Pinfest 2017 Highlights

If you were one of the lucky patrons to have attended this past weekend’s Pinfest 2017 at Caves Coastal Bar & Bungalows in Newcastle, then we envy you!

Not only were there heaps of pinball machines to play from every era, patrons also got to see and experience Homepin’s amazing new Thunderbirds machine. Homepin have done an amazing job, not just on the theme and design, but also by setting up a factory to mass produce pinball machines! We will Mike Kalinowski and the Homepin team all the best.

If that wasn’t enough, Australian Pinball League’s Norbert Snicer also caught up with Andrew Kress who built his own Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy machine! Yes, you read that right! Andrew’s creation is unique and sophisticated, featuring multiple LCD screens and an awesome playfield to boot! To say Andrew’s machine was impressive would be a gross understatement. Pinfest 2017 could claim that it was the only place on the planet where you could play the only Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy pinball machine.

If you were like us and missed out, here are a few highlights from Pinfest 2017: Festival Of The Silver Ball:

An impressive flyer for an impressive event!

Norbert Snicer chats with Homepin’s Mike Kalinowski and checks out their new Thunderbirds machine!

We are quite excited by Thunderbirds and can’t wait to play it!

The crowd lines up to play some pinball!

Stern’s new Star Wars pinball machine proved popular

The sweet sound of the silver ball!

There were pinball machines to enjoy from every era!

Every generation enjoys flippin’

Andrew Kress stands proud in front of his creation: Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy!

The impressive Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy playfield
image sources: Australian Pinball League

 

The Force Is Strong With Stern’s New Star Wars Pinball Machines

In Stern’s factory far, far away (from Australia), Star Wars Pinball machines are rolled off the production line in record numbers!

With Star Wars celebrating its 40th anniversary, Stern Pinball has come to the party with three machines (designed by Steve Ritchie) that will have every Star Wars (and pinball) fan drooling uncontrollably! So strong is the Star Wars franchise, the pinball machines are reportedly selling like hot cakes, with the 800 run of LE machines already spoken for! Shipping (to Australia) for the Pro model begins in July, with the LE and Premium editions to follow not too long after. Don’t fret about the Pro and Premium models selling out, Stern will build an unlimited amount of these machines to fulfil demand.

Talking to RePlay Magazine, Stern’s Director of Marketing and Licensing Jody Dankberg states that, “There’s been a lot of excitement and anticipation around this title, resulting in record sales for a game that had not even been seen in person. Everyone loves the original trilogy: It’s the basis for all things Star Wars. We felt that these movies helped us tell the best story possible while being able to use cool elements from the original films. The majority of our customers are nostalgic for those movies.

For those curious to know why Stern chose to tap the original trilogy instead of Disney’s new Star Wars films, Dankberg told RePlay that the firm believes more customers are interested in the originals over the new movies. We reckon Stern have got that right!

Australian pricing for the three pinball models (including GST):

  • Star Wars Pro $8,350
  • Star Wars Premium $10,800
  • Star Wars Limited Edition (LE) $12,500

The force is definitely strong with these pinball machines!

source: Stern Pinball Inc.

 

Pinball Innovation: Flipping At The Bleeding Edge

Imagine if we had a crystal ball to see into the future to see what pinball machines would look like – what would we see?

The future of pinball depends on innovation to ensure it remains relevant. Innovation can be obtained via the use of current and emerging technologies, and unlike the end of the 20th century, the technology is already available for pinball manufacturers to leverage and perhaps get an advantage over their competitors.

The current leaders in pinball innovation, Jersey Jack Pinball (JJP) have not only forced their competitors to innovate just to keep up with them, they are constantly pushing themselves to come up with new ideas for their pinball machines. JJP’s latest release, Dialed In! is the first pinball machine to feature Bluetooth® connectivity that provides new capabilities (like controlling the flippers) through a smartphone. Innovation never ceases, so pinball manufacturers need to keep up or risk perishing.

Jersey Jack Pinball’s Dialed In! is the first pinball machine with Bluetooth connectivity

With all this talk of innovation one wonders what current or emerging technologies can be used to catapult pinball machines to the bleeding edge. There are current technologies that pinball designers and manufacturers can leverage to provide a better and immersive experience for their target market – be it the player, operator or collector. The advent of cloud computing has allowed a myriad of services to be used, from big data to  streaming analytics and real-time telemetry monitoring via Internet of Things (IoT) to deliver innovative products and services.

