Date: March 2nd & 3rd, 2013
Welcome to our coverage of the 2013 Flip-Expo show held at the Salle Serge Reggiani in Le Treport, northern France.
This event is always a mix of pinball tournaments, private colloctor's machines, parts selling and operator machine sales. While there are around 60 machines set up for visitors to play, the quality is variable and some are brought purely to sell.
But the parts selection is second to none, with several of the major European sellers taking stands and the others providing many new or reclaimed parts.
This year's special guest was Andrew Heighway of Heighway Pinball. He was in attendance both days and gave a talk at the dinner on Saturday evening.
Entry to the show cost just €3 ($4) per day, which was great value. The reason for this very competitive price was because the town of Le Treport gave the hall, the electrical connections and the electricity to the organisers - the Ligue Nationale des Joueurs de Flipper (LNJF) - for free, based on the number of visitors the event brings to the town.
We stayed at a camp site which was a short walk from the venue and featured around 60 wood cabins, providing basic but comfortable accommodation. There was a camp site available too, but it didn't open until later due to the cold weather at this time of year.
Once inside the lobby, visitors bought their entry ticket and could purchase tickets for the raffle which would be held on Sunday afternoon. Tickets cost €5 each and winning ticket holders did not have to be present to win.
In the lobby were two of the raffle prizes; the Megatouch video game shown above and the grand prize, this Mata Hari machine.
Inside the main hall, the room was divided into three areas. At the back was the stage, in front of which the tournaments took place.
Then, looking back from the stage, the majority of the free play machines were on the right and most of the vendors were on the left.
The free play machines were in two back-to-back rows and remained busy almost all weekend.
Here's a list of the free play machines at Flip-Expo 2013:
There were also a number of non-pinball games dotted around the room.
These were located near the kitchen's serving hatch, where food and drink could be purchased at very reasonable prices. The menu wasn't huge and they did sometimes run out of the more popular items, but it was all tasty and served with enthusiasm from the staff in the kitchen.
Most of the vendors were located in the centre and on the opposite side of the hall to the free play machines.
Here's a selection of them.
At the back of the room was the stage, in front of which the 18 machines used for Saturday's main tournament were set up.
The tournament machines used were:
This was also the venue for the 2010 European Pinball Championship and the same basic format carried over to the main 2013 tournament. Entry to this tournament cost €15 and was by pre-registration only, with the available places selling out very quickly.
The tournaments at Flip-Expo used to be run solely by the Silverball organisation, but now fall under the LNJF (Ligue Nationale des Joueurs de Flipper) who host many tournaments across France each year.
The 105 entrants could choose to play a single 3-ball game on any 5 of the 18 machines. The top score on a machine earned the player 100 points, second place received 90 points, third place 75 points and so on.
The total of the points from the five games gave the player's overall total, and when all the qualifying round games were over, the top 32 players had qualified for the play-offs. They were:
The first round of play-offs involved players in qualifying positions 9th - 32nd. They were split into 8 groups of 3 players, and each group played a single game on a randomly drawn machine. Only the top scorer from each group progressed to the quarter-finals, which made it a tough round to survive.
The 8 who made it through joined the top 8 qualifiers in the quarter-finals. They played a best-of-three-games match on a single machine. Whoever achieved two wins went into one of the semi-finals.
They were (in alphabetical order):
The top two players from each semi-final then went into the final. They were:
The prizes consisted of trophies and vouchers for the purchase of parts and other pinball-related products from zpeakabonks-pinball-paradise.com.
The final was a single 3-ball game played on a randomly selected machine - Indianapolis 500. Before the match began, a camera was mounted so the playfield could be shown on the projector screen on the stage.
After everyone's first ball, Nicolas had the lead with a score of 120M, with David second on 83M. Axel was in third on 15M and Florimont in fourth on just under 3M.
David's second ball saw him leap ahead, pushing his score up to 482M. Nicolas wasn't able to add much to his first ball score, moving into second place on 135M. Axel also didn't improve much with a score of 19M, but Florimont did a little better, moving into third place on 53M.
Alex was able to improve slightly with his third and final ball, but he ended on 51.5M which was still fourth place. David played his third ball next and bumped his total up to 502.7M, giving him a healthy lead.
