Monday, January 19, 2015

Feelin' Alright With the Crew

Bumper City is not just about pinball reviews; I try to do a lot of different pinball-related things with the blog! To name a few, I have helped promote tournaments such as 3030 and Kensington Brewing Company’s Pinball Sundays, curated an pinball art show (Bumper City: A Pinball Exposition), and also formed a group of like-minded folks that go out and play pinball together in Toronto. I founded Toronto Pinball Crew in the summer of 2014 so anybody living in Toronto could find some other pinball enthusiasts to play a few games with. Not only that but we also post our latest high scores and any recent finds!
The reason I made this group is I felt that Toronto didn’t exactly have a solid pinball community in the downtown core. I have met a lot of people through pinball and I wanted something where all these pinball fans could get together and build a better pinball community in the city.  So, I made a facebook group where someone could post when and where they were going to play and others could post if they were going to join in. We also organize trips to events, like the release parties at Wacky Wings and to some of the Toronto Pinball League events.

Due to the weather and general laziness on my behalf, I haven’t been playing as much pinball as I used to. I get out at least once a week to play a few games but for the most part, I’ve been sticking around at California Sandwiches and Monarch Tavern. But one cold night in January, I felt like going out on a big pinball tour, hunting down a few machines I have had my eyes on. Before I hit the road though, I posted a note to the Toronto Pinball Crew Facebook Group saying I was going out to play some pinball and wanted to see if there was any interest for people to join in. I got a few responses but it looked like I would be flying solo till later in the night.
I stopped by Boo Radley’s first as it is close to my home and I have been meaning to snap some pictures of AC/DC!

I didn’t stick around for long as I got my butt kicked and served on a silver platter by this hard-as-nails machine… plus, there was a couple that sounded like they were breaking up and I felt super awkward. So, once I got my pictures and sunk a few dollars, I hit the road and headed down to Queen and Spadina. I have been itching to drop by Bovine Sex Club as I heard they have The Sopranos and Metallica! Pretty sweet line-up but I’m beginning to learn that Bovine Sex Club is not the most accessible place, at least for me. The bar doesn’t open until 9 PM so I dropped by Bahn Mi Boys and had a delicious fried chicken steamed bao to kill some time. I headed over to Bovine Sex Club and found that they had a $5 cover. Fine by me, I was willing to pay the 5 bucks to pay more money to play pinball but the doorman told me the area of the bar with the machines didn’t open till 10. DANG! Luckily, I received a text from one of my friends saying he saw my post on the Toronto Pinball Crew group and that they were about to hit up California Sandwiches for some sammies and pinball. I wasn’t too far away, being at Bathurst and Queen St West, so I beat feet up to Cali Sammies and met up with the crew for some pinball!
We had a few good rounds each on The Walking Dead and Star Trek. I don’t know what it is about Star Trek but it is so hard to get a decent score going. I got two Vengeance Multiballs in a single round and only got about 14 million points total! I thought I was doing good but I guess not! At least my high score on The Walking Dead was still holding up.
My buddies had to go to a birthday party for a while but told me to meet them later at Monarch Tavern. Before I hit up the local haunt, I wanted to get a bit of hunting done because there has been a few changes in the Little Italy area. I know that May Café has had Star Wars Episode 1 for some time now but it has not exactly been one of my favorite tables. I remember playing it when it first came out and did not care for it and the less said about the movie... the better. So, I have been holding off on going to May to play Star Wars. Since I was in the area and had some time to spare, I made a stop at May Café and found that Bally’s Wizard! has been added to the line-up! 
Begrudgingly, I gave Star Wars Episode 1 a shot… and found it was actually half-decent! I really don’t care for the theme and there is more Jar Jar Binks than I care for but the Pinball 2000 gimmick is fun and the layout is pretty good. The machine also gives 2 credits for 1 dollar so you can’t go wrong there.
One design aspect I thought was really strange was Watto’s Junk Shop, a kicker hole with a captive ball placed right behind it. It was really hard to hit and most of the time, the ball would bounce off the captive ball and go clear over the kicker.
Once I got my fill of Star Wars, I hopped on to the Wizard! table. I was excited to play a few rounds on this classic and even saw it had three credits available but when I pressed the start button, nothing happened. I pressed and pressed again but no dice. What a shame! It is a good looking table though and made for a few nice pictures!
After May Café, I went up to College Street to check out a few bars along there. I heard rumor that Crawford had a pinball machine but they had cover and I didn’t want to pay cover based on a rumor of pinball. I looked through the windows instead but didn’t see anything. If Crawford does indeed have a machine, please let me know! I then went by Bar Radio which had The Rolling Stones in the back when I last went there. Unfortunately, the machine has been removed to make more seating room.
Once my hunting was all over and done with, I went over to Monarch Tavern to get out of the cold and get some cold beer! I played a few rounds of The Walking Dead then my buddies from California Sandwiches returned and brought a few new folks with them!
We played well into the night and I managed to rack up a high score during our multitude of games!
By the end of the night, a couple of the patrons at the bar asked to join us for a few games. I introduced myself and found out one of the fellas that wanted to play was MAF! My nemesis
MAF is currently top dog on The Walking Dead at Monarch Tavern but I have beaten him before and I will do it again! MUF will be on top before The Walking Dead disappears, mark my words! Despite our rivalry, we quickly became good chums and even had a few mutual pinball-playing friends! It is always a pleasure to meet some of the people here in Toronto that enjoy the game of pinball as much as I do. Now with the Toronto Pinball Crew, I hope I can bring all these like-minded individuals together! If you live in Toronto and are interested in joining the Crew, by all means! We would be more than happy to have you and include you in our pinball sessions. Send us an invite request on Facebook and we will be more than happy to let you in… unless you’re going to post advertisements of UGGs and Ray-Bans. None of that with the Crew!

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