This article was written in 2002.

From The Editor:

In the last column I talked about the possibility of Stern's next pinball having a Playboy theme. At that time I hoped it wouldn't be the case as the license could detract from the game's good points and damage sales.

As you've probably seen, Playboy is here. It's real and it's been reviewed first by Pinball News.

Do those reservations stand? Well, yes I think they do. Probably more than they did when this was just a rumour. If you'll pardon the pun, when you strip away the nudity (or semi-nudity) we are left with a fun game with good rules and an interesting layout. It's not earthshatteringly original but then pinballs are a certain shape for a reason - it works!

So once you've played the game, have a think about the theme. Do you have a problem with it, and do you think it will harm sales? In the end you'll find that out for yourself when you try to find one to play.

Personally speaking, I don't find it especially offensive. I do think, though, that it's anachronistic. There's a reason why nobody made a successful Playboy pinball for 25 years. Playboy used to be aspirational. Men were envious of Heff. Women yearned to be Bunny Girls.

But we've all moved on since then. Grown up, perhaps. Women don't yearn to wear rabbit ears and the Playboy ethos is, quite frankly, a bit embarrassing.

I can see that those thoughts are not shared by everyone and in some parts of this wonderfully diverse world, Playboy is viewed very differently indeed.

So in the end, what do I know? Tell me I'm wrong.

From Chris Dow:

No wonder the popularity of pinball is declining!!

I bought my first pinball machine (Getaway HS2) a year ago, chosen because of fond memories down the pub many years previous. It was every bit as good as I remembered it - fast and engaging, it makes you want to play it again and again, and you are suitably rewarded with great graphics and sound when the super jackpot is scored.

Second purchase was a Sega Harley Davidson, influenced mainly by the bargain price of £850. Initially entertaining, but nothing to draw you to play it over and over. Quality of the game is poor compared to the Williams, the balls constantly go where they're not supposed to, with guaranteed glass smashes on every multi-ball!

This brings me to why I decided to write this... Whilst working away, I went into a pub and was extremely excited to find a brand new Stern Playboy machine out the back on the way to the toilets! The excitement was short lived as it is an extremely dull machine.

The controls and whole feel of the machine is the same as the Harley, so no imagination or development there. Again, like the Harley, the balls go all over the place, with regular glass smashes.

Weak flippers, tedious ball captures and an unnecessarily long time between ball drain and next ball made me wish my credits away...

Most things get better as time goes on... Stern should source themselves a good nineties Williams's to see just how a pinball machine should be made!

From Charlie Kluttz:

I feel that Stern has made a wonderful pinball machine. While the machine may not be the most challenging in the world, it certainly has a lot of things to look at *wink wink*.

In particular, the images of semi-nude women really make this piece something to be treasured. I particularly like the idea of having a pinball machine that degrades women so blatantly. When I put this in my home, it tells any and everyone who sees it that I am the king of this pinball castle. It will go well with my collection of adult movies, and the stacks of girlie magazines that I keep in my "Men's Only" game room. When my other bachelor friends come over to my house, they will most certainly want to play this machine in the hopes of acheiving a score that will allow the beautiful vixens displayed on the pin to reveal their true "hidden assets", if you know what I mean (ha ha)!

This is a wonderful game, and anyone who feels threatened by it or offended needs to get their head examined. I!

love the pictures on the side of the machine, and the illuminated rabbits head in the center of the back glass is a nice touch as well. I can't wait to get mine and place it right along side the greatest pinball ever made...the GUNS N' ROSES PINBALL MACHINE.

Long live Playboy magazine...helping young men come of age for, they will reach new heights with the help of this wonderfully sexual machine!

From Michael Campellone:

I have been reading all of the comments with great interest, as I am an avid pinball collector, and this hobby has become an important part of my life.

I have played the Playboy pinball, and sadly, I am disappointed.

First of all, the last several Stern releases (Playboy, Austin Powers, etc.) have a "cheaply made" feel, in comparison to late Bally/Williams machines. Is this Stern's attempt at keeping the cost down? I would much rather pay more for a higher quality product, than save a few dollars just to own one of these pins (by the way, I have yet to purchase any of the last few Stern pins for this reason).

The backglass lighting on these pins, especially on Austin Powers, is really horrible, and most of the "toys" seem like they would break rather easily. I take no offense to nudity - nor do many of my fellow local players. However, other than looking at a pretty face, gameplay on this pin seemed rather dry - almost cumbersome. Plus, the sex theme gets boring rather quickly.

As far as "fun factor", I would have to say that the Austin game actually delivers more entertainment. If I want to see lovely naked women, I can see far better images elsewhere than those given on a pinball machine, of all places.

I also have to note that the U.S. is not similar to the Pub culture in the U.K., and that the majority of all places that have pinball machines for the public to play are at family fun arcades, or game arcades. As such, I can guarantee that none of these establishments will buy and display this machine, simply because there are multitudes of children in these places.

