Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Farewell to The Pinball Cafe... Part II

I'll keep it brief... More pictures here of The Pinball Cafe's line-up throughout it's lifetime.

Visit Part I here if you haven't looked through yet. Plenty of pictures there too.

One of my most favourite machines to grace The Cafe's lineups... Stern's TRANSFORMERS LE!

Good Night, Sweet Pinball... Farewell to The Pinball Cafe

Nothing in this world is permanent and much of the things we love have a way of coming and going. Especially in pinball where in the late twentieth century, arcades and pinball machines were around every corner, in convenience stores, laundromats, pizza parlours and the like. Then, almost suddenly, arcade doors were closed, the windows shuttered and a permanent out-of-order sign put on the machines. Here in Toronto, I even thought the era of arcades came to a close when the Union Station arcade shut its doors with hardly a peep and pinball would go extinct.

The silver ball still rolled on, though, and in 2012, perhaps even saw a resurgence with Toronto's own twenty-first century arcade, The Pinball Cafe. Before The Cafe, pinball machines were scattered about the city and were more so decoration than entertainment. When Toronto's best, and only, pinball arcade opened up in January 2012, there was finally a storefront dedicated to the game. Instead of having to travel all over the city just to get a few rounds of pinball in on some machines of questionable quality, I finally had a place I could go with multiple clean, working machines.

Unfortunately, coming in just under a year, as of December 10, 2012, The Pinball Cafe has been forced to close its doors. It's a lot of politics, by-laws, and zoning variances which means it's a lot of stuff I don't really understand. I don't want to inundate you with a bunch of crap as to why The Cafe closed or where to point fingers, especially because it is very uncertain right now.

Jason and Rachel are two awesome people who I would call my friends. They've always made me feel welcome whenever I came by and it was always a pleasure to see the two of them. I've had lots of great times with both Rachel and Jason and I wish them all the best in their future endeavors. Hopefully we will be able to play pinball again soon!

I don't want to call this an obituary because that is hella sad. Consider this a tribute to one of my utmost favorite places in Toronto. I want to post a bunch of pictures for you that I have collected over the year during my visits to Toronto's best, and only, Pinball Cafe. Enjoy!

One of the first lineups at The Cafe

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


The Pinball Cafe has been going through a few different tables since September. One of the newest tables to hit the Cafe's floor is Stern's Batman.
It seems the machines come and go with certain themes. At one point there was Bally's Addams Family and Data East's Tales From The Crypt rocking a little bit of a horror theme. Then Williams' Diner and BAAAD CATS brought in some System-11 style which is still going on although Williams' Pin-Bot has replaced Diner. Gottlieb's Black Hole and Genie as well as Bally's Mata Hari and Xenon were keeping the late 70's/early 80's widebodies alive but have now all gone their separate ways. Now it seems we have a comic theme! Stern's Iron Man had a pretty long stay and X-Men is still residing at the Cafe. Now Batman is making its presence known.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

TRIP REPORT... PART II: The Pinball Gallery in Downington, PA

I have so much I want to talk about the Pinball Gallery and I didn't want to write a Russian novel in my first post. Plus, I wanted to share as much pictures as possible and I understand that can slow some computers down. Hell, even watching YouTube videos on my computer slows it down to a crawl! Anyways, enough about computers and more talk about Pinball!

If you haven't had a chance to read Part I of my Trip Report to Pinball Gallery then STOP and do yourself a favour... Read it!

Since I ended the last post talking about one wicked unusual table, Gottlieb's Bone Busters Inc., why don't we start Part II talking about it!

Back in 1984, Gottlieb was closed down by its parent company, Columbia Pictures as they thought pinball wasn't making the money it used to. A former Gottlieb employee, Gilbert Pollack, got together a group of investors to buy out the old assets and bring the company back under a new name, Premier. That is why you see a lot of machines post-1984 alternating between Gottlieb/Premier. Bone Busters Inc., which debuted in 1984 is an example of this, as you can see Gottlieb on the card holder by the lock bars but also the tag line "The Premier name in Pinball" throughout the table. An Impromptu Review for Bone Busters Inc. dropped in on my previous post, Silver Ball Spook Show Special, so check it out here and dig on a few other timeless Horror-themed pinball tables.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Silver Ball Spook Show Special!

