OK guys, let's just call it official and finally move onto the electron microscope as a standard here...
This has to be the most close-up photo analysis I have ever seen on our playfield inserts, to date. To the point that if CPR is going to be called out, I have to now demand galleries posted of 1-inch inserts as dinner-plate sized pix, of ALL current playfields being sold today. Stern. Jersey Jack. Chicago Gaming. Mirco. All of them.
If you can tell I am a little frustrated, you are correct. Just as much as this first-time customer's feelings after obviously a mismatch to his expectations before buying. So I[m going to bring some facts and perspective to the thread. Let's really talk details here...
I know this playfield, because I graded it. We sell only about 1 TOTAN a week, as things have slowed down on that title after all these years. It is GORGEOUS and very much a virtually flawless playfield. What we're being presented here in these pictures is the typical angled-hard-glare-lights technique to accentuate the near-invisible, literally ink-layer-thick relief in the clearcoat surface. I could do the same thing to every playfield we have ever made in the last 14 years, and every playfield ever made, period. But why would I ? It's something that ALL playfields have, and will always have. I'll refer everyone to vid1900's various comments and threads on this topic all over Pinside. These pix cannot be introduced in this thread as something new, odd, shocking, "dog shit", or poor quality. The playfield is fantastic overall, and I stand by it. Yes, a gold grade is a judgment on overall perfection of the artwork, and how flawless it is. I went over every square inch of this print, and it is indeed flawless. Even the halftones had zero blotchiness or hard-shifts anywhere. Perfect ink gain.
OK, a little physical production lesson:
The insert surface is always 3 mils (per layer of ink) lower than the surrounding artwork. With the layers around an insert being WHITE-WHITE-COLOR-BLACK (4 layers) that means you are at a differential of about 12 mils height difference. When the whole playfield is clearcoated over, the clearcoat (in the beginning) will level-off everything to appear flat. Once the clearcoat is about 1-3 months old, it shrinks to near it's final tightness and levels differently over plastic, ink, and wood. Depends on the heights. But we're talking heights in mere mils at this point - at edges and almost always around inserts as in the above photos. The fact is, tiny height differences underneath the clear DO eventually make their way through to the top. Eventually. So the clearcoat is like a laminate, eventually flexing over the reliefs of the whole surface. No playfield is immune to this, with fresh wood, fresh layered artwork, and several layers of 2PAC clear over top of it.
After 6-8 months, the clear will finally be as hard as it's ever going to be, and as shrunken as it will ever be. For all intents and purposes, it has stopped moving and is "dead". A this point, people have complained over the years of the same similar things: (under harsh angled glare of course) inserts looking like they are in a ring of "sinking" clear, vertical woodgrain patterns/ripples, etc. All of this is absolutely, wholeheartedly normal.
The only way to have glass-flat-forever-perfection is time, and post-work. After 6-8 months, once the clear is completely benign and dead, you can either a) wetsand the entire surface to flat perfection, then machine-polish it back up to perfect gloss using compounds b) sand the entire surface to flat perfection, then shoot another topcoat of clear or two c) both of the above.
We used to have a page on our old web site discussing all of this, with pictures, diagrams, and showing all the supplies, and in what order to use them (we recommended the 3M "Perfect-It" system. Looks like we need to get a similar page added back ASAP, into the new web site. I'll attach a few of the old cross-sectional diagrams below, showing how inserts seat, get printed over, and clearcoated over.
The only friend in perfection like this (if that is what one really wants) is time. Waiting out the production clearcoat, and doing the additional work. Keep in mind, the only way playfields could be sold to the contrary is if we "aged" them on racks, like wine in a wine cellar, for 8 months after the run is complete. Not selling them. Not shipping them. They just sit. THEN we take them all and sand/clearcoat them one last time. That would mean playfields we are shipping now were finished back in February, and CPR would be on this 8-month delay system. Never heard of anybody doing this, nobody does, and we can't start treating playfields like wine vineyards. I think everybody can understand that. When runs are done, they are released and shipped.
To the new customer, who is a first-timer, I would say your email just hasn't been reached yet. Only on tuesday did the newly programmed Contact page on our new site finally get synced to a POP client, which popped out 2 weeks (about 400+ emails) when it opened. We're still getting caught up, I will openly admit. Should be done soon. Remember, direct 1-on-1 communication is admittedly our weakest point. It's one of the things we're working on, and an internal action item from about 6 months ago. Still a lot of work to do. Consolidating everything to one Contact page on the site was just a very recent move that is going to help a lot. One-stop single-box communication. We just need to get through the initial flood, and back to a daily stasis.
If there is something specific I'm not seeing, that is a blemish on this TOTAN... please write into the Contact again. Ask that the details be forwarded to Kevin (they usually are anyway, if there is a quality dispute) and I can get into a PM exchange with pix and such. Since few things get escalated to me, I can easily take it from there.
As for Pinside in general, I make a general call for anybody to post some dinnerplate sized insert pix of Stern, CG, Mirco, and JJ playfields, with hard-glare angled light, so we can all see the clearcoat relief around all the other playfields out there. Would be cool to see the same of aftermarket-pro-cleared specimens as well (ie. do they actually remain glass-perfect-flat forever?) I don't want to be salty, I just want things to be fair. The title of this thread is very damning, and specific. Thousands of people will see it. So I have to ask. We've been at this 14 years. Our current production clearcoats are the best we have ever had, sprayed by a 20-year veteran who did high end cars for over 15 years, in a perfect wetwalled downdraft booth facility. It doesn't get any better than this for "off the gun" clearcoats. Any buffing, rubbing, flattening work (at the end user's discretion) is up to them. On a production level, we can't get into months of clearcoat work on playfield runs, nor the 'aging-wine' process I outlined above. It's just not practical, nor feasible.
If something is particularly odd with this customer's TOTAN, we can certainly exchange it for another. But I've gotta look into this deeper and see what is allegedly an issue, then we can plan where to go from there. If it's these tiny reliefs in the clearcoat around inserts, it's a non-starter.
Classic Playfield Reproductions