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EXCLUSIVE Interview with deeproot – The Next Misadventure or a Pinball Revolution?

EXCLUSIVE Interview with deeproot – The Next Misadventure or a Pinball Revolution?

deeproot Pinball has been quietly making progress on their path and plan to become a major pinball manufacturing company.  They have been in licensing talks for several major pinball titles.  They are currently looking to hire a Pinball Game Designer and a Game Writer (click here for the openings and descriptions including salary).  They are hoping to have their manufacturing facility finalized in the next 2-3 weeks.

Before we explore where deeproot is currently and what their plans are going forward, let’s first take a step back and look at deeproot’s timeline.

Early 2015

deeproot Tech starts its pinball division – deeproot Pinball.  They contact several pinball designers and manufacturers.

Summer 2015

The deeproot team decides to shelve the pinball project until a later date.

October 2016

deeproot begins implementing their internal plan of action to become a pinball manufacturer.

Late 2016 – 2017

deeproot begins reaching out to several pinball designers.  After spending significant time weighing pros and cons, deeproot decides that pinball designer John Popadiuk (“JPop”) is the best option available.  They decided this knowing there would be backlash from some in the pinball community, and knowing they would need to address John’s past mistakes with Zidware.

  • John Popadiuk’s backstory and timeline

    • Here is the short-ish version (apologies for skipping over a lot of details):  A few years back, Popadiuk owned a company called Zidware, and planned to build three titles in limited quantities: Magic Girl, Retro Atomic Zombie Adventureland (RAZA), and Alice in Wonderland (AIW).  (Note: Magic Girl was to be limited to 26 machines, and RAZA limited to 124 machines.)  Zidware customers paid in part or in full for machines that had not been built yet (the “pre-order” model).  Popadiuk ran out of funds before any games were delivered.
    • American Pinball later built the Magic Girl machines and they were shipped to customers, however, despite the efforts of American Pinball, the game was incomplete.
    • Pre-order customers of RAZA and AIW have yet to receive a refund or a machine.
    • For more details on the timeline of JPop from July 2011 through 2017, click here.  You can also read 23,500+ posts on this Pinside thread.
  • John does not have money to refund Zidware customers or the means to build the Zidware machines, so any form of restitution would have to come with significant financial and manufacturing help of an outside source.

  • More Info

June 2017

deeproot begins to move forward with their plan to deal with JPop’s past and provide help to Zidware customers.

Early September 2017

Plaintiffs of the lawsuit and deeproot agree to terms on a settlement.  This settlement with the Plaintiffs will be essentially the same for all other former customers of Zidware.

September 14th, 2017

It is discovered on deeproot’s website that John Popadiuk is part of their team with the title Lead Game Development.  Confidential terms of the settlement are leaked to podcasters and others in the pinball community.  A thread is started on to inform many in the pinball community that JPop has resurfaced and is working with deeproot Pinball.  Notably, Jeremy Packer (aka Zombie Yeti) makes a post which includes: “I have been asked to sign over all copyrights free and clear as if I was fully compensated. I simply refuse.”  Podcasters released podcasts with harsh criticism of deeproot.  All of this, of course, caused severe negative reaction to deeproot since John Popadiuk still owed many Zidware customers refunds or machines.

September 18th, 2017

This Week in Pinball speaks to Robert Mueller, the man behind deeproot Tech, and posts A Conversation with Deeproot.  Robert shares:

  • deeproot plans to make Zidware customers whole
  • Robert: “Jpop is someone who needs to be managed”
  • deeproot does not plan to take any pre-order money or deposits for their machines
  • deeproot may change the title or tweak the layout of John’s already designed games
  • Robert believes he can build machines in a different and better way than other current manufacturers
  • deeproot hopes to make a public announcement in the coming weeks, then go dark for a long time until everything is ready

October 13th, 2017

deeproot retracts its settlement offer to the Plaintiffs.  For details and reasons for the retraction, click here.

October 21st, 2017

Robert Mueller and Jeremy Packer (Zombie Yeti) speak for the first time.  Jeremy verbally agrees to sign over the rights to the games in exchange for undisclosed consideration.

What is Happening Now

  • The deeproot web page launches TODAY (see below).
  • Zidware and deeproot are attempting to settle claims with American Pinball.
  • John Popadiuk’s title has been changed from Lead Game Developer to Game Designer.
  • deeproot started their AV Department with a Visualization Artist.
  • In addition to the two current job listings, in the coming months deeproot also plans to hire:
    • At least three new Mechanical Techs
    • Another Game Designer or two
    • A Scenarist (AV Dept)
    • A Sound Engineer (AV Dept)
    • Two Graphic Artists (AV Dept) or Animators
  • deeproot plans to contract out their Illustrators.

**EXCLUSIVE RELEASE – The deeproot Web Page**


As of today, the deeproot web page is now public:

It includes the background of their pinball division, Goodwill Terms for non-Plaintiff Claimants, details of the attempted settlement between deeproot and the Plaintiffs of the lawsuit against Zidware, and over twenty FAQs.



