Last Pinball Factory Around

Addams Family Playfield

The New York Times has an awesome article about Gary Stern of Stern Pinball, the last pinball manufacturing company around. This may not be entirely true. There was a company in Australia that bought the rights to a bunch of Bally/Williams IP and is supposed to re-making some classics, but they seem to have disappeared (or it might have been a scam — I honestly don’t know what happened).

Pictured at left is Addams Family. It was the most popular pinball machine ever made, selling 22,000 machines (which is more than Stern’s entire annual production run, these days). Pat Lawlor, the designer, is now at Stern and continues to design some truly great tables.

I wasn’t entirely surprised to learn that most pinball machines are sold individuals and placed in homes. The economy of route operated — corner store / pub — pinball machines was always based on conflict that was quite easily resolved by simply replacing all the machines with video games. Lower maintenance, less square footage, easier to move, and easier to simply swap software (these days) to “upgrade” the play experience.

I currently own 2 machines; Cyclone and Addams Family SPecial Collectors Edition.

Both are fully restored and both will be appearing at next month’s Maker Faire, along with a Dr. Who that I restored a few years ago and gave to a friend.

I may likely also be bringing a PIN-BOT. It is quite thoroughly beat and is going to be the target of some radical restoration experiments, I think.



4 Responses to “Last Pinball Factory Around”

  1. Amie says:

    How have I never seen that Doctor Who machine? Of course, it’s 3 Doctor’s short of current Who history, but man, I’d love to play one of these!

  2. Jeff McNeill says:

    I loved Cyclone, what an awesome pinball machine! I can’t even remember where I played that but our crew spent some time on it and got pretty good. Thanks for the rememory!

    Cheers,
    Jeff

  3. Irina Pinball says:

    Addams Family, thats a fantasctic table, spent a lot of coins on that one.
    They have a new Indiana Jones table out which looks pretty good!
    I hope they keep making machines, cause pinballs are becoming more and more rare these days.

  4. Gottlieb says:

    Just ran across this post and read the Times piece. Nice to see one company hanging in there. Most arcades don’t even have pinball machines anymore. I am sure this is one of the reasons why home machines are so popular. PC pinabll games and Pinball on game systems like PS3, XBOX, and Wii are just not the same as the real deal.

    Cheers

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