The new Full Tilt Ice Cream in Ballard will be hosting one of the Transformers Pinball Release Parties. They are not open at the time of this posting so I don’t have any details yet (like their address!).
The new locations will be on Leary, near Market St in Ballard.
Originally published in Skill Shot 21, October 2011
The Monday Night Football Pinball Showdown at Rod Olsen’s happened on the same night as the first Monday Night Football game on TV on September 12th. It was originally going to be two player match-ups, double elimination head-to-head on two Monday Night Football pins that were next to each other. Just like in a real football game, the winner was determined by the number of touchdowns, and points only mattered if there was a tie. This was a cool idea except that over 40 contestants turned out for the event and (then) one of the pins broke down. It was a work night and players were dropping like flies as the night wore on. Eventually sometime after 2AM Cayle George became the winner of what will hopefully become an annual event. Night Owls!
Another fun tournament was the September 17th Seattle Pinball League (SPL) Tournament. This was an all Bally tournament hosted by Mitch Anderson and the format was PinGolf! As we have never played golf before, it was a bit confusing when people talked about pars, strokes, tops and bottoms, but once we started playing, it made more sense. Martin Ayub from pinballnews.com was visiting for the event and showed why he is the #1 player in the UK. His final match on Paragon against Raymond Davidson was one of the most exciting we had seen in a while. With a par of 90,000, Martin was quite a ways behind when he totally choked on the final ball but then received a rare “ball saved” that he didn’t even notice until the crowd gasped aloud in unison. Martin went on to score 91,800, making the par and winning the tournament! 2nd Place Raymond was second place again!
Other tournaments since our last issue: The First Sunday Tournamentat Shorty’s (8/7) which was won by Paul Sonier; The SPL Tournament at Randy Pouley’s (8/20) won by Robert Gagno (with great Thai food!); The First Sunday Tournament at Shorty’s (9/4) won by Jeff Groper; The quarterly Seattle Pinball Museum (SPM) Tournament (9/19) won by Maka Honig; and The Ballard Pinball Tournament (9/19) won by Bobby Conover. It’s more fun to compete!
National tournaments also drew local players, including PAPA in Pennsylvania and The Pacific Pinball Expo in California. There is a lot of determination among some local players because the 2012IFPA World Pinball Championship is happening in Seattle next year. The players with the highest IFPA Rankings are invited first for the limited 64 spots in the tournament, and people in Seattle have a good chance to attend, as some higher ranking players will choose to opt out. Cayle George won last year’s Championship, which was held in Sweden and almost cancelled when a controversy developed after government officials discovered that the tournament had a cash prize. The Seattle tournament is reportedly being held at Todd MacCulloch’s and we will have more details later. Stay Tuned…
Stern Pinball’s Transformers is set for release later in October and will be a very public affair with four different release parties planned in the area. Events are planned for the Seattle Waterfront Arcade (10/21), Seattle Pinball Museum (10/22), Dorky’s in Tacoma (10/28), and the soon to be open Full Tilt in Ballard (10/28). The new Full Tilt has been anxiously anticipated since it was first announced at the beginning of the summer. Conveniently located in the heart of Ballard, their new location will have 15 pinball machines! Look for our report on their grand opening next issue. Sweet!
The Seattle area is experiencing a pinball renaissance with a multitude of new venues and machines. Both Dorky’s (22 pins) and the Seattle Pinball Museum (40+ pins) have opened in the last year, along with the new Full Tilt (15). The Unicorn on Capitol Hill is in the midst of constructing their long awaited pinball room with space for 19 pinball machines. Meanwhile, Shorty’s has been expanding locations by picking up The Iron Bull and the Comet Tavern, as well as adding popular pins to places like the Fun House (Funhouse) and Jabu’s (The Shadow). Even Space Age Amusements has serviced their games more often lately and moved things around, so we’re definitely expecting to see a Wheel of Fortune at a downtown location any day now. Right!??
Don’t forget: The 14th Annual Shorty’s Pinball Tournament on November 5th and 6th!
