Jonathan Joosten reports from Munchen - Germany
Pictures supplied by Gerald Pienkowski and Mark Vandergugten.

In the weekend of April 26/27 2003 the German Pinball Association organised "Flipper Mania", a huge pinball show where, on Saturday, the German Pinball Open was also held. The NFV (the Dutch Pinball Association) organised a weekend trip to the event, including train trip and a hotel overnight, which was a nice opportunity for me to go there. Actually I had no idea what to expect, I just wanted a weekend out. Boy, was I surprised :) Correctly this show was announced as The Mega Pinball Event of 2003: the 15th Pinball Convention. Although I have never been to any other German show before, I think this one will be hard to beat.

The NFV group arrived in Munchen early in the afternoon. The tournament was scheduled to start at 16:00, so the whole group was there on time. Besides the group, several other Dutch players made the trip on their own too, as well as other international players. I was happily surprised to see Trent Augenstein, who won the Dutch Open last year, and will be defending his title in 2 weeks at the DPO.

The event took place in a location called Feierwerk, a very large building that looked pretty old. The main entrance was sort of in the middle of the building, where one could register for the tournament as well. Entrance fee was 5 Euro for 1 day, or 8 Euro for both. To play in the tournament required another 5 Euro registration fee.

Left from the entrance was a large room with mostly dot-matrix games, and a stage where the tournament was organised. Right from the entrance was some sort of bar, where excellent food was served. Walking through this bar lead to another room with pinballs.

This room contained a large collection of most types of Bally solid state pinballs ever made. I think only a few games where not present. Below is a complete list of all games that were there:
Entrance (4): Supersonic, Dolly Parton and Viking (all Bally SS and switched off), plus a Flintstones.
Tournament room (56): Star Trek: TNG (2x), Star Trek (DE), Space Shuttle (W), Star Wars: Episode 1, Star Wars (DE, 2x), Safe Cracker (with token unit), Flipper Football, World Cup Soccer (2x), Striker Xtreme, Circus Voltaire, Theatre of Magic, Pinball Magic, Class of 1812, Nokia Message Protector (Pinbot), Protector (The Machine BOP), Medieval Madness, Johnny Mnemonic, Space Jam, Orbitor 1, Jackbot, BS Dracula, No Good Gofers, Tales of the Arabian nights, Getaway, Scared Stiff, The Addams Family (4x, some with Gold ROMs), Fish Tales (3x), Road Show (2x), Terminator 2, Twilight Zone (2x), Indiana Jones (2x), The Simpsons Pinball Party, Revenge From Mars (2x), Roller Coaster Tycoon, Banzai Run, Funhouse, Earthshaker, Whirlwind, Bugs Bunny's Birthday Ball, Time Machine, Party Animal, Batman Forever, Last Action Hero, Royal Rumble.
Bar (1): Fast Draw, placed vertically against the wall as decoration.
Bally room (52): Ding Dong, Freedom, Night rider, Black Jack, Evel Knievel, Mata Hari, Eight Ball, Powerplay, Strikes 'n Spares, Lost World, Voltan, The Six Million Dollar Man, Playboy, Star Trek, Kiss, Paragon, Harlem Globetrotters, Future Spa, Nitro Groundshaker, Silverball Mania, Space Invaders, Rolling Stones, Hot Doggin', Mystic, Skateball, Frontier, Xenon, Flash Gordon, Medusa, Centaur, Fathom, Fireball II, Embryon, Eightball Deluxe, Spectrum, Speakeasy, Speakeasy 4, Mr & Mrs Pacman, Vector, Elektra, Black Pyramid, Kings of Steel, X's & O's, Goldball, Grandslam, BMX, Spy Hunter, Fireball, Cybernaut, Flip Flop, NBA Fastbreak (2x, linked).

That's right: a total of 113 games! Most machines in the Bally room where from Günni's Bally Collection. Every game from that collection was in excellent condition with clean playfields, new rubbers, etc. Most of these games played like new. Every game from the collection had a special card where the pricing card is normally placed. On this card was some info on the game, or the way it was purchased. Very nice.

Also very rare were the Nokia Message Protector and Protector pinball machines in the tournament room. These were actually Pinbot and Bride of Pinbot, but with new cabinet art, backglass, playfield overlay and plastics. The gameplay and rules were still original, but the look was very different than the original games. I understood both games are from sponsors of the event and used at business shows, to entertain visitors. The games in the tournament room were also nice and clean. On several playfields I noticed they were protected with extra mylar, or even sort of clearcoated.

Although the tournament was scheduled to start at 16:00, there was a delay of almost 1 hour. There were 158 participants, which made it necessary to divide them into 3 groups. The first 2 groups played their first round in the Tournament room, while the 3rd group was playing in the Bally room. As this group was smaller, only the best 15 made it to the next round. In the first round one had to play 4 different games, but in the tournament room that was brought back to 3 games, as these games took much longer than expected. Winner of each game would get 20 points, the second place 11 points, third place 5 points and fourth 1 point. Before the start of each new game, names of players and the game where announced on the stage, where a player's card was handed out. I played in the 3rd group, meaning in the Bally room, where I did very well : ) With a total of 71 points I ended up with a shared first ranking. Sorry for the other guy, I don't remember his name, otherwise I would have mentioned it. Conditions to play where far better in the Bally room, where it was not as hot as it was in the Tournament room.

After the first round a lottery took place, where loads of T-shirts, jackets, caps from a sponsor, as well as cue stick holders, cue sticks and other items where to be won. The second round of the tournament consisted of 4 games to be played by the best 64 players from the first round. This round was played in the tournament room. To my surprise a lot of games were played that don't very often make it into tournaments, such as for example TZ. None of the games appeared to be on tournament mode, and even extra balls could be earned during the game. Sadly I was not so fortunate this round as I became 3rd twice and 4th twice, which resulted in a 56th place in the overall ranking. After this second round only the best 4 made it to the final round, which was played on the stage on a Roller Coaster Tycoon. Although it was a German contest, 3 of the 4 players were Dutch. Just as with soccer that did not matter much, as Roland Nitsche from Germany won, with Roy Wils very close behind him. Albert Nomden, who played a perfect second round by winning all 4 games, became third, and Paul Jongma finished as fourth. All winners got a trophy and I guess some other prizes, but I have no clue what they were as I did not attend the ceremony.

After playing a few more games it was over 01:00 o'clock, so we headed back to our hotel.

The second day was also very nice. From 10:30 one could play on the games, and it was less crowded that the day before. I noticed there was a special tour for children where they were introduced to several classic games. It's a whole different view looking at Medieval Madness surrounded by a bunch of kids going 'ooh' and 'aah' when watching each other play. As our group left after 13:00 I have no idea how the rest of the day was, but according to the program we missed one interesting item. A new in box Monster Bash pinball machine would be opened in front of the public.

Overall I have to say this was a very pleasant tournament. The atmosphere was extremely nice and all players seemed to be very sportive. The collection of games was excellent. Personally I was very happy to find a game such as Banzai Run, which is the first time I had seen it at such an event. Now hopefully someone will bring a Hyperball to the Dutch Pinball Open
: )

A special thanks goes out to Guus Arens and Ad Jonker for organising the trip, and of course the GPA organisation for organising such a great event.

Back to the Shows index

Back to the Front Page

© Pinball News 2000