Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pinball: by Santiago Ciuffo

Pinball by Santiago Ciuffo

I recently received my copy of "Pinball" by Santiago Ciuffo and was fairly impressed. It's a coffee table style book, with large glossy photos of older EM (Electromechanical) and early SS (Solid State) machines that are located in Argentina. While not too long on text (it includes a nice introduction on the state of the pinball hobby in Argentina and its history, in several languages), it does have some amazing photos, which span 95% of the pages within. These pictures showcase machines in relative chronological order, starting with several pictures dedicated to Bingo machines, then leading into shots of EM  pinball machines from the 50's-70's, and finishing with pictures of pins from the early 80's. The photos really showcase the art well. The pictures and their subjects seem to jump off the page. 

Having seen this book, I'm reminded of other pinball photo books, like Marco Rossignoli's many works, the books that Michael Shalhoub released, or the seminal tome that Roger Sharpe and James Hamilton released way back in the 70's. But in regards to those texts, Ciuffo's work here feels more like Sharpe's than the others. I feel this way because many of the images in the book also show the pins as part of a larger landscape or display: whether it be a game sitting by its lonesome in a stylish hallway (almost like a girl ready for her partner to go out on a night on the town), or as in another, showing the backglasses and heads of several older pins sitting together on the top shelf of a barn, looking like a bunch of old friends sitting on a porch talking about exciting days long past. Ciuffo captures the games in a larger scene, which is something Hamilton also pulled off in that earlier work. One difference though is that Hamilton was photographing games that at that time were new, fresh, in their prime. Ciuffo on the other hand, conveys in his photos, games that are old. That sense of age, of nostalgia, is, I believe, a core undercurrent in this book. All the pins showcased here are older (very few DMDs are featured), the pictures convey wear, having been played, having been enjoyed after many many years of faithful service. All the games in "Pinball" by Santiago Ciuffo show a type of patina, like the patina of a life, one that seems was very well lived.

So as for my verdict, I say GO GET IT! It's a wonderful piece of Pinball art, Ciuffo's photography is top notch, you won't be dissapointed! The author is an artiste and a definite pinball aficionado in our book!

I also want to say that if it weren't for the efforts of Jonathan Joosten and Pinball Magazine, the book would probably not be as easily available as it is, so  thanks Jonathan!

More Pictures!!!!!!


Ooooh a Miami Beach Bingo!!! (You can read more about Bingos HERE)


Glossy Photos

It's a great read!!!

Santiago Ciuffo also did a little Commercial for it that looks pretty neat!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The World of Pinball Collecting: How to Buy Your First Machine Part 2

Following up on my last post, (about buying your first machine), my buddy also asked me about how old the games are and how you can tell an older game from a newer one. The difference in age comes down to what we pinheads call EM and SS or Electromechanical and Solid State. Electromechanical refers to games made before 1975 or so, which comprised of relays, bells, score reels, basically lacking any kind of micro-circuitry or circuit boards. These are the kinds of games you would see in old movies in the background of old bar or diner scenes. These are the types of games you see Elton John and Roger Daltrey playing in that famous Tommy Scene.

An Example of an EM Game

Games made after 1975 were made with printed circuit boards and computer logic. This allowed for more complex rules and paved the way for digitized sound, and later, more advanced scoring displays. These are the kinds of games that are made today.

An Example of a modern SS Game

As for maintenance, that is a constant when it comes to pinball ownership. Gotta remember, that silver ball is flying around that table between 4-6 MPH and is striking everything in sight. This means things can break, fall out of alignment, the rolling of the ball can leave tracks, wear on the wood, and of course dirt and soot can build up and gunk assemblies, targets, and saucers. Because of that, games need to be maintained, at the very least the playfield needs to be cleaned regularly, preferably waxed and polished often. Issues and malfunctions need to be fixed and the owner needs to either become handy, or know who to call* to fix things when issues pop up. 

*Note: if you're located anywhere near South Florida, FLECOM is a really great tech!

