(Topic ID: 249870)

Continued playfield issues with JJP and Stern

By f3honda4me

6 months ago

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#1115 5 months ago
Quoted from zaphX:

You're missing out on a great game over a few extremely minor issues IMO. Throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Not only PF issues...node board issues...CPU issues. I've had them all, and my sample size is fairly small. In most cases, Stern has provided adequate support.

I will continue looking out for great NOB games, but NIB purchases are on hold (and I've been buying Stern NIB since 2004). Just picked up a NOB BM66 Premium that I could see/play. The reward for being patient is 3-fold: save $$, get a flawless PF, and get MUCH better code. Win/win/win. The excited newbies can take the baton from us patient old timers

#1149 5 months ago
Quoted from Damagio:

The heart of the matter to me is what is a reasonable expectation. Is it reasonable to expect dimpling on clearcoat? I kind of think so, especially on the newer faster machines that have lots of air balls. Is pooling, chipping, graining acceptable on a relatively new machine? I don’t think so. I would be pissed off for sure.

At some level, this is really simple. Some percentage of the PF's have defects. Seems like the % of defective PF's has gone up and Stern isn't screening them. If they are building 1000 machines, it would be interesting to know how many "extra" PF's they order to compensate for pulling defective PF's. The QA process would be fascinating for Stern to speak about. Unfortunately, they are a really tight lipped company and I don't expect any big "mea culpa" with details on the QA process. I also wouldn't be surprised if the PF producers haven't seen margin increases for years (which doesn't motivate them to do A+ work).

#1153 5 months ago
Quoted from John_I:

With them switching to water based clear, this is more of a QE failure than a QA issue. QE needs to fix this and create new QA processes to detect issues before the playfields are populated.
This does kind of remind me of the RoHS cluster F that happened 15 years ago. The new environmentally friendly lead free solder promised to be just as good as the old stuff, but soon every new TV or stereo I bought was failing within a year or two. Previously TVs and receivers were reliable as hell for many years. I bought a Sony AVR in 2004 along with a 32 inch TV. Both of them were nothing but trouble. Every time something would fail, I'd open it up and flow some leaded solder onto components until it started working again. One thing for sure, Sony never had a mea culpa or gave me new boards to replace the failed boards. ASUS never gave me new motherboards to replace the ones with bad capacitors either. Eventually RoHS worked out fine, but initially it sure filled a lot of landfills with electronics. I suspect that playfield manufacturers are scrambling right now to find what works and purge supplies of the clear that doesn't work.
Personally I would be happy with Stern selling me a new playfield at their cost because all I have is pooling and it is not bad at all. They should send corrected playfields for free in more extreme cases that include cracking.

Hi John,

QE, QA, whatever...we can agree about the Q Precision wasn't my goal. My point was if Stern is receiving bad PF's, they should be sending them back to the supplier...NOT passing them along to us.

I've bought many TV's over the years from Mitsubishi, SONY, & Samsung. Only received one (from SONY) that was DOA. All the others performed flawlessly for many years...never had any repairs or failures.

I'm sorry SONY didn't take care of you, but that shouldn't be reason to not expect Stern to do better. FWIW, I don't consider minor pooling around posts to be a big deal. I think my IMDN and Beatles have some. For me, chipping/cracking where art is compromised is a big deal...especially if it happens after very few plays in a home environment.

#1154 5 months ago

One more thing...this isn't just about the clear. My IMDN has awful wood grain showing through the artwork. I know I'm not the only one and was told this is the "new normal" by industry folks. I sent the photos to Stern and they did nothing. I'm sure if I made a big enough "stink", I might get more attention. Who knows. I just don't have the "fight" in me anymore to deal with this type of stuff. Life is too short. My solution is to simply avoid NIB purchases...in the past year I've had to deal with CPU death (Munsters), wood grain (IMDN) and node board failures (KISS). Meanwhile, all my older SAM/Whitestar Stern's give me awesome service.

#1163 5 months ago
Quoted from fooflighter:

Are you talking about a ribbing look on the playfield? I never thought this looked bad, just me though...

Correct (photo attached).

To each his own, I guess. Fortunately, from the players perspective, it doesn't look nearly as bad as this photo. Just to be clear, this is purely aesthetic...the clear coat is absolutely smooth (i.e. can't feel the wood grain). Nevertheless, it's a sign that the PF's aren't being sanded/smoothed properly...yet another sign of dialing down the labor cost to produce a PF. That's what it's all about, folks!
image (resized).png

#1164 5 months ago
Quoted from Who-Dey:

Im definitely feeling the same thing at the moment. I hate feeling that way too because i really want a JP and a Elvira 3 but they have to win my confidence back at this point and them making a statement saying that they have identified the problem and corrected it would go a long ways.

Agreed, but you can still have JP/E3...you just have to wait 6-9 months after release when they start hitting the resale market. That's what I did with BM66 Premium and couldn't be happier with the decision!

#1167 5 months ago
Quoted from swampfire:

The reproduction quality of JP2’s cