news & gossip

Skill Shot #20 News & Gossip

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!

photo by Katy Jacobson

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 Les the 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? 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 TransformersThe Annual Shorty’s Pinball Tournament has changed dates to November 5 &6 • We want to go Pinball Camping!


news & gossip other

The Northwest Pinball and Gameroom Show June 3 – 5 2011

photo by Paul

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’s Wheel 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?

photo by Keith Nelson

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!

photo by Cheeseboat

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, Zach and 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!

What a great way to end the weekend.

news & gossip

Skill Shot #15 News & Gossip

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!


news & gossip

Skill Shot #14 News & Gossip

Originally published in Skill Shot issue 14, June 2010

The 1st Annual Tommy Tournament happened at Shorty’s on April 1st and was a blast. Co-hosted by PBR, it was a blindfolded tournament where 2 player teams went head-to-head with the blindfolded player controlling the flippers and directed by their teammate on what to do (flip, nudge, etc). Team Skill Shot didn’t plan on making it past the first round, but our hands-on approach got us all the way to the final match-up against The Peeps (if you’re too scared to touch, you’re too scared to win!). And what do you know, we WON and are now Tommy Pinball CHAMPIONS!

The grand prize was one customized back glass that later created confusion and controversy, because there was only one awarded! We wonder what would have happened if it wasn’t Team Skill Shot that won the tournament and instead a team like Jeff Groper and Maka had won; how would they have shared that prize? If there’s going to be another Tommy Tournament next year, they may want to rethink what kind of prize it is going to be because something like this could possibly damage relationships. Still, we don’t want to sound like we’re complaining because the tournament was free and there was also free food, beer and fun! Did we already mention that we are now CHAMPIONS?

Winning this tournament wasn’t the only good thing that happened to Skill Shot since our last issue, we also got a pinball machine at the Skill Shot office! A 1980 Bally Xenon was loaned to us by Seattle Pinball League President Rod Olson and we love it! It’s a beautiful pin, fun to play and is teaching us quite a bit. A big shout-out goes to Headley, who’s showing us how to fix it too. Thanks guys!

Speaking of our last issue: we had our first folding party at The Lookout on Capitol Hill after #13 came out and it was a big success! A bunch of people came out to play Frankenstein, drink beer and fold zines. The Lookout always treats us right and they recently added another pin, a SEGA Harley-Davidson, which makes us feel even more appreciated there. Skill Shot folding parties are going to be regular events at the Lookout whenever we have a new issue, so watch our Facebook page for more details.

Another bar that has made us happy recently is Bandits on Denny, where the Cactus Canyon that used to be at Jules Maes now resides. We like that game so much that we decided to make it The One To Beat beginning this issue, since no one could top ELF’s high score on the Theatre of Magic at the Zoo Tavern. As mentioned previously, The One To Beat is the high score of a selected pin at a specific location and will be published in each issue of Skill Shot until no one is able to beat it. When that happens, we pick another pin to showcase.

We thought that since ELF was on tour with Black Breath it would give other people a chance, but instead we got a bunch of grumbling about LWL’s score being too high and that he probably got it at Jules Maes anyways. We’re betting that someone attending PAGS will take on this challenge and that we will have a new high score to publish in #15. (Bandits is a few blocks from The Seattle Center and on the way to Shorty’s if you’re walking.)

Speaking of PAGS (the NW Pinball and Gameroom Show, June 11 – 13), this year they’re going to have close to 300 pinball and arcade games, a bunch of special speakers and guests, the NW Pinball Championship and should be loads of fun, just like last year. You may be reading this issue there right now! Besides Bandits, another nearby bar is The Funhouse, which is having a drink special for those attending the event. Let’s hope they get that Medieval Madness in tip top shape! We’ll have more to say about PAGS next issue…

Stern’s new Iron Man pin made its Seattle debut at the Madison Pub weeks before any place else, and local pinball enthusiasts went there to check it out. Unfortunately the pin was suffering from various mechanical problems and people were disappointed, especially Pub employees who had to listen to our complaints. The Pub has been a great supporter of pinball and often has the latest Stern games, so we hope they have better luck with their next pin.

