Everyone expected Chicago Pinball Expo 2018 to be a change point. It is and it is not, but in a good way.
We'll start with what is different. The show had a major ownership shake up this year, so it was a chance to try some new things. The first thing to notice was the prominence of arcade video games, with a major partnership from Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfield, IL. There was most of an extra ballroom that had arcade games in there. There were some rare and interesting games, like this Farfalla from Zaccaria in Italy.
Some things are the same, which is good. The Flip Out Tournament was there with Main and Classic Divisions (I did terrible in "B" Division Main.) But, there were several new tournaments for specific games and companies to draw attention. I am a fan of the Stern machines, but at this point, not all machines in the tournament should be from a single manufacturer.
The Free Play room full, but the quality wasn't really there as in years past. There were a lot of EM machines. I think the price break for ringing machines is a nice program, but there was a lack of classic machines. I don't expect every machine to be there every year, because collectors aren't willing to get them beat on all damn weekend. Also, they are heavy to move. In the past, there were a lot of classics. This year, there were mostly "B" titles. The people with cheaper EM collections were incentivized to bring them en masse, which they did.
I saw a "Space Mission" like mine for sale, but mine is in better shape.