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5 Best Modern Gottlieb Pinball Machines

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Gottlieb was the dominant pinball manufacturer for a long time, from the 50’s through the late 70’s. When it came to the older EM games, nobody made better games than Gottlieb. When things changed over to digital, Gottlieb sadly fell way behind very quickly. It was a combination of Bally making really good licensed games with Gottlieb having boardset issues that caused them to slowly fall behind.

They did make some gems though, and I’m going to run through their best games from 1978 to present.

#1) Stargate

This 1995 classic was in my opinion the best game they made in the DMD era. Featuring 2 wizard modes and a mini wizard mode, it has a ton of depth and multiballs (8) to keep you busy. It has some pretty cool modes as well that offer a lot of strategy.

Probably the biggest drawback is that depending on your skill level, it can become pretty easy after a while. The flippers on DMD era Gottliebs allow you to cradle the ball really easy, making the pyramid shot easier than it should be.

It’s the only Gottlieb game in the Pinside top 100 list.

#2) Joker Poker

One of the best classic card game pinball machines, you try and form hands by shoot different banks of drop targets. It’s very intuitive and easy to play, and has a really good ‘one more game’ pull to it.

It’s a game that you can put anyone in front of and explain the rules in like 15 seconds, which is a great game for new players.

#3) Black Hole

Black Hole was a very innovative game when it came out. The first game with a lower playfield under the normal one, it was a cool concept that is still fun today. Frankly, it’s hard to think of a lower playfield that’s actually better than Black Hole’s.

It’s also a pretty hard game, if you can’t do well on the lower playfield, it will shoot it right down the outlane. The upside down nature of the lower playfield makes it tough as well.

#4) Big Hurt

This game gets no respect because it’s sports related, but I really feel it’s one of the best games they made. Basically, you play 9 innings of a game trying to score runs and make it to the wizard mode, The World Series. There’s a moving glove that goes back and forth, trying to rob you of home runs. Sometimes you’re even trying to hit the glove in some modes. It’s just overall a very solid game, one of the best sports pinballs you can buy.

#5) Genie

Genie is a BIG game. The playfield feels like you’re playing several different games, as it’s kind of sectioned off, especially the top left portion. It’s also a pretty hard game in my opinion, my games never seem to last very long on it. The art and the variety of things to do make it one of the best Gottlieb games in my opinion.

Wrap up

Are there any other modern Gottlieb games you think should be on this list? Like Bone Busters, Lights, Camera, Action, Super Mario Bros, etc? There are a lot of games in Gottlieb’s catalog that have a cult following, like Cactus Jack’s. Unfortunately, most of their games are rarely seen on route or even in people’s collections, making it difficult to even play them.

Best Pinball Podcasts

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10 years ago, there was only one choice, Topcast by Clay in Michigan. It was a series of interviews with all the biggest names in pinball, and in fact they’re still some of the best episodes ever made. If you haven’t listened to those, I’d go through and listen to all of those before anything else. The information you’ll learn after going through them will give you way more understanding of what goes into a game. Plus also give you insight into some of the crazy personalities in the hobby as well. The Python one might be the most famous pinball podcast episode ever.

#1 Kaneda’s Pinball Podcast

Without question, this is the best pinball podcast out there today. He’s won the first two years of the TWIPY’s best pinball podcast award, and currently it doesn’t really feel like there’s anyone else who’s close. I think there are a couple reasons for this. Number one, he’s super entertaining. Some of the other pinball podcasts really get off topic and ramble a lot, he’s really good about staying on topic. Number 2, he doesn’t pull punches because he doesn’t have manufacturers to stay friends with. I think this second part is key. A lot of the podcasts out there don’t really say what they think because they’re afraid they will lose access to special information from manufacturers (which they would). This makes them infomercial like than actually offering a real opinion a lot of the time.

