Date: 3rd - 5th October 2008
Location: Marin County Civic Center Exhibition Hall, San Rafael, California, USA.

Report by Larry Zartarian

The 2nd Annual Pacific Pinball Exposition was held October 3, 4 and 5th, 2008 at the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael, CA – the same site of last year’s highly successful inaugural show. 

Marin Civic Center
Marin Civic Center

The show organizers, who had planned this year’s show during the last 12 months, were hoping to at least match last year’s turnout of games and attendees – and we did just that!  We drew twice as many attendees this year vs. last, and raised lots of funds for the Pacific Pinball Museum (PPM). The Pacific Pinball Museum is the new name of the former Neptune Beach Amusement Museum.

PPM Director Tim Volz at The Neptune Beach Amusement Museum booth
PPM Director Tim Volz at the Neptune Beach/PPM booth

As many of you know, this event is designed to raise funds and awareness for the non-profit Pacific Pinball Museum – a much-anticipated permanent home for over 500-600 pinball machines from all eras – from the early 1920s bagatelles all the way up to the most modern solid state games, that will include hands-on science exhibits, historical information on pinball machines, a restaurant, gift shop, restoration workshops and classrooms for teaching children and adults about the physics of electricity and their effect on pinball machine design.  There will also be an emphasis on the evolution of pinball art depicted in playfield and backglass graphic design exhibits.

The Pacific Pinball Exposition is the brain-child of pinball restoration company Pinball Revival’s Jim Dietrick.  Jim, along with the direction and supervision of Lucky Ju Ju Pinball arcade owner Michael Schiess and 10 other dedicated PPM Board members, helped to make this year’s show a reality.

Jim Dietrich of Pinball Revival
Jim Dietrick of Pinball Revival

By way of background, the Museum will be located in Alameda, CA where the Neptune Beach Amusement Park once stood from the mid 1920s to the early 1930s, before it made way for a large US Naval Air Station.

Our show is designed to provide attendees with a glimpse of what the Pacific Pinball Museum will be like – on a permanent basis.  What we are trying to do is to provide the pinball players, historians, collectors and just plain curious folk with a one-way ticket (not merely a round trip) to a permanent state of pinball Nirvana.  In order to do this, we decided to have as many pinball games representing as many eras as possible – all under one roof.   Last year, we had just over 300 individual games, all working and set on free play.  This year, we had 357 set up and playable – an astounding record for any pinball show ever!

Some of the games
A broad selection of EMs and solid state games were at the show

There truly was something for everyone – from Rockola’s 1930s World’s Fair, Jigsaw, World Series and Army/Navy provided by Dan Miller, to Larry Zartarian’s vintage 1950s Gottlieb woodrails such as Spot Bowler, Knock Out and Queen of Hearts, to his 1960s Gottlieb’s entire “Flipper” series, to Joe Sweeney’s wonderfully restored 1960s and 1970s Gottliebs; Michael Schiess’ 1970s, 1980s and 1990s favorites such as Bally’s Wizard, Williams’ Black Knight, Medieval Madness, and Stern’s latest Sopranos and Pirates of the Caribbean.

More of the games
Woodrail and wedgehead paradise

In addition to the broad list of major games from major manufacturers, there were also many one-of-a-kind games as well, including “The Visible Pinball” created by Michael Schiess – a transparent, see-through version of Gottlieb’s 1976 “Surf Champ”. 

Michael Schiess's The Visible Pinball
Michael Schiess's The Visible Pinball

Also on display was a custom-built “Punball” created by well-known artist William Wiley, based on Gottlieb’s 1964 “North Star”, only with all-original artwork based on a global warming theme.  Also appearing was “The Hellacopters”, a re-themed Gottlieb 1974 “King Pin” featuring customized graphic design by Wade Krause, Dirty Donny and Rolfe Britian.

More of the games
Even more of the games

Here is a list of all the games at the Pacific Pinball Exposition 2008:

Baffle Ball Nov-31
Spot Bowler Oct-50
Knock Out Dec-50
Minstrel Man Feb-51
All Star Basketball Jan-52
Quartette Feb-52
Crossroads May-52
Happy Days Jul-52
Chinatown Oct-52
Queen of Hearts Dec-52
Quintette Mar-53
Guys Dolls May-53
Poker Face (2) Aug-53
Shindig Aug-53
Mystic Marvel Mar-54
Dragonette May-54
4 Belles Oct-54
Twin Bill Jan-55
Sluggin’ Champ Apr-55
Southern Belle Jun-55
Sweet Add-A-Line Jul-55
Easy Aces Dec-55
Harbor Lites Feb-56
Classy Bowler Jul-56
Rainbow Dec-56
World Champ Aug-57
Roto Pool Jul-58
Sittin’ Pretty Nov-58
Universe Oct-59
World Beauties Jan-60
Kewpie Doll Oct-60
Flipper Nov-60
Foto Finish Jan-61
Showboat Mar-61
Flipper Parade Apr-61
Corral Sep-61
Flipper Fair Oct-61
Egghead Dec-61
Flipper Clown (2) Mar-62
Tropic Isle Apr-62
Cover Girl (2) Jul-62
Olympics (2) Sep-62
Flipper Cowboy (2) Oct-62
Slick Chick Apr-63
Square Head Jun-63
Sweethearts Sep-63
Gigi (3) Dec-63
World Fair Apr-64
Bowling Queen Jul-64
Majorettes (2) Aug-64
North Star (3) Aug-64
Skyline (2) Jan-65
Kings & Queens (3) Mar-65
Buckaroo (3) May-65
Cowpoke May-65
Bank-A-Ball (2) Jul-65
Flipper Pool (2) Oct-65
Ice Review (2) Nov-65
Central Park (2) Apr-66
Hurdy Gurdy (2) May-66
Crosstown Sep-66
Subway Oct-66
Dancing Lady Nov-66
King of Diamonds (2) Jan-67
Diamond Jack Apr-67
Royal Guard (2) Jan-68
Funland May-68
Spin-A-Card Jan-69
Target Pool Jun-69
Wild Wild West Aug-69
Mibs Sep-69
Flip-A-Card (2) Feb-70
Crescendo May-70
Aquarius Oct-70
2001 Tournament game Jan-71
2001 Jan-71
Dimension Jan-71
Play Ball Apr-71
4 Square (3) Jun-71
Roller Coaster Jun-71
Astro Oct-71
Flying Carpet Feb-72
Pro Football Jan-73
Jack in the Box Feb-73
Jumping Jacks May-73
High Hand Jul-73
Hot Shot Sep-73
Sky Jump (2) Apr-74
Magnatron Jun-74
Top Card Aug-74
Duotron Sep-74
Atlantis Dec-74
El Dorado (2) Apr-75
Spin Out Jul-75
Pioneer Feb-76
Bank Shot Mar-76
Royal Flush Apr-76
Ship Ahoy Jun-76
Buccaneer Jun-76
New York Aug-76
Surf Champ Tournament game Aug-76
Jacks Open (2) Jan-77
Lucky Hand Jun-77
Jungle Princess Aug-77
Golden Arrow Oct-77
Cleopatra Dec-77
Strange Worlds Mar-78
Neptune Apr-78
Eye of the Tiger May-78
Joker Poker Jun-78
Close Encounters of the Third Kind Jul-78
Hit the Deck Aug-78
Rock Star Dec-78
Countdown May-79
Pinball Pool Jun-79
The Incredible Hulk Oct-79
Black Hole Oct-81
Striker Nov-82

Larry Zartarian's "Flipper" series by Gottlieb
Larry Zartarian's "Flipper" series by Gottlieb

Ballyhoo Dec-31
Bull’s Eye Feb-35
Bumper Dec-36
Skill Roll (Upright console pinball) Feb-56
Balls-A-Poppin’ Aug-56
Circus Jul-57
Moonshot Jan-63
Magic Circle Feb-65
Surfers Mar-67
Dixieland Oct-67
Mini Zag Feb-68
Op-Pop-Pop Jun-68
King Tut Aug-69
Galahad Oct-69
Bowl-O Nov-69
Zip-A-Doo Dec-69
Sea Ray Sep-70
4 Million BC Nov-70
El Toro Dec-70
Fireball (3) Aug-71
Odds & Evens Aug-71
Time Zone Jan-72
Nip-It Feb-72
Wizard (2) Sep-74
Knockout Tournament game Sep-74
Bow & Arrow Nov-74
Hokus Pokus Tournament game Mar-75
Old Chicago Mar-75
Capt. Fantastic Sep-75
Freedom Oct-75
Hang Glider Tournament game Mar-76
Aladdin’s Castle Jun-76
Mata-Hari Tournament game Sep-76
Night Rider Nov-76
8 Ball Jan-77
8 Ball Tournament game Jan-77
Power Play Feb-77
Evel Knievel Jun-77
Strikes & Spares (2) Aug-77
Kiss Apr-78
Paragon Tournament game Dec-78
Future Spa Mar-79
Xenon Nov-79
Silverball Mania Feb-80
Flash Gordon May-80
8 Ball Deluxe Sep-80
Embryon Sep-80
Fathom Dec-80
Medusa (2) Feb-81
Spectrum Apr-81
Electra Dec-81
Black Pyramid Jul-84
Fireball Classic Feb-85
The Addams Family (2) Jan-92
Bram Stoker’s Dracula Mar-93
Twilight Zone Mar-93
Judge Dredd Oct-93
Attack from Mars Mar-96
Fastbreak Tournament game Mar-97
The Champion Pub (2) Jun-98
Scared Stiff Tournament game Oct-98