For Stern to rely on an almost purely home-based game room market in the U.S. is plain silly. I really want to see Stern thrive - I have very high hopes for them, because I want more than anything to keep seeing new pins being developed.

Bring back monsters, space battles, and other more widely popular licenses, increase game construction quality, and have far more playfield fun and toys. Truly, paying more for a machine like this would be well worth it.

I really hate saying this, but in my opinion, none of the recent Stern games can even be considered in the same league as Bally/Williams games (such as Medieval Madness, Cirqus Voltaire, Arabian Nights, Theatre of Magic, just to name a few examples).

From Luke George:

I think the Playboy game is great! It plays well, and it is most certainly a conversation piece.

I am going to buy two for both of my Adult Movie stores...enough said.

Love ya, Heff!

From John Mrazek:

What a joke, Stern? What happened to creativity, family values, and sound business decisions? PLAYBOY? Sorry, but that is taking pinball more steps back than forward, without a doubt! I am an avid collector and will never consider purchasing a Playboy for home use, no matter how cheap it becomes!

I strongly feel that Stern needs to take a hard look at producing new pins that are challenging, family oriented, and that I believe will not be offensive to many. Do you really believe that families will be playing this pin? In Bowling alleys? I think not! This has got to be the worst way to make a real advancement in the pinball industry!

Stern better be prepared when this pin is ready for market. I'll bet they do not sell too many of these pins.

Good luck, Stern!

From Richard Wiski:

I don't mind the theme really, I think this country is a little too uptight
about nudity anyway,.
Especially here in Texas. I mean come on people you have Playboy magazines
under your bed, just imagine this as a BIG magazine;)

Anyway I know the new Playboy pin will be the source of a lot of debates on
what this country is turning in to and "OMG my children might see this" All
I can say is relax, there are more important things to get upset about.

As far as the aesthetics of the machine, I think I could have done a better
job on the backglass. It looks like just another collage of images blended
together in Photoshop. How many games have the ole collage look on the
backglass? I can think of at lest 6 right off the top of my head.

The playfield looks pretty cool, although I'm not too sure about the
playmates of the month taking up so much space on the playfield. The cabinet
art looks real cool, I like the gold Playboy on the side with the beautiful

This could be a fun game to play and I cant wait to check it out but I
highly doubt it since there will be some people or Groups that will be
totally against it. Hell we still have dry counties in Dallas. When I lived
in Tyler (a small town in East Texas) I had to drive 25 miles to get a beer.
Do any Northern States have dry counties?

From Lacey Mitford:

As a female pinball player I'm pretty appalled by the theme of the new pinball, not because I have a problem with nudity or even Playboy magazine but because I have a problem with this machine's CLEARLY sexist and out dated theme.

There's a place for glamour stuff (for wont of a better word) but it's not on a pinball machine that's probably going to be housed in a pub or similar. It's not 1965 for gods sake, aren't we supposed to have moved on just a little bit?

Pinball's image is not going to be helped at all by attaching itself to what is really, outdated and puerile, I mean, you are rewarded for good play by pictures of naked women!! This is objectifying women at its worse.

If pinball wants to survive it has to have a bit of a rethink - I think we all know that and this game is most certainly not going to help.

It's a shame as the game itself looks pretty interesting.

From Jonathan Joosten:

As I posted earlier on having doubts about a new Playboy themed game, I think I also should you know what I think of the new game now that it is here.

My first impression was: Why photos on the playfield? Sure the technology is much better now than in the 70's but somehow I feel pinballs come much better to their rights when the artwork is drawn. This also counts for backglasses. In stead of the truly outdated 80's looking photos that are on the playfield now, I would have preferred drawings of these models in a certain pose (not just a face close-up). Drawings are much more erotic and sexier too.

Regarding all the toys and other stuff: I think this can be a fun game to play. You won't know until you played it of course, but it does not look boring. The fact that nobody reached the final level on the ATEI shows that it might be tough to get there and you keep trying and spending your quarters. I think the design team did a great job and have made this a fun game. However keep in mind that sounds are also important and as I did not hear it (just seen the photos here) this can be a disappointment. Games like Scared Stiff and Medieval Madness have such good sound quotes that I can only hope it will come close.

Like I said: I haven't played it yet, so my opinion is only based on the article here and the pictures that were shown. It looks promising, apart from the Calendar photos. Hope to have a chance to play it soon.

From Ken Roberts:

I am not surprised to see you are against the Playboy game. But that is a conservative stance - which is OK, but the people I know that like Pinball would love a concept such as this. Flashy, sexy, and fun. Just add this one to your rec-room collection and tell your kids they can't play this one.

From CyBORG:

RE : the "larger than usual" metal washers on the slings in Stern's "playboy" table.

I feel that this is a wise choice, as it will likely help users from chipping/breaking the plastics used on the slings, due to a stray or airborne ball. I think that this is a great idea in terms of increasing the longevity of some parts in a home/commercial user's machine (as seen in the Platinum edition of Monopoly)

Got any thoughts about these opinions? Send them to us here.


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