Story dated 8th March 2002.

Stern Pinball Inc has produced its latest newsletter and predictably it is mostly about their newest pinball game - Playboy.

The original plan was to send out these newsletters once a month but those ambitions have been scaled back to just three newsletters a year to coincide with the production of each new game.

This edition features a chat with Playboy designer George Gomez.

Hello again and welcome to The Second Stern Pinball Newsletter

Everyone at Stern Pinball would like to thank you for the amazing response to our last game, Monopoly™. The Monopoly™ pinball machine not only reached the top spot on both the RePlay and Play Meter Polls, it is now one of Stern's best selling game to date! Thanks again and keep flipping!

Further, Gary Stern was so excited with the success of working with Pat Lawlor and his team on the Monopoly™ pinball machine that he invited some more former WMS superstars, along with Stern's own incredible team of pinball designers, to create Stern's newest game, Playboy. We hope that you welcome these pinball greats back, and more so, we hope that you like the Playboy pinball machine as much as we do.


Designed by George Gomez (Monster Bash™), Stern employee Dwight Sullivan (WhoDunnit™), and artist Kevin O'Connor (Star Wars: Episode One®, Playboy: 35th Anniversary), the Playboy pinball machine brings you the world's most beautiful women in the lifestyle that can only be known as Playboy.

So recently, Stern News sat down with game designer George Gomez and asked him a few questions about the Playboy pinball machine, as well as a little of his own pinball history. Now let's hear what's on George's mind these days.

Stern News: Welcome George, and thank you for taking the time to talk to us. You just finished designing Stern Pinball's new Playboy pinball machine. Could you tell us a little about it?

George Gomez: Playboy and pinball have always been a powerful combination and I think that this game is the most exciting version to date.

SN: Could you please explain in more detail the 'Interchangeable Photo Inserts' that go on the playfield.

GG: Each target has the ability to reveal a beautiful girl. The girls are represented in photo quality removable inserts that are made from translite material and illuminated. The game is shipped with several sets of photo inserts. The sets vary in how much of the girls they reveal. In one set the photos are very conservative and in the next the girls reveal a bit more and of course there is a nude set. All of the inserts are taken from actual Playboy photography so they are very high quality and consistent with Playboy's high standards. This variety allows the operator to swap inserts in order to adjust the game to the location and the customer base.

(Editor's note: photo inserts for the playfield mechanisms are interchangeable, allowing for appropriately rated images to be applied to various environments.)

SN: How did you come up with the concept?

GG: I used to play the original Bally game years ago. There was a bar downtown that had one and I remember thinking that it would be fun to make the game as close to the actual magazine as possible. When we were at WMS, my partner in this game, Dwight Sullivan, wanted to do it on the Pinball 2000™ platform but it was deemed too difficult at the time.

SN: Could you tell us the names of your favorite pinball machines and what elements you like in them?

GG: In no particular order.Firepower 2™, Black Knight™, Terminator 2®, Playboy, Medieval Madness™, Attack From Mars™, Whirlwind™, Party Zone™, Monster Bash™, RFM™, and Star Trek®. I love games that build in intensity and games that make me work at mastering them. I like smooth shooting, hook a lot of shots together and feel like a hero, take a breather & bring on the next thing, collect cool stuff kinds of games. I also love it when a game theme is thoroughly executed. By that I mean that all of the elements: art, sounds, choreography, fiction, and play mechanic need to be consistent and well thought out. I never could get into those old games where the art was applied as an after thought and the theme may have been space but the play mechanic was a card game. I didn't play pinball in that era and that's probably why. When I was a kid I loved Marvel comics because the stories and the art and the cover were all tied together, I despised D.C. comics in the era when the stuff on the book cover had nothing to do with the story inside.

SN: You're best known in the pinball community for designing the Williams/Bally hit Monster Bash™. Tell us why you think that pinball machine was such a monster hit?

GG: I think it represents what I described above. We made the Monster toys compelling, the ball had fun kinetics in things like bashing Frank and Drac, it had some smooth ramps like the Bride ramp. The game had a lot of humor, which was a trademark of the most successful games of that time. And of course the pacing did what I referred to previously; it built the game tension throughout the whole game. Every person on that team stepped up and gave me their best stuff. It was a complete package.

SN: You are also generally credited with the idea for WMS' Pinball 2000™. What led you to come up with that concept?

GG: Desperation, in a word. If the player base had disappeared, it had to do with the fact that we were no longer entertaining them. When you've designed a thousand ramps and created all manners of game rules, you have to do something new. It was simply an attempt to create a compelling new medium that would include elements that were familiar and yet provide new ways to play. By the way I always felt that we should retain both the traditional and the 2000 lines of product. But that proved economically unfeasible.

SN: Let's go back to the Playboy pinball machine. How would you characterize this particular Playboy pinball machine with the first two (Bally's Playboy; Data East's Playboy: 35th Anniversary)? Is this a much more exciting game for the year 2002?

GG: I think this is the ultimate application of the theme. The entire Playboy mystique revolves around these incredibly beautiful and interesting women. We have made this game consistent with that. We have for the first time focused on portraying the very essence of Playboy. The previous games hinted at it but stopped short of delivering on the promise. This game has all of it.

SN: Last question. What was the first pinball machine you ever played?

