Thursday, April 17, 2014

Disney Publishing 4 New Star Wars Books to Introduce a New Generation to the Original Trilogy


Most children and young adults when they think of STAR WARS think of the prequel episodes I-III and the recent animated television show THE CLONE WARS.  Disney's new projects involving the franchise though will be more focused on being tied to the original trilogy of movies.  This fall a new animated television show titled Star Wars: Rebels that is set in a time period just before Star Wars Episode IV takes place will air on the DisneyXD cable channel and the new feature film Star Wars Episode VII is a spin off 30 years after Return of the Jedi and will reference many of the characters from the original trilogy.  It really appears Disney is focusing the Star Wars brand on the original trilogy and putting the prequels on the back burner at least for the near future.  So to acquaint today's youth with the foundation of the Star Wars universe that Disney is tying its future projects to they are publishing a new series of children's books to build interest and awareness on the original stories that started it all.

Disney Publishing Worldwide will release four new children's books tied to the original Star Wars movie trilogy beginning in October 2014 with The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight.  This will be a picture book encompassing all three films (A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi) written by Tony DiTerlizzi (the author of The Spiderwick Chronicles) and illustrated with Ralph McQuarrie concept art.  McQuarrie, who passed away in 2012, is one of my favorite artists and is known for working with George Lucas in providing the visual concept for the development of the Star Wars movies.  Ralph McQuarrie's concept drawings used for the pre-production of the original three Star Wars films are also the basis for the visual look of the upcoming animated television series Star Wars: Rebels.

Following the release of The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight, Disney will release a book retelling the story of Star Wars: A New Hope written by R.J. Palacio (author of the children's novel WONDER that was #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List) in April 2015, Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back will come out in July 2015 written by Adam Gidwitz (author of A Tale Dark & Grimm) and in October 2015 Star Wars: Return of the Jedi written by Tom Angleberger (author of Origami Yoda) will be released.  These books will help kickoff the theatrical release of the next Star Wars film, Episode VII in December 2015.  The 3 children's book focusing on telling the tales of each individual movie will all  be illustrated by Ian McCaig, who was a concept artist for the prequel Star Wars movies Episodes I-III and specifically is credited as the designer behind the look of Darth Maul.

These will be some of the first Star Wars titles to be published in-house by Disney versus being printed and distributed by licensees.  The books will be available globally and in the United States will be published under the Disney-Lucasfilm Press imprint of the Disney Book Group.  Additionally, six new Star Wars titled books tied to the Star Wars: Rebels animated TV series on DisneyXD will be published by the Disney Book Group this August preceding the debut of the new show.  According to the press release announcing the new Star Wars books, Disney will engage in a combination of publishing Star Wars books through existing licencees, new licensees, and Disney-Lucasfilm Press.  It notes that in addition to the Star Wars: Rebels books published by Disney-Lucasfilm Press there will also be other titles from licensees DK, Bendon, Klutz and Scholastic.

One of my favorite books growing up as a child was The Illustrated Star Wars Universe which featured Ralph McQuarrie's artwork.  I still have a copy of the book in my library.  I'm going to be looking forward to taking a look at The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight to see how it compares to the original artwork book I own & to enjoy reading through it with my own children.  


A Geek Daddy Movie Review: WALKING WITH DINOSAURS

My son was really excited when a blu-ray of WALKING WITH DINOSAURS: THE MOVIE arrived in the mail courtesy of Fox Home Entertainment for our family to review.  The movie revolves around how Patchi, the runt of a group of Pachyrhinosaurus hatchlings, goes from being the smallest dinosaur to leader of their herd.  The film is an educational and entertaining look at the world of prehistoric dinosaurs who lived in what is now Alaska.

