For the first time in three years at the embassy suites in Frisco Texas with over 50 vendors, 25 events and 400 pinball machines, the Texas pinball festival was back…and is back. Stick with me and we’re going to relive the excitement of this terrific show.
I love the potential of an empty hall. The ability and the hard work it takes to fill a space with over 400 pinball machines, merch booths and humans is really admirable and astonishing. The Marco crew arrived to a very empty hall on Thursday, very early in the morning with an empty space for all our stuff and a lot of promise. By Friday we were all set for a really fast paced and quick going Texas pinball festival. We teamd up with FUN! Billiards and Gameroom super store and Craig Hassel. We had a fun and exciting weekend ahead of ourselves. As we got started, we found our team growing. A lot of extended family of Marco Pinball joined us; the French streamers from RB Flip, home-brew builder Matt Benzik, and Jack Danger and Michael Grant from Stern pinball. Some of the fellas from Spooky came over and helped us build our booth as well! The support from these people is a testament to just how great the pinball community can be.
The Show opened and we were all set. Some of our booth features included a RUSH selfie station, over 20 new Stern releases including RUSH, Godzilla and The Mandalorian. Each of these games was outfitted with an Insider Connected QR code reader which would allow show attending to scan their phones and record all of their scores, tracking their progress on each of the machines. Their progress was recorded and if they did well, the would make it on the leaderboard to enter the running to win a prize.
We also had a learn to stream pinball set up with one RUSH premium and a mirror and camera stand which was put together by the streamers RB Flip.
Now I’d like to talk a bit about the rest of the show; some of the stuff outside of our own booth. There were lots of mech venders selling different t-shirts and stickers and all kinds of fun pinball related swag. This included Double Danger and Soft plunge as well as Brad Albright, the designer of our Pintech Logo with the futuristic pinball tech. This shirt also glows in the dark! You can get it on the website if you saw it at the show and loved it, you should definitely get one! Just type part number 59-PINTECH into the search bar and it’ll bring up all of the sizes!
Sylvester McCoy, one of the Dr. Whos had a booth on the show floor and there was a giant Tardis and Dalek. Sylvester McCoy also presented a TWIPY at the TWIPY’s ceremony. I heard that the Tardis was sold to a local Texan, so it might so up somewhere interesting!
One of my personal favorite parts of every TPF I attend is the “prewars” or the penny arcade bagatelles. It’s a special booth run by a very nice gentleman named Jeff Frick. He provides you with a little cup of pennies so you can go ahead and play these wood rails and these very special antiques. It’s kind of amazing that he’s able to keep them functioning and that we were even able to play them.
There were a few home-brew pinball machines. There was a billy Madison home-brew, which also won best Home-brew of TPF. There was an ELF home-brew which is based on the Will Ferrell Christmas movie.
At the front of the hall was a game called Philina which was Phil Grimaldi’s custom Wedding pinball machine. He spoke to us about this game on MarcoTV at Houston arcade and pinball expo. It was really cool to see it in person and to be able to step and play.
Next to that game was Cary Hardy’s own Getaway Project which he had worked hard on to restore and make look brand new. I believe he won a best in show award for that machine, so good going Cary!
P3 also had 2 of their new Weird Al’s Museum of Natural Hilarity to play. As always, there was never not a line, just like anytime there is a new game release at a show. We didn’t get a chance to play due to time constraints, but hopefully we’ll get the chance soon, and we can talk about it next time!
Some other show favorites we saw; two linked NBA Fastbreaks, a Steve Zissou game based on the film The Life Aquatic, 4 or 5 Aliens from the pinball brothers in the Cointaker booth, Big Lebowski, Rudi’s Nightmare (or Funhouse 2.0) which was a fun new take on an old game.
We had a chance to attend a few seminars. My favorite seminar was the FAST seminar featuring Brian McFadden and Aaron Davis. (www.fastpinball.com) They talked a little bit about their board platforms. These guys cater to indie pinball developers and boutique builders. They really want to take care of the homebrewer community. They offer a lot of support and really make their architecture easy to “drop in” as they say. I’m really interested to see what these guys come up with and hopefully get to talk to them in the future.
The other seminar we caught was the Chicago Gaming seminar with Butch Peel, going over the new release of Cactus canyon remake.
Seeing the behind the scenes aspects of building games is one of the things is one aspect of seminars that makes them interesting to attend.
Butch spoke a bit about some of the new updated components of the game: Some of the mechanics and the way they were incorporating RGB lighting and inductive ball sensors just to help with old issues from the original game. Lots of artwork and molded figures, and a new topper. He spoke on the show presence of Cactus canyon and how the games have played at different shows and how they were received and what they’ve learned from these show experiences to help improve the games.
Early Saturday morning (maybe a bit TOO early) me and Imoto and Serene, one of our graphics designers attended the Swap meet in the parking lot of the Embassy suites. Apparently a few people beat the crowd, getting up as early as 6 am to buy up some pinball machines. There were a few trucks filled with different pinball games and arcade cabs and goodies. Around the parking lot there were a lot of tables set up selling old parts, pieces, magazines and toys. At the entrance of the convention center, the Belles and Chimes from all over Texas were doing a meet and greet, serving donuts, coffee and mimosas for anyone coming to say hello. It was really cool to see Belles from not only Texas but Chicago and Florida all meeting up and exchanging swag and stories.
Saturday night was “party time.” The TWIPY’s were held at around 8pm and hosted by Jack Danger and Imoto. One fantastic highlight of the TWIPY’s was Todd Tuckey’s long overdue win for Best Youtube streamer, which everyone was so thrilled to see. If you were not able to catch the event live, the VOD is available at www.twipys.com.
The TWIPY’s after-party featured two dj sets; one from our own DJ m-Tort and another from Scott Danesi. 5 new pinball machines were set up next to the stage for everyone to play including a Godzilla, Hot Wheels, Valhalla, Cactus Canyon and Halloween.
Sunday is always tough, because the show seems to speed by. The first part of the day has a lot of catching up and cleaning up and the second part of the day requires breakdown, so the booth has to come down and everyone says their good byes.
It’s always a fast-going weekend and it’s so terrific to see everyone, meet customers and make new friends and experience the local community. Shows are really special so if you ever come out to visit our booth, thank you. If you dont, then do so next time!
You can find more info about the Texas Pinball Festival at texaspinball.com.
That is a wrap on the recap of the Texas pinball festival. Stop by next month for our recap of the Midwest Gaming classic which is taking place April 29th-May 1st. That’s in downtown Milwaukee at the Wisconsin Center. You can get more information on that show at www.midwestgamingclassic.com.