Pinfest in Allentown: Calling all pinball wizards : The Morning Call
Pinfest 2016 will be held tomorrow Friday May 6th and Saturday May 7th. Doors open tomorrow at 12 pm and Saturday at 9:00am. I will be attending tomorrow’s show playing games and buying merchandise from the attending vendors. Ivan the show organizer puts on a great show year after year.
302 N. 17th Street
Allentown, PA 18104
Read my article about last year’s Pinfest 2015 here :
About 3,000 people will converge on the Agri-Plex at the Allentown Fairgrounds this weekend to play a game that once might have qualified for endangered species status.
They’ll be coming for PinFest, a celebration of all things pinball. Pinball, which appeared to be heading for extinction after the emergence of video games in the 1980s, has made a comeback, and enthusiasts and vendors will be bringing machines from the 1950s on up to the latest models to the show, opening at noon Friday.
Ivan Lysykanycz of Allentown, who organizes PinFest, says he expects about 300 pinball machines available for play for the cost of a general admission ticket.
“What this show offers is the place where everybody can bring their favorite pieces and share them with the community,” Lysykanycz says. “People get a chance to see the whole evolution of pinball over the last 70 years by coming to the show.”
The event will include an indoor and outdoor flea market with vendors selling new and restored pinball machines, game parts and other accouterments of the pastime. It will also feature a pinball tournament, in which anyone can enter.Some of the top players in the country enter to compete for points on the International Flipper Pinball Association circuit.
The show will have some rarities, including a machine called “Big Bang Bar” which is prized by collectors because the company that made them, Capcom, built only 14 prototypes in 1996 before deciding to get out of the pinball market and switching to video games.
The game gained cult status among pinball aficionados and Illinois Pinball later made a limited number from Capcom parts in the mid-2000s. Today Big Bang Bar machines usually sell for $15,000-$18,000, Lysykanycz says.
“It’s so rare and highly sought after.”
The collector bringing the Big Bang Bar to the show plans to charge a small fee — about 50 cents or $1 — to play it and that money will be donated to charity, Lysykanycz says.
Lysykanycz compares PinFest to a car show, in which car buffs come to see classic cars and new models and talk with other aficionados about their passion. Pinball fans come from all over the United States and Canada for Pinfest, he says.
Part of the attraction is the nostalgia of many older fans who recall growing up playing pinball as teenagers in a diner, corner store or arcade. Now in their 40s or 50s, some have rediscovered the fun of pinball and bring their kids.
“The show is kind of like a pilgrimage,” Lysykanycz says. “Last year I had a guy who was actually buying up games to ship back to Australia. Australia has a shortage of pinball machines.”
Lysykanycz expects some vendors to bring older video games as well, a trend he plans to encourage.
A rudimentary form of pinball called the Pin Game existed prior to the 1940s but it relied almost completely on luck in directing the ball toward a hole to score points. That changed with the introduction of flippers that bat the ball.
In 1947, two game designers in Chicago added six mechanical flippers (three on each side) to a pinball game called Humpty Dumpty, according to The New York Times. The following year, designer Steve Kordek revolutionized the game by creating a machine with two flippers that players could control with buttons at the bottom of the machine. It changed the game from one of luck to one that relied more on skill.
“When they implemented flippers is when pinball really started to explode and became very popular and found its way into virtually every corner store, arcades and diners,” Lysykanycz says.
When video games became popular in the 1980s, teenagers seemed to lose interest in pinball for games like Pac-Man and Space Invaders. But companies that continued to manufacture pinball machines took some lessons from the video game makers.
“When you take a look at some of the first [pinball machines] and then you look at the latest and greatest, you go, ‘Wow, it’s really progressed,’ ” Lysykanycz says. “As technology improved, so did the games.”
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Thanks to the Morning Call and Margie Peterson for the article and pictures.