The movie starts out with a live action sequence that has Paleontologist Zack (played by Karl Urban) taking his niece and nephew, Ricky and Jade, on a fossil hunt.  They are going to a site where Uncle Zack had found a Gorgosaurus tooth to see if they can locate some more fossils.  While Jade is excited to join her uncle in the search for dinosaur bones her brother Ricky shows teenage angst and just wants to stay at the car and play his video games.  While Uncle Zack and Jade are off exploring, Ricky has an encounter with a talking crow who teases him about not joining in the fossil hunt.  The crow begins to discuss the relationship between birds and dinosaurs and morphs into Alex the Alexornis bird who transports the movie audience back in time 70 million years to the Cretaceous period of Earth's history and tells the story of Patchi the Pachyrhinosaurus.


While I understand the crow scene being used as a bridge between the times it is really lame, but my kids thought the segment was neat so younger kids will probably like it.  Alex the Alexornis (voiced by John Leguizamo) is meant to be the film's tour guide, primary narrator, and comedic relief.  My kids and I really didn't care for the character though finding him to be annoying and the worst part of the movie.  That being said, if you can disregard Alex the movie is pretty good.  While the crow scene is cheesy it does an excellent job of transition from the real world to the animated sequences of the movie.  The nice part of starting the move with live actors in a real wilderness location is that when the animated scenes begin you still get the feel as if you are still seeing live action footage.  This transition blurs the lines between special effects and real scenery which is impressive. The animation in the movie is really good giving viewers the impression the you really are walking with dinosaurs in their natural environment.

WALKING WITH DINOSAURS shows dinosaurs behaving that teaches children about both how they lived 70 million years ago and how animals live today.  Just before we watched this movie, my kids had been visiting over at my parents house and looked at pictures of the great crane migration from a vacation their grandparents had taken to Nebraska the previous year.  During the movie my daughter pointed out that the dinosaurs were migrating like the cranes in the pictures her grandmother had recently shown her.  A few days after we watched the movie, I took my kids on a trip to the zoo.  Two rhinos were jousting against each other smashing their horns together.  My son pointed out while we were watching the rhinos that the animals were competing to be the leader of the herd just like the Pachyrhinosaurus in the dinosaur movie.


WALKING WITH DINOSAURS is a family movie geared mostly for elementary school aged children. There are some violent scenes that may not be appropriate for younger viewers that include the carnivourous Gorgosaurus hunting the herbivore Pachyrhinosaurus, including a scene where Patchi's father is killed by these predators. The movie is rated PG.

The Gorgosaurus tooth Uncle Zack found ties in to Patchi's encounters with the owner of that tooth.  The film promotes a nice theme of every fossil has a story.  Patchi's story is tied to that fossil.  It can be hard to associate rocky fossils with breathing creatures living lives full of experiences.  This movie helps put a sense of reality onto the fossils you see at a museum.

WALKING WITH DINOSAURS: THE MOVIE is now available to purchase on DVD and Blu-ray.  The Blu-ray has some nice special features attached to it:

"The Ultimate Dino Guide" that allows you to go on a journey to uncover the greatest secrets of your favorite dinos and learn about other Cretaceous creatures.  Check out this clip from the bonus feature:


"Match the Call" hear how Dinos communicated with friends and foes.  Do you have the skills to learn and identify the calls of specific dinos?

"Interactive Map" provides a tour of where dinos roamed the earth and comparing it to where people live today.

"Brainosaur Trivia Track" when turned on lets you become a dino expert as pop-up tips and trivia entertain and educate you while watching the movie.



After watching WALKING WITH DINOSAURS: THE MOVIE with my own kids, I have to admit they probably were still a little too young for the movie being 5 year old preschoolers but I believe it really is an excellent movie for children probably 1st grade and up to watch with their parents as a family movie. The animated sequences are well done and it provides a nice story of best friends Patchi, Scowler and Juniper growing up from hatchlings to adults struggling to find their  place in the world.  It provides a nice visual of how the world was in Cretaceous times bringing the dinosaur bones from the museum to life.  This is a great example of a family movie that combines entertainment with educational elements.  As a parent you'll have to sit through some hokey scenes in this movie but your children will enjoy it and learn a little too so I recommend you pick up a copy for your video library.