This Week in Pinball:  Hiring John Popadiuk meant deeproot would either have to attempt to help the Zidware customers or face backlash from some in the pinball community.  Why start in pinball with that burden, why not go with a different designer?


deeproot: Other established pinball manufacturers had the opportunity to make the Zidware customers whole but declined.  deeproot is about doing things thought to be impossible.  deeproot will prove that it is possible to do impossible things, even in pinball.  We did try to work with multiple designers.  It is often overlooked that most of the designers (past or present) have been retained by other pinball companies.


TWIP:  Which other designers did you try to work with, and why didn’t those situations work out?


dr:  I appreciate the follow up question but I have to honor confidential negotiations. I also have to respect requests that some of these guys could get fired if it became public.


TWIP:  Were you surprised by the backlash of hiring JPop?


dr:  No.


TWIP:  If you could go back, would you still choose to work with JPop instead of a different designer?


dr:  John Popadiuk was the right decision at the right time.  It would have been nice to have had a little better luck with timing and PR, but it doesn’t change the decision being the right one.


TWIP:  Were there any considerations to hire a designer that was not established or did not have previous experience designing pinball machines?


dr:  Yes. For example, we reached out to Scott Danesi not realizing he had already signed on with Spooky. Most of the newer designers aren’t real established and it is hard to determine their ability to fit into a ‘structured R&D’ process or what their long term performance might be.  We are hoping our job posting will encourage some newer blood with limited design experience to step up.


TWIP: Why was John’s title changed?  Was he demoted?


dr:  John was not demoted.  With John still residing in Illinois, it quickly became clear that we needed a full time in house designer to tackle the work load while John is between his visits.


TWIP:  Why were the settlement terms with the Plaintiffs in the lawsuit retracted?


dr:  We addressed the reasons why the settlement failed on the website.


TWIP:  What is the current situation in the lawsuit against John Popadiuk and Zidware?


dr:  The Plaintiffs chose to continue to pursue litigation rather than accept deeproot’s reasonable settlement terms.


TWIP:  Is there any chance of a settlement with the Plaintiffs at this point?


dr:  The Plaintiffs had the power to accept or refuse the offer. If given a second chance, we do not know what they would choose.


TWIP:  Similar settlement terms would still apply to Zidware customers that were NOT involved in the lawsuit though, correct?


dr:  That is the objective, but we don’t know how many actually want to be made whole.


TWIP: Why do you think some may not want to be made whole? 


dr: We have been contacted by more people interested in buying the machines than are Zidware customers. We are not confident about how many of the Zidware customers will actually file a claim or not.


TWIP:  Has Jeremy Packer (Zombie Yeti) been paid in full for his work with Zidware?  Is he owed a Magic Girl game?


dr:  Jeremy and I agreed to not discuss these issues in public while the negotiations were ongoing.


TWIP:  Has pinsider Applejuice been paid in full for his work with Zidware?  Is he owed a Magic Girl game?


dr:  We have not heard from Applejuice.  According to Zidware records that we have seen, Applejuice was paid over $100k, and has been in material breach of several terms of his agreement with Zidware for some time.


TWIP: In breach of what terms of his agreement with Zidware?


dr:  At this point it is up to Zidware to enforce its own contract with this vendor. We will address this situation in the appropriate manner if this vendor continues to be defamatory or Zidware’s contractual rights are transferred to us.


TWIP: When we spoke in September, you said your first priority with deeproot was to “take care” of Zidware customers.  Can you give an update on these plans?


dr: The plans have been in place since June-July.  The reasons for the delay in announcing the plans were to give time to reach agreements with Jeremy, American Pinball, and the Plaintiffs.  We felt that it is the right time to release the plans, but will wait for those agreements to be resolved before taking claims.


TWIP:  Is there a general time frame for when agreements will be met with Jeremy, American Pinball, and the Plaintiffs?


dr:  I think these parties would be better able to answer that question. We have tried to be reasonable, but the ball is ultimately in their court.


TWIP:  What claims still need to be settled with American Pinball?


dr:  The arrangements between Zidware and American Pinball were a convoluted mess. To our knowledge, only a few people really know what happened.  Zidware and deeproot have both attempted to reach a settlement with American Pinball for months.  Dhaval has refused to negotiate or has stonewalled an amicable resolution.  We are discussing with our counsel how best to proceed.


TWIP:  What options are on the table?


dr:  In the many years I worked as an attorney, I found it hard to reason or negotiate with people who don’t know what they don’t know.  According to Dhaval, their attorney has been looking at our proposed documents for three months now.  We would prefer they sign the reasonable docs and go about their business selling Houdini’s to their hearts content without a disruption of their business with injunctive action.


TWIP: Is it possible that deeproot could delay Houdini manufacturing?


dr: We wish American Pinball the best in their pinball efforts. However unresolved legal issues they helped create need to be addressed and resolved. Right now their arguments have no apparent contractual or legal basis.  They put themselves in this position and have the power to take themselves out of it.  There is little to nothing they can blame John for, though I’m sure they will try.


TWIP: It appears that deeproot is involved in many different ventures.  Why choose pinball as a new venture?


dr:  We wanted to do something in the tech arena, and pinball was a passion that made sense.  Plus we figured we could be a fresh voice of reason in a small, very dysfunctional industry.


