the Frankenstein machine. You might remember that that was our first The One To Beat (TOTB) contest back in issue #11, and until the folding party, no one had been able to Grand Champ ELF’s score. Too bad for DOC that we’ve since moved on and that pin is no longer our featured TOTB machine. Speaking of which, we guess that maybe LWL’s high score on Cactus Canyon at Bandits was unbeatable after all (especially once the ramp stopped registering), and now we’ve moved TOTB to Terminator 2 at Al’s Tavern in Wallingford (sorry, Geoffro).

In other Wallingford news: Sock Monster, the sock store with a The Addams Family pinball machine, is soon to be pinball-less. They had it so briefly that they never even made it on our Seattle Pinball List. We’re pretty sure that that was the game formerly at The Owl and Thistle, whose patrons were so upset when the pin was removed, they created a Face Book page about it. Another notable case of a moved game is the KISS pin that was formerly at The Feedback and now seems to be at Radar Records. We can’t imagine that there is more than one KISS pin on location in Seattle.

Speaking of Face Book, the Skill Shot page has been buzzing with activity lately, with readers posting about broken and/or new pins. For example, Kimberly Morrison went to Stellar Pizza recently to play Demolition Man, only to find one of the flippers broken in half and the machine still on! It’s good to know what the pins are like before you travel across town to play them, so if you have something to report, go to our FB page and share your observations. We also have current news, gossip, and links to other pinball maps.

Pinball Tidbits: Seattle may soon have a Pinball Museum in Pioneer Square; Tacoma will soon have a new spot called Dorky’s Barcade; Centaur has (sort of) been reborn after the Hooverville fire and is now at Shorty’s; a third Ballard Pinball Tournament is planned for August 30th; Add-a-Ball Amusement may return; Matthew is walking; and Stern’s next new game will be based on Avatar. We want TRON!

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