Staff member
04-24-2018 10:41 AM
It’s been five years since we were last in Le Tréport on the northern French coast to visit Flip Expo, and there have been some changes in the interim.

The town is still the same picturesque fishing port, and it was looking especially attractive this weekend due to the 25C temperature, bright sunshine and blue skies.

The town of Le Tréport in FranceThe town is overlooked by imposing chalk cliffs, with a funicular railway taking passengers to the top and backThe town’s harbourThe venue for Flip Expo is still the same – Salle Serge Reggiani, a large municipal hall on the eastern outskirts of the town – but the show has expanded into the adjacent sports hall – called Gymnase Leo Lagrange – too.

The venues for Flip Expo 2018We arrived shortly before the doors opened at 10am on Saturday 21st April and there were queues of visitors outside both halls awaiting the official openings.

The queue outside the Salle Serge ReggianiThe queue outside the Salle Serge ReggianiThe queue outside Gymnase Leo LagrangeBoth halls had separate registration desks, so some visitors took advantage of the shorter queue and entered the show through the second hall.  The price was a mere €4 ($4.89/£3.50) per person per day, which is achievable thanks to the municipal council offering use of the halls for free in return for attracting a large number of visitors to the town.

The gymnasium was home to all the vendor stands, and there was an impressive selection of vendors selling many different gaming-related products, although the emphasis was definitely on pinball.

Inside the gymnasiumWith the gymnasium being used for the vendors, the Salle Serge Reggiani was home of the free play games and the tournaments.  However, several vendors were either distributors for one or more of the major pinball manufacturers, or they were selling their own machines.  So, there were quite a few pinballs to play in the vendor hall too, including most of the more-recent titles.

The first one we encountered was a Stern’s Guardians of the Galaxy, but sadly it was on pay-to-play and hence remained virtually untouched all weekend.  Thankfully, it was the exception and all the other games were set on free play.

It was nice to see a Guardians of the Galaxy game in the vendor hall, but a shame it was pay-to-playProbably the most interesting new game there was the Olympic Goblin from Phenix Pinball.  This has the feel of a home-brew game but also could be a commercial product if marketed and priced correctly.

Olympic Goblin from Phenix PinballThe backbox of Olympic Goblin from Phenix PinballThe playfield is a simple affair, with four top rollover lanes, feeding three pop bumpers, below which are three banks of three drop targets.  There are two flippers above which are two passive slingshots which don’t include any kickers.  Scoring is on a seven-segment LED displays to give the game a retro early solid-state feel, which is Phenix Pinball’s intention.

The Olympic Goblin playfieldThe game runs on one of Pascal Janin’s CPU/driver boards with a PinSound audio board to make this a true French production.  Gameplay is quite simple, with four stages to complete by shooting the lit drop targets, followed by a three-level wizard mode.  The artwork is a little rudimentary and we have doubts Phenix Pinball will be able to put the game into production using the ‘Olympic’ moniker since that title is closely controlled by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but it could be a fun cheap game for home or family location.

The other new game here was Jersey Jack Pinball’s Pirates of the Caribbean which was the recent topic of discussion when JJP announced that they had been forced to remove a couple of prominent mechanisms from the game due to reliability issues and had replaced them with simpler alternatives.  One was the three-ring spinning map and the other was the opening/closing chest which locked balls inside.

One of the two JJP line-upsThere were two Pirates of the Caribbean games at Flip Expo and both features these animated mechanisms.

The three-ring spinning mapThe opening/closing chestPinball News’ Martin Ayub teamed up with Jonathan Joosten from Pinball Magazine to interview JJP’s Jack Guarnieri about the changes.  Jack was the special guest at Flip Expo this year and we cornered him for an interview, finding a nice quiet grassy spot behing the gymnasium for the interview.

Jonathan (left) and Martin (right) interview JackYou can hear our joint podcast here on Podcast Garden or with the player below.

https://www.podcastgarden.com/login...2018-JackGuarnieriinterview-olympicGoblin.mp3Before that though, Jack was meeting and greeting in the vendor hall.  At midday on Saturday there was a glass raised to toast the success of the show’s organisers in holding this twelth edition.  The drink of choice as the local favourite, Ricard, but Martini and scotch were also available.

Midday on Saturday and time for a toastJack with Flip Expo organiser, Franck Michaux and The mayor of Le Treport, Laurent JacquesLet’s continue in the vendor hall and see what other games, parts and add-ons they had on display or for sale.

Inside the vendor hallAnother set of JJP titlesAll four JJP titlesThere was a good showing of titles from Spooky Pinball.  Rob Zombie’s Spookshow International was joined by The Jetsons and Total Nuclear Annihilation.  Alongside them was an Alien from Heighway Pinball and a The Big Lebowski from Dutch Pinball.

