Modern pinball machines have hundreds of electronic components and complex wiring harnesses. But back in the day, pinball relied on gravity and simple obstacles made from nails and bent metal. Old Things Never Die got their hands on a time-worn 1930s pinball table and painstakingly restored it to like-new condition.
We’ve seen how pinball machines are made. Now, thanks to Gavin of The Slow Mo Guys, we can see exactly how they work as they kick steel balls around. He spent some quality time with Jersey Jack’s tricked-out Willy Wonka pinball machine to observe how its electro-mechanical playfield components work.
The makers of Skee-Ball present a uniquely-styled digital pinball machine. It’s not cheap, but it does come ready to play with 96 pinball machines, powered by Zen Studios’ Pinball FX3, and has a 55″ full HD playfield, arcade-quality sound, authentic launch and flipper buttons, haptic feedback, and undercabinet LED lighting.
Weird Al’s Museum of Natural Hilarity runs on the Multimorphic P3 pinball platform, which combines mechanical components with video screens. The game is packed with wacky levels inspired by his music. Obstacles include a hamster wheel and ball run course, and it plays 17 of Al’s novelty tunes and over 2000 voice clips.
Several years back, we came across some coffee tables made from pinball machine parts, but you couldn’t actually play them. BuildXYZ wanted a playable machine in the space of a coffee table. So he took one of our favorite classic pinball machines, Bally’s Centaur, and completely rebuilt it into a more compact form factor.
Do you enjoy pinball? Whether you play the real machines or virtual ones, Stellar Factory’s handy notebook provides a great place for you to jot down high scores so you can track your history over time. The 50-page notepad is printed on the front and back, tracking up to 100 machines along with their locations and notes.
Red Bull just built the world’s largest pinball machine. Then they turned freerunner Pasha ‘the Boss’ Petkuns into a human pinball, sending him sliding, swinging, and flipping his way through the 65-foot tall playfield which they set up at a 45° angle for an added challenge.
Boutique pinball machine maker Spooky Pinball created this sweet limited-edition pinball machine inspired by the classic Japanese Kaiju series Ultraman. The machine is covered with awesome artwork, and has interactive elements inspired by a monster-filled Toyko. Sadly, all 500 of the machines have already been sold.
What you’re looking at here is an old digital pinball game that dates back nearly four decades. TysyTube found the yellowed and badly-scratched handheld system on an auction site, and painstakingly restored it to like-new condition. Using that ice cube tray as a screw sorter is a brilliant lifehack.
Stern Pinball’s latest machine is loaded with images, sounds, and characters from The Mandalorian. Among its gimmicks is a sculpt of Grogu that wields Force powers to control the pinball. The Premium and LE add a mini-playfield, while the 750-unit LE also gets a “Beskar steel” mirrored backglass and other upgrades.
BuyStuffStore is working on something truly awesome – a TV stand that can transform from an arcade machine with a 50″ screen into a horizontal pinball table in seconds. It’s shown here with the AtGames Legends Gamer Pro. It’s not in production yet, but they are accepting a small number of participants for their beta tester program.
The Pacific Pinball Museum is home to thousands of vintage pinball machines. Video producer Eddie Codel toured their warehouse and shot some awesome aerial stills and videos of the collection. Some machines are kept for archival purposes, while others will be repaired and placed in the museum for the public to enjoy.
Arcade1Up expands into the realm of digital pinball. This 3/4-scale version of the classic Attack from Mars plays just like the original, complete with haptic touch flippers and a tilt sensor. It has a 23.8″ LCD playfield, working scoreboard, and light-up backglass. It plays 10 other Bally/Williams classics by Zen Studios.
Tyler Bower loves to make things from K’NEX construction toys. His masterpiece: a fully-functional, life-size pinball machine. It features ramps, automatic scoring, a digital scoreboard, and mechanical features like trap doors, chain lifts, and multiball. The whole thing shakes a bit, so it’s a good thing there’s no tilt sensor.
Do you or someone you know love pinball? The guys at gcpinball make these nifty keychains that look just like a real flipper from a pinball machine. Since they’re individually 3D printed they can be personalized with up to three initials, and come in a dozen color combinations.
Arcade1Up specializes in making compact versions of classic arcade machines. Now they’re getting into the digital pinball game, with a 3/4-scale Marvel pinball machine that runs Zen Studios games. It has a 24″ recessed display, a nudge and tilt sensor, haptic flipper feedback, a plunger, and a second screen scoreboard.
Take a trip to 1980s Hawkins, Indiana and battle the Demogorgon with Stern Pinball’s Stranger Things machines. You’ll want to opt for the pricey Premium or Limited Edition, which have a projection video screen and “telekinesis” magnetic ball lock. We’re kind of bummed they didn’t do a lower-level playfield for The Upside Down.
VPCabs has been making truly impressive virtual pinball cabinets for a while now. These models let you play modern and classic games in a compact space. The Vertigo is a 76.5″ tall machine that stands like an arcade cabinet, while The Vortex is a 39″ tall tabletop model. Both can play classic arcade games too.
We’ve seen a number of tiny arcade machines, but what we really want someone to produce is a teensy digital pinball machine like this one from maker Matt “Circuitbeard” Brailsford. It uses a tiny Windows 10 computer called the LattePanda and runs Visual Pinball on its dual LCD screens. Build details here.
This amazing bit of kit was built by Yuriy Shishkov of the Fender Custom Shop for the 2018 NAMM show. The combo includes a light-up Telecaster electric guitar and an accompanying amplifier, both built using parts from an 1975 Bally Wizard pinball machine.
Jordan Coelho and Josselin Bey assembled a team of 14 Montréal artists to contribute to this collaborative animation, in which each person was asked to imagine a pinball machine using their aesthetic. The result is visual and auditory magic. Also, we really want a PaRappa the Rapper machine now.
Recently, The Washington Post released a fun animation that tracked the flying that Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk did in 2018. After seeing the bouncing back and forth across the globe, Jonathan Malmqvist decided to add appropriate pinball machine sound effects.
They may have lost the war to video games, but we still love the tactile feel and gameplay of pinball machines. In this clip from Vox, a pinball expert gives us insight into some of the tricks of the trade that make it much more of a game of skill than you might think.
33 Games creates teensy (non-functional) replicas of classic arcade cabinets and pinball machines. They’re extremely detailed, down to the mini joysticks and on-screen graphics. They’re built to 1/12th scale, and measure about 6″ tall. They even make a change machine.
The A.V. Club visited the factory of legendary pinball maker Stern Pinball. The video shows a few of the more than 3,500 parts that make up a pinball machine, before walking us through the assembly process. They’ve moved to a bigger factory since we visited.