FLIP EXPO 2018

    • Pinball News

      FLIP EXPO 2018

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      It’s been five years since we were last in Le Tréport on the northern French coast to visit Flip Expo, and there have been some changes in the interim.

      The town is still the same picturesque fishing port, and it was looking especially attractive this weekend due to the 25C temperature, bright sunshine and blue skies.

      The town of Le Tréport in France
      The town of Le Tréport in France
      The town is overlooked by chalk cliffs, with a funicular railway taking passengers to the top and back
      The town is overlooked by imposing chalk cliffs, with a funicular railway taking passengers to the top and back
      The town's harbour
      The town’s harbour

      The venue for Flip Expo is still the same – Salle Serge Reggiani, a large municipal hall on the eastern outskirts of the town – but the show has expanded into the adjacent sports hall – called Gymnase Leo Lagrange – too.

      The venues for Flip Expo 2018
      The venues for Flip Expo 2018

      We arrived shortly before the doors opened at 10am on Saturday 21st April and there were queues of visitors outside both halls awaiting the official openings.

      The queue outside the Salle Serge Reggiani
      The queue outside the Salle Serge Reggiani
      The queue outside the Salle Serge Reggiani
      The queue outside the Salle Serge Reggiani
      The queue outside Gymnase Leo Lagrange
      The queue outside Gymnase Leo Lagrange

      Both halls had separate registration desks, so some visitors took advantage of the shorter queue and entered the show through the second hall.  The price was a mere €4 ($4.89/£3.50) per person per day, which is achievable thanks to the municipal council offering use of the halls for free in return for attracting a large number of visitors to the town.

      The gymnasium was home to all the vendor stands, and there was an impressive selection of vendors selling many different gaming-related products, although the emphasis was definitely on pinball.

      Inside the gymnasium
      Inside the gymnasium

      With the gymnasium being used for the vendors, the Salle Serge Reggiani was home of the free play games and the tournaments.  However, several vendors were either distributors for one or more of the major pinball manufacturers, or they were selling their own machines.  So, there were quite a few pinballs to play in the vendor hall too, including most of the more-recent titles.

      The first one we encountered was a Stern’s Guardians of the Galaxy, but sadly it was on pay-to-play and hence remained virtually untouched all weekend.  Thankfully, it was the exception and all the other games were set on free play.

      It was nice to see a Guardians of the Galaxy game in the vendor hall, but a shame it was pay-to-play
      It was nice to see a Guardians of the Galaxy game in the vendor hall, but a shame it was pay-to-play

      Probably the most interesting new game there was the Olympic Goblin from Phenix Pinball.  This has the feel of a home-brew game but also could be a commercial product if marketed and priced correctly.

      Olympic Goblin from Phenix Pinball
      Olympic Goblin from Phenix Pinball
      The backbox of Olympic Goblin from Phenix Pinball
      The backbox of Olympic Goblin from Phenix Pinball

      The playfield is a simple affair, with four top rollover lanes, feeding three pop bumpers, below which are three banks of three drop targets.  There are two flippers above which are two passive slingshots which don’t include any kickers.  Scoring is on a seven-segment LED displays to give the game a retro early solid-state feel, which is Phenix Pinball’s intention.

      The Olympic Goblin playfield
      The Olympic Goblin playfield

      The game runs on one of Pascal Janin’s CPU/driver boards with a PinSound audio board to make this a true French production.  Gameplay is quite simple, with four stages to complete by shooting the lit drop targets, followed by a three-level wizard mode.  The artwork is a little rudimentary and we have doubts Phenix Pinball will be able to put the game into production using the ‘Olympic’ moniker since that title is closely controlled by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but it could be a fun cheap game for home or family location.

      The other new game here was Jersey Jack Pinball’s Pirates of the Caribbean which was the recent topic of discussion when JJP announced that they had been forced to remove a couple of prominent mechanisms from the game due to reliability issues and had replaced them with simpler alternatives.  One was the three-ring spinning map and the other was the opening/closing chest which locked balls inside.

