Date: 15th December, 2020

Following last week’s teaser video for Stern Pinball’s new Led Zeppelin game, the company officially launched the title today.

As usual for a Stern ‘cornerstone’ title, the game comes in three variants – Pro, Premium and Limited Edition. Let’s begin by looking at the Pro which uses the artwork for the Led Zeppelin III album as its inspiration.

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

The artwork for all three models comes from Stephen Jensen.

The Pro model's translite artwork
The Pro model’s translite artwork
The Pro model's backbox
The Pro model’s backbox
The plaque for the Pro model
The plaque for the Pro model

The Premium model turns to the band’s first release, simply called Led Zeppelin for its cabinet, backbox and translite art.

The left side of the Premium cabinet
The left side of the Premium cabinet
The front of the Premium game
The front of the Premium game
The right side of the Premium cabinet
The right side of the Premium cabinet

The top-of-the-range Limited Edition model uses the Icarus character (drawn by Joe Petagno) who never appeared on a Led Zeppelin album cover but forms the logo of the band’s record label, Swan Song Records.

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

So much for the external looks of the three Led Zeppelin variants. Now let’s look at the playfield and as usual the Pro is the base model with the Premium and Limited Edition sharing the same enhanced playfield design.

Here’s the Pro model’s playfield.

The Pro model's playfield
The Pro model’s playfield

As you can see, there are three stainless-steel ramps on the Pro and three flippers, with the third flipper on the upper-right. Unusually though for a Steve Ritchie design, the upper flipper doesn’t shoot directly at a side ramp (at least, not on the Pro model). Instead it has a short lane with a standup target at the end, as well as the L-E-D target bank, the Z-E-P targets and the centre ramp too.

The Pro playfield in the game
The Pro playfield in the game

At the bottom of the playfield we have two flipper in the usual place, with a single inlane and outlane on each side which together spell out R-O-L-L.

The Pro model's flipper area
The Pro model’s flipper area

The slingshots are the plain single-layer variety and while the lack any lighting mounted on top, there is additional illumination provided by LEDs mounted inside the plastic bottom apron.

Illumination from the LEDs under the bottom apron
Illumination from the LEDs under the bottom apron

The rules seem, at least superficially, to be fairly simple. The rules card describes the basics:

SONG SELECT:
Each song has its own set of arrow shots that score points. As the song progresses, different shots become available to the player
COMBOS:
Shooting any of the ramps, orbits, and ejects lights up the COMBO LIGHTS for a brief time. Combos score points. Shooting any of the targets while the game is running ends the combo and builds the Icarus X multiplier value.
ICARUS X MULTIPLIER:
Shoot the Icarus when the SYMBOLS are lit to start the Icarus X playfield multiplier.
ZEPPELIN MULTIBALL:
Shoot the ROCK targets to light the ZEPPELIN RAMP. Launch the ZEPPELIN phases 1-2-3 to start ZEPPELIN MULTIBALL.
TOUR MODES:
Shoot the RIGHT RAMP to light TOUR MODES. Shoot the LEFT EJECT to start the tour.
TOUR MULTIBALL:
Each TOUR has its own set of objectives to complete on the TOUR CHECKLIST. Complete TOUR OBJECTIVES to lock balls for TOUR MULTIBALL.
The instruction card on the bottom apron on the Pro model
The instruction card on the bottom apron on the Pro model

All models feature ten full-length Led Zeppelin studio-recording songs with gameplay features changing as the songs progress rather than just being background music.

The songs are listed in a seemingly-random order on the right side of the bottom apron as well as on the playfield’s back panel. The songs are:

• Good Times Bad Times
• Communication Breakdown
• Whole Lotta Love
• Immigrant Song
• Kashmir
• Black Dog
• Ramble On
• Rock and Roll
• Trampled Under Foot
• The Song Remains the Same

There’s no speech from the band in the game. Instead, American comedian, actor, writer and musician Brendon Small provides the voice calls.

The song list on the right of the bottom apron
The song list on the right of the bottom apron

According to Gary Stern, “To avoid repetition, the game start default selection is rotated if player does not make a selection. The music is interactive with the game; game play features update at the start of each verse or chorus of a song.

The shooter lane and plunger on the Pro model
The shooter lane and plunger on the Pro model

Above the flippers are several inserts indicating balls locked for Tour Multiball and your progress through the tours and features towards the final wizard mode indicated by a zeppelin symbol with a question mark.

Progress inserts on the Pro model

There are four target banks on the playfield. The first is a two-bank of standup targets on the left side which relight the ball saver in the left outlane. As it doesn’t say ‘kick back’ it’s probably safe to assume it just launches a new ball rather than kicking the existing ball back into play.

The ball saver targets and inserts
The ball saver targets and inserts

The second bank of targets is a three-bank spelling L-E-D. This is just below the inner lane and it a solid, if dangerous, hit from the upper flipper and can be shot from the right bottom flipper too.

The L-E-D targets
The L-E-D targets

The third bank is made up from three drop targets which spell Z-E-P.

