Pinball is such a great social game. Don’t get us wrong, it is fun to play on your own, but in a gathering, it takes it to a new level. By attending pinball events, we have met a lot of great folks, just like Marcus Sezonov. When Marcus extended us an invite to his Rosstown Retro Pinball Arcade tournament, we definitely could not pass up the opportunity. As you’ll see in the below photos, Marcus has a fantastic pinball collection comprising of classic machines from a variety of manufacturers from around the world – we still can’t stop thinking about Zaccaria’s Robot machine!
So on a warm Sunday afternoon, we and our fellow pinball guests arrived at Marcus’ private residence for some good old fashioned pinball action and a backyard barbie – perfect! As Marcus was flipping chicken sausages on the BBQ, we thought it was a great chance to ask him a few hard hitting questions about his love of pinball and gaming in general.
Our awesome host, Marcus, flips a mean chicken sausage!
AUSRETROGAMER [ARG]: What is your earliest memory of playing pinball?
Marcus Sezonov [MS]: I am pretty sure it was the late seventies in a fish and chip shop on a Sunday evening. I played doubles with my dad and I remember watching him and I was just amazed at his skill. I was hooked immediately and just wanted to play as good as him.
ARG: What is it about playing pinball that draws you to it?
MS: That there is real skill to playing a pinball machine and the wonderful artwork. Back in the 70s and 80s I did like video games but on some you could learn their repeated movements to win. Pinball was never the same game twice. I also like the fact that you are controlling a real moving part.
ARG: How did you get started in collecting pinball machines?
MS: I like art, I like games and I love the 70s and 80s – pinball machines are something that fit all of that and are obtainable and still work. It all started with one old electro-mechanical machine just to put in the corner of the lounge room to look at – of course one gets a little boring so you need two . . .
ARG: You have a beautiful collection of classic pinball machines, what drew you to these older tables?
MS: It really is the artwork. The detail in the hand drawn artwork really is stunning – no photos on these machines. I also like the fact that they are difficult to collect and get working. I always wonder how many are really left. For example, there was only 1,600 Centigrade-37 made back in 1977!
ARG: This question would be like asking to pick your favourite child, but we have to ask, do you have a favourite machine from your collection?
MS: I suppose I would have to answer that by thinking about if I had to keep only one, which would it be. I think Centaur II. It has really incredible artwork that looks like a big tattoo. There is a half man half motorbike who is holding a big axe with a girl on the back on the backglass – it really stands out. Scary echo speech that actually taunts you if you miss a shot like ‘Bad move human’ or ‘slow aren’t you?’ and up to 5 ball multiball! This game came out in 1981, but was so popular they made another 1500 special editions in 1983, which is the one I have. One of its special features was its red display – it made it look a little devilish!
ARG: How do you go about picking a machine to add to your collection? Is it a long process (to find it)?
MS: I started off looking at the top 300 list for games pre-1984, then check out the theme and artwork, then read all of the reviews about gameplay. I have also been travelling to a few pinball festivals such as the Newcastle Pinfest and the Australian Pinball Expo in Penrith from a couple of years ago. I used the opportunity to play and decide on a machine I might like to add to my collection. Armed with all of that, I generally start searching eBay – and wait.
Once I had 10 and I could only fit 5 more in, I wanted to ensure a well balanced collection – so a good distribution of eras, art, design and gameplay. I thought the best way to do that was to get hold of different companies machines from around the world. So I focused on getting a Playmatic from Spain, A Zaccaria from Italy and a rare Atari. I also wanted a very rare classic woodrail from the 50’s. I am pretty determined when there is one I want to add to the collection. I had chosen Robot as the one Zaccaria machine I would get. I watched eBay every day for 3 years waiting for it to come up.
There was a 1980 Stern Flight 2000 pinball that a guy in Sydney had 3 of – I bid on the first two and lost. When he put his third one up I was determined to get it no matter what – I would bet 1 million dollars if I had to (not really quite that much!). When I sat down that night to bid, it was gone! I called him and he said he took it off eBay and sold it to a friend! That was the one (or 3) that got away!
ARG: Are there any other machines you have your eye on to add to your collection, or is that a secret?
