Date: March 3rd & 4th, 2012
Location: Salle Serge Reggiani, Avenue des Canadiens, 76470 Le Tréport, France.

The French coastal town of Le Tréport is home to the annual Flip-Expo pinball show.

Le Treport
Le Tréport

Le Tréport is located on France's northern coast, about 30km from Dieppe, and is fairly easily reached from the UK and the Benelux countries.  There is a ferry from Newhaven in the UK to Dieppe and it's only about 90 minutes' drive to the larger port at Calais.

This year's show was extra busy because the French show usually held each year at Vierzon will not be taking place this year, leaving Flip Expo as the main pinball show in the area.  It also received promotion in the media and on posters around the town.

A Flip Expo poster on the rear of a road sign in Le Treport
A Flip-Expo poster on the rear of a road sign in Le Tréport

But we have to go a little inland to reach the Salle Serge Reggiani, which is a modern municipal hall with good car parking facilities and a supermarket next door.

Salle Serge Reggiani
Salle Serge Reggiani

Unfortunately, the supermarket was being refurbished during the show, so getting any supplies involved a slightly longer walk or a short car journey.

Games and stalls were set up throughout Friday and continued to arrive on Saturday morning.

Games continued to arrive on Saturday morning
Games continued to arrive on Saturday morning

Flip-Expo opened to the public at 10am on Saturday, by which time a fair-sized queue had built up.

The doors open
The doors open

Entry to Flip-Expo cost just €3 ($4, £2.50) per day, or €5 for both days.  Inside, visitors found a large number of vendor stalls and more than 60 pinball machines set up.

Inside Flip Expo
Inside Flip-Expo

Most of the free-play machines were arranged in two long back-to-back rows on the right of the picture above, with vendors in the centre and on the left.  A row of blue barriers separated the main hall from the tournament area.

Free-play machines
Free-play machines

The condition of the machines varied from working fine to unplayable.  Many were brought to sell and a few of these were unfortunately not set on free-play, so you had to find the owner and get credits added if you wanted to try them.

Free-play machines
Free-play machines

There was a good mix of EMs, early solid-state and DMD games.  France has always been a big market for Gottlieb/Premier games, so it was no surprise to see some of these represented, including machines not so commonly found at shows outside the country, such as Diamond Lady, Amazon Hunt II and Magnotron.

Free-play machines
Free-play machines

There were busy times on both days when it was impossible to find any vacant machines and the areas around them became very crowded. But at other times the crowds would vanish, and suddenly it became a lot easier to move around.

Here's the full list of the 62 machines in the free-play area on Saturday.

Amazon Hunt II
Batman (Data East)
Big Game
Big Guns
Buck Rogers
Demolition Man
Diamond Lady
Dirty Harry
Dr Dude
Four Million BC
High Speed 2 - The Getaway*
Hot Shot
Hot Tip*
Jet Spin
Joker Poker
Jurassic Park - The Lost World
Lord of the Rings
Monster Bash
NBA Fastbreak*
Night Rider
Nine Ball
No Fear
Pirates of the Caribbean*
Playboy (Data East)
Revenge from Mars
Rocky & Bullwinkle
Scared Stiff
Scared Stiff
Silverball Mania
Silverball Mania
Spirit of '76
Starship Troopers
Super Orbit*
The Flintstones
The Shadow
The Simpsons Pinball Party
The Sopranos
Time Machine
Time Machine
Truck Stop*
World Cup Soccer

More free-play machines
More free-play machines

In addition, there were a number of machines on vendors' stands, most of which were either not switched on or not accessible for the public to play.

The vendors take up the majority of the hall and were selling a large range of pinball and general games parts.

Vendor stands
Lots of assorted pinball parts were available at the vendor stands

Vendor stands
General game or gameroom parts were also available

Vendor stands
All the common parts were available, from rubber rings...

Vendor stands
...to coil plungers, pop bumper skirts and leg bolts

Vendor stands
There were numerous boards and coils also on sale

Vendor stands
Mirco from High Class Pinballs had an extensive range of parts

Including brand new playfields and cabinet decals
Including brand new playfields and cabinet decals

Shortly after the show opened, everyone was invited to enjoy a free cup of light sparking wine and nibble on some corn snacks.