      One of the two JJP line-ups
      One of the two JJP line-ups

      There were two Pirates of the Caribbean games at Flip Expo and both features these animated mechanisms.

      The three-ring spinning map
      The three-ring spinning map
      The opening/closing chest
      The opening/closing chest

      Pinball News’ Martin Ayub teamed up with Jonathan Joosten from Pinball Magazine to interview JJP’s Jack Guarnieri about the changes.  Jack was the special guest at Flip Expo this year and we cornered him for an interview, finding a nice quiet grassy spot behing the gymnasium for the interview.

      Jonathan (left) and Martin (right) interview Jack
      Jonathan (left) and Martin (right) interview Jack

      You can hear our joint podcast here on Podcast Garden or with the player below.

      Before that though, Jack was meeting and greeting in the vendor hall.  At midday on Saturday there was a glass raised to toast the success of the show’s organisers in holding this twelth edition.  The drink of choice as the local favourite, Ricard, but Martini and scotch were also available.

      Midday on Saturday and time for a toast
      Midday on Saturday and time for a toast
      Jack with Flip Expo organiser, Franck Michaux and The mayor of Le Treport, Laurent Jacques
      Jack with Flip Expo organiser, Franck Michaux and The mayor of Le Treport, Laurent Jacques

      Let’s continue in the vendor hall and see what other games, parts and add-ons they had on display or for sale.

      Inside the vendor hall
      Inside the vendor hall
      Another set of JJP titles
      Another set of JJP titles
      All four JJP titles
      All four JJP titles

      There was a good showing of titles from Spooky Pinball.  Rob Zombie’s Spookshow International was joined by The Jetsons and Total Nuclear Annihilation.  Alongside them was an Alien from Heighway Pinball and a The Big Lebowski from Dutch Pinball.

      TNA, Rob Zombie and The Jetsons by Spooky Pinball with Alien by Heighway Pinball
      TNA, Rob Zombie and The Jetsons by Spooky Pinball with Alien by Heighway Pinball
      The Big Lebowski was especially popular
      The Big Lebowski was especially popular
      PinSound had several games running their sound cards
      PinSound had several games running their sound cards including this lovely Chrome Edition T2
      PinSound also had a Getaway to play and hear
      PinSound also had a Getaway to play and hear
      This purple Bride of Pinbot 2.0 had different playfield artwork and multiple purple accents throughout
      This purple Bride of Pinbot 2.0 had different playfield artwork and multiple purple accents throughout
      The new playfield artwork
      The new playfield artwork

      If you wanted to build your own custom game, Art Cab could fix you up.

      Art Cab's plain and custom pinball cabinets
      Art Cab’s plain and custom pinball cabinets
      If you don't have space for a full-size pinball, here's a little alternative
      If you don’t have space for a full-size pinball, here’s a little alternative

      These video pinballs weren’t the only video games in the vendor hall.

      Table-top videos
      Table-top videos
      Full-size custom video cabs
      Full-size custom video cabs

      We return to pinball as we look at the parts available.

      There were some nice repro backglasses on sale
      There were some nice repro backglasses on sale
      Sadly not all the backglasses survived the show
      Sadly not all the backglasses survived the show
      If you preferred plain glass, you could get standard, widebody and super widebody here
      If you preferred unbroken, plain glass you could get standard, widebody and super widebody here
      In fact the selection of parts available was the best we have seen for a long time
      In fact the selection of parts available was the best we have seen for a long time
      While vendors at most shows only bring a small selection of parts, you could find almost anything you wanted at Flip Expo
      While vendors at most shows only bring a small selection of parts, you could find almost anything you wanted at Flip Expo
      Hundreds of posts, rubbers, buttons, switches, caps...
      Hundreds of posts, rubbers, buttons, switches, caps…
      ...flasher domes, sleeves, rebuild kits, electronic components...
      …flasher domes, sleeves, rebuild kits, electronic components…
      ...and of course, flippers
      …and of course, flippers
      Not forgetting solenoids for all makes and eras
      Not forgetting solenoids for all makes and eras
      Multiple vendors were selling the standard leg bolts, leg levellers, balls and other common parts
      Multiple vendors were selling the standard leg bolts, leg levellers, balls and other common parts

