Date: 27th May, 2020

Although the theme for Stern Pinball’s next release had been widely reported, the timing of the game’s launch was less certain.

Originally planned to be announced shortly after the Texas Pinball Festival in March and shown at the Midwest Gaming Classic the following weekend, the launch plans were thrown in the air by the impact of the Coronavirus on the pinball industry. The two shows were cancelled for 2020 and pinball manufacturing shut down, denying both a platform for the launch and the ability to actually build the games.

Now, pinball manufacturing has resumed – albeit with reduced capacity – so Stern Pinball have wasted no time in kickstarting their delayed launch of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (called TMNT from now on).

As usual, this latest release comes in three variants – Pro, Premium and a Limited Edition with a maximum of 500 units. Each has a different cabinet/backbox art package with the LE getting a mirrored backglass rather than the translites found in the Pro and Premium.

Let’s start with the TMNT Pro.

The right side of the Pro model
The right side of the Pro model
The left side of the Pro model
The left side of the Pro model
The front of the Pro model
The front of the Pro model

The artwork for all three models comes from Jeremy Packer, a.k.a. Zombie Yeti, who previously created art for several games for Stern Pinball, including Ghostbusters, Deadpool, Primus and Iron Maiden.

The right side of the Premium model
The right side of the Premium model
The left side of the Premium model
The left side of the Premium model
The front of the Premium model
The front of the Premium model

The Limited Edition model comes with green legs, body armour and speaker surrounds, in addition to unique artwork and interior cabinet art.

The right side of the Limited Edition model
The right side of the Limited Edition model
The left side of the Limited Edition model
The left side of the Limited Edition model
The front of the Limited Edition model
The front of the Limited Edition model

Here are the three models side-by-side. As with all pictures on the website, you can click on this to enlarge it.

The Pro, Premium and LE models
The Pro, Premium and LE models

So, that’s the exterior artwork. Now let’s look at the playfields on the three models. As in earlier Stern titles, the playfield gameplay features are the same on the Premium and Limited Edition models, while the Pro has a very similar design with some cost-reduction resulting in missing or simplified mechanisms.

To see the full set of features, we’ll start with the Premium/LE playfield and then see what is missing or different in the Pro.

The Premium model's playfield
The Premium model’s playfield

Our first example is the playfield’s bottom arch which is black plastic on the Pro, but black powder-coated steel with illuminated panels on the Premium and LE. The LE also gets game designer John Borg’s signature above the instruction card.

The instruction card area on the bottom arch on the Premium
The instruction card area on the bottom arch on the Premium
John Borg's signature on the bottom arch of the LE model
John Borg’s signature on the bottom arch of the LE model

All three versions of TMNT are three-flippered games, with the third flipper half-way up on the left side. There is a difference with the number of balls installed in the models, with the Premium and LE using eight balls while the Pro cuts that to six.

The two main flippers on the Premium
The two main flippers on the Premium
The upper flipper on the Limited Edition
The upper flipper on the Limited Edition

Starting at the bottom of the playfield, there are two inlanes on the left side with the outer lane also being the end of the left and right ramp return.

The two left inlanes and the ramp return
The two left inlanes and the ramp return

The left outlane can be lit for Battle Again which launches a new ball into play to replace the drained one.

Above the left outlane is the L-A-I-R target. Rather than have individual targets – either drop targets or standups – for each L-A-I-R letter, this is a long single target with leaf switches at either end which adds a letter when any part of it is hit.

The L-A-I-R standup target on the Premium
The L-A-I-R standup target on the Premium

Behind the L-A-I-R target is a lane accessed by a shot under the raised upper flipper.

The training mode start lane
The training mode start lane

The ball can be held in this lane while a training mode intro is played, before being released to the inlane.

Above the upper flipper is the left entrance to the orbit lane.

The left orbit entrance is above the upper flipper
The left orbit entrance is above the upper flipper

Next comes the left ramp entrance, which features small upright standup targets either side.

The left ramp on the Premium
The left ramp on the Premium

On the Pro the ramp sign only indicates when the ramp is lit for training, whereas on the Premium and LE it can build the glider value too.

