This is Spinal Tap pinball | Home Pin | Preview

It feels good! After a month of March where pinball manufacturers clearly took communication classes, we are back to a refreshing amateurism!

At the beginning of April, Home Pin unveiled its pinball machine “This is Spinal Tap”… Well, it has mostly unveiled the chick who rubs himself on it. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves!

So here’s our analysis on the most splintered ground reveal of 2023 (and maybe 2022, 2021 too…).

HOMEPIN and Highway Games: the alliance they shouldn’t have dared

HOMEPIN is a manufacturer of pinball machines officially from Taiwan, but created by an Australian and formerly in Shenzen. At the beginning, the company produced electronic boards for pinball machines. In 2018, their first Thunderbirds pinball machine was released. Lots of plastic, little metal, but we couldn’t tell you if the game was interesting. We’ll modestly say that it didn’t make an impression.

The Spinal Tap game has been announced for several months now, but this is it: it is officially commercialized and the first machines will be shipped in May 2023.

For this launch, HOMEPIN is partnering with Highway Games. It is a subsidiary of the Australian Highway Group which manufactures arcade machines, components and distributes them. Highway Games is obviously in charge of marketing and distribution.

A laughable communication… Sorry, confusing

I don’t know which of the two partners had the idea of this reveal video, but every choice they made is wrong:

  • The young woman wiggling around takes up more video time than the product she is supposed to promote
  • We are 100% in the cliché of the babe who is supposed to sell electronics, except that even the video game industry doesn’t dare to do that anymore! No more macho bullshit.
  • As a result, we see almost nothing of the pinball machine, and that lets us understand that there is nothing to see…

We let you make your own opinion… But you have to admit that in the middle of the avalanche of machines, each one crazier than the other in this beginning of the year 2023, it seems to make this Spinal Tap table look very pale with its old-fashioned DMD and its playfield artwork that smells like photoshop montages from the 2000s!

Some will say that the teaser fits with the parodic image of the movie from which the pinball machine comes from… well, that remains to be proven.

Oh great, another pinball on a rock band…

Technically it’s not a real rock band since This is Spinal Tap is nothing else than a parody film shot in a docu-real way. It depicts in a humorous way the biggest clichés (or not) of the heavy metal bands of the 80s.

A real masterpiece for some, a huge nonsense for others… we’ll let you make up your own mind about this movie, produced in 1984 by Rob Reiner.

Anyway, real band or not, we eat yet another musical pinball…

Even when the pinball is successful (Guns ‘N Roses, Rush), part of the community is not happy with yet another license on a rock band. Then it’s hard to imagine the hype invading the pinball world for a machine from a rather random manufacturer, on a theme that is just as random…

Dare we say it, the choice of the license for this movie is really risky. If “minor” actors have already tried to do this before for their first releases, they were at least sure to take a cult license (e.g. Alien with Heighway Pinball/Pinball Brothers) or to bet on an machine with a exceptional gameplay (e.g. The Big Lebowski by Dutch Pinball), but here… Considering this teaser which doesn’t show anything very exciting, we are afraid to be in neither of the two cases mentioned above.

It’s a Tap !

Yes, the tone of this preview is not really pleasant for this poor pinball machine that has not even been released yet, but we’ll do with the elements that the manufacturer has put forward. And the worst thing is that we haven’t even touched on the subject that makes us angry…

And a picture is worth a thousand words :

Even if your webzine tries to remain as objective as possible on each preview/test, it’s going to be a bit difficult not to shoot the design of this pinball machine…

Let’s not be afraid of words, visually it’s absolutely horrible! In 2023 and in front of the competition already in place (even for smaller players than Stern or JJP), no one does this.

The playfield looks like a 2000’s Stern (it’s hardly better than the 24h Chrono or the CSI artworks).

The graphic elements are arranged without any artistic coherence, like a patchwork of blurred photos (with the famous outline of colored light to hide the haphazard cutting, a great classic of failed artworks). The palette of colors chosen on the first part of the playfield would trigger a stroke in any fashionista so much they are numerous and without any harmony (“we said not more than three colors, my dear!”).

For the rest, it is hardly better. The speaker panel like Marshall amp was a good idea, but the implementation is failed since the colors are non consistant with the rest of the pinball.

I’m not even talking about the apron which is sad and disappointing, but still manages the feat of adding, once again, a new color that has nothing to do with the rest of the pinball machine: the “grue” (a mixture of gray and blue).

More over, optos are not even blended into the background but placed like that, in the middle of the rest… Why bother to hide them, eh? It’s so beautiful these little cards, from the back, with their visible soldering…

The drums set is glued with the glue filaments still present… This shows a taste for work well done, isn’t it ?

It remains perhaps the 3 guitars and the drum set, as elements of decoration, which save the furniture…

Who cares, we have a pod!

As in every new pinball preview, it’s quite complicated to get an idea of the gameplay since nobody has yet been able to put his hands on the machine.

Nevertheless, we always try to dissect the images and videos released by the manufacturer to at least try to see the main features and get a first idea of the game.

The advantage here is that it will be quick since the teaser shows us more boobs and luscious lips than gameplay phases… Here is what we find in this trailer :

  • Ramps
  • Bumpers
  • A spinner
  • A “slingshot toy” that moves when you tap it
  • Guitars that seem to rise and fall
  • A pod that releases an elevator-like ball (supposed to represent Derek, one of the band members, getting out of his pod at the beginning of a concert), which seems to be the “hand feature” of the pinball machine

Here you go, figure out what to do with it… What is the objective of the game? We don’t know!

The worst thing is that we are not even sure to have a multiball on this machine! In any case, nothing is mentioned on the official website of the manufacturer and obviously, the teaser shows nothing about it.

“Shut-up and take my… hem no, actually.”

As you can see, at PinballMag editorial staff, we are not really excited about the upcoming release of this machine. And the context in which it arrives doesn’t help at all.

Maybe if it had been released in the middle of the Pinball desert of the year 2022, we could have possibly been satisfied with it and why not, put it in comparison with the Bitronics Super Hoop pinball.

But here… Beside the flood of releases of this beginning of 2023 and in front of a communication of starting tinged with amateurism at all levels, the hype is unfortunately, not really present.

Afterwards, “we are not immune from a good surprise…”

Syl Vain
Syl Vain
Fan of 80s/90s pop culture, compulsive collector and supporter of "it was better before!"

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