Monday, June 8, 2015
The Northwest Pinball and Arcade Show took place in Tacoma, WA this weekend, and I had the pleasure of attending for the first time. While I've been to most of the other local shows that happen in the Seattle/Portland area, I've managed to consistently miss it for the last few years. Not quite sure how, but I'm glad that I finally made it down this time, because it was fantastic.
(In the spirit of full disclosure, I was provided free admittance to the event as a media attendee.)
The convention center where the event took place was easy to find, and very accessible. While not a huge show compared to some others, the space was a good fit.
We got there as the doors opened on the last day, so the venue was relatively empty for the first few hours. I'd imagine that the 9AM start was probably too early for most of the folks coming to a show like this, but since my son still wakes up before the sun rises, we were here bright and early. I'm glad we got here right away, as it filled up fast.
Speaking of the son, this is my guy playing Creature From The Black Lagoon, which had a very cool light-up hologram of the monster. When activated, it looked a bit like it was underwater and surfacing. Also, I'd like to call your attention to the stepstool he's standing on. If you're a parent attending an event like this, bringing your own stepstool is a must. The kids can fully participate, and you don't ruin your back trying to lift them up to every game.
This is me playing the brand new Walking Dead table. A really cool machine with great LED animations and a zombie that teeters over when hit with the ball. However, as cool as the table is, I included this picture to show the strap I rigged up to carry the son's stepstool around with us at the show. It's just a bungee cord and a rope, but it meant I didn't have to constantly have the thing in in my hand, but it was always accessible. (Also, kudos to this exhibitor for having their own step stashed under the machine.)
One of the coolest parts of the show were the banks of super-vintage pinball tables. I had never seen machines of this kind before in my life, and they were quite classy and cool. It seemed like most of these were from the '50s and '60s...
Here's a top-down view of one of the older tables. The overall design is much simpler and there's none of the bells and whistles that became so commonplace later. It almost reminds me of an electronic billiards table in some ways.
Another older table. Look at the size of the gap between the slippers, and how short and stubby the flippers are. Also, take note of the point values there. Racking up seventeen million on one ball? Not gonna happen...
Almost all of the older tables had a second plunger below the one that traditionally launches the ball onto the playfield. I was confused about what it was for at first, but it turns out that you push the lower plunger in, and the ball is lifted up into position to be hit by the upper plunger.
This coin slot was sealed, but the price of a play is still clear to see...
Getting back to some of the more modern machines, here was another gem I'd never seen before, and it was a pretty cool one to find on the floor.
I tried a dozen times to get the egg on this Jurassic Park table to crack open, but I never managed it. maybe next year!!
It's tough to get a real sense of how massive this pinball machine is without seeing it in real life, but my son can't even reach the flipper buttons on this Hercules table. The ball itself was about the size of a billiards ball, and the table surface must have been at least six feet long, if not longer.
If memory serves, this machine was from 1974. A cool bit of nostalgia from the time period, but look at the score... Nothing digital there, those are old-school number readouts with a max of 99,999.
Besides pinball, there were a good number of vintage arcade machines at the show. This one, Blue Shark, threw me for a loop -- the characters of the game were displayed on a TV set on the bottom of the machine's screen and reflected onto a plastic backing on the upper half to make it look like the sharks, octopi and other creatures were 'swimming'. A really unusual design, to be sure.
This was the repair table in the middle of the floor. It seems like a big part of being a pinball table owner is being able to fix the machines and keep them running, and this area was well-stocked with all manner of things to keep the lights on and the bumpers pinging.
From start to finish, I had a great time at the show. I will definitely attend next year, and would highly recommend it to anyone who might be in the area when it happens again in 2016. For more information, please visit the Northwest Pinball and Arcade Show website, and tell them I sent you!