Here’s the latest Pinball Magazine & Pinball News monthly podcast, updating you on the latest pinball industry news and developments.
Here’s the latest Pinball Magazine & Pinball News monthly podcast, updating you on the latest pinball industry news and developments.
Pinball Magazine publishes a free monthly newsletter in which the pinball industry news from all pinball manufacturers is summarized. You can subscribe to this newsletter in the right column of this website. Below is the newsletter for January 2020 + the first week of February 2020.
Welcome to a new pinball industry news recap from the editor of Pinball Magazine. In this email, I’m looking back at the news from January 2020, as well as the first week of February 2020. Most of the news in this newsletter is also discussed in the free Pinball Magazine & Pinball News podcast, which was released at the end of January. While January didn’t see any new game reveals, there still is a lot of news to report. Please note that at the bottom of this newsletter, I’ll be addressing a music-related matter, that might also be pinball related, and for which your feedback is appreciated.
Spooky Pinball surprised the pinball community with the announcement that all 750 customers of the sold-out Rick and Morty pinball will be receiving a free animated, motorized topper mounted on their game. The topper itself hasn’t been shown yet, but it can be seen in a Facebook video in which Charlie Emery is giving a small factory tour of the Spooky Pinball facility. It appears to be a spinning green portal with Rick and Morty positioned on a flat plastic in front of it.
On February 5th Spooky Pinball shared the first Rick and Morty gameplay video on Youtube. In this 15-minute video, a 3-player game of Rick and Morty can be viewed, including audio and voice calls. While I’m not familiar with the Rick and Morty series, I heard some pretty funny voice calls. Humor always works for me in pinball 🙂
The Rick and Morty pinball could also be seen on Adult Swim’s “Stupid Morning BS” that aired February 6th at 5:00 PM.
But there’s still more news from Spooky Pinball: new Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle code dropped on February 4th, which happens to be Alice Cooper’s birthday.
January had two large tradeshows that Stern Pinball presented several of their recent games. First, there was the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Among other games, Stern showed Stranger Things in both the Pro and Premium model. Up to that point, the Premium model had not been shown in public.
A week later, Stern was present at the EAG Expo in London – United Kingdom. Stern was represented by Gary Stern, Dave Peterson, John Buscaglia, Doug Skor, and George Gomez. I wrote a report on this year’s EAG Expo, which you can read on the Pinball Magazine website.
Dave Peterson, head of the investment group that invested heavily in Stern Pinball, was kind enough to do a short interview on the EAG show floor, in which he looks back on 2019 and Stern’s plans for 2020. This interview is part of free Pinball Magazine & Pinball News podcast, so make sure to check that out as well.
One of the topics discussed with Dave was whether there would be any Vault editions coming out in 2020. Off the record, I was told that Iron Man Vault Edition would be going back into production for a small run of games. To my surprise, the game already hit the line and has been offered by distributors since January 29th.
In the meantime, Stranger Things Limited Edition was on the line in the Stern factory. As you may remember, Stranger Things was revealed at the end of December and is Stern’s newest model. Response to the game has been somewhat mixed. Personally, not being familiar with the theme at all, I think the game has potential. The projector has great possibilities, which hopefully will be implemented in upcoming code updates. At the EAG Expo, I suggested to Stern management to include a projector in forthcoming titles as well, as it really can add to the gameplay experience if used to its full potential. We’ll have to see whether that will happen or not. But if the technology is already developed, why only use it on just one title?
Stern also released code updates for Jurassic Park, Stranger Things, and Elvira’s House of Horrors. Game designer Keith Elwin announced on Facebook that he’s working on adding an Escape Nublar Challenge mini-game to add to Jurassic Park. This mini-game can be started by holding both flippers at the start of a game and has a different objective than regular gameplay.
Australian-based Haggis Pinball stopped posting daily video updates halfway through January. Pinball magazine reached out, but it turned out Haggis had decided to focus more on getting the Celts game into production, instead of posting daily video updates.
