Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Eric Stone who currently is displayed on card number 2630, from the Superstars of 2017 Collection. Eric Is also featured on cards 3374, 3433. Eric is a huge competitor in the pinball world and has set many world records as well. He travels all over the U.S. to play in tournaments and has visited Denmark to play an international pinball competition. In 2017, Eric won the IFPA (International Flipper Pinball Association) US national Championship and 6 other tournaments that year. Eric latest achievement is winning the World Championship in January 2020 in Banning, California. In his personal life Eric is the weatherman for Fox 4 in Southwest Florida.
What’s your opinion of the Console Pinball games (Xbox, PlayStation) that recreate the original machines onto the TV screen?
I think the look of pinball is great on Console games. It lets people play great machines rather than buying them or trying to find them. The only thing I don't like about it is the delay between hitting the button and the flipper flipping. Being so used to playing actual pinball machines makes it difficult to play them on consoles.
What is a memorable story that occurred at your job?
Just being able to do what I do for a living, helping people plan their day. Possibly saving people's lives by informing them ahead of a storm. Last year when it looked like Hurricane Dorian was headed straight for Fort Myers where I live, I used my knowledge and expertise to come up with my own forecast which had the storm miss us well to the northeast. 6 days later that’s exactly what happened.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a video game trading card?
I knew when I was very good at pinball when I was a kid, but I never knew there would be trading cards involving pinball/video gaming.
How did you get into the weatherman business?
I enjoyed weather growing up. Hurricane Glorida hit NJ where I lived when I was 10 and had a fascination with it since then. In 8th grade we were taught about weather and shortly after that The Weather Channel came about which I watched every day. When I was in college, I took a TV class and knew that’s what I wanted to do.
In 2019 what was your reaction to winning and what were your thoughts throughout the tournament?
In regard to Free Play Florida I had won this tournament the past 2 years I attended. It's not easy to win, but this year it was a Stern Pro Circuit Event. I knew I needed to win in order to make the top 20 in the Stern Pro Circuit Championship in Chicago. When I saw a lot of guys from the west coast there combined with others all across North America, I knew it would be a tough accomplishment to win. I was extremely happy to win both classics and the main tournament. The money I won enabled me to go to INDISC in January 2020 where I won the World Championship so it was HUGE to win Free Play Florida. It also game me more confidence to compete with anyone.
When did you first meet Walter Day and where was it at?
I first met Walter in 1999 at Funspot in NH. He was running a video game tournament but mentioned pinball and video game world records.
What was the best era for pinball gaming in your opinion?
I would say the 80s and early to mid-90s when several pinball companies were making games. Stern in the early 80s, Gottlieb, Bally, and Williams
In your opinion, are there enough or too little Pinball Expos and conferences held each year?
Im pleasantly surprised how many pinball expo's there are. I could not attend everyone even if I was without a job so I would say there are a good number of them per year.
When did you win your first pinball tournament and where was it at?
In December 2015 I won a Game of Thrones launch party. Very small tournament at the Pinball Asylum in Fort Myers where I live. The first big tournament I won was Free Play Florida back in 2016.
Do you remember your first pinball machine you played and what do you remember about it?
Yes, when I was 4 my parents bought me a Captain Fantastic. I remember trying to see how many times I could roll the score back to zero. Doctors when I was a toddler said something about me not developing good hand-eye coordination so they bought me that machine and the rest is history!
What are your opinions about today’s generation of pinball? How do you compare them to older, classic machines?
Today's generation of pinball to me is so much harder. Rules are much deeper, but the one thing that is the hardest is when the code of the game is constantly updated. In the 90s and prior, rules would always stay the same. Now there are so many rule changes, scoring changes, etc. and it’s very hard to keep up with not having access to the games
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?
I have many one-word answers. UNIQUE if i had to give one. Someone that spends so much time for the pinball and gaming community, someone that puts so much time in for us. He doesn't get anything back from this except the gratitude and thanks from players like me for everything he has done.
What is your favorite pinball machine past and present and why?
I have different favorites from different eras. 60s I like Flip A Card. I’m not a fan of short flippered games, but this one just seems to play well with a lot to do for an older game. 70s my Captain Fantastic since I grew up with it. 80s/90s I love Twilight zone most. So much to do on it and jackpots get progressively higher. New Sterns I like Star Trek and Guardians of the Galaxy since they are controllable games, but not too easy.
What would your design and theme of the perfect pinball machine be and why?
I would have a theme light games of the 90s and earlier rather than movies, song artists, etc. It would be designed as a 90s game where there were many things to shoot for and progressive jackpots
Are you fan of the new digital pinball machines and what makes them better or worse than the standard machines?
The new digital machines look good, but sometimes make things more complicated with everything you need to look at on the big screens.
If you could only own one pinball machine, what would it be and why?
Probably Twilight Zone because it’s one I always remember playing when younger and whenever I go to an arcade that has it I want to play it
What does it take to be a weatherman/TV personality?
You have to be social. You need personality, not just explaining weather, but being yourself. You need to tell a story rather than just give facts and smile as you're doing it so the general public knows you're their friend.
Do you prefer playing pinball alone or against someone and why?
I like playing pinball against others in tournaments, and I like playing alone to try and set all the high scores. Either way makes me happy.
Which company makes/made the best pinball machines and why?
I will always say Bally/Williams made the best machines. Maybe because I grew up with them and that’s what started me in pinball. They seem to have rule sets you can understand and many objectives.
Do you learn anything from playing pinball?
I learn in tournaments that there’s a huge mental game when it comes to playing pinball. When playing alone I just go and have fun.
Are pinball machines good for relieving stress?
Tournaments have always provided me stress LOL, but I work well under stress. But as a whole its very nice to play for a day or a tournament and put the worries of life on hold while you're having a great time with great people so yes, I would say it’s great for relieving stress.
Where do you see pinball in the next 20 years?
That I don't know, but I know technology will continue and other companies will continue to test the market and make games. It should be very interesting.