Summer has come and gone at lightning speed this year, much like the releases of new machines from the pinball manufacturers – especially compared to more recent years. As mentioned in our last issue, Stern Pinball has been on a frenzied pace this year with Pro versions of both The Munsters and Black Knight: Sword of Rage, and more recently, Jurassic Park, all coming out at practically the same time as the Limited Edition version of the game before it. Next up is Elvira’s House of Horrors with what we can only assume to be a Halloween release. There are already rumors of yet another new Stern on the horizon although they are trying to keep this one a real secret this time, even going so far as posting suspected false leads on their social media accounts. Cowabunga!
Meanwhile, Jersey Jack Pinball’s new Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory pinball machine has been making its way to a lot of local spots and it seems like they finally have a hit on their hands. There are certainly more Wonkas on location than any of their previous releases, which probably has something to do with both the timely theme and a Pat Lawlor design, both lacking in their previous release, Pirates of the Caribbean. Spooky Pinball’s Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle is another new pin showing up at a number of locations, despite the limited edition production of only 500 games. This most likely has something to do with the positive local reception of their Total Nuclear Annihilation pin. Both companies have new pins on the horizon: an updated Guns N’ Roses (JJP) and Haunted House Party (Spooky). Boo!
Most of these new pins showed up at the Northwest Pinball and Arcade Show (NWPAS), which happened the first weekend of June in Tacoma. NWPAS is certainly the pinball event of the year because of its appeal to serious players, collectors, and casual fans alike. As usual, this year’s show featured hundreds of pinball machines and arcade games all set on free play. Some of the highlights included the first local appearances of Willy Wonka, Alice Cooper, and American Pinball’s new Oktoberfest pin (which surprisingly hasn’t been seen since). Pinball parts company Marco Specialties had a large display of most of the new Sterns, which helped greatly in keeping the wait time low for those games. Naturally there were rows of classic well-known pins, such as Whirlwind and Tales from the Crypt, as well as many more rows of now obscure older titles such as Surfers, Count-Down, and 4 Aces. New pins to this year’s show included a Gottlieb Barb Wire and two Firepower games hooked up to play together at the same time. Classics!
Another highlight of NWPAS for many people was the tournaments. Organized by Dave Stewart, the 2019 NWPAS Tournaments were four different events held during the weekend: the NW Women’s Pinball Championship, Classics Pingolf, the Amateur & Rookie Tournament, and the main Open Match Play Tournament. All of these tournaments were very well attended, which isn’t surprising because in the months leading up to the show there was a series of pre-tournaments held throughout the region (from Bellingham to Portland) where players could win entries to the tournaments and NWPAS weekend passes. This created a competitive but fun atmosphere since it gave players from different cities, that don’t normally play together, a chance to meet and compete. Usually there are a couple of pins reserved for tournament play that aren’t on the main floor of the show, such as Gottlieb’s Raven and Bally’s Star Trek, which makes playing in the tournaments more special even if you don’t win anything. Specials!
Something that was not special was when the owner of Nitro Pinball made inappropriate comments and became physical with two of the women running the Gritty City Womxn’s Tournament at the Triple Knock the night before NWPAS opened. Their experience with him became more upsetting once it was realized that Nitro was the sponsor of the NW Women’s tournament, and news of this rapidly spread on social media. The NWPAS organizers quickly removed Nitro as sponsor and replaced the pinball machine donated by them with a cash prize instead. Pinball once had a reputation of tolerating this kind of behavior towards women, so it was great to see the show of support that these women received after speaking out. All in all, it was a sad way to begin a fun weekend and if you want more details about what happened, look on either Pinside or FaceBook. Sad!
The women’s pinball scene continues to grow in our region. New tournaments since our last issue include the aforementioned monthly Gritty City as well as the bi-weekly Women’s Pintastic Pinball Tourney at Another Castle Marysville. All of the women’s tournaments that register with the International Flipper Pinball Association (IFPA) are compiled into their Women’s Rankings which then qualify them for the IFPA Women’s World Championship happening in Denver next year. Registering with the IFPA will become a double-edged sword next year when the IFPA will begin collecting a $1 fee per player, like they do for open tournaments. Previously the women’s events were exempt from this charge. Another way the women’s ranking points matter is for next year’s Women’s Evergreen State Pinball Championship. For this tournament, the top 8 ranked in women’s-only events and the top 8 women ranked in open events will battle it out for the title of Women’s State Champion. Champion!
