NEWS: ZapCon Day One Coverage

Pinball in Arizona,Pinball in Phoenix,Zapcon 24 April 2018 | 1 Comment

ZapCon 6 may be over, but its memory will live on. If you didn’t get the chance to head down to the Mesa convention this past weekend, we’re truly sorry you missed out. It was a great time. Check out all the fun we had on Saturday!

ZapCon began bright and early at the Mesa Convention Center, 263 N. Center St.

People were lined up even before the doors opened, eager gamers who knew they could get a few games on the best machines if they were first in line.

We were there bright and early too, getting all set up in the booth.

Of course, there was a little last-minute hustle to get everything just right before the doors opened.

And then open they did, to throngs of people almost immediately it seemed.

Families and friends, everyone smiling as they walked in and saw the nearly 350 games that awaited them this year.

The weekend seemed like a well-oiled machine at this point, in its sixth year and going strong, and people knew what they were doing.

Here’s the boss prepping our LED display. We had a work station in the booth this year, so we got lots done!

Day One meant tournaments, tournaments, tournaments.

All across the hall, people tested their mettle against others in their favorite games.

Their were trophies for the victors, and fun for everyone.

It was a beautiful sight to look out over this floor, rows and rows of happy machines and happier people filling the entire room.

After lunch, things really got crazy, as gamers fueled by food trucks packed inside the hall.

Check out the boss, still hard at work into the afternoon! Some of those awesome games there are still for sale, hint hint.

Kids got to stay up late Saturday, happily staying out of arms’ lengths long enough for one more game, one more game.

And then the Minibosses played in the Retro Lounge!

Finally, we took a little break, and even got a turn on Iron Man.

Guess who played it better? So long to ZapCon Saturday night!



NEWS: Twas the Night Before ZapCon

Pinball in Arizona,Pinball in Phoenix,Zapcon 20 April 2018 | Comments Off on NEWS: Twas the Night Before ZapCon

ZapCon is this weekend! It’s finally here! We had a blast checking out the state’s biggest pinball and arcade convention during Friday night setup — and you’re going to have an amazing time this weekend! Here are the highlights, so you know what to expect. (Awesomeness, expect awesomeness!)

There are around 350 arcade and pinball games at this year’s ZapCon, the sixth iteration of the already venerable convention. These games fill the floor so well!

The shot from the other end of the floor shows off what’s going to be one of the most popular spots of the weekend, the bank of brand-new Sterns adjacent to the Marco Specialties booth.

In case you didn’t see that banner… Yes, Iron Maiden will be playing the Mesa Convention Center this weekend! We got in a couple of games on one of the Maidens there. Definitely worthwhile!

Of course, there are lots of other pinball machines you might want to take a turn with. Here’s the boss checking on some of the 15 we took down, most of them FOR SALE!

The other boss got in a few games too after finishing up work on Friday, finally getting to check out Total Nuclear Annihilation for the first time. (Definitely worthwhile too!)

Firebird’s junior crew got to check out the fun on Friday, too, making sure to spend some time in the good old console lounge. (Surprise!)

After we dragged them out of the lounge, the kids discovered some really great skill games, like this Monte Carlo!

Max also had a frustratingly good time with Fire Escape.

This game is older than the both of them combined, and still way cool. Check out this row for sure!

And make sure to stop by this little game with someone who’s recently angered you. Panic Park isn’t for the mild-mannered…!

The boss and this other awesome dude (hi, Chris!) spent a few minutes putting special legs on this Super Mario Brothers machine.

Check it out! We made Mario small! And check out these other pint-size machines!

ZapCon is always great for families, but this year is even better. The kids’ pinball tournament even got a revamp. Make sure to check it out at the StarFighters Arcade booth!

So have a great weekend at ZapCon. See a few old friends (hello to these awesome friends!). Play a few old games. Buy a machine from us!

And make sure to say hi to Robert from D&D Pinball. He’s the guy with the awesome hair (and the brand-new Star Wars)!

Packed Up And Ready To Go!

Pinball in Arizona,Pinball in Phoenix,Shop Notes,Zapcon 18 April 2018 | Comments Off on Packed Up And Ready To Go!