The Lookout has been expecting a Fish Tales for a while now and chances are it will arrive right around the same time our new Seattle Pinball List is printed. The Lookout is the location of our Skill Shot Folding Parties, and last issue we had a great turn out. We want to give a BIG shout out to everyone who helped us fold every single copy in just 3 hours! Speaking of the Pinball List, this issue premieres our new color coded all-ages system to help people under 21 find pinball machines. Check it out!
Another change in this issue is The One To Beat, which has now moved to The Rolling Stones pin at the SPM. Since no one could beat MAK’s Grand Champ score on either of the last two games, we’ve decided to pick one that he hasn’t dominated (yet). Have you been to www.skill-shot.com lately? Along with an archive of past articles, we have a calendar of Seattle pinball events, including a bunch of Halloween-themed pinball tournaments! You don’t have to go to Facebook to find out what’s happening. Wow!
A link to our Calendar is located at the top of this web page!
Pinball Tidbits: If you noticed that The Addams Family at Shorty’s looks and plays differently that’s because it is a new machine; the old one went to the Comet • By the time you read this the SPM’s Upper Playfield should be open with even more pins and a view of the main room • We had an awesome time at the Summer Tilt Birthday Bash in Redmond this summer. Thanks to Birthday Boys Byron, Dave and Keith • Gunfire and a SWAT team heralded the closing of the Tiger Lounge for good. Rumor has it certain employees plan to relocate a similar business downtown • We lost the Skill Shot camera at the last Ballard Tournament • With Xenon still broken, the Redwood has now become Skill Shot Office East. Gofer Trouble!
SUPPORT LOCAL PINBALL
Special thanks to Cathy Cartoon for providing many of the above photos!
For photos of the pins currently at the Seattle Pinball Museum at press time please check out this gallery.
Originally published in Skill Shot #20, August 2011
The Ballard Pinball Tournament had the unusual starting time of 3 in the afternoon on Monday May 30th, because it was Memorial Day. As always the Ballard Tournament is a roving event that moves to different establishments in the neighborhood, but because of the holiday many of the planned venues were either closed or had inconvenient hours. Claire and Headley’s Pinball Room was also out of the running because of a new floor being installed, so all the matches were held at Snoose Junction and Liberty House. Julie Gray took first place and Graham Klym took second. Liberty House was a great place to go because they had hosted the Sam Theoharis Memorial Croquet Tournament the day before and were still stocked with grills, beer and pinball machines. Pinball Summer!
Another reason Headley’s pins were not available was because they were being packed up for the Pacific Northwest Pinball and Gameroom Show (PAGS) later in the week. This annual event is something we look forward to each summer and Skill Shot was graciously allowed to take pictures of the games while they were being set up on Thursday evening. A lot of love and work goes into this show and we were impressed with how it was set up this year. Look for our full report on PAGS elsewhere in this issue!
As usual, there have been a lot of local tournaments happening, and on June 9th the Seattle Pinball Museum held the first in their new quarterly format. Hosted by Jeff Groper, the tournament had 40 contestants as well as many observers, including British pinball author Gary Flowers and Canadian Bally repair expert Lindsey Rupertus. Steve Ackley took the top prize and Brian Headley took second. Later that evening we had a 5 game tournament of our own at Shorty’s against Sergey and Heather. Using our 100 Pinball Game Equation (from issue 16) we luckily didn’t bet any money because Heather won. It’s more fun to compete!
As if that wasn’t enough pinball tournament action for a week, the next night (6/10) was the first of three official TRON Pinball Release Parties! The TRON events also featured a tournament and the first one at the Seattle Waterfront Arcade was won by Maka. The next day (6/11) had a TRON party at Flynn’s Arcade in Tacoma (a.k.a. Dorky’s), and the pinball machine was hooked up to the sound system for the final match, which ELF won. Four days later (6/14) at the Seattle Pinball Museum, TRON had another release party that was won by Seattle Pinball League treasurer Hannah Olson. And we missed them all!
