It’s being reported by someone that there is a rumor about 2 different versions of Batman existing. Well it’s not a rumor, I’m actually that guy reporting it and it’s fact. Love Bat66 which was the very first game that got me into pinball to begin with. The day my Batman 66 arrived, I recall going to a local restaurant, seeing a pinball repairman working on some pins there. I walked over to him and said I was the proud new owner of Batman66 and asked him what he thought about the machine. He replied, “you mean you purchased that piece of s… box of lights”? Being a newbie I was devastated and didn’t realize there was not much code in the machine at the time, until meeting him. He blasted my new treasure into a million pieces. Upon going back to our restaurant table my whole family turned and asked what the pinball expert thought of my new purchase? With sad face I repeated that he said it is a piece of unspeakable SH.. (manure), lol.
To my surprise I came upon a local arcade later that week to find they had purchased a Bat66 SLE and I was in love with my purchase all over again. Wished I could have acquired one of the 80 SLEs Stern made. I’ve been able compare the SLE with my 2016 premium many times. They are pretty much the same, other than stickers and topper. Both play somewhat clunky, tinny sounding and feel lightweight in comparison to my 2019 Catwoman version.
Having both iterations of Bat66 at home, I realize 2016 model plays quite differently to the newer version made in 2019. Beginning with the Catwoman model, all Bat66 versions from that point onward play without the “clunkiness” of the 2016 to 2018 versions. I’ve studied them both well and see there are subtle differences on the PF. Even on the underside of the PF there are differences in tooling there too.
The good news is, an older model can be retro fitted like the new versions, except the cabinet. Although that could be replaced as well, if you wished to go that far and had access to the stickers or pulled off the outside cabinet art or just left it on the wood and put solid plywood in the bottom and back of the machine that are not finished anyway, along with metal bracing. Would make a quite a difference in the overall play and feel of the game.
Stern’s turning point began in 2019 with the Munsters, which upped their games in a major way as far as material quality goes in many areas of their builds. The old black sprayed thin MDF press board cabinets were all upgraded to solid beautiful thick plywood. Stern did not mention this to anyone, but any observant person could see this upon close inspection. Compare the cabinet of any Stern pre 2019 and you’ll see the difference I’m talking about.
Having spent my career involved with manufacturing on a world scale, I sent a letter to Gary congratulating him on the new improvements. He shared my letter with all his factory people, as a proud turning point moment for Stern manufacturing. These improvements were not only in the joinery, but the corners had metal bracing too! As I stated, my 2016 Bat66 cabinet was light, tinny sounding and feels like you could easily toss it around. Whereas my 2019 new cabinet joinery is much heavier, tight and has a solid feeling with tinniness gone. Cabinetry does make a huge difference in overall game play and feel. Combine that with better mechanics in quite a few areas as I mentioned in a post above and the clunkiness from the cabinet is now gone from all Stern Bat66 machines built from 2019 onward. Thought this is a bit of interesting Stern Bat66 history to share with everyone. What an awesome game Batman 66 is, no matter which version you may own!