If you watch WALKING WITH DINOSAURS: THE MOVIE, print out these two interactive sheets below to hold a dinosaur egg hunt of your own to enhance your viewing experience:




DISCLAIMER:  I received a complimentary blu-ray of WALKING WITH DINSOSAURS: THE MOVIE to review as part of my involvement with the FOX HOME ENTERTAINMENT INSIDERS bloggers program.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The thoughts and opinions in this post are my own.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Ultimate Trophy for a Man Cave of Home Theater

Admit it, a big part of the allure of having a man cave or home theater room is to have the bragging rights to having the coolest room among your friends and family.  Big screens televisions, surround sound stereo, wet bars, sports memorabilia, foosball, pinball and video arcade games.  If you really want to have the coolest room on the block, I don't know if anyone else could trump this...a life-size Han Solo in Carbonite display. Yes you can now purchase Jabba's most sought after trophy for your own trophy shelf...just as if it had been transported off the movie screen from Empire Strikes Back.  How cool is that?!


Sideshow Collectibles is celebrating its 20th Anniversary by showing the quality that has made it a leader in movie memorabilia collectibles and toys in debuting this 7 foot replica of the movie prop from Empire Strikes Back.  The display is made from figerglass and other high quality materials for authenticity and sturdy construction.  It also features film-accurate light effects in the base, side panels and rear power canisters to provide a wow factor when people see it.  From the pictures it really gives the impression that you'll feel like you are looking at Han Solo in his carbonite prison.  It appears the rear power canisters also provide a sturdy base of support similar to the frames that hold up a big screen TV to make sure your prizes possession doesn't come tumbling down.


If you are interested in purchasing a life-size Carbonited Han Solo, Sideshow Collectibles is taking pre-orders now.  This item will only only set you back $6,999.00, which you can pay in a monthly payment plan of $629.90 installments.  Hey isn't having the coolest party room ever worth the price?!  The only thing more cool than this would be to have Darth Vader and Boba Fett flanking it observing their handy work....oh looks like Sideshow's can hook you up with that too!




For more information about the life-size Han Solo in Carbonite display from Sideshow Collectibles, visit: www.sideshowtoy.com/characters/han-solo


THE PROTON TRANSMOGRIFICATION

THE BIG BANG THEORY STAR WARS “MAY THE 4th” 
TV SPECIAL TO AIR ON MAY 1st 2014

A few years ago I was working 60 hour weeks and didn’t have time to watch much television.  My wife kept telling me about this show that she thought was a hoot because it reminded her of many of the funny geeky things in life she had been introduced to by marrying me.  One night my wife heard me laughing while watching television and asked me what I was watching.  “Oh it’s this great new show called The Big Bang Theory,” I told her. “That’s not new, I is  the show I’ve been telling you to watch for a few seasons now.”  As usual she was right, I love this show and have become a big fan.  We bought the DVDs for the first few seasons I’d missed that weekend and had a The Big Bang Theory viewing marathon.  I’ve been watching the show ever since.

The show follows the lives of Cal Tech scientist with a comedic focus on the scientific and geek culture aspects of their lives.  Over the last few years, the characters have appeared in shows with comic book and science fiction themes, sometimes even dressing in costumes associated with Star Trek or Super Heroes.


This season, The Big Bang Theory is going all out by creating an extensive replica of the Empire Strikes Back Dagobah swamp set for a special episode to celebrate  STAR WARS DAYMay the 4th”.  The Proton Transmogrification episode of The Big Bang Theory is an episode that any Star Wars fan isn’t going to want to miss.  It won’t be airing on May the 4th though, but rather on the Big Bang Theory’s regularly scheduled broadcast night of May 1, 2014.

For more information about MAY THE FOURTH, visit http://starwars.com/news/the-history-of-may-the-4th.html and if you don’t mind SPOILERS and want to know more about the upcoming Star Wars themed episode keep reading.