When you have fifteen machines to move, you start early! We’re bringing a full contingent of awesome games down to ZapCon this weekend at the Mesa Convention Center. That means packing up the truck was especially fun this year. Check it out!

Load-in starts Thursday morning, so we started packing on Wednesday afternoon. That’s a big truck!

Games prepped on the far side! See a full list of what we’re taking here! (Lots of games for sale!)

Games prepped on the near side! See the full ZapCon games list here!

Now we just had to do this fifteen times!

Thanks for keeping our spirits high, Rachel!

Ready to roll, at last. See you at ZapCon! Stop by our booth and say hello!


NEWS: Your Guide To ZapCon!

NEWS,Pinball in Arizona,Pinball in Phoenix,Zapcon 18 April 2018 | Comments Off on NEWS: Your Guide To ZapCon!

When you get to ZapCon on Saturday, you might feel a bit overwhelmed. The majesty of nearly 350 games just waiting for you to play may be overwhelming, especially coupled with the joy of really cool merchandise, and the awe of side lounges that will take you back to the halcyon days of your console-driven childhood.
But don’t fear. We’re there for you. We have glossy programs.

We had these great programs printed to help you find your way around, make your tournament times, and read about all the special events scheduled all weekend. Inside, you’ll find everything you need to make the most of ZapCon.

Check out the inside pages of this year’s flyer, designed by our wonderful friend Francisca and printed by the local JC Printing. These guys do great work!

Here’s a close-up of the most important part of your program: Your official ballot for Firebird Pinball’s Best of ZapCon 2018. Make sure to vote for your favorite games, and turn in your ballot at the Firebird booth. Winners will be announced at 4:30 Sunday afternoon!

We still have a back page! See you at ZapCon!!

NEWS: Our ZapCon Games List!

Games For Sale,Pinball in Arizona,Pinball in Phoenix,Zapcon 17 April 2018 | Comments Off on NEWS: Our ZapCon Games List!

It’s getting so close! ZapCon will be here on Saturday! To help further the excitement, here’s the list of games we’re taking to the show. Almost everything is for sale, so YOU can take home the best-ever ZapCon souvenir. Stop by the Firebird booth and say hello!

Sinbad, by Gottlieb, 1978, $1300.

Harbody, by Bally, 1987, $1400.

Captain Fantastic, by Bally, 1976, $1700.

Cue Ball Wizard, by Gottlieb, 1992, $2400.

Jokerz, by Williams, 1988, $2500.

F-14 Tomcat, by Williams, 1987, $2600.

Taxi, by Williams, 1988, $2900.

King of Diamonds, Gottlieb, 1967, $3000.

World Cup Soccer, by Bally, 1994, $3700.

Super Mario Brothers, by Gottlieb, 1992, not for sale.

Farfalla, by Zaccaria, 1983, Not for sale.

Hyperball, by Williams, 1981, not for sale.

Flash Gordon, by Bally, 1980, not for sale.

Our mini Galaga will be on display too!




NEWS: Best of ZapCon Returns!

Pinball in Arizona,Pinball in Phoenix,Zapcon 15 April 2018 | Comments Off on NEWS: Best of ZapCon Returns!

ZapCon will be here this weekend! And so will the Best of ZapCon!
Once again, Firebird Pinball is proud to sponsor our annual competition, designed to honor those of you who bring the most awesome games down to share at the two-day pinball and arcade convention, April 21-22 at the Mesa Convention Center.
Drop by our booth to vote for your favorite games. A panel of expert judges will choose six more games to honor.
Winners will receive more of these cool plaques, made by our awesome friends at HJ Trophies & Awards, along with the envy of generally everyone else.


These are last year’s plaques, complete with working buttons and real balls!

Our expert judges this year:


Kathy Lovato, part of the brain trust behind StarFighters Arcade and a member of the Belles & Chimes pinball league.

Tim Stump

Tim Stump, a longtime local collector who bought his first pin in 1982 and his first arcade game two years later.

Ricardo Angulo, co-host of YouTube’s This Old Arcade, he loves to keep the era alive by collecting and refurbishing arcade games.

Robert Whipp, a longtime fan who now owns 14 pinball machines and has 18 on location through Tucson Pinball LLC.

Kris Bliznick, co-owner of Firebird Pinball, the best pinball repair company in Arizona!