Wine and snacks
Wine and snacks

For those wanting something more substantial, there was a desk selling hot and cold drinks, beer, cakes, crepes and baguettes.  The prices were all very reasonable with bottles of water €1, beers €2 and baguettes €3.

At the far end of the hall, behind a set of blue plastic barriers, were the 17 machines reserved for the main tournament on Saturday.  This was organised by the LNJF (Ligue Nationale des Joueurs de Flipper) and attracted 100 pre-registered players, each paying €15 to enter.

Tournament machines
Tournament machines

Behind the main row of machines was the hall's stage, at the back of which a large projector screen showed the current standing and machine scores.

Tournament machines
Tournament machines

Before the tournament began, the projector screen was used to display a pre-recorded video message from Jack Guarnieri who was behind the camera as he showed us the Jersey Jack Pinball team working on The Wizard of Oz.

The video message from the JJP team
The video message from the JJP team

Jack had hoped to be the special guest at Flip-Expo but with The Wizard of Oz now nearing production, he was unable to attend and so sent this video message instead.  He also sent a number of prizes for the tournaments.

The 17 machines used for Saturday's tournament were:

Attack from Mars
Elvira & the Party Monsters
Fish Tales
High Speed 2 - The Getaway
Johnny Mnemonic
Judge Dredd
Kings of Steel
NBA Fastbreak
Pinball Magic
Rolling Stones
Scared Stiff
Tales of the Arabian Nights
The Simpsons Pinball Party
Theatre of Magic

When the tournament began at 10:30am, competitors could choose any 5 of the 17 machines on which to qualify. 

Before that though, the first challenge of the day was removing the paper backing from the tournament's name badges.

Dom Escott and Greg Mott race to be the first to spearate their name badge from the backing
Dom Escott and Greg Mott race to be the first to
separate their name badge from the backing

All the scores on each machine were ranked, with 100 points for the top score. The 32 competitors with the highest ranking points across their five games went through to the play-off rounds.

Early players compete in the qualifying round
Early players compete in the qualifying round

After a quiet start, competitors soon began to play their qualifying games and the area filled up both with players, and with those looking for clues about how the machines played and where to shoot for maximum points.

The tournament area
The tournament area

The tournament area
The tournament area

The tournament area
The tournament area

Scores were recorded on PDAs with the projector screen alternating between individual machine scores and overall rankings.

Nicolas Linque records another score on his PDA
Nicolas Linque records another score on his PDA

Despite having one hundred players, everyone had completed their five qualifying games about 30 minutes before the scheduled close of qualifying at 4:30pm. 

At that time the 32 qualifiers were:

Sophie Adam 
Lene Andersen 
Martin Ayub 
Nathalie Bergs 
Philippe Bergs 
Peter Blakemore
Laurent Blin 
Florimont Boete 
Franck Bona
Tim Hulin Bouard 
Alain Boulieu 
Laurence Boulieu 
Ludovic Cardon 
Phil Dixon 
Rudy Flament 
Gérald Fleuriet 
Vincent Fourcault 
Julien Geneslay 
Nicolas Gohier 
David Grémillet 
Archibald Lefevre 
Philippe Lejoseph 
Nicolas Linque 
Rémy Luquet 
Victor Machart 
Nick Marshall
Stéphane Pinck 
Jérémy Reynaud 
Eric Rousseau 
Timothée Sourdille 
Michel Souris 
James Watson

The first play-off round consisted of 16 2-player matches which were best-of-three single elimination.  Qualifiers 1-16 were matched up with qualifiers 17-32, such that the top qualifier played the 17th qualifier. The higher qualifier had choice of playposition throughout and could choose the first and (if needed) third machines to play. The lower qualifier just got to choose the second machine.

The 16 winners from the first round then played another similar round to reduce the number of players from 16 to 8.

The final eight in Saturday's tournament
The final eight in Saturday's tournament

Another elimination round produced the final four who were; Peter Blakemore, Franck Bona, Alain Boulieu and David Grémillet.