      There was also a nice selection of new, refurbished or original playfields, with Mirco leading the way.  As he could drive to this show, his range and number of playfields available certainly looked impressive.

      Some of the playfields and parts on Mirco's stand
      Some of the playfields and parts on Mirco’s stand
      Can you guess which game these are for?
      Can you guess which game these are for?
      Alien was just one of the titles available
      Alien was just one of the titles available
      More playfields
      More playfields
      And more, along with a varied range of other pinball parts
      And more, along with a varied range of other pinball parts
      And a few more, along with backboxes, backglasses and aprons
      And a few more, along with backboxes, backglasses and aprons
      Our final set of playfields, with backglasses and assorted new and reclaimed parts
      Our final set of playfields, with backglasses and assorted new and reclaimed parts
      Flipper-LED.com had replacement LEDs and illuminated perspex toppers
      Flipper-LED.com had replacement LEDs and illuminated perspex toppers
      Perspex toppers
      Perspex toppers
      Lots and lots of parts for Gottlieb games which were very popular in France
      Lots and lots of parts for Gottlieb games which were very popular in France
      And even more parts for Gottlieb and other manufacturers
      And even more parts for Gottlieb and other manufacturers
      If you had the wall space, how about a laser-cut pinball sign?
      If you have the wall space, how about a laser-cut pinball sign?
      Assorted pinball parts, translites and plastic sets
      Assorted pinball parts, translites and plastic sets

      There was also an impressive collection of Star Wars figures, although these weren’t for sale.

      Star Wars figures
      Star Wars figures
      Naturally accompanied by a Star Wars pinball
      Naturally accompanied by a Star Wars pinball
      Not sure this is an official Lucasfilm-licensed mod
      Not sure this is an official Lucasfilm-licensed mod

      If you had any faulty PCBs you could probably get them fixed at the show while you waited.

      PCB diagnosis and repair
      PCB diagnosis and repair
      Board fixing in progress
      Board fixing in progress
      More fault finding and fixing
      More fault finding and fixing
      If you don't have a board to fix, buy a new one
      If you don’t have a board to fix, buy a new one

      Finally for the vendor hall there were the stands selling assorted memorabilia or curiosities, along with assorted games, parts or components.

      Various boards and components
      Various boards and components
      Strength testers
      Strength testers
      Tabletop games and glasses
      Tabletop games and glasses
      All things orange
      All things orange
      More brightly-coloured games items
      More brightly-coloured games items
      Computer and console games
      Computer and console games
      Wall-mounted games, coin doors, boards, control panels and more
      Wall-mounted games, coin doors, boards, control panels and more
      More video game controls
      More video game controls
      More assorted buttons
      More assorted buttons
      A different type of button - custom badges, mugs, lanyards, key fobs and more
      A different type of button – custom badges, mugs, lanyards, key fobs and more
      You could also pick up some flyers for your games
      You could also pick up some flyers for your games
      A real mix of retro console games and parts
      A real mix of retro console games and parts

      This was a particularly hot weekend for April, so the temperature inside the hall soon made things uncomfortable.  Side windows were opened later in the day to provide some much-needed ventiallation.

      That’s just about everything from the vendor hall, so let’s head next door into the games hall.  Our €4 entry included a hand-stamp which allowed us to move freely between the two rooms, but on the way we couldn’t help but notice a collection of classic retro cars parked outside and some suitably-dressed women accompanying them.