Training and Build Glider can both be lit on the left ramp on the Premium/LE
Training and Build Glider can both be lit on the left ramp on the Premium/LE

The left ramp disappears behind the back panel, emerging to the right and crossing the ramp entrance to deposit the ball in the left inlane.

Before the ball gets that far though, on the Pro model there is a Stop & Score ball blocker which operates on both the ramp return wireforms.

The Stop & Score ramp blocker
The Stop & Score ramp blocker

The blocker is pulled down by a solenoid to temporarily stop the ball on the ramp. When released it pops back up and the ball continues.

On the Premium and LE playfields though, there is an different Glider device which allows the player to divert the ball from one ramp return to the other, letting them choose at which flipper the ball ends up.

The ball diverter on the Premium and LE playfields
The ball diverter on the Premium and LE playfields

When activated by pressing the action button on the lock bar, it turns one way or the other to divert the ball onto the adjacent ramp return.

The ball is diverted to the right wireform
The ball is diverted to the right wireform

The Glider actually has five possible positions which also allow it to stop the ball in the same way as the ball stopper on the Pro model.

Directly in front of the left ramp entrance is the spinning pizza disc. This operates like the spinning disc on Twister and the Premium/LE versions of X-Men, having a magnet core in the centre which can grab balls at the start of multiball, spin them around at 400 RPM, and then release them so they fly off in multiple directions.

The magnet in the centre of the spinning disc grabs a ball
The magnet in the centre of the spinning disc grabs a ball

The disc and magnet can also be used to further randomise the ball’s movement.

There is a subtle difference between the spinning disc on the Pro and the Premium/LE. On the Pro the disc only spins one way, but in the Premium and LE is can spin in either direction. The game flyers for the Premium and LE state that all models have a disc ‘capable’ of spinning in either direction, and the motor used in the disc mechanism is very likely the same, but the flyer for the Pro says it only spins in one direction.

To the right of the left ramp is the Ninja Pizza Parlor. This is a three-ball lock mechanism which ejects balls into the left orbit lane.

The Ninja Pizza Parlour is to the right of the left ramp
The Ninja Pizza Parlor is to the right of the left ramp

There is a trick where the upper flipper is automatically raised to direct the released balls onto the spinning disc which grabs them.

Three balls are grabbed before the disc spins and the balls are released
Three balls are grabbed before the disc spins and the balls are released

Mounted above the Ninja Pizza Parlor lane is the Party Wagon.

The Party Wagon on the Pro model
The Party Wagon on the Pro model

Although it looks the same, this is another device which works differently in the Pro and Premium/LE models.

In the Pro, the wagon is a static device featuring a single-ball lock behind, whereas the Premium/LE wagon incorporates a four-ball lock with the balls being released into the Ninja Pizza Parlor lane by the wagon door opening.

The Party Wagon door  opens on the Premium and LE models
The Party Wagon door opens on the Premium and LE models
The locked balls are released from the Party Wagon
The locked balls are released from the Party Wagon

To the right of the Party Wagon is the pop bumper area.

There are three pop bumpers, fed by two rollover lanes at the top of the playfield. The ball can get here either from the right orbit lane or from the inner orbit shot which is made by the upper flipper. In both cases, a stop post in the orbit lane blocks the ball, causing it to roll back into the rollover lanes.

The pop bumper area
The pop bumper area

Above the pop bumpers in the Premium and LE models is an animated Krang toy, but that it missing in the Pro.

The Krang toy on the Premium and LE models
The Krang toy on the Premium and LE models

To the bottom-right of the pop bumpers is the inner orbit lane. This feeds the ball into the outer orbit lane at the top of the playfield for a return feed to the upper flipper. It can also, as we just said, feed the top rollover lanes and pop bumpers if the stop post activates.

The inner orbit lane on the Pro model
The inner orbit lane on the Pro model

Below the inner orbit is the side ramp which returns the ball, via a wireform, to the right inlane. As with the left ramp, the ball’s journey can be interrupted by the ball blocker on the Pro or transferred to the left wireform if the Glider is activated by the player using the action button.

The ball diverter sends the ball onto the left wireform when activated
The ball diverter sends the ball onto the left wireform when activated

Below the side ramp is a standup target which awards more time much like the one in Tommy. Then we come to the right ramp.

