Potential New Pinball Location in Essex

MajesticPinball

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This week i reached out to Astro City Amusements, a freeplay arcade in Southend-on-sea and tonight i had a very lengthy discussion with Paul the owner who is very keen to invest in up to 7 pinball machines dependent on community support. Previously they had 5 pinball machines there but we’re unable to keep up with maintenence on them as they only had a general technician not a pinball specialist, and sadly got rid of them. Currently they only have a very sad SF2 machine (which i will be servicing this coming week hopefully) and bringing back up to standard. However, the owner is keen to form a ‘hub’ for the local pinball community.

I discussed many things with him and we came up with 2 possible options:
1) Him taking a big risk and investing in 6 other machines outright which he was concerned about doing as if players dont turn up then hes at a loss.
2) local owners using the arcade as free storage and placing their own games there which i was concerned about as he would be profiting from my own/others games.

I discussed the options of regular tournaments with him and thats also something he is willing to go ahead with. I would be keen to hear some of your thoughts/opinions and even more so if you would be willing to travel to the arcade to give it a go. What machines would you like to see? (theres not a big enough budget for a line up of new Sterns btw)

Personally, bringing the local community together is a huge priority, if i had the funds to open something like Tilt or Cheif Coffee i would love to but thats not really an option for me so this is the next best thing. But the owner just needs a bit more persuading!
 
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vib_ribbon

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I was there when Paul opened up Astro City (formerly Lucky777) in Southend. It has changed a lot over the years. It's more of a private rental place now for parties and hence I haven't been for quite a while even though I frequent Southend's other arcades. I would love to go, but every time I'm there there is a kiddy's birthday. I understand that's where the business is for his arcade at the moment in order to bring in the money, maybe he can divide up a portion of his games for general walk-in customers? There's certainly enough room for him to do that, I've seen the storage areas.
 
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Neil McRae

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I think the key to this is figuring out what the local scene is and who's willing to trek to S-o-S for pinball events like a weekly league. Taken us a year at flip out to get to a decent number of players... Needs a strong local gang to org tourneys fix machines and keep the place in tip top and its easier than it looks.
 
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MajesticPinball

MajesticPinball

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I was there when Paul opened up Astro City (formerly Lucky777) in Southend. It has changed a lot over the years. It's more of a private rental place now for parties and hence I haven't been for quite a while even though I frequent Southend's other arcades. I would love to go, but every time I'm there there is a kiddy's birthday. I understand that's where the business is for his arcade at the moment in order to bring in the money, maybe he can divide up a portion of his games for general walk-in customers? There's certainly enough room for him to do that, I've seen the storage areas.
Yeah definitely. He opens it up on free play 'lock in' nights to the public but he said the numbers fluctuate so much at the moment he relies on the parties. Last night there probably wasn't even 20 people there but he said a few weeks before that there was close to 100 people.

I think the key to this is figuring out what the local scene is and who's willing to trek to S-o-S for pinball events like a weekly league. Taken us a year at flip out to get to a decent number of players... Needs a strong local gang to org tourneys fix machines and keep the place in tip top and its easier than it looks.
At the moment I'm just trying to persuade him that the local community is there and would support the idea. I would be happy to host tournaments and deal with the maintenance for him, it's just finding the players.
 

vib_ribbon

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When I was at the budapest pinball museum, they were hosting a party there at the time. The party VIP area was taped off with a dozen games or so, and some seating areas for food etc. The main areas of the museum was still open to the public which was shared by everyone. I thought that was a pretty practical solution which astro city could adopt if they had a few more games.
 