The Iron Man pin may be cursed, because one of the three pins that Gameworks was supposed to get for the release party/tournament on May 7th was damaged by a forklift! The event drew 39 contestants vying for a grand prize which was rumored to be an Iron Man pin itself. Well, it wasn’t (it was cash)and it was won by Nycole Hyatt, who is now a tournament CHAMPION after getting close many times before. People were surprised about a pinball tournament at Gameworks, because their pins are often in disappointing condition, but Pickles, their pinball repair gal, told us that she’s trying to get the pins in proper working condition and to that we say: you go girl!

On a related note, we also heard about someone who had her debit card info stolen and it may have possibly happened at the tournament. So if you had an open tab there you should keep an eye on your bill. Send us an email if you notice anything amiss and we will forward it. Claire swears it’s not in her purse!

As often happens, pinball locations come and go. Both Owl ‘N Thistle and Pink Gorilla have temporarily had their games removed, while the Roanoke Tavern sadly lost their lease. Luckily, recent additions are helping to fill the void: Highline (Cap Hill), Grizzled Wizard and Sock Monster (both in Wallingford) and 2 Bit Saloon (Ballard). Check out our Seattle Pinball List in this issue for more details!

Matthew almost had his leg cut off and he saw his own bone! Get well soon, young dragon…

news & gossip

Skill Shot #10 News & Gossip

Originally published in Skill Shot issue 10, September 2009

Wow, tons of stuff has happened since our last issue! We succeeded in getting out the last issue of Skill Shot in time for the 2nd Annual Northwest Pinball and Game Room Show (aka PAGS) which was held at Seattle Center on June 12-14th. It was tons of fun with lots of free pinball once you paid the admission fee (or volunteered like some of us did).

Some of the notable games this year were: Tommy (which has blinds that cover the flipper area); Orbitor 1 (with a crazy optical illusion playfield); Black Hole (that has a lower reversed playfield); Iron Maiden (a rare German pin); Fire! (with a LOUD bell); and Twin Win (which we had never played before despite it being featured on the cover of issue #3). Old favorites that we don’t get to play very often were also there like Whirlwind, Baywatch, The Shadow and Whitewater (which was also a raffle prize!). All the games at the show are owned by private collectors and one thing that a few of them did this year was place info cards on top of the machines that gave interesting tidbits such as the year and make of the game and other trivia. It was very cool and we hope that others will do the same thing next year.

The arcade game section was much larger this year and had its own room. If you were lucky you had a chance to see Steve Wiebe (from the movie King of Kong) play Donkey Kong in person! Naturally there were also various pinball celebrities in attendance, such as Dennis Nordman (Pirates of the Caribbean), Greg Freres (Fathom) and Steve Richie (No Fear, STTNG). There were also many world ranked pinball players at the show because of the IFPA sanctioned pinball tournament and many people were thrilled to be able to watch them ply their trade in Seattle. Some of the players (who are currently ranked in the top 20) in attendance were Keith Elwin (currently #2), the Sharpe brothers (#’s 4 & 6), Neil Shatz (#12) and of course Seattle’s own Cayle George (#14).

Like last year the tournament took place along the back side of the show space and had games that were only available to people in the tournament (like Flash and Theatre of Magic). For $10 anyone could enter the tourney and play these tables. Some of the NW locals who entered and did very well were Jamie Beth, Jeff Groper, Roya Naini , Bonnie Bedford (this year’s Powder Puff Champ), Darren Catlin (Novice Champ) and Julie Gray (Women’s Champ). The overall champion of the tournament was Eden Stamm from Vancouver BC who won both the Classics and the Open Tournament. Good show you guys!

Another good showing that weekend was by everyone who wore their brand new Skill Shot t-shirt to PAGS! Featuring the cover from issue #5, these darlings were the talk of all the pinball fashonistas and also sported the wearer’s very own pinball initials on the back! We rushed to get them ready and were ironing on the letters late into the night so that everyone could wear them to the show. They look pretty cool if you ask us. Unfortunately (for you) they are sold out.

Another highlight of that weekend was the after party at Add-a-ball Amusements in Fremont on Saturday night. Add-a-Brad (the owner) has a great collection of electro-mechanical pins in his shop including Jumping Jack, which is one of the top ranking EM machines according to the International Pinball Database ( The Skill Shot crew met lots of cool people (and a dog) at the party that had lots of pinball, beer, puking and a long walk home for Timmy!

