30th April 2005

Richard Wade reports on the first day of UK's only show dedicated to pinball, the Pinball Extravaganza in Margate, Kent.

It was an easy drive from London to Margate so we arrived early! The doors opened at 11.00am which meant there was a mini meeting of fellow collectors outside the main area. It made for a great opportunity to catch up with other pinball fans before the doors opened and the distractions began.

Five pounds to get in, once inside the first thing to strike you was just how many machines there were - loads.

Area 1
Bally Harley Davidson


Area 2
Gottlieb Totan
  Gottlieb Aquarius
Gottlieb Spin a Card
  Gottlieb Doodle Bug


Area 3
Bally Midway Kings of Steel
  Bally Midway Strange Science
Williams The Machine, Bride of Pinbot
  Williams Jackbot
Williams Pinbot
  Data East Batman
Data East Phantom of the Opera
  Williams Black Knight 2000
Williams Swords of Fury
  Williams Bad Cats
Bally Gilligans Island
  Bally Radical
Bally Elvira and the Party Monsters
  Bally Dr Dude
Bally Party Zone
  Bally Scared Stiff
Stern Elvis (Competition Game)
  Bally Safe Cracker


Area 4
Bally Theatre of Magic
  Williams Monster Bash
Bally Creature from the Black Lagoon
  Bally Who Dunnit
Williams Indiana Jones
  Bally Cirqus Voltaire


Area 5
Video Game Dragons Lair 2
  Video Game Galaxians
Video Game Phoenix
  Data East Back to the Future
Bally Bugs Bunny
  Bally Midway Strange Science


Area 6
Gottlieb Gigi
  Gottlieb Kings & Queens
Gottlieb Hurdy Gurdy
  Gottlieb King of Diamonds
Bally Fireball
  Bally Wizzard
Bally Captain Fantastic
  Bally The Addams Family
Stern Playboy
  Bally Creature from the Black Lagoon
Bally Midway Eight Ball Champ


Area 7
Bally Safe Cracker   Bally Cactus Canyon
Williams Tales of the Arabian Nights   Bally Dr Who
Williams Fish Tales   Bally Harley Davidson
Williams Bram Stokers Dracula   Data East Royal Rumble
Williams Indiana Jones   Williams Star Trek the Next Generation
Sega Batman Forever   Williams Friendship 7
Bally Gay Cruise   Rally Play Co Toro
Midway Champ   Williams Nags
Williams Gusher   Williams Satellite
Gottlieb Spin Wheel


Area 8
Fruit Machine Homers Meltdown
  Bally Scared Stiff
Williams Medieval Madness
  Bally The Addams Family
Stern South Park
  Bally Cirqus Voltaire
Bally NBA Fast Break
  Sega Baywatch

The Pin LED chap had made the journey from Germany again, and this year had added many new components to his already impressive collection.

There were multiple vendors, this year there seemed to be more second hand bargains, especially back glasses, My bargain this year was a Zaccaria generation 2 CPU board with no battery leakage & CPU intact for five pounds.

Cups of tea were only sixty pence which was most excellent. One of the great things about the show, other than the number of machines was the low ambient lighting which was perfect for playing pinball & terrible for taking photos, so sorry for the poor quality.

Nick from Pinballers Anonymous was there with his brand new Pinball Today magazine which upon initial and closer inspection is most excellent.

All the traders I talked to were most helpful & knowledgeable and had tons of stuff. Although there did not appear to be any major sellers stands (selling Novus by the litre, etc), those who were there had an excellent collection of bits & pieces.

Stands specialised in things such as second hand PCB’s, neon lights, playfield salvaged parts, manuals, Pin LED stuff, back glasses, pinball art, pinball badges, light bulbs by the box, flipper rebuild kits & many more other things too (for example loads of ROM burners).

There appeared to be a competition going on with the Stern Elvis pinball machine & there were loads of trophies awaiting those skillful winners as well.

Just like last year, I arrived early on Saturday and left early too, however unlike last year there were tons mores games, and in my books makes it far better than last year.

To try and be critical though, quite a few friends I spoke to said that they were annoyed at having to wait to play a game, but the quantity, condition, ambient lighting conditions, free play (for the vast majority of games), etc was a welcome thing for this kind of occasion (the only place I don’t personally expect to queue to play pinball is in someone’s house.)


Editor's Update

Day two turned out much quieter than the first day and getting to play the games certainly wasn't a problem.

One of the things that struck me immediately was the lack of jukeboxes, video games and other assorted paraphernalia. The meant that the show area was slightly smaller than last year but that space was almost entirely dedicated to pinball games and parts.

One of the most exciting stands was from PinLED who were showing three new products.

This replacement dot matrix controller board for Williams WPC games is available now for £50 and is a redesigned circuit intended to reduce the stress on components and has switchable voltages to help preserve new DMD displays and extend the life of older ones.

PinLED also had their replacement power driver board, again for WPC systems. This isn't yet available but should be in late summer and will probably come in two flavours - one for WPC and WPC-S, and another for WPC-95. The board features much thicker tracks and an improved design to prevent burned components and connectors. It also features LED indicators all over the board to show fuse and supply conditions.

Available a little sooner is this Fliptronic board.

Designed to replace both Fliptronic 1 and 2 boards, it features the same LED design traits with surface mount components and LED indicators. This board should be ready in a couple of weeks.

Show organiser Sean Mills asked me to choose and award the prize for the best game of the show and I chose the Bally Harley Davidson. This game has a shaker motor fitted and it's a massively powerful one.

The moment you press the start button, this game grabs you and shakes you in perfect time with the revving sound effects. It brought an instant smile to my face from a game I didn't expect to enjoy that much.

In the end, it was an excellent play and thoroughly deserved the award.

Of course, getting the grand champion on the first play might have helped my decision but it also got me ready for my one and only go at the competition machine - Elvis. The game was new out of the box for the show but had a severe sound problem leaving many of the effects and much of the music garbled or distorted.

There were two daily competitions and an overall high score for the weekend, with trophies for all three. My earlier luck held out and the 230M score was enough to win both the Sunday prize and the overall competition too.

Although I could only stay a couple of hours, the number of things I didn't get to see and games I didn't get to play makes me think pinball fans could easily spend two days here without getting bored.



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