North Carolina State Fair

Coin Push Game Goes Over the Rainbow With New Oz Edition

Posted October 14, 2012 1:42 p.m. EDT

The first time I go down the new midway, I keep an eye out for the coin push game. You know that game where you aim silver, coin-sized tokens onto a platform that moves back and forth. The object is to aim the coins such that the platform pushes out more tokens and prizes for you. It's oddly hypnotic and some of the prizes are wonderfully odd -- a couple years ago I won a bottle opener with a picture of a US President on it.

This time I did not see any coin push games, which was surprising -- I figured that as old as it was, it had finally made way for other games. And I was right, sort of -- walking back up toward the Fair's "main drag" I found a new take on the old coin push game -- the Wizard of Oz coin push game.

A nice guy named Scott was running the booth when I came by. "It's brand new," he told me. "This is only the seventh fair it's been to."

If you've ever played the coin push game before, this will look similar. Instead of a paper cup full of tokens, you put a quarter (or a dollar or a five-dollar bill) into a slot and get credits. You aim down at a moving platform and launch a token by pushing a button. The object is to push out of the machine and accumulate green tokens, red tokens, and trading cards with Wizard of Oz characters, which are worth points. (The silver tokens are not supposed to come out, but sometimes they do anyway. They're worth five points.) If you collect all the trading cards, you get a point bonus.

When you're done playing you can redeem your tokens and cards for prizes, which are generally not Oz-themed and vary from little gimcracks for a few points all the way up to prizes costing tens of thousands of points. (Strangely, there were lots of salt-and-pepper shaker sets.)

Which is better? The Wizard of Oz booth is covered, has chairs, better effects, and what appears to be a wider variety of prizes (though it's hard to tell, the way the old game showed the prizes.) The game play itself seems faster, and you don't have to worry about the tokens falling out all over the place into the midway.

On the other hand, the old game offered more control over shooting (you could quickly aim three coins at a time, for example), the platform moves slower, and when you've gotten the prizes you want out of one place, you can move to another place in the game. There are more prizes to win within the platform itself and it felt like my play time was longer for my money.

If you prefer the old school game, you can still play it, you just have to go to the "old" midway -- down the hill from the Expo building. There you will find Bo-Bo's Monkey House, with cups full of tokens and prizes in the platform.

No matter which you prefer, Scott likes the new Oz game. He used to work one of the "Shoot the Basket" type games and prefers working the Oz booth. "I haven't got one complaint," he says. "People can come in here and play for a long time with just a dollar. It's a fun game."