August 2018

In This Section


Breaking News

U.S. Trends That Will Significantly Affect Our Industry – Both Good & Bad

Vacation Days – U.S.  vs. Other Countries

The 12 country graph below shows that the United States ranks last when it comes to combining days of annual leave and public holidays for all employees in a job for 1 year or more.  Note that the U.S. total does not have any days of annual leave as this is not a national law.  Even though, the statistics are alarming.

Vacation Days in Different Countries


What This Could Mean?  We all realize that our industry makes more money during most of the paid holidays.  For example, Christmas and New Years weekends and sometimes two weeks, are the super peak weeks for a large majority of FEC’s.  It seems reasonable that in the near future employers in the U.S. may put pressure on their federal legislators to create a few more recognized public holidays.  It also seems reasonable that states will start passing minimum annual leave day laws as companies are already offering family leave time as an incentive to retain and attract employees.  In fact, I just read about ‘furturnity leave’.  Yes, you read that correctly.  That is time off when you get a new pet or when your pet dies.

My point is that the more days off, the better our out-of-home leisure industry will do. So, this graph in general is not a bad thing for our legislators to see. On the other hand, adding days of annual leave (whether paid or just time off) is still a lot of pressure to put on small businesses.  But good or bad, in any event, I just wanted to let you know, it is most likely coming. Half of the voting population will most likely be in favor, the other half, perhaps no so much.


Future of Trade Associations

I finished reading this 17-page document, ‘Exploring the Future of Trade Associations’ with 254 posts that was done in 2016.  I started thinking about our own IAAPA, BPAA, AMOA, AAMA, and IATP to name a few.  It started off with this quote:

“While Trade Associations are significant drivers of industry collaboration, methods for identifying thought-leaders and capturing their insights in authentic dialogue are limited and have remained status quo for too long.”

And ended with this Conclusion and 2 Posts:


“The ability to generate premium content through online collaboration platform is valuable to current Trade Association members and attracts new membership, and even significantly more valuable when it contains cross-industry knowledge, as it brings different perspectives for solving challenges or just for enhancing the lives of members.”

“The content will need to be exciting to the members instead of the association. At the end of the day the consumer of the content will be your purchaser.”

“The leadership team will put forth programs that would be of value to their employers or organization. If they believe the program is broad enough to address other members concerns, then they identify and push the opportunity forward.”


What This Could Mean? Are our trade associations immune because they are doing a great job of putting on trade shows, having great attendance at industry seminars as a percentage of attendees, e-news letters, and have good federal and state level lobbying efforts? Last time I looked there were more than 45,000 associations in the U.S. alone, and that was 10 years ago.

Well, one thing is certain.  Associations controlled by manufacturers/suppliers/franchisors will always have a different perception and perhaps even a different agenda than those of their operators/parks/FEC’s/proprietors/franchisees. Even if these different parties are 100% open and honest with each other, what they perceive to be reality may be completely different.


With that said, and the facts that out of home leisure entertainment is a very competitive niche, the middle class has been dwindling (if you measure it consistently without changing the model to make it look better than it really is), that labor costs are increasing, that qualified dedicated labor is difficult for our industry to find/retain, and that inflation is low but is still there and may increase, now it is more important than ever for our industry associations to work together and support each other.  The old quote, ‘The whole is equal to the sum of its parts.’ may no not apply in this case.  My take is we are no longer ‘whole’.  There is even a divide between young and old and what they expect out of life.  My philosophy when involved on the boards of industry associations for more than 30 years:  ‘Always do what is best for the industry—even if it hurts your business and you personally.’  That was taught to me by some very special people in my life.  Truth is, many times that is just the opposite of what has happened in the past.  And I can see it continuing unless all parties can see the ‘big picture’.  Just a thought.

Here is the link to this Study:



Baby Boomers to Grow Amusement Parks

(Technavio-Ian Donegan)

Amusement Parks worldwide are counting on baby boomers (those born 1946-1964) to drive their growth.  This statement is couched to include those parks that offer ‘expensive and thrilling rides.’

