Calling All UK Pinball Wizards
By James Grahame
[Here's The Pinball Blog writer Nick Bennett to tell Retro Thing readers a little about his thing... -Ed.]
Pinball is enjoying a resurgence around the world. Well, maybe not so much in the arcades and bars and probably not as far as pinball manufacturing goes, but for collectors and enthusiasts it hasn't been this good for a long time. If you're in the USA, there are a number of great shows and events to attend -- the incredible Pinball Expo [in Chicago] for starters -- and no excuse to ever miss an event if you keep an eye on the fantastic Pinball News diary.
But I'm in the UK, seemingly a million miles from Expo and without the 'event every week' lifestyle of our lucky American friends, but it can't be that bad over here, can it?
Of course not.
2009 is the biggest ever year for pinball in the UK, and one of the most significant in the decades of pinball history worldwide. I organise the UK Pinball Show, which is in it's fifth year in 2009. There are other smaller meets and gatherings and a regional pinball league, but the UK Pinball Show is the big one.
Visitors can play over a hundred machines (free-to-play after admission) and this year the show also features the European Pinball Championship (EPC) the premier event of the European pinballing calendar. Anybody can enter and anybody could win it - maybe even me (although with my current World Pinball Player Ranking position of 427 this might be difficult). Some of the best players from all over the world will battle it out to be crowned the best in Europe. Alongside the main event is the Country Competition where a team of 4 from each country will play for bragging rights!
The show also features a dinner and awards evening with legendary pinball designer Steve Ritchie as our guest speaker. The International Flipper Pinball Association (IFPA) run a Pinball World Championships once a year and in 2009, this also comes to the UK - the first time ever outside America. It's an invitation only event for the best 64 players on the planet, but the final four places are available through the EPC the weekend before, so maybe an upset is on the cards. It's a great nod for the work we do in the UK that we're able to hold the event over here! 2008: Las Vegas, 2009: a farm in Buckinghamshire!
And there's more...
On my blog I run a feature called Pinball Heroes where I interview leading personalities from the pinball industry, past and present. Among others, I've interviewed game designers John Trudeau, George Gomez and Steve Ritchie, Las Vegas Hall of Fame owner Tim Arnold and Roger Sharpe, the man responsible for over-turning the ban on pinball in America. A new Pinball Heroes interview hits the blog each weekend. These guys will have been asked hundreds of questions over the years so some of the questioning is a little random! Basically, I'm trying to start a bun-fight among industry legends!
Seeing the social and competitive side of pinball in the UK grow over recent years has made me very proud, and I'm honoured to be a small part of it. So many of the events and websites are run by like-minded enthusiasts in their free-time and for my part, when the UK Pinball Show opens it's door again this summer, I can sit back and think "I did that!" I'd love to open a pinball museum in the UK, but it's a long way from happening just yet!
Link: The Pinball Blog