Sunday, September 22, 2013

Ottawa Pinball Expo 2013

On the weekend of September 13th, I headed out to my first Canadian pinball expo, the Ottawa Pinball Expo!

All the way out in Ottawa... Actually it was in Gatineau... Actually, it was in a little town called Alymer that is a part of Gatineau. I'm not quite familiar with the area and thankfully my buddy Penstone was able to successfully navigate us to the centre that the Ottawa Pinball Expo was being held at.

The event ran for two days on Saturday, September 14th, and Sunday, September 15th. We decided to go on the Sunday as Saturday was the day of the tournament and several machines would be used for tournament play only. I figured that going on Sunday, all machines would be free-play and there would be more available to play. It was kind of a good idea... and a bad idea. Good in the sense that there were many machines available for free play, bad in the sense that some machines were being moved out or had been sold so they were not available for play. I was sad to see a Who Dunnit? machine available for about 5 minutes when I first stepped in to the Expo then get packed up and hauled off. It was not all that bad though because there was still plenty of great tables to play!

The table lineup at the Expo was pretty cool. There was a lot more EM's and solid-state tables with a few 90's era DMDs and only a few Stern tables, like Monopoly and Big Buck Hunter.

Many of the tables were in great shape and I only played a few that had any issues. It was just mainly weak flippers but keep in mind that pinball machines at expos get a lot of play and probably a lot of abuse so I didn't consider it too much of a problem nor let it ruin my fun when some tables came up a bit short on the flipping.

 I was excited to see a lot of older-generation tables that I have yet to play. One in particular was Rollergames

I've heard a lot about this little System 11; it's not considered one of the top-of-the-line System-11 tables like High Speed but DANG is it a blast to play! I think I wanna talk about it some so maybe we should have an...


Rollergames has got to be one of the greatest examples of that time just when the 80's were ending the 90's were beginning. Just look at this table!

Rollergames was basically a short-lived television show of roller derby mixed with pro wrestling. It came and went in 1990 but there was still a pinball table made about it! Williams had Steve Ritchie design the playfield for Rollergames and he did a darn fine job on the design. There are a lot of great shots to make and the layout keeps the gameplay moving fast. The great thing about System 11 tables is they were just right when it came to design and playability. System 11 tables were just before the days of DMD tables where the rulesets started becoming really deep and complicated and Rollergames' ruleset is a great example of how simple yet fun System 11-era tables were. All you really have to do is light all the Rollergame teams, such as HOT FLASH, BAAAD ATTITUDE and THE ROCKERS as well as hit the drop target bank to light multiball! The table is pretty good at guiding you to particular shots; the shots are well indicated by the playfield lights and sometimes the table will tell you to GO FOR THE WAAAAAAALL for BIG POINTS or shoot the kickout hole for the Deep Freeze magnet flip.

The magnet flip is the table's neat little trick. If you hit the saucer hole when Magnet is lit, the ball will get transferred through a habitrail and dropped above the third flipper. There is a magnet that will grab the ball right in front of the sweet spot on the third flipper and hold it there. You will then hear a soundclip that says "DON'T FLIP!" so don't flip, ya bum! Once it says "FLIP!" then proceed to do so and you will get BIG POINTS! Not only is it pretty cool to see, it's also a great way to learn where the sweet spot on the third flipper is and the timing needed to successfully hit the ramp.

The table is just plain pretty too. I find the artwork on this table to be pretty great and a sign of the times of when the table came out. Lots of neon and bright colours accentuate the table and gives the feeling of actually being in the arena by having steel tube structures throughout the artwork and the figure 8 track on the center of the playfield...

The table gives off that vibe but don't expect some serious immersion into the world of Rollergames, haha! The artist, Pat McMahon, did a pretty impressive job for what could be considered as a throw-away title.

 The people are very well drawn and let me tell you, if you've seen some of Data East's output for actor likenesses, that's a pretty nice comment.

The owner of this particular Rollergames had the playfield lights outfitted with LEDs which really made the entire table just POP!

Although there were a lot of tables at the Expo, I found myself coming back to Rollergames time and time again. The action is fast and fun, the music is great and uses a synthesized version of the Rollergames theme which you'll find singing over and over again ROCK ROCK ROCK AND ROLLER GAMES!

The table that sat next to Rollergames also had an art package designed by Pat McMahon, that being Atlantis.

The artwork on this table is all about the ocean and Atlantis if the title didn't give it away already. The table has a nice contrast of cool colours to represent the deep sea combined with a bit of orange and yellow to highlight the shots.

Seeing Rollergames and Atlantis right next to each really shows how strong Pat McMahon's art packages were. It's a shame that he did the art packages for a lot of lesser known tables such as Dirty Harry and Party Animal but he did design the art for Tales of Arabian Nights which has to have one of the most absolute beautiful art packages in pinball.

Keeping with the System 11 era tables, there was also a Williams High Speed at the show that was SET UP!!!

This High Speed table had some of the craziest mods I've ever seen on a pinball table. There were two traffic lights that lit up on either side as well as several LED panels of red and blue lights to accentuate the police siren. It was pretty crazy to see it go off but one thing I was sad about is that it wasn't very loud... If you've seen the sequel, The Getaway: High Speed II...

I saw this Getaway at Pinball Gallery.
... You would know how dang loud that table gets!

That's enough for now on the Ottawa Pinball Expo! I have lots to write about and plenty of pictures to provide so keep tuned in and I will be providing more trip reports very soon!


As per my statement, I have provided many more trip reports! At least two more! If you wanna skip ahead to these future reports, click below!

Ottawa Pinball Expo Part II

Ottawa Pinball Expo Part III

Ottawa Pinball Expo Part IV

1 comment :

  1. Man, I saw a Rollergames table for $1,200 the other day.
    It made me think I could own one for maximum comedy value.
    Neat to hear it's not an awful table, too.