The right ramp on the Limited Edition model
The right ramp on the Limited Edition model

The right ramp normally feeds the ball to the left orbit lane and to the upper flipper, but there appears to be a diverter mechanism behind the back panel which might feed the ball to the Party Wagon instead. We will look for confirmation of this.

The right orbit lane is next, and this includes the game’s only spinner.

The right orbit lane on the Premium
The right orbit lane on the Premium

To the right of the right orbit is a large plastic mounted over the shooter lane. This features the four turtles and allows the player to choose which turtle they wish to be at the start of the game.

The turtle selection plastic over the shooter lane
The turtle selection plastic over the shooter lane

The chosen turtle gives certain ‘power-ups’ to boost scoring and help complete certain features.

Below the right orbit lane entrance is the A-P-R-I-L standup target.

The A-P-R-I-L target on the Premium's playfield
The A-P-R-I-L target on the Premium’s playfield

Like the L-A-I-R target on the left side, this acts as one single target, despite having leaf switches at either end. Completing A-P-R-I-L lights the ball save in the left outlane as well as other features.

The bottom-right corner has just a single inlane leading to the right flipper.

The right inlane on the Premium
The right inlane on the Premium

Which takes us back to the flippers, above which are a series of unlabelled status inserts to show your progress through the game.

New to TMNT is gameplay mode which allows users to choose various ways to play the game before they begin.

Cooperative Mode allows features and progress to carry across from player to player. The multiball locks, modes completed and enemies defeated carry over, making progress through the game easier, while wizard modes are playable by all players.

Team play brings back the combined scores of players 1 & 3 versus players 2 & 4 which was previously only operator-selectable on pre-LCD titles. Variations of team play are also available allowing two or three players to compete against one, something suitable for families or competitive challenges. Competition mode is also available from the gameplay mode menu.

Gary Stern sent a new-style e-mail to promote the game, along with the regular press release and the feature matrix.

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

Across the world, pinball customers have stayed at home, I’m sure playing pinball. After weeks and months of our customers staying at home and now some places slowly opening, what could the pinball market need more than a beautiful, light hearted, fun cornerstone pinball?

Stern Pinball brings you that new, fun cornerstone pinball based on a fantasy comic created nearly 4 decades ago, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It is impossible for any of us, or your customers, not to have been bombarded with TMNT. From the original 1984 comic book, Turtles was developed into its first television cartoon series 3 years later. A total of 4 animated and 1 live action television Turtles series have been on network television and syndication, the latest still running. Six TMNT movies have been shown theatrically and digitally throughout the world, with one as recently as 2016. A 7th is in development. There have been too many TMNT video games and other products to count. You can even ride TMNT rollercoasters at Mall of American and American Dream Meadowlands.

Those of you with a long history in the coin op game business remember Konami’s great 1989 and 1991 Turtles video games. If you haven’t been in our business that long, or if your memory is failing, go to a Bar Arcade to see Millennials and Gen Z’s playing those Konami games. You may see them playing our Data East TMNT 1991 pinball too.

My younger daughter Lindsey, now a millennial, grew up with TMNT – Lindsey’s parents bribed her with every TMNT product we could find. I lived with Turtle Power. Lindsey still does.

Because so many people grew up with the Turtles – from the younger of the Baby Boomers and Gen X’s down to Millennials and Gen Z’s – everything TMNT is collectible. Having been loved by people of all ages, TMNT is a great for the family, and it will be great for the out of home players too.

I am so excited about TMNT, I brought a sample game home. As I write this sitting at my home desk, I look at the game in my living room. It is bright and happy, with art and original LCD animation based on the look and feel of the early Turtles series that your older buyers remember best. Look at the attached game pictures. Fantastic. We complemented this look with the original 1987 theme music and 17 characters speaking.

I could write about the features and devices on Turtles – its smooth shooting ramps, 3 flippers, use of RGB LED’s, color changing General Illumination LED’s, spinning target, coil actuated posts, many multiballs (great for me), and much more. I could write about the its depth and breadth for all player levels – its 8 episode modes, 2 multiballs, 2 hurry ups, 1 mini-mode, 3 training modes, and 3 wizard multiball modes. You can read TMNT contents on the attached Feature Matrix. Better, play TMNT.

