LAS VEGAS — After two years in Chicago, the Amusement Showcase International returned to the Las Vegas Convention Center for a successful March 28-30 run. With slightly fewer participants than last year, the 2007 edition saw an increase in exhibitors and booth space as well as a 10% jump in buyers. The show featured a solid lineup of new jukebox products, video games, redemption units, merchandisers and novelties, as well as successful fundraisers and social events.
Show chairman Frank Cosentino of Namco Bandai said the event featured 152 exhibitors (18 more than in 2006) that displayed products in 446 booths, nearly 70 more than the previous year. Second-day registration figures showed 3,005 participants, down from 3,084 in 2006. Cosentino said a total of 1,318 buyers showed a small but encouraging increase over last year’s figure. Show organizer William T. Glasgow Inc. noted that while street operator attendance was down, the number of operators from Western states increased. FEC owner and equipment distributor participation also was up.
The biggest shock of ASI 2007 arrived midway through the exposition when industry members learned that Bulldog Amusements president Bill Cravens died in his hotel room the first night of the show (see Page 1). Cravens had served as ASI chairman for several years during the event’s early days.
More than 1,000 industry members convened at the “ASI Big Bar,” a hospitality sector at the back of the exhibit hall, at the close of the first day of the show; the second day saw almost 800 enjoy the affair. Over 200 industry members attended a variety of seminars that covered topics ranging from management to marketing.
AAMA distributor members named Raw Thrills as Manufacturer of the Year; the game developer also received three sales awards. Shaffer Distributing was voted Distributor of the Year by AAMA manufacturer members and Jon P. Brady of Brady Distributing was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award, AAMA’s highest honor. View Interactive presented its own award to jukebox designer Paul Kitchka, commemorating 40 years in the field.
ASI provided a launching pad for several promising new products. One that received frequent praise on the show floor was ICE’s Deal Or No Deal, a redemption video game closely based on the popular TV show of the same name. Other debuts ranged from new software for Merit and JVL touchscreen terminals to Global VR’s deluxe sitdown shooter game, Paradise Lost. Namco showed its Mario Kart 3 and offered conversion kits that transform older Golden Tee cabinets into Rockin’ Bowl-O-Rama units. Sega displayed several products, including a martial arts game called Asian Dynamite, available as a conversion kit, and standard and deluxe versions of Ghost Squad Evolution and Extreme Hunting 2. Also shown were scaled-down versions of Ford Racing and Let’s Go Jungle sitdown attractions, Too Spicy, a two-player shooting game, and Manic Panic Ghost, a video novelty featuring a wand control. Initial D4, Sega’s latest sitdown driving game equipped with a card system, rounded out the manufacturer’s offerings.
New jukeboxes included Rock-Ola’s conversion kit for the NSM Cosmic Burst wallbox featuring an Ecast MoJO core, Rowe’s new NiteHawk wallbox with a 19-in. monitor and View Interactive’s InnoVision, which converts older Rowe CD machines to Ecast-powered units. Ecast, Rowe/AMI Entertainment and TouchTunes all showed their latest digital music platform upgrades.
New cranes and merchandisers proliferated at ASI, from Namco’s Froggit and Wonka Sweetland to Coastal Amusements’ Fly Ball and Family Fun Co.’s Soccer Fortune, as well as ICE’s X-Factor and Grab A Tune, two cranes that vend oversized plush and digital music players, respectively. Smart Industries debuted a four-player version of The Moving Castle, a crane with a revolving playfield, and Giant-Sized Pile Up, a larger version of its existing merchandiser with dual prize levels.
Other featured cranes at ASI were Coast To Coast Entertainment’s Wheel of Prizes (see VT, March) and S&B Candy and Toy Co.’s Multi Use Route 66 (see Page 68).
Five Star’s new Haunted House redemption novelty won praise for its themed cabinet that resembles a spooky gothic manse. Sega’s Sonic Spinner, a new redemption piece, sported the firm’s hedgehog mascot.
U.S. trade members got their first look at Stern Pinball’s new Family Guy flipper game, which is based on the popular animated series. New novelties debuted at ASI included Super Strike from LAI Games USA, an 11-ft. bowling lane attraction (see Page 70), and Smart Industries’ punching bag novelty, Ultimate Big Punch.
Other notable releases included Coastal’s Nascar pusher (in two- and eight-player configurations) and Apple Industries’ Fashion ID Photo Booth.
Concurrently with ASI, the International Flipper Pinball Association raised $800 for charity through a pair of tournaments, while the American Amusement Machine Charitable Foundation raised money with a golf outing, a raffle and a silent auction.
TouchTunes Music Corp. offered support to the Lance Armstrong Foundation in honor of four employees who are battling cancer by auctioning off a special-edition digital jukebox bearing the motto “Living With, Through and Beyond Cancer.”
Two leading manufacturers staged national championships concurrently with ASI. Incredible Technologies hosted the $57,000 Golden Tee World Championship at the Rio Hotel and Casino on March 26 and 27, which featured the game’s best players from America, Canada, England, South Africa and Australia.
The Valley International Foosball Association, sponsored by Valley-Dynamo, held its 11th Annual VIFA International Championships – with $40,000 in prizes – at the Riviera Hotel and Casino from March 28 to 31.According to Cosentino, AAMA is speaking with the Sands Expo Center and the Las Vegas Convention Center about hosting the next ASI in March 2008. Official dates should be announced in April.