Early this morning, after a lengthy teaser countdown, the pinball community was introduced to Vonnie D Pinball’s new project entitled Pinball Gremlins. The new machine was announced by way of a Kickstarter campaign and introduction video that asked for the community’s supportin realizing their dream of building a pinball machine. The video highlighted some lofty aspirations, which is fantastic, but only if those aspirations are realized. The goal they wish to achieve through crowd funding is $100,000USD, with supporter rewards that run from keychain-style trinkets to limited edition machines.
The Kickstarter announcement video featured engineer Von Davis and producer Wes Upchurch sitting in front of a row of pinball machines, speaking about the table they wish to produce. To appeal to a younger audience more attuned to video games, their Pinball Gremlins machine will be more “interactive” with the player, having players battle Gremlin “bosses” that actually “fight back” in various ways. I like the theme of “Gremlins in the machine”, as it is something everyone in the community can relate to–we’ve all had that nagging mechanical issue that can’t be explained within a machine in our collection and can only be attributed to a “pinball gremlin” wreaking havoc on the inside. And no, Pinball Gremlins has nothing to do with the 1984 film of the same name, but I’m sure confusion will exist.
Vonnie D Pinball stated that they are working with Pinball Life and Marco Specialties to provide the parts they require for production, and will have a board set developed by Pinball Controllers (the P-Roc guys). The game will be made in a widebody style. They have pinball designer Barry Oursler on board to provide further help in the design arena. With the original theme comes original artwork, which looks quite intriguing even though what was released isn’t much more than ink sketches at this time. LED lighting, a full-colour DMD and smaller LCD display screens near the playfield round out the features of note thus far. A playfield layout sketch was also released.
The Kickstarter funds don’t seem to cover anything special, they’ll just support the day-to-day operations of the company and help get the machine produced. As for the machines themselves, a $6,500USD Kickstarter donation gets you a standard version of the machine, while $7,000USD will get you a Limited Edition (that price raises to $8,000USD once ten at the $7,000USD level are sold). This version of the LE looks to have a run of 500. To complicate things further, there also exists a $9,000USD pledge that will get you a Kickstarter Limited Edition and a $10,000USD pledge for an “Ultra Rare Limited Edition Gold” version. You almost need a spreadsheet to keep track.
The announcement comes on the heels of Circus Maximus’ announcement over the weekend that they will be re-imagining Python Anghelo’s Pinball Circus and starting full-scale production without the aid of pre-orders of crowd funding. This market is getting dangerously crowded. The boutique market is seriously ready to collapse under its own weight unless one of these manufacturers can step up and prove that pinball on a small scale can actually run with Stern and Jersey Jack Pinball. Vonnie D marks another “boutique” manufacturer looking for money from the community up front to help get their machine made. However, there is already the feeling in the community that pre-ordering machines without actually seeing, touching and playing them first is just not best-practice anymore. Vonnie D has their work cut out for them, as their goal is quite lofty. However, selling a handful of their limited edition machines through Kickstarter will certainly get them there. It will be interesting to see if the community responds.
More insight and analysis to follow once more details are released.