By Ethan Nichols, Staff writer
Running Dec. 3-5, Cincinnatians will be able to experience over 120 pinball machines, dating from as early as the 1930s. The event, dubbed “Pincinnati,” offers guests an opportunity to play antique pinball machines for free, compete in tournaments and peruse the machines.
The event features vendors selling old and new pinball machines, parts, accessories and various memorabilia.
“The convention center floor will be filled with more than 120 pinball machines from the 1930s through to today, including ultra-rare and one-of-a-kind machines, and even machines that have yet to be released to the public,” a press release from Pincinnati said.
Cincinnati has a ripe history as the “birthplace of pinball.”
Englishman Montague Redgrave built bagatelle tables in 1871 in Cincinnati, which evolved into the modern day pinball machine. Redgrave’s machines were featured in the Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalogue in the early and mid-1900s and helped put Cincinnati on the national stage.
“It is from this core platform that all classic and modern pinball machines are derived, cementing Cincinnati’s place in history as the birthplace of pinball,” Pincinnati officials said.
First-year sports marketing major Alton Jenkins expressed his interest in the upcoming expo given its context in Cincinnati.
“Pinball has always been a favorite arcade game of mine — and I had no idea it was invented right here in the Queen City,” he said. “The thought of a tournament is really cool to me, and if that was something that could be brought to the X community, a lot of students would definitely get involved.”
With the introduction of the popular video game Space Invaders in 1979, followed by the hit Pac-Man game in 1980, the pinball machine lost some cultural relevance. Larger and bulkier pinball machines are harder to find than home video game consoles like the Xbox and Wii, or hand-held games.
Nonetheless, pinball machines are making a comeback in Cincinnati. According to Cincinnati Magazine, there are now at least 86 pinball machines in 64 public locations in the Greater Cincinnati Area.
The popular bar Pins Mechanical Co. in downtown Cincinnati, colloquially known as “Pins,” features pinball machines on its top floors. The bar’s website claims the “coolest pinball action in town.”
Some students — well-versed in pinball because of nights out at Pins or childhood memories — expressed excitement about the upcoming expo.
“Pins was a really cool place that had a lot of different pinball machines to play, and I think the expo would be a fun way to learn more about the history of Cincinnati,” Marissa Hutchinson, a senior Philosophy, Politics and the Public and economics double major, said.
“I feel like pinball is an American pastime. I can remember my dad and I playing the Star Wars pinball machine at our old movie theater we used to go to when I was a kid. Pinball has been something that has brought people together. It is a true staple,” sophomore digital innovation, television and film (DIFT) major Vaughn Robinson said.
Beginning in 2019, the convention has since attracted over 4,000 individuals. To purchase tickets online, visit pincinnati.com, or buy tickets at the door. Advance tickets are $20 per day or $50 for the weekend. The event will be held at Holiday Eastgate.