**SPOILERS** I haven’t seen the upcoming episode yet myself but have gathered the following information from several sources about its script. In “The Proton Transmogrification” , while planning Star Wars activities for May the Fourth two of the show’s main characters Sheldon and Leonard discover their childhood hero, PROFESSOR PROTON, has passed away.  Bob Newhart played the role of Professor Proton in an appearance last season which won him a Prime Time Emmy Award.  Professor Proton’s (aka Arthur Jeffries Ph.D.) funeral is going to be held on May the Fourth (be with you) Day.  Leonard decides to put off his Star Wars plans to attend the funeral while Sheldon says mourning for someone is a waste of time and refuses to go to the memorial service.

While Leonard is at Arthur Jeffries funeral, Sheldon is holding a Star Wars movie watching marathon with his friends Amy, Bernadette, Howard and Raj.  Sheldon becomes upset about Professor Proton’s death as they begin to watch the movies and storms to his room where he falls asleep.  In Sheldon’s dream he is transported to Dagobah where he encounters Professor Proton as Bob Newhart makes his third and possibly last guest appearance on the show.  I hear that The Big Bang Theory’s producers teamed up with  Disney’s LucasFilm division to go all out in recreating the original movie set.  Bob Newhart appears in normal clothes, but when questioned by Sheldon on whether he is supposed to be his mentor “like Obi Wan”, his clothes transform into Jedi robes.  A funny sketch comedy scene is supposed to follow involving Professor Proton and a light saber.  I was somewhat surprised with the Obi Wan outfit as with the Dagobah set and Bob Newhart involved I’d thought they would portray Dr. Proton as Yoda.  Maybe Newhart vetoed that idea as he didn’t want to be too silly in his appearance.   

Sheldon starts to talk with Professor Proton about death and how he lost his father.  Professor Proton tells Sheldon that people may leave us, but he should cherish and appreciate those who are still with us.  Sheldon says he does appreciate his friends, but the Professor questions him on whether that really is true.

When Leonard returns from the funeral, he wakes up his friend.  Sheldon gives Leonard a big hug.  They proceed to watch their Star Wars movie marathon.  The show wraps up with a final appearance by Bob Newhart giving Sheldon some Professor Proton sage words of advice.  With this episode ending the Bob Newhart Professor Proton story arc and including a Star Wars theme it looks to be one of the best shows yet.  The Big Bang Theory showrunner Steve Molaro seems to agree telling CNET that LucasFilm contacted the show about doing a May Fourth themed show and saying “We knew that Bob (Newhart) was coming back and LucasFilm called us, and we realized that this might be an opportunity to mix both stories and come up with something special.” Molaro added that  Lucasfilm’s own SFX company Industrial Light & Magic will be recreating the “Star Wars” swamp planet of Dagobah where Yoda hid from the clutches of Darth Vader and the evil Empire.  “Bob is going to be swinging a lightsaber around and they sent us a real one to use.  They’re going to help make it look and sound right.  It’s an amazing crossover for us.”


I’m going to be watching to see how closely the spoilers I found actually pan out and will also be on the look out to see what other future May 4th’s may hold for us.  With LucasFilm reaching out to promote the day with The Big Bang Theory and new Star Wars movies in the future it looks like May the Fourth may become a regular franchise promotional tool supported by Disney.  We’ll have to see if it eventually hosts annual events and promotions as interesting and fun as Free Comic Book Day has become. 

I really appreciate how The Big Bang Theory makes geek jokes and references without really making fun of geeks.  You can laugh at the geeky culture rather than degrade it which this comedy does a nice balancing act with.  I enjoy lots of things about the show, its comedy, references to comic book and science fiction, and that its theme song is sung by one of my favorite bands.  Did you know it was written and performed by The Bare Naked Ladies?  Check out this surprise performance of the theme song by the band at Comic Con a few years ago:




The Force is with us all too because a few weeks ago it was announced The Big Bang Theory was renewed for 3 more seasons.  The Big Bang Theory airs at 8pm EST Thursdays on CBS: http://www.cbs.com/shows/big_bang_theory  Enjoy May the Fourth my friends!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

THE CUPCAKE CONUNDRUM

I'm coaching my second season of youth soccer this Spring and have to admit that my feelings were a little hurt when the parents of one of the players from last season specifically asked the league to place their child on another team.  I worried they felt their child hadn't played enough, I'd done something to offend them, or they thought I was a bad coach.  Fortunately, none of those are the case.  The real reason they demanded a change though has left me somewhat perplexed.

