Long gone are the days of Pinball Prohibition, when the carefree game was approached with the same cautious and secretive demeanor as a speakeasy. That’s right, Pinball was once illegal due to the widespread belief that it was a form of gambling – a game based on chance more than skill. However, any veteran pinball player knows this is not the case, as the game’s fate lies entirely in its controller’s ability to operate the fated flipper. While Pinball was once an unlawful art, it is now a celebrated tribute to arcade culture and pop culture elements of all kinds.
Of all pop culture elements, the ones embodied most in Pinball are movies of course. From cult classics to blockbuster hits, Stern Pinball and other manufacturers have been quite keen on making movie-themed pinball machines for nearly a decade. While nearly all the machines are based on movies adored by fans, it’s no secret some are more entertaining and popular than others.
Here are the five best movie-themed machines, according to fans and pinball purveyors everywhere.
#1) Avengers Pinball Machine by Stern
Not unlike the hit movie, this machine features Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow, and Hawkeye all trying to defeat the dastardly Loki. The machine features a custom-molded Hulk target (who spins and smashes, naturally), tesseract target, and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent targets.
When struck, the tesseract target gradually spells out the word “Cosmic”, which unlocks secret awards once completed. Loaded with multi-ball action, this star-studded, action-packed gameplay is akin to the movie’s final battle scene. Pop in a coin and rattle the pinball around, not unlike the way Hulk did with Loki in Stark Tower.
#2) Star Wars Premium Pinball Machine by Stern
Although there are a few versions of Star Wars pinball, none other is as comprehensive as the 40th Anniversary Premium edition. Designed by the best-selling pinball designer in history, Steve Ritchie, it is based on the original trilogy and features custom-sculpted models of the Milennium Falcon, TIE Fighters, and the Death Star.
The coolest part? The Death Star toy explodes, cracking open upon being struck with pinballs flying toward it on the Hyperspace ramp. Two LCD screens (one within the glass and one on the head of the machine) display scenes from the movies depending on your actions within the game.
Star Wars-themed machines are among the most collected, and range anywhere from $4000 to $8000, depending on the edition. In fact, it’s such a hit, you can even play on the real Star Wars pinball machine from your phone.
#3) Addams Family Pinball Machine by Bally
Originally released in 1991, but having since been revamped, the Addams Family Pinball Machine is actually the best-selling pinball machine of all time. With over 20,000 units sold, it has taken the pinball world by storm. The machine features custom speech narrated by the movie’s stars, Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston. A full musical score from the movie is also included, allowing you to picture yourself right in their spooky Victorian mansion.
Consequently, a model of the mansion is located directly in the center of the machine, consisting of 12 “windows” that can each be entered through, and reap different rewards. In the top-right, there is a blue bookcase (like the one in the movie), and each hit to the bookcase unveils a letter in the word “Greed”. Once all letters have been lit, the bookcase turns, revealing another goal behind it. Unlike Wednesday Addams, you won’t be able to hide your excitement when it comes to this machine.
#4) X-Men Pro Pinball Machine by Stern
This game is impossible to miss in an arcade. Its bright, colorful graphics and animations, taken directly from the comic books, make it stand out in any context. It features a custom-molded Wolverine toy, Magneto ball diverter, and a Cyclops spinning target. The machine has three flippers, including one in the upper right, making for a challenging and dynamic gameplay.
Aside from the game’s impressive mechanical capabilities, it also features magnets. Unsurprisingly, one of these is located right in front of the custom-molded Magneto located toward the very end of the playing field. Engaging for its function as much as its graphics, this machine is sure to delight Marvel fans.
#5) Guardians of the Galaxy Pro Pinball Machine by Stern
“I am Groot.” In case you were wondering, that means: “This pinball machine is awesome.” Okay, maybe that’s not what it really means, but who can tell? Join Star-Lord, Rocket, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, and Groot in their inter-galactic battle against Ronan. A custom-molded ball-eating Groot keeps players guessing, while a Rocket figurine shoots the ball back out at “rocket” speeds (get it?).
The interactive Orb is a glowing target, which opens to reveal the Infinity Stone after enough hits. This machine is one of the most dynamic on the market, featuring eight different game play modes, original score music from the movie, and HD scenes from the film that are displayed on the machine’s screen.
Author bio: Ellie Batchiyska is a writer for The Pinball Company, the largest online retailer of pinball machines and arcade games in the U.S.