The finalists (L-R):
The finalists (L-R):
Peter Blakemore, David Grémillet, Alain Boulieu and Franck Bona

The machine drawn for the final was Scared Stiff and it was Peter who played first followed by Alain, then came Franck, and David was player four.  A video camera was mounted over the playfield so the audience could see the proceedings on the projector screen.

Peter starts the final
Peter starts the final

After the end of everyone's first ball, David had a handsome lead with a score of 10,458,250, more than double Alain's second place score of 5,095,900.  Franck was in third with 4,451,060 with Peter fourth on 1,505,930.

The second ball saw Peter recover to go into the last ball with score of 9.4M, compared to Alain's 6.8M and Franck's 6.1M.  But David didn't boost his score by much, ending his ball two on 10.6M.

It was still anyone's game as the third and final balls were played.

Peter improved his score slightly to 11,747,220, giving him a slender lead.  Alain soon took over that lead with his score-doubling third ball, ending on 13,545,280.  Franck's attempts to stage one of his classic comebacks was frustrated with an early drain to end on 7,031,580.

Which left David, who just needed to score a further 2 million points to take first place.

David ponders his strategy
David ponders his strategy

With Crate Multiball ready to go, David started Boogie Man Boogie mode before shooting the crate, ensuring each crate jackpot also boosted each switch's score by 5K.

It's Boogie Man Boogie
It's Boogie Man Boogie

It wasn't long before David surpassed Alain's score, and had won the final.

Franck congratulates David
Franck congratulates David

Shortly afterwards, the awards ceremony took place. The tournament had run to the very end of the show, so much so that the lights had been turned off by the time the final awards were handed out.

The best young player ('Potential Champion') award went to Florimont Boete.

Best young player, Florimont Boete
Best young player, Florimont Boete

The top women player in the tournament was Laurence Boulieu.

Best female player, Laurence Boulieu
Best female player, Laurence Boulieu

In fourth place was Franck Bona.  Franck won a Jersey Jack Pinball T-shirt and a framed trophy.

Fourth place, Franck Bona
Fourth place, Franck Bona

Third was Peter Blakemore who took back to the UK a T-shirt from the LNJF, a framed trophy and a Stern Pinball Wheel of Fortune translite.

Third place, Peter Blakemore
Third place, Peter Blakemore

The runner-up was Alain Boulieu who won a framed trophy, a Stern Pinball Transformers Pro translite and a certificate for €100 of pinball parts.

Second place, Alain Boulieu
Second place, Alain Boulieu

And the winner was David Grémillet.

Winner of Saturday's tournament, David Grémillet
Winner of Saturday's tournament, David Grémillet

David won an AC/DC Pro translite, a framed L.N.J.F. trophy and a certificate valid for a sheet of anti-glare glass worth €160.

Here are the full results for Saturday's tournament.

