Filling the gap
The UK coin-op industry continues to search for a solution to the hole left in the show calendar by the Preview show and this year’s EAS Show in London’s Olympia nearly filled it.
But not quite. The first day of this pleasant, laid-back event in the lovely old exhibition hall welcomed a good turn-out of European parks and attractions people with some UK visitors thrown in. But the UK arcade operators did not make the journey to London to see the coin-op suppliers there.
“I wasn’t expecting my UK customers and I brought equipment specially for overseas customers,” said Mike Smith from JNC Sales, who had one of the busier booths during day one.
Wendy Townsend from Kiddy Rides was hopeful of a better day two. “It has been a bit quiet, which might have been our stand position but it is still early and we know that the second day is always better,” she admitted.
Most of the others I spoke to echoed Wendy’s experience, although those such as Innovative Leisure who had multi-lingual staff on the stand found that to be extremely useful.
“The great thing about a show like this is that it attracts a slightly different customer to those we normally see at our trade fairs,” said Electrocoin’s Kevin Weir. “There is always the opportunity to reaching out to a new audience.”
Electrocoin had a winning new product on show called Go Go Grand Prix, which was slot car racing (I am not supposed to say Scalectrix but that’s the sort of thing). Although the cars don’t come off the track they do slow down and even spin if corners are taken too fast. “This is a great father and son game,” said Kevin.
Other products that caught my eye included Innovative Leisure’s new climbing wall, which they may make into a coin-op version for arcades. It has a surprisingly small footprint and could be something really interesting for operators.
On United Distributing Company’s stand I was invited to play an LED shooting redemption game called Cube Shooter which was actually really good fun with simple retro graphics. The company’s Matt Bland was taking it through its paces and believes it will be one of the future redemption hits for UDC.
It was difficult to miss the prototype of Namco’s Deadstorm Pirates 3D motion theatre. In fact, Brent/Namco had three stands at the show – one for this crowd pleaser, another for machines and a third for the prize division. The motion theatre was being shown for the first time in Europe and hardware came from the US, while software traveled from Japan. The whole thing was then constructed for the first time outside London using wood sourced in the UK, then dismantled and reconstructed at the show. Players wear 3D specs and up to 4 can play the shooting game at the same time. The theatre can either be free standing or can be set up in a small room. The gameplay that I saw in 3D was spectacular.
SL Kids was enjoying a good first day with their range of children’s play furniture developed with their Dutch Partner IKC and their award-winning Sound Stage Environment Controller. Last year this great value, modular product which allows operators to quickly and easily create a themed, interactive play area with sounds, sights and smells won the Play Providers Association Aspire Award. This year SL Kids is a sponsor of the award.
Harry Levy Amusements was showing a number of new pusher products at the show. My favourite was the Helter Skelter circular 12 player which features coins sliding down a central helter skelter cone. “About 15 years ago someone suggested I should design a helter skelter pusher,” said Harry Levy. “I finally got around to it, I wonder whether he will come to the show this week and see this!”
There was certainly plenty to see at the EAS. As I passed, Sega seemed busy with their European distributors, AMG were reaffirming its position as one of the UK’s leading distributors and Whitehouse Leisure also seem stronger with every outing, with an incredibly wide range of products. SB Machines’ Paolo Sidoli was on the Cogan stand with some of the machines that will be forming the backbone of his new range of kiddy rides. The Looney Tunes Tom and Jerry Chopper and Wile E Coyote are stunning and Sidoli is already pleased with operators’ reaction.
Around the Cogan stand in the main hall of the show there were some stunning products related to the attractions side of the industry. Animatronics, huge pirate ships, beautiful carved wooden prancers to name but a few. EAS is one of those shows where you literally do not know what you might find around the corner! Among the strangest things I saw was a walk through body dryer for water attractions, which looked like something from Star Trek.
EAS is on today and tomorrow. If you can get down to London, then I would heartily recommend that you visit.
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