Haggis sent out a test release a few days ago. In this press release, they announce they developed a “hybrid playfield, comprised of a layer of Birch Plywood, a layer of specially coated Acrylic and a digitally printed cast substrate that is chemically and mechanically bonded to create a Pinball Playfield that will not dimple and not pool.” Basically, this means the playfield is covered with a hard plastic coating of about three to four millimeters thick, which is attached to the wooden playfield. Spanish and Italian pinball manufacturers also used a similar technique in the ’80s, which explains why those playfields always look so good.
The durability of this playfield is tested in a special video that involves the playfield and a sledgehammer.
China-based Homepin closed its facility for several weeks so its employees can celebrate Chinese New Year. However, with the Coronavirus breakout in China, it appears the Chinese government has ordered the factory that work can only be restarted by following several strict rules. If even one employee tests positive, the entire factory can be shut down.
As Homepin is developing its second title, China Zombies, I guess it’s safe to say delays will be in order.
Deeproot Pinball is preparing for its official press event and their appearance at the Texas Pinball Festival. Speaking of which: Deeproot has reached out to Zidware customers who earlier chose an upcoming Deeproot pinball game as compensation for the Zidware situation. These customers were offered flights and accommodations to the Texas Pinball Festival, where the first Deeproot Pinball game(s) is/are presented. Deeproot will also have a VIP room at the Texas pinball show, which is accessible to the press and other VIPs.
Jersey Jack Pinball released the Willy Wonka manual, which is just as heavy as previous manuals for JJP games. And some sections aren’t even complete yet.
Gamecode for Willy Wonka was also updated to version 1.33.
The company sent out a newsletter, which announced that all three models of Willy Wonka are in stock and ready to ship. They also have a very limited supply of Dialed In LE and The Wizard of Oz Yellow Brick Road Edition, of which there is no intention to manufacture more of these soon.
There appears to be no news on when the long-awaited sixth game for Jersey Jack Pinball will be announced. JJP-founder Jack Guarnieri has stated multiple times he would prefer to wait with announcing a new game until the company has games ready to ship.
Dutch Pinball shared some photos on their new Instagram account and Facebook page of the assembly process of new The Big Lebowski playfields. While Dutch Pinball has been building new games for several months, their Facebook page had not been updated since June 24th of 2018.
In a phone conversation I had earlier today with Barry Driesen, the owner of Dutch Pinball, he informed me he’s looking to do a livestream from the Dutch Pinball factory at the beginning of March, including gameplay and a short video tour. More details on this will be provided in upcoming newsletters.
Various pinball podcasters announced to stop their podcast. Some of these podcasters turned out to be combining forces on a new platform called The Pinball Network, which will launch February 10th, 2020. For more info, check this Pinside forum topic.
ColorDMD completed the Bally Williams line of games. The latest release to complete the series was NBA Fastbreak. New titles will continue to come out, with Sega’s Goldeneye already announced.
Classic Playfield Reproductions announced a custom re-theming shop, that can help you print all your custom artwork in case you’re re-theming an existing pinball machine.
Brian Dominy released 1.3 Beta code for Alien. While Pinball Brothers, the holding that owns the remains of Heighway Pinball, do not support the code, they allowed the code to be released. See this Pinside forum thread for a list of all the changes.
James Cardona wrote and released completely new game code for No Good Gofers. To run this code, the game will need to run on P-Roc boards, which are not included when purchasing the software. For more details and video of new gameplay, see this Pinside forum topic.
Pinball Magazine No. 2 has been reprinted and is available in the Pinball Magazine webshop. The first batch of orders has already shipped out. The reprint of issue 2 comes with a special set of postcards.
The Pinball Magazine webshop is now offering shipping with PostNL as well. This way, customers can choose between two postal services and rates.
Please note, it has been indicated by my account manager at Deutsche Post that shipping rates to the U.S. are likely to increase tens of percents in July due to changing laws. While I hope this will eventually will not be the case, you may want to place your order in the Pinball Magazine webshop now as shipping may be a lot more expensive in a few months.
Pinball News published a great Year In Review article, looking back on all the major pinball news of 2019.
