ALIEN PINBALL - Game Over, Man, Game Over

(Topic ID: 106728)

ALIEN PINBALL - Game Over, Man, Game Over


By HeighwayPinball

4 years ago



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  • Latest reply 3 hours ago by colonel_caverne
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  • Alien Heighway Pinball, 2017

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#21901 6 months ago
Quoted from greenhornet:

then why weren't people questioning/investigating Andrew as to whether he had sufficient funding to finance such an operation instead of assuming he had the situation covered? he wasn't going to be able to convert his thousands of up votes into pounds sometime in the future.

People were questioning plenty. Sorry, I wasn't willing to hire a private investigator or forensic accountant in the UK to protect my $1500 deposit.

BTW my deposit was eventually refunded.

#21902 6 months ago
Quoted from Olaa:

These games will never leave my collection. It's not going to be any problems repairing these games.

just curious - how do you plan on repairing the IO Boards and can you share with the forums?

#21903 6 months ago
Quoted from delt31:

just curious - how do you plan on repairing the IO Boards and can you share with the forums?

You will be able to buy it, just give it some time. It has happened before and it will happen again.

#21904 6 months ago
Quoted from Astropin:

Are you the same IRL or just on Pinside?

that was a legit question.
why, for years, did people anoint Andrew as the second coming instead of verifying whether he had the millions of dollars required to see things through. wouldn't it be interesting to know the total amount of investment that went into HPs operation. between all the numerous active and silent investors, the country of wales, prepaid deposits, possible unrecovered monies forwarded by cointaker, any out of pocket contributions by Andrew and HP employees, et al, I'm sure it was substantial. imagine what a team with prior pinball experience under proper management could have done with that money.

Quoted from Astropin:

You're a very cantankerous person.

you may very well been one yourself, but were fortunate enough to take delivery of a game.

how people react to my posts is out of my control.
I cant help it if some of the community have problems with my 'delivery'.

quisenberry (resized).jpg

#21905 6 months ago
Quoted from spoke:

The only thing pre-order money should be used for is parts for those machines, and the labor to assemble it, using that money to fund R&D, create an assembly line, overhead, lavish parties, etc. pretty much guarantees you wont have money to actually build machines, unless you sell more and use that money to build the first machines, and then sell more to fund those, etc.

Yes, you shouldn't rely on pre-sales as a means to capitalize your venture... because its just borrowing from tomorrow. But it doesn't matter if the pre-sales are the first dollar they spend, or the last dollar they spend.. it's going to be used to avoid going to zero cash as long as the company thinks they can still pull it off. The utopia of the company saying "we're tried, we're broke, but we still have this piggy bank and here are all the deposits back 100%.. " is fantasy. The company is going to be in debt to ALOT of people will much better claims than individual customers. The bank, the suppliers, employees, government, etc.

When the owner is crunched to make payroll or pay the vendor and he thinks the end is just within reach... if they just dig a little deeper.. they are going to spend ALL money available to them, not put customers so high in priority that they will accept failure vs a customer losing a dollar.

The dream of 'putting that money in a safe spot' doesn't help make them successful or not.. and pre-sold customers are not going to be the first in line to get paid out. That's actually illegal if the company is insolvent... and only a true saint entrepreneur would stop and quit if they think the end is jussssttt rightttt there if they just dig a little deeper.

#21906 6 months ago

Did Andrew ever get an Alien pin for his own collection?

#21907 6 months ago
Quoted from Astropin:

It will come down to this. If they can be kept running then I think they will shoot up in value. If they can't then they will crash...so time will tell. That being said flynnibus is right and this community has kept some odd games up and running (we should include the pin2000 games)

Yup... four things happen in the replacement parts world
1- There is old stock to use/buy
2- There is an equivalent part readily available because it wasn't unique
3- Someone can produce an equivalent part if they have sufficient means (and incentive) to do so
4- The part can NOT be sourced because it includes elements that can not be equivalently replaced or the effort is too high vs the return to incentivize someone enough to do it

We lived through #1 and #2 for decades and everyone was worried when WMS shutdown. #3 we've seen happen more and more as the tooling and small batch building is more readily available to anyone (3d printing, rapid prototyping, online sourcing, etc).

Ultimately the market was big enough many companies have stepped up and continue to operate providing parts in scenarios #2 and #3

#4 is a huge problem when there are parts like ICs that are custom.. or NLA and have no easy equivalents. Or the total addressable market is so small no one can justify the effort in a legal way. Examples include why BBB run was limited.. or why pin2k went to emulation...