Hey it's almost Halloween! I bet many of you are catching up on some Halloween classics and working on some serious costumes! For this most horrifying holiday, I have put together a little treat for you! Spooky stuff and Horror movies have always had a small niche carved out in the world of pinball. Everything from haunted houses to getting scared stiff!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

TRIP REPORT: Pinball Gallery in Downington, PA

Road-trippin' with my two favourite allies, my broski, Shane and my old man, MY DAD! We travelled out to Pennsylvania for an Antique Auto Swap Meet in order to obtain some serious parts for Shane's BONE COLD Hot Rod!



... And, of course, we managed to sneak some pinball in too! Thanks to Shane, who organized the trip and located the Pinball Gallery in a little town called Downington in Pennsylvania!

The Pinball Gallery is WILD! They have quite a few pinball machines, about 18, ranging from early Solid-States (Bally's Eight Ball and Gottlieb's Genie) to late-model Sterns (Spider-Man and Shrek). The pinball machines at The Pinball Gallery are available to the public at very reasonable prices, most costing either a quarter or 50 cents, and are maintained by Shelly and Bill Disney.

The machines were kept in absolute pristine condition. I don't think I have ever seen machines on site in the condition these were kept. Yeah, I did some nice machines at The Michigan Pinball Expo (Read all about it here) but those are collector machines that usually just sit in some dude's basement so they don't get a heckuva lot of play.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Big D on the Big D

I had some free time a few weeks ago and I was out on the Danforth so I figured I would hunt down some of the wild pinball machines in the area that I have yet to see. I had already discovered World Cup Soccer '94 at Eastenders and NASCAR at Eton House in my pinball update here but I was also aware of a few places on the Danforth that had pinball machines of their own.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pinball Update for September

I've been keeping a constant watch on many locations for pinball in the city! I've been all over Toronto the past month and have spotted some new pinball machines while also seeing some old favorites replaced with new entries. Let's start on the East end and work our way towards the West.

A little known bar called Eastenders, found near Danforth and Greenwood, recently picked up a table very close to my heart...

It's Bally's World Cup Soccer '94!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hip Shakin' Pinball Action! Stern's ELVIS

If yer hopin' for a little less conversation and a little more action then you're in for a treat!

Miranda and I were moseyin' along the Danforth last weekend and I was doin' my usual pinball patrol (which means staring into bars for an uncomfortably long time.) We were near Pape and and Danforth and my silverball senses went crazy! We were walking by the Eton cafe at Eaton and Danforth (just a block away from Pape Station) and I saw it through the windows...



Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Canadian Pinball Tournament 2012

Get ready for my latest pinball adventure!

Oh yeah!
Miranda, Shane and I all ventured out to Playdium Missisauga to take part in the Canadian Pinball Championships! We had next to no idea what tables were going to be a part of the tournament but we soldiered on anyways in search of good times and good pinball. The only hint we had about the lineup was that the modern tournament would be played on the latest Stern machines.

So you have... AC/DC, Transformers, Tron: Legacy, Rolling Stones and Avatar.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Stern's Uncanny Unveiling!

I kinda missed the boat on Stern's latest announcement of their next pinball machine seeing as the news broke not too long ago but... What the hell, here it is on Bright Lights Bumper City!



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New machines at the Pinball Cafe!

Some good news coming in!.. and what always follows good news is also some bad news... But let's start with the good news!

The Pinball Cafe have been really shaking things up with their lineup, having recently replaced Stern's AC/DC and Bally's Mata Hari. What has taken their place, you might ask? BEHOLD...

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bally's World Cup Soccer at The Port

I already spoke of The Port having to close it's doors and saying goodbye to Dundas West but I just want to say again that The Port will be very much missed (mostly by me). I thought it was a pretty neat little bar and, besides having a pinball machine, The Port had a real cool vibe and was a great music venue. Perhaps a nod to the Portuguese roots of the area, it was fitting that The Port had Bally's World Cup Soccer.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Michigan Pinball Expo 2012

ALRIGHT ALRIGHT I know it's been about a month since I attended Michigan Pinball Expo 2012 but that doesn't mean it is no longer fresh in my mind! It's just a matter of where to start talking about it... Basically, it's a banquet hall filled with a ton of pinball machines.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Obituary & New Discoveries


The Port down on Dundas St. W and Ossington have closed their doors. A Bally World Cup Soccer '94 resided there and was a fantastic machine. It's sad to see The Port and World Cup Soccer go. I will write a review shortly about World Cup Soccer as a tribute to The Port.