NW Pinball Championships (NWPC), which happened at Lynnwood Skate and Bowl (9/6 – 9/8), was perhaps the most prestigious pinball event of the summer. This tournament is part of the PAPA/Stern Pro Circuit, which is a series of 20 events held throughout the year. The top 40 players at the end of the season are invited to the Stern Pro Circuit Tournament Final, where every player wins prize money just for qualifying. NWPC brings in a number of out-of-state players hoping to improve their rankings, and gives local players a chance to compete against some of the best. IFPA points and prize money are up for grabs for all! NWPC is organized by Germain Mariolle, along with a host of volunteers, and was broadcast live by Chase Nunes and Ashley Weaver on GeekGamer TV. Check out some of the highlights on GeekGamer’s Youtube channel, including Escher Lefkoff putting up 63 billion points on Batman 66. Kapow!
There have been lots of other pinball tournaments and events that happened during the summer – so many that it’s tough to fit them all in this issue! Some were new game launch parties (for Black Knight at Ice Box and Jurassic Park at 8-Bit Arcade) while others were centered on holidays (No Pants Pinball for Gay Pride at Raygun and a Cinco de Mayo Tournament at White Buffalo). Live music was featured at Add-a-Ball all summer; the annual Quicksilverball was a bike-riding/pinball tournament; The Bremerton Beer Run had players racing from one location to another. Anniversary parties were also held for Another Castle (5 years old), Machine Shop (3 years), Jupiter and Coindexter’s (both 2).To find out ahead of time about all of the pinball events, along with the many weekly and monthly tournaments in our area, check out the Events Calendar on our website. Events!
One event that was met with some trepidation was when Shorty’s finally moved to their new location in July. Shorty’s is the oldest pinball bar in Seattle and many wondered if it would still feel the same when they moved to their new address down the street. All fears were quickly dissipated; the move was quick and painless (thanks to an army of volunteer clowns) and the new location looks great! The whole bar seems bigger, with more seating, clean bathrooms, and the art/decorations are practically the same. The best part is that the Pinball Cove now runs the length of the business instead of in the back, so there is no more jostling through the bar just to get to the pins! The new neon sign with blinking clown eyes really adds a bit of fun and class to the whole thing too. Well done!
The Flip Flip Ding Ding Pinball Stream is a series of live broadcasts on Twitch.tv/goblin_juggler. Organized by Jon Shaiman, the stream features local players concentrating on a pin and just playing the heck out of it. Sometimes they discuss tournament strategies and how to obtain big points, while at other times they engage in silly challenges, such as trying to get the most 4-way combos on The Addams Family. Anyone is welcome to join in (new players too), so just show up at FFDD on Sunday nights and talk to Jon.
* TILT is a feature-length comedic film following the patrons of the Bremerton pinball scene, with each act of the film being a day in the life of a different character. The film will eventually show up at a film festival with screenings planned locally in November. TILT! * Congratulations to Full Tilt Ballard’s Soda Jerks and Another Castle’s Castle Crashers who each won their respective division championships in last season’s Monday Night Pinball league. After a summer break the current season of MNP is going strong with the finals scheduled to happen in early December. Will someone be able to take down the Jerks this time?!! If you are not part of a team but are interested in becoming a substitute player, check out the MNP Subs page on Facebook.
* Pinburgh, the largest annual open tournament in the world, was held in Pittsburgh this summer. It is part of ReplayFX, the largest pinball and arcade festival. Pinball players and fans from all over travel to attend this event, including many from the Pacific NW. While many locals did well in the open tournament, the most exciting win came when Alyson Rae won the 45-player Stall Ball competition. Way to go Alyson! * The biggest pinball party of the summer was Rod’s 4th of July bash. It might not have the most games but it does have the most fun; including the popular Spank Your Tank event and an explosive pinball machine – Boom!
* Tim and Ashley’s wedding was the social event of the season and had many of the pin fam in attendance. The after party at the 8-Bit was a crowded affair; full of both love and people! * Nuptials of a stealthy sort happened in May when Nina Ricciardi and Tyler Morgan hitched their wagons together; so stealthy that you may just be learning about it here for the first time! Much love to these long-time pinball friends of the zine – xxoo!
* Another outpouring of love was the Fun’d Raiser raffle and auction held for Thrasho the Pinball Clown who had broken his foot. This was part of the (first) First Sunday Tournament at the new Shorty’s and some of the things auctioned off were fixtures from the old location. Not all of the fixtures found new homes though and are now a part of the new space.
* The Second Sunday Split at Add-a-Ball ended when the hosts, Jared and James, no longer had the time to host them. The split-flipper may return on an occasional basis, but since the Add-a-Ball Wrestling Federation happens most Sundays and has a tag team belt, we guess it’s not entirely gone. Support Local Pinball!