Games like Alien have game-specific parts, but parts that could be re-engineered by 3rd parties. They don't use custom ASICs, etc. We also have past workers who are eager to see their baby live on - so knowledge is likely within reach. This is more like the world of Bally and Gottlieb where 3rd parties have made equivalent replacements because originals were no longer available.

It's just a question of if the return is there for the effort needed. What return they need will be dictated by how passionate or not they are to the cause.

#21908 6 months ago
Quoted from rubberducks:

He repeatedly claimed that all deposits, in part or in full, were fully refundable, and at least to me, that they were not used to fund development or ongoing expenses. Indeed, for the former to be true, so must the latter, especially in a company which was underfunded according to his own words.

They clearly weren't, they clearly were used, and that was the fantasy that he peddled.

Sure, but even if it was true.. it wouldn't have lead to people's money being safe. The guy was just trying to make people feel safe and confident it would happen so he was saying what people wanted to hear.

#21909 6 months ago
Quoted from rubberducks:

the company had minimal to no cash flow for long periods and large overheads, then surely that means by definition the company was insolvent, and a pyramid (needed the money from new orders to fulfil existing ones). There seem to have been plenty of fabricated or misleading reports on the part of the operator, and intent could be claimed on the basis of this interview. So would that not make it a Ponzi?

Ponzi would suggest he's doing it to profit off those investments. This is more like "I have a passion, but I'm going to play with other people's money and ensure I don't give up too much by insulating myself first".

Pyramid scheme is not the same as simply running at a loss and borrowing from tomorrow. "unsustainable" or "doomed to fail" I would say is more fitting.

Everyone spends tomorrow's money... the question is simply can they get to a point of gross margins supporting daily needs before the piggy bank runs out.

It's the taking of future money when you KNOW the future is not possible where the scummy and illegal portion happens. Which I think everyone agrees - happened here Both mismanagement and deception.

#21910 6 months ago
Quoted from greenhornet:

then why weren't people questioning/investigating Andrew as to whether he had sufficient funding to finance such an operation instead of assuming he had the situation covered? he wasn't going to be able to convert his thousands of up votes into pounds sometime in the future.

Because we live in reality - The real world where we have no way to force or require them to disclose that as a private venture.

People didn't 'assume' he had it covered - it was always a risk like every startup. The question is purely if you think they will be able to succeed or not.

The problem with many is they think of it as a pinball problem, and if you just have a great game, that's all it takes. Business is not that alone.

#21911 6 months ago
Quoted from Olaa:

It's not going to be any problems repairing these games.

#21912 6 months ago
Quoted from flynnibus:

or the effort is too high vs the return to incentivize someone enough to do it

*THIS* will be the issue that will be hard to overcome.

Alvin G made approximately 2500 games and there are so many parts that are simply unobtanium and the demand is too low for anyone to reproduce them - stand up targets, flipper rebuild kits, flasher boards etc. There is demand - just not enough.

Andrew wouldn't say how many games they produced, but I would bet money the number is less than 250 between FT and Alien.

#21913 6 months ago
Quoted from Damonator:

*THIS* will be the issue that will be hard to overcome.
Alvin G made approximately 2500 games and there are so many parts that are simply unobtanium and the demand is too low for anyone to reproduce them - stand up targets, flipper rebuild kits, flasher boards etc. There is demand - just not enough.
Andrew wouldn't say how many games they produced, but I would bet money the number is less than 250 between FT and Alien.

Yes, but those games are also less desirable and not in the same market as these other ventures have been. The low volume is a problem... but it may be offset by more incentive/passion.

15
#21914 6 months ago

As of November 1st 2017 only enough molded toys were made for 120 games.

No more orders were placed with the molder vendors supplier.

#21915 6 months ago
Quoted from mnpinball:

As of November 1st 2017 only enough molded toys were made me for 120 games.
No more orders were placed with the molder vendors supplier.

Wow!

#21916 6 months ago
Quoted from flynnibus:

Yes, but those games are also less desirable and not in the same market as these other ventures have been. The low volume is a problem... but it may be offset by more incentive/passion.

Mystery Castle, A.G. Soccer/Football and Punchy the Clown are all desirable - I would argue way more desirable than Full Throttle. I don't know what you mean by "same market", but the prices of the 4 games I mentioned are higher or the same aftermarket price as FT.

#21917 6 months ago
Quoted from Damonator:

Mystery Castle, A.G. Soccer/Football and Punchy the Clown are all desirable - I would argue way more desirable than Full Throttle. I don't know what you mean by "same market", but the prices of the 4 games I mentioned are higher or the same aftermarket price as FT.