Pos   Name
1   David Grémillet 
2   Alain Boulieu 
3   Peter Blakemore 
4   Franck Bona
5   Laurence Boulieu 
6   Archibald Lefevre 
7   Jérémy Reynaud 
8   Victor Machart 
9   Tim Hulin Bouard 
10   Eric Rousseau 
11   Suppressed Player
12   Gérald Fleuriet 
13   Nicolas Gohier 
14   Rémy Luquet 
15   Timothée Sourdille 
16   Stéphane Pinck 
17   Martin Ayub 
18   Julien Geneslay 
19   Michel Souris 
20   Philippe Bergs 
21   Ludovic Cardon 
22   Rudy Flament 
23   Vincent Fourcault 
24   Nathalie Bergs 
25   Nicolas Linque 
26   James Watson
27   Laurent Blin 
28   Florimont Boete 
29   Sophie Adam 
30   Phil Dixon 
31   Lene Andersen 
32   Philippe Lejoseph 
33   Benoit Bloquet 
34   Loïc Grébonval 
35   Cyril Bertat 
36   Philippe Diouron 
37   Alfred Adamsky 
38   Christophe Magniez 
39   Yann Baratte 
40   Laurent Detrez 
41   Dylan Luquet 
42   Kevin Dorothé 
43   Clément Carré 
44   Pierre Thomas Colin 
45   Will Barber
46   Clara Boulieu 
47   Stan Simpson
48   Fabrice Lefévre
49   Cédric Messier 
50   Tom Hare 
51   Ludovic Houttemane 
52   Eric Andries
53   Vincent Chardome 
54   Ad Jonker
55   Jonathan Adams 
56   Baptiste Serais 
57   Greg Mott
58   Djo Wozniak 
59   Julien Niceron 
60   Nicolas Rees 
61   Mehdy Hadibi 
62   Fabien Baffault 
63   Pierre Aubert 
64   Denis Vaucelle 
65   Didier Laurent 
66   Nicolas Grasset 
67   Eric Balavoine 
68   Johann Engrand 
69   Kate Morris 
70   Morgan Roger 
71   Téo Souris 
72   Harry Rolfe 
73   Sylvain Carre 
74   Aurélien Pavec 
75   Dom Escott 
76   Sylvain Grevin 
77   Thomas Bougard 
78   Jerome Jeanjean 
79   Rémy De Saint Girons 
80   Adam Bona 
81   Vincent Carlier 
82   Thibault Lallemand 
83   Jonathan Joosten 
84   Christophe Mahieu 
85   Theo Grevin 
86   Mickael Laurent 
87   Norman Ledigabel 
88   Martine Regnault 
89   Mathéo Gohier 
90   Cédric Cardon 
91   Elise Huart 
92   Christophe Depiere 
93   Vincent Stevens 
94   Anne-lise Flandrois 
95   Paul Baffault 
96   Michel Rees 
97   Chantal Diouron 
98   Jean Baptiste Briet 
99   Hélène Caron 
100   Lisa Spiller 

On Sunday, the show again opened at 10am and there was a new tournament in which to compete.

The machines had been re-arranged and now six 'classics' games occupied the tournament area.  They were; Spirit of '76, Whirlwind, Buck Rogers, Elvira & the Party Monsters, Andromeda and Rolling Stones.

Sunday's Classic Tournament
Sunday's Classic Tournament

The format was much like Saturday's play-offs, where single-elimination, best-of-three matches were played with players randomly-paired and playing on randomly-chosen machines.

After the first round, 32 competitors remained.  These were then paired-up and pared-down, first to 16, and then to 8 for the semi-finals.  Those 8 were; Will Barber, Laurent Blin, Alain Boulieu, Loïc Grébonval, Fabrice Lefévre, Christophe Magniez, Vincent Ratier and Jérémy Reynaud.

The eight semi-finalists
The eight semi-finalists

These eight were then whittled down to the final four who played out the final game on Ad Jonker's Andromeda machine.

The final four (L-R):
The final four (L-R):
Fabrice Lefévre, Jérémy Reynaud, Loïc Grébonval and Will Barber

Fabrice took the player one position, Loïc was second to play, Jérémy was third and Will was player four.

Fabrice walks up to start the final on Andromeda
Fabrice walks up to start the final on Andromeda

Loïc never got much of a chance to play, as the game rapidly drained his three balls for a total of 92,530 and fourth place.

Will did a little better, going into his final ball with 163,120 and ending on 222,990.  But that wasn't enough to beat either Fabrice or Jérémy, putting him in third place.

After ending ball two on 121,460, Fabrice had a better third ball and boosted his end-of-game total up to 309,690, putting him in the lead.

Jérémy had a score of 242,460 going into his final ball, needing another 67,230 to reach Fabrice's score.  Could he do it?

Fabrice watches Jeremy as his score climbs towards taking the lead
Fabrice watches Jérémy's score as his lead narrows

In the end, Jérémy had no problem taking the lead and winning the final with a great score of 1,031,280.

The awards were then given out to bring Sunday's Classic Tournament to a close.

Best female player, Clara Boulieu
Best female player, Clara Boulieu

In fourth place was Loïc Grébonval who won a framed trophy and a Jersey Jack Pinball T-shirt.