What This Could Mean? The report is projecting an 8% growth/year over the next 5 years and of course must also include the baby boomers bringing their kids and grand kids on more family trips.  This growth also means that international tourism will also help this growth.  We in the FEC industry also know that FEC’s will also benefit from boomers seeking out exciting entertainment facilities to visit during their trips, especially on rainy days, cold days, and when they have a few extra hours.

So let’s not forget that these customers will still be looking for expensive and thrilling attractions, not just ordinary attractions that may be acceptable to local patrons.  Also, when I hear the word ‘expensive’, it means to me that a large majority of the local customers will be the middle-income and upper income households.  These are the same groups that today can afford to go to major sporting events.

I want to give credit here to Randy White (White-Hutchison Leisure & Learning Group) who recently wrote an article, “Who is “middle class” and “upper income”?, detailing how family size (including pet(s) I would also include) vs. family income is what determines which financial economic group that family fits into.  It shows that, for example, a family with 2 kids needs a much higher family income to live in a certain city/town than a single person or a married couple with no kids. 

Here is a link to that article:

TRR Laser-Blast Button Logo + Text in another document 1-23-16

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Amusement Entertainment Management, LLC, we offer a full range of consulting services, including early-stage feasibility analysis, business plan development, funding assistance, and conceptual design and layout services.

Last Call – Next Foundations Entertainment University 2.0 – Houston TX October 16-18

2018 is the 16th consecutive year for Foundations Entertainment University, the industry’s #1 Ranked Educational Seminar Program. With more than 1450 graduates and more than 280 Family Entertainment Center’s (FEC’s) that got their start with Foundations, the NEW Foundations University 2.0 is for newbies, FEC industry veterans, and service providers who want to learn how to be a part of the #3 growth industry in the U.S.

The new 2.0 Foundations added several new topics that were well received in addition to the popular standards:

  • Testing Market Feasibility & Developing Your Business Case – Jerry Merola – AEM
  • What is an Experience Destination & How Do I Get There? – Frank Price – BU
  • Taking the Guesswork Out of Project Financing – Jerry Merola – AEM
  • The Design Process – Doug Wilkerson – Dynamic Designs
  • 7 Keys to Great FEC Design – Doug Wilkerson – Dynamic Designs
  • Contractor Selection – Peter Olesen – Entertainment Concepts
  • Modern Audience Trends – Kevin Williams – KWP Ltd
  • Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality – Kevin Williams – KWP Ltd
  • How to Market Your FEC – Frank Seninsky – AEM
  • Building Your Perfect Team – Frank Price – Birthday University
  • Mastering Food Service Operations One Meal at A Time – Jerry Merola – AEM


  • Early Bird Registration to October 1, 2018: $395 
  • Regular Registration after October 1, 2018: $495
  • 2 or more people from the same company: 1st person at regular rate; 50% discount for each additional person
Frank ‘the Crank’ has several FREE Scholarships available.
Email: [email protected], call: 732 616 5345 if interested.


Elaut Top Quality Entertaining The World AMUSEMENT & GAMING


Redemption & FEC Report Advertiser Renewals for 2018 Hit 97%

We must be doing something right!!!

I want to personally thank our current family of 85 Advertisers in TRR-FEC for their continued support (more than double since 2015). The renewal rate for 2018 is 97%.  I also try my best to include as many of the linked advertiser banners in my Frank ‘the Crank’ Blog articles and to keep the banners, skyscrapers, and buttons updated.

Andamiro Testimonial  

“Inclusion in the Redemption & FEC Report has had a positive impact on Andamiro products and has helped strengthened the Andamiro brand in the redemption category. In particular, the newsletter’s reporting on Andamiro’s SpongeBob Pineapple Arcade — both praise and honest criticism — has elevated awareness of the company’s first pusher and card attraction. In general, the report is professionally edited and illustrated, and comprehensive in its coverage. Its grassroots content and presentation of data are unique to the amusements industry. We look forward to the next editions.”

— Nick Montano, Marketing Director, Andamiro USA Corp.