TWIP:  Why do you describe the pinball industry as dysfunctional? 


dr:  There is ample evidence of the amount of drama that this industry experienced over recent years. It is hard to believe that any current participant in this industry would be able to thrive in a more mature or competitive industry. I’ve built businesses and competed in multiple industries much more crowded and cutthroat than the pinball industry.  That’s what makes doing pinball so easy for us.


TWIP: Do you have the capability, expertise, experience, and financial resources to manufacture pinball machines in large quantities?


dr:  Sure.  Why not?


TWIP:  I ask this question because, as you know, in the last few years, this community has had several start up pinball companies not delivered what was promised, and several other startups that are having significant struggles in trying to manufacture pinball machines.  It seems like nearly every company that has started since 2011 has had significant hurdles, significant delays, and in many cases had to be bailed out by bringing in additional investors.  What makes deeproot different from the other startups? 


dr: Unlike everyone else in the industry who shows off something shiny and then does the immediate take away, we simply are not going to tell everyone what we’re doing.  When the masterpiece is ready, we will unveil it for everyone to enjoy. It is hard to believe that we (who arguably have more capitalization then all the other pinball participants combined and having accomplished the impossible in other industries) would not be able to find a way to do something as easy as pinball.


TWIP: That is twice you’ve said pinball is “easy”.  Do you think manufacturing pinball machines will be easy?


dr: I’ll let people decide for themselves when they can see what we’ve done.


TWIP: Do you think deeproot can be the largest pinball manufacturer at some point in the future?


dr: That would infer that we intend to compete as the market currently dictates. We think our end product will speak for itself.


TWIP: What do you mean when you refer to “the masterpiece”?


dr: Our technology, standards, and products at launch.


TWIP:  Do you still plan to not take ANY preorder money from customers?


dr:  I think we were very clear that that will never happen.


TWIP: In our previous conversation you mentioned deeproot would manufacture pinball machines “in a different way” than anyone.  How so?


dr:  Unfortunately this will be something that will make the most sense when we launch…


TWIP:  Looking at the Goodwill Terms on the new web page – will new deeproot pinball machines cost less than $5,000?


dr:  Each of the major pinball manufacturers have a different cost/profit/quality profile.  We will have our own as well. We will weigh the retail price of each machine based on its own profile. The market will have a strong influence on determining retail prices as well.


TWIP: Do you plan for the quality and depth of the machines to be similar to, for example, a Stern Pinball machine, Spooky Pinball machine, or Jersey Jack Pinball machine?


dr:  We intend for our final games to be better quality than what currently exists, more profitably made.  We will not be selling more than one model for each title which will simplify a lot of things behind the scenes.


TWIP:  Better quality machines than any other current manufacturers, including Stern and Jersey Jack? 


dr:  Quality is subjective. People typically don’t judge a Ferrari by the gas cap it uses. It’s equally difficult to judge a pinball manufacturer by a particular title. Or a range of titles. Each manufacturer will have its own style and product profile. While some people might currently think that JJP is better quality than Stern, it wasn’t always the case. Our view is this… what’s the point of making a Ferrari with Ferrari prices and Ferrari costs. Ferrari already does that. We would love to make a Ferrari with KIA prices and KIA costs. No offense to Ferrari or KIA in this example. At the end of the day it would be hard to imagine any existing pinball manufacturer able to compete with us on the deeproot perfect blend of product line, price, costs, and quality.


TWIP:  So going with the car analogy, you’re planning to make Ferrari-quality machines, and sell them at a discount “KIA” cost?  That seems unrealistic, how would that be possible?


dr:  Two responses. First, I was using the example as an analogy or metaphor (take your pick) to the current pinball industry players. Second, it is easy for the pessimists to dismiss this as aspirational silly talk.  We are ok with this. We aren’t holding our breath for apologies when we prove the pessimists wrong.


TWIP: Who is your target market for deeproot pinball machines?


dr: We think our goal is to epitomize our company motto, “Every family needs a pinball, every pinball needs a family”.


TWIP:  Does that mean everyone will be the target market, from hardcore pinheads to very casual pinball fans? 


dr:  Even that is too restrictive.


TWIP: What does that mean – are you looking at creating a “new” market?


dr: People will understand this more in time after the 5 days of deeproot.


TWIP: What is the 5 days of deeproot? 


dr: 🙂


TWIP: Is deeproot looking to be a type of “disruptor” in the pinball industry, similar to Uber in the automotive transportation industry?


dr: We don’t like the fad, overused ‘disrupt’ determiner.  We intend to launch with the “5 days of deeproot” when everything is ready to go.  We will leave it to the market whether to regard our entrance into the pinball industry as a “disruption”, “revolution”, or something else.


TWIP: If you settle with American Pinball and secure rights for the artwork from Zombie Yeti, do you plan to produce Magic Girl, Retro Atomic Zombie Adventureland, and Alice in Wonderland? 


dr: That would make sense. I personally think all three of these titles are amazing and should be enjoyed by people all over the world.


TWIP: Can you share anything about any other titles or licenses you are pursuing? 


dr:  No. For many reasons we’re not going to discuss titles prior to launch.


TWIP:  As part of the Goodwill Terms on the web page, you state “deeproot Tech will deliver elected game(s) no later than June 30, 2019″.  Is that when we can expect to see a deeproot pinball machine for sale?


dr:  When the masterpiece is ready, we will let everyone know. By the very terms, that would be the latest date permitted.

