At IAPPA, I was only able to play The Hobbit briefly. I picked up someone elses' ball #2, had a blast and moved to let some others in. That was enough for me (combined with my experiences with what I consider to be the superbly built WOZ) to go and order a Hobbit.
(I've never even seen the movie, don't care about the franchise - I just liked the pin.)
I'm late coming in to this but I just want to say that I'm really thankful for the distributors that have ponied up serious money to JJP (Joe @ PinballSTAR, Michael @ Automated, Nic @ The Pinball Company, I'm sure Trent is probably in here too and others that I don't know about) and to the individuals who bought in early. You guys supporting stuff like this gives us options for pins and creates a market force for innovation and quality that may not already be here.
I've been watching these threads and I know there's a lot of frustration on slipped deadlines and promises but I think in the end The Hobbit is going to be well worth the wait.
My uneducated speculation:
Reading back to when WoZ was in this stage of development, I think the way this is going to work (correct me if I'm wrong) - is that now that production is underway - a small batch (maybe that 25 number that was kicked around earlier) will go out to Distributors, Retailers, some overseas locations and 'specials.' (Smithsonian, WB Press Offices, close friends and testers to JJP Inc). Places that will get visibility on the machine where folks can start playing it or drive a round of marketing carrying the good news that "The Hobbit is here!"
All the time, production keeps rolling and feedback starts coming in from this early distribution of games. Support requests, code tweaks or hardware weaknesses that maybe haven't been identified in Final Test come up at this point and facilitate development priorities, parts reorders, etc. Then the floodgates open and beautiful Hobbit Pinball machines depart the icey-hellscape of New Jersey to smiling fanboys like me, as fast as they can make them.
I'm (speculating based on various sources) that this early batch goes out - imminently - (week or two).
At any rate. Hang in there. My Hobbit senses are tingling. Good things are worth the wait.