The hall is really cool. It's got these giant painted reproductions of classic backglasses, and tons and tons of pinball machines. Some are grouped by theme (there is an awesome row of space themed machines) and others are by manufacturer, or era, etc.
A fellow pin-head named Pat gave me a ride to the show this morning. We arrived by 8:30am and were put to work right away, leveling machines. Pat had done a lot of hard work moving the machines over the previous two days, so he was on "level duty" and I was on "crawl around under the machines duty." We leveled every single pin you see in the photo below, along with another row the same size. It took about three hours!
After that, I walked around and taped informational signs on top of a bunch of machines. While walking around the convention floor I saw a couple of cool things. Cool Thing #1: FOUR unopened X-Men machines sitting in the area that will later become the Stern Pinball booth. Drooooooool
Cool Thing #2: THE WORLD'S LARGEST PINBALL MACHINE!!!???!?!?!! How did I not know about Hercules until I saw it today??! Look at this monster:
You have to look at the other pinball machines around it, to get an idea of its scale. I played one game on it (instead of a pinball it uses a pool cue ball!) and was surprised how well it played. The only downside is "body english" has no effect on this sucker. Nudge it all you want, you're not going to push this thing around! I am not looking forward to moving this machine back to storage on Monday...
At 3pm the pre-show gala began, and there was some free food (nice!) At that point I just started walking around playing as much pinball as humanly possible. At one point, I rolled over an EM for the first time!!! It was an OXO, which I played until I got a pretty good grasp of what was going on. 106,760 points!
As I was walking around, I saw this guy playing a "Koala" machine. Now, if you've read Drop Target #3, you know that I consider TILT to be the current best pinball movie ever made. And in that film, there are "Koala" brand machines. I asked the guy at this booth if these were like those games, and he replied that these WERE those games. !!?!
It turns out that this guy Michael CUSTOM BUILT these two machines for the movie, back in the '70s and he still has them (AND they still WORK!) So I got to play the ACTUAL machine from the movie, which was pretty amazing!
And all that on just the first day! Hopefully the Stern booth will be set up by the time I get to the show tomorrow morning, so I can set up a tiny corner for Drop Target HQ. I'm excited to sell some zines and to catch some of the incredible PPE6 programming. Just flipping through the expo guide, it seems like almost all the big names from pinball will be there!
I'll report back tomorrow about how it all goes. And needless to say, if you are in the bay area and are at all into pinball, you do not want to miss this expo!!!