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Black Friday Pinball Deals!

Black Friday Pinball Deals!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in all countries, but for America it is a day that kicks off the holiday season.  We get together with friends and family and watch a parade.  We watch American football.  We eat a lot.  (Ok, the eating a lot isn’t that much different than any other day.)   The day AFTER Thanksgiving is Black Friday, when – the day after we give thanks, we go out and trample people and get into fights to get the best sales deals.  Check out below for some of the best deals in PINBALL!  But first…




Win a FREE custom shooter rod from Wizard Amusements!

Example shooter rods (subject to availability)


Either Like our Facebook page (below or go here, click like), follow us on Twitter (below or go here, click follow), or sign up to receive email alerts for new posts from This Week in Pinball (below), and email us at to let us know!  Do more than one for multiple entries.  (If you’ve already done one or more of these items, just email us and let us know and you’ll be entered into the drawing.)

Details: Entries will be closed at the end of Cyber Monday, and drawing will be held on Tuesday.  Winner will choose shooter rod based on Wizard Amusements inventory, which varies week to week.

Black Friday Weekend Pinball Deals

Did we miss a deal?  Email us at and we’ll add it!

Wizard Amusement


Contact Wizard Amusements here and mention THIS WEEK IN PINBALL for free shipping and 10% off all custom shooter rods – deal runs through cyber Monday.

Pinball Bulbs


Their highest discount ever of Ultimate LED Kits. 25% off ALL Ultimate LED kits PLUS 1 FREE Single color speaker light kit with each purchase.  BlackFriday17 – Gets you the 25% off Ultimate LED Kit.  FreeSpeaker17 – Combines with code above to get the free single color speaker kit of their choice!

Pin Stadium Lights


Offering a 15% discount off of the Pin Stadiums for the first 100 customers for Black Friday starting early at Thanksgiving Day through Saturday 11/23-11/25. Use discount code “bfriday”.

Comet Pinball


It’s time for Comet Pinball’s one big blowout sale of the year. Save up to 25% on selected products. Orders over $99 get free shipping, and orders over $199 get a free sample kit of our Matrix products – a $22 value!

Titan Pinball


20% off all orders over $50 Friday November 24 to Monday November 27 at midnight… coupon code TITAN17BF – the 20% off applies to ALL products on the Titan website EXCEPT the 50 piece Universal ring kits, Titan Pinmats, and the 100 piece Competition Bulk Variety Pack.  Also free shipping for orders over $250 to the contiguous USA.

Arcade Made


GET 25% OFF through Monday at  Pinball & Arcade T-shirts.  Use “takeoff25” to get 25% off order of $25 or more.  Use “takeoff15” to get 15% off order.  Dimming backbox panels now available for SPIKE as well all for only $45!

Arcade Upkeep


We will be running our sale from black friday through cyber monday. All of our dimming backbox panels and under cabinet kits will be $20 off (that’s 30% off the backbox kits.) Also if you order 3 or more kits you get free shipping, which due to the size of the backbox panels they can be expensive to ship. This year we are doing something a little different than before in that we never had backbox panels for Sterns Spike and Spike 2 machines and we will finally have those available for the first time and they are included in the sale price as well. That makes all of our dimming backbox panels, regular Stern and the Spike panels only $45 each.

Chrome Candy


Get a 25% discount on our shooter rods through Cyber Monday. Enter “PINSIDE2017”.



Online orders only: Spend $400.00 and receive a free CoinTaker shaker motor.  Use coupon code: “blkfriday” limit 1 per order.  Sale starts today and ends December 2.

Double Danger Pinball


Get 20% off with promo code ‘blackfriday’ – they will also have some limited run products available for the weekend only or until sold out.



Friday through Monday, Bally Williams Warning and Data East Warning decals on sale at Buy one get one FREE. Everything else is 25% off.  Also – not on sale but being release 11/24 – brand new Total Nuclear Annihilation decals – check them out here!

Flipper Fidelity


All speaker systems are 7% off our regular price, plus some “Special Edition” systems – these speaker systems are very aggressively priced, but limited in quantity, click here for details.

Fun! Billiards and Gameroom Superstore


We will be offering brand new 60 in 1 Multicade Cocktail Arcade Games for $995 each. Normally $1695.  Available at the above mentioned price from Friday, November 24th – Monday, November 27th.

Hooked on Pinball


No codes needed! Discounts will be loaded TG day by 10am eastern time sale will last till Saturday midnight.  AC/DC lightning bolts 15% off while supplies lastHuge pop bumper sale up to 15% to 40% off (Tron , TWD, AC/DC ,Avengers and Metallica pops to be specific)!LARGE discount on accessories and dress up items.  Also discounting other random items on site to include clearance items.  Free t-shirts on orders over $200 before shipping.  You will be contacted after purchase on shirt sizes limited to on hand stock.

Lee’s Parts


10% off individual pricing of all Mods (Excludes Packages, Build your own package and Extras & Misc Parts).  LeesParts Pop Bumper T-Shirts for only $10 while supplies last.  Simply place your order between 11/24/2017 and 11/27/2016 then PM Lee through this post on Pinside and he will refund the 10% discount.