ITC_WEB AD_Horizontal_2016-01 (1)

Mercedes A-Class Production Line Video


Face Place

Ask Frank ‘the Crank’ Technical Tips – For Games & For Life in General

Water Blaster (Bob’s Space Racers) – Easy Fix to Keep the Water Clear

Ray Dachik, Regional Manager/Technician, Alpha-Omega Amusements

Problem:  If you change the water regularly but still it looks dirty within a few days with tiny black dust particles settling in the water….it’s not your housekeeping at fault, nor the quality of your water….it’s a problem with the red hose that came with the game!

Solution:  Take a look at the inside of my game’s 1” diameter red hose which I sliced open.  That is where the black particles are coming from. Get a new 1” diameter hose and you will get rid of the particles.

Note that you do not need to replace any of the smaller diameter red hoses that service the guns. Those hoses have a white poly tube inside the red hose so the black rubber inside does not touch the water and won’t decay.

I purchased a 10’ section of 1” OD braided clear vinyl tube at Home Depot for $21. This is enough for 2 replacements. It is also shown in the pix next to that crumbling black interior of the OEM hose. The clear braided vinyl is only rated for 125 PSI vs 250 PSI for the red hose but is more than adequate for the pump . Make sure the vinyl is “braided” because without the “braid” the psi rating drops to 30 PSI, which is not adequate.

Air Hockey Revenues Increase – It is the ‘Paddles’ (Mallets) that Matter

Shelti/Gold Standard Games

Interesting historical note: Going back to the beginning of air hockey in 1972, they called the hand-held round discs “paddles” on the East Coast of the U.S. but “mallets” everywhere else in the world. Frank ‘the Crank’ is a part of a long-time New Jersey/East Coast tradition! [Editor Note:  I also call them ‘goalies’]

Felt is usually used on the bottom of mallets for lower-cost home air hockey tables that do not use as durable a laminate on the playfield. The only coin-operated air hockey table manufacturers whose mallets that might use felt are some of the European-style tables (ICE, Barron’s, Sam, WIK) that have polycarbonate or acrylic playfields that scratch easily. You won’t see felt on the mallets for U.S. made tables with laminate (formica) surfaces, like ours, Dynamo, Great American.

The problems with the felt bottoms are:  a) It causes the mallet to ride slightly higher on the table, thus hitting the puck higher (not flush) and increasing the fly-offs; and b) In a commercial setting, the felt rubs off fairly quickly, then you are left with rough dried glue that is MUCH WORSE on the table in terms of scratching and wearing down the playfield.

Yes, even tables that use laminate playfields can get some scratching, but it’s not nearly as bad as on the acrylic/polycarbonate tables (that’s why ICE cleverly offers a “pre-scratched” design on its AirFX). Some of those scratches can be from rings, others from dirt or debris on the bottom of the mallet. The best practice in all cases is to clean the bottom of the mallets when cleaning the playfield surface, using rubbing alcohol or Windex.

[TRR-FEC welcomes responses from other air hockey and mallet (paddle) suppliers as we want to be fair and of course never know what is real news or fake news. HaHa!]

Wonder Wheel (Bay-Tek) Flange Bushings & Support Bracket Savings Tip

Ray Dachik, Regional Manager/Technician, Alpha-Omega Amusements

Wonder Wheel is still a great game when it is in tip top operating condition-an old ‘workhorse’ in Frank ‘the Crank’ land.  In the past I have been replacing the flange bushings with either a $14 bronze flange bearing/bushing or a $8 plastic one from Bay-Tek. I like to save my company money anywhere I can so I now get them from (located in Connecticut).

Their identical bronze and plastic bearings are identical in size to Bay-Tek’s and cost under $1 each for the bronze and a $2.56 for the plastic if you buy one ($156 each in lots of 20).

The picture shows the Bay-Tek 3/8” OD plastic bushing next to a 1/2” OD bronze bushing which I ordered several years ago (but not from Bay-Tek). I have been using the oversized bronze bushing when I don’t catch the failing plastic bushing in time, which usually causes the metal axle to burn through it.