Speaking of Pinball News, Martin Ayub and I will be back at the Texas Pinball Festival with our popular So You Think You Know Pinball quiz. The quiz is sponsored by all leading manufacturers of pinball machines and pinball parts, allowing participants to win cool pinball-related goodies. Contrary to previous years, this year, the quiz is scheduled at 6:00 PM on Saturday. So instead of opening the seminar program, we’re now closing it and warming you up for the TWIPY Awards at the same time.
As if that isn’t enough, we’ll also be hosting the quiz a week later at the Midwest Gaming Classic show as well. So if you can’t make it to the Texas show, we’ll hope to see you in Milwaukee.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this newsletter, I like to address a music-related matter. Not everybody knows that I’m also a music producer, releasing dance music under various aliases. When I’m talking to people that I know from pinball, and it happens to come up, they always go like, “Oh cool, I had no idea. Where can I listen to your music?” With that in mind, I figured it wouldn’t hurt mention an upcoming release of which I have high expectations. Next Friday, Valentine’s Day, will see the release of Remix the Remix – Diamond In The Night on my UniGroove label (click links to like respective Facebook pages to stay informed. You can also lookup and follow Unigroove and Remix_the_Remix on Instagram). What I’m curious about: do you think this song is suitable to be featured in a pinball machine? I’d appreciate it if you would check it out on Spotify or Apple Music and let me know.
Upcoming pinball shows and events:
That’s all for now. Keep on flippin’!
PS: If you appreciate these free monthly updates, feel free to show your appreciation in the Pinball Magazine virtual tip jar 🙂
EAG Expo in London, United Kingdom, is usually the first European amusement tradeshow of the year, and this year is no different. Compared to previous editions there are some differences when it comes to the representation of pinball.Stern Pinball is represented by Electrocoin, their UK importer, and they appeared to be the only pinball company present with games. At the Electrocoin stand, five Stern pinball games were set up, as well as quite a few redemption games from other manufacturers. The pinball games present are: Iron Maiden Pro, Black Knight Sword of Rage Pro, The Beatles Gold Edition, Jurassic Park Pro and Stranger Things Pro.On a wall, next to the games, Electrocoin has put up a piece of paper with an EAG rental offer for pinball machines, as can be seen below. It looks like a very reasonable offer to me.
There is also a Stranger Things Premium model present at an upstairs conference room, where business meetings are held by the team of Stern Pinball representatives.
Stern’s delegation this year: Gary Stern, Doug Skor, John Buscaglia, George Gomez, and Dave Peterson. The presence of Dave Peterson was unexpected as he wasn’t announced in a mailing from Stern Pinball about the show, which was sent out last week. Dave actually brought his family, including wife, daughters and one of the daughter’s boyfriend as well.
Speaking of Dave Peterson, he was one of the first people I ran into at the show. When discussing the past year and plans for 2020, they decided to sit down and record a small audio interview. This interview will be part of the upcoming Pinball Magazine & Pinball News podcast that will recap the pinball industry news of January 2020.
As for the Stranger Things Premium model, this was available to play upon invite by the Stern team in an upstairs conference room. The light in the room was a bit more dimmed than on the show floor, so the playfield projections would be very visible. Taking pictures was not allowed, however.
The first thing I noticed is how photos of the game really don’t do the game justice. It looks much better in person. The animations projected on the playfield also look very promising. Yes, it’s a projector and that has its shortcomings, especially in well-lit areas, but for pinball, it’s an innovation. If utilized to its full potential, this could be the next evolution in pinball. All of a sudden we’re looking at animated images on the spinner, standup targets, ramps and whatnot. As this is a new technology for Stern, the current use of such a playfield beamer is only scratching the surface of the possibilities. It would be a pity if this technology would not be used on future games as well.
While the Premium model of Stranger Things was only shown to business relations, George Gomez asked me to gather as many pinball enthusiast that were at the show for a short showcase in between meetings of the sales team. So a handful of people showed up and gathered around the game. George Gomez was explaining the use of the projector and defending the layout being a fan layout. Apparently not everybody feels that a layout that appears to be similar to some of the best games in pinball is a compliment. George also explained how the magnet that grabs the ball onto the backpanel, is not an electromagnet, but a permanent magnet instead. This way, the balls can stay up the backpanel for a very long time, without a magnet having to be energized. The trick to release the ball: remove the magnet from the backpanel. Very clever. George also mentioned they haven’t decided yet whether the locked balls on the backpanel will be stealable in multiplayer games, or not.
