Date: April 25th - 27th 2008
At the foot of the Rockies, under the clear blue Colorado skies, we're at the Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown 2008 show in Golden.
The venue for the show was the Exhibit Hall at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. The location is a good one providing plenty of space while being only a short drive away from masses of shops and restaurants along Colfax Avenue and in the Colorado Mills retail park.
Entrance to the show cost $15 per day or $30 for all three days. The opening to the public was at midday on Friday but we got in to take some pictures of the setting up.
At midday the show opened and the public began filling the aisles and enjoying the machines.
When everything had been set up on Friday, these were the games available to play:
Machines marked with * were depowered when the list was drawn up.
In addition there were 3 Wheel Of Fortune and 3 Spider-Man machines for the tournaments - making a total of 94 pinball games - and the following video games: Alpha 1, Centipede, Defender, Dunk Shot, Megatouch, 2 x Ms Pac-Man, Pac-Man and Zaxxon.
Some of the machines were in the general play area while others were at vendor's booths.
Kim Mitchell's Zoned Out Pins stall had this modified game designed to help wheelchair users play pinball. The mirror simply attached to the backbox and could be easily moved to a different game. The playfield was reversed through the mirror, with the flippers at the top which made for interesting gameplay.
His booth included a number of beautiful examples of classic games - such as Pinball Pool, Centigrade 37 and Hang Glider - several of which won Best In Show awards.
Next door Kevin and Carole Carroll had another six machines from their collection while also selling t-shirts and caps for their Lyons Classic Pinball establishment.
There were a number of tournaments held at the Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown. On the opening day there was a Team Tournament in the early evening run using a single-elimination system. The winners of this were Eden Stamm and Adam Lefkoff who each received a trophy.
On Saturday the Kids Tournament was won by Jeffry Rakes who repeated his win in 2007 to collect this year's trophy.
Later on Saturday there were two more single-elimination competitions - an Electro-Mechanical Tournament where the winner was Neil Shatz and later in the evening was the Quick Draw Tournament which was won by Derek Fugate.
Sunday brought the Parent-Kid Tournament where the honours and the trophy went to Charlie & Benedetto Cusumano.
Across all three days players could attempt to qualify for the Open Tournament. There were two banks of three machines - 3 Wheel Of Fortune and 3 Spider-Man games.
Each attempt cost $6 and bought you two games on your chosen machine. Players recorded their scores on Spider-Man and Wheel Of Fortune and were ranked with the top score on each machine earning 20 points down to the 20th earning 1 point. A player's ranking points on the two machines were added together to give them their total points and the top 16 ranked players qualified for the play-offs.
The qualifiers for the playoff's were:
In the match between the two hitherto unbeaten players - Josh and Neil, it was Neil who took the honours and makes it into the final. Josh went on the meet the winner of the match in the loser category between Keith, and the winner of the match currently underway between Donavan and Jeff. Donavan won that game which left him, Josh, Neil and Keith still in the running.
Due to time pressures (the show closed an hour ago), the four remaining players agreed to decide the trophy honours in a single 4-player match on Wheel Of Fortune.
After ball 1 is over, Neil took a narrow lead, but scores were all below 3M and there was still everything to play for.
On the second ball, Keith boosted his score to 19M but it is Josh who started trip multiball and racked up 36M while Neil was close behind in third place on 18M with one ball each to go.
Keith was unable to increase is score by much and finished on 20M. Donavan did likewise and ended in fourth with 6M. Josh put in a similar performance on his last ball to end on 38M, leaving Neil as the only one who could catch him.
And catch him he did, passing the 40M mark before he stopped play as the winner.
So Neil Shatz wins the Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown Open Tournament playoff.
While all this was taking place in the main hall, there were a series of mini-seminars taking place in Conference Room B in another part of the building, away from the noise of the show.
The four "Pin Chats" covered a range of subjects with the first at 11am on Saturday featuring John Balogh talking about repairing Bally-Williams boards.
John began by explaining how he has been working on pinball machines for 20 years and now owns a bowling alley and 20-30 games.
After covering cleaning and lubrication tips for EM machines, he distributed schematic diagrams for Williams WPC system and explained how the different boards are arranged in the backbox.
