Pinball success leads to bigger ideas
Plans to host an annual pinball tournament at Nhill are in the works after about 20 of Australia’s best pinball players were ‘blown away’ by three days of competition at the town’s Australian Pinball Museum.
Pinball players from Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra joined Nhill district locals at the first official Stern Army competition outside North America.
Stern Pinball is the largest pinball manufacturer in the world and, through its Stern Army brand ambassadors, sponsors and administers tournaments in association with the International Flipper Pinball Association.
The museum hosted four tournaments and several other ‘mini competitions’ from December 6 to 8, with Stern Pinball donating prizes for competitors.
The museum also offered up some of its own autographed memorabilia, bringing the total of prizes on offer during the weekend to about $1000.
Museum operator Lyndon Carter said the tournament had been a hit with locals and interstate players alike.
“The competition was well received and I think everyone around Australia was watching to see how it would go and if it was something that could take off in other states,” he said.
“A few of them had never been before – it had been on their wish list for a long time.
“The general comment we received was ‘heaps better than what we would have imagined’.
“One guy who runs small pinball tournaments at a pub in Melbourne came to see how it was all run, and he loved how it was done – he said it was really well executed.
“Being a museum, there were a lot of machines that a lot of people had never seen before.
“Some of the tournament players have played heaps around Australia, so it was good to have them say, ‘I’ve never seen that before, I’m so excited to start playing it’.”
The competition was intense across the weekend, with new high scores set on several of the museum’s machines.
“On some of the really old machines – the pinballs that have dials that tick over for the numbers – there were a few people that actually clocked them over. They reached the maximum score and it ticked over back to zero,” Mr Carter said.
“A couple of people hadn’t even seen that before on the machines.
“You have to have an official watching to make sure it ticked over and they’re not lying.”
Mr Carter said one competitor nearly achieved an internationally noteworthy score.
“There was a brand new Iron Maiden machine from Stern and we were so close to getting in the top 10 high scores in the world,” he said.
“It’s a competition Stern has done because the machine has just been released. There was a crowd around watching, but sadly they just missed out on it.
“It’s still a ridiculously high score, but to get Australia and Nhill on the map in the world rankings was very close.
“It was probably within five percent of the score he needed.”
Mr Carter said the museum was hoping to turn the tournament weekend into an annual event, but also had plans for smaller monthly tournaments for Nhill locals.
“Stern has requested we do some more events and they’ll provide some prizes,” he said.
“The idea that was discussed with them was that we’ll do a once-amonth small thing aimed towards locals.
“Not a huge thing like this was that attracted big tournament players from around Australia, more to get new people into pinball.
“I know the Adelaide Pinball Club guys and they’re so eager they want to do a big tournament every month.
“But I told them you’ve got to cut it down a bit, otherwise it doesn’t seem as special.
“People won’t take it as seriously if it’s so frequent.”
Mr Carter said he was ‘95 percent certain’ the monthly competitions would be on the last Saturday of each month next year.
The Australian Pinball Museum is located at 22 Dimboola Road, Nhill.
People wanting more information about the museum or monthly tournaments can contact the museum by calling 5391 1666 or visiting website www.pinballmuseum.com.au.
PINBALL WIZARDS: The top three place-getters from the main Stern Army tournament at Nhill’s pinball competition are, from left, Andre Thomson, second place, Tom Casey, first place, and Matthew Owen, third place. The three are pictured with prizes they won during the competition.