So long, World Cup Soccer... that's my score on the left.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Roller Coaster Tycoon at The Ballroom

Hello all! Our first review will be on Stern's Roller Coaster Tycoon!

The machine, based on the top-selling PC-CD game, was released in 2002, the same year in which Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 was released. I have fond memories of playing the PC game so I was excited to find a RCT machine, based on the top-selling PC-CD game, last year in Windsor. At first, I was not a big fan of the machine but when I found it recently at The Ballroom, a fancy bowling alley and bar, I really started to enjoy RCT.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Feature in The Continuist

Hello All!

I recently made a pinball map of Toronto West for a little zine group, The Continuist! The Continuist consists of a group of Ryerson students collecting submissions of art, poetry, photos, stories, all sorts of stuff!

I decided to make something a little different, give people something they can use. I made a map of pinball locations in the West End with a list showing each location, its address and which machine resides there. Hopefully people will get a kick out of this and try to hunt down the machines!!

Click Here to see the post that the Continuist did for me and the map!

Also, if you want to get yer hands on a physical copy of The Continuist zine, make an appearance at their End of the Year party less than a week away! Should be good times (not a long time)

In other news, Shane, my younger brother, and I went to the local bowling alley in the Dirty 'Shwa, Leisure Lanes, to play some pinball. At first, we were playing pretty well but then it devolved into this:

We were trying to see who could nudge the machine the most without TILTing it. Shane managed to shimmy the Big Buck Hunter Pro there back and forth and get 2 warnings. I kept shoving the Iron Man machine, sometimes trapping Shane in the Sega Super GT cabinet.

Here's a better shot of where the machine ended up. Normally, it's supposed to sit parallel to the other arcade cabinets! Not pictured was when I nudged it ALLLLL the way over to the other side onto the carpet!

Keep tuned in and the quarters handy! Plenty more posts to come up in the near future!

Monday, April 2, 2012


HEY FOLKS! My name is Derk Biondi and I am here to talk about Pinball.
Pinball is considered (at least in my eyes) one of those quintessential American staples, like baseball, apple pie and all that other cheesy stuff. Pinball was, and is, always American. The companies that made pinball such a sensation were all American companies, many based in Chicago alone. Just because Pinball sounds like such an American pastime, doesn’t mean that Canada lacks a mean pinball. Perhaps it is more appropriate to say that Pinball is quintessentially North American. Pinball may not have the same dedication in Canada that it does in the U.S. but it still hangs around. Here in Toronto, Pinball has quite the infamous reputation that still lingers on. Pinball and arcades were amongst the “dirty” businesses; in the same vein were massage parlours and strip joints. Besides a few arcades which were licensed to operate as arcades, local businesses are limited to two pinball machines on location so as not to attract the lowlifes and degenerates that were found in the arcades and other shady businesses. Despite the absurd law, arcades thrived throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s. The one arcade in Toronto I have fond memories of was Toronto Coin Exchange’s arcade tucked away in Union Station. One of the few places with more than two pinball machines, it was an awesome shrine that prospered in spite of pinball falling out of public conscious. Unfortunately, the arcade was forced to shut its doors for the renovations at Union. However, pinball still survives in Toronto. Many pinball machines are found “in the wild”, still out there in the bars and restaurants.

I’ve been playing pinball since I was tall enough to reach a machine. Back in the early ‘90s, no matter where you went, there was always a pinball machine or two. I used to go to restaurants with my family; my father would take us to play pinball so we didn’t drive my mother up the wall. Pinball was in abundance back then so I always played whenever there was a machine. Years went by and as the home video game consoles started taking over, the pinball machines started to fade away. I kept playing throughout the years, dropping some change at Union Station, or grabbing a slice and a few games at Pizza Plus in Windsor. The dawning of my “Pinball Enlightenment” came in April 2011 when I visited the Michigan Pinball Expo. Ever since then, I’ve been obsessed with Pinball and can’t stop playing!

As I have mentioned, Pinball hasn’t become extinct. It has hung on through the years and still exists! Many machines are tucked away in the corners of bars, restaurants, movie theatres and service centres. What I aim to do with this blog is to shed some light on pinball. I know pinball may never reach its former popularity; I just want everyone to know that pinball is alive and kicking, especially here in Toronto! I have found over a dozen machines and I strive to find more every day. I don’t want to keep these machines a secret; I want to share the locations with everyone in hopes that it may start a small revival.

So get your fistful of quarters (loonies and toonies as well), get out there and play that silver ball!