The Z-E-P drop targets
The Z-E-P drop targets

The final target bank ups the number to four but returns to standup targets to spell out R-O-C-K on the right side of the playfield.

The R-O-C-K standup target bank
The R-O-C-K standup target bank

Let’s take a look as some more pictures of the Pro playfield.

The Pro playfield when illuminated
The Pro playfield when illuminated
The left scoop, the left orbit and the left ramp
The left scoop, the left orbit and the left ramp
The zeppelin model
The zeppelin model
The spinner on the left orbit
The spinner on the left orbit
In inner lane with the standup target at the end
In inner lane with the standup target at the end
The left and centre ramps
The left, centre and right ramps
The centre ramp's turn is behind the back panel
The centre ramp’s turn is behind the back panel

There is an Icarus model on the playfield next to the centre ramp which we understand leaps when the standup target below is hit, much like the Leapers in Scared Stiff.

The Icarus model next to the centre ramp
The Icarus model next to the centre ramp

Unusually, there are no rollover lanes above the pop bumper. There is a lock/eject saucer at the very top of the playfield like the one on AC/DC and a controlled gate on the right lane which allows the eject to shoot be ball either back down the lane or into the bumpers.

The pop bumper area
The pop bumper area
The top right of the playfield
The top right of the playfield
The track list on the back panel
The track list on the back panel
The Pro playfield
The Pro playfield

The Pro model doesn’t include any kind of novel mechanical device. To get that we need to move up to the Premium and Limited Edition.

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

The bottom half of the Premium/LE playfield is functionally the same as the Pro with the same flippers, inlanes, outlanes, side target banks and playfield inserts.

Comparing the Pro and Premium playfields
Comparing the Pro and Premium playfields

However, the arrangement of the four band members’ faces changes to accommodate what Stern calls the ‘interactive Electric Magic™ device’.

The interactive Electric Magic™ device
The interactive Electric Magic™ device

This is a multi-purpose assembly which rises out of the playfield ‘Iron Man-style’ and features an optical spinner and a magnet with a built-in ball sensor.

The Electric Magic™ device in the raised position
The Electric Magic™ device in the raised position
Looking through the interactive Electric Magic™ device in the raised position
Looking through the interactive Electric Magic™ device in the raised position

Apart from the free-spinning spinner, the magnet behind can grab the ball, throw it, hold it as a captive ball, or hold it and lower the device into the playfield to turn it into a locked ball.

This Electric Magic device is the major difference between the Pro and Premium/LE playfields, but of course it’s far from the only one.

The inner lane on the Pro becomes more functional and sends the ball into a 180-degree turn and onto a cross-playfield wireform to join the right ramp return.

The inner lane becomes a side mini-ramp on the Premium and LE models
The inner lane becomes a side mini-ramp on the Premium and LE models

The track list on the back panel is also illuminated in the Premium and Limited Edition variants while it is unlit in the Pro.

The zeppelin toy, like the song, remains the same, as do the target banks with no additional drop targets added to the higher tier models.

The L-E-D and Z-E-P target banks in the Premium
The L-E-D and Z-E-P target banks in the Premium

What you do get though is the so-called ‘Expression Lighting System’ which provides full RGB playfield lighting through two rows of LEDs running down the inner sides of the cabinet along with a set of art blades to integrate the effect.

The Expression Lighting System on the Premium
The Expression Lighting System on the Premium

As the recent Guns N’ Roses release showed, the bar for playfield lighting effects has been raised considerably and any rock-n-roll title has to provide a fully immersive lighting experience to match the intense music and sound effects, dynamic graphics and intense gameplay.

The zeppelin model with the Expression Lighting System
The zeppelin model with the Expression Lighting System
The additional lighting runs all the way down to the bottom apron
The additional lighting runs all the way down to the bottom apron

Although the Expression Lighting System is not supplied with the Led Zeppelin Pro model, it is planned to make it available as a purchased upgrade, with the kit available to buy from February.

The Limited Edition of 500 games adds a ‘paradise blue’ powdercoat to the metalwork, an enhanced audio system, anti-reflective glass and a shaker motor.

The Limited Edition playfield
The Limited Edition playfield
The illuminated playfield in the game
The illuminated playfield in the game
The Limited Edition plaque
The Limited Edition plaque
Game Designer Steve Ritchie's signature on the bottom apron
Game Designer Steve Ritchie’s signature on the bottom apron
The right side of the bottom apron
The right side of the bottom apron
The illuminated track listing on the LE and Premium models
The illuminated track listing on the LE and Premium models
The zeppelin model in the LE
The zeppelin model in the LE

Here are some more pictures of the Limited Edition model.

The Icarus model
The Icarus model
The scoop. orbit and left ramp
The Electric Magic in the lowered position
The Electric Magic in the lowered position

The full list of features included in each of the three models can be found in the feature matrix from Stern Pinball:

The feature matrix for Led Zeppelin
The feature matrix for Led Zeppelin

This Friday evening (US time) Jack Danger will be showing gameplay with members of the design team on his Dead Flip Twitch channel.

