Monday, February 21, 2011

Pinball Expo 2010 - Fun With Fruit


I couldn't think of a more attention-getting image from this year's version of Pinball Expo than this picture of Phoebe and the Melonheads (oooh, good name for a band)taken by our pinball pal, Dr. Jim Shelberg who produces one of the best and longest lasting pinball periodicals, The PinGame Journal. Once Phoebe agreed to help promote the game by wearing the t-shirt, it was all downhill from there.

Thanks to Pheobe and Jim for the support...based on this picture it looks like the support is mutual.

So when you have fresh fruit laying around the show booth for marketing purposes only, along with a cardboard cut-out of "Melony" herself, things just start to happen.


Melony was very popular with the boys.


But,seriously, the best part of this show for us was the fact that the game got played...it got played all weekend, from before we actually had the booth set-up until we shut down on Saturday night/Sunday morn about 1:30 a.m.



And the hood was open maybe a total of two times with only a minor adjustment needed - a testament to the meticulous work that Mark and Ken provided in the run-up to the show.


Ironically, one of the first people to test-drive the game on Thursday afternoon, just after we got it set up and plugged in, was one of the legendary former game designers from Gottlieb, Wayne Neyens. Wayne actually designed the Continental Cafe game that we used as the host game for this project so this was a special moment to see him play what remained of the game that he designed in 1957. Wayne designed a vast array of Gottlieb pinballs throughout the 50's,60's, and 70's and it's always good to see and speak with these gentlemen that worked in the golden years of pinball.



Wayne was viewing the show with a former Gottlieb President and colleague, Judd Wienberg, who also took a turn on the Melon Machine. Dennis got to speak with Wayne for a while and got his take on this crazy idea...it seems Wayne liked the whole idea just fine.



We were fortunate to have a great location at the show that provided a constant flow of interested players to the booth. It was a real family affair - Greg's wife Andi, Dennis' wife Barbara, Greg's daughter Lindsey and family friend Ari watched over t-shirt and backglass sales throughout the weekend. Unfortunately the camera wasn't always available but we want to thank everyone for their help.

Our friends from Germany (Martin and Anja)were in town for the show and Martin provided a lot of help getting the game and booth set up and kept us fed with imported Gummi candies.


Another former design colleague, Jim Patla, stopped by to kick the tires.


The Korn man-handled the melons for a while and showed off his old-school pinball skillz.


Later in the weekend we celebrated Expo with the annual banquet and were highly entertained by another former art and design colleague, Python Angelo.

I was surprised when Python invited me up to the podium to accept the first-ever Sea Shell Design award directly from Python. He referred to me as an art manager that sailed like a British Battleship against his crazy Romanian Pirate Art ship. Something like that - you had to be there.


During dinner, Dennis and I bid a fond farewell to our Booth Babe, Melony, as we offered her up to auction for a worthy cause, the Make-A-Wish Foundation.


Darren Sheldon, a big fan of the project, was the winning bidder. Thanks to Darren for his generosity! And take good care of Melony - she's a bit sensetive to sunlight.


All in all it was a successful weekend! We met a lot of new pinball friends and look forward to being able to show more progress in the near future. Thanks again to all that helped getting the game this far.



Epilogue:
After the show wrapped up we spent some time with Martin and Anja - we asked what would you like to see in Chicago?

"The Bean"

Next time will start talking about the playfield art design, reveal the "hybrid" direction we plan to take on the three games we plan to build after this first "artist's proof" game, along with some dates and shows that we'll be attending later this spring.

G & D

All art, sketches, or photos related directly to "Whizbang Pinball" or "Whoa Nellie (Brand) Big Juicy Melons" or "Whoa Nellie (Brand) Sweet Juicy Melons" are TM and Copyright 2009 WhizBang Pinball LLC, Greg Freres, and Dennis Nordman.

Photos on this post courtesy G. Freres, D. Nordman, J. Shelberg

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