Fourth place, Loïc Grébonval
Fourth place, Loïc Grébonval

In third place was Will Barber who also won a trophy and Jersey Jack Pinball T-shirt, but also took home a €30 pinball parts certificate.

Third place, Will Barber
Third place, Will Barber

The runner-up was Fabrice Lefévre and he also received a trophy and T-shirt, but his certificate was for €40 worth of pinball parts from the LNJF.

Second place, Fabrice Lefévre
Second place, Fabrice Lefévre

Finally, the winner of Sunday's Classic Tournament was Jérémy Reynaud.  He won the same prize pack as Fabrice and Will, but with a €50 parts certificate.

First place, Jérémy Reynaud
First place, Jérémy Reynaud

Here are the full results for Sunday's tournament:

Pos   Name
1   Jérémy Reynaud 
2   Fabrice Lefévre
3   Will Barber
4   Loïc Grébonval 
5   Laurent Blin 
5   Christophe Magniez 
7   Vincent Ratier 
7   Alain Boulieu 
9   Dom Escott 
9   Vincent Chardome 
13   Cédric Cardon 
13   Chantal Diouron 
13   Clara Boulieu 
13   Pierre Thomas Colin 
13   Peter Blakemore
13   Stéphane Pinck 
22   Corentin Labesse 
22   Sébastien Planque 
22   Baptiste Serais 
22   Corentin Bucillat 
22   Didier Lecroq 
22   Philippe Bergs 
22   Philippe Diouron 
22   David Grémillet 
22   Tim Hulin Bouard 
22   Franck Bona
22   Martin Ayub 
30   Mathieu Tix 
30   Anne-lise Flandrois 
30   Vincent Carlier 
30   Harry Rolfe 
30   Dave Rolfe 
40   Lisa Spiller 
40   Nathalie Bergs 
40   Rudy Flament 
40   Nicolas Gohier 
40   James Watson
40   Kevin Dorothé 
40   Eric Rousseau 
40   Nicolas Linque 
40   Aurélien Pavec 
40   Denis Vaucelle 
40   Laurence Boulieu 
40   Franck Michaux 
40   Julien Geneslay 
40   Abbie Rolfe 
40   Greg Mott
56   Dominique Labesse 
56   Manuel Ringot 
56   Jonathan Adams 
56   Mathéo Gohier 
56   Johann Engrand 
56   Adam Bona 
56   Ludovic Cardon 
56   Archibald Lefevre 
56   Cyril Bertat 
56   Victor Machart 
56   Fabien Baffault 
56   Pierre Aubert 
56   Lene Andersen 
56   Ad Jonker
56   Tom Hare 
56   Yann Baratte 

These two tournaments weren't the only competitive events taking place at Flip-Expo, because there were also three Kids High Score Competitions held near the entrance to the hall.

The Kids Competition area
The Kids Competition area

Each of the three machines - The Simpsons Pinball Party, Spider-Man and Shrek - hosted its own High Score Competition, with the highest scorers when the competitions closed at 5pm being declared the winners.

Playing Donkey mini-pinball on Shrek
Playing Donkey mini-pinball on Shrek

There were separate competition held on Saturday and on Sunday, and the winners were as follows:

Saturday Sunday

Téo Souris - 83,455,670

Mathéo Gohier - 122,469,340

The Simpsons Pinball Party:
Paul Baffault - 22,736,610

Adam Bona - 51,140,760

Arthur Rol - 74,386,050

The Simpsons Pinball Party:
Valere - 13,185,380

For those who were feeling lucky, there was also a raffle held with the top prize being a Gottlieb TX-Sector pinball.  Second prize as a MegatouchXL games unit.

Top prize in the raffle- a TX-Sector machine
Top prize in the raffle- a TX-Sector machine

Second prize - a MegatouchXL
Second prize - a MegatouchXL

Unfortunately we had to leave to catch the ferry home before the raffle took place, so don't know who won, but apparently it wasn't us.  Next time we'll try buying a ticket first.

We'll end this report with our unique Four Minute Tour - a video walk around Flip-Expo 2012 on Sunday afternoon, letting you experience the games, the vendors, the people and the sounds.


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