NEWS: Best of ZapCon winners announced!!

Firebird Pinball is proud to once again honor the best of the best from this year’s ZapCon 4.0! We’re thankful to everyone who brought machines to the convention, and we’re especially grateful to the following people.
For their hard work, they received a Firebird Pinball Best of ZapCon Victory Monster trophy, and a grab bag of goodies, including gift cards generously donated by Cobra Arcade, and a few tokens of appreciation from the folks at ZapCon. And, of course, the satisfaction in knowing they legitimately rock.


The fans spoke en masse for The Walking Dead Limited Edition brought down by Jeff Goad. Jeff has a number of great mods installed on his game, including the Fish Tank topper, the illuminated barb wire fence, the zombie-head shooter rod, the illuminated flipper buttons, illuminated speaker panels, and more! The competition for this award was especially tough, and a last-minute push by some other contributors made it a down-to-the-wire vote!
The fans also spoke loudly for these guys, the crew behind ZapCon the Game! Paul Santa Cruz, second from right, has brought custom games to ZapCon three years running. This year, he recruited a top-notch Quality Assurance Team. His game was modeled after Tron’s main screen, where you choose from four games to play to advance to the final level. The hardest level was based on Frogger, and you had to move your game across the street to load it into the convention center. The other levels were based on Spy Hunter, Satan’s Hollow, and 1942. Left to right: David Market, Kyle Smith, Tom Carnill, Lee Speer, Santa Cruz, and James Bruce. Not pictured: The also-important Bryan Gillingham.


The winner of our “Best-Looking Pinball Machine” category, chosen by our panel of judges, was Wes Sparks’ Goonies. Sparks put a lot of work into the game, which was literally dropped off a truck en route to him. After cabinet work and upgrades to the playfield, among other issues, Sparks has a game that not only our judges liked, but our fans as well. Everyone voted for this game!
The Hobbit
Our panel of judges also recognized Mark Pearson’s Hobbit machine with our “Best-Playing” award. Mark had this game delivered straight to ZapCon from Jersey Jack’s, and it was unboxed late Friday night. Even most participants didn’t see it until Saturday morning. Long lines ensued, and remained all weekend. It was one of the most coveted games at the convention. It received major votes from fans, and our judges too.
Rachel Bess and Chris Spaseff also were honored by our judges panel. Their Tales of Cthulhu machine, a rethemed Williams Swinger, was a hit with its gorgeous artwork (handpainted by Bess), and its steampunk touches, including brass finishes, and a red-velvet pincushion cabinet. The blood rings around the pop bumper cap were great too! Spaseff has received accolades for his machines each year of ZapCon, and Bess is a major force for the convention too.
Killer Queen
One of the most popular games in the four-year history of ZapCon, Killer Queen was surrounded by crowds of enthusiastic fans all weekend, and received our “Best-Playing Video Game” award for it. One of only 12 such systems in the world, this game came down courtesy of The Grid, 525 S. Gilbert Road, in Mesa. The folks behind the bar also brought the awesome band Arcade High to town this weekend. Pictured are Patrick Farone, left, and Ryan Boosel, of the band. Grid co-owner Mike Goosens and employee Trish Sanetick also are shown.
Star Castle
Our judges also honored Star Castle, with our “Best-Looking Video Game” award. They had high praise for Annah Moore, who bought the wrecked game for $50 and brought it back to life. She found an NOS vector monitor, then discovered the original gel for the game in the bottom of the cabinet. She took that cabinet to the wood, repainted it, fixed some issues, and then put on new decals. It looks great, Annah!
Kozmik Krooz'r
Our judges gave their “Labor of Love” award for video games to Kozmik Krooz’r, and the guys who helped make this once-trashed game great again. When Shawn Halsey, right, and Shaun Burch, left, first came across this game, fully the bottom foot was severely damaged. After fixing that, they moved upward on the machine, a rare game with an animated rotating spaceship reflected in a mirror to appear in the monitor. Great work, guys!

We gave out some Honorable Mentions too — there were a lot of other games to recognize! And check out our Day One and Day Two pics fof the convention. Now we need to go recover from another great year of ZapCon. Thanks, everyone!!
And remember, victory belongs to the monsters!

Victory Monster 2
You know victory feels this good.