Renowned manufacturer Stern Pinball recently announced the arcade industry’s worst kept secret of 2020: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
“In this pinball adventure, players will go to battle as the Turtles fight villains like Shredder, the Krang and loads of super-powerful mutants, to become the heroes they were destined to be, and have loads of fun along the way!” reads the game listing on Stern’s website.
I reached out to Stern’s director of marketing, Zachary Sharpe, to gain more insight on what makes Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles unique and what it was like working with license-holder Nickelodeon.
“Besides being a beloved and iconic global pop culture phenomenon, at its core TMNT is simply fun!” Sharpe said. “The characters are fun, the music and overall experience of this brand is similar to pinball, outrageously fun!
“Nickelodeon were/are amazing partners and collaborators on this project from start all the way to the finish. It’s not the first collaboration with this brand in the arcade segment with Nickelodeon recently partnering with Raw Thrills on their stand-up arcade machine. The transition from an arcade machine to a pinball property was seamless, and they really helped bring these heroes in a half-shell into the pinball dimension,” he explained.
The announcement came with three reveal trailers: one for the game itself, one for the Pro model features, and one for the Premium/Limited Edition (LE) model features.
According to the listing, the Premium and Limited Edition models feature an interactive Turtles Van, designed to lock up to four balls inside with a mechanical opening/closing side door for multiball play.
These two models also feature the TMNT Glider, a “player-controlled diverter assembly” stationed above both ramps that grants players the ability to control and transport the ball to the flipper of their choice. A mechanical Krang toy “hovers” over the pop bumpers, moving up and down while “taunting” players.
The listing notes that the Pro, Premium, and Limited Edition models all boast unique, hand-drawn art and “high-speed, magnetic spinning pizza disc” designed to hold and throw three balls for additional multiball play.
“The game itself has gorgeous hand-drawn artwork by Jeremy ‘Zombie Yeti’ Packer and is jam packed under the glass,” Sharpe continued. “Designer John Borg filled this game to the gills with gadgets and toys and lead programmer Dwight Sullivan has been able to transport players into the TMNT universe and even Dimension X through his gameplay experience!”
The essence of the license is invoked through theme music, custom video scenes, and events “created exclusively for this pinball experience.” All models include three flippers, three ramps, and a “hidden ninja training ball lock area.”
The LE model in particular is limited to “500 units globally” and includes additional features such as “a mirrored backglass, custom-themed cabinet artwork, a custom-autographed bottom arch, custom art blades, an upgraded audio system, anti-reflection pinball glass, a shaker motor, and a sequentially-numbered plaque.”
The Pro version will retail at $6,099.00, the Premium version at $7,699.00, and the LE version at $9,099.00. (All prices are the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Prices may vary by distributor.)
After what seemed like months of rumors, the titular half-shell heroes have finally returned to the silver ball realm for the first time since Data East’s table was released in 1991.
“There are pinball fanatics all across the universe that are rabid at wanting to find out what’s next, who’s working on what, what did Gary Stern have for lunch, you name it!” Sharpe noted. “They say even a broken clock is correct twice a day, and sometimes rumors can in fact be true.
“In this case, the rumors turned out true, but what you don’t see or hear a recap on are the numerous false rumors circulating around the globe which far outnumber the correct ones. We always appreciate the enthusiasm of our fans and we will continuously produce and manufacture the best pinball machines on the planet,” he said.
Curiously enough, both Data East and Stern’s pin represent the 1987 animated incarnation of the turtles, despite the fact that multiple subsequent iterations have come forth since 1991, including the currently airing Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Nickelodeon.
“Through the initial development and concept phase, everyone on Stern’s side as well as Nickelodeon came to the consensus that the iconic animated hit television series version of the Turtles was the way to go,” Sharpe explained. “The design team are humongous fans and wanted to bring justice to this license and Nickelodeon could not be more proud of the final product we created.
“They were so ecstatic,” he added, “that they wanted to be instrumental and partner up directly with the initial announcement of the game. For announcement, they shared to the world the first game trailer across their official social media channels with the video already receiving over 100,000 views within the first 24 hours!”
Only time will tell, but the online reception points to Stern having another hit pinball machine on its hands. “So happy it has the older turtles,” said YouTube commenter Timmy O’Leary. “Pretty stoked for it.”
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is now available to purchase for game rooms and arcades everywhere, with production starting in June.