Production of the Pro model begins next week and resumes after the holiday break, followed by the Limited Edition machines. The Premium machines are expected to start manufacturing in February.

In the meantime, here’s the press release from Stern Pinball announcing their new game:

CHICAGO, IL – December 15, 2020 – Stern Pinball, Inc., a global lifestyle brand based on the iconic and outrageously fun modern American game of pinball, announced today a new line of pinball machines based on the legendary rock band, Led Zeppelin and its music. The Led Zeppelin pinball machines will be available in Pro, Premium, and Limited Edition (LE) models.

Formed in London in 1968, Led Zeppelin consisted of vocalist Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. Together they became one of the best-selling bands with estimated record sales of 300 million units worldwide. In 1995 Led Zeppelin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for their innovative and influential impact on the entire music industry.

In this high energy rock and roll pinball concert experience, pinball and music are fused together. Players are transported back to Led Zeppelin’s early days and tour the world from 1968-1980. As if players were members of the band playing its music, their play updates game features at the start of each verse and chorus of ten iconic Led Zeppelin songs:
• Good Times Bad Times
• Whole Lotta Love
• The Song Remains the Same
• Rock and Roll
• Trampled Under Foot
• Ramble On
• Kashmir
• Immigrant Song
• Black Dog
• Communication Breakdown

“There is nothing more energizing and fun than bringing pinball and music together,” said Gary Stern, Chairman and CEO of Stern Pinball, Inc. “Partnering with Led Zeppelin, we created a one-of-a-kind pinball experience. It’s our dream goal to create a pinball machine with this iconic rock band.”

The Pro, Premium, and Limited Edition models all feature a custom-molded Hindenburg Zeppelin toy, based on the iconic imagery from the Led Zeppelin I album. When lit, the Zeppelin toy scores speed locks on the player’s musical journey to Zeppelin multiball. A custom Swan Song Records trademark Icarus sculpted leaper toy takes flight when smashed by the chaotic pinball. A 3-bank of drop targets, 3 custom steel ramps, and 3 flippers keep the pinball action rolling.

The Premium and Limited Edition models feature an innovative interactive Electric Magic™ toy. This device is a unique motorized toy which rises from below the playfield to create different magical pinball experiences. An optical spinner charges the Electric Magic magnet, capturing and making balls disappear. The Electric Magic device also converts into a physical pinball bash toy capable of locking a ball or launching a ball around the playfield.

In true rock concert fashion, the Expression Lighting System™ with 96 intelligent RGB LED’s enables full color spectrum control. Positioned in pockets cut into the cabinet sides to provide color themed full playfield illumination, this integrated playfield lighting system is synchronized to custom light shows specifically designed for every song and dynamically responsive to game events.

As an encore, these models have an additional reversing scoop and metal combo ramp, allowing players to keep the hits coming with constant adrenalized pinball action. A back panel mounted illuminated song status board indicates which Led Zeppelin song is in play.

Only 500 Limited Edition games will be made for sale throughout the world. This limited version includes an exclusive Icarus themed full color mirrored backglass, exclusive custom themed cabinet artwork, custom high gloss Paradise Shimmer Blue powder-coated armor, 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 6,199
Premium Model: $US 7,799
Limited Edition Model: $US 9,199

Led Zeppelin pinball machines and accessories are available through authorized Stern Pinball distributors and dealers around the world.

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 Avengers: Infinity Quest, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 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.

Pinball News will be back with more news about Stern Pinball’s new Led Zeppelin game soon, so check back for all the latest.

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2 Comments

  1. mike

    21st January, 2021 at 10:29pm

    Damn, that is the ugliest pinball game I’ve seen. To use photos in a pin is already doomed but this one has nothing going for it.

    The backglass is horrid, ugly, photos, disorienting theme. That would have worked for the Beatles but not for zeppelin. The playfield looks boring as hell, nothing to do, it looks more narrow than usual? or is it just so claustrophobic it just looks that way. cabinet is crap. Dude, this is the worst! What the **** happend to the art? Pinball games for me is 50% game and 50% a work of art.

    The damn thing looks like a website from 1996.
    Someone hire me to draw your next pinball illustrations instead. I’ll do a much better job.

    Reply

    • Alex

      11th February, 2021 at 4:16pm

      Couldn’t disagree more. It’s one of the cleanest smoothest looking games and plays that way too. Also, the Multiball in this game is second to none. The pro…is disappointing, agreed…will be great in bars for sure…the premium, is absolutely amazing. The lights make the balls an actual part of the game visually. The flow is unbelievable. The music and lights with the shots are easy for new comers to grasp, but are deep enough for an advance player to play for years. To each their own I suppose. I’m sure you’ll find a flashy tacky distracting toy filled table that is perfect for you. That’s what makes pinball amazing! One table can be art and perfect for someone, while being garbage horrible tacky for another. 🙂

      Reply

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