Kaneda has really good takes on a lot of things most of the times. He’s kind of like the voice of the little guy, as things he’s talked about (like Heighway pinball being in trouble) was deleted from Pinside (as they also have to keep relationships with manufacturers). He’s like the one person who doesn’t have a financial conflict of interest. I liken it to the difference between a sports news reporter, and a sports radio talk show host. The reporter has to report the news, and can’t really give that much personal opinion on anything. The talk show host though can have all kinds of opinions, and that’s what makes him entertaining. That’s the difference here as well.

You can find his pinball podcast here.

#2 Special When Lit

A new podcast, Special When Lit is a pretty decent entry into the pinball podcast arena. I only recently started listening to them, and their latest entry on Elvira was excellent. Unlike Kaneda, this podcast is the usual format of two hosts going back and forth about a subject. Of the ones I’ve listened to, I think this is probably the best of those types.

You can find their podcast here.

#3 Coast 2 Coast

Although older now, it still is probably in the top 3 for pinball podcasts overall (though slowly becoming outdated unfortunately). I’d recommend downloading a bunch of the older episodes and see how you like it. He was the #1 pinball podcast for a long time before life kind of got in the way I think. New job, personal issues, moving to Europe, etc all slowly caused the episodes to become less and less frequent. At one time, he almost moved to Chicago to work for Stern, he was that good.

You can find his podcast here.

The rest of the bunch

There are quite a few other podcasts now that have popped up over the past couple years. The Loserkid Pinball podcast, This Week In Pinball, This Flippin Podcast, etc are all really good.

Portable Outdoor TV made easy

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    Rolling portable TV stand
    Rolling portable TV stand

    Who doesn’t like watching a sports game, sitting on the patio relaxing? For years, I’ve been trying to figure out a good way to do this. Since our house doesn’t have mounting points on the back, and doesn’t have a roof over the patio, it seemed like putting a TV out there was pretty much impossible.

    A couple weeks ago, I finally had a great idea. What if there was a portable stand that could roll from the garage out to the back patio, then get rolled back when we’re done? That solves a bunch of different problems, like:

    • having to buy a really expensive outdoor TV
    • having to build an enclosure for outside
    • having to build a roof over the patio just to shield the TV

    Basically, it solves a problem that would cost thousands and thousands of dollars to solve.

    Portable TV stand

    In order to solve this problem, I bought this portable TV stand from Amazon:

    Portable TV stand/cart from Amazon

    It came in a pretty heavy box. It’s a quality stand, takes about 1/2 hour to assemble (all tools are included). Probably the hardest part is actually putting the TV on it initially, you need to make sure that the wheels are set to not move.

    Once the stand is assembled and TV installed, you can roll it out to your patio. I rolled ours out to watch the Husker game. It was pretty awesome to be able to watch it with the fire pit going. I took a picture below:

    Outdoor Fire Pit with Portable TV
    Outdoor Fire Pit with Portable TV

    Now I’m sure you have other questions, like is it stable? Actually, it was surprisingly stable, even in the 15 to 20 mph wind we had that night. The TV I have mounted is a 46″ from about 10 years ago, it’s a lot thicker and heavier than TV’s sold now.

    I was streaming Hulu to the TV via a Roku I had bought a while back. The easiest way to do this would probably be with one of those TCL TV’s with a Roku built in. My son has one in his room and it works really well.

    TCL 55″ TV from Amazon

    Other Details

    How hard is it to roll? It actually rolls really well, but since the wheels are fairly small it does like to catch on sidewalk dividers a little. Nothing too major though. I was able to push it around myself without any problems at all.

    The back of the TV is actually height adjustable, which allows you to raise or lower the TV if necessary. I actually didn’t adjust mine particularly well, you can see in my pictures that initially I had it a little crooked, lol.

    Outdoor TV rolling stand during the day
    Outdoor TV rolling stand during the day

    Top 5 Pinball Machines for Kids

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    Top Pinball Machines for Kids
    Top Pinball Machines for Kids

    If you’re a parent who knows nothing about pinball, picking out that first pinball machine for your family can be hard. There are a thousand different options and it’s really hard to know “which pinball machine should I pick for my family?”. I’m going to go through the top 5 pinball machines for kids, some full size and some smaller ones for those with smaller budgets or really small kids.