15% off all undercabinet and backbox lighting mods. Coupon code is blackfriday17 – plus free domestic shipping on all mods.

Lights Out Pinball


15% off all LED bulbs and LED kits, 10% off Convolux fluorescent Protective plastics (over 110 games in 5 colors now), and 10% off Titan premium rubber parts and kits as well as Titan pinballs. Code : blackfriday2017

Metal Mods


25% off now through 11:59 PM Monday night for Thanksgiving/Black Friday. Just checkout as normal and they will refund 25%

MI Pinball Refinery


Offering 10% off from my website prices on upgrades and powder coating (excludes all new and used pinball machines and official licensed Stern products). Discount Code is BF2017.

Mod My Pin


Offering 20% off Glo-balls and t-shirts. Runs November 21-28.

Modfather Pinball Mods


Weekend sale: 15% off entire inventory with the discount code “mods”

PinballSTAR Amusements


Running Black Friday deals that they can’t advertise – please email Joe at for list of deals.



16% off subtotal for all products while supplies last. Discount does not apply to shipping.  Does not include Nycon (STNG Dress Kit) or Pinball.Center products (pop bumper bodies).  Sale will begin Black Friday (no earlier than 12:01am CST) and run thru Cyber Monday.  Must Enter Discount Code: BF2017

Pinball Pro


$100 off orders over $1,000 (use code BF17100), $50 off orders over $500 (use code BF1750), $25 off orders over $250 (use code BF1725), $10 off orders over $100 (use code BF1710)

Pinball Side Mirrors


Regular mirror price will be on sale for $59.99.

Pinball Solutions


Free shipping for Bally and Zaccaria LED displays to US, Canada & Australia, use coupon code: blackisblack



Any American Pinball (Houdini) ONLY $100 Deposit required to secure a spot on out list as well as a $250.00 Deposit on Jersey Jack Pinball (POTC).  Any deliveries outside of Indiana NO tax charged!  We will also be offering other perks as well for pre ordering.  Contact or catch us on out FB page. or call 219-924-PINS (7467) for more info.



15% percent off all orders.



Friday through Monday, 15% off.

Pinsanity Pinball


$10 off t-shirts from the last Pinsanity tournament. Normally they are $25, they will now be $15 + shipping if you use coupon code: pinsanity10



Not released yet but they are having a sale that will be announced Friday – check their website or Pinside on 11/24 for details.

Playfield Protectors


Buy Two, Get One Free – order any two playfield protectors on Black Friday and you will get a third protector for free.  To order, first order two (or more) playfield protectors on Friday. You will get an order confirmation.  Reply directly: Subject – “I want one more…” Text – name the playfield protector The free protector will be added to your order.

Siegecraft Electronics


From November 23rd through November 30th, 15% off your entire order at Siegecraft Electronics (shipping excluded). Just enter the code 15off2017 at time of checkout. Code MUST be entered to receive this discount.

Swinks Pinball (via Shapeways)


Cyber Monday – Free Shipping anywhere in the world.



10% off all orders thru Cyber Monday – use a coupon code of Cyber2017FB

Tim’s Pinball Mods


Get your favorite pinball mods starting November 23 at 6pm.  Ends November 27th at midnight.  10% Off all Orders *USE COUPON CODE: “BFCM10OFF”, free shipping on orders over $50, you can also sign up for the Pinball Points Program to start saving money. Feedback/Corrections?  Email

ULEK Store


Save 25% on purchases over $10, use the coupon code: BFW17 during check out – 11/24-11/27

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NYC Pinball Championships – Why it is a Big Deal

NYC Pinball Championships – Why it is a Big Deal

Yesterday it was announced that New York City would finally once again be home to a major pinball tournament, the New York City Pinball Championships!  Let’s take a closer look at this tournament and what it is all about.


Here are just a few of the reasons that a major tournament is returning to NYC is great for pinball:

  • Tradition:  The Professional and Amateur Pinball Association (PAPA), one of the largest and most prestigious pinball tournaments in the world and one of the most difficult to win, started in New York City and was held there from 1991-1995.  New York City has not been home to a major pinball tournament since the 90s – until now.
  • Location:  It is New York City!  It is the largest city in the United States by far, with twice the population of Los Angeles, and is a major tourist destination.  The pinball tournament will be located in historic Hell’s Kitchen, with Times Square, Central Park and many other NYC landmarks just blocks away.
  • Exposure:  Holding a major pinball tournament in New York City is a great way to grow pinball.  Back in the 90s when the PAPA tournament was held in NYC, top pinball players were featured on TV shows and the tournament was highlighted on many news organizations.  Here are just a few examples of many that can be found on YouTube:


NOTES: One thing in common with all coverage of pinball?  It is apparently a requirement to have The Who’s Pinball Wizard playing as the background music 🙂   Also, on the last clip, did you notice Bryant Gumble was being condescending and an overall jerk to Lyman?  Apparently he doesn’t like pinball – oh well, it isn’t for everybody.  But for what it’s worth, here is a clip from a couple years earlier where Bryant Gumble has Roger Sharpe on the show, and gets a good game going on Whirlwind and doesn’t want to leave his game.


