On the ball

Associate Professor John Cosson of Coastal Oral and Facial Surgery in Benowa, QLD, wears many hats—dentist, doctor, oral and maxillofacial surgeon, pinball wizard.

“Lethal Weapon 3 was the first pinball machine I owned. I purchased it from someone who had won it in a competition in 2004. I had it for about eight months but the gameplay became a little monotonous. There was a pinball sale base not far from where I live and they were willing to trade LW3 for a Twilight Zone machine—generally considered the greatest machine in the world. I got my Twilight Zone, loved it and it was the start of my pinball machine collection. Currently I own 15 machines.

“Between 2005 and 2010 there were a lot of machines available at relatively low prices. People had them lying around in garages and were happy to be rid of them. That’s when I moved on to the second phase of my hobby—restoration and repair.

“It took me years of online research and picking the brains of pinball technicians but now I do all my own work on the machines. I’m happy to say that all 15 of my machines are in perfect working order.

“I’ll often buy a machine in reparable condition, strip off the decals, sand back and paint the wood, strip the playing field, clean everything, find reproduction decals online, put them back on, replace any broken parts, and put everything back together. I have a brand new machine after about three months’ work.

“There are some machines that I’ll never sell—Lord of the Rings, Wizard of Oz, Twilight Zone and AC/DC. AC/DC was the first machine to have band music directly associated with a pinball machine. It features 12 songs and each song has a different set of rules. It’s a fantastic machine!

“There’s a pinball competition held every week in Brisbane, once a week in Melbourne, and three times a week in Sydney. I compete every second week and I run tournaments out of my home. I’m ranked 36 in Australia at the moment. My best result was at an international competition in New Zealand where I took second place out of 75 competitors.

“Pinball is all about precision and dentists love precision. When restoring a pinball machine, every tiny little thing has to be exactly right. Likewise, when competing, the angles and shots have to be precise or you’ll lose the ball. I like that there’s no age limit to being a pinball competitor and no chance of injury. I also love the history, art and music of pinball. The deeper I look into it, the deeper I want to go.”

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