After a somewhat (too) quiet period since their last hit, Guns ‘N Roses, and a half-hearted release with the Toy Story 4 table, it seems that Jersey Jack Pinball is back on a cruising pace, as it comes to tickle the leader Stern Pinball, this year releasing 2 models within a few months of each other. The GodFather pinball machine in March, and for the end of the year, a music-themed machine (less rock this time) with… Tadaaam: the Elton John pinball machine.
Good pickings or yet another musical pinball machine too many? Let’s take a first look at this model!
Elton John pinball : Rocket Jack Pinball
While Stern has established its leadership position over the years through the regularity of its releases and the often well-chosen themes, Jersey Jack Pinball remains the undisputed boss when it comes to commercial launches (and also the beauty of the models, but we’ll come back to that later…).
Here again, the release of this Elton John pinball machine makes almost all other manufacturers in the pinball sphere look like vulgar amateurs, so clean, clear and “hyping” is the launch.
We’ve already gone into lengthy tirades in previous articles or podcasts on this subject extolling JJP’s virtues, notably the quality of the launch videos, so I’ll spare you the endless praise on this subject and content myself with a sober: “As usual, it’s a blast!”
I’ll leave you with the trailer in question, which perfectly introduces this new model (the 9th) to the JJP family.
While some may find the video a little kitsch, it’s perfectly fluid, dynamic, very well realized and in keeping with the tone of the chosen musical style. And objectively speaking, it’s no more kitsch than a tattooed rocker launching a pinball machine at a rock band…
Pinball and music, that long romance…
Yes, it’s nothing new, musical pinball machines are legion, and this combo has been around for so many years that it’s obviously unthinkable to part with it.
Over the years, rock bands have taken the lion’s share (AC/DC, Metallica, Guns & Roses, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Rush…). But it’s even rarer to see a pop/variety machine like Elton John (and don’t get me started on the purists of Sir Elton’s style of music, it’s not as rock as those mentioned above, it’s a fact…).
Whether you like the artist or not, you can’t help but recognize the talent and immense career of this outstanding singer and his style (both visual and musical) that leaves no one indifferent. The proof is in the pudding: everyone knows him.
The career of Reginald Kenneth Dwight (real name) is long and full. Almost all his iconic hits can be found on this machine, including :
- Rocket Man
- Bennie And The Jets
- The Bitch Is Back
- I’m Still Standing
- Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)
- Take Me To The Pilot
- Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock’n Roll)
- Tiny Dancer
- Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
- Crocodile Rock
- Pinball Wizard
- Your Song
- Philadelphia Freedom
- Honky Cat
- Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding
- Jukebox-style entertainment in your living room!
Elton John pinball: put some glitter in my life!
Elton John rhymes with glitter, rhinestones, a colorful world, happy rhythms and tinted glasses. Who better than Jersey Jack Pinball to transpose this artist to the playfield? On the face of it, nobody. Their pinball machines have a reputation for ever-improving design, model after model, and the most elaborate lightshows.
The artwork on the box (whatever the edition) is sublime, and the playfield is a monumental slap in the face in terms of detail, choice of colors and the finesse of the design.
The animated Elton figure in the background on his piano, while quite amusing in its animation (the hands clap on the piano keys), turns out to be as creepy as the dolls in Disneyland’s Small World attraction when the head turns in your direction.
But then again, the rest of the pinball machine is such a cut above the rest that the overall visual effect remains incredibly beautiful.
Special mention should be made of the famous piano, which has its own horizontally-scrolling screen (in mini DMD style) to display current songs, animations and other gameplay information. Attention to detail made in JJP!
As for the rest, you’ll find all the charm (or otherwise) of the franchise, with :
- an extraordinary LCD screen as big as the TV in your living room,
- a supplied tray,
- LEDs in every direction,
- and, for the first time at JJP, a topper, whatever the model chosen (even if the Platinum version remains a “simple” fixed Plexiglas display).
What’s this layout all about?
When you see the playfield, at first glance you may find it rather classic. It’s an unoriginal layout, with conventional ramp starters, targets to bash in the middle and the “we’ll stuff everything at the back of the playfield” syndrome.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the game is bad, but it does leave us with a feeling of déjà vu which, apart from the use of certain toys, leaves us a little disappointed.
However, those of our colleagues who have already tested this machine point out an interesting feature:
The ramp that loops around to the left of the playfield drops its ball at the bottom of another ramp below. It then drops the ball onto the flipper, offering an original trajectory and an unusual use of an in-game ramp.
Is this small nuance alone enough to make the gameplay totally innovative? It’s still a little early to say, and we’ll need more time and many more games before pronouncing the final verdict.
What is certain, however, is that the rules are (as usual with JJP) worthy of a particle gas pedal instruction manual: numerous, complex and not always very clear at first glance. We’ll let the gameplay experts get their hands on it as soon as possible and complete this preview where appropriate.
In the corridors of the pinballosphere, some are even talking about the best JJP ever, so go figure…
Limited editions that aren’t!
Let’s talk about the different models on offer. While the standard edition (Stern Pinball’s equivalent of a Pro model) has been out of JJP’s catalogs since Toy Story 4, the fact remains that two somewhat misleadingly-named editions were systematically offered: Limited and Collector.
The latter was aptly named: a premium collector’s edition, with additional accessories and more elaborate case artwork, generally limited to 1,000 copies.
The first, on the other hand, was more debatable, as it was limited in name only! In fact, it had become JJP’s classic default version, the one made to order. Even if some maximum production figures had been announced (sometimes up to 5,000 pieces), there was little chance of reaching the announced “quota”.
However, JJP has corrected the situation for this new release, since here we have the famous Collector’s Edition limited to 1,000 units and a Platinum Edition (which replaces the former Limited Edition) for which no maximum number of models has been announced. This is much clearer in its approach.
There are many differences between the two editions, as is always the case with the Collector’s version:
- more elaborate body artwork, printed with a glossy effect
- A gold armor kit
- Side rails with laser-cut motifs
- A star-shaped shooter rod
- Mirror-effect backglass
- A decorative plate around the lock bar knob
- Superstar! topper with two complementary LCD screens
I don’t have much money 🎶
The prices of these two models are in line with JJP’s current pricing policy, and we don’t expect any major surprises, since the prices announced by the importer in France are respectively :
- 11,995$ / 13,800 € for the Platinum version
- 15,000$ / 17,900 € for the Collector version
The same price as for the previous JJP: Godfather.
Flipper Elton John: a pleasant surprise is never far away!
And that’s an understatement, as encounters with JJP models sometimes turn out to be real moments of pleasure. Or not, depending on whether you get the “JJP touch” and the convoluted rules of the game.
Be that as it may, we’re once again delighted to see Stern’s main competitor gracing us with a polished and original pinball machine, with a theme that may not be unanimously acclaimed, but which at least has the audacity to bring something different to the world of musical pinball machines.
We can’t wait to test this machine!