We have listed the small manufacturers in Europe (including the UK). You can find them in our “pinball manufacturers” section. But the world tour is not complete, because there are smaller players that deserve to be mentioned. Let’s start this review.
The company is based in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. It was founded in 2018 by Damian Hartin, a jack-of-all-trades computer scientist and electronics engineer. For his first machine, Celts, he takes on the bulk of the design. The pinball machine has no ramp or mini-playfield, but a more than respectable finish for a first attempt.
The Celts pinball is released in April 2021, but the game was obviously ready at least a year before that. Damian must have taken the crap a contractor can take during a pandemic.
As a result of this delay, Haggis released its second machine the same month: Fathom. The theme is a remake of a particularly elegant machine released by Bally in 1981. Damian remains credited with the mechanical parts of the pinball machine, but delegates the rest of the design.
With this second game, Haggis gained international respect, hardly marred by the production delays that all actors experience.
The beginnings of PinballControllers.com
Here’s a company that’s making its way with determination and creativity!
In 2009, Gerry Stellenberg founds PinballControllers.com to provide a control system for pinball machines. P-ROC was born, and is used not only by homebrew designers but also by the new generation of manufacturers such as American Pinball, Spooky Pinball or Haggis Pinball. In 2011, the team expands its range with other components.
Generally, manufacturers who have perpetuated their activity then move on to their own systems. Nevertheless, P-ROC is used on Rick & Morty, Houdini, Oktoberfest and Total Nuclear Annihilation pinball machines to name a few. The system is still a reference today.
The birth of Multimorphic
In 2012, PinballControllers.com becomes Multimorphic, and proposes nothing less than to revolutionize the pinball market. No more machines with a single theme! The P3 product is a modular machine, whose playfield background and artworks can be interchanged to play on other themes. The lower part of the playfield is an interactive screen, which adapts to the game and the sequence in progress.
The customer buys a first pinball machine at a price roughly equivalent to a classic game, but can then acquire other modules for a much lower price. This a concept somewhere between the traditional market and the virtual pinball market, which is really taking off as the price of traditional machines increases.
Here is the list of tables available on this P3 platform, and produced by the manufacturer:
- Lexy Lightspeed Escape From Earth released in 2017, as well as its add-on Secret Agent Showdown
- Cannon Lagoon the same year
- Barnyard and ROCs, still the same year, which are software compatible with all physical modules, with simplified game mechanics
- Cosmic Cart Racing in 2018 and its declination Sorcerer’s apprentice
- Heist in March 2020
- Shoot ‘n Scoot in 2020, which works like Barnyard and ROCs
- Final Resistance in March 2023, with Scott Danesi at the design, the man behind Total Nucleal Annihilation in particular.
In addition to the first-pary games, i.e. designed by the manufacturer, Multimorphic accepts third parties on its platform, i.e. people who invent new modules which Multimorphic manages the marketing. Here they are:
- Drained, the most successful initiative because the game includes a board background
- Flipper Foxtrot Rhythm Explosion, mixing rhythm game and pinball. Compatible with Cannon Lagoon
- Ranger in the Ruins, compatible with Cosmic Cart Racing
- Silver Falls, compatible with Heist
- Grand Slam Racing, compatible with Cannon Lagoon
- Hoopin’ it Up, compatible with Lexy Lightspeed
Most of these third parts were designed by Nicholas Baldridge, a creator of home brews who obviously likes to experiment.
A pinball machine that hosts modules that themselves offer variations? Let’s be honest, this profusion of initiatives makes the offer not very clear. But all innovations have gone through this messy phase, to be structured by choice or by force later on.
In any case, with Final Resistance and its already recognized designer, the P3 offer acquires the attractiveness that was missing to change the game. We regret more and more that the distribution in Europe is limited to a single Austrian distributor: RS Pinball.