Other pinball events we missed include the annual Summer Solstice Soiree at Andrew Nunes’ house that happened on the same day as the Fremont Solstice Day Parade; the July Seattle Pinball League Tournament that was held at Mike Lorrain’s home, won by Randy Pouley; the first tournament at Bridle Trails New York Pizza in Kirkland, won by Beth Johns; and the Super Multi-Brawl tournament in Vancouver BC, won by Cayle. A Vancouver tournament is apparently a rare event because most pins are in private homes rather than on location. They haven’t had a public tournament in years. Sorry, Maka.
Rod Olson’s annual 4th of July Party was a great time as always. The festivities included tasty food, fireworks, tank battles and of course, lots of pinball. Rod has a great collection of pins and this year he also had a nice set up in his garage. Some of the games included Fish Tales, two NBA Fastbreak that were connected to each other and 300, which became the center of attention when we held a Biggest Loser Tournament, won by Rod’s stepmother. Those Olsons have pinball in their blood!
Birthdays seem to be popular times to have pinball tournaments at Shorty’s. 4th Place Andy hosted The Trick Pinball Olympics on June 21st. Four different pins had different games: Biggest Loser on Speakeasy; Pat Hand on The Addams Family; Blind Folded (Tommy) on Family Guy; and Half and Half on Champion Pub. The highest scores were awarded points with the four highest scorers moving on to the final match on TRON, which Pancakes easily won. Jawn Wakefield had a Batman-themed birthday on July 21st, with a Bat-Hand tournament on Batman, naturally. In this tournament, players had to use the opposite hand for each flipper and you could do either forwards (like most people did) or backwards, which seemed to help some folks. This style of playing is fun and challenging and we would like to see it played again sometime on an easier game. Bat Fun!
We made it to Dorky’s recently and were impressed with their large game selection. It’s like a mini PAGS with a ton of arcade games and over 20 pinball machines, many of which you don’t often see available to the public. Dirty Harry, Data East’s Star Trek and Indianapolis 500 are just a few of the older games there, as well as newer pins like Big Buck Hunter and TRON. There were a few bands playing in the big room the night we visited and we watched Lesthe owner moving games around so a stage could be built. Later he even had a working arcade game out on the sidewalk for people to play. Dorky’s is in a nice part of Tacoma and there’s a lot of different neat bars and other businesses within walking distance. You don’t have to go anywhere else to get a drink though, because beginning August 1st Dorky’s started selling beer. Beer!
Another business that recently got a license to sell beer and wine is the Seattle Pinball Museum! With their ever-changing collection of games and plans to open The Upper Playfield soon, the SPM just keeps getting better and better. Owner Charlie Martin wanted us to mention that if you need a pinball machine fixed in your home, the SPM might be able to help and Cindy Martin reminded us that they are now selling Full Tilt Ice Cream. Speaking of Full Tilt, we heard that the building permits for their future Ballard business have finally arrived. The new location will have more pinball than either of their other two arcades and will most likely be open in 6 to 8 weeks. Sweet.
The Pinball and Arcade Swap Meet happened in the parking lot of Specialty Coin in Kent and despite the rain there was a good turnout. There was lots of different stuff for sale or trade, including a No Good Gofers pinball machine and various ramps, switches and instruction manuals for many different games. Specialty Coin was also open and had Rolling Stones and NASCAR pins to play. Chris Walsh and Butch Clifford brought a generator along with Radical and Strike and Spares in the back of their truck, so those pins were also available to play. There’s talk of starting another swap meet on the north-end, but organizer Keith Nelson would rather have someone else coordinate that one. Thrifty!
Last issue’s Skill Shot Folding Party at The Lookout was our most successful one yet; over 1600 issues of the zine were folded in record time and we would like to thank everyone who stopped by to help out. Also, thanks again to The Lookout who provided us with tasty sliders and hummus (and beer). Have you been to our website? www.skill-shot.com is the place to go for all past Skill Shot articles and covers. There’s also current news and gossip tidbits, updated calendar listings and more, so check it out. You can also see what the current The One To Beat score is. We had to change the pin because no one could beat MAK’s 1,136,165,620 on Batman at Shorty’s. We’re sure everyone wants another chance to beat Maka so the new TOTB is the Jack-Bot at the Rabbit Hole in Belltown. Go Team Skill Shot!
