Stern Pinball’s Keith Elwin Creates The Avengers Infinity Quest Pinball Machine!

If you are a seasoned pinball player and have been following the scene for a while, the name Keith Elwin means fun, innovative and awesome pinball machines. For the casual pinballers that don’t know or notice who designs the pinball machines they love playing, if we were to mention Stern Pinball’s Iron Maiden or Jurassic Park, then you have Keith Elwin to thank.

Keith is the new pinball designer on the block who has just finished his third game for Stern Pinball, Avengers Infinity Quest! Just looking at the video and pics further below of Keith’s latest creation, we know you’ll all be itching to play it, just like we are – it’s screaming at us to be played!

source: Stern Pinball

Before we dive into questions about Avengers Infinity Quest, we thought we’d start with introducing Keith Elwin and how he got started designing homebrew machines and then progressing to the big league in getting a job at Stern Pinball Inc.!

AUSRETROGAMER [ARG]: Hey Keith, to help our audience get to know you, tell us, before you became a household name in the pinball design space, what were you up to?
Keith Elwin [KME]: I was a pinball operator and technician actually! I had games in San Diego and Los Angeles.

ARG: Following up on the previous question, how did your love of pinball translate to getting a pinball design gig at Stern Pinball?
KME: I always wanted to be a pinball designer. When I was a kid I spent countless hours on a video game called pinball construction set which allowed you to design your own game! When I got older I made my own game in the garage which caught the interest of Stern and the rest is history.

ARG: In the world of pinball design, you are a relatively newcomer, were you nervous or felt intimidated in any way when you first walked into Stern Pinball and bumped into seasoned pinball design veterans like Steve Ritchie, John Borg and George Gomez?
KME: I had met and interacted with George and Steve before but it was my first time meeting Borgie. I remember being nervous then he came down and was super chill and fun to talk to so any nerves were quickly gone.

Avengers Infinity Quest Whitewood

The awesome Captain Marvel Ramp!

Whitewood at night!

ARG: In the space of a few years, you have created instant classic pinball machines, firstly, Iron Maiden, then with Jurassic Park and your latest machine, Avengers IQ – how does one keep that high trajectory and momentum of designing awesome, innovative and fun pinball machines?
KME: Why thank you! Well I am trying to do things differently yet not TOO differently where people will not like it. I will always try to have a mix of new stuff not seen before with stuff not seen in a long time from classic games.

ARG: Now, to your latest machine, and dare we say, masterpiece, how long did it take from concept to hitting the production line? Oh yeah, were you also working on two machines at once (tail-end of JP and Avengers IQ) – if so, how did you manage to pull that off?
KME: I think all designers in some way are working on their next game whether it be on paper or in their mind. For me when I get spare time I start sketching ideas in my head to paper with the intent to revisit it to see if it fits a future game. Avengers started in July last year and is currently now in production!

Keith testing his creation!

ARG: Looking at all the photos and videos of Avengers IQ, we can’t help but think, WE WANT THIS MACHINE! What is it about Keith Elwin designed machines that excite people to a point that they already know it will be great to play (or own) before they even get to flip it?
KME: Ha, probably because I don’t have a template I go by (yet – haha) I think people like seeing lots of shots, multiple flippers, lots of ramps and get excited because that is what gets me excited as well.

ARG: The Avengers IQ playfield has A LOT going on in it (the motorised Dr. Strange pop-up disc scoop / underground Portal on the Prem/LE models and the custom intricate wireform ramps have blown our mind), do you come up with all the ideas (in what to include and how the machine will play) and then seek input and/or constructive feedback from others in the design team, or is the entire process collaborative from start to finish?
KME: Most of it is me bouncing ideas off my engineer Harrison Drake and he will either tell me I am crazy or he takes it as a challenge and creates exactly what I am looking for. The whole subway system I thought would work perfectly for this game as a “portal” with some cool lighting effects and Harrison did not disappoint!

Avengers Infinity Quest pinball team assemble – the Stern Pinball design and engineering team behind this great machine!

ARG: With the team behind Avengers IQ (lead software programmer Rick Naegele, lead mechanical engineer Harrison Drake, lead artist Jeremy Packer (aka Zombie Yeti), computer graphics art director Chuck Ernst, and lead sound designer Jerry Thompson), how did the current worldwide health situation impact the creation of Avengers IQ?
KME: It was fine with the Stern employees as we can always come in and have a meeting. It was harder with the contractors like Jerry and Jeremy since we have to convey what we want via email or text.

ARG: What were you most excited about working on Avengers IQ and what will surprise the player when they play this machine for the first time?
KME: The Tower magnet! I will never forget Gary’s response the first time he hit that shot…..”Whoa!!!”

ARG: Lucky last and possibly the toughest question, who is your favourite Avenger?
KME: Growing up it was Hulk but as I get older I think Dr. Strange because well… he is strange 🙂

Well there you have it folks, Mr Keith Elwin of Stern Pinball Inc. fame – the Pinball Design Avenger! Remember that name, remember the pinball machines, as we guarantee you’ll love playing them all. We thank Keith for his time and wish him the best with whatever pinball magic he creates in the future.

For now, check out Stern Pinball’s Avengers Infinity Quest and get hyped!

The first Avengers Infinity Quest Limited Edition rolls off the production line!

The gorgeous Avengers IQ LE model!

The Avengers IQ Limited Edition playfield!

Playfields Assemble!

The Stern Pinball Avenger!
image source: Stern Pinball