Homepin Taiwan Co
Australian Mike Kalinowski founded Homepin in 2013 in Shenzen, then relocated the company and the factory to Taiwan in 2020. To his credit, the manufacturer has released 2 pinball machines:
- Thunderbirds, released in 2018, is based on the TV series of the same name, produced and broadcast in the 1960s in the UK. The pinball machine is considered by the community as the worst recent pinball machine, as its rating on pinside attests (4.4/10). It has been produced in 154 copies.
- This is Spinal Tap, their second machine, was released in April 2023. The launch video was particularly tasteless, and nothing indicates at this stage that the game will be better than its predecessor.
Homepin also produces, fortunately for them, electronic components for pinball machines as well as reproductions of arcade terminals.
Andrew Mac Bain is a children’s book editor, but also a pinball enthusiast. In fact, he has edited magazines on the subject. In 2018, he decided to produce a pinball machine that he commissioned from a third-party designer: Team Pinball.
Based on a personal concept (which is also the subject of a children’s comic book, by the way), Andrew orders The Punny Factory pinball machine from Team Pinball. It is an original theme (yeah!) about a factory that has just exploded and whose products must be collected (kof kof). If the subject is divisive, the set seems neat and a priori more interesting to play than the first images suggest.
Even before releasing this first game, he orders another design from the same team: Elements, where three heroes have to fight the five elements (wood, water, fire… You get the idea). The Punny Factory game is announced for pre-order in April 2023, and the Elements one is supposed to be presented in October 2023 at the Chicago Pinball Expo.
Announcing two pinball machines in a row before having delivered anything is never reassuring. We remember the smoky promises of John Popadiuk in the 2010s, a much more experienced player than Andrew.
To realize that there is a problem of method, I advise you to take a tour on the website of Pinball Adventures. You can find there the barely sketched concepts of 5 other tables. Even more surprising, you can buy in the store some crazy accessories like a little plastic system with a suction cup to keep a flipper button pressed, or a reinforcement arm to avoid the plyafield falling on you when you lift it. While these initiatives exude a love of pinball, they are eclectic to say the least.
In short, Andrew Mac Bain seems to go in all directions. If he appears very sympathetic in his videos, it is to be feared that he will get lost on the way.
Adam Pawslowski, an Orlando resident, has a very good intention: to produce a pinball machine at a low price, at $1,800 + shipping. At that price, offering a decent machine is an almost insurmountable challenge, and the miracle is unlikely to happen.
The products are still prototypes in this spring of 2023, but we can already share some observations:
- The machines are “light”, don’t expect a classic pinball format. The body is shallower, the front panel lower. This is part of the deal for an affordable pinball machine, nothing to complain about.
- The first alpha video of “Pinball Eternal” shows rough cuts and assembly, hardly able to compete with a good homebrew.
- If the quality is supposed to improve, then it’s unwise to communicate on such a crude object.
- The design choices are surprising: why provide an under playfield that adds complexity and therefore cost, for an entry-level pinball machine? While this generosity may seem commendable at first glance, it comes at the expense of the main playfield, the emptiest I’ve ever seen.
- The two themes presented are based on Megadeth songs for one, and more than a dozen metal bands for the other. The company doesn’t have the rights for Megadeth according to its website, which doesn’t bode well.
- There is a doubt for “Pinbal Eternal”. These are smaller bands than Megadeth, however more than a dozen names are mentioned. It would be surprising if the licenses were granted. To be checked.
- The pinball machine is clearly not finished but Pawlowski is already working on a topper as high as the pediment. As with the previous manufacturer, this lacks a sense of priority.
By the way, the price has already been re-evaluated at $2,600, still according to the website. Nothing surprising in this period of inflation (energy, materials… Just everything, actually).
Not all these manufacturers will survive
We wish the best to all these manufacturers, but realistically, not all of them will make it past their first production run. It takes more than passion to run a business, even in the small world of pinball.
A production line, even to produce a few dozen units, requires industrial know-how. The same goes for the supply of components. For distribution, a partnership with a trusted reseller is a must.