PLAY EXPO BLACKPOOL 2018

    • Pinball News

      PLAY EXPO BLACKPOOL 2018

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      For the final weekend in October, we head up England’s North-West coast to the city of Blackpool and the Norbreck Castle Hotel, home of this year’s Play Expo show.

      The Norbreck Castle Hotel
      The Norbreck Castle Hotel

      Play Expo is being held in the Exhibition Centre, which is in Norcalympia – the left part of the somewhat sprawling complex of function rooms and guest accommodation.  The building looks rather run-down and in need of either significant restoration or something more drastic.

      The part of the complex housing the Exhibition Hall
      The part of the complex housing the Exhibition Hall

      Play Expo is a large retro gaming show featuring hundreds of PCs, consoles, handhelds, arcade video games and, of course, pinballs. For the last few years it was held at the EventCity exhibition hall in Manchester but, apparently, the owners of that facility had become too difficult to work with, and so for this year only the show has returned to the place it all began – Norbreck Castle in Blackpool.

      We arrived on Friday evening during the set-up time to check out the pinballs provided and managed by the Northern Lights Pinball team.  These machines are located in a corridor running down the length of the adjacent main hall.

      Setting up the last few machines
      Setting up the last few machines
      These seven had just arrived
      These seven had just arrived

      The main hall was also looking pretty complete, with all the games, computers and consoles in place ready for the start of the show at 10am the next day.

      Inside the main hall
      Inside the main hall

      We returned on Saturday morning before the doors opened to the public, and there was a sizeable queue of visitors waiting for the start of the show.

      Part of the queue to get in just before 10am on Saturday
      Part of the queue to get in just before 10am on Saturday

      Members of the Northern Lights Pinball team were going over some last minute organisational details and fixing machines which didn’t survive the journey to Blackpool unscathed.

      Getting everything straight before the doors open
      Getting everything straight before the doors open
      F-14 Tomcat gets some last-minute attention
      F-14 Tomcat gets some last-minute attention

      In a small side room, a curated set of machines formed the Pinball thru the Ages collection, complete with explanatory cards showing how pinball progressed through its history.

      Pinball thru the Ages thru here
      Pinball thru the Ages thru here
      The older pinballs on the left
      The older pinballs on the left – Kick-Off, Space Ship, Wizard!, Paragon and Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man
      Newer machines on the right
      Newer machines on the right – Deadly Weapon, The Addams Family, Medieval Madness, Revenge from Mars and Dialed In!

      Once the doors were opened at 10:00 sharp, it took around twenty minutes before all the pinballs were occupied.

      It wasn't long before every machine was in use
      It wasn’t long before every machine was in use

      There were 57 pinballs at Play Expo 2018.  Here’s the full list:

      AC/DC Pro Metallica
      Addams Family, The Mr & Mrs Pac-Man
      Addams Family, The Nautilus
      Aerobatics NBA Fastbreak
      Aerosmith Pro NBA Fastbreak
      Avatar Paragon
      Batman 66 Queen’s Castle
      Batman: The Dark Knight Revenge from Mars
      Black Knight 2000 Robocop
      Black Rose Silver Slugger
      Circus Ski Jump
      Creature from the Black Lagoon Skill Pool
      Deadly Weapon South Park
      Dialed In! Space Jam
      Dracula, Bram Stoker’s Space Ship
      Elvis Spectrum
      F-14 Tomcat Spider-Man
      Family Guy Star Trek (Data East)
      Flintstones, The Star Wars (Data East)
      Free Fall Terminator 2: Judgement Day
      Getaway, The: High Speed 2 Theatre of Magic
      Getaway, The: High Speed 2 Tron Legacy
      Hobbit, The WhoDunnit?
      Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure Wizard of Oz, The
      Iron Man Wizard!
      Jackbot World Poker Tour
      Junk Yard World Poker Tour
      Kick-Off X-Files
      Medieval Madness

      The Addams Family electric chair challenge – as featured here in Pinball News – was back, giving visitors a new way to experience the classic game.

      The Addams Family Electric Chair Challenge
      The Addams Family Electric Chair Challenge
      Ad Jonker brought his Silver Slugger and Free Fall games from the Netherlands
      Ad Jonker brought his Silver Slugger and Free Fall games from the Netherlands

      There were three high score competitions taking place.  The adult one was being run on World Poker Tour, the kids one on Creature from the Black Lagoon, and there was an EM competition held on Skill Pool.

      Creature was the Kids high score machine
      Creature was the Kids high score machine
      The EM high score competition machine
      The EM high score competition machine
      All the machines remained busy throughout the day
      All the machines remained busy throughout the day
      It was especially busy in the Pinball thru the Ages room
      It was especially busy in the Pinball thru the Ages room

      Occasionally, all the constant play took its toll and a machine developed a fault, as pinballs do.  Every machine was numbered, and faults could be reported at the organisers’ desk for swift attention.

      The organisers' desk held the keys and also had various LED displays for sale
      The organisers’ desk held the keys and also had various LED displays for sale
      This NBA Fastbreak had lost all solenoid power - a fault traced to a broken wire on the coin door interlock switch
      This NBA Fastbreak had lost all solenoid power – a fault traced to a broken wire on the coin door interlock switch

      The rest of the show was just as packed, with any available spaces in front of monitors soon pounced-upon.

      In the main hall
      In the main hall
      Lots and lots of 8-bit and more-modern gaming
      Lots and lots of 8-bit and more-modern gaming
      Presentations and demonstrations were held frequently on the main stage
      Televised presentations and demonstrations were held frequently on the main stage
      Presentations and demonstrations were held frequently on the main stage
      Immersive and connected gaming were popular too
      LAN gaming held here
      LAN gaming held here

      The arcade video equivalent of the pinball display was located at the back of the main hall.  Several clusters of upright cabinets brought back many classic videos for visitors to enjoy.

      A few of the many arcade video games
      A few of the many arcade video games
      Classic titles to play
      Classic titles to play

      Play Expo 2018 is still continuing as we write this report, with a second day tomorrow.  We’ll update this article with any developments.

      An overview of the main hall
      An overview of the main hall
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