Official Press Release

(New York, NY) –  The 2018 New York City Pinball Championships (NYCPC), the first major pinball tournament in New York City since the 1990s, will take place on May 18-20 at the Skyline Hotel in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan. The tournaments will include International Flipper Pinball Association (IFPA)-sanctioned Open, Classics, and Womens’ tournaments, as well as a B Division contest for players ranked outside of the top 2,000 by the IFPA.


With the championships taking place on the 9th floor penthouse ballroom of the Skyline Hotel, players and spectators will enjoy stunning views of the midtown Manhattan skyline while taking part in an event showcasing competitive pinball at its highest level. Players will compete for a wide range of cash and prizes on diverse banks of pinball machines provided by some of the area’s top retailers, operators, private collectors, and pinball machine manufacturers.


A growing list of sponsors supporting NYCPC includes Jersey Jack Pinball, Stern Pinball, Jackbar, World Famous Rock Fantasy of Middletown, Crazy Levi’s Pinball, Brooklyn Pinball, and Brickhouse Projects.


Never Beef Productions consists of New York City pinball players Paul Caras, Levi Nayman, and Tim Sexton, and was formed to produce NYCPC in 2018 and beyond, as well as other pinball-related projects TBA. Never Beef Productions is assisted by Production Manager Austin Smith.


“As highly-ranked competitive pinball players, we’ve all grown accustomed to driving or even flying to cities and states across the country and the globe so we can compete at the highest level against other top players. With competitive pinball enjoying unprecedented growth in recent years, it became clear that New York City needed a major IFPA-sanctioned tournament of its own,” said Levi Nayman of Never Beef Productions.


“We can’t wait to bring world-class competitive pinball back to New York City. This great city deserves a great tournament,” added Tim Sexton of Never Beef Productions.


“This is a chance for the great pinball players of NYC to test their skills against the great players from around the world,” said Paul Caras of Never Beef Productions.


NYCPC has launched an official website at WWW.NYCPINBALLCHAMPS.COM. Players can register and find out more about the tournament, as well as view the official NYCPC teaser trailer.

More Details

  • Visit their website here!
  • Visit/like their Facebook page here!
  • Check out the Teaser Trailer here!
  • Check out the Rules the the tournament here!
  • Pricing:
    • Pre-registration for the NYC Pinball Championships is $30
    • Pre-registration w/ T-Shirt is $50
    • Registration for the NYC Pinball Championships on-site is $40
    • For more info, view the Rules
  • It will be held at The Skyline Hotel on the 9th floor penthouse ballroom
  • It will be held May 18th-20th, 2018
  • It will include the following tournaments
    • Main Tournament
      • 10 Game Bank. 5 Best Games Count. 24 Finalists. 8 Byes. Winner Earns the Title of NYC Pinball Champion.
    • Classics Tournament
      • 8 Game Bank. 4 Best Games Count. 24 Finalists. 8 Byes. Winner Earns the Title of NYC Classics Champion.
    • Womens Tournament
      • More Details Coming Soon
    • Main Tournament – B Division
      • 16 Player Finals.  Restricted to IFPA Rank 2000+ and Unranked Players
  • The number of Sponsors keep growing and include Stern Pinball and Jersey Jack Pinball


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Python’s Pinball Circus Updates – and a Secret Second New Title!

Python’s Pinball Circus Updates – and a Secret Second New Title!


This Week in Pinball recently had an opportunity to play The Pinball Circus at the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas.  Below is the story on this machine, along with information and updates from the company that is working on remaking the machine, Circus Maximus – and their plans for a second title.


The Pinball Circus at the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas – one of the two machines that exist

Why The Pinball Circus is Special


Offset flippers on the main playfield, multiple upper playfields, ball launch/shooter lane is through the flippers

The Pinball Circus is arguably the most uniquely designed pinball machine of all time.  Python Anghelo (Pin*Bot, Bride of Pinbot, Taxi, etc. – for his full game list, see below) designed the game, which has seven flippers including offset flippers on the main playfield (on the prototype), three upper playfields (called Rings), unique ramps and toys, all housed in a cabinet that is different from any other pinball machine.  See more about The Pinball Circus on IPDB.


Bally/Midway built this machine in 1994, but only two prototype machines were ever produced.  One is located at the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, and the other is in a private collection.

Python’s Vision

Python Anghelo wanted The Pinball Circus to be built with features and a ruleset that is different than the two prototypes that exist.  Python worked with a group called Circus Maximus in developing his vision.  Unfortunately Python passed away on April 9th, 2014 after a three year battle with cancer.

More Information on Python

More information about Python can be found on the Python Anghelo website which includes a biography and a full game list.  You can also find more information on his Wikipedia page, or check out this video to learn more about “Python’s World”.  As Python’s medical bills mounted through his fight with cancer, a close friend named Paul Kiefert held an online fundraiser in the pinball community that raised almost $19,000.  You can read more about Python’s life and passing here on Pinball News and here on Engadget.

Basic Goals of The Pinball Circus

This machine is all about verticality.  Your main goal is to get to the jackpot on the uppermost playfield.  To get there, you have to shoot the center ramp on the main playfield to get to Ring 2, then shoot up the ramp on that level to interact with the elephant toy to get to Ring 3.  From this level you’ll need to hit it up the rear ramp to a magnetic ball lifter which will transport your ball to the clown playfield (the uppermost playfield).  This playfield has two mini flippers, and to score the jackpot you have to knock down three drop targets and shoot the ball into the clown’s mouth.

