Date: 24th - 26th March 2007.
Location: Hilton DFW Lakes Conference Center, Grapevine, Dallas, TX, USA.

The Texas Pinball Festival returned over the weekend of 24th-26th March 2007 after an absence during 2006. It came back with a new time of year and a new location.

The Hilton DFW Lakes Conference Center is a plush 4-star hotel with a regular room rate of $169 but thankfully the show organisers had negotiated a $99 room rate for show attendees on Friday and Saturday nights. It's a large complex and the pinball show was taking place in the basement ballroom.

Because we were covering the Rochester Gameroom Show in New York state on Friday, we got an early morning flight for the 1,400 mile trip to Dallas. The hotel courtesy coach got back to the hotel just in time for the first seminar by Dennis Nordman.

Dennis gave an illustrated talk about his time in the pinball industry and talked about each of the games he designed, from Special Force right through to his recent experiences at Stern designing Pirates Of The Caribbean.

We have two videos from Dennis's seminar. In the first he describes how he got into pinball initially and how he subsequently re-joined and began designing games. Just click on the clip below to start it playing.

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You can also watch this 5 minute video of Dennis talking about some of his earlier games - from Special Force, through Elvira to Whitewater.

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Want to know more? Well, you can listen to an audio recording of the whole seminar as an MP3.

Click here to listen to Dennis Nordman's entire seminar
47 minutes, 43.5MB, MP3

After Dennis, Gene Cunningham took to the floor with Fred to talk about developments at Illinois Pin Ball and about the project to make Big Bang Bar games.

The Big Bang Bar games are expected to ship to buyers this month so here's a video of Gene talking about some of the problems encountered along the way and how the costs mounted up so each game ended up totalling around $6,500 despite buyers only having to pay the original asking price of $4,500.

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Once again, you can hear the whole of Gene's seminar by clicking on the link below and either listening to, or downloading, the MP3 file.

Click here to listen to Gene Cunningham's entire seminar
68 minutes, 53.9MB, MP3

These seminars help the Texas Pinball Festival stand out from other shows and drew a good sized audience, eager to hear Dennis and Gene's perspective on past games and more recent events in the pinball world.

Meanwhile, the main show was continuing in the basement along with the two competitions - The Wizard's Tournament and the Classics Tournament - under the watchful eye of Tournament Director Ken Kemp.

The timetable for the show along with the current standings in the tournaments and the various winners were projected on a large screen on the wall near the entrance.

The parts and games vendors were arranged around the outer edge of the hall with the recreational games in the centre. The tournament games were right by the entrance so everyone could see the competitive players and marvel at their skills.

There was a varied selection of parts and spares available from the 14 vendors. Illinois Pin Ball has the largest stand - stretching half the length of the hall - to show off their range of spares, new playfields and Big Bang Bar games.

Two of the games were for sale by auction with a minimum bid of $10,000 for the regular production model and $12,000 for the "prototype". It's not clear whether either game sold. For BBB fans there was also a new line of branded clothing

Marco Specialties and Pinball Inc were there to sell parts and ramps respectively.

Chris Monro had a huge selection of old parts in numerous boxes scattered all around his treasure trove of a stand in the back right corner of the hall.

The following 14 vendors were present:

  • Arcades At Home
  • Back From The Dead Pinball
  • Bob Herbison
  • Chris Munro
  • CoinTech Amusements
  • Dallas Arcade
  • Discount Arcade Distributing
  • Fun! Billiards & Gameroom Superstore
  • Illinois Pin Ball Co
  • Marco Specialties
  • Pinball Inc
  • Pinpoint Electronics
  • Tillberg Amusement Services
  • Varcade Entertainment

The number of games was slightly up from the last show - from 99 to 105 - and featured a decent range of less-common machines which made a nice contrast to the more familiar DMD games.

The full list of the 105 games present and set up for public play:

  • Attack From Mars
  • Aztec*
  • Baby Pac-Man
  • Bank-A-Ball
  • Big Deal
  • Big Game*
  • Big Shot
  • Big Show
  • Big Wheel
  • Black Knight
  • Black Knight 2000
  • Black Rose
  • Bow & Arrow
  • Cactus Jack
  • Capt. Fantastic
  • Catacomb
  • Cheetah
  • Cherry Bell
  • Cinema*
  • 2 x Cirqus Voltaire
  • City Slickers
  • Comet
  • Creature From The Black Lagoon
  • Dragon
  • Earthshaker
  • El Dorado
  • Elvis*
  • Family Guy*
  • Fireball
  • 2 x Firepower
  • Flight 2000
  • Flipper Fair
  • Freedom
  • Funhouse
  • Gamatron
  • Guns N Roses*
  • Hi Flyer*
  • High Speed 2 - The Getaway
  • Hollywood
  • Hot Shots
  • Hot Tip
  • Hotdoggin
  • Independence Day
  • Jackbot
  • Johnny Mnemonic
  • Jokerz
  • Last Action Hero
  • 2 x Lethal Weapon 3
  • Liberty Bell*
  • Lord Of The Rings
  • Magic
  • Mars - God Of War
  • Masquerade
  • Meteor
  • Monopoly
  • Monster Bash
  • Mystery Castle
  • NBA Fastbreak
  • Orbitor 1
  • Pro Football*
  • Queen Of Diamonds
  • Quicksilver*
  • Revenge From Mars
  • Road Race*
  • Roadshow
  • Rocky & Bullwinkle
  • Rola-Ball
  • Rollercoaster Tycoon
  • Scared Stiff
  • Scared Stiff*
  • 2 x Seawitch
  • Slugfest
  • Sopranos
  • Space Jam
  • Speakeasy
  • Spectrum
  • Spin-A-Card
  • Spring Break
  • Star Gazer
  • Star Wars Episode 1
  • Stellar Wars
  • Tales From The Crypt
  • Tales From The Crypt*
  • Tales Of The Arabian Nights
  • Terminator 3
  • The Addams Family
  • Theatre Of Magic
  • Time Fantasy
  • Torch
  • Trident
  • Triple Action
  • Twilight Zone
  • 2 x UltraPin
  • Who Dunnit?
  • 2 x World Cup Soccer
  • 2 x World Poker Tour
  • WWF Royal Rumble*
  • Xenon