GG: I don't remember what it was called but it would have been something from the sixties. I think it was a space theme, and I think once I got beyond the concept that I had to keep the ball in play, I focused on turning the lights on and trying to get the ball to make its way everywhere on the playfield. It was in a rec. room at an Air Force base somewhere out west. I was on a cross-country trip with the Boy Scouts. I never imagined then that this game would become such a significant part of my life.

SN: Well thanks George for all of your insight. And we wish you continued success, and much success with the new Playboy pinball machine.

GG: Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to design this game. It has been a privilege to work with all of the talent in your company.

E-bay Charity Auction

Stern Pinball, Pat Lawlor Design, and Pinballsales.com would like to thank Alexander and Lu Lu Woo for their wonderful bid of $1825 on the November 20, 2001 auction to help all the brave Americans in N.Y.C. through participating in eBay's Auction for America. Alex and Lu Lu, and their friends (and runner-ups) David and Mimi Silverman, enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Capri Restaurant in Melrose Park, Illinois with Gary Stern, Pat Lawlor, Steve White (editor of RePlay magazine), and Stern employees Jolly Backer and Marc Schoenberg. Gary
and Pat filled everyone's ears with stories of the pinball business and pinball design, as well as taking them on a factory tour of Stern Pinball's 40,000 sq. ft. factory in Melrose, Illinois. And to make the experience all the more noteworthy, Alex and Lu Lu flew in all the way from Hong Kong, while David and Mimi came from Silver Spring, Maryland for the lunch. The afternoon became complete when everyone adjourned to the Stern gameroom for a few hours of playing Playboy and MonopolyT. Again, thank you to our new friends for their generosity, and thanks to eBay and Jack Guarnieri of Pinballsales.com for making this all happen.

Stern Paraphernalia

Ever since Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti wore a Stern Pinball T-shirt on NBC's Jay Leno Show, Pat Lawlor Design has been selling the shirts like mad. Just go to www.patlawlordesign.com and you too can have a 100% cotton Stern Pinball T-shirt from Pat's secure website ($19.95 plus $4.95 shipping/handling). Also, you will soon be able to purchase a Stern Pinball baseball cap from the PLD website.

Get with it and get in Stern-style today!


The Third Annual Pinball at the Zoo event will be held at the Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds located at 2900 Lake Street, Kalamazoo, Mich. on April 20 and 21. It will feature a Coin-op Auction, Multiple Pinball Tournaments, and Inside and Outside Vending Booths with Parts and Machines for Sale. New this year, outside vending Booths and all coin-op devices are welcome. All games will be set on free play. Organizers are once again offering free admission to anyone who brings a pinball machine that can either be used in the tournament or left on free play. For more details, contact show organizers at 616-628-4626; e-mail Kevin@PinballattheZoo.com.

Pinball lives in the form of Pinburgh 2002, an international tournament in the tradition of the Professional and Amateur Pinball Association (PAPA). The three-day competitive event will be held in Pittsburgh, Penn., June 21-23, at the Best Western Parkway Center Inn. Each year the tournament grows bigger and better. Players of all skill levels are welcome. Organizers say this is the only national pinball tournament in the United States. Most of the machines in the tournament have been selected from the private collection of one of the event's sponsors. At least 40 pinball machines will be used. Pinburgh 2002 is organized and hosted by the Steel City Pinball Association. Sponsors include Beehive Coffeehouse and pair Networks, Inc. Stern Pinball will be donating backglasses and toys. For more information, visit www.pinburgh2002.com.

Tips & Tricks #2

Playboy Pinball is equipped with Adjustable Outlane Posts to help earnings by increasing or decreasing the Average Ball Time. Periodically check Audit 3, Average Ball Time. Ideally, 50-55 Seconds is suggested for best earnings. Moving the Left & Right Adjustable Outlane Posts and adding or removing the Rubber Rings from either or both Outlane & Mini-Posts will affect this time.

Three Steps to Increase the Average Ball Time:

1. Add a 3/16" I.D. Rubber Ring to both Outlane Posts.

2. Move the Post down one (1) Position, "closing" up the Outlanes.

3. Add a 3/8" O.D. Rubber Ring to both Mini-Posts.
Three (3) Steps to DECREASE the
Average Ball Time:

1. Remove the 3/8" O.D. Rubber Ring from both Mini-Posts.

2. Move the Post to the Top Position, "opening" up the Outlanes.

3. Remove the 3/16" I.D. Rubber Ring from both Outlane Posts.

Monitor your Audits (especially Audit 3) closely. For your particular location, you will soon be able to determine the best way to have your Posts positioned and with or without Rubber Rings on your game. As players become better, more adjustments may be required.

©2002 Playboy. Playboy, RABBIT HEAD DESIGN, PLAYMATE and CENTERFOLD are marks of Playboy and used with permission. Monopoly is a trademark of Hasbro, Inc. Firepower 2, Black Knight, Medieval Madness, Attack From Mars, Whirlwind, Party Zone, Monster Bash, Return From Mars, Who Dunnit and Pinball 2000 are trademarks of Williams Electronic Games, Inc. Star Trek: The Next Generation is a registered trademark of Paramount Pictures, Inc. Terminator 2 is a registered trademark of Artisan Productions, Inc.



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