But I have to ask – what would a TMNT pinball be without a pizza? Our game has a spinning disc pizza with a center magnet, capable of catching 3 balls and slinging them over the playfield for wild pinball action.  

At the beginning of the game, the player picks which Turtle he wants to be – Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo. Game features and powers differ depending on which Turtle selected. Pick different Turtles to make game play new and different again. I usually pick Donatello. You will have to play TMNT to see why.

New in pinball is Turtle’s training mode. In this feature, the game will highlight game play areas for the player to shoot, teaching the player to achieve greater levels with perks for each level.

I have a TMNT Pro at home. I wish I had an LE/Premium. The LE/Premium starts with a unique steel ramp at the ball shooter, feeding the Turtle Power ramp and loading the Turtles custom molded van. Unlike the Pro that holds one ball behind the van to start 4 ball Turtle Power multiball, the LE/Premium actually locks 4 balls (Turtles) inside. Ninja Pizza Power multiball locks 3 balls in all versions, but the LE/Premium multiball can be up to 8 balls vs max of 6 for the Pro. The LE/Premium has a custom molded Glider atop a player controlled diverter to choose ball path on ramps. A custom molded Krang is coil operated. And the spinning pizza disc on the Le/Premium changes directions, rotating both counter-clockwise and clockwise, adding great ball play.

The 500 LE’s of course have:
High gloss Sour Apple Green powder coat armor and legs
Mirrored backglass
LE only inside art blades
Upgraded audio system
Shaker motor
Non-glare playfield glass
Certificate of authenticity signed by me
Designer autographed name plate
Serialized number plate

Illinois’ Governor said he plans to allow full production to commence May 29th. We are preparing to start TMNT Pro production, with shipping beginning the 2nd week of June. LE production will begin later in June, followed in July by the Premium.

Prices of TMNT models remain unchanged from our last game. As in the past, LE models require a $2,000 deposit and full payment before shipment, with no 2% CIA discount. Fees also are the same to specify an LE number, if available. 

Attached is a press release along with the photos and feature matrix I already mentioned. 

Jack Danger will stream Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Premium Wednesday night, May 27 at 5pm. Friday night, May 29, also at 5pm, Jack will stream TMNT Pro. View Jack’s stream at https://www.twitch.tv/deadflip

I am writing this on Monday, Memorial Day. I have written enough. I have to play the TMNT in my living room. Lindsey came by and is playing; she loves the game. I have to beat her.

Cowabunga, Dude!

Gary

Gary Stern
President
Stern Pinball, Inc.
Gary Stern’s e-mail


Here’s the press release with pricing information.

Stern Pinball Announces New Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Pinball Machines.

CHICAGO, IL – May 27, 2020 – Stern Pinball, Inc., a global lifestyle brand based on the iconic and outrageously fun modern American game of pinball, announced today the availability of a new line of pinball machines based on Nickelodeon’s iconic animated hit television series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT).

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pinball machines will be available in Pro, Premium, and Limited Edition (LE) models.

Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, trained in the art of ninjutsu by their wise rat sensei, Master Splinter. Is New York City ready for these radical reptile brothers? With a sick sewer lair and tough friends like April O’Neil and Casey
Jones, the Turtles are about to face evils more dangerous and pizza more delicious than anything they could have ever imagined.

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!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles began as a comic book, morphed into a hit animated show, and has grown into a beloved and iconic global pop culture phenomenon. We have worked directly with Nickelodeon to bring these heroes in a half-shell into the pinball dimension. This game has
pure pinball power,
” said Gary Stern, Chairman and CEO of Stern Pinball, Inc.

The Premium and Limited Edition models feature an interactive custom sculpted Turtles Van, equipped to lock up to 4 balls inside with a mechanical opening/closing side door, ready to unleash multiball havoc upon players. These models also feature the iconic TMNT Glider, a
custom-sculpted, player-controlled diverter assembly stationed above both ramps, giving players the ability to control and transport the ball to the flipper of their choice. In addition, a custom-sculpted mechanical Krang toy hovers over the pop bumpers, jumping up and down while taunting players throughout game action.