Summer is the time for pinball parties around Seattle and the one at Rodney’s on the 4th of July was a hoot! We arrived sort of late but still were able to cram in a fireworks war, a hoola hoop contest, hot tub wrestling and (of course) a ton of pinball into our short late night visit. We were in ecstasy! Another awesome party was James Edes50th Birthday Party on August 1st which featured 50 (mostly) working pinball machines! It was like being at a mini PAGS with all the great games (like Embryon and Spectrum), an awesome cake and a tournament that not only lasted late into the night, but also qualified the players for IFPA points!

Other great parties that we didn’t make it to included the one for the PAGS volunteers at Lou Perazzoli’s, Keith and Dave’s Full Tilt 2009 birthday bash (with pinball outside on the deck), and Andrew Nunes’ Summer (solstice) Soiree which had a Future Spa machine that Brian Headley loved so much that he added one to the collection he is building in his apartment! Groper apparently has a bunch of new games at his place too, but we haven’t actually seen or played them yet (sniff sniff). This makes us think that we should get a pin for the Skill Shot office since we have the space for one. Anyone have a suggestion? (hint hint)

After a recent visit to Headley’s we stopped at the Redwood to play Tee’d Off and were pleasantly surprised to discover a Baby Pac-man. At least we were pleased until our ball got stuck on a piece of duct tape that was used to repair the playfield! Duct tape, really? The game was so wobbly that there was no way to dislodge it without tilting and it was kind of funny in a way. Space Age Amusements who (owns the games there) sometimes gets a bad rap for having sub par pins out on location, but we think we should still give them some props for maintaining as many games as they do. Recently we’ve heard rumors that the owner Marc O’Farrell was thinking about getting out of the business (after 30 years!), but he says that isn’t the case and he keeps adding locations such as a new spot opening soon in Burien with 6 games! Just no more duck tape please.

Speaking of things that are not well kept, many of you may have noticed that the Skill Shot web site hasn’t been updated since last October. Oops. That is soon to change as we are currently working with people to build a new site with a different URL (soon to be announced). Meanwhile the Skill Shot page at Myspace still has our most up to date Pinball List available on the internet. Check it out:

While a few places have gotten rid of their pinball machines this summer (Ozzies, Nite Lite, Teddy’s Tavern) a bunch of new places with pins have opened up! Add-a-ball Amusements of course was mentioned last issue (and this one too). Other new pinball venues are: Full Tilt 2 in Columbia City (4 pins); The Lookout (Frankenstein); and the Tiger Lounge in Georgetown that has 5 EM games (with more on the way) supplied by Silver Age/Silver Ball. Dominique, the operator of Silver Age is a great guy and he is really passionate about the older games. He’s even been building one in his basement! We love him (and gal pal Destiny) and you should too, because they helped print back issues of Skill Shot so we could give them away at PAGS. Meanwhile back at the Tiger Lounge, we’ve heard plans about a tournament they are planning for the weekend of October 24th. It will be a roving tournament with pins supplied by various private owners who won’t install the games at the venue until a few days before the event. Sounds intriguing….

Another intriguing event happened during 4th Place Andrew’s birthday party at Shorty’s when we released our other zine Chicken With Penis, and introduced the first CWP Half and Half Pinball Tournament. As you may remember Half and Half is when two-player teams compete, with one person controlling each flipper. Since this was a CWP tournament we introduced a twist at the last moment by whipping out XXXL t-shirts that both players had to wear at the same time, which then made it a Siamnese Twin Pinball Tournament! We were able to keep it a secret and some of the better players were thrown off their game, especially when a taller player like Maka was teamed up with a less tall player like Add-a-Brad. The twist worked better than expected as we got to observe a Timmy and Jason love-fest inside their shirt, and (tournament winners) Cheese Boat & Alena kicking a frisky fella out of their shirt. Skill Shot contributors Geoffro and T-Bone also participated, but for some reason the lovely Nycole stayed on the side lines. (Aww…)The top 3 teams received original CWP t-shirts hand drawn by Gordon2. Jealous!