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MajesticPinball

MajesticPinball

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When I was at the budapest pinball museum, they were hosting a party there at the time. The party VIP area was taped off with a dozen games or so, and some seating areas for food etc. The main areas of the museum was still open to the public which was shared by everyone. I thought that was a pretty practical solution which astro city could adopt if they had a few more games.
I still haven't been to the museum in Budapest I'm dying to visit it. That's a very fair point I don't know why Paul doesn't do something like that. When I first found out he was closed to the public during the week I was gutted. £3 for a hour of pool always seemed like such a bargain. But yes, there's definitely the space there for something similar to happen. He's pretty set on removing all the fruit machines besides one which will free up a lot of space for a row of pinball machines
 
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MajesticPinball

MajesticPinball

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Not a good look with all the out of order signs, nice photos though, I remember playing the gorgar often when it was only gorgar and star trek left.

I'm going down this Thursday to work on their SF2 and talk more with Paul. I think leagues/tournaments would be the way to go. Hopefully with my help the line up would keep "in order"
 

vib_ribbon

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Do you remember the period when he struck a deal with the rhythm & dance enthusiasts and the arcade filled up with beat mania machines? It became very niche yet popular. I can't remember the specifics as to why it didn't work out in the end that I'm sure contributed to the change in business format. Maybe you can ask him about it and prevent whatever it was that caused the failure of that partnership repeating itself with any proposed pinball collaborations.
 
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MajesticPinball

MajesticPinball

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Do you remember the period when he struck a deal with the rhythm & dance enthusiasts and the arcade filled up with beat mania machines? It became very niche yet popular. I can't remember the specifics as to why it didn't work out in the end that I'm sure contributed to the change in business format. Maybe you can ask him about it and prevent whatever it was that caused the failure of that partnership repeating itself with any proposed pinball collaborations.
Yes i do, we spoke about that briefly. From what i could tell he didnt own any of the rhythem machines, people in the local beatmania community put them in there to save space at home and in return they all had a space to go to and socialise. It sounded as if people just wanted their machines back or wanted to sell them on and thus they all went. This is the main reason im trying to convince him to buy his own pinball machines instead of relying on the community.
 

JAG555

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I think it’s a great idea, if he can get it off the ground. The issue I have with Astro City is that he is not open enough or only open at specific times. I found it a bit frustrating always having to check beforehand.

My advice (for what it’s worth) would be to invest in new machines, they are easier to maintain/get parts for and people will come to play the new machine(s)

I have travelled to Southend Pier to specifically play Ghostbusters and Star Wars, so I would try and tap into that if he could. But buying 6-7 new machines is some investment! I would be involved though, if he was to go down that route.

Keep me posted and it sounds interesting.
 

JAG555

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Not a good look with all the out of order signs, nice photos though, I remember playing the gorgar often when it was only gorgar and star trek left.

I'm going down this Thursday to work on their SF2 and talk more with Paul. I think leagues/tournaments would be the way to go. Hopefully with my help the line up would keep "in order"
If you want any pointers on the SFII work, drop me a PM. I stripped mine down last summer. I am no expert, but I know my way around that machine a bit.
 
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MajesticPinball

MajesticPinball

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I think it’s a great idea, if he can get it off the ground. The issue I have with Astro City is that he is not open enough or only open at specific times. I found it a bit frustrating always having to check beforehand.

My advice (for what it’s worth) would be to invest in new machines, they are easier to maintain/get parts for and people will come to play the new machine(s)

I have travelled to Southend Pier to specifically play Ghostbusters and Star Wars, so I would try and tap into that if he could. But buying 6-7 new machines is some investment! I would be involved though, if he was to go down that route.

Keep me posted and it sounds interesting.
My suggestion was going to be for him to get the latest machine out (Deadpool or maiden) as the big investment and constantly flip that machine for the newest that is released. That way he can sell it on and not really have to spend that much more for the next newest machine which will draw in players. Then fill the rest of the line up with a few classics and and slightly older Sterns. That's just my 10¢ though.