Maybe...but even FT is not and will likely never be in the same realm as Alien (as far as "desire for ownership").

#21918 6 months ago
Quoted from Damonator:

Mystery Castle, A.G. Soccer/Football and Punchy the Clown are all desirable - I would argue way more desirable than Full Throttle. I don't know what you mean by "same market", but the prices of the 4 games I mentioned are higher or the same aftermarket price as FT.

And 2 of those three are incredibly niche games... let alone low production.

By 'same market' - those games weren't produced in an era of high prices and exceptionally high demand for 'must have' themes, stories, etc. The guys who got into the market in the last 5 years don't give a hoot about A.G. games.

Games with a limited market are still going to have less upside than games with wider appeal. Less appeal = less potential buyers willing to spend to make it happen.

#21919 6 months ago
Quoted from mnpinball:

As of November 1st 2017 only enough molded toys were made me for 120 games.
No more orders were placed with the molder vendors supplier.

If that's true, that's appalling.

#21920 6 months ago
Quoted from Astropin:

Are you the same IRL..?

no

billofrights (resized).jpg

#21921 6 months ago
Quoted from Olaa:

These games will never leave my collection. It's not going to be any problems repairing these games.

My Full Throttle was down on location for 2 months due to software corruption. That stunk. I miss the game but I am relieved it sold for asking price.

#21922 6 months ago
Quoted from smokedog:

My Full Throttle was down on location for 2 months due to software corruption. That stunk. I miss the game but I am relieved it sold for asking price.

Yep, mine as well. Power driver failures, coil failures, those special inductive switch failures, two playfield screen failures, and software corruption that was never rectified. Sold mine for a $500 hit and was happy. Shame though, when the game did work, it was a blast to play, almost everyone that played mine on location said the same.

17
#21923 6 months ago

I made a copy of the SSD in my alien the first week; Afraid of getting a corrupt drive. If anyone gets hosed I got your back on that front.

#21924 6 months ago
Quoted from flynnibus:

Sure, but even if it was true.. it wouldn't have lead to people's money being safe. The guy was just trying to make people feel safe and confident it would happen so he was saying what people wanted to hear.

Of course I know what he was doing and what the situation was.

But he's doing his best to muddy the waters, point fingers and divest himself of responsibility or intent**. That introduces a lot of doubt for some, and others do already or are choosing to believe his version of events - for now ...

**though he incriminates himself more and more

Quoted from HoakyPoaky:

If that's true, that's appalling.

It doesn't really mean much in and of itself.

They were never producing enough games, and arguably couldn't with still present technical issues ... plus the issue of the license.

Ideally you don't want to sit on much stock, especially with cash flow issues.

There may be some kind of grand conspiracy, but that's not necessarily any evidence of it.

#21925 6 months ago

“It's the taking of future money when you KNOW the future is not possible where the scummy and illegal portion happens. Which I think everyone agrees - happened here Both mismanagement and deception.”

Which is exactly what Jpop did with AIW

#21926 6 months ago
Quoted from smokedog:

My Full Throttle was down on location for 2 months due to software corruption. That stunk. I miss the game but I am relieved it sold for asking price.

Quoted from parabol420:

Yep, mine as well. Power driver failures, coil failures, those special inductive switch failures, two playfield screen failures, and software corruption that was never rectified. Sold mine for a $500 hit and was happy. Shame though, when the game did work, it was a blast to play, almost everyone that played mine on location said the same.

These are exactly what I feared when I was considering a Full Throttle. I'm not into motorcycles at all, but this game is FUN (so much better than Alien in my opinion)! I have always wanted one, and near the end, was considering one of the many in the marketplace that the owners couldn't seem to give away. I was always worried about being able to keep it going. Despite what flynnibus is saying (although he does mention this), I don't believe there is sufficient upside for anyone to reproduce all the things that could go wrong with HP games. The quoted messages above show how much actually can go wrong. As much as I would love to have a fully working Full Throttle, I wouldn't touch one these days for even half of what people currently can't sell them for. Unlike anything B/W or Stern, HP games run the risk of being a brick that can't be reasonably resurrected, and I'd hate to be on the wrong side of that value shift.

#21927 6 months ago
Quoted from Cheeks:

The quoted messages above show how much actually can go wrong. As much as I would love to have a fully working Full Throttle, I wouldn't touch one these days for even half of what people currently can't sell them for

I would love to have one too.... so I bought a HUO one from another Pinsider recently and had it shipped from Colorado. For $4k shipped, it is definitely worth the dice roll to me. Its a lot of game for $4k.

