In a departure from my usual writing about things like knitting, sewing, cooking etc. I’m going to talk to you about pinball since I took part in a pinball tournament last Sunday. I got into pinball through Doug, it’s one of his passions and he has five pinball machines in his house. When we were first dating he had three – The Getaway, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (one of only two in the UK) and an Apollo 13. He’s since acquired a Star Trek Next Generation, swapped Apollo 13 for a Doctor Who and earlier this year he won a Popeye, in a raffle at a pinball show!
It would be useful if I had some photos of his to show at this point but I don’t so I’ll just show you someone elses instead.
Knitting pinball fact – Annie Modesitt likes pinball and is apparently very good at it. If I have time at some point I’ll upload the pinball conversation that got cut from the interview I did with her for KnitCast.
Like knitters, pinball players like to get together, talk about their interests, projects (since most games tend to be quite old they’re usually repairing something), compare and play each other machines. Pinball is also a sport and if you take part in the league competitions and other competitions – you can be a world ranked pinball player. My ranking isn’t great, last time I checked I was 5000 and something, so a long way to go. I do want to get better but since I’m usually at Doug’s every other weekend and we tend to do more than just stay in the house and play pinball, I don’t get to practice that often. It’s funny, like most things whether it be sewing, knitting or cooking, you tend to get your best results when you relax a little and stop worrying about things being perfect. I still want to get better scores though 😉
Last Sunday we went to the final South West Pinball meet of the season. It was hosted by Dave Rolfe in Abergavenny. Whereas Doug’s pinballs are from the 1990’s and have various computerised modes, Dave’s are from the 70’s and 80’s and are what’s called solid state machines. Even though they’re different, they’re still fun, difficult and frustrating to play at times. Just like all pins! Dave had at least twenty pins and also some arcade machines.
I was really interested in the artwork on them, some of the designs of the games are just beautiful. Central Park is a very old game that wasn’t set up but the backboard is lovely. Just to the side of it is a PacMan sign. It’s stood on top of a Rolling Stones pinball.
I loved the designs on these backboards for quite old games. This pic of Gigi didn’t come out very well, sadly. There’s something quite charming about these designs. Although I’m not too sure how I feel about the clowns!
Although, something to bear in mind is that a common feature among some pinballs that I’ve noticed is that if there’s a female character in the art, she tends to have rather large breasts! As a comic book fan I recognise this trend theme from interests that tend to be dominated by, or at least aimed at, straight males. I don’t remember April from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles being that well endowed there but look at the pinball table and there she is, busting out of her jumpsuit! Reminds me of the time I decided against buying a Marvel Black Cat action figure because her costume was unzipped to her navel. Here’s Strikes and Spares as an example.
And check out the lady on Mystic too
Doug achived the highest score of the league on Flash Gordon. Bizarrely, although he doesn’t feature in the film at all, William Shattner voices the narration on the game.
This one could be really frustrating, because if you pulled the plunger to release the ball two strongly the ball just rolled right down the middle. That happened to my first two balls on the game.
I quite liked Vector, mainly because Doug thought it might be based on a film and I really fancy seeing the film.
It looks like a really crap sci-fi film and I love the idea of seeing them spinning around on their wheels with their weird bat hands. As a geek, you have to have room for some bad sci-fi movies 🙂
I didn’t quite “get” pinball at first but now I’m quite competitive about it. And like everyone else I’m fairly frustrated when I lose the ball. In fact, no one ever looks happy with their scores because their game/go finishes they’ve just lost the ball. In a tournament you usually have to play a set number of machines which are on tournament settings. So, no extra balls if you do well and they tend to be fairly hard too. So how did I do? Well, I came 17th out of 18th. I still have a long way to go although Doug says my performance is getting better. He came very close to making the UK Finals but got pipped at the post and came in at 6th. The next competition will be at the Pinball Party in August. Last year I was just following Doug around and recording his score. This year will be different. I have no idea how I’ll do on the day, lets hope I can relax 🙂
(BTW I’ve changed my blog template but haven’t finished tweaking with it just yet)