He continued by describing the most common faults found in WPC games such as failed fuses, bridges and transistors, the solutions, and where to get the parts needed.
Gene began by talking about how the Pinball 2000 glass is made, the problems that can occur during manufacture and the differences between the first and second quality glass he has for sale.
He then moved on to his proposed plan to build new Capcom Kingpin games. In order for the project to move ahead, Gene said he needs 150 orders to move ahead and start a run of 175-180 games including prototypes. So far he has 116 orders for the $8000 machines (existing Big Bang Bar owners get a $500 discount and the chance to buy a particular serial number machine).
Unlike Big Bang Bar, Gene has not been able to acquire an original machine to reverse engineer. There are only about 8 Kingpin games in existence and with the last one selling for $25,000, his offer of $10,000 to disassemble, copy the various parts and reassemble their machine has not found any takers.
Exactly how the unique parts will be made, therefore, remains unclear. However, work is progressing on the wiring loom and re-making the electronic boards which will use mostly the same electronics as the originals except for those components which are now obsolete, where replacements will be used but they will be made to look like the original design. Gene said he has two companies working on the boards which he estimates will cost $600-$700 a set.
Also unlike the Big Bang Bar, the Kingpin machines will be RoHS-compliant and so can be bought by European collectors. Regular machines will feature black trim but the prototypes will have gold-coloured siderails, legs and lock bar.
He estimated a lead time of 3-4 months from initial payment to completion of the first machine.
Looking further afield, Gene speculated on the project he would like to tackle after Kingpin. Beyond Big Bang Bar and Kingpin, Capcom had a number of other prototype games in development. Red Line Fever was a motor racing pinball game by Greg Kmiec which got as far as the whitewood stage. After that was Carousel and an x-rated game by Python Anghelo and Brian Hansen called Zingy Bingy.
Gene said he wanted to create a motor cycle themed game and has ideas for ramps and spinning discs although it wasn't clear whether he wanted to use Red Line Fever as the basis for that game.
Kevin showed the assembled group how he repaint playfields where the original artwork has worn away or flaked off.
He began with a set of enamel paints bought at a local art supply store. These kits typically include gold and silver paints which he suggested should be thrown away as they are never used on playfields. He also said to dispose of the cheap brush and buy some proper brushes with pointed tips. For black paint he said to always use gloss and never matt black.
Kevin said he prefers enamel paints since they keep the same colour as the dry unlike acrylics which darken, and acrylics also need to be sanded when dry and sealed with a water thin super glue before being sanded again before they can be used. He suggested using enamel instead and then protecting the area either with wax or with self-adhesive 1mm-thick mylar.
The basics Kevin said were needed included Naphtha for degreasing and cleaning, kitchen towels and enamel thinner for diluting the colours and cleaning the brushes. In addition, he suggested using 70%-90% rubbing alcohol and magic eraser blocks to remove ball swirls although care should be takes since the magic eraser blocks are mildly abrasive and can remove paint if you're not careful.
To demonstrate how easily enamel paint could be removed if a mistake was made or the the colour match wasn't quite right, Kevin poured the unwanted silver paint onto his example playfield and then removed it using the kitchen towels and Naphtha
He showed how to mix the correct yellow colour needed to retouch an area he had previously damaged. Black lines were repainted and the sharp edges restored with a Q-Tip dipped in Naphtha
The important point Kevin wanted to get across was how playfield restoration is not difficult but it does take time and patience to get it right.
The aim of the project is to collect serial numbers and specific details about pinball machines all around the world. From this data, all kinds of interesting information can be extracted including production numbers, when various changes were made during the production run, how many prototypes were made and much more.
The collection of serial numbers began with the Serial Number Project at the Pinball Pasture but now those 7,500 records have been incorporated into Jess's database to bring the total to more than 10,000 entries.
Jess hopes those who maintain owner's lists will incorporate his data into their site and vice-versa so the information can be spread across more than one site, should the owners list disappear.
He demonstrated how the information is presented and how game owners can add their machines to the list, creating custom fields for special features as required.
You've read about the show but now you can see it for yourself with our exclusive Pinball News Three Minute Tour. Simply click on the play button below for a walk around the show floor.
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