Meanwhile after a slow summer the weekly Sunday Pinball Tournament at Shorty’s is beginning to pick up again. The main organizer Paul had a baby (well, sort of) earlier this year, but now he is ready to get things moving. These Sunday Tournaments are fun and a great way to meet people who also love the sport. Not to mention a convenient way to watch some of the better players in the area up close and personal (as they trounce all our asses). Sign up begins at 6, and no they don’t have Coca Cola!

In other related tourney news: PAPA 11(Professional/Amateur Pinball Association) World Pinball Championships in Carnegie, PA happened in August (Keith Elwin won) and according to everyone who went it was a lot of fun. Imagine our surprise when a recent visit to Facebook revealed that PAPA organizer Kevin Martin is an old school chum of Skill Shot’s own Bernard Boulevard! Guess where we’ll be next year?

Back at Shorty’s we were surprised to discover that the new Stern release NBA had replaced the (still sort of new) CSI machine. Part of our surprise was that we didn’t even notice the new game until we were there for over an hour because the new Stern games look so similar to each other. Like their last release 24, NBA doesn’t have a skill shot so we are kind of bummed about that, but it seems like a fun game, as long as Avout can keep that spinner on the playfield working.

In other news: Hooverville, that had a fire earlier this year, will be reopening soon (September?) and yes there will be pinball! As before, Shorty’s will be providing the games so maybe we will see the return of Wheel of Fortune to Seattle? We hope so. Avout is still unsure if the Centaur that was damaged in the fire is salvageable, but the game may soon be opened up for inspection.

And ELF was on tour and missed it all!


We Love Spectrum!!

Spectrum is one of the coolest pinball games ever created!

The first time we saw Spectrum was at last summer’s Northwest Pinball and Game Room Show at the Seattle Center. It totally drew us in with its colorful playfield and back glass, and once we played it we realized there was a lot more to this game than we expected.

The first thing that comes to your attention when you play Spectrum is the fact that there is no plunger; instead, you hit one of the flippers, and that launches the ball from the drain area up into the playfield. The second feature that quickly becomes apparent is that there are no side drains, and instead there are hidden side lanes that, once the ball enters, prompt the game to eject a different ball just above the flippers.

While these two unique features are enough to confuse many people, it’s the object of the game that really makes this pin stand out. Unlike the typical way you get points on most games, with Spectrum the object is to figure out the secret color code that the machine randomly selects. Red, yellow, green, and blue are your choices, and you either guess correctly or not by hitting the appropriate targets on the play field. The more guesses you try before draining the ball determines your score.

Confusing? You bet! This game really opened our eyes to the potential of pinball and how most of the games we see and play today are just the tip of the iceberg. We look forward to all the other pinball machines we have yet to discover, both from the past and into the future. Spectrum kicks ass!

Spectrum Fun Facts:

Spectrum is based on the board game Mastermind.

Bally manufactured 994 machines, but due to low sales over half were dismantled.

Spectrum has a lot of speech programs that continually run while the game is played. Many clues concerning the hidden codes are given this way.

If you ever get a chance to play Spectrum, do it!

Originally published in Skill Shot issue 6.5, November 2008

news & gossip reviews

Skill Shot # 5 News & Gossip

Originally published in Skill Shot issue 5, August 2008

Curiously, both Shorty’s and the Madison Pub replaced their Lord of the Rings with the new Indiana Jones pinball machine! Since both places were having problems with LotR, we guess it wasn’t a big surprise, though the Pub did take the new game as an opportunity to raise the prices of all their pinball machines to 75¢! They also recently raised the price of beer, and we’re left wondering what’s next: pay toilets?

While we are speaking of the Madison Pub, it has come to our attention that Stern’s new Batman pinball is going to be there soon. It’s going to be a classic Marvel versus DC (comics) battle, and it looks like DC is going to win! Apparently there’s some kind of delay at the factory because the game was originally supposed to be released in time for the new movie. Another thing that’s been delayed is the return of Gilligan’s Island to the Lava Lounge. It’s been gone so long now that people are beginning to think that we made it up, and that the Fish Tales has always been there!

