David playing Cirqus Voltaire at Flip Out London, a pinball club in Croydon

Last weekend I spent an afternoon at Pinball Republic, a pinball club in Croydon.

Pinball Republic (previously known as Flip Out London) is a pinball club in Croydon and currently has over 80 different pinball machines. You pay a flat entry fee (currently £10) and then get unlimited play on all the machines. Pinball clubs are a great opportunity to play a variety of different machines (as they are all very different!) and test your skills against other players!

Each machine has been lent to the club by the owners and pinball enthusiasts around the country. While some are ‘staples’, this does mean that some machines are rotated out and changed occasionally as owners swap out the machines at home or purchase new ones.

My review

I had such a great afternoon! The five hours just flew by. It was great to be able to play some of the machines that I’ve heard about or only played on Pinball FX3 (especially the more popular ones) such as Medieval Madness.

Claire playing Total Nuclear Annihilation at Pinball Republic London
Claire playing Total Nuclear Annihilation at Pinball Republic London

Some of my favourite machines were:

  • Total Nuclear Annihilation — this is a brand new pinball machine made by Spooky Pinball, released in 2017. It feels really smooth to play, with an 80s style theme. It initially seemed really simple and easy to play, but I quickly realised it’s much more complicated than it appears! The aim is to knock out nine nuclear reactors. It had a fun story, great music and I loved the bright colours and retro theme too. It was really addictive and we went back to this machine quite a few times!
  • Creature From the Black Lagoon — made by Bally Midway, this pinball machine was released in December 1992. It has a really fun 1950s drive-in cinema theme, and is based on the film of the same name. It has a holographic monster in the centre of the playfield that appears when you achieve an objective and then moves during multiball! This game was great fun, it’s quite simple to understand which makes it easier to play (especially for people like me who are new to pinball) and has lots of fun iconic lines (“move your car!”). You have to collect the letters F I L M to trigger the special mode and rescue the girl.
  • Revenge From Mars — this pinball machine was originally released in January 1999 and is one of the ‘Pinball 2000’ models. It has a holographic section at the back of the playfield which interacts with the game. It’s a sequel to the Attack from Mars machine (which I also played and enjoyed!) and features lots of green aliens that ‘wriggle’. It has lots of different modes to play — for example, in one the aliens are trying to pull down the Leaning Tower of Pizza and in another the aliens are drunk in a bar. The modes made it different each time, it has great humour. I liked the holographic element too, even if this isn’t popular with most pinball fans — the Pinball 2000 models made by Bally Midway were supposed to be the saviours of pinball machines in arcades. There is a documentary about it: TILT! The Battle to Save Pinball.
Claire playing Revenge from Mars at Flip Out London
Claire playing Revenge from Mars at Flip Out London

The only downside of the day was that the COVID restrictions meant that playing on machines was limited during more busy periods. Some of the most popular machines (Medieval Madness, Creature from the Black Lagoon, the new Jurassic Park and Attack from Mars) are all in a line, meaning that if one is in play it put several of the others out of action, sometimes for quite a while as there were no limits on how long each player could use a machine for. However, this obviously is out of the venue’s control for the time being, so I am looking forward to going back once restrictions in the UK have been eased!

I did re-visit a few weeks later as I had such a good time, and invited along Jupiter and Dann. They’ve written a great blog about the day — read it here!

Visiting Pinball Republic London

Pinball Republic London is located at James Business Park, Mill Lane, Croydon, CR0 4AA. There is free parking around the business park, though this is limited. It’s approximately 10 minutes’ walk from Waddon Station. Click here to find it on Google Maps for detailed directions!

Entry to Pinball Republic as a non-member costs £15 per person, which includes unlimited free play on all the machines, or you can join as a member for £20 per month. There is a break room, with an honesty box for tea and coffee.

Generally, it’s open on the afternoons at weekends with official tournaments on Thursday evenings, but see their website for full details and opening times.