You Got The (TWIPY) Touch

You Got The (TWIPY) Power

I promise to keep rocking and rolling and making better pinball machines.

Handy Links

Let’s kick this off with some TWIP Mood Music. 1986’s The Touch by Stan Bush. Notable in this video for being part of the 1986 film Transformers the Movie but was also used to great effect in 1997’s Boogie Nights, which we’ll dive into more below.

2023 TWIPY Awards

Last night, thanks to the awesome podcast duo of Josh Roop and Scott Larson (LoserKids Pinball Podcast), we all got to have a little fun seeing the results (and the winners) of the 2023 TWIPY Awards. Special thanks to all the content creators, manufacturers, and industry people who took time out of their busy schedules to participate. The whole thing had a pleasant community vibe, which I found endearing, spurred on at times by the lively chat.

As I watched the stream, I thought a lot about that scene in Boogie Nights where Dirk Diggler accepted an award for Best Actor (among a few others that we won’t mention here) at the fictional 2nd Annual Adult Film Awards.

It’s such an iconic scene that Dave Grohl spoofed it at the Kerrang! Awards in 2018.

At its core, Boogie Nights is a film about the perils of fame, ego, found family, and how we’re all a little bit flawed but mostly just trying to do our best in this complicated world.

It also features several scenes with pinball machines in it.

Can you identify the pin? Leave your answer in the comments!

There are a lot of reasons why I thought of this particular scene; however, to keep this update moving, I’ll spare you the nitty gritty and say this instead:

To all the 2023 TWIPY winners and nominees, a hearty congratulations! Let this victory be a stepping stone in your pursuit of further silver ball excellence.

And remember that awards are simply milestones in our ongoing journey of creativity, innovation, and community in this crazy pinball hobby.

Stream

Winners

Special thanks to Michael Barnard for the custom award cards!

This Company Paid to Be Here!

Pinball Expo (2023 TWIPY Award Winner) returns for its 40th year this October 15-19th at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center in Schaumburg, IL. Tickets on sale now! 

If you’re interested in sponsoring an upcoming newsletter, send a note to [email protected], and we’ll get you sorted!

These Things Also Happened This Week in Pinball

Pinball Map Monthly Update

On Kineticist, Ryan returns with another monthly update, looking at some of the notable pinball spots to hit Pinball Map for the first time in January 2024. He also shows us how to use the word “gripful” in a sentence. Which is cool if you’re a word nerd and a pinball nerd.

Poll of the Week

Last week, we asked you if “Weed smoke affected pinball machines.” I did not expect the question to be so contentious! I also didn’t realize that people could leave open-ended comments. So, I’ll highlight a few of my favorite responses.

Does weed smoke affect pinball machines?

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 Yes (43)

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 No (41)

🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️ Tough to say, but I'd like some of what Reddit is smoking! (20)

  • “For years now, I've stored all my weed inside a Genie (because of the extra wide body).”

  • “Smoke does stick to surfaces… also leads to prolonged play time, wear and tear chasing that perfect game 😶‍🌫️”

  • “Smoke smell sure can stick around. Another of my hobbies is collecting old wargames and you can sure tell the boxes that spent the 70's and 80's in a smoker's living room.”

  • “I have bought machines where weed was smoked in the house and the machines do carry with them a lingering smell.. I have been able to air them out in the garage and spray some neutralizing product on the inside of the cabinet to combat it to some degree. ”

Now for this week’s poll…

What's the ideal minimum number of pinball machines for a public location?

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Elton John Gets the Christies Treatment

Prolific Pinsider and competitive player CrazyLevi helped set up a special copy of Jersey Jack’s Elton John game for a Christie’s auction of items from Elton’s Atlanta Peachtree Road home.

Sir Elton himself signs this particular copy of the game, and the caption reads “with love from the pinball wizard.” That’s cool!

Check out the auction for some more interesting items. Were I rich and an arcade operator, I’d have my eye on this neon Horney?! sign. That’s just my sense of humor, though.

Multimorphic Sends an Email

Multimorphic CEO Gerry Stellenberg provided an update via email to P3 owners this week (more on that later). He provides several updates, like a factory expansion and general improvements to production processes.

Of particular interest to owners, however, is all the information on the faulty components identified during a recent internal review and what would be done about it. The short answer is that owners will receive replacement parts packages for items like the ATX power supply and EOS boards, and hopefully, these things shouldn’t be a problem moving forward.

