I'm trying to help a friend with a wife and three kids, ages 3,6, and 8 choose their first pin.
1) What are some kid-centric themed pins?
I can think of:
popeye saves the earth
Wizard of Oz
WOZ rule set to deep for a starter game. I owned a who dun nit at one time and with the flipper buttons you could choose between novice and reg. The novice spit out the ball for two min unlimited ball drains good for young kids.Simpsons is a good DMD but consider looking at some 80s SS games.
Hurricane is a good first pin, especially if you have kids. The artwork is fun, it has that cool looping ramp that any kid gets to see at least once when they plunge the ball. Has a DMD, spinning disc in backglass, two ramps, dunk the dummy shot is a challenging ball drainer. A neat toy with the two ferris wheels (although it does DRAG the game down, talk about stop and go, knowing you MOF you would LOATHE this feature) but kids like it and if you are playing for points you rarely need to shoot for it. Pop bumpers are useless and hardly utilized in this game (another thing I know you hate).
Not super deep but there is enough for the casual player to start with and learn from. My guests all loved it. I think its a good starter pin, once I got serious about pinball it was out the door though.
Also meant to mention that hurricane is typically one of the cheaper DMDS, although people around here want dumb money for it. Got mine for 900$.
So no price range?
WOZ is good but by far the most expensive (up to 4x more than other great family pins).
World Cup Soccer 94 is a great family pin that always attracts the kids. Great value also.
The backglass on hurricane is a bit "spooky" if they are very young (the coaster has sharp teeth an a weird face ...my son called it "the dragon pinball machine" when he was 3).
Road show is a huge hit with my son, as is swep1 and Hook (though I hid the sides of the head which are some creepy skeletons). Nightmare age is no fun...
when my daughter was younger, her friends were always drawn to world cup soccer, since shooting the goal was obvious to do and they would get excited when they scored, even if that is not really the primary objective of the game.
Roadshow has also been appealing to the kids, with the talking heads and shooting at the bulldozer blade.
Kids like games with obvious targets. Theme is good too but the reason kids like world cup soccer so much is the familiar target of shoot the ball in the goal! The ship in the new star trek is good (big obvious target and cool stuff happens when you hit it). Look for pins with a strong "hit me here" with good rewards for doing so.
My 6 yr old loves funhouse, makes me play it with him all the time. He also loves Cyclone. Another circus theme game with lots of drop targets is gottlieb Hot Shots, somewhat questionable back glass but really fun for kids to play.
I agree that the games already mentioned above are all excellent choices. My kids greatly enjoyed Creature From The Black Lagoon (should likely have kept it in my collection). The two-ball multiball is uncomplicated but challenging. Also, its retro theme appeals to adults. You cannot go wrong with Twilight Zone either. The best family themed machine (kids and adults of all ages), in my view, is Wizard of Oz. The ultra-deep ruleset of WOZ makes it a keeper.
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