Pinball Tidbits: The WWF Royal Rumble at the 9LB Hammer has a DMD that randomly goes out multiple times during a game. The Randy Savage sound bites made this a fitting place to have a drink when remembering The Macho Man • The Lookout has finally replaced the no tilt Frankenstein with Pirates of the Caribbean, and it plays pretty well if you’re not Jeff Groper • Pinball champ Nycole Hyatt is now bartending at the Tiger Lounge and plans are forming for a tournament there • The Fun House finally has a Fun House • The current season of Hell’s Kitchen has a pinball-themed intro that you should check out (on FOX) • The Highline took out part of the bar and built a pinball cove • The next new Stern will be Transformers • The Annual Shorty’s Pinball Tournament has changed dates to November 5 &6 • We want to go Pinball Camping!
The Annual Northwest Pinball and Gameroom Show (PAGS) was held at Seattle Center again this year and it was bigger and better than ever! With over 400 pinball and arcade games, an exciting roster of guest speakers and seminars, and The Northwest Pinball Championships, it was a sensory overload of fun. Plus it was Seattle’s first warm and sunny weekend of the summer!
Unlike last year that had the pinball machines and arcade games in separate rooms, this year’s show had the two mixed together. It seemed a little unsettling for some pinball fans at first (no doubt because many remember that arcade games displaced pinball in the arcades back in the 80’s), but in the long run it was a welcome change and helped cement Seattle’s role as a city that embraces both communities of players and collectors. As far as we know, PAGS is unique as the only national expo that showcases both pinball and arcade games. We even played more arcade games this year because they were both in the same aisle and it was easy to play one while waiting for the other.
One of the cool pinball features this year was the complete collection of Williams System 11 pinball machines that took up two rows in the main room. There were 30 pins in this collection, beginning with High Speed (1986) and ending with Bugs Bunny Birthday Ball (1991). There were a lot of fun games in this collection including classics such as Pin-Bot, Cyclone, and Black Knight 2000, as well as pins we don’t get to play often like Swords of Fury and Earthshaker. Some of the games that we had never seen before (and fell in love with) included Grand Lizard, Big Guns, and Transporter the Rescue, all of which have cool artwork and playfields. The pins in this collection are owned by different area collectors and Seattle Pinball League President Rod Olson actually bought a Millionaire machine so that the collection would be complete!
Another section of PAGS had a chronological collection of older (mostly) Gottlieb pins from the 1960’s and 70’s that showcased both the evolution of flippers, which became larger, and back glass art, which became rather surreal and psychedelic at times. A few of the standout pins in this section include Big Casino (1961) with its unique bottom bumpers (similar to Stern’sWheel of Fortune) and games like Domino (1968) and Atlantis (1975) which show hip young people in unusual settings. Other older pins were also scattered around the hall, including the first flipperless pin to make an appearance at PAGS, an Exhibit Bounty (1938).
Friday was a fun day to go to PAGS, as it was the day with the least amount of people so there was less waiting to play our favorite machines. Not everyone could take the day off from work, so there was no wait to play popular games like Theatre of Magic, Banzai Run or Black Hole, compared to the other two days. One game that did have a bit of a wait was the Seattle debut of the new Stern TRON pinball machine that was set up next to the Raffle Table. Not only did you have the chance to play the latest Stern pin, you also had a chance to win it if you were able to purchase one of the $20 tickets (limited to 250), which sold out rather early on Friday afternoon.
Saturday had a larger crowd and was a good day for attending some of the seminars. Jack Guarnieri of Jersey Jack Pinball did a presentation on his company which is making The Wizard of Oz pin, due to be released later this year. Another seminar featured John Youssi (Jokerz, White Water, TRON) giving us the rundown on how he began his career as album cover artist and made his way into becoming one of the most prolific pinball artists of the modern era. There were many other seminars during the weekend featuring talks by local champ Todd MacCulloch, pinball designer John Popadiuk (Circus Voltaire), artist Greg Freres (Scared Stiff and this years PAGS poster), designer John Borg (Guns N’ Roses), and many more, including “The Making of TRON Pinball”.
