I have a special treat for everyone today, we have our first guest post in a while. This one comes from my partner in crime for the annual Knapp Arcade fall road trip, Rob Miller. He recently flew to Las Vegas for work and had time to visit the new Pinball Hall of Fame location. He was kind enough to take some pictures and share his thoughts on it with us. The Pinball HOF is one of the few top pinball locations that I still haven't been to. One of these days... Here's the report. Thanks Rob!
"First and foremost, this is not your typical Knapp Arcade review, as Jason unfortunately did not get to visit this location with me. This is Rob, with a solo location report this time. It’s unfortunate, as we like to try to hit the bigger locations or events together. Jason was kind enough to allow me to report on this out of band location visit and share it for you here.
By circumstance, work flew me out to my Las Vegas office for a few days, and what better way to spend some coin than to play pinball. I am not a gambler, so the risk reward ratio was in my favor this time. I got to visit the Pinball Hall of Fame Museum not once, but TWICE during my stay, and took some photos and gathered some details to report. This mecca of pinball goodness has been on my radar for quite some time, and it did not disappoint!
In typical Vegas fashion, nothing is done without fanfare. The new sign at the road, while unfortunately not lit up yet, is absolutely gorgeous! Styled in very cool vintage Vegas flair, it really attracts your attention. The outside of the building has a massive sign on the front that clearly lets you know what lies within. P I N B A L L. Prominent during the day, at night the outlines of the letters are well lit with bright LEDs and draws you in like a moth to a candle (well it did for me at least). Once inside, you are greeted with a wide expanse of row after row of pinball and amusement machines, all in a nice new, clean setting. The selection of over 300 machines (current estimate) range from wood rail era all the way through to many of the more common, new Stern pins, and everything in between. A modest selection of arcade classics are available as well, along with some cool electro-mechanical attractions. There were also some new and vintage redemption-like machines to choose from, containing some unique prizes like original vintage Disney trading cards, patches, and keychains. Without a doubt, there is something for everyone there.
It’s the everything in between that I feel makes this place extra special. While there were many commonly seen tables which I thoroughly enjoyed playing, there were some super rare ones on the floor, some turned off and some ready for play. Rarities included a Firepower prototype, with the drop targets (playable), Atari 4x4 (one of two made - turned off), Gottlieb Qbert’s Qubes (one of 884 - playable), Homepin Thunderbirds (playable), Gottlieb Title Fight (playable), Ready… Aim… Fire… (originally to be a theme based on the arcade game Mad Planets, playable), Gottlieb Goin’ Nuts (one of 10 produced, turned off), Python’s Pinball Circus (one of 2 made AND playable!). There are likely MANY more to mention, I just didn’t have time with all the playing to find them. In addition to the rare pinball machines, the added amusement machines really rounded out the tribute to the coin op industry over the years.
While there were a large number of games in the facility, upwards of 400 I would say, a modest number of them were not turned on or assembled. According to the owner Tim Arnold, who I had the fortune to chat with briefly, “so many games, so much to do”. He indicated that getting the help needed to not only get the facility up and running since their recent move-in back in April, and the ongoing maintenance was a bit of a challenge. I have to say, the games that were on and playable played very well! Sure there was the occasional table with a finicky switch or other minor issue, but overall I would say the games are in fantastic shape. They all played fast and responsive, not always the experience you get for a location game. I asked Tim what the secret to the speed was and he said frequent cleaning and waxing of the playfields. No doubt I saw a good number of people there working on games, each carefully cleaning and polishing. Their efforts really show. An additional piece of information Tim shared with me is that they chose to use urethane bands and LEDs in most of the games for longevity. These changes while both aesthetic and somewhat modify the feel of the gameplay, help to reduce the maintenance and free up resources to bring more games to life and keep them playing.
The efforts of Tim Arnold and the Las Vegas Pinball Collectors Club have resulted in an amazing place to have fun and play some great pinball. If you live near, or have the opportunity to visit Las Vegas and don’t want to donate your hard earned wages to a casino, drop some coins into the games there and you will be rewarded."