The parents' requested the move because of my team's snack policy.  Each game a player is responsible to bring a team snack to help keep the kids energized and focused during half-time.  To keep it simple for parents, plus safe and healthy for the players, I've established a rule that the snacks need to be either sliced apples or oranges along with either water or juice boxes for the team.  Severe food allergies are a growing problem with children, my daughter who plays on the team can't eat or be exposed to peanuts for example, and there are plenty of other dietary restrictions that may be based on medical, religious, or parenting preference reasons.  Childhood obesity is also a growing problem in our nation that had an impact on my decision.   

The child that was pulled from my team had been upset because the player had noticed other teams enjoying cookies, candy, doughnuts, and cup cakes as snacks during the games.  To appease their child the parents choose junk food over healthy snacks.  I  respect those parents prerogative to make that decision for their child though I completely disagree with it.  On the other hand, allowing a child to easily switch a team though because they don't like the snack time treats provided really is a horrible precedent for a youth sports organization to set. 

According to Sally Kuzemchak R.D. in a 2013 article for Parenting Magazine, childhood snacking has become an "epidemic" with kids sports becoming "overrun with chips, cookies and other snacks being served from the sidelines." She cites research from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health that demonstrates how snacking can have an adverse impact even on active kids participating in sports.  These researchers found that "an 8 year old burns about 150 calories in an average soccer game - yet the typical postgame snack has between 300 and 500 calories." In her article Kuzemchak interviews one of the researchers, Toben Nelson, Sc.D. who says "It's so strange that sports have become associated with sweets...are parents are practically competing with each other to see who can bring the 'best' snack."

Some people may say it is just about FUN and snacks are part of the game time fun.  I wonder though why people need to associate food with fun.  Kids can have fun without eating a snack.  In fact, increasing the number of snacks , even if they are just small ones, may be contributing to obesity with  children.  Kuzemchak points out in her Parenting Magazine article that according to research from both Harvard and Columbia universities "childhood obesity is driven by as little as 165 extra calories for kids ages 2 to 7." 

According the the United States Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)  has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents during the past 30 years (that would be from the time I was a 10 year old "kid" myself playing soccer and our only snacks were apple and orange slices during games).  According to the CDC, 70% of obese youth had at least one risk of cardiovascular disease, and were more likely to have prediabetes, bone & joint problems, sleep apnea, and social/psychological problems.  The CDC's best recommendation for countering obesity in youth: Healthy lifestyle habits, including physical activity and HEALTHY EATING.

Another issue to be concerned about as a coach and parent when it comes to game snacks are children with food allergies.  I know that problem unfortunately too well myself from our family's struggles with our daughters life-threatening food allergies [The Scariest Moment of My Life: The Day my Daughter went into Anaphylactic Shock]  The CDC acknowledges that food allergies is a growing food safety and public health concern for children in the United States.  They've provided guidelines for how schools should deal with food allergies that I believe youth sports leagues and coaches should be familiar with as well.  CLICK HERE to view these CDC guidelines.  Limiting the types of snacks at sporting games not only addresses obesity issues but food allergy safety ones as well.

I believe in my snack policy and don't plan to abandon it as long as I'm the one volunteering my valuable time at games and practices to coach and mentor these kids.  I just hope that my team doesn't abandon me to go play on other teams that provide them with sweet treats.