Now if you're new to the hobby and want to buy a machine and any or all of the maintenance aspect is scaring you, don't fear!!!

While this may look scary:


In reality it's not that big of a deal. Everything in a pinball machine is designed to be maintained and games usually ship with manuals to help the owner out (it's not rocket science, honest!). Also, no one person is expected to know everything, so that is why pinball aficionados come together on web forums like Pinside, RGP, and on more local forums to help each other out. Local forums also facilitate how to find nearby techs that you can call to help when you're in a real bind and don't know what to do!

After telling my buddy all of this, I thought his head was going to explode, thankfully it didn't and he's more excited than ever for his family to get their first game!!!

Now it's your turn! What other tips can you think of to tell my friend on buying his first game?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The World of Pinball Collecting: How to Buy Your First Machine

While on Facebook earlier, I was contacted by an old friend who said his family was interested in buying a machine and had no idea where to start or how much it cost. I then proceeded to describe the landscape of how to go about this and afterward, felt it might make a good post, so here it is:

"When buying a game, how much it costs all depends on the game you want to get and the condition that it is in, that's the long and the short of it. Price wise, for a working game (regardless of condition), you'll pay from 300 dollars up to and including 20,000 dollars depending on the title in question. The going price for a new game, as in, a game made at the factory in the last 12 months and sitting in a crate at a distributorship, sells for between 5000 and 8500 dollars depending on model and trim.
You buy pins from either Collectors, Operators, or from Distributors. No real coin operated pinball machine is sold at a regular department store. Collectors are people who own machines and keep them at home or in a private collection. Operators are those who own machines and use them for revenue generation (as in routing, as in public play), and distributors are those who are authorized sellers of new pinball machines that come from the factory (New in Box). The distributorship system is how it's done, has been since the 1930's."

Next time I'll talk about different machine ages and where to go for pinball repair.

An Example of a New In Box (NIB) Stern Pinball Machine

Friday, June 6, 2014

Point Monster Tournament at the Pinball Asylum Part 3

The Main tournament at Point Monster event at the Pinball Asylum was a huge deal (if you want to know more check out PART 2)! It was worth a full 25 IFPA points (as it's considered a yearly event) and was capped at 40 participants, who mostly preregistered days and weeks before. The format of this main event was slightly different from the Classics Tournament. It featured unlimited qualifying attempts for the participants from 11 AM to Midnight on Saturday, with the top 16 qualifiers vying for the win on Sunday, which ran from 10:30 AM to completion. 

Competition was rough, with a very strong field of competitors, playing on machines that are not very common today. Saturday's qualifier featured a 5 game bank consisting of: Jack in the Box (what a fun layout with a challenging 10 bank drop target to shoot for!), Avatar LEWorld Cup SoccerGorgar, and Grand Prix
Jack in the Box, gotta love that Gordon Morison artwork!!!!

Check out those drop targets!!!

Then the top 16 qualifyers duked it out on Sunday on a refreshed bank of 5 machines (with only World Cup Soccer surviving the changeout). The four replacement games were Hot Doggin, Avengers Pro, Phoenix, and Surf Champ. 
After hours of fierce competition by the top 16 (including an unbelievable performance by one Al Neumann on Surf Champ - where he rolled that EM on Ball 1 and proceeded to roll it a second time before the end of his game!!!), the final four emerged and then a winner was crowned.

Congrats to 2014 Point Monster Pinball Champion Brian Dominy:

The Champ

The other four finalists included Atticus Palmer (2nd), Jeff Palmer (3rd) and Spencer Carey 4th.

Congrats to them as well!!!!

The pinball wizards with their super cool poses from L to R: Spencer, Brian, Atticus, and Jeff

It was a very fun weekend and I encourage any pinball aficionado out there to check out the pinball asylum if you're ever in Ft Myers FL. It's well worth the drive. Thanks again to Dan Spolar, David Denholtz, and the rest of the Asylum crew for putting on an awesome weekend. Can't wait for their next one!

