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San Francisco Avatar Launch Party Oct. 15 2010

October 20, 2010

Sponsors: Playland-not-at-the-Beach, Pacific Pinball Museum, IFPA, STERN Pinball, Audio Images, The Bay Area Pinball Location Map

The SF Avatar Pinball Launch Party was a great success.  For the curious, here’s how it happened (For those that could care less, scroll down for the results and pictures):

First I saw a post by Josh Sharpe on RGP.  People were saying “how come there’s no launch party in my town?”  Josh replied that it really came down to venues and distributors stepping up to help with it.  I immediately thought of Playland not at the Beach and the Pacific Pinball Museum as likely venues.  I contacted the owners of both and both were enthusiastic, so next I sent an email to Josh.

Josh put me in touch with STERN, whereupon I learned that the venues for the parties needed at least 3 Avatar games.  I gather from this they wanted to run these parties through their distributor network (3 games is a lot for a local arcade but not really too much to ask of a distributor).  I let PPM and Playland know of this requirement, on the off chance they had any ideas or distributor contacts.  More or less I figured it was dead at that point, though.

Then a week later I got an email from Josh Sharpe and learned a new Distributor had been signed in San Francisco and the event would be held there.  This was only about  two weeks before the date of the event!  I got on all the pinball groups and posted announcements to advertise it.  Likewise, I sent out emails to all of my pinball contacts I’ve acquired via various means – tournaments, friends, leagues, museums, etc.  On such short notice, who knew if anyone would show up?  I also asked for volunteers to help me run the event and people stepped up.

Next I got a hold of the new distributor and we planned the event.  I drove to his store, Audio Images, and we planned the space out and the logistics.  He’s a huge music fan and has seven or eight music-themed pins, such as Tommy and Guns ‘n Roses.  At that point the game had not yet arrived so we agreed to meet again when it did.

Simultaneously I let PPM and Playland know what was up so there were no potential hard feelings, but also to let them know I could hand out promo materials at the launch if they wanted.  Playland donated family passes and 2-for-1 coupons and PPM donated five club cards valued at $20 each.  Since the expert tournament was a cash payout, I decided to use some of these donations to augment the novice prizes and to hold a little impromptu raffle.  STERN also sent a few goodies.  Two T shirts, a beenie cap and a stack of stickers.

On Wednesday, Avatar arrived.  I brought my overhead camera rig and projector setup to Audio Images.  Jim Chen of Audio Images provided a projector screen.  Now the crowd could watch all the games without having to crowd right up against the machine and we could also record some game play.  We also moved and leveled Guns ‘n Roses and Tommy.  We lugged a Captain Fantastic out his basement but sadly the right flipper mechs were in bad shape.

Above - Recipe no. 7 - dish was made at a ceramics class at Laney College.

I decided early in the week I would make some food for the event.  I made nachos and caesar salad.  I did all the prep work the night before (Thursday) so I wouldn’t have a time crunch.  The venue was also providing sodas.  Likewise on Thursday I stopped by my parents’ house to pick up the trophies since package delivery is safer there.

On Friday I picked up some last minute food supplies from the restaurant supply store near work, stopped by my apartment to pick up all the food I made the night before and headed for the gig.

The event was schedule to run from 7 -11pm.  By around 7PM, 15 people already had shown up so I knew the event would be a success, and later that peaked around 40 people.  From there I just relaxed and had fun.  Everyone had a great time.

Teresa Altvater getting ready for action

Onto the tournament details.  Everyone who entered and paid their $5 came out ahead with a 2-for-1
pass to Playland not at the Beach worth $15.  They also had a shot at the prizes if they did well and were likewise entered into a raffle for even more chances to win.

Pictures of the event:

Split-Flipper Doubles (12 entries):

SPLIT FLIPPER CHAMPS: Tim Hansen and Chris Heileg

2. Mads Kristensen and Jon Olkowski
3. Alex Samonte and Stephen Kleckner
4. Kevin Johnson and Josh Lehan

Mads Kristensen (Left) and Jonny O on split flipper

AVATAR Tournament (26 entries):


CHAMPION: Mike Haffner: (Trophy + $25 Family Pass to
Playland not at the Beach + Pacific Pinball Museum Club Card)

2. Ryan Avery ($25 Family Pass to Playland not at the Beach + Pacific
Pinball Museum Club Card)
3. Mark Altvater ($25 Family Pass to Playland not at the Beach +
Pacific Pinball Museum Club Card)
4. Kevin Johnson

Neil Shatz (NES) won the main tournament


GRAND CHAMPION: (NES) Neil Shatz (Trophy + $52)

2. David Joud (Trophy + $39)
3. (ELK) Mads Kristensen (Trophy + $26)
4. Alex Samonte ($13)

(continued results – IFPA results sorted by qualifier score, not
Novice Final order)
5. Kevin Johnson
6. Mike Haffner
7. Mark Altvater
8. Ryan Avery

– or – if Novice Final determines 5 – 8 order then it’s

5. Mike Haffner
6. Ryan Avery
7. Mark Altvater
8. Kevin Johnson

9. Eugene Gershtein
10. (JON) Jon Olkowski
11. (EGO) Chris Heilig
12. Stephen Kleckner
13. Louise Swainson
14. Tim Hansen
15. Eric Waggensonner
16. Mike Spears
17. John Lautmann
18. Michelle Rockholt
19. David Rockholt
20. (ANM) Andre Massenkoff
21. Mitch Tunick
22. Josh Lehan
23. John Haydn
24. Teresa Altvater
25. Walter Hurwitz
26. Jeannie Rodriguez

Thanks to all who attended.  Around 40 people showed up for the
event.  Jim Chen is toying with the idea of a Chinese NBA launch party
so maybe we can do it again soon.  :-)

Thanks to Pacific Pinball Museum and Playland not at the Beach for
donating hundreds of dollars’ worth of Passes and Club Cards which
were awarded as prizes to the novice winners, given out in the raffle
and given to every tournament entrant.  Thanks to Jim Chen of Audio
Images for hosting the event and to all the volunteers for helping run
the tournaments and setup/cleanup.

  1. January 28, 2014 2:44 pm

    Thank you for running the Avatar launch party! This was the reason I got back into playing pinball and then began collecting pinball machines!


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