And speaking of Fish Tales, there’s a new one in Seattle at the Comet Tavern! The Comet’s one of the oldest bars in Seattle, and back in the day they had a bunch of games, so it’s nice to see that pinball is back. Especially since the other pin they have is No Good Gofers, which we love. Meanwhile next door, the King Cobra has recently been put up for sale; let’s hope whoever buys the place keeps the pinball!

Did you go to the Northwest Pinball and Game Room Show at the beginning of the summer? It was a big success, and there are already plans for another one next year! Read our complete review of the show below. The next big pinball event in Seattle will be the 11th Annual Pinball Tournament at Shorty’s on November 9th, so mark it on your calendars now! And we’re not just saying that because they bought our back page ad either.

The Northwest Pinball and Game Room Show

June 6 -8 at the Seattle Center

The first annual NW Pinball Show was great fun with over 100 pinball machines all set at free play! It was only $25 for the weekend and we certainly got our money’s worth after being there all three days. The pins were from the 1960’s up to the most current Stern releases, with lots of both classic machines and some rarities (but no flipperless pins which we were hoping to see/play).

As soon as you entered the hall there was a long row of older electro-mechanical machines and it was really neat to see so many of these pins set up together. Their bells and buzzers and old school back glass art work were exciting to see and gave a cool first impression. Another area of the show that had older games was devoted to Silverage Silverball, owned by Dominique, who had a home-built machine opened up to display the mechanics involved. He also purchased the Sure Shot pinball machine to put into the Sure Shot Café in the U-District!

The show had many newer games that are not currently available to the Seattle public such as Star Gate, The Shadow, and Godzilla, as well as more accessible favorites like Guns N’ Roses, Centaur, No Fear and Attack from Mars. Older solid-state classics such as Eight Ball Delux, Firepower, and Black Knight were also represented throughout the hall.

While the new Indiana Jones and Shrek pins were understandably popular, the busiest part of the hall was the section that had the awesome line-up of Monster Bash, Theater of Magic, Medieval Madness, Tales of the Arabian Knights, Cactus Canyon, and Bay Watch. In this group, Bay Watch was the biggest curiosity for us because there isn’t one around town, so imagine our surprise when we got a “special” and saw the babes wiggling out of their pants on the dot matrix display: Hilarious!

Classic video games were also represented (Tron, Galaga, Asteroids, and of course Donkey Kong) and Steve Wiebe from the movie “The King of Kong” made an appearance during the weekend with a short talk and answering questions.

Steve Richie (currently at Stern) also had a well attended seminar about his many years working in the pinball industry. Mr. Richie is responsible for designing many classic games, most of which were grouped together at the show. Airborne Avenger, Flash, High Speed, Hyperball, and No Fear are among the games he worked on. Apparently Richie is working on a top secret pin due out in 2010. Rumor is that it will be based on the television show 24, but anyone who knows at this point is sworn to secrecy.

Another exciting part of the show was the IFPA Pinball Tournament that attracted players from around the country and Canada. Royal Flush, Harlem Globetrotters, Funhouse, Whirlwind, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Indiana Jones, and (Black Costume) Spider-Man were the games used for the contest which was won by Keith Elwin from Carlsbad, CA (the pro division) and 9 year old Garrett Dubofsky (in the novice tournament).

There were many raffles during the weekend, with the two notable ones being for Stern’s Pinball machine (won by a very excited woman) and a Black Spider-Man game won by our friend Keith Nelson! But one of the best things we saw this weekend were all the little kids playing pinball (some of them even carrying around their own stepstools: cute!). All in all the future of pinball is looking mighty fine after this great event.

Other notable Pins at the show:

Banzai Run had a motocross theme and a playfield that ran straight up the back glass.

Safe Cracker is a time based game; it would give you an unlimited number of balls as long as you could keep adding to your clock, so even if you didn’t drain the ball your game could still end if you ran out of “time.”

An Atari wide body Superman pinball (designed by Steve Richie) that had a ton of drop targets!

The Devil Riders was a game suffering on and off again malfunctions, and its playfield glass even shattered at one point.

Spectrum seems part pinball and part Master Mind (the board game). It didn’t have a plunger and the playfield was ringed with various color banks and ball traps. It’s a very unique and challenging game that we would love to play again (and again).