Here's more photos from the event!!!
Fast Draw, excellent Gottlieb EM!
Managed to Roll it and get to the final shots while I was checking it out.

The main tournament bank on Sunday (check out those cool PAPA style monitor setups).
Pro Pool, you don't see too many Add a Ball's around nowdays :D

Avatar LE with all that chrome

Voltan's Artwork by Dave Christensen... WOW! (I guess one doesn't need to be warm in space... ;) )

Surf's Up!

Pinball aficionado Howard posing for the camera.

Hot Doggin, in all it's glory.

Nice Widebody playfield, with some challenging drops up top.

See that switch, it's actually part of a larger disappearing kicker mech, not too many games had this (link credit: 
Voltan, in all its glory.

That's all for now, stay tuned for my next post about other facets of the pinball universe!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Point Monster Tournament at the Pinball Asylum Part 2

So, going back to the Point Monster Tournament at the Pinball Aslyum, (for more on the event, check out PART 1 on my blog) there were two tournament events, with one small high score competition for a box of designer chocolate.

Outer Space!

The high score competition was on a Gottlieb EM game called Outer Space, anyone could enter it for 5 dollars and try for the high score, if they had it by the end of the day on Sunday, you won the box (which looked amazing btw, it came from Norman Love Confections, and was valued at 80 dollars). My buddy Howard Levine (fellow pinball aficionado and hardcore tournament player from NY) won it, he seemed very happy.
Howard rocking the win with his prize!

The first of the larger tournament events was a Classics tournament (traditionally games that were produced before 1985) and was held during Saturday. For participants it was worth 12.5 IFPA points and featured a bank of 5 games, Hot DogginJungle PrincessPhoenixSurf Champ, and Voltan. Entry was 10 dollars for 3 game plays so one technically needed two entries to have a shot at qualifying for the finals. Qualifying was from 11 AM till 7:30 PM on Saturday and Finals began after that until completion. In the end, the final four winners were Dan Coyle (1st, Winner), Spencer Carey (2nd), Ron Donohue (3rd), and Jeff Palmer (4th). It was very cool to watch them play.

Here are the winners:
L to R: Ron, Spencer, Dan, Jeff

Stay tuned for my third part on the Point Monster Tournament!

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Point Monster Tournament at the Pinball Asylum Part 1

This past weekend I went to the Pinball Asylum's Point Monster Championship. What an event! It was held at the Pinball Asylum, a private nonprofit located in Ft Myers FL. The place is run by pinball aficionados Dan Spolar and David Denholtz, two passionate collectors who (with others) have amassed an impressive selection of games at the location. The tournament was filled with very strong competition from all over FL (the best of the best in the state was there including current state champion Atticus Palmer) and as a result, to get to the finals, one had to really bring their "A" game (btw speaking of Atticus, what an outstanding competitor and great guy, don't miss his story at the link above, it's a good read).


The Asylum and its many games!


More Games!

Games New and Old!

Joust, a very rare two player competitive pin!

Check out that Artwork!!!

The Asylum draws on a collection of nearly 80 games, with examples from the electromechanical era of the early 70's all the way to present day Sterns. The place also boasts some very rare games, like "Algar", the 1980 spiritual successor to "Gorgar" (with fewer than 350 units produced) and Interflip's "Dragon" a Spanish made pinball machine from the late 70's that I was told, made it to the Pinball Asylum by way of Canada.
Oooh, Algar!

Interflip's Dragon
Interflip's Logo on Dragon (Interflip was the export name for "Recreativos Franco" Do you suppose that's a reference to THE "Generalisimo"? Just curious...)

Of all the games at the Asylum, the one I kept coming back to during the whole weekend when I wasn't competing or chatting, was Congo. Great layout, fun volcano toy, really neat lower playfield gorilla mechanism, interesting rules, it just seemed to have it all.
Don't feed the trophies!

Stay tuned for my next post where we see what the main competitors were up to...