Uppermost playfield – the clown playfield


Initial Announcement

A few months after Python’s passing, his team at Circus Maximus announced their intentions to build more of The Pinball Circus, calling it Python’s Pinball Circus.  This created quite a buzz in the pinball world.  The plan was to build two whitewoods (a whitewood is an early prototype without artwork), then build 12 sample games.  From there they would discuss the possibility of going into full production.

Burnout and Back at it

At some point the team got burned out and had to take a break.  But as of July of 2017, they announced their back at it!



First Whitewood Complete

Circus Maximus whitewood on the left, Pinball Hall of Fame prototype on the right

Python worked with the team at Circus Maximus to provide enhancements and additions to Python’s Pinball Circus up until his final days.  He was also developing a much deeper ruleset than the prototype machines.   Interesting note: the snake in between the flippers was meant to be some type of snake saver, which would be activated either by a foot pedal, or, if it was up to Python … wait for it … a “pelvic” button that you would have to “bump” to activate and extend the snake.  Not kidding!


Without further adieu, here are some pictures of the first completed whitewood.

Second Whitewood Updates/Changes

The second whitewood is in the process of being cut, and will be tweaked to fix some issues noticed in the first whitewood.  Their goal is for the machine to play more like a true pinball and less like a redemption/novelty game.  Some of the possible changes include:

  • Move the snake feature and change it’s purpose
  • Change the bottom half of the playfield to a more standard flipper/layout
  • Move the ball launch from between the flippers to the traditional right side
  • Add a skill shot
  • Change portions the backboard and playfields to make the machine easier to service and ship

Future Plans

The plan is still to complete the two whitewoods, then build the 12 sample games.  About six of the sample games are already “spoken for” by team members at Circus Maximus, then the remaining games will be sold.  If there is enough interest/demand, the game will go into production.  Due to the unique cabinet and unique playfield shapes, the game would be more of a custom build instead of being built on a typical manufacturing line.



This Week in Pinball can reveal that Circus Maximus has been secretly building a second machine alongside Python’s Pinball Circus.  Why build a second game before the first is completed?  For several good reasons – first is the manufacturing challenges mentioned above with Python’s Pinball Circus.  Another reason is that Python’s Pinball Circus is a passion project in memory of Python, and is a much more expensive machine to build than their second project.  The final reason – the secret machine will be a more popular title, and would be in much higher demand than Python’s Pinball Circus, which would help fund the rest of the Circus project.  More details coming in 2018, so stay tuned!

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A Trip to Vegas: Conversations with Uber Drivers

A Trip to Vegas: Conversations with Uber Drivers



My last work trip of the year would take me to Fabulous Las Vegas.  It is my favorite conference of the year because not only is it the last one, but it is a fun city that has great food and a LOT of pinball.  My plan was to go to The Pinball Hall of Fame on Monday as soon as I arrived and stay until I had the conference opening reception that evening.  After the reception, I’d go to Fremont Street for dinner and pinball at Fremont Arcade.  The conference ran from 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM on Tuesday, and afterwards I’d walk to The Big Apple Coaster & Arcade in the New York-New York Hotel and Casino.  Along the way I was going to check out the Hard Rock, where the IFPA will be holding the Head’s Up Pinball Championship.  Wednesday the conference also ran from 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM, and my flight home would leave first thing Thursday morning.


The night before I told my wife my plans.  She was excited for me, in part because she knows playing pinball is a great way for me to wind down after a long day. She was also excited that she wasn’t going and I wouldn’t be dragging her to the pinball places.  I downloaded Guardians of the Galaxy onto my iPad to watch on the plane flight, because 90% of my TV watching centers around pinball themes (or potential pinball themes).  I was all packed up and ready to go.



Our alarm went off the Monday morning, and my wife and I both got on our phones like we do most mornings as we’re waking up.  She gets news alerts on her phone, and immediately said “Something happened in Vegas.”  We turned on the news.  A person had busted out two windows in the Mandalay Bay hotel, and used assault rifles to shoot people at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival.


Later in the day they released the numbers – 59 dead, 500+ injured.


We watched coverage.  They showed videos.  It was horrific.


I received an email saying that the though the mood will be somber, the conference would still be held.  The airport was back open and most of the streets were back open at this point.


Anyone that has flown to Vegas before knows even the flight itself can be entertaining – most folks heading to Vegas are going to relax and have a good time, and the good time can sometimes start with a few drinks on the plane.  This flight was much different.  People were discussing the massacre and the rumors they were hearing.  Who did it?  Why did he do it?  How many people were hurt?  The news organizations were still trying to figure out all the details.


The Las Vegas airport is on the south side of The Strip, and Mandalay Bay hotel is located at the very south end of the strip.  On our descent and landing, from my window seat on the right side of the plane I could clearly see one of the two windows that had been broken at Mandalay Bay.


The airport typically rings with the sound of slot machines and good times, as people get in some last minute gambling and drinks before boarding their plane.  Today the airport was eerily quiet.  I texted my wife and said I thought they had turned down the volume on the slots, but maybe there were just fewer people playing them.