After talking to a friend who owns a game, we’re curious how they will manage the fulfillment of these packages, given they have a mix of direct and distributor sales channels, and games have likely changed hands multiple times over the years.

That said, transparency and candor are always nice, as is a company acknowledging faults and implementing plans to fix them.

On the email front - my one gripe with this kind of update, which Gerry gives often enough, is that it should really be published directly on the Multimorphic website first, then distributed via email as he does now. This would be a far more accessible and approachable way to communicate these updates and would give folks like myself the ability to link to a specific piece of company-endorsed materials versus trying to reproduce it in its entirety here (which I’m not going to do). Plus, it gives people a reason to come back to your website!

Generally speaking, the public eats up honest and authentic communications from company founders whose products they like. Own that, lean into it, and don’t totally outsource your communications output to hobbyist media outlets and distributors.

Pinball Cakes! Not one but two pinball-themed cakes were showcased this week, which officially makes it a trend in my book.

James Bond 007 60th Cake via Down South Pinball

Willy Wonka Cake. Happy Birthday Greg!

Brewery Bummer

North Bend, Washington brewery Volition Brewing Company (5 pinball machines) recently had $1,000 in quarters stolen from their on-site change machine. However, they took the damages in stride, releasing a new double IPA called Quarter Bandit, described as “Boasting flavors of bitterness and loss with aromas of disappointment and frustration. Might leave you contemplating your life choices in front of a Coin Star machine.”

Creator Highlights of the Week

Pinball News / Pinball Magazine Podcast

Pinball News / Pinball Magazine released a new episode of their monthly podcast. This one was a doozy, clocking in at about one Oppenheimer, but the interviews with Gary Stern and David Fix were quite good.

Stern’s Heaviest Users

Gary Stern’s interview was mostly based on presentation materials he used with distributors during the EAG show.

Gary mentions at one point that 70% of their games are sold to the home market, which has been mentioned before, but he also says that 70% of their gameplay comes from games on location, which I don’t think I’ve heard stated before.

I find this interesting in the context of Insider Connected and where that offering could be headed. As the product matures, it’s expected to become more of a revenue-generation tool for Stern. For most digital products like apps and SaaS tools, you typically monetize your heaviest users. In Stern’s case, if your heaviest users are location players, you’ll likely emphasize building features for location players and operators first, with the home market as more of a “nice to have” on the prioritization roadmap.

That also makes sense if you think about the growth opportunities for Stern. Home collectors are constrained by space and money in a way that location players and operators are usually not.

From a business standpoint, it will be much easier to grow new revenue streams from those already engaged customer segments than by expanding the pool of home collectors, which is probably downstream from location play in the long run, particularly as older collectors who grew up with more persistent access to pinball machines age out of the market.

Venom Sales Suffer; Leaks “not helpful”

This may have been a small slip on Gary’s part, but he does state that Venom sales likely suffered in part due to the general knowledge by the pinball public that Jaws was up next.

He also unequivocally states that the leaks surrounding the Jaws release were not helpful and not a pre-planned activity by Stern marketing teams. This should be an obvious read on the situation, as Stern’s market position means they don’t need leaks to drum up interest in their games (and if they did, I’d like to think it would have been done more strategically), but some of the social media reactions at the time thought otherwise.

He also says that they are reviewing policies and procedures to prevent similar leaks in the future. Still, given their track record of late and the huge number of vulnerabilities in their communications networks I kind of doubt they’ll be able to do too much about it.

American’s Next Game

The David Fix interview was consistent with others he’s given over the last few weeks, but at one point, he confirmed that Barry Oursler’s game would be next up, likely showcased at the Texas Pinball Festival, though that is TBD. We also learned that Barry’s name would be on the game, that it would be a tribute to the late designer, and that Steven Bowden was involved in crafting the rules.

Don’s Pinball Podcast 100th Episode

Don’s Pinball Podcast released its 100th episode - congratulations, Don! In this milestone episode, he teams up with Orby from The Pinball Nerds Podcast and runs through updates on all the manufacturers, plus shares fun messages from friends of the show.

Until next week, folks. If you enjoyed this update, please consider a paid subscription so we can cover our expenses and pay for better writers. Only $4.99/mo!

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