Well, as promised, I did manage to make it to The Pinball Hall Of Fame in Las Vegas today, and there were indeed an embarrassment of riches on display there. I highly recommend anyone who's in Vegas and has a few minutes to venture off strip to go there, and stay there for a long time!

I didn't have quite as long as I might have liked, but I'll be presenting some highlights in three pieces, starting with a bit of a mindblowing discovery.

As you can see, The Pinball Hall Of Fame is operating barebones, and with one overarching reason for existing - presenting as many playable classic and recent pinball games as possible - even if it's hidden in a semi-anonymous strip mall without any particular lighting or signage. But the contents... oh my.

Here's one of the rows of classic '50s and '60s pins closest to the door, but you'll note something that looks like an arcade machine at the end of the row. Well, it's not an arcade machine, as such - it's a very special pinball machine, named 'The Pinball Circus'.

This is a 1993 Midway/Williams title which is just incredibly rare: "Prototype machine for new pinball machine design. Steve Kordek stated at Expo 2005 that there were two units made: he owns one of them, and the other one is in Germany."

A head-on picture of the pinball machine, which is a multi-level pintable jammed into an oversized arcade machine body. It even includes a dot matrix display, along with some neat toys (an elephant which grabs the ball of the playfield to raise it even higher), and a spinner - in total there are actually 4 or 5 separate levels and 6+ flippers, as far as I recall.

Slightly closer up - you can see some of the details, including the clown's head which is the top playfield of all, and actually includes two mini flippers - you have to smash the clown's teeth down and get the ball through them in order to score high. Despite the crazy verticality of the game, it actually plays surprisingly well, and it's smooth, enjoyable going to keep going further and further up the playfield during the course of a game.

Finally, here are the notes from Tim Arnold of the Pinball Hall Of Fame, as stickered to the machine, so you can get an idea of what the game is and how it got here. Some highlights: the game was "100% ready to go into production", and "...putting one of the 2 machines on test in a Chicago location, reports came back that it earned no more than the standard size-shape pinballs of that time, Indiana Jones & Star Trek (Both great games, and a tuff act to follow!)"

What happened next? "German distributor Nova said they would not pay an extra $1,000 [per machine] for this larger, more complicated machine, so Williams parked the machines in a back room in the factory & never built any more." Fortunately: "Because of Pinball Hall Of Fame's unique status as a legitimate museum, WMS Electronics, Larry Demar and Steve Kordek came together and put this one-of-a-kind machine here, where it can be enjoyed for all!"

So, there we go - and that's just the start of the goodness. The next two instalments will check out some of my personal favorite machines and quirky stars of the Pinball Hall Of Fame, from Rocky & Bullwinkle through Safe Cracker and beyond, and some of the design highlights of the museum, showing off some of the gorgeous backdrops and other art from this unparalleled collection. More soon!