Some of the classic Bally games
Don Mueting and Rob Hawkins' booth can be seen
along the side wall of the auditorium

Dew-Wa-Ditty Jun-48
Short Stop (Baseball pitch & bat) Apr-58
Gusher Sep-58
Mardi Gras Oct-62
Skill Pool Jun-63
Soccer Mar-64
San Francisco May-64
Moulin Rouge May-65
Pot-O-Gold Jun-65
Teacher’s Pet Oct-65
Full House Mar-66
Hot Line (2) Sep-66
Beat Time Sep-67
Lady Luck Mar-68
Doozie Aug-68
Paddock Sep-69
Doodle Bug Mar-71
Klondike Aug-71
Stardust Jan-72
Super Star Aug-72
Fan-Tas-Tic Sep-72
Upper Deck (2) (Baseball pitch & bat) Feb-73
Fun Fest May-73
Gulfstream May-73
OXO Oct-73
Superflite Oct-74
Big Ben Apr-75
Blue Chip Nov-76
Grand Prix Dec-76
Liberty Bell Apr-77
Flash Jan-79
Gorgar Nov-79
Firepower (2) Feb-80
Black Knight Nov-80
Laser Cue Feb-84
High Speed (2) Dec-85
Road Kings Jul-86
F-14 Tomcat Mar-87
Cyclone Feb-88
Swords of Fury Aug-88
Diner Aug-90
Fun House Dec-90
Fish Tales (2) Aug-92
Medieval Madness Aug-97
No Good Gofers Dec-97
Monster Bash Tournament game Oct-98
Stern Electronics & Stern Pinball
Stampede Feb-77
Rawhide Apr-77
Sting Ray Dec-77
Stars Mar-78
Nugent Nov-78
Magic Aug-79
Meteor (2) Sep-79
Galaxy Jan-80
Ali Mar-80
Sea Witch Tournament game May-80
Nine Ball Nov-80
Freefall Jan-81
Split Second Jul-81
Catacomb Oct-81
Dragonfist Dec-81
Orbitor I (2) Feb-82
South Park (Stern/Sega) Feb-99
Sharkey’s Shootout Sep-00
Roller Coaster Tycoon (2) Aug-02
Elvis Aug-04
The Sopranos Feb-05
Nascar Aug-05
Pirates of the Caribbean Jul-06
Indiana Jones Apr-08
Shrek 2008

Chicago Coin  
Pop-Up (Novelty pitch & bat) Oct-64
All Stars (Baseball pitch & bat) Jan-68
Playtime Sep-68
Yankee Baseball (Baseball pitch & bat) Apr-69
Astronaut Jun-69
Action Sep-69
Hi Score Pool Aug-71
Big League (Baseball pitch & bat) Mar-75
Sound Stage Jul-76

World’s Fair Jigsaw Aug-32
World Series Sep-33
Army & Navy Mar-35
Big Game Jul-35
TNT Aug-35

A selection of solid-state machines
A selection of solid-state machines available to play

Buster Ball Dec-31
Silver Cup Jul-33
Jumpin’ Jacks
(Upright console pinball)
Golden Nugget
(Upright console pinball)
Super Straight May-77
Monaco Jul-77
Mars Trek Aug-77
Butterfly Nov-77

Tag Team Sep-85
Premier Victory Oct-87
Bell Ringer Dec-90
Nautilus Feb-77
Universe Nov-77
Super Sonic 1977

Baywatch Apr-95
Batman Forever Jul-95
Midway Target Gallery
(Novelty pitch & bat)
Midway Rotation VIII (Cocktail table pin) Sep-78

Top Speed Dec-75
Lady Luck Nov-76

Gordon Hasse points out a detail on Larry's Harbour Lites to Dan Miller
Noted pinball historian/collector Gordon Hasse points out a detail
on a classic Gottlieb woodrail to PPM Director Dan Miller

Other Pinball Machines  
Montegue Redgrave
Improvements in Bagatelle
Pace Lucky Strike Jan-32
Mills Official Feb-32
H.A. Grohe Kickback Jun-35
Pearson Engineering
Scientific Batting Practice
United ABC Mar-51
Keeney Arrowhead Sep-62
Interflip Dragon Dec-77
Atari Video Pinball Feb-79
Game Plan Lizard Jun-80
Micropin Corp. Micropin Oct-80
Alvin G. Punchy the Clown Aug-93
Data East Tales from the Crypt Dec-93
Rifle/Gun Games  
Exhibit Dale Gun Dec-47
Genco State Fair Aug-56
Chicago Coin Rocket Feb-62
Williams Aqua Gun Mar-68
Midway Dog Fight  Sep-68
Williams Phantom Jun-69
Bally Target Zero Dec-70

Additional Arcade Machines  
Mike Munves Mercury Strength Tester Unknown
Bally Spinner – 2
(Gambling consoles)
JPM International (Sega)
Sonic the Hedgehog (console slot)

Pinball as science was also on display thanks to Michael Schiess’ generous offering of numerous interactive, hands-on exhibits featuring pinball sounds, dynamics, and physics.