Most of the parts appear fairly easy to replace, the IO Board appears to be the biggest challenge.

Time will tell, but I think it is one of the better games available at $4k.

#21928 6 months ago
Quoted from Kneissl:

I made a copy of the SSD in my alien the first week; Afraid of getting a corrupt drive. If anyone gets hosed I got your back on that front.

Much appreciated!!!

#21929 6 months ago

sounds like the I/O boards are key. need someone to make these

#21930 6 months ago
Quoted from billsfanmd:

sounds like the I/O boards are key. need someone to make these

More so than that, the code running on the IO boards.

And not to freak anyone out but I want to say the inductive switch modules have micros on them as well?

#21931 6 months ago
Quoted from flynnibus:

And 2 of those three are incredibly niche games... let alone low production.
By 'same market' - those games weren't produced in an era of high prices and exceptionally high demand for 'must have' themes, stories, etc. The guys who got into the market in the last 5 years don't give a hoot about A.G. games.
Games with a limited market are still going to have less upside than games with wider appeal. Less appeal = less potential buyers willing to spend to make it happen.

I just can’t entirely agree with you - those 4 A.G. games I mentioned have doubled or tripled in value over the past 5 years, whereas FT has dropped significantly. I also think they have a wider appeal than FT - but not Alien.

Alien is the wildcard for sure - maybe 100 produced with probably less than half that number in the US. Great game, great theme...but man, that’s a big risk for $9k.

Most of us in the hobby today have seen and played Alien at shows. However I predict they will completely disappear in the next year as no one will bring them to shows and risk them getting broken with no parts available. But how does that affect their price? I have no idea.

#21932 6 months ago
Quoted from benheck:

More so than that, the code running on the IO boards.
And not to freak anyone out but I want to say the inductive switch modules have micros on them as well?

I’ve never seen the HP boards - are the components through hole or SMT?

My soldering skills are ok on through hole, but SMT is an entirely different beast that I’d like to avoid as long as possible!

#21933 6 months ago
Quoted from Damonator:

I’ve never seen the HP boards - are the components through hole or SMT?
My soldering skills are ok on through hole, but SMT is an entirely different beast that I’d like to avoid as long as possible!

SMT.

Aaron
FAST Pinball

#21934 6 months ago
Quoted from fastpinball:

SMT.
Aaron
FAST Pinball

Ugh.

Hey Aaron - while you are on this subject, I have a question.

Assuming there are no licensing/royalty fees or any legal impediments...

How many IO boards would one need to sell in order to justify reverse engineering these and recreating them?

Forgive me if this has already been asked.

#21935 6 months ago
Quoted from Olaa:

You will be able to buy it, just give it some time. It has happened before and it will happen again.

Blind faith hasn’t been worth much in this thread so far...

#21936 6 months ago
Quoted from parabol420:

Yep, mine as well. Power driver failures, coil failures, those special inductive switch failures, two playfield screen failures, and software corruption that was never rectified. Sold mine for a $500 hit and was happy. Shame though, when the game did work, it was a blast to play, almost everyone that played mine on location said the same.

I got one of the more recent production FT machines, upgraded the software compliments of Helmut and have never had a problem...touch wood.

16
#21937 6 months ago
Quoted from Damonator:

Ugh.
Hey Aaron - while you are on this subject, I have a question.
Assuming there are no licensing/royalty fees or any legal impediments...
How many IO boards would one need to sell in order to justify reverse engineering these and recreating them?
Forgive me if this has already been asked.

It would probably be less effort to port Brian Dominy’s software to run on existing FAST hardware w/ a few adapters. When we were first developing FAST Pinball hardware we were working with Brian to develop a software framework. We had barely started before he was spread too thin with existing work and day job commitments. The FAST Protocol used to communicate with our hardware already factors in the kinds of requirements he needed. Brian is a great guy and we’d love to solve pinball problems again with him someday.

Aaron
FAST Pinball

#21938 6 months ago
Quoted from mnpinball:

As of November 1st 2017 only enough molded toys were made for 120 games.
No more orders were placed with the molder vendors supplier.

Who was that as back alley haven't responded

#21939 6 months ago
Quoted from Ballypinball:

Who was that as back alley haven't responded

Silver Studios, I believe. They had alien heads and facehuggers on their IG. Not sure if they molded them, or just painted them, though...

#21941 6 months ago

I found it very interesting that the boards on one of your games was labelled "Pinball Brothers" instead of Heighway Pinball. Seems to tell you the plan was to transfer ongoing operations to Pinball Brothers. I wonder how many pinball brothers boards were made?