*Those games marked with an asterisk were set up but not powered and working. The list was made Saturday evening and includes those games available for general play. Private games not set up for public play are not included.

The following games were used for the tournaments:

  • Crosstown
  • 4 x Family Guy
  • Nine Ball

There were also 30 video games at the show:

  • 2 x Arcade Classics
  • Crusin' USA
  • Donkey Kong
  • Force 2*
  • 3 x Galaga
  • Galaxians
  • Golden Tee 99
  • Hydra
  • Joust
  • Kangaroo
  • 3 x Megatouch
  • Missile Command
  • Ms Pac-Man
  • 3 x Multicade
  • NFL Blitz
  • Out Run
  • 2 x Pac-Man
  • Phoenix
  • Quiz Machine
  • Tetris
  • Time Crisis 4
  • Volcano

In the tournaments, the Wizards division was played out on the four Family Guy games with qualifying taking place on Saturday and the final rounds played on Sunday. Entry cost $5 for two games and players could enter as many times as the wished.

The top 16 scorers at the end of Saturday night's play qualified for Sunday's play-offs. They were:

  1. Jim Belsito (winner of the prize for top qualifier)
  2. John Kosmal
  3. Ed Most
  4. Martin Ayub
  5. Trent Augenstein
  6. JJ Reese
  7. Josh Sharpe
  8. Don Brownback
  9. Steve Walker
  10. Paul McGlone
  11. Robert Byers
  12. Zach Sharpe
  13. Lynn Lynes
  14. Brian Dominy
  15. Mark Gunter
  16. John Miller

The play-offs consisted of double-elimination best-of-three matches all played on Family Guy with the top qualifier pitched against the lowest qualifier.

After the first round, half the players continued with the other half moving into the loser bracket to play for a second chance to get to the final.

In the main bracket it was John Kosmal (Koz) who won every match to make it through to the final where he met the winner of the loser bracket - Zach Sharpe who beat Don Brownback into third place.

The final took place Sunday afternoon while the remainder of the show was closing down and being packed away.

Due to the double-elimination format, if Zach had won, he would have to play Koz again to decide the winner (so that the loser had actually lost twice). In the event, this wasn't necessary as Koz won outright to take first place. He won a large trophy and 50% of the entry fees which equated to $875. Zach came second winning $150 and a trophy, while Don in third picked up his trophy and $75.

Each qualifier also received this certificate.

In the other divisions, John Kosmal and John Christian won the "Draw Your Partner" tournament, with Gary Boldt and Steve Walker coming second.

In the "Parent and Child" tournament, it was Rob and Evan Sala who took first place, Rick and Robert Vetta were second, while Preston and Leon Moncla took third.

The Kids Tournament saw Josh Harward triumphing to take first place from Noah Wallaert, with Addison Powell and Andrew Hassell third and fourth respectively.

Finally, in the electro-mechanical tournament, Mike Ostradick took the champion title with Brian Bannon second, John Kosmal third and Trent Augenstein fourth.

The return of the Texas Pinball Festival is certainly a welcome sight and the new home is definitely a step up from the previous home at the Holiday Inn Select, nice as that was. The downsides, though, are a lack of a free internet connection ($10 per day) and the high prices if you want to eat or drink at the hotel. There are some reasonable places within walking distance outside the hotel if you don't have a car such as the Texas BBQ just over the road and the warm temperatures make for a nice stroll around the area or the hotel's grounds.

There was a small problem with anyone wanting to arrive Thursday in preparation for the show, as the special $99 room rate wasn't avilable on Thursday night meaning you either had to stay elsewhere or pay the full rate.

The show hall lacks a little of the intimacy of the Holiday Inn's but as it's about three floors tall, there's no problem with heat building up at player level and the noise was well controlled. The hall also offered good loading and unloading access for vendors and those bring games. The larger floor area meant more games and more vendors could be accommodated at the show, which can only be a good thing.

So the TPF is back in a different place and time, but the momentium of the previous five shows has continued, to make this another hugely enjoyable event.


Pinball News Two Minute Tour

You've read about the show but now you can see it for yourself with our exclusive Pinball News Two Minute Tour. Simply click on the play button below.

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