|JACK AT THE
UK PINBALL PARTY
Date: 20th August, 2011
Jersey Jack Pinball's Jack.Guarnieri was the guest of honour at last weekend's UK Pinball Party, held at the Barcelo Daventry hotel.
Apart from meeting guest in the show hall, Jack also spent his time signing T-shirts, playing in the UK Pinball Team Tournament, and presenting numerous awards to the top players in the five different tournaments, the two high score competitions and the UK Pinball League's national finals.
Jack was also the special guest at the awards dinner held on Saturday evening, where he was inducted into the UK Pinball Group Hall of Fame by Pinball News Editor, Martin Ayub.
Jack joined fellow JJP team member Dennis Nordman in the Hall of Fame as well as fellow pinball luminaries Steve Ritchie, John Trudeau and Gary Stern, together with several famous names from the UK pinball community.
After the awards, Jack spoke to the assembled guests. The account of his talk below is taken from our UK Pinball Party 2011 report, which includes much more about the three day show along with our Three Minute Tour video. You can read the whole UK Pinball Party article by clicking here.
Jack began his talk by linking live with Joe Balcer so that Joe could talk to the audience and tell them the latest news from the design team.
Joe thanked the audience for their support for The Wizard of Oz project and promised to be back next year with the game, which brought applause from those assembled for the meal.
Jack then started his talk by thanking everyone for his induction into the Hall of Fame before talking about the level of media interest in pinball at the moment and how the game doesn't belong in a museum but should be constantly in the public consciousness.
"Jack of all trades, masters of FUN" was the company slogan which Jack said echoed his emphasis that the one thing pinball has to be is fun.
After speaking about his family, his faith and his charity work, he turned to the reasons he decided to start a pinball company. Before he could start, Jack said he needed to get a lot of resources in place, because despite being in the amusement business for 36 years and starting as a pinball mechanic in 1975, he didn't know anything about building a pinball machine. So he went out and got the greatest team to build the games.
He went through the processes put in place for potential buyers and explained how he wasn't going to build 1,000 games on spec, but needed firm orders and commitment from buyers to ensure the project went ahead. He announced he had now sold all 1,000 Emerald City Limited Edition machines, saying the market for his games is not the same market as Stern Pinball's market. He likened The Wizard of Oz to a Bentley compared to Stern's Kia, adding that JJP aren't building a game with a calculator, but with passion.
While acknowledging the theme wasn't well known in some countries, The Wizard of Oz, he said, appeals to the whole family, and women in particular, making it a much more acceptable purchase than a macho cartoon super-hero themed game. He was sure it would make everyone go "Wow!" when they saw the finished product, because what had been revealed so far was just a tiny fraction of what's in the game.
Jack then played the audience the video of the white wood being played from the Pinball News website before describing some of the features on the playfield. He said the shot around the house is stronger in the video than it will be in the game.
The feature set included 2 upper playfields, 5 flippers, 4 pop bumpers, 2 magnets, some kickers and doesn't have a tradition 'Italian bottom' flipper area.
Jack then showed a colour version of the left cabinet side art for the first time. This is not yet approved, so it may change slightly before production. None of the artwork created by Jerry Vanderstelt was based on existing artwork, but was all created by him, in some cases using composites of different portrayals of the characters to produce a result which, it is hoped, will become part of the style guide issued by Warner to other licensors.
During the show, Jack had shown a video on his phone of Dorothy's house made in metal, spinning round until it stopped and dropped down onto the playfield, when the Wicked Witch's legs extend out from beneath.
Jack still had one more piece of colour artwork to show the audience. This backglass image shows the combination of the glass surround and the image on the LCD monitor in the centre.
The monitor will also show scores, movie clips and custom-made animations currently being designed by a graphic artist in Belgium in conjunction with Greg Freres. Jack said a large part of the monitor's usefulness will be to keep other players or spectators entertained during the game.
Jack brought with him two 'translite' posters of the backglass/monitor image which he signed and donated to the charity raffle.
One of the features included in the game is an interactive topper on the backbox. The Emerald City Limited Edition will have a different topper that fitted to the regular version, but Jack stressed that all the games - Limited Edition or not - will have the same features and the same programming. No mechanisms, rules or modes will be removed for the regular model. The game will also include LEDs for lighting effects as standard, which Jack described as "the right kind", suggesting they won't suffer from flicker problems, and he reiterated that the game would be fitted with non-glare glass and a shaker motor.
Talking about the board system used in The Wizard of Oz, Jack said they had taken a couple of months to design their own in-house board system, which, he said, was powerful enough to drive five of his competitor's games simultaneously. There would be a power/driver board, a computer board and a stereo sound board in the backbox, while the cabinet will include a headphone jack which will also be able to connect to an external stereo audio system.
Next Jack announced a new UK distributor for JJP products. Pinball Heaven will join JJP's list of worldwide distributors we reported earlier, while Andrew's Heighway Pinball and The Gameroom Company both become authorised resellers for the UK and Ireland. Jack also pledged not to introduce any controls or methods to restrict where his games can be sold, or operated. As a Stern distributor, he said he sold many games overseas when he probably wasn't supposed to, and saw his business to create the best games he could, not put limits where they could be sold.
He confirmed the game didn't have any camera fitted and spoke in general terms about the possibilities of connecting games through the internet to record high scores or add avatars for players. He didn't talk about any specific plans for including these ideas though.
You can hear Jack's talk at the UK Pinball Party for yourself. Just click the play button on the audio player below, click the link to the MP3 or right click it to download the file.
Get the Flash Player to hear this audio clip.
After Jack concluded his speech, everyone congregated outside the hotel entrance for a group photo.
Speaking after his visit, Jack said, "This was an amazing event that Andy Heighway put on with help from many dedicated volunteers and Martin Ayub and Gary Flower. Gary was my personal host for the entire visit. Everyone was so wonderful and I am very blessed to be part of such a wonderful group of people".
© Pinball News 2011