Gary Stern of Stern Pinball did a presentation about his company and family’s history in pinball. It was a fascinating rundown on how his father began as a coin-op distributor and eventually created a family-run business that became the only pinball manufacturer in the USA. Gary explained how the sales of Stern pinball machines break down into three main groups (operators, enthusiasts, home owners) and how 60% of the new Stern games are distributed outside of the USA (which explains Stern’s commitment to licensed themes). He also presented his theory on how games were becoming too complex for the casual player. Stern believes that making games easier to figure out and by adding more random features, pinball will become more appealing. He ended his talk lauding the social aspects of pinball by having fun events like tournaments and new pinball release parties. (And with pinball zines we might add.)
Saturday afternoon was the second annual Guerilla BBQ outside on the plaza, hosted by Claire and Headley. With the Space Needle as a backdrop, wieners and burgers were grilled to order and several side dishes were shared during this delicious break from all the pinball festivities. You didn’t have to be a local gamer to partake in the food, as a few homeless men soon found out, as well as Jeff Brownsberger from Georgia, who won tickets and airfare to the show from the PAGS website! Eventually a representative of the Center showed up and asked for the grill to be shut down, but mostly everyone was already fed. Did we mention that it was a gorgeous day?
Saturday evening had the biggest crowds of the weekend and it was sometimes a bit of a wait to play a popular pin. This was the best time to play the games that might otherwise be ignored, like the kid-size Punchy The Clown, the unwieldy Algar, and the unusual (but fun to look at) Orbitor 1. Meanwhile, a lot of contestants were trying to get good scores to place in The Northwest Pinball Championships, up until the midnight closing time. Graham and Cayle worked together to get the results on the Skill Shot website so the finalists would know to be back at the tournament before the noon start time. We are not sure that all of the contestants knew that we were going to do this, but we want to make this a regular thing, so watch for it to happen again next year.
Sunday was the last day of PAGS and also Skill Shot’s Biggest Loser Tournament! The two hour Biggest Loser event was held on Headley’s Future Spa, which fortunately had extra space around it due to Space Invaders being commandeered for the main tournament. Hosted by Bernard Boulevard, contestants were invited to try to get the lowest score possible without tilting! There was a lot of interest from people who had seen our posters as well as people passing by who were attracted by all the excitement. Biggest Loser is harder than it sounds when playing on a game like Future Spa. You never knew who was going to get the lowest score: a seasoned player, a shirtless Aaron McAbee, or perhaps the young kid hanging out with his dad. Ultimately Lee Hopson of Tacoma walked away with the lowest score and a Skill Shot T-shirt!
As PAGS wound down for its 3PM closing time on Sunday, and people scurried around for some last minute pinball playing, The Northwest Pinball Championship Finals was entering its exciting conclusion. This is the largest pinball tournament in the region, with a big cash prize, so players from all over the area (and beyond) come to compete. Earlier in the day the tournament had the final playoffs for the Women’s Championship (won by Seattle’s Linda “Cheeseboat” Nasfell), the Classics Division (won by New York’s Francesco LaRocca), and the Novice Competition (won by Mercer Island’s Eric Dubofsky). Some of the players for the main tournament included Keith Elwin from Carlsbad CA, Zachand Josh Sharpe from Chicago IL, various members of Portland’s CFF crew and local favorites like Robert Gagno, Maka Honig and Cayle George. When all other locals had been defeated, Raymond Davidson from Mukilteo WA was the lone Seattle Pinball League member left in the contest. Raymond showed that he was a pinball force to be reckoned with when he tied number one ranked Elwin for first place and the $2,400 grand prize! Ultimately Elwin was able to wrest the first place win from the young upstart during a nail-biting tie breaker on Supersonic. Dang!