Yeah the problem is the awkward opening times. It's sad that it's not open all day every day but if the private hire parties during the week are what keeps the arcade open for now then it's for the best.
 

rolorolorolo

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Unsurprisingly JReedie, I am VERY interested in this.
Southend is just up the road and I would love to have some great, well maintained machines so close to home.
The idea of rotating the latest machines before they lose too much value is surely a tried and tested one and would (hopefully) make this financially viable.
Hope you can make this happen, pinball really needs be better represented in Essex and JReedie, you are doing a fine job in making that happen........build it and they will come.
Keep me in the loop.
 
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MajesticPinball

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I thought you would be Graham I was going to message you about it but totally forgot :rofl:Thanks for that mate, just trying to get a bit more going on in the pinball world around these parts.
 
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MajesticPinball

MajesticPinball

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Paid another visit today to continue repairs on their Street Fighter 2. This machine had more issues than i had ever seen on a pin. I ran out of time today, however its now at a good standard i would say and i enjoyed 2 or 3 games on it myself. Everything finally works, and it polished up reasonably well. Had to replace 4 coils, 3 transistors, fix multiple lamp and switch matrix shorts, every opto had cold solder joints, and every GI bulb had been cut and put into terminal blocks.

Anyway, the owner is looking into buying machines and i will hopefully be putting my Jokerz in the arcade once its complete. Would appreciate anyone paying the arcade a visit as i think it would be a great little hub for the local community. If you do visit please let Paul the owner know you’re a pinball guy, hes a friendly chap so dont be scared! Hes looking for evidence of a solid local community before diving in with a nice row of pins!

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JAG555

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Good Work on getting it up and running James. I loved this pin when I had mine and should be a good theme for the younger crowd.

If he got more pins, I would be there, but to be honest, I doubt I would travel specifically for just SFII (mainly because I had one). I guess it's a bit of chicken and the egg scenario, people or pins first. In my humble opinion, I think he should buy a couple more pins (in addition to your generous loan) and allow a real test, as the more he has is the best chance of getting people there. Given prices, if he buys sensibly, he wont lose anything if it doesn't work out.
 
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MajesticPinball

MajesticPinball

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Good Work on getting it up and running James. I loved this pin when I had mine and should be a good theme for the younger crowd.

If he got more pins, I would be there, but to be honest, I doubt I would travel specifically for just SFII (mainly because I had one). I guess it's a bit of chicken and the egg scenario, people or pins first. In my humble opinion, I think he should buy a couple more pins (in addition to your generous loan) and allow a real test, as the more he has is the best chance of getting people there. Given prices, if he buys sensibly, he wont lose anything if it doesn't work out.
Thanks for that mate I appreciate it, it could still be imporoved a bit further but it's come a long way since my first visit!

Yeah it's kind of a vicious circle I guess, Paul is hesitant to invest in pinball incase the players don't turn up, but then again the players aren't going to turn up when there aren't any pins.

I've really been enjoying SF2 and I've said it for a while now but I really do want to get one, I should of snapped up your one really :rofl:

A good sign however is that quite a few people have been turning up at the arcade and asking if the pinball machine is working and when told no they have been leaving straight away... So I don't know if anyone from here has paid a visit or if they were just members of the public but it seems there's a slight demand for pinball in Southend.
 
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Sgt GrizZ

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Yeah it's kind of a vicious circle I guess, Paul is hesitant to invest in pinball incase the players don't turn up, but then again the players aren't going to turn up when there aren't any pins.
Only one way he will ever find out.

If he invests in a few decent condition used pins, and doesn't overpay, then if 6 months down the line he finds it hasn't been worth it ...he should be able to sell at close to what he bought them for.
 