#21942 6 months ago
Quoted from nephasth:

Silver Studios, I believe. They had alien heads and facehuggers on their IG. Not sure if they molded them, or just painted them, though...

Silverado Studio, sculpts for the big xeno and the facehuggers were by Garret Popek. Just to keep the record straight.

#21943 6 months ago
Quoted from earflaps:

I got one of the more recent production FT machines, upgraded the software compliments of Helmut and have never had a problem...touch wood.

Nice, which number is yours? Mine was number 43. Did you make sure to check all your fuses on your IO board? They liked to send those out from the factory wrong, which could cause lots of nice longterm damage, but nothing you can immediately pinpoint.

#21944 6 months ago
Quoted from parabol420:

Nice, which number is yours? Mine was number 43. Did you make sure to check all your fuses on your IO board? They liked to send those out from the factory wrong, which could cause lots of nice longterm damage, but nothing you can immediately pinpoint.

According to the serial number on the back...it was 71 off the assembly line.

How does one check the fuses to see if they're right without a service manual?

#21945 6 months ago
Quoted from earflaps:

Enligt serienummeret på baksidan ... var det 71 från monteringslinjen.
Hur kontrollerar man säkringarna för att se om de är rätt utan en servicemanual?

Screenshot_20180509-223954 (resized).png

#21946 6 months ago

Pinball News posted an article about the liquidation and financials of Heighway.

Theres a section in the article regarding company creditors with money owed to the creditors totaling nearly $2 million! CoinTaker is on there for $80k That sounds like they had paid $80k for games they then never received.

https://www.pinballnews.com/site/2018/05/10/heighway-pinball-by-the-numbers/

#21947 6 months ago
Quoted from PanzerFreak:

Pinball News posted an article about the liquidation and financials of Heighway.
Theres a section in the article regarding compaby creditors with money owed totaling nearly $2 million! CoinTaker is on there for $80k. I hope that doesn't mean they are out that amount
https://www.pinballnews.com/site/2018/05/10/heighway-pinball-by-the-numbers/

It's £80000 which is $108000.

That's what report says - who knows if it is true or nor though.

#21948 6 months ago
Quoted from PanzerFreak:

Pinball News posted an article about the liquidation and financials of Heighway.
Theres a section in the article regarding company creditors with money owed to the creditors totaling nearly $2 million! CoinTaker is on there for $80k That sounds like they had paid $80k for games they then never received.
https://www.pinballnews.com/site/2018/05/10/heighway-pinball-by-the-numbers/

Wow. That is horrible. Did Cointaker lose money with JPop as well?

#21949 6 months ago
Quoted from PanzerFreak:

Pinball News posted an article about the liquidation and financials of Heighway.
Theres a section in the article regarding company creditors with money owed to the creditors totaling nearly $2 million! CoinTaker is on there for $80k That sounds like they had paid $80k for games they then never received.
https://www.pinballnews.com/site/2018/05/10/heighway-pinball-by-the-numbers/

Not $80k.

£80k. As of today, $108,000.

RS Pinball were owed $148,500.

Nitro only $6400.

Assuming what the investors say is true, and they honoured all orders made (paid) since the takeover, that's a figure of at least ~$262,900 owed to the 3 main distributors at the time Andrew left the company.

Assuming also that what they say is true (about honouring paid games post takeover), then more than ~$367,750 was owed to direct (pre-)order clients at the time Andrew sold the company.

Some of the latter were refunded, or got machines, though obviously a minority. Some restitution was made in part (though obviously nowhere near whole) to distributors, too, I think.

So at the time of takeover, more than $630,650 was owing in games / potential refunds. Guessing well over $750,000.

We can pretty safely assume that cash was gone. Then there are all the other creditors. Then all the overheads, Andrew's hire or hire-purchase equipment on long term contracts (he presented all the plant machinery to me as stuff he'd bought, and most of which he'd sell when I visited). Then the unreliability and mass of work needed on the machine.

Hardly difficult to see why it became impossible to justify.

Since the Welsh government are apparently owed a round figure of £75,000, I would assume this is a grant that was given but which the company has since been deemed ineligible for (false pretences in application?). If there were any direct taxes owing (not even sure if WG levies any directly?) it probably wouldn't be such an aesthetic number. I also remember hearing figures of grant money around £75k on the grapevine. If correct, I assume this will form part of any investigations or legal action.

#21950 6 months ago

There was a website that had all that information but it's offline now.

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