Yes! It’s finally here! It’s official this time!
If in the pinball world, each new machine launch is systematically an event in itself, we have to admit that this excitement is multiplied tenfold when it comes to a model coming out of the firm founded by Jack Guarnieri.
The only “real” competitor of Stern, Jersey Jack Pinball (JJP) shines both by the quality of its machines and by the accuracy of the chosen themes. With tasty licenses such as Pirates of the Caribbean, The Hobbit or Guns and Roses, as well as more daring themes such as Dialed In, we must admit that JJP has been able to make a place for itself for many years within this ecosystem, having even been the saving grace that pushed Stern to create its first LCD pinball machines and thus leave its comfort zone!
Except that where Stern follows a regular release (and production) schedule, assuring us at least our 3 annual releases, it’s quite different for JJP.
Their last model, the Guns & Roses pinball machine, which was a real bomb in the industry, is now two years old and the production has been punctuated by long delays and shifts in deliveries. All of which made these machines even more desirable, selling like hotcakes despite prices that sometimes soared to infinity and beyond!
So it’s quite natural that once the first news about a future model based on the legendary license of Pixar animation studios came out, the community hastened to raise the hype by fantasizing a lot of things more or less true about this future machine. Everyone has been making predictions about the release date of the one that is already being called “JJP’s future masterpiece” in the pinball world!
And so this Tuesday, June 14, 2022, the messiah of the silver ball, the one that everyone knew the theme without it being officially announced, finally comes to life…
Of course, we have written a small preview for the occasion.
A launch with great pomp
It is clear that JJP remains a competitor who has fun moving the lines. The launch of their last machine, the Guns & Roses table, was a real success. The teasing around the theme had been cleverly dosed and the release trailer was simply incredible, making any pinhead want to definitely crack one’s bank account to buy “that pinball machine that looks so good in the video”!
And of course, for the Toy Story 4 game, JJP does it again. This time with a little teasing on the eve of the release through a photo of a part of the front of the machine, without revealing the official title but without leaving any doubt:
The launch video was released the next day. It is in line with their previous release and is (unless you do not like the theme at all) the worst possible thing for your bank account as the desire to pay a deposit to reserve a copy is felt from the last image shown. Judge for yourself:
It’s beautiful, with a colorful setting perfectly in the theme and detailed enough to understand the main features of the game.
And that’s what this kind of trailer is all about. To play on the emotional fiber and count on the “wow effect” to incite you to take the step to hope to have the precious object in your living room.
And on this side, contract fulfilled. Once again, bravo JJP!
A child’s license in a toy for grown-ups
So this is perhaps the most debatable point and it is the case for each new machine, whatever the brand: what about the chosen theme?
If JJP got us used to themes for the general public, with a very polished visual rendering like Wizard Of Oz, Willy Wonka or Pirate of the Caribbean, releasing a machine based on an animated movie is quite unexpected. Moreover, this announcement did not fail to make the community react, including aficionados of the brand.
If pinball machines on the theme of cartoons or animated films are not a novelty (Shrek, Family Guy, South Park or The Simpsons to name but a few), doing so around a cult Disney/Pixar license is a big first!
To be honest, even if the visual rendering seems incredible, it’s hard to see the target audience with this choice of license. Most of the forty-somethings and more have missed this license at the time and those, younger, for whom the flame would be intense at the evocation of the names of Andy, Rex, Mr. Potato Head, Woody or Buzz are not necessarily all able to afford this big toy that costs a lot of money and takes up space.
And operators are not really the target of JJP machines. Please note that unlike the previous JJP production, this machine is only available in LE (Limited Edition) and CE (Collector’s Edition) versions, no Standard Edition this time.
No doubt that all these machines, whatever the edition, will find takers.
We are nevertheless curious to see the rendering of such a childish theme on a machine as complete and complex as a pinball machine of this generation.
Team Woody or Team Buzz?
If the legend tells that this machine should have been released a few years ago at the same time as the 4th part of the saga, most of us had hoped for some slight adjustments to make it a pinball machine more globally centered around the license and less around the last movie (which, by the way, was a nameless turnip… Forky is to Toy Story what Jar Jar is to Star Wars: a mistake capable of ruining a movie!) and this is finally not the case.
JJP is releasing a Toy Story 4 pinball machine and not just a Toy Story one. No matter, we find all the characters and key elements of the series through gameplay elements all more attractive than the others.
And without having put our hands on the machine, we can only see what we see in the video. In other words, a well-stocked game board, a very elaborate artwork and a variety of toys, sometimes reminding us of some of the great classics of the good old days.
We can find in bulk :
- Gabby Gabby Doll’s head coming out of the board like the trolls of Medieval Madness
- Duke Caboom’s springboard that propels the ball in a No Good Gofers machine style
- a rotating disc which has become a great classic when designers want to destructure by bringing random trajectories
- and a small novelty never seen before: a mini virtual pinball on the playfield!
Or more exactly a screen in the format of a digital tablet which seems to have several complementary display functions in game, but also the possibility of being playable through a mini pinball game like Vpin. Interesting. It remains to be seen if this gameplay element does not break the rhythm of a game too much.
Once again, we can’t wait to put our hands on this machine to appreciate the gameplay in depth!
The Maestro’s last masterpiece
One thing was certain despite all the speculation about this model : this is the last pinball machine designed by the famous Pat Lawlor. After having delighted us with machines each more emblematic than the last, invented innovative toys and created board designs that have become cult for so many years, the undisputed master of successful pinball machines is now taking his leave with this latest creation.
And the least we can say is that you can feel it in the first images we can see. It’s still a bit early to say and it’s difficult to make an opinion without having played it, but we can only underline the richness of this “world under glass” and the passion that emanates from these first gameplay images, the one of a man who will have, without any doubt, wanted to leave his last footprint in this entertainment world.
Whether you have an affection for this license or not, you can’t wait to play with Pat Lawlor’s latest machine because it will be a historical model. The culmination of the career of a man who brought so much to pinball.
A Toy Story 4 pinball to go, please!
Let’s talk about numbers and availability to finish this preview :
- 2 different models (Collector’s Edition & Limited Edition)
- 5,000 copies manufactured for the Limited Edition
- 1,000 copies manufactured for the Collector’s Edition
- Price (provisional, subject to change): 12,000$ for the LE
- All CE models are already sold out!
So here you are with the first information about this machine which is already announced as a JJP must have. Needless to say, we can’t wait to be able to put our hands on this machine to get a first opinion and maybe, more than with any other model, to bring out our childish soul for a game…
We’ll see you soon for the in-depth test of this machine, until then you have our “pinball hype” barometer below 🙂