Florimont played next and faced a huge task if he was to beat David's score. In the end, he could only add around 24M, ending up in third place with 77.5M after his three balls.
Only Nicolas now stood between David and victory. If he could increase his 135M score and beat David's 502M he could take first place.
But it was not to be. Nicolas could only reach 144.5M, making David Deturck the Flip-Expo champion for 2013.
You can watch a video of the final on the LNJF website.
Once the main tournament had been decided, a draw was made to reward some of those who brought machines to the Flip-Expo show. Everyone who brought a machine received a numbered raffle ticket - one ticket for each machine they brought.
A draw took place where multiple €20 vouchers were awarded to the lucky ticket holders.
A second tournament was also held on Saturday, using two machines at the far end of the row. The One-Shot Tournament gave players a single ball game on two machines - The Avengers Pro and World Cup Soccer. Ranking points were awarded and the player with the most points from their two games won. Scores were shown on an adjacent laptop computer, and then later on the main display on the stage.
The One Shot Tournament was principally for players in the French national league, but other visitors could sign-up too if there was time for them to play. Sadly, the limited time available meant many potential players were unable to compete.
Throughout the day on Saturday, tickets were available for a special dinner that evening. Signs were put up all around the hall and tickets could be bought from the kitchen's serving hatch.
When the show closed at 7pm, only those with tickets for the dinner were allowed to remain. Soon after, a cold buffet was set up, with bread, wine and cider put on each table for the guests to enjoy.
After the meal had been eaten, there was a talk by Andrew Heighway of Heighway Pinball about his forthcoming game Full Throttle. It had been hoped a playable model would be on display at Flip-Expo but despite some last minute code tweaks, the game was not quite yet ready for its first public showing.
Instead, Andrew spoke about the company, how the game was developed, the team working on it, showed some pictures, distributed flyers and presented two translites to Flip-Expo organisers Loïc and Nicolas.
Andrew spoke mostly in French, with some assistance from Loïc for the more technical terms.
Once the dinner had been consumed and Andrew's talk had ended, the games in the hall were available for the dinner guests to enjoy until late into the night as the wine, beer and a popular local spirit flowed.
On an unrelated note, on Sunday morning the show was a little late in opening, resulting in a queue waiting outside the entrance in the sub-zero temperature.
Several players had been expecting a Classics tournament on Sunday, but the hall looked remarkably unchanged from the night before, with the DMD and solid-state machines from Saturday's tournament mostly still in place.
Instead, an objective-based side tournament called Score Doesn't Pay was run. Each of the machines had a list of five objective to be achieved, such as scoring a jackpot, getting a super jackpot, starting a feature, or getting a specific award. Entry to this tournament cost €5.
Completing the higher numbered objectives first earned you more points than completing them later, although in some cases the higher numbered tasks couldn't be achieved without completing some of the lower numbered ones on the way.
It was all about completing as many objectives as you could in the optimum order - the actual points score was irrelevant, hence the tournament title 'Score Doesn't Pay'. The other players marked down your achievements as you made them.
The 36 competitors were divided into groups of 4 players and allocated a machine. The points system was never fully explained, but after a single game, the two players with the most objective points in each group went into the next round.
After that, it was head-to-head single games, with the winner progressing. The final was a three-player match played on High Speed 2 - The Getaway, and it ended with a very close result between Franck Bona, Laurence Boulieu and Jean-Philippe Passarieu.
Franck had achieved objectives 2, 3 and 5 - the 5th being starting Red Line Mania. Laurence had completed objectives 2, 3 and 1, but on her last ball she lit Red Line Mania. However, the orbit shot which lit it also came back to the flippers too quickly for her to control, and drained before she could start the mode and complete the objective.
That made Franck the winner. Laurence was second, with Jean-Philippe Passarieu close behind in third, having completed objectives 2,1 and 3 in that order.
The draw for the raffle prizes took place just before the final.
The main prize of the Mata Hari machine was won by the organisers, the LNJF, but there were several smaller prizes awarded too, including the Megatouch video game, DVDs, plastics, and magazines.
Then, as the show drew to a close, all those involved in running it came together for a group photo with their guest Andrew Heighway.
As the parts are packed away and the pinball machines folded or unbolted for the journey home, we come to the end of this report from Flip-Expo 2013.
© Pinball News 2013