So what is your opinion on the Cupcake Conundrum?  As parents and coaches should we make a more concerted effort to enforce healthy snacks with the teams our kids play on or is snacking on cookies and cakes a childhood ritual that players should be able to enjoy?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

New STAR WARS Pinball Tables coming from Zen Studios

I've appreciated playing a good game of pinball on a "real machine" since my college days where I diverted a lot of quarters from my laundry money to the Star Wars pinball machine in my college dorm's student lounge.  Unfortunately, it can be cost or space prohibitive to own one in your own home, and you don't see pin ball machines featured at restaurants, movie theaters and other public establishments to play when you are out and about as much as you used to.  In fact there are only 2 manufacturers left of traditional pinball machines, long time manufacturer STERN (whose current table models include Avengers, Star Trek, Transformers, and the Ford Mustang themes) and a new start up company called Jersey Jack Pinball that has the licenses to create Wizard of OZ and Hobbit branded ones.  If you can't play the real thing you may want to check out the video game versions.

One of the leaders in producing digital pinball games is ZEN STUDIOS.  Zen Studios has the license for Marvel Comics and has made some great themed boards for Captain America, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor, Spiderman & Wolverine).  They also have the license for STAR WARS which I wrote about in an earlier post.  I've downloaded their Star Wars pinball tables on my iPhone and iPad (one complaint is that you can't download compatible tables for each ios format and have to buy the same table twice if you want to be able to play it on both devices) and have found them a fun way to pass some time.  They've had two releases of games so far with each generation of the game being enhanced with new features to make it more fun to play than the previous ones.  The first round of games featured one of my favorite Star Wars characters (Boba Fett),  my least favorite part of Star Wars (The Clones Wars) and the best Star Wars movie (Empire Strikes Back) themed pinball boards.  The second round featured some really impressive boards that included Darth Vader, Xwings versus Tie Fighters, and Return of the Jedi.  Now a third and final round of games is scheduled to come out for Spring 2014 that look to be the most impressive yet.

The new round of pin ball tables by Zen Studios will be titled "STAR WARS PINBALL: HEROES WITHIN" will feature FOUR brand new games with Han Solo, Droids: The Adventures of R2D2 & C3PO, Masters of the Force and Episode IV: A New Hope themes.  From the teasers I've seen they are going to feature more 3D character interactions than past games and a new in-table mini game feature that look really impressive.  The STAR WARS PINBALL: HEROES WITHIN games will be available for Playstation 4, Playstation 3, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Steam, IOS, Google Play, Amazon, and the Mac App Store.  The actual release date and information on some of the pinball tables has yet to be announced yet so keep an eye out for game teasers and the date when they will go on sale.


Some images and video of the HAN SOLO game have been made public and it looks to be a blast to play. The game leads off with the famous movie line by the character, "Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side", so you know you're in for some classic Star Wars fun.  Include the games theme music as the Cantina Band from the original Star Wars movie and scenes of Chewbacca jumping across the table interacting with your game and this pinball action looks to be a wild ride!


The Episode IV game looks to be geared towards die-hard Star Wars fans too with lots of 3D elements taken from the movie and a great mini-game featuring the trash compactor scene from the Death Star. Check out these screen captures:


This screen capture from Droids also has a classic Star Wars vibe to it:


* Screen captures courtesy of Zen Studios and LucasArts for game promotional purposes.

If you enjoy pinball and appreciate the classic Star Wars movies and characters you'll absolutely want to check out these new Zen Studios games coming out soon. Check out this video trailer from AOL for the new Episode IV: A New Hope pinball game and for more information, visit:  www.starwarspinball.com

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Are you a Pinball Wizard?