My Uber driver from the airport to the hotel was listening to news updates on the radio and talked to me about how sad he was and that he just couldn’t believe the shooting happened, how could someone do something like this, right here in Vegas, where the driver had lived for many years.  Looking at the Vegas Strip and the people walking around, it felt like all the energy was sucked out of the city.  People were in shock.

I called my wife when I got to the hotel.  I was planning to watch TV coverage all afternoon in the hotel.  I didn’t want to do anything remotely fun at this point, it felt almost disrespectful.  My wife encouraged me to go out and walk around, and go play pinball and try to have fun in my limited free time.  Sitting in the hotel watching the coverage of the massacre was not going to make anything better.  So I took her advice, I walked around and eventually ended up at The Pinball Hall of Fame.


There are 227 machines at The Pinball Hall of Fame.  I went over and played a game of the new Stern Star Wars, which I had only played once before.  From there I went and played Midway’s The Pinball Circus, a prototype game in which only two were made.  I had been there about 15 minutes, and it was impossible to enjoy pinball today.  I walked around and took some pictures of machines, and went outside to get an Uber.


The Uber driver pulled up and I got in.  It was an older gentleman named Rudy.  He was listening to a local station, and we listened to updates together.  The voice on the radio explained that the lines to give blood were over three hours long in some areas.  Rudy started talking.  He had worked at the MGM Grand when they had a fire in 1980 that killed 85 people and injured over 600.  He talked about changes that may happen to try to stop this type of shooting from happening again.   And he was proud of how Vegas was responding.


Rudy had seen the MGM fire first hand, and now saw this tragedy.  As we pulled up to the hotel, Rudy said “Have fun in Vegas.  Life is so fragile, everyone should enjoy themselves while they’re alive because you just never know.”


At the conference reception that evening, I talked to a man that was a big country music fan and had wanted to fly in early and go to the festival.  His wife did not want him to be away from home that long so he decided to skip it.  Several group discussions debated what laws should change, and what we need to do to prevent this from happening again.


After the reception (and after talking to Rudy), I decided I was going to go to Fremont Street for dinner and stop by Fremont Arcade.  My Uber ride pulled up to the hotel, and I got in for the 15 minute ride to Fremont Street.


Paul was my Uber driver.  He had a friend that had attended the event.  When the gunfire started, his friend jumped a barricade and climbed underneath the stage for cover.  She was ok.  Paul was driving the night before for Uber, and had taken about a dozen groups to the Route 91 Harvest country music festival.  He got emotional telling me that he had no idea what happened to the groups of people he drove the previous evening.  When I arrived at Fremont Street, he gave me his information on a little card and said that if anything bad happens, please contact him to let him know I was ok.  He said he was going to give his info out to every rider for a while because he was so bothered not knowing if the people from the night before were still alive.


Arriving at Fremont Street was the first time I noticed how many police officers were out.  I asked Paul about it, he said there were many more out than normal, and he thought they were just there to make people feel more comfortable.  Many people were walking up and thanking the officers for their bravery as first responders from the night before.


I walked to Fremont Arcade, went in and played one game and left.  I ordered an Uber to take me back to the hotel.


My Uber arrived, and this time the driver was named Nhung.  Nhung was originally from Vietnam but had lived in Vegas for many years.  He was also driving for Uber the previous evening, but not until after the festival had started.  When the shooting occurred, he was on duty.  The first group of people he picked up had been fleeing the gunfire, and had a friend that had been wounded and was taken to the hospital.  Nhung took that group to the hospital, and another request came into his phone – pick up: near the festival, destination: the hospital.   For the next several hours, Nhung drove back and forth from the festival area to the hospital, helping people try to find friends that had sustained injuries from gunfire.


I got back to my hotel.  There was a notice from the hotel that all their shows had been cancelled for that evening out of respect for the victims and those impacted by the attack.  At this point it was about 20 hours since the attack.



Tuesday evening after my conference, I decided to go for a long walk on the Strip.  I walked south towards Mandalay Bay.  I saw a marquee sign that read “We were there for you during the good times, be there for us now.”  Looking around all the casino marquees had different signs up with thoughts/prayers for the victims and thanks for the first responders.


Walking further south, I saw the most disturbing sites – the Route 91 Harvest stage and the windows in the Mandalay Bay.  The emotions were overwhelming.  Why would a human being do this?

Walking back towards my hotel, I saw news organizations from all over the country covering the story.  Their equipment was hooked up to the batteries of their running vehicles in many cases.

Along my walk, there were many, many police officers – the first responders to the scene on Sunday night.  Many people were thanking police officers, giving them hugs, and asking for pictures with them.  People sought out officers that were inside their cars, just to say thank you.  Sometimes the worst in some brings out the best in others.


How to Help

There are two main ways you can help.  First, by giving blood.  Even if you live outside of Las Vegas, giving blood locally will free up the blood supply.  Find a blood donation center near you by clicking here.  The second way to help is to donate here.  This victim’s fund was set up by Steve Sisolak, Clark County Commission Chair from Las Vegas.  Funds will be used to provide relief and financial support to the victims and families of the shooting  Here is a list of the victims.

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