As far as Stranger Things goes, here are my observations from playing the Pro and watching others play the Premium as well. It seemed to me that the code on the Premium model was further along. On the Pro model, with its current code, shooting the Demogorgon bash toy wasn’t worth that much points. Over the two days I was at the show, I didn’t see anybody actually make a successful shot through the demogorgon bash toy on the Pro model. On the Premium, I saw it happen twice, and both times it turned out to be to great joy of the player. Maybe the toy on the Pro model needed some adjusting?
Scoring on the Pro appeared to be rather unbalanced at the moment. Good news for operators: game times were relatively short. I was also happy to see the game isn’t that much of a multiball fest as some other games where multiball seems to be the reward for anything. It actually took me quite a few games before I even got a multiball going.
The question I got asked already several times: is Stranger Things the new Attack From Mars or Medieval Madness? At the moment I’d say: not yet, but the potential is certainly there (although I have no idea whether Stranger Things has any humor in it and whether that can be implemented in the game). During gameplay I was expecting certain shots to act like Attack from Mars, but they didn’t as far as I could see. E.g: no total annihilation type of mode when all shot-related modes have been played. At least, I think I completed them all, but maybe I didn’t? In terms of music, I think the music on STh is a bit darker than on AFM or MM, which also affects how players experience the game. For now, I’ll suggest keeping an eye on the game and how code develops. For what it’s worth: I saw one pinball enthusiast who got so excited about the Premium model that he told Gary Stern he was canceling his Pro order and would order a Premium instead.
As for other companies at the show, Unys impressed me the most with three innovative games. Their Jetball is like a Skee Ball game with a Tic Tac Toe maze to aim for. The innovative part: the game uses the same technology as Pinball 2000 did to display points that can be won, using a seethrough mirror placed in between the player and the maze. Very cool innovation of a classic game. They also presented a frisbee game where players throw frisbees at tickets scrolling by on a big screen. A conveyer belt is then used to return the frisbees to the player. Their hitgame turned out to be an airgun shooter. The gun shoots little plastic balls to a large LCD on which various moving targets in various situations are displayed. The gun turned out to be very accurate and the game impressed me quite a bit (and I’m not into gun games). Unys is also the company that is producing the 3D Pong table, of which they now also offer a 4-player version.
That’s it for this year’s EAG Expo. It was fun as always and I look forward to coming back in 2021.
Good news and more good news! First, the good news: Pinball Magazine No. 2 is back in stock! The other good news: the Pinball Magazine webshop now has a new shipping option available. Please read all about it below.
Pinball Magazine No. 2 back in stock
Pinball Magazine No. 2 sold out over two years ago. Since then, there has been a growing demand for a reprint. Thanks to several new advertisers, this reprint is now available in the Pinball Magazine webshop.
The cover story in Pinball Magazine No. 2 focuses on the career of pinball designer Dennis Nordman (White Water, Demolition Man, Blackwater 100, Pirates of the Caribbean, Wheel of Fortune, and more). Pinball artist Greg Freres joins Dennis on the games they worked on together (Elvira and the Party Monsters, Dr. Dude, The Party Zone, Scared Stiff, Whoa Nellie).
Did you know that Dennis Nordman designed several videogames in the ‘80s? That’s just one of the many topics discussed in this cover story. But there is a lot more. The cover story also has contributions from Steve Ritchie, Chris Granner, John Youssi, Doug Watson, Roger Sharpe, and others, all discussing working with Dennis at some point during his career in pinball.
Aside from the cover story, Pinball magazine No. 2 also has side articles on Pinball News, The Pinball Arcade, ColorDMD, Pinball Expo, Silverball Museum, and more.