TNA, Rob Zombie and The Jetsons by Spooky Pinball with Alien by Heighway PinballThe Big Lebowski was especially popularPinSound had several games running their sound cards including this lovely Chrome Edition T2PinSound also had a Getaway to play and hearThis purple Bride of Pinbot 2.0 had different playfield artwork and multiple purple accents throughoutThe new playfield artworkIf you wanted to build your own custom game, Art Cab could fix you up.

Art Cab’s plain and custom pinball cabinetsIf you don’t have space for a full-size pinball, here’s a little alternativeThese video pinballs weren’t the only video games in the vendor hall.

Table-top videosFull-size custom video cabsWe return to pinball as we look at the parts available.

There were some nice repro backglasses on saleSadly not all the backglasses survived the showIf you preferred unbroken, plain glass you could get standard, widebody and super widebody hereIn fact the selection of parts available was the best we have seen for a long timeWhile vendors at most shows only bring a small selection of parts, you could find almost anything you wanted at Flip ExpoHundreds of posts, rubbers, buttons, switches, caps……flasher domes, sleeves, rebuild kits, electronic components……and of course, flippersNot forgetting solenoids for all makes and erasMultiple vendors were selling the standard leg bolts, leg levellers, balls and other common partsThere was also a nice selection of new, refurbished or original playfields, with Mirco leading the way.  As he could drive to this show, his range and number of playfields available certainly looked impressive.

Some of the playfields and parts on Mirco’s standCan you guess which game these are for?Alien was just one of the titles availableMore playfieldsAnd more, along with a varied range of other pinball partsAnd a few more, along with backboxes, backglasses and apronsOur final set of playfields, with backglasses and assorted new and reclaimed partsFlipper-LED.com had replacement LEDs and illuminated perspex toppersPerspex toppersLots and lots of parts for Gottlieb games which were very popular in FranceAnd even more parts for Gottlieb and other manufacturersIf you have the wall space, how about a laser-cut pinball sign?Assorted pinball parts, translites and plastic setsThere was also an impressive collection of Star Wars figures, although these weren’t for sale.

Star Wars figuresNaturally accompanied by a Star Wars pinballNot sure this is an official Lucasfilm-licensed modIf you had any faulty PCBs you could probably get them fixed at the show while you waited.

PCB diagnosis and repairBoard fixing in progressMore fault finding and fixingIf you don’t have a board to fix, buy a new oneFinally for the vendor hall there were the stands selling assorted memorabilia or curiosities, along with assorted games, parts or components.

Various boards and componentsStrength testersTabletop games and glassesAll things orangeMore brightly-coloured games itemsComputer and console gamesWall-mounted games, coin doors, boards, control panels and moreMore video game controlsMore assorted buttonsA different type of button – custom badges, mugs, lanyards, key fobs and moreYou could also pick up some flyers for your gamesA real mix of retro console games and partsThis was a particularly hot weekend for April, so the temperature inside the hall soon made things uncomfortable.  Side windows were opened later in the day to provide some much-needed ventiallation.

That’s just about everything from the vendor hall, so let’s head next door into the games hall.  Our €4 entry included a hand-stamp which allowed us to move freely between the two rooms, but on the way we couldn’t help but notice a collection of classic retro cars parked outside and some suitably-dressed women accompanying them.

American vehiclesSleek linesDittoThe event was to promote a retro event being held in a restaurant in the town of Le Tréport later on Saturday evening.

Also set up outside were a couple of food trucks, one serving different types of nuts, while the other sold bagels – either smoked salmon, bacon and egg, or vegetarian.

Standing in the heat of the sun?  You must be nuts!Serving toasted bagels on such a hot day must be a crumby jobLater on, a third truck arrived to roast chickens and various meats for a banquet held on Saturday evening.

Food for Saturday evening’s banquet mealHeading into the games hall, things were a little cooler.

The games hallThe majority of the games hall was occupied by the free play pinballs.  These were mostly arranged in small ‘islands’ of around six machines.

Some of the free play machines in the games hallMore free play pinballsMore free play pinballsMore free play pinballsMore free play pinballsOne curiosity was this Hot Ball machine which was a steampunk-themed customisation of a Williams Big Deal.

Hot BallHot BallHot Ball backbox detailThe other part of the games hall was taken up by the tournaments run by Nico Flip.  A fenced-off area contained ten machines which were used by the main and side tournaments.

The tournament machinesCurrent scores and standings were shown on a projector screen behind the tournament machines.

We’ll have more on the tournaments and wrap up the final day of Flip Expo shortly. Plus we’ll have our exclusive video tour of the whole show, so check back for all the news from Le Tréport.