MS: There is always another one I want, but unfortunately I am confined by space. I can only fit 15 machine at the very most. I just bought my last one after I missed out on Flight 2000. I was looking again for something different. I found a 1983 Bally Vector. It has a ‘flip speed’ calculator. It calculates the speed of the ball up along a top ramp. In fact Vector is being fixed up at the moment and I am not quite sure how everything is going to fit – I think it could be a struggle to even open the door once it is in!
ARG: The cabin idea to house your machine collection is brilliant – how did that come about?
MS: Well . . . When I first met my now wife, I lived in a little unit and I had 4 machines. There was one in each bedroom, kitchen and lounge. When we moved into a house the four were lined up along the back of the lounge room. As she was not into pinball as much as I was, she said she would like them out of the house (although I had identified many little corners they could fit nicely – she didn’t quite agree). I moved three up into the little rickety shed at the back but one had to stay in the house. But then the rule of no pinballs in the house was mentioned and she suggested I build a proper shed in the back to house them. I built a really nice cabin for them.Based on the fact it was only meant to comfortably house 4 and now I have squeezed 15, I am quite happy with it. Although of course I do wish I had made it larger. And it would have been bigger if the wife had let me dig up her lemon tree and move it!
So yes, the cabin works really well as it is away from the house right up against the back fence. So the wife is pretty happy, but the neighbours aren’t!
ARG: You also run the Rosstown Retro Pinball Arcade tournament – tell us how this all started?
MS: Almost all of the pinball tournaments are on the newer pinball machines, so there is definitely a gap there for it. To be a good pinball player, you have to be good on all eras of machine, not just the new. I really want others to see and experience just how amazing these pieces of history are to play, so a tournament that is open to anyone is the best way. I did have to limit the numbers though. I intend to run an IFPA endorsed tournament once a year. Last year was the first one and I even got t-shirts made up specially for the occasion. I do have tournament ideas for next year to get more people playing – so look out for that.
ARG: Other than pinball, do you play video games? If so, do you have any favourite systems / games?
MS: I have played video games all my life. It all started with the Atari 2600. I sold that to buy a C-64 computer. I had all the accessories, 1000s of games, joysticks etc. I recently found the big bag I put it all in back in 1986 when I packed it up – and sold it on eBay. I advertised it as a time capsule – it really was! I then got a Game Boy and Game Boy Advance SP, PS1, PS2 and now, a PS3. I also have a PSP which is great when travelling. I bought the XBox 360 a few years ago for one game – Fruit Ninja. I couldn’t get enough of it when I first saw it at a games expo. Swinging your arms about like a ninja rather than using a controller was such a great idea.
Ms ausretrogamer and I would like to thank Marcus and his family for their hospitality and for hosting a great day at the Rosstown Retro Pinball Arcade.
Attention to detail – Marcus has all the details of his 15 pinball machines on the back of his tee!
It’s on like Donkey Kong!
Love the beautiful and vibrant artwork on Gottlieb’s Circus
Pete The Chef hits up Last Lap!
Last Lap is beautiful to look at and equally beautiful to play
Checking the score!
Yours truly mesmerised by the Electro-mechanical, Grand Slam!
The tapered backbox oozes timeless beauty
The Grand Slam baseball playfield may look simple, but it’s wickedly difficult & addictive
Skooota gets flippin’ on Fathom!
Bally’s Fathom is a magnificent pinball specimen
A closer look at that awesome Fathom backbox artwork
Wonder which game this is from?
Of course, it’s Playboy!
It takes steel balls to play pinball!
Pinball works up a thirst!
Can’t go wrong with 5c gumballs. Then we’ll play some Space Invaders
A top read!
We are not alone!
Don’t look into her eyes!
Are you a straight shooter?
Marcus hits 37 degrees centigrade!
Daniel ‘LEX’ Luth is next to slay Paragon
Keeping an eye on the opposition scores
Pop’n jet bumpers!
The dynamic duo!
Even the drop targets are a work of art
5K when lit!
Astounding level of detail on the playfield
No coins required
The Rosstown Retro Pinball Arcade still kick’n it!
A satisfying smile