Hey, it’s Rich Dale. Thursday was my birthday, and when my wife asked me what I wanted to do, I said I wanted to hit the big Pinball Expo up in Wheeling. So that’s what we did!
It was excellent, as you might expect! People were actually buying and selling machines, which I had no intention of taking part in. But there were a lot of machines, even ones that were for sale, that were set up for free play, with your entrance fee to the expo of course. I will admit that having free play does take a little of the fun out of a huge aspect of pinball — getting a replay. When you’re paying to play, it’s always exciting to hear that CLUNK meaning you’ve got another game coming!
But still, it was an incredibly good time. It’s been a few years since I’ve just played pinball for a couple hours. Here’s my own little pictorial tour.
How could Bally have not created a machine based on Tommy? They’re the brand actually mentioned in it! This one was obviously based on the movie, since that woman bears a strong resemblance to Ann Margaret. I have a real love for these old-school machines too. Actual mechanical scoring, real metal bells that ring. In some ways, what pinball has over video games is that you’re knocking around a real physical ball, so it’s cool when the rest of the machine is more physical too.
Here’s another kind of wizard, and a condition you want to avoid.
So that’s what color they were!
They had some pachinko machines too.
And lots of pinball parts you could buy. People who maintain and repair these machines are big customers of the expo.
Rock and roll is well represented in the world of pinball. Yeah, I guess that kind of looks like James Hetfield.
This is not one of those old-school machines, but you can tell by the haircuts, it’s definitely about the early Beatles.
I have to say that the sound is what made Stern’s Kiss machine one of the best ones there. While you’re playing, you hear a Kiss song — either Black Diamond or I Love It Loud. And the bumpers you see there to the left of Gene’s face — they each make a different drum hit sound when they’re hit. So when the ball is up there bouncing around, you get a pretty cool sounding drum solo, and it’s different every time!
There were several different Elvira-themed machines at the expo. And Elvira herself was actually there last night and around noon today (Saturday)!
And in true campy horror Elvira style, her machine seemed to bid us farewell as we took our leave of the expo, which has happened annually since 1985!