Air Hockey Buying Guide

Posted by Danielle on Sep 4th 2017

Do you find yourself gravitating towards the air hockey table during your trips to the arcade? Why not recreate the fun vibe in the comforts of your home by purchasing your very own? In the past, the only available options for air hockey tables were expensive tournament types. Nowadays, there is a multitude of choices of all shapes, sizes and purpose. It all boils down to what your priorities are. In this article, we’ve rounded up the history of the game, the game’s rules as well as some tips and tricks in order to help you choose the best table for your home game room.

History

Who knew that a simple invention by Brunswick Billiards employees would rock the game world? In 1969, a trio of Brunswick engineers - Phil Crossman, Bob Kenrick, and Brad Baldwin began work on creating a game using frictionless surface. The project stagnated for a while but was revived by an ice hockey fan by the name of Bob Lemiux. He then focused on implementing a prototype for the future air hockey table which was an abstracted version of ice hockey, with a thin disk, two strikers and slit-like goals equipped with photodetectors.

Since then, with Brunswick’s backing, thousands of air hockey tables were made and installed in arcades, pizza parlors, community-center basements and anywhere where people mingle, hangout and have fun. The game table quickly caught on in the radical 1970’s scene and was an immediate financial success.

Brunswick had bigger plans for the newly-created pastime and held competitions - the very first world championship held in 1974, which comprised of 31 regional champions. The event took place in New York and had a whopping $5000 cash prize in order to tempt really serious players to enter into the tournament. Aside from the money incentive, the winner would also receive the title of “The Best Air Hockey Player in The World”. The event was attended by some A-listers in the world of sports including the legendary basketball sportscaster Marv Albert and the Canadian ice hockey center Derek “The Turk” Sanderson.

After the contestants had been whittled out, the ultimate showdown was between a Centenary College student named Barnett and an infamous 24-year old player people dubbed as “The Spiderman”, whose dedication for the sport can be seen in his decision to enroll to a community college just so he could play in college air hockey tournaments (he did not actually attend any classes). The tournament ended after 40 intense matches and Barnett took the prize (The Spiderman’s game was weakened by severe blistering on his hands).

In 1975, the US Air Hockey Association (USAA) was formed to ensure the integrity of the game and official establishment of rules.

Rules

Right now, maybe you’re daring to jump in on the air hockey train but you’re clueless about how to play it. Some guidelines are listed below:

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  • Toss a coin to determine which player gets the first possession of the puck.
  • A game is won by the first person to score 7 points by shooting the puck into the opponent’s goal.
  • Once the puck is on a certain player’s side of the center line, he or she has exactly 7 seconds to hit the puck back across the center line. Otherwise, a foul is committed and the opponent receives possession of the puck.
  • A foul is committed when one places their mallet on top of the puck, a maneuver also known as topping. In cases like these, the opponent receives possession of the puck.
  • A player cannot touch or strike the puck using any part of his or her body or with any object other than the mallet. Doing so causes a foul and the possession changes hands.
  • Goaltending is prohibited. Goaltending happens when a player stops a puck from going into a goal using anything other than the mallet. When this happens, the opponent gets possession of the puck.
  • Hitting the puck when it is on the opposite side of the center line or crossing the center line completely with one’s mallet causes a foul. When this foul occurs, the opponent receives possession of the puck.
  • In case the puck leaves the table, the foul is considered committed by the player who caused the puck to go out of play due to offensive motion and the opposing player gets possession of the puck.
  • Charging (or when a player causes the puck to leave the table with a forward motion of the mallet, even defensively) also merits a foul. It also results in the opponent receiving possession of the puck.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING AN AIR HOCKEY TABLE

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Size

The first thing to consider when you’re on the market for an air hockey table is how much room it’ll take up in any space you decide to put your table in. Professional air hockey tables are usually around 8 foot long but will provide you with the full arcade experience.

This stunning table from Valley Dynamo is one of the best 8-foot tables out in the market. The Hot Flash II has all the features of the Valley Dynamo Pro Style but with screaming hot graphics and a huge overhead display. As owner of this entertainment room must-have, you also get the option of adding a black light in the overhead scoring unit for a cool, glowing effect.

If, however, you don’t have the space and budget for a full-sized one, there are also tabletop options. Tabletop air hockey games usually measure 40 inches in length.

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Harvil’s very own tabletop air hockey table will be a great addition to your game rooms, living rooms or even dens. However small, it will surely keep your reflexes sharp and your competitive spirit buzzing. Made of high-quality, dense fiber wood, it can withstand rigorous use. This table’s play area has a white finish and features vibrant graphics. Its clean and sleek look extends to its sturdy legs with blue finish. Also included in the package are yellow paddles and pucks so you can play right after unboxing.

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Power

The term “air hockey” actually got its origins from the fans underneath the table that blow air through the perforated surface. Air slightly elevates the puck which better stimulates its movement on the playing field. This would mean that your air hockey table would have to be powered either through batteries or through a power cord. If you plan on bringing your equipment to camping or hiking trips, a battery-powered air hockey table would be your best bet. If not, by all means, get yourself tables that are operated using a power cord as they tend to have more powerful fans that can bring you closer to the arcade experience.

The full-body motorized hockey table by Harvil will be the perfect centerpiece for your game rooms, man caves, and rec rooms.. It has an elegant wood grain finish and comes with dual 100V electronic blowers and L-style legs with leg panels. The stylish overhead scoring will make you reminiscent of the arcade game table you loved as a kid. Also included in the package are 4 pucks and 2 paddles so you can play right after unboxing.