      American vehicles
      American vehicles
      Sleek lines
      Sleek lines
      Ditto
      Ditto

      The event was to promote a retro event being held in a restaurant in the town of Le Tréport later on Saturday evening.

      Also set up outside were a couple of food trucks, one serving different types of nuts, while the other sold bagels – either smoked salmon, bacon and egg, or vegetarian.

      You must be nuts
      Standing in the heat of the sun?  You must be nuts!
      Serving toasted bagels on such a hot day must be a crumby job
      Serving toasted bagels on such a hot day must be a crumby job

      Later on, a third truck arrived to roast chickens and various meats for a banquet held on Saturday evening.

      Food for Saturday evening's banquet meal
      Food for Saturday evening’s banquet meal

      Heading into the games hall, things were a little cooler.

      The games hall
      The games hall

      The majority of the games hall was occupied by the free play pinballs.  These were mostly arranged in small ‘islands’ of around six machines.

      Some of the free play machines in the games hall
      Some of the free play machines in the games hall
      More free play pinballs
      More free play pinballs
      More free play pinballs
      More free play pinballs
      More free play pinballs
      More free play pinballs
      More free play pinballs
      More free play pinballs

      One curiosity was this Hot Ball machine which was a steampunk-themed customisation of a Williams Big Deal.

      Hot Ball
      Hot Ball
      Hot Ball
      Hot Ball
      Hot Ball backbox detail
      Hot Ball backbox detail

      Here’s the full list of the 54 free-play machines in the games hall.

      A.G. Football
      Arena
      Attack from Mars
      Attack from Mars
      Back to the Future
      Black Pyramid
      Bride of Pinbot, The Machine:
      Buck Rogers
      Cactus Jack
      Charlie’s Angels
      Close Encounters of the Third Kind (EM)
      Close Encounters of the Third Kind (EM)
      Close Encounters of the Third Kind (solid-state)
      Count-Down
      Cyclone
      Dracula, Bram Stoker’s
      Dragon
      Evel Knievel*
      Fast Draw
      Four Million B.C.
      Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s
      Getaway, High Speed 2: The
      Harlem Globetrotters
      Hot Ball (custom)
      Indianapolis 500
      James Bond*
      Jungle Queen*
      Last Action Hero
      Matrix, The
      Monster Bash
      Monte Carlo
      Mousin’ Around
      Mystic
      Night Rider (solid-state)
      Pinball Pool
      Playboy (Bally)
      Scared Stiff
      Six Million Dollar Man, The
      Six Million Dollar Man, The*
      Space Jam
      Star Trek (Bally)
      Star Wars (Data East)
      Striker Xtreme
      Strikes and Spares
      Surf Champ
      Sweet Hearts
      Time Machine (Data East)
      Vulcan
      Whirlwind*
      Whitewater
      Whitewater
      World Cup Soccer
      World Cup Soccer
      World Cup Soccer

      * Indicates the machine was not working during our survey

      In addition, there was a Dirty Harry set up in the lobby which was the tombola prize, three table football (foosball/baby foot) games were in the hall, as were a handful of video games including Atari’s Pinball.

      The other part of the games hall was taken up by the tournaments run by Nico Flip.  A fenced-off area contained either eleven (Saturday) or ten (Sunday) machines which were used by the main and side tournaments.

      The tournament machines
      The tournament machines

      The tournament machines were:

      Avatar
      Blackout
      Doctor Who
      Getaway, High Speed 2: The
      Grand Prix
      Iron Man
      Paragon
      Pinball Pool
      Striker Xtreme
      Tales from the Crypt
      Theatre of Magic

      Current scores and standings were shown on a projector screen behind the tournament machines.

      We’ll have more on the games hall, the tournaments and we’ll wrap up the final day of Flip Expo shortly. Plus we’ll have our exclusive Twenty Minute Tour video walk around the whole show, so check back here a little later for all the news from Le Tréport.

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