Sunday, April 27, 2014

BRIGHT LIGHTS MOTÖR CITY - Michigan Pinball Expo Trip Report

Time to put four to the floor and really get into the Michigan Pinball Expo! In my previous post, I just did a small preview of the Expo and posted a couple of neat pictures of what was there. NOW it is time to get into the nitty-gritty of the Expo! I figured since the Expo was in Michigan, the home state of Detroit, I would do a little Motor City theme. There were a couple of pinball machines with automotive themes so i think it would be quite appropriate! It's obvious that I love pinball and I think I've made it known that I'm quite the car guy too, but if you don't know that yet, let's post some sweet car pix to get into the Motörhead mood!
Alright, quit drooling! Let's head out to the highway ...
This was the fifth year of the Expo and it was a helluva year! There was a ton of great games to play as well as a few rarities such as Orbitor 1, The Matrix, and Predator (the latter two being custom machines)... but those are for another post, haha! We're here to talk about cool cars and pinball, not space and Sci-Fi movies! (Maybe I will do a Sci-Fi-themed post.) ... Enough yakkin', it's time to kick it off with Corvette by Bally!

It's a pretty jam-packed table! Look at all this stuff! Supposedly Corvette was a wide-body table during the prototype stages which explains the cramped look of the table. One of the more surprising things about Corvette is that it was designed by George Gomez, known more for his clean and simple layouts such as Batman. Those familiar with Gomez's work know that he is no slouch when it comes to crazy layouts; take a look at The Lord of The Rings for a good example. Corvette is packed to the gills but it really should have been a wide-body. There's barely any open space and a few of the shots suffer because of it. The cramped space leads to lots of mis-timed shots and causes the ball to ricochet all over the dang place. There's a big ol' LS1 engine stuffed in there which takes up a bit of real estate.
It's a pretty neat toy; the ball gets caught up in and bounces back and forth while trapped within the engine. The artwork is pretty snazzy as well with hella corvettes throughout...
There's even a little Dead Man's Curve reference!
Hey Doc... How's my VETTE?
Enough of Chevy's entry in pinball; I don't really care for Chevys and they haven't built a good car since '66. Let's move on to the next of the Big 3, that being Ford. 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang and so Stern and Ford teamed up to release quite the commemoration... FORD MUSTANG PINBALL!
Bright Lights... MOTÖR CITY has a lil' commemoration as well... An IMPROMTU REVIEW!
Looking good! I had mentioned in my Ford Mustang Pinball reveal that Carmilo Pardo, the fellow who designed the new Ford GT-40, did the artwork for the backglass and it is quite pretty. Unfortunately, the table is the same as most Stern's and not handmade artwork like Metallica. Despite that, Mustang is a real solid table.
Stern's tables have been improving quite a bit since the days of Iron Man and Avatar; Pro tables are outfitted with LEDs, which used to be exclusive to the Premium editions, and parts like drop targets are found which were used sparingly on later era Stern tables.

WOW! DROP TARGETS! That isn't all though. There's also a whirlpool ramp that's pretty neat! The one problem I found with it though is that it is pretty shallow and so the ball takes a damn long time to finish the loops and drop out. It's a boon when you have multiball; you can focus on making some jackpot shots with another ball while there is one caught up in the whirlpool. On the other hand, it sucks when you have a single ball get stuck in the whirlpool because you gotta... watch it... spin around... and around... and around... till it falls out. It can take more than a few seconds and in pinball "more than a few seconds" can feel like an eternity. So, how do you hit the whirlpool? Well you have to hit one of the ramps on the left side of the playfield...
"Waitaminute", you may be saying to yourself "There's only one ramp over there..." YEAH WELL... yer wrong! I mean, yer sorta right but also not quite... That's because the left ramp is TRIPLE-STAGED!
Depending on what mode you are on and what is lit, the left ramp will either raise up to create an orbit or the middle level will drop down for the 180 ramp that goes along the left-hand side of the playfield OR the top level will come down and bring the ramp together to bring over to the whirlpool. A really cool mechanic to help reduce playfield clutter and to shake things up.  It sort of reminds me of something on Black Rose...
 I recently reviewed Black Rose, which was designed by John Trudeau, and bears a similar ramp, Davy Jones' Locker. Although it is not triple-level like Mustang's ramp, it does open up to provide access to other rewards. I mentioned the whirlpool before too, which is another John Trudeau trademark, found on Creature From The Black Lagoon.
Could Trudeau be the designer of Mustang? According to, he is indeed the designer, though I have not heard anything official myself. Despite that, Mustang does bear quite a few of his design characteristics so I would believe he did the layout.
Taking a page from Star Trek, Mustang has you choose your mode, or in this case, yer car, at the beginning of each ball. Each vehicle has a different style of mode, for example, the 65 Mustang has "Cruisin'" mode or the 2011 GT Mustang has RALLY RACE! Rally Race is my favorite mode because it kicks of with MOTÖRHEAD's ACE OF SPADES YEAAAAAAH!!!
NICE! I don't like Cruisin' because it features the Beach Boys YUCK! If you are familiar with my other lil project, The Surfphony of Derstruction 2000, you know that I love surf music but I do not like the Beach Boys. I'm getting a bit off track here though, back to the modes. They are the main thing to do in Mustang; besides hitting the lit shots for the modes, there is not much else to do. You can hear the GEARS targets to light multiball or hit the top rollovers to upgrade your vehicle. Beyond that, there's not a whole heckuva lot to do.
Just a quick pit stop back in the Big City. Mustang has appeared at California Sandwiches...
Barely a few weeks in and it already has a little bit of MUF on it!

 OK Back to the Expo! I have one last automotive themed pinball table to share and it's a doozy!
Look at all those ramps! I will give you a hint about this table... It is a modified version of Bally's prototype, Ramp Warrior. Fitting name for this mess of habitrails! Ramp Warrior's theme was altered and became Truck Stop before hitting the arcade floors in the Winter of '88.
Truck Stop was the first table to be released after the Williams/Bally-Midway merger in 1988 and was a part of the Williams System-11 era, though it came from the Bally side of things. This table is just plain crazy! Truck Stop is stuffed to the gills with ramps and habitrails, so much so that there isn't room for any pop bumpers! The playfield layout is symetrical and contains four flippers which leads to lots of criss-crossing shots. Truck Stop flows really well when you're making all the shots as there is virtually no stop-n-go but there are two target banks pretty low on the playfield that just want to mess up your day when making shots from the upper flippers.
That is it for our trip to Bright Lights MOTÖR City! Quite a few automotive-themed pinball tables at the Expo this year. Corvette and Truck Stop look more like an engine bay than a pinball machine what with all the stuff packed into the playfields! Stern knocked it out of the park with Mustang and is a great piece of memorbilia for the 50th anniversary of the classic muscle car.
Keep tuned into Bright Lights Bumper City for more trip reports from Michigan Pinball Expo as well as the latest in Toronto's pinball scene!

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