A journey to the Past
GoPinball Museum
by Polina Firsanova
Summer, even though you`re living in such a big industrial city like Moscow, can offer a whole bunch of outdoors goodness – you just have to know where to look. Concentrated on a limited green areas, tucked in different neighborhoods, parks are the weekend escape for city dwellers, aspired to find some stillness and peace. Take a better look at the Sokolniki Park, which has recently acquired a whole package of recreational activities for the kids, picnic grounds, horse trails, fitness trails and dancing classes. Dive deeper into the greenish area, follow the signs to bump into the GoPinball Museum, which was opened at the beginning of summer by Alexander Kazmin. He has been collecting and restoring these magnificent arcade machines from different parts of the world for many years, and has finally got his boyish hobby turn into business. This is nothing like the Museum of the Soviet Arcade Machines, which only started to appear in the Soviet Union in the late 70s - by that time pinball would have gone through a lot of drama on the world scale.
Photo by Viacheslav Vasilev
Pinball has a very interesting and complicated history. It all began in the 19th century when the French aristocrats got tired of playing croquet and invented Bagatelle – a board with wooden pins and a ball, which you had to tilt in order to play. Many years later after a number of "Improved Bagatelle" versions, the US patent was granted to Montague Redgrave for inventing the first real pinball game in 1871. In the 1930s when the pinball machines were featured with the fluorescent lamps, pinball was banned by the US government due to a great resemblance with gambling, until flippers, bumpers and scoreboards were introduced in 1947, so that the players did not have to bump and tilt the machine to change the direction of the ball. It was officially testified that pinball had become a game of skill, not a game of chance.

Once you step into the GoPinball Museum, you will find yourself surrounded by the great vintage, creatively featured arcade machines, ready to play a fair game with you, just put a token in. Among the most popular themes you will find the Simpsons, Shreck, musical-featured machines with Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones, the Marvel characters playthings and many others. Most of the them were produced by the legendary Stern company in the 80s-90s.
The oldest machine dates back to 1934. It is not allowed to play it – just watch and imagine traveling back in time. "It`s not just about collecting", - says Alex, the owner of the Museum – "When the world moved to a digital space, I wanted to make a last attempt to put pinball back on the map, by creating this Museum. I want people to appreciate something real, something that can never go out of style."

Restoration of a machine takes approximately two years and may sometimes cost twice the initial price. Most of the scoreboards screens were replaced by the new ones, produced by the company of the Museum owner. After the restoration process is over, each plaything requires a meticulous attention in order to keep every single tiny lamp working. But it`s all worth it.

With a pile of tokens in your hand you may sometimes find it difficult to stop playing, but if you do decide to take a break, let us introduce you to Masha Dereviago, who`s running a small coffee shop right next to the GoPinballBuseum. Together with her sister Olga Dereviago – they know how to bake a cake from scratch, only they won`t tell anyone. Delicious does not even begin to describe their bakery: warm ham and cheese croissants, mouth-watering buttery aroma of cupcakes, a gentle bite of crispy, chocolate cookies, a cup of coffee – Arabica beans, fresh ground, Cappuccino, hazelnut Latte – isn`t that the best past time at the weekend in a park?

As Pinball was illegal for so long, it became associated with rebellion and freedom, which was often used in movies trying to portray that a particular character was an insurgent. If you think about it: the adrenaline, flooding your system, you`re on the edge of losing or winning, your body wants either to run fast or stay right where it is trying to bounce the ball back. Invisible to other people, concentrated on your thoughts and actions, not caring what others think at that very moment. Being spontaneous and creative. That does sound like pinball, and that does sound like freedom, which you might get in the GoPinball Museum.
The GoPinball Museum
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