One of the Pinball Science exhibits
One of the Pinball Science exhibits

This year, one of our main themes we wished to emphasize was pinball art – with “the art of pinball” and “pinball as art”.  To this end, we were fortunate to have commissioned local SF Bay Area muralist Dan Fontes to produce larger-than-life acrylic canvases of images depicted in backglasses from classic pinballs such as Gottlieb’s 1951 “Mermaid”, 1964 “Majorettes”, and United’s rare rifle game from 1958, “Sky Raider”. 

Don Fontes with his Sky Raider canvas
Don Fontes with his Sky Raider canvas

Local scenic artist Ed Cassel was commissioned to produce similar sized canvases of Bally’s 1970 “Double Up”, Gottlieb’s 1970 “Scuba”, Bally’s 1972 “Fireball” and Gottlieb’s 1971 “2001”.

Ed Cassel in front of his Scuba canvas
Ed Cassel in front of his Scuba canvas

There was also an impressive line-up of pinball speakers who led seminars over the three-day show, including Hans Milberger on "How to Purchase a Pinball Machine"; Michael Schiess on the "Goals and Visions of the Pacific Pinball Museum"; Bear Kamaroff’s "Pinball Machine Repair & Maintenance"; noted woodrail historian Gordon Hasse on "Pinball Art"; artist William Wiley, collector Joe Sweeney, Wade Krause and Jim Dietrick on Wiley’s “Punball” machine; Clay Harrell (aka “Shaggy”) of "This Old Pinball"; Chris Kuntz on "Solid-State Pinball Repair"; documentary film-maker Greg Maletic, who showed his “TILT – The Battle to Save Pinball”; Greywolf on "Pinball Simulation"; "Cabinet Head Restoration Techniques" led by Tim Meighan; and "Backglass Murals" featuring muralist Dan Fontes and scenic artist Ed Cassel.

Gordon Hasse talks about pinball art
Gordon Hasse talks about pinball art

There were also various pinball contests, featuring a 5-category tournament hosted by Keith Elwin, current world champion.

Ed Cassel's canvases form the backdrop to the tournament machines
Ed Cassell and Dan Fontes' canvases form the backdrop for the tournament machines

Vendors present at the show included pinball researchers Don Mueting and Bob Hawkins, who brought along with them a healthy offering of pinball related books, flyers and backglasses.  Don & Bob are hard at work on archiving the large volume of pinball material belonging to the late Russ Jensen.  Other vendors included Silver Ball Amusement’s Tony Page; Martin and Pam of Pin Bits and Cliffy's; Craig Weiss; and Wade Krauss of Pinball Playfield.com.

There were no fewer than 5 pinball games offered during various raffles over the show’s three-day run, including a 1962 Gottlieb “Olympics”; 1974 Gottlieb “Sky Jump”; 1976 Gottlieb “Spin Out”; 1976 Chicago Coin “Cinema”; and a 1977 Williams “Liberty Bell”.

There were also contests held for “Best of” categories, which were won by Tim Meighan of Seattle for the “Best Restored” game for his beautiful 1964 Gottlieb “Majorettes”; “Best Modified” game award went to Wade Krauss and Dirty Donny for their modified 1974 Gottlieb “King Pin” which they cleverly transformed into “The Hellacopters” (the name of a Swedish punk rock band); and Larry Zartarian, who won “Best Original Condition Game” for his pristine 1966 Gottlieb “Subway”.

Tim Meighan receives his Best Restored trophy from Jim
Tim Meighan receives his Best Restored trophy from Jim

The 12 board members of the Pacific Pinball Museum (Jim Dietrick, Michael Schiess, Dan Miller, Larry Zartarian, Dan Fontes, Helmut and DeAnna Jordt, Melissa Harmon, Jem Gruber, Tim Volz, Greg Maletic and Jim Strehlow) along with over 50 individual volunteers, collectors and numerous pinball enthusiasts are all looking forward to next year’s show!

Some of those who helped make the show happen
PPE Show organizers celebrating the show's success

The 2009 Pacific Pinball Exposition is already scheduled for October 2nd, 3rd and 4th… so mark your calendars now!