When was the last time you played a game of Pinball, not a video game, on a real machine that squawked and rocked as a silver metal ball bounced around a board lit up by a multitude of colored lights?  I was a kid in the 70's/80's when pinball machines went from being the "hot" thing to do in the early to mid 70s to pushed aside  during the  "Golden Age" of video game arcades (1978-1986).  As a kid and teen, my friends and I skipped instead of competing to get the highest score on pinball machines gave our attention, and quarters, to the new "high tech" video games like Atari's Astroids, Namco's Pacman, Nintendo's Donkey Kong, and Konami's Frogger.   So I can easily relate to the famous Frogger storyline from that classic Seinfield episode:


I fell in love with pinball machines during my college years.  There was a Star Wars one in the rec room next door to my dorm's laundry room that ate up a lot of my time, and quarters that should have been used for washing and drying my clothes. I developed an appreciation for the "mechanical" nature of the beast when it comes to pinball machines that just isn't there in a video game.  The feel of the the flippers, the ball bouncing against bumpers, the vibrations from the game play, the colors and sounds that envelope you when you are in the zone focusing on a silver sphere and getting just the right tilt to beat your previous high score provides a sensational element that is lacking from video games.  I have found memories of epic battles for high score on that "Star Wars" pinball machine against my buddies from the 5th floor.  You'll always find a few quarters in my pocket and I'll take a timeout for some pinball if I stumble across a machine.

This weekend there is a great annual event that is hosted at a college down the street from my house called the MICHIGAN PINBALL EXPO.  The event features more than 100 pinball machines ranging from classic models to brand new ones with cool high tech features.  They are all set to FREE PLAY, so you don't need to bring quarters, you just pay $20 adults/$15 kids for unlimited play while you are there.  Children 4 and under are FREE too!  This free play option is nice especially if you aren't a pinball wizard but enjoy playing the games.  In addition to the general game play, the Michigan Pinball Expo has sessions for children with tips on playing called "Wizards in Training", speakers, vendors who sell and/or repair machines for home and business uses, and tournaments ranging in skill and age from rookie children to adults competing for the "Michigan Pinball Champion" trophy.  If you are in the Metro Detroit area this weekend, whether you have a love of pinball or are just looking for a family outing to check out something new, swing by the Michigan Pinball Expo for a fun time.


If you aren't in the area and the MICHIGAN PINBALL EXPO peaked your interest there are a variety of similar events taking place across the country that you may want to attend:

APRIL 24-26 PINBALL @ THE 'ZOO (KALAMAZOO MICHIGAN) 2014 will be this event's 15th year.  Enjoy the free play gallery or participate in a tournament.


MAY 2-3 ALLENTOWN PINFEST (PENNSYLVANIA) features over 200 pinball machines at the Agri-plex Expo Center.

MAY 16-18 PIN-A-GO-GO PINBALL SHOW (CALIFORNIA) in its 18th year features more than 250 pinball machines includes "pinball celebrity" demonstrations, pinball school to help you become a better player, tournaments and a free play gallery.  Proceeds from this event benefit local youth charities. 


MAY 16-18 ANN ARBOR PINBALL SHOW CASE (MICHIGAN) I had no clue that pinball was still so popular in Michigan but in addition to the pinball expos in Oakland County and Kalamazoo there is a pinball museum just outside Ann Arbor (home of the University of Michigan).  The Ann Arbor Pinball Museum called VINTAGE FLIPPER WORLD (located in Green Oaks Township which is about 8 miles north of Ann Arbor) is hosting their first ever showcase event in 2014 which will feature 200 machines.  There will be free play and tournament opportunities at this event.



SEPTEMBER 26-28 FRASER VALLEY FLIPOUT (BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA) is the largest pinball tournament in Canada.  All skill levels are welcome! 

OCTOBER 15-19 PINBALL EXPO 2014 (CHICAGO ILLINOIS) this is the premiere pinball event of the year hosting its 30th annual show in 2014.  Attendees can register for a group tour of the STERN pinball machine factory.  Open to the general public but this show also has huge turnout of industry manufacturers, sales, and service companies and an emphasis to appeal to pinball collectors and enthusiasts.  The event includes autograph sessions with pinball design artists, seminars, pinball-related merchandise, free play gallery, and tournaments.


If you haven't played Pinball lately...why not?  If you know of a pinball expo that you'd like to add to this list please leave a post with the info or email: thegeekdaddy [at] yahoo [dot] com.