I had the opportunity today to see a friends Houdini unboxing and assist with helping set up the game as well as play a few games on it. What a cool game, here's some of my initial impressions.
Value: You are getting a lot of game for $7k compared to the competition. I would say that a Houdini offers as much value as a Stern LE for about $1000-$1500 less (depending on Stern LE and features). The powder coat on Houdini blows the powder coat quality from Stern away, it has a very nice high quality (and textured) feel to it. Also, the real backglass on Houdini is impressive and is something typically only seen on today's game that cost another $1k+. Houdini doesn't feel or look like a standard model game.
Build quality: Build quality seems especially good on this game. The cabinet quality is top notch and is used with what appears to be a high quality plywood similar to JJP games (no particle fill like Stern...). Also, the black side interior of the game isn't the typical spray paint job by Stern but rather some type of laminate or other coating similar to that found on JJP games. Thanks American Pinball for also putting the power button in the traditional and easy access location.
Features: This game is packed with features for the price and interactive ones at that. The main catapult shot worked perfectly out of the box and after a dozen or so plays we really didn't encounter one issue. There's a subway, two catapult shots, magnets, metal habit rails, mini LCD toy, rotating stage to, etc. The game is loaded.
Attention to detail: I was very impressed to find the covers for the spotlights to be painted to match the powder coat, that's a nice touch. It was also surprising to see the weegie board piece made out of actual wood. The purple flipper bands on purple post covers also standout. I noticed that the warning information on the back of the backbox is silk screened on versus the stickers that JJP is now using. Overall there's a lot of nice extra touches spread throughout the game.