The Pro, Premium, and Limited Edition models all feature distinct hand-drawn art in addition to a high speed magnetic spinning pizza disc capable of holding and throwing 3 balls during pizza multiball mayhem. The original 1987 theme music complements the action with custom video scenes and events created exclusively for this pinball experience.

All models include 3 flippers, 3 high speed ramps, and a hidden ninja training ball lock area. The LE model is limited to 500 units globally. The LE model includes additional unique features such as an exclusive mirrored backglass, exclusive custom themed cabinet artwork, a custom
autographed bottom arch, exclusive custom art blades, upgraded audio system, anti-reflection pinball glass, a shaker motor, and a sequentially numbered plaque.

Pricing and Availability:
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price:
MSRP for sales to USA end-users, before any VAT, GST, Sales Tax, Duties, or other taxes.
Pro Model: $US 6,099
Premium Model: $US 7,699
Limited Edition Model: $US 9,099

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pinball machines are available through authorized Stern Pinball distributors and dealers around the world.

Considered one of the most popular kids’ television programs of the 1980s, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a classic, global property created in 1984 by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. It first debuted as a successful comic book series and then became a hit animated TV show, a live-action television series and later spawned numerous blockbuster theatrical releases. The property is a global consumer products powerhouse, winning in every category that has hit shelves to date—with toys, apparel, video games, DVDs and more—and generating billions of dollars at retail. Since 2012, Nickelodeon has re-imagined the wildly popular franchise with two new animated television series- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

About Stern Pinball, Inc.
Stern Pinball, Inc. is a global lifestyle brand based on the iconic and outrageously fun modern American game of pinball. Headquartered minutes from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in the heart of North America, the company creates, designs, engineers, manufactures,
markets, and distributes a full line of technologically advanced terrestrial and digital pinball games, parts, accessories, and merchandise. Stern Pinball serves digital, consumer, commercial, and corporate markets around the globe.

Recent Stern Pinball titles include Stranger Things, Elvira’s House of Horrors, Jurassic Park, Black Knight: Sword of Rage, The Munsters, The Beatles, Deadpool, Iron Maiden, Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Wars, Aerosmith, Ghostbusters, KISS, Metallica, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Star Trek, AC/DC, Batman, and Spider-Man. A broad range of players enjoy Stern Pinball’s games from professional pinball players who compete in high-stakes competitions around the globe to novice players who are discovering the allure of the silver ball for the first time.

To join the fun and learn more, please visit www.sternpinball.com.
Stern Pinball’s press release


Here’s the feature matrix from Stern showing how the three models differ.

The feature matrix for TMNT
The feature matrix for TMNT

With the additional time before launch, the team at Stern have been able to release the game with all the flyers available and some promotional videos on-line.

The front of the Pro model flyer
The front of the Pro model flyer
The back of the Pro model flyer
The back of the Pro model flyer
The front of the Premium model flyer
The front of the Premium model flyer
The back of the Premium model flyer
The back of the Premium model flyer
The front of the Limited Edition model flyer
The front of the Limited Edition model flyer
The back of the Limited Edition model flyer
The back of the Limited Edition model flyer

Promotional videos for the three models outlining the special features and modes are shown below.

In addition, Jack Danger streamed gameplay on his Dead Flip Twitch channel on the night of the official reveal. You can watch that presentation here:

That concludes our coverage of the reveal of Stern Pinball’s new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game. We’ll be back with more right here at Pinball News.

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4 Comments

  1. dc

    1st June, 2020 at 9:21am

    I was never into TMNT and people talk of Stern being cheap but you know it could have been worse? like he could have applied new art to the original DE offering

    Reply

  2. Ophelia

    2nd June, 2020 at 3:55am

    Would’ve been neat to have it based on the more recent Nickelodeon animated series, but I can see why they stuck with a more classic look.

    Reply

  3. Brennan Olson

    21st July, 2020 at 11:57pm

    The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are AWESOME!! I’m a “BIG” fan of the turtles. The classic is way better looking than on Nickelodeon turtles. I grew up with the classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I have the complete CLASSIC series collection on dvd, all are on 23 dvds with the Turtle van for the box to put them in.

    Reply

  4. Anton

    22nd July, 2020 at 10:13am

    Great looking, sounding, and playing pin!!

    Reply

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