Opinions of a pinball artist from creditdotpinball.com

Over at creditdotpinball.com, the owner of the site posted a complaint about the recently released Hobbit playfield art.  In response to his article, he received an email from Doug Watson, an accomplished pinball artist with many games to his credit.  The e-mail was so interesting that creditdotpinball got permission from Watson to publish the letter which you can find here.  The email has a great story about Watson’s work on Attack from Mars and all the effort he went to in order to get exactly what he wanted.

I disagree with the e-mail to the extent that it seems to chastise current artists for using photoshop and not doing the hard work.  I think that a person dedicated to art would like to be cut loose like Watson was and would likely do the necessary work to achieve a great result.  I think the real problem is the insistence, likely with good reason, on using licensed themes.  

Licensed themes lead to limited artwork filled with photoshopped images because the license holder insists on total control of the license. Marvel, or whatever company held the Iron Man license, would not allow target decals reading Iron Man because the two sets of targets were separated on the playfield and the license required that the words Iron Man not be separated.  As a result, the machine shipped without Iron Man stickers.  This level of control is an absolute constraint on artists and we will not see a return to great pinball art until there is an unlicensed machine produced or there is a license holder with a vision that allows for flexibility beyond the use of photoshopped images.   


Videos from NorthWest Pinball and Arcade Show

I was checking out funwithbonus.com today which is a great website by an excellent tournament pinball played named Steve Bowden.  He recently featured a video of Steve Ritchie doing an hour long presentation at NWPAS about the creation of his Star Trek pinball machine for Stern.

When I looked at youtube, I saw that the poster had posted a number of other cool videos from NWPAS 2014, and some from previous years, which you can check out here.



Another Pinball Company?

VonnieD pinball is on its way.  For now, the website is just a countdown timer.  The twitter page has a playfield teaser.  The most interesting news so far is that Gabriel Picolo, the artist behind 365 Days of Doodles, will do the art for VonnieD.  Since I saw this notice, I have been following 365 Days of Doodles on Facebook.  Picolo is very talented and it is exciting to think about what he can do on a pinball playfield.  

Project Pinball

Project Pinball is a charity that combines a passion for pinball with a desire to bring some needed recreation to hospitalized kids.  Project Pinball is a 501(c)(3) charity that is dedicated to placing pinball machines in children’s hospitals.  The IFPA is supporting Project Pinball through a July fundrasing campaign.   There will be special WPPR points eligible tournaments in July to raise money for Project Pinball.  You can show your support by attending a tournament, making a donation or buying a t-shirt.
The tournament listing can be found here.

 Project Pinball Tshirt Mockup2

Playfield Art for the Hobbit

Jersey Jack Pinball has released playfield art for The Hobbit which will be the second JJP machine.  You can see a large scale photo of the art work here.

Click to access PDF+-+JJP-TH-Plyfld-Art.pdf

It is always hard to judge playfield art without seeing it on a populated playfield.  That said, I don’t like it as much as WOZ, but that is probably because the WOZ theme lends itself to bright colors.  The Hobbit has a more muted color scheme to correspond with the theme.

What do you think?

Stern Announces Iron Man as the first “Vault” Title

Pinball collectors have speculated for a long time about how many Iron Man pins Stern could sell if they would do a remake.  Fans were told by Stern that the original toys were no longer available or that the license was no longer available.  Well, it looks like everything came together.  Stern announced the release of Iron Man Pro as a title from the vault.  What vault titles will follow?


Stern Pinball Opens its Vault to Reintroduce Iron Man Pinball

World’s Leading Maker of Arcade-Quality Pinball Games Announces First Stern Vault Release With Iron Man Pro 

MELROSE PARK, IL – June 12, 2014 – Stern Pinball, Inc., the world’s oldest and largest producer of arcade-quality pinball games, announced today it is opening the Stern Vault for re-release of Iron Man™ Pro. The Iron Man pinball machine features visuals, speech, music and sound effects from the Marvel blockbuster films Iron Man and Iron Man 2. After numerous requests from the pinball community, Stern is re-introducing this exceptional game. 

Originally released in 2010, the Iron Man Pro model continues to bring the battle between billionaire industrialist, Tony Stark/Iron Man, and his enemies to the fingertips and flippers of pinball players. With non-stop action, Iron Man Pro Vault Edition heightens the excitement, bringing back a classic game for the players of any age and skill level.

Iron Man Pro Vault Edition features technological and manufacturing upgrades utilized by Stern in its current Pro models. Among the improvements is all LED playfield lighting. Iron Man is manufactured with Stern’s updated modern metal and wood back box with red t-molding and with a decaled cabinet and speaker housing. The Iron Monger, War Machine and Whiplash figures have been molded in one piece construction for improved strength. 

“Operators tell us Iron Man is a great earning pinball game, and enthusiasts tell us it’s a great playing game. We didn’t make enough,” said Gary Stern, founder, CEO and chairman of Stern Pinball.

Look for future Stern Vault Editions.

Pricing and Availability:

Pro Version: $5,495 (MSRP)

PAPA 17 World Championships

The PAPA 17 world championships are coming up Aug 14-17 at the PAPA headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA.  Even if you don’t compete, this is one of the two times per year that the PAPA facility is open to the public.  During the Pinburgh tournament, all 400 players play each round at the same time.  Although there are probably 50 to 75 machines available for public play during the rounds, the majority of the machines are in use during qualifying rounds.  At PAPA 17, a bank of qualifying machines will be used to qualify players for the finals with the majority of the machines available for free play.  This is the best chance all year to play the machines in the PAPA facility,