First things first, what the hell is this Internet of Things (IoT)? In a nutshell, it is a system of ubiquitous sensors connecting the physical world to the Internet. Although things, Internet, and connectivity are the three core components of IoT, the value is in closing the gap between the physical and digital world in self-reinforcing and self-improving systems. IoT creates these systems by connecting things, animate or inanimate, to the Internet with unique identifiers that provide context, giving visibility into the network, the devices themselves, and their environment. Equipped with rich data sets and using advanced analytics, IoT can give us enormous insight into our world, and this is where pinball manufacturers can differentiate themselves by providing IoT-ready pinball machines and mobile applications that can provide telemetric real-time data analysis and information, event processing, pattern analysis and recognition from a player, operator or collector’s perspective.

Pinball manufacturers in the 21st century that want to stand out from the crowd could enrich the pinball experience with a number of innovations using IoT, like:

  • Geospatial awareness – a geo-location broadcast (to a smartphone app) to ensure players know where to find and play a particular pinball machine
  • Fault tolerance with predictive failure on components using telemetry sensors
  • Health monitoring on key components with real-time component status and diagnostics reporting (on screen / email report or via smartphone app)
  • Playfield Analytics that gives the user a rich set of dimensional (per ball / per game) information on:
    • Playfield hot spots to show the area where the ball spends most time
    • Statistics on shots, play and modes, providing shot accuracy (%)
    • Ball speed in kilometres or miles for the speed demons
    • Time per ball and points per ball
    • Shot reaction time to measure how fast a player reacts to hit/flip the ball
    • Track use of machine (in tournament mode) and provide the player their score via smartphone app

Innovation should improve and enrich the experience of pinball by providing deeper real-time insights about the machine, either from a player wanting to know how hard they hit the ball or the operator acting proactively on fixing a component before it fails.

For pinball to remain relevant, manufacturers must challenge the status quo by pushing the technology envelope to keep players, collectors and operators flipping for longer. Long live the silver-ball!

Which pinball innovation tickles your fancy? Tell us now on Twitter or Facebook.

 


Dirty Donny’s Blacklight Rebellion Art Show Conquers Australia

He came, he conquered, we talked, we drank, we played pinball and we bought some very cool art!

Dirty Donny’s Blacklight Rebellion Art Show / Book Signing at the Kustom Lane Gallery was a resounding success. Held last Friday and Saturday, the event saw Dirty Donny’s art and book on show – ready to be bought and signed by the great artist. Among the cool stuff were two of Donny’s famous pinball works, Stern’s Metallica and Aerosmith.

The crowd were kept entertained with free-play pinball (thanks to Geoff from Pinball Perfection) and a well stocked Tiki bar. With the event being intimate, attendees had access to Donny for a great chat and to also get their art, book and even pinball parts signed! It was great seeing Donny being accessible to his fans (us included!) – Dirty Donny Gillies is one awesomely cool and humble dude!

If you missed out on Dirty Donny’s art show at the Kustom Lane Gallery, then let our highlights make you feel like you were there!

The great Dirty Donny Gillies was always available for a chat!

The blacklight made Dirty Donny’s art pop!

The famous Screaming Hand!

There was a lot of interest in Donny’s work on Stern Pinball’s Aerosmith LE machine!

Lots of interest in Metallica too. Donny’s art on these machines is iconic!

The crowd mingles and admires Dirty Donny’s art

There were a number of original and print works available to buy

It was a good night to chat, admire art work, have a drink and play pinball

Supplier of the event’s pinball machines, Geoff Wills from Pinball Perfection with Dirty Donny
image source: Pinball Perfection

Dirty Donny was busy signing books, art and pinball parts!

Roast’em!

The event also allowed us to catch up with great friends! Big thumbs up for an awesome evening!

Hardest decision we’ll have to make – where to hang our cool Zodiac print?!

Dirty Donny Down Under

Get your calendar out and mark it busy on May 26 and 27 as the awesome artist, Dirty Donny Gillies will be at the Kustom Lane Gallery for his “Blacklight Rebellion” Art Show and Book Signing. If you are a fan of Dirty Donny’s work, then come on down to check out his stunning art and for a meet and greet with the great artist.

Oh yeah, for those of you that love Dirty Donny’s superb art on Stern’s Metallica and Aerosmith pinball machines, then you will be in for an extra special treat thanks to Skott Kellett and Pinball Perfection‘s Geoff Wills!

Event: Dirty Donny Gillies “Blacklight Rebellion” Art Show and Book Signing
Where: Kustom Lane Gallery – 535-537 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn VIC 3122
When: Friday May 26 from 7:00pm; and Saturday May 27 from 6:00pm
Cost: Free entry!