    #1 Super Mario Bros

    Probably the best pinball machine for kids aligns pretty closely with the best video game system for kids, the Nintendo Switch. Super Mario Bros is a great pinball machine for a family. The goal is to beat all the castles and save the princess, which takes a decent amount of skill. It has all the sounds from the video game plus all the colorful graphics from it too.

    Even though it’s over 25 years old, it still earns a lot of money on location because kids are naturally drawn to it. It also ranks high with mom’s because a lot of them grew up playing Super Mario on the NES.

    #2 Attack From Mars

    This is the most expensive game on my list and for good reason, it’s a great game. It’s probably the most highly regarded by pinball players as well. It’s so highly thought of that they’ve started remaking it new again, even though it came out over 20 years ago.

    It’s a game that has great comedy. It has jiggly aliens, a space ship you can blow up, ships beaming up cows, etc. My whole family loves this game, as do I. There’s a sister game that’s pretty popular as well, Medieval Madness, but I think Attack From Mars is a better game for families overall.

    #3 NBA Fastbreak

    To serious pinball collectors, they would scoff at having a NBA Fast Break in their collection as most pinball players don’t like sports. Kids though do. In fact, I know of a family that owned this game and then sold it for a Medieval Madness. After a little bit the family made the dad sell the Medieval Madness to get the NBA Fast Break back. It’s just a really fun game with easy to understand rules for everyone. Who doesn’t like scoring baskets? The score is in points rather than millions, so a good score on NBA Fast Break would be like 100 points which is a lot easier for kids to understand.

    #4 Pirates of the Caribbean (Zizzle)

    A company called Zizzle made a Pirates of the Caribbean game a few years ago. 3/4 size, it was an affordable option for those looking for a home machine. Whereas full size games will cost thousands of dollars, this game only retailed for $399. They’re pretty easy to find on craigslist and Facebook marketplace, though some people have ridiculous prices on them (like way over what they sold for originally).

    Is it the best game ever? No, but it’s affordable and a good introduction to pinball.

    #5 Deadpool

    Deadpool? Family friendly? Well, if you were talking about the movie, definitely not. But the pinball machine is based on the comic and is actually hilarious. It captures all the classic Deadpool comedy including the Chimichanga truck.

    My whole family loves this game on location, in fact I really like it too. It’s on the top of my list for next games to get. One of the funniest game I’ve played.

    Meta Games Unlimited Review

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    Meta Games Unlimited

    First off, I’m sure some of you have read the title and are thinking “What the heck is Meta Games”? Well, to be honest, until a month ago I had never heard of them either. It was really a chance encounter that we even ended up there.

    Basically, we were on our way to Branson, MO and wanted to stop at the 1984 Arcade in Springfield, MO. Unfortunately, it was Tuesday and they aren’t open that day, so we thought we were out of luck. Luckily, by using the pinball map app, we were able to find a location that had a lot of newer games at it. That location happened to be Meta Games.

    Now probably like 95% of the people going there are in it for one thing, to check out all the latest board games. In fact everyone that was there that night was doing just that, shopping for or playing board games. We however were there to play some of their pinball machines.

    Pinball Lineup

    The lineup they had there that day was great. It include:

    • Indy 500
    • Star Wars Pro
    • Deadpool Premium
    • Metallica Pro
    • Monster Bash Remake
    • Stargate
    • Iron Man
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation
    • 2 older games that I can’t remember the title
    Meta Games Unlimited
    Meta Games Unlimited

    It was quite the lineup, all in great shape. I just wanted to play Deadpool but unfortunately my family was in love with that game and wouldn’t get off it, lol. So I instead played a lot of Metallica and Star Wars. Their Metallica was the best location game I’d ever played for it, I actually put up a high score while I was there.

    The location is super clean. Even my wife commented on how nice and clean the place was. Most arcades are like the opposite, so this was a nice surprise.

    It was so nice that we stopped there again on our way back for an hour. Kids couldn’t get enough of it. I think they both reached the Eye of Ra wizard mode on Stargate.