Date: 27th May, 2022
Location: Veldweg 26, 6075 NL Herkenbosch, Netherlands

Although Dutch Pinball moved into their ‘new’ larger premises in Herkenbosch around eighteen months ago, the pandemic prevented any official celebration to mark the company’s continued expansion… until now.

The entrance to the Dutch Pinball facility in Herkenbosch, Netherlands
The entrance to the Dutch Pinball facility in Herkenbosch, Netherlands

Herkenbosch is a semi-rural town in the Limburg region in the east of the Netherlands, adjacent to the German border. It has quite a large industrial park to the north of the town, and it is here that Dutch Pinball has its factory.

The delayed factory-warming took place on Friday 27th May, 2022 and Pinball News was invited to attend and report on the proceedings.

The Dutch Pinball factory-warming
The Dutch Pinball factory-warming

As you can see the weather was good for sitting outside with temperatures in the upper-teens (Celsius), although there was also a gentle breeze which made it a little chilly once the sun disappeared over the horizon.

Dutch Pinball owner, Barry Driessen, welcomed guests and in return received numerous factory-warming gifts – mostly alcohol-based – to thank him for holding the event.

Dutch Pinball owner, Barry Driessen
Dutch Pinball owner, Barry Driessen
A selection of the factory-warming gifts given to Barry
A selection of the factory-warming gifts given to Barry

Inside the factory there was a DJ playing vinyl hits and a bar serving chilled larger and a small selection of cocktails, including the inevitable White Russian. We were driving so didn’t get to sample the cocktails, but everyone else seemed to be greatly enjoying them.

Inside the Dutch Pinball factory
Inside the Dutch Pinball factory
The DJ kept the hits coming throughout the day
The DJ kept the hits coming throughout the day
The cocktail and beer bar - there was another bar outside too
The cocktail and beer bar – there was another bar outside too

The attendees were a mixture of pinball fans and Barry’s family, friends, and well-wishers. There was a selection of pinball machines for guests to play including two of Dutch Pinball’s The Big Lebowski games and a Bride of Pinbot 2.0.

Two The Big Lebowski machines  were in the centre of the line up
Two The Big Lebowski machines were in the centre of the line up
More pinball machines for guests to enjoy
More pinball machines for guests to enjoy
The games for guests to enjoy
The games for guests to enjoy

When not hosting parties, the Dutch Pinball facility is a fully-fledged pinball factory, turning out The Big Lebowski machines at a rate of around 10-12 per week. Supply chain problems have impacted production here as it has at all manufacturing companies around the world, but Barry told us the parts supply situation is continuing to improve from the lows seen in 2020.

Inside the Dutch Pinball manufacturing facility
Inside the Dutch Pinball manufacturing facility

Twice during the day, Barry took groups of around two-dozen guests on a guided tour around the factory.

He began by showing them an early proof-of-concept prototype playfield from the development of The Big Lebowski, made using plywood, MDF, 3D printed ramps and a number of standard pinball parts for targets, switches, bumpers and posts.

The prototype playfield from The Big Lebowski
The prototype playfield from The Big Lebowski
The Bowling Alley and car bash upper playfield
The Bowling Alley and car bash upper playfield
A look back to the flippers
A look back to the flippers

Next to the early prototype was one of the first games used to promote the title at pinball shows. The wiring has been hugely simplified since then.

One of the early sample games
One of the early sample games

Then Barry showed the group where the design and assembly of the mechanisms used in the game takes place.

The design and assembly area
The design and assembly area
Some of the many parts used in a game
Some of the many parts used in a game
Some of the parts bins
Some of the parts bins
Some of the assembled modules
Some of the assembled modules
Wireforms with switches installed along with playfield back panels
Wireforms with switches installed along with playfield back panels

The completed modules are put on shelves ready for them to be attached to the playfield during its construction.

The bowling lane assembly
The bowling lane assembly
The ball kicker to feed the bowling lane
The ball kicker to feed the bowling lane
Each switch connector is labelled
Each switch connector is labelled
Maude's costume pop bumper caps
Maude’s costume pop bumper caps

The centre of the factory is where all the components are fitted to the playfield. There were several playfields on their rotisseries in varying levels of completeness.

The playfield assembly area
The playfield assembly area
Completed playfields at the bottom
Completed playfields at the bottom
A fully-built playfield
A fully-built playfield

Interestingly, there haven’t been any reported playfield issues with The Big Lebowski games, unlike some other titles with playfields from the same source. We noticed that the playfields being used on the line were quite well-aged, giving plenty of time for the clearcoat to fully cure.

Playfields from December 2021
Playfields from December 2021

Adjacent to the playfield assembly area is where the cabinets and backboxes are fitted-out with their hardware, including the bowling lane and the computer control system.

A row of empty cabinets
A row of empty cabinets
More cabinets on the shelving racks
More cabinets on the shelving racks
More wireforms and ramps
More wireforms and ramps
Inside an empty cabinet
Inside an empty cabinet
A cabinet with the computer system, speakers, switches, coin door, display, and bowling mechanism
A cabinet with the computer system, speakers, switches, coin door, display, and bowling mechanism
The bowling mechanism
The bowling mechanism
The ball kicker to load the bowling mech
The ball kicker to load the bowling mech
The feed to load the bowler mech
The feed to load the bowler mech
The computer's SSD featuring a movie reference logo
The computer’s SSD featuring a movie reference logo

The backbox is then completed by the illuminated translite.

The game's backbox artwork
The game’s backbox artwork

The playfields are then installed into the cabinets and the game is almost complete.

Barry explains how the cabinet is equipped and the playfield added
Barry explains how the cabinet is equipped and the playfield added

On the right side of the factory sits a row of completed games which are ready to fold, pack and ship.

Complete games ready to ship
Complete games ready to ship

There are two designs of bottom apron amongst the machines. One is a print of the star design while the other has illuminated inserts.

The printed bottom apron
The printed bottom apron
The illuminated bottom apron
The illuminated bottom apron
The LED circuit board to illuminate the bottom apron
The LED circuit board to illuminate the bottom apron

Of course, every game needs a sheet of playfield glass and has to be strapped and boxed for shipping.

Playfield glass
Playfield glass
Carboard shipping boxes
Carboard shipping boxes
A wall of cardboard boxes separating the factory from the party machines
A wall of cardboard boxes separating the factory from the party machines
The cabinet, backbox and finishing area
The cabinet, backbox and finishing area

Barry then concluded the factory tour with some additional questions and answers about the manufacturing process and the history of the game.

The end of the tour
The end of the tour

Later in the afternoon food was served. This consisted of copious BBQ steaks, burgers, and sausages, served with bread, salad, grilled vegetables, and assorted sauces.

Time for dinner
Time for dinner

Both the music and the drinks continued to flow into the evening, but regrettably we had to thank Barry for his hospitality and make our way back to our hotel.

There’s no doubt that the Dutch Pinball operation is making great use of their new, larger facility. It’s difficult to imagine building The Big Lebowski machines in a much smaller space, even though that what they did for a year before the move. The current factory looks clean, well laid-out and well-stocked to keep building the full run of machines – both new orders and those still owed to the Early Achievers.

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