We will be snapping lots of pics at the event so make sure you follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!


source: Dirty Donny

source: Kustom Lane Gallery

May The 4th Be With You: A New Stern Star Wars Pinball?

With the internet rumour mill running amok regarding Stern’s next pinball machine, we wonder if they will announce a new Star Wars themed pinball machine on ‘May The 4th Be With You‘ Star Wars day? We can only hope!

If you weren’t aware, there have been quite a number of Star Wars themed pinball machines over the years, from Hankin’s wide body The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Sonic’s Star Wars (1987), Data East’s Star Wars (1992) to Sega’s awesome Star Wars Trilogy (1997) and Williams’ Star Wars Episode I (1999) built on the ill-fated Pinball2000 platform.

If Stern does announce a new Star Wars pinball machine, then we cross our fingers that it will be a mix of the Data East and Sega Star Wars machines. Oh yeah, we would love some Dark Side and Light Side LE machines too – hope you are listening Stern!

What are your predictions for Stern’s new pinball machine? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

May the force be with you!

One of our favourite Star Wars themed pinball machine, Sega’s Star Wars Trilogy

A close second, Data East’s Star Wars

You either loved it or hated Williams’ Star Wars Episode I

The first Star Wars themed pinball machine, Hankin’s The Empire Strikes Back

Straight out of Spain, Sonic’s Star Wars
source: Internet Pinball Database

 

First Impressions Of Stern’s Batman 66 Pinball Machine

SOCK! POW! ZOK! WHAP! BIFF! OOOOF! NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA BATMAN!

We enjoy visiting our friends at Zax Amusements. Not only is it fun to catch up with the Zax crew, but it’s also fun to gawk in wonder at the machines on their showroom floor. One machine that caught our eye was the new Batman 66 Premium Edition pinball table from Stern.

Batman 66 is the first machine that Stern has released with a full colour high definition (HD) LED screen integrated in the backboard instead of the traditional dot matrix display. We were quite impressed with the HD LED screen’s vividness and its animation – it captures the cheesiness brilliantly from the 1966 Batman TV show. We initially thought that the HD LED display was on the small side, but seeing it in action it actually suits the machine to a T.

The visual package of the machine is complete with the awesome artwork by Christopher Franchi. The purple and blue hues of the artwork on the cabinet are eye catching (they stand out from a mile away!) and the equally beautiful backglass (above the LED display) and playfield art just scream sixties kitsch!

Being pressed for time, we only had five games on the machine, so we thought we’d comment on our first impressions on how the machine plays rather than an indepth review on its many play modes and features. First things first, the (software) code is nowhere near complete, which shows. We noticed that there were no callouts at the start or during the game, which obviously took away from the Batman experience – the game seemed too quiet. The playfield lighting about three quarters of the way up was on the dark side, making the ball hard to see, but it wasn’t anything major that detracted from the enjoyment of playing the machine – again, this may be an easy fix with a code update. We absolutely loved the illuminated batphone target and the villain vision TV set magnet feature.

Batman 66 features many cool toys, but the one that truly stands out for us is the interactive KG Bird Crane Co crane toy on the right hand side of the playfield. Once initiated, it takes a hard flip to smash the “wrecking ball” on the crane (a bit like Slimer in Ghostbusters), which sends your ball careening all over the playfield – truly heart stopping play! As mentioned earlier, the animation on the LED screen is great, giving the player lots of feedback on modes and features at play. Each go we had we got a higher score as we got to know the features, modes and the general flow of the playfield.

Batman 66 (Premium Edition) will definitely appeal to Generation X’ers that grew up with the TV show, but it also has the general pulling power due to its brilliant presentation. Once Stern irons out the software code, it will exponentially enhance the cheesy Batman KAPOW experience!

Batman 66 (PE) is eye catching from any angle!

Oo’er, Premium Edition!

Batman In Colo(u)r!

Autographed by none other than Adam West

Taking it all in – it looks so cheesily good!

Flipper button seems in the right place… Love the side art!

The Bat Gadget selector is begging to be pressed!

It all STARTS here!

Let’s give Batman and Robin a hand in defeating their evil foes!

Here comes the villain vision TV set! Watch that magnet lock!

Let’s see what this KG Bird Crane Co can do…

Bash that (wrecking) ball on the crane!

No!!! The game should never be over!

Damn, we didn’t match on the Bat Score-Match-Analyzer. Ah well, another credit…

Thank you to Zax Amusements for allowing us to play the new Stern Batman 66 Premium Edition pinball machine.