Date: January 22nd - 24th 2008
Report and pictures by Ad Jonker.
This year I was able to travel to London for a visit to the ATEI (Amusement Trade Exhibition International) once again.
Hoping to meet the editor of Pinball News, I learned Martin was unable to attend due to a training course he had to go to. So here a report of what I did find.
On entering Earl's Court, it was new to me to find that we had to go upstairs to a floor usually only for the Casino part of the show. From there you have a good view overlooking the ground floor.
Part of the ATEI, however, was back downstairs. The Electrocoin stand - where you will find the Stern pintables - was downstairs and you could stand almost above the three tables for a view from the top.
So what was there to find concerning pinball? For a number of years, you will find the only real tables at Electrocoin, the UK importer for Stern. Those were the days where you would also find the Williams tables and often a number of companies selling second-hand tables.
There were three Stern tables at the Electrocoin stand - one Spider-Man (standard version) and two Wheel Of Fortunes.
I played three games on the latter for the first time and the first impression was good. I've been playing pinball since 1970 and have grown up with the old tables on which the use of good old body English was much needed to keep the ball in play longer. On Wheel-of-fortune this may be of help with the different arrangement of the flippers and the parts beneath them, which you can all read in the extensive reports on this website.
For the remainder, there were some pinball related games which you might have seen before where you can win a small prize and which were mostly for kids.
Global VR had their UltraPin at the ATEI.
I know it isn't the real thing, but I think I would prefer to visit a pub where you would find an UltraPin to play, rather than nothing at all.
TAB from Austria had two Virtual Pinball games on which actually you can play eight different games of which three are pinball.
The latest software version V3.60 was installed and since it's introduction the ‘feel' compared to real pins has improved a lot.
New to me was a pintable at Sega. Sega you might wonder? Well, okay, it is not what Sega used to make (via Gary Stern) but a combination of air hockey and pinball named PinAir using the playfield structure of a head-to-head table.
You couldn't play it but the eight inch flippers operate in the same way as a usual pair of flippers, and are not purely mechanical. The large size of the PinAir will make it unsuitable for the local pub I guess.
Novelty Toy & Capsule Company had Beach Blast.
It's a large cabinet with a number of prizes to be won. You do that by playing an old style bagatelle, shooting a number of balls with skill and try to land them in the holes awarding different points. For different totals of points one can choose a prize which is automatically awarded.
So, is it worth the trip?
It is a combined show (ATEI and International Casino Exhibition). Earl's Court is a huge venue so you can spend the day just trying to see all stands. For the sake of pinball it is just the Stern games at Electrocoin, no other table to be found. Entrance is free but you have to register. If you don't have a company or you are not working in the industry you still can get in.
For the remainder, a trip to London is costly. I have a sister living an hour away where I can stay and I am able to combine both visits.
For the industry this show seems important. It was very busy again and you will see people not only from Europe but just as many from Asian countries.
So, if you are interested in all kinds of coin operated games, make a visit next year. If it's only pinball, you have to spent a lot of money for a number of free games.