The biggest thing I spot in all these "new" pinball companies is that they seem to fail to recognize their fiduciary to protect deposits and pre-payments from loss until units are shipped,. They are not the owners of your deposits and pre-payments. They are stewards of the money until it is earned. If a company really wants to show their respect for your money, it would all be held in trust and the startup capital would be provided by conventional loans against the assets of the stewards. Also, manufacturing companies can purchase performance bonds to protect that money while they are unable to ship product. Cheap? No.
Another contractual technique to light a fire under these guys is liquidated damages for missing deadlines. If the price went down $100 for every week (or month) late, I'm sure the empty promises would stop.
If this story follows along the JJP narrative, we should be looking for "new investors" in Heighway by the end of summer (assuming cash flow is limiting the production in this case). You can't use production money to build a factory and then also to buy all the components in BOM.... and then hire and train people to do the assembly. The fixed overhead investment should be either paid for with investment capital up front or amortized over 15 years through borrowing. Using order revenue to pay for the fixed overhead of setting up factory production is not a long term winning strategy. I don't think this is what's happening here. I imagine that Heighway brought a lot of his own money into it. The big question is, "was it enough?" Think about this the next time some boutique promises to ramp up a factory while they are soliciting pre-order money. Look at how homepin (Thunderbirds) can't get it done in China. He says they are 10X over budget.
FYI, a little trick I learned in manual labor manufacturing cost estimating is to look at the sales price as 1/3 materials, 1/3 labor, 1/3 gross profit. Through this prism, you can see that there is a pretty large number of games that must be sold to hit the Break Even mark in the operation as a whole. Hopefully cash starvation is not the case here, but we must always assume that's the case when things are as reported in this thread. A typical production line startup should demonstrate a doubling of production each week during the period while factory is running at 25%-75% capacity. I know we're not there yet, but that should be the litmus test. My first degree was in Industrial Engineering and I have been involved in the startup of two business that went from 0-$2MM in the first 18 months and from 2MM to 15MM in the second 18 months.
Anyways, my points are likely moot because games are shipping and people like them. It should be a lot easier to find money at this point.