The word “vintage” has a wide range of connotations for folks. Some of you think Sanford & Son, others that 1954 original Corvette found in a barn out on FM 730.
But, there are others like myself, who think about a fading generation of Atari 2600’s, 8-tracks, LP’s, classic cars, and Philco TV’s. ( all which I have stashed around the house)
A key component in this legacy of electronics is the bulky, but well engineered, Pinball Machine! “Ballers,” as they’re often called, have a loyal following, a network of shows, tournaments, and enthusiasts. One such group, led by North Texan Paul McKinney, is called texaspinball.com.
We’ll get to Paul’s pinball path in a minute. From March 28th – 30th, you and your family can test drive some of the most obscure pinball machines in the world right here in Frisco, Texas!!!!
Unlike a vintage car show where you can look but can’t touch, you will get a chance to play over 400 pinball machines. Just buy a day or weekend pass at the Embassy Suites Convention Center and you’ll be off and rolling.
You’ll get a chance to play obscure games like “The Varkon,” a stand-up style machine, “Hercules,” with a pinball the size of a billiard ball, and brand new machines based on LED and other recent innovations. For you regular gamers, there will even be an original “Tron” and “Frogger” machine!
Key things to know about the show:
- The event runs Friday evening, March 28th, to Sunday, March 30th Details Here.
- All machines will be in “Free Play Mode” with your entry fee. (No quarters needed!)
- You can pre-register and save a few bucks!
- Food, Sodas, Beer, and Wine will be available in the hotel at competitive rates.
- On Friday, March 28th, a world record will be sought for most pinball gamers in one venue!
- $5 Raffle Tickets are available to win a 2013 Star Trek Pinball Machine (approximate $4500 value)
The Pinball Obsession
Now that you have your tickets pre-ordered, I’ll give you glimpse into Paul’s world!
As with most obsessions, it starts as a hobby. A few friends join forces, each buying a different machine. And then another, and another, until your spouse “suggests” that there may be a better place for your hobby… like a convention center.
Paul’s journey started at people’s homes, and then grew into the DFW Pinball Club. Over time, his hobby became a multi-state event requiring a neutral venue to host.
In 2002, the first show happened in Arlington at a Holiday Inn with a couple of hundred folks and 89 machines. This year, the event expects 2500-3000 attendees playing over 400 machines!
Don’t worry too much about lines though. Pinball etiquette asks that you look over your shoulder between games, and if someone is there, step away or ask them to join in.
If you’re interested in buying a machine of your own, you can get one for approximately $900 with prices reaching upwards of $10,000 depending on condition, quantity produced, and demand.
Like an old car, the rarest pinball machines need specific maintenance by a trained hand. But most only need a basic cleaning, oiling or bulb change from time to time.
Paul owns approximately twenty machines right now but has owned upwards of sixty machines in years past. Other collectors like Tim Arnold and Gene Cunningham house collections in the hundreds.
One surprising nugget is that the Pinball industry has seen 30% growth, year-over-year, for the past three years on new machine sales. There have been re-licensing events on games like Medieval Madness, and LED and chip technology have enabled holographic images to become a part of some games. There are games that change based on where the ball rolls. (crazy!!)
The mission for all guys and gals involved in this event is to spread the love of pinball one person at a time and grow the following.
The financial goals of the show are usually not more complicated than covering their costs and hoping to garnish a reserve that preserves the next show. So, if you have some free time and you want to have an unique date or family day, give it a run on March 28th, 29th, or 30th!