Get your ballot at the door, and vote at the Firebird Pinball booth. Winners will be announced at 4:30 p.m. Sunday. And if you need some inspiration, check out the glory of the previous years!

2017 Winners
2016 Winners
2015 Winners
2014 Winners

ZapCon STILL Needs You!

Pinball in Arizona,Pinball in Phoenix,Tournaments,Zapcon 29 March 2018 | Comments Off on ZapCon STILL Needs You!

ZapCon is coming! ZapCon is coming! Yes, the state’s largest pinball and arcade convention is right around the corner, with only around three weeks left until the big day! But ZapCon still needs one thing to be successful: You!

See this huge room full of games? They’re all donated for the weekend by folks who want to share their love of gaming with everyone.

ZapCon already has compiled a great list of games for this year, but organizers say they still could use a few more games, especially pinball machines. And you’re the one who can make it happen!

Sign up today to bring your game down to ZapCon, and get one free weekend pass for every game you bring!

There’s a laundry list of other benefits too, including access to Contributor Night on Friday, a great sneak preview of all the fun.

Sign your games up today! And we’ll see you at ZapCon!

Indiana Jones Cleans Up

Game Restoration,Shop Notes 15 March 2018 | Comments Off on Indiana Jones Cleans Up

Our restoration experts just finished putting new decals on this Williams Indiana Jones pinball machine. It looks great now!

Williams came out with this game in 1993, and the colors usually look like it.

Our customer wanted to put new decals on his faded but otherwise great game, and we were happy to help. We also added the brass-plated legs.

Now this game looks like new!

Enjoy your beautiful machine, Mike!


Shop Notes 14 March 2018 | Comments Off on Shellacked!

File this under “seemed like such a good idea at the time.” And then never do it. Please don’t do it. Whatever you do, do not varnish or shellac your pinball machine instead of using clearcoat. Please.

This 1988 Williams Taxi came to our shop a few weeks ago for a full shop job. Our first task was to get the playfield stripped. As we pulled everything off, we couldn’t help but notice a certain yellowed, uneven surface to the playfield.

The big boss investigated and discovered that sure enough at some point in the life of this machine, someone decided to cover everything with a nice, thick layer of shellac.

While this might have looked shiny and good at the time, the effect most certainly didn’t last. Shellac always yellows with age. We were happy that a quick test of the old sealant showed it would come up easily with our putty knife.

It continued to come up, and up, and up. Luckily, the playfield wasn’t affected. Sometimes varnish can adhere to the ink and pull up chunks when removed.

Here’s the final pile. That was impressive. Now DO NOT DO THIS AGAIN, people. Use a clear coat product! Thank you.

This has been a public service announcement on behalf of Firebird Pinball. Thank you for restoring your machines responsibly.

It Really is a Scream

Shop Notes 9 March 2018 | Comments Off on It Really is a Scream

We just finished a full shop job on this awesome Addams Family pinball machine. This game is always great, and the owner of this one requested some really cool custom touches that made it even better.
Check it out!

Bally came out with The Addams Family pinball machine in 1992, thirty years after the original TV show debuted, and one year after the Anjelica Huston-led adaptation hit the big screen. (IPDB) (IMDB)

The game was a record-breaking hit. Bally produced more than 20,000 of the games, and went back to production to make even more.

The Addams Family Gold was a hit too, and this game remains atop nearly every player’s list of top games.

We gave this one a full shop job, pulling everything off the playfield to be tumbled, washed, buffed, polished, or otherwise cleaned.

We installed Cointaker LEDs throughout as well, upgrading many of the LEDs that already were in the game.

We installed these killer flipper bats too, and Super Bands as well, for extra bounce.

Does Uncle Fester look a little pinker than usual?

That’s because of this LED strip we put inside the trough. Our customer had requested this, and we thought it looked great!

We also backlit the swamp, to give it this cool green effect.

One more cool trick: Upgraded pop bumper rings. That looks so cool!

Our customer had thought of everything for this game! He even had these new target stickers.

But our favorite upgrade might just be these art panels. Aren’t they sweet?!

We even installed the illuminated flipper buttons! Enjoy the game, Phil! We had fun making it look so great!