SOUTHENDER77

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Just an update guys. Paul has now got a Stern Monopoly as well as the SF11. He is a friend of mine, and a very nice, easy going bloke. Good news is he said more pinballs on the way, so he is committed to giving it a go. He tried it before but had the wrong type of retro pinball machines, in bad condition and not fun to play. This time he is getting much better pinball machines and investing more thanks to the chat and advice from Majestic Pinball. I for one will support his effort and the gamble he is taking. The Southend area is sadly lacking pinballs. I am older than most if not all of you, and can assure you that growing up as a kid in the 60s and youth in the 70s I was blessed as almost every arcade along Southend seafront had pinballs. Some had a long line of them. Some had them spread out all over the arcade. Happy days indeed. They wasn't anywhere near as technical and challenging as modern day pinballs, but they were still great to play and the choice was fantastic being so many. Nowadays in Southend, there is only a few, tired and worn mostly. I thought the Happidrome arcade was going to give it a go after their flooding refurbishment as they put in a nice platform slot for pinballs, but sadly they now have an Indiana Jones where the flipper sticks and multiball didn't work last time I played and 2 Adams Family, Doh. They had an Elvis and Playboy in Mr Bs , but both was placed in the worst spot possible, right under bright lights and you couldn't see the playfield properly. So Southend and pinball players are crying out for better pinballs and more machines to play. Lets hope this is the start of something.
 

JAG555

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I hope he gives it a good go, but I have to be honest, I find his opening times a bit of a frustration. Not open in the week much and then on the weekends its parties, so no public. If he can open more regularly or have pinball nights, I will support that.

There is also three pinball machines under Southend Pier. Star Wars, Ghostbusters and a Star Trek (Data East, I think). All are working, but could do with a good clean!
 
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MajesticPinball

MajesticPinball

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Paul is still having problems with the Street Fighter 2, I'm visiting the arcade tomorrow to do a bit more work on it as well as check over the Monopoly machine and make sure it's playing well for everyone.

I'm also in talks with Caddies mini golf bar (above the WHSmiths) and will hopefully be routing some machines there - fingers crossed!

Me and Paul have spoken a lot and I convinced him to get the Monopoly, the price was brilliant and the machine looked immaculate, he is definitely willing to give pinball a go again. He mentioned previously that maintenance was a big issue with the. So hopefully with my help looking after them they should be trouble free, SF2 is giving me a hard time however.

I'm also aiming to put my Williams Jokerz in there (for free!) Just to boost his line up so watch this space!
 
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MajesticPinball

MajesticPinball

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@JAG555 I totally agree with the opening times and I have mentioned it to him, we have briefly discussed the potential for competitions and league meets. It's going to be a slow process but in the mean time I'm going to try and plan another meet at mine sometime soon (as soon as I can get a day off work)
 
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SOUTHENDER77

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I hope he gives it a good go, but I have to be honest, I find his opening times a bit of a frustration. Not open in the week much and then on the weekends its parties, so no public. If he can open more regularly or have pinball nights, I will support that.

There is also three pinball machines under Southend Pier. Star Wars, Ghostbusters and a Star Trek (Data East, I think). All are working, but could do with a good clean!
Yes, but the Star Trek is not working this week, and one flipper was weak on the Ghostbusters. The Star Wars is in great condition tho and a brilliant machine to play. Shame they don't cordon the pinballs off in a corner somewhere quiet, as not much fun when family's and kids are all around you.
 
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rolorolorolo

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I'm very excited for the potential of this place but, as others have said, i'm not sure how I could get the current opening hours to work for me.
Kudos to Paul and James though and I will support in any way I can?
Looking forward to another Essex boys (and girls) meetup ...........I need to reap revenge for my terrible performance at the last meet ?..................?
 
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MajesticPinball

MajesticPinball

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I'm very excited for the potential of this place but, as others have said, i'm not sure how I could get the current opening hours to work for me.
Kudos to Paul and James though and I will support in any way I can?
Looking forward to another Essex boys (and girls) meetup ...........I need to reap revenge for my terrible performance at the last meet ?..................?
Appreciate your support Graham! I've come down heavily with manflu so didn't make it to the arcade yesterday, going to try and get up there next week to sort the street fighter 2 out.

To be fair @insx completely destroyed all of us, that last game on Cirqus Voltaire was insane! I had a few games on every machine a few days back and man did I suck!