Lyons Classic Pinball has been providing the community with competitive pinball for 13 years. The community has, in return, given the Front Range a whole new class of world champion pinball players. – By Claire Woodcock
In order for this story to make sense, you need to understand that Adam Letkoff always wanted a pinball machine. As a kid, he thought having a game inside his house was just the coolest thing. In 2003, he got that wish. Around the time his son Escher was born, the family brought home three pinball games: the Twilight Zone, The Shadow and Johnny Mnemonic.
“Horrible movies, great pinball machines. It’s interesting how the worse the movie was, the better the pinball machine is.”
Adam started a collection. Escher would hang around and began playing himself when he was two. Like his father, Escher is ridiculously good. Famous, actually, within the pinball community.
“You could tell at an early age that he definitely had a knack for it. All the things that Escher does naturally, he doesn’t even think about. It’s wonderful and it’s truly a blessing to share my passion with my son for all these years,” he recalls of his son.
That was around that this magical place, Lyons Classic Pinball, came to be. Imagine: A public arcade stuffed into a tiny old house with Oskar Blues brewery next door.
“I went up there to have a look and the games were awesome.”
Today, the father/son team are considered world class pinball players. Aaron and Escher are a part of a pinball collective of 30 to 40 players from all over the Front Range. Every week, they meet at the epicenter–Lyons Classic Pinball–for competition, but also for the sense of community.
“A lot of people think pinball is mostly luck. There are a certain set of skills you need to learn to be able to control the ball to master the table. When you’re in control you can think about your next shot, even in multiball, you can trap up multiple balls and think about your next shot,” said Adam.
“You might get a couple of good scores, but when you’re playing against other people who control the ball,” said Escher.
Kevin and Carole Carroll are the owners. They are known for having the largest collection of well-maintained games in Colorado. This story also starts with a collection in a basement. He says that after a few years, he wanted to take the games public.
“I said you know, I want to take this back down to the public and see what happens. Because everyone we turn onto it digs it.” said Carroll..
Kevin says that that’s what makes owning Lyons Classic Pinball the best job in the whole world. The community coming into his arcade every week and the surge of competitive pinball along the Front Range may be for him, the biggest payoff of the entire business.
“I found out over the years that I created a bunch of collections in basements. People who open arcades and pinball players. I’ll be in someone’s basement “you know these 40 beautiful games that happened because of you” you didn’t have any games before you came in?” he said.
A major part of his job is testing games before league night, and that takes a lot.
“That’s the kiss of death for pinball if stuff doesn’t work. If the flipper doesn’t work, well what fun is that? The machine just kind of rips you off. We do our best to keep everything level, to make everything work on the game, to keep all the light bulbs good, to keep all the rubbers good,” said Carroll.
Adam says he sees pinball as one great microcosm of life, and Lyons Classic Pinball had a hand in that. I let him explain.
“No matter what you do, gravity wins. It’s about what you do while the ball is in play. It’s all about being in the moment and enjoying the lights and sounds and the experience and you’re surrounded by all the other pinball people are really cool. It’s so enjoyable to be around and experience it.
“The ball’s gotta drain at some point and a new player’s gotta get better,” said owner Carroll.
Kevin encourages me to stick around and play. I’m embarrassed to confess leaving my stack of laundry quarters on the dresser. It’s okay, though, because Escher hands me a quarter and we play. The game is Andromeda. And as the game continues, it gets more and more serious.