In terms of content, most articles in Pinball Magazine No. 2 remained the same, although some typos were corrected. New advertisements were added to fund the printing of this reprint partly. As you may have noticed, the cover of the reissue has a different background color as well. Check out the feedback that came in on Pinball Magazine No. 2.
Bonus set of postcards
New with the reprint of issue two is a set of eight postcards with photos of games designed by Dennis Nordman. When Pinball Magazine No. 2 originally came out, no postcards came with the magazine as I started doing that later on with the publication of Santiago Ciuffo’s PINBALL book. Since then, a limited edition set of postcards also came out when Pinball Magazine No. 4 and 5 came out. In line with previous postcard sets, the photos on the new postcard set have also been taken by Argentinean photographer Santiago Ciuffo.
For those who ordered Pinball Magazine No. 2 the first time around and that are interested in the new set of postcards: extra sets of postcards can be ordered separately as well in the Pinball Magazine webshop. However, I would advise ordering such a set of cards together with another magazine or book. When ordering another magazine, the added postal costs for the postcards are almost non-existent. When ordering only a set of postcards, that’s not the case. For most territories, the postal charges are the sum of a fixed price per package plus a rate for the weight of the package. While the weight of a set of postcards will be less than 100 grams, for some territories, the fixed price per package is rather steep. Hence the suggestion to combine ordering the set with another book or magazine, or maybe even wait for Pinball Magazine No. 6. Issue 6 is supposed to come out later this year, although I can’t say when exactly.
Note: when ordering the reprint of Pinball Magazine No. 2, there is no need to add the postcards, as these will be included with the reprint anyway.
New shipping option in the Pinball Magazine webshop
When you’re placing your order in the Pinball Magazine webshop, and get to the part of estimating your postal costs, you’ll notice an extra shipping option has been added. For years I’ve been working with Deutsche Post, which is still an option to choose from. New is the option to choose for shipping with PostNL. PostNL offers different postal rates, which may be cheaper you’re your order is close to 2 or 5 kilograms (4 or 10 lbs).
PostNL may, in some cases, be more expensive than Deutsche Post, but it does have some advantages. Packages of over 2 kilograms are most likely to include track and trace. Packages shipped with PostNL are expected to ship out sooner as well, as these can be dropped off at the post office on any business day. With Deutsche Post, there is a minimum number of packages to ship. For that reason, shipments to Deutsche Post occur monthly. It’s now up to you to decide which postal service you prefer.
Note regarding future North American postal rates
While postal rates are adjusted at the beginning of each year, my account manager at Deutsche Post informed me last week that postal rates to the U.S. are expected to go up significantly around July 2020. It was explained to me as a political response to cheap postal rates from China being addressed. Postal rates from other countries are likely to be affected, as well. The exact details are yet unknown, but chances are it will be cheaper to order your Pinball Magazine products before the postal rates will be increased.
Stern Pinball’s newest pinball machine is based on Netflix’ Stranger Things. A teaser video leaked over the weekend. That video was taken down, after which Stern confirmed on their social media the news with a coming soon video.
The game was officially announced on December 23rd. The designer of the game is Brian Eddy, a veteran pinball designer. Eddy has designed two of the most popular pinball machines of all time when working at Williams in the ’90s: Medieval Madness and Attack from Mars. Since then he’s been working on online games. The Stranger Things pinball machine marks his return into pinball. The layout of the game sees some traditional Brian Eddy elements, such as the guarded center shot.
Stranger Things will be available at Stern Pinball distributors soon in three versions: Pro, Premium and Limited Edition. The Premium and LE versions of the game feature a video projector, that projects interactive images on a wall positioned at the center of the playfield. The center of the wall can fold down, similar to the castle bridge in Medieval Madness, becoming a ramp and revealing the Demodog toy behind the wall. The Premium and LE versions also have a telekinetic ball lock where balls are locked on the backpanel of the playfield.
December 23rd, 7:00 PM CST, Jack Danger of Deadflip will be streaming gameplay from the Stern Pinball factory in the company of game designer Brian Eddy. For more info on the game, visit the Stern Pinball website and Facebook page. More details on the game can also be found in this IGN article, in which Zach Sharpe is interviewed.