When that happens, the axle starts gouging a hole into the $60 metal support bracket and makes it impossible to use a 3/8” bushing. Rather than just tossing the bracket away I drilled 1/2” holes and installed the oversize bushings to prolong the life of the bracket.

24 Axles:  Now let’s move on to the 1/4” diameter axles. Bay-Tek charges $19.50 each for the 4.75” and 6.25” axles which are sometimes damaged during the gouging described above. I buy a 12 ft. piece of 1/4” stainless steel rod from a local supplier for under $15 and make 24 of these axles in about an hour total.

Savings: It amounts to 24 axles from Bay-Tek for about $480 or 24 of my custom-made axles for $15 plus 60 minutes of my labor (estimated at $20 for the purposes of this article). So….$480 or $35 …which side are you on?

Alpha-Omega Amusements & Sales is Your One Stop Shop for Everything Related to Amusement Games


5 Tips to Boost Mega Stacker Performance

from LAI website

[Also good advice for many other cranes and merchandisers]

Mega Stacker is the super-sized version of a true arcade classic. At over 8 feet wide and nearly 10 feet tall, it is a signature piece for any game room. Still a top earner, Mega Stacker has been on the RePlay Magazine Players’ Choice Poll for 70 months, much of that time in the #1 spot for Best Merchandisers.


Your prize doors are like billboards for your game. They can be the make-or-break factor in whether a customer stops to play or walks on by. Placing a small single prize in these slots doesn’t demand attention and create excitement. We suggest dressing it up a little, like a point-of-purchase type display. For instance, if your prize is a Nintendo 3DS, put some Nintendo signage around the prize compartment, include a Mario plush, maybe a 3DS game, and a case. Savvy operators will use these windows as a mini-redemption counter, filling them with the most coveted prizes and advertising how many tickets or points are needed to win each prize.

We also recommend updating your displays regularly to keep your customers excited. The more often you change your prize doors, the more people will look at your game and want to give it a try!


When picking items for your Mega Stacker game, we recommend using different types in each of the 5 prize doors to determine which prizes are most desired by the players. You can then use the game audits to check popularity and vary the stock accordingly. A general understanding of the basic demographics of your location and the likes and dislikes of your customers will allow you to improve the merchandise selection and increase the revenue that your Mega Stacker is generating.


Experiment with higher price per play and higher value prizes in this attraction piece – While you need to make the ultimate decision for what works best in your venue, we’ve had many operators report their Mega Stackers are earning $3 per play!


Make sure that the players know that they can and do win. Provide the location manager or someone reliable from your staff with a camera and instructions to photograph Major Prize Winners and then post the photo’s inside the game cabinet. In many cases, this has proven to DOUBLE Stacker revenue!


Regularly dust and clean the external cabinet areas using a soft water-damp cloth and mild soap. Any scratches or marks in the glass or acrylic can be buffed out using car polish. Regularly check that all the Display and Button Lamps are working correctly through the Sounds, Lamps and Display Test. Stay on top and replace any globes or buttons that are not functioning properly.

It’s always a good idea to keep a few extra control panel buttons on-hand to make sure your Mega Stacker game doesn’t miss a chance to earn you revenue.


Top Redemption & Merchandiser Prizes

HMS Monaco – HMS Are You Ready For Football?!



Rhode Island Novelty – New Great Prizes August 2018



Fun Express 750 New Items Since January!


Industry Events September-December 2018

Dates Name/Link City/Country Frank ‘the Crank’ Attending/Speaking
12 – 14 GTI Asia China Expo 2018 Guangzhou, China  
13 Georgia Amusement & Music Operators Association Annual Meeting Atlanta, GA  
16 – 18 IATP Conference & Trade Show Ft. Lauderdale, FL
23 – 27 EAS 2018 Amsterdam, Netherlands  
1 – 5 AAMA Gala Northbrook, IL
16 – 18 Foundations Entertainment University 2.0 Houston, TX ➡ &  💡
26 – 28 AMOA On the Road Program Rosemont, IL
27 – 29 AMOA On Campus Rosemont, IL
12 – 16 IAAPA 2018 Orlando, FL
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