20th September 2003

Autumn rolls around again and this year we have not one but two competing jukebox shows on the western outskirts of London - the Jukebox Madness show scheduled for October and this, the Ascot Jukebox Festival & Collector's Fair. Although they are primarily jukebox shows, there is usually a number of pinball games, video games and slot machines along with plenty of more general memorabilia and Americana.

As the name implies, this show is held at Ascot Racecourse near Windsor in Berkshire; strangely enough, the former venue of its rival which moved to Kempton Park racecourse.

As you can see, by lunchtime there weren't any queues at the entrance and this was reflected once you got inside. Although there were plenty of people around, it was never crowded or unpleasant.

Paying you £6 entrance fee got you a coloured wristband for re-admittance during the rest of the day.

As you entered the building the first sight was not of jukeboxes but pinballs instead.

A display by the organisers Paradise Amusements (formerly Pinball Paradise) consisted of fifteen machines with a good mix of EMs and solid state games. The oldest was a 1963 Gigi, the newest a 2003 Stern Simpsons Pinball Party which hadn't been set up when we were there.

The full list of games and prices of the games at the Paradise Amusements stand:

Bally Revenge from Mars (£1995), Williams Jackbot (£1295), Bally World Cup Soccer (£1395), Bally Twilight Zone (£1695),
Bally Playboy (£1595),
Bally Xenon (£795),
Bally Six Million Dollar Man (£895), Gottlieb High Hand (£895), Williams Teacher's Pet (£795), Bally Nip It (£1495), Gottlieb 2001 (1295), Gottlieb Gigi (£1295), Bally Hi Lo Ace (£895), Bally Amigo (£795),
Bally Sky Kings (£695),
Stern Simpsons Pinball Party (no price).

All these games were either set to free play or had very low replay scores to keep the credits. By lunchtime on the first day some of the games were showing some problems. The RFM was switched off and the Twilight Zone had an unusably weak lower left flipper and a broken upper left flipper. The Teacher's Pet appeared to have no credits and balls were getting stuck quite frequently on the Xenon ramp.

These games were on display to show the quality of the restoration work Paradise Amusements carry out (hence the proliferation of older games) and there's no denying that most of them looked very nice indeed given their age. However, the prices above show that you're paying a substantial premium for the work.

Paradise Amusements weren't the only stand with pinball games.

This NBA Fastbreak and Goldeneye were both priced at £850 and looked in good condition, although neither were set to free play.

While they also had a nice Bally Radical (£550) and a Baby Pac Man (£offers), the owners of this Dirty Harry (£850) must have wished they'd left it back home after the playfield glass ended up here...

Other pins at the show were a Gottlieb Street Fighter 2 (£450), a Data East Star Wars (£900) and a Data East Jurassic Park (£500).

There was also a display of woodrails from a company called Deco Pinball which cost one old penny to play (old pennies were handed out if you wanted to play them).

These mostly came from the era before flippers were invented (although one game did have flippers, both were activated when you hit either flipper button) and illustrate very clearly where pinball got its name.

The games were mainly from Genco. They were Archer (x2), Vogue, One-Two-Three, Airport, Bumper and a strange game believed to come from Germany called Dexterity Play.

This, perhaps, best lives up to the description `Deco'. The playfield consists of 27 chromed bumpers mounted on a chromed base. Scoring is displayed on a rotating roll of numbers shown through an illuminated window.

Amazingly, the game features an up-post. It lowers the post to release the single ball into the shooter lane so you can play.

Although the game bears no manufacturer name, it was thought that it came from Germany in the '40s, with it's origins hidden as German products were not exactly popular at the time.

So, with around 30 games at the show and about three quarters of them playable, this was an interesting show. Clearly it's mainly a jukebox and memorabilia show, but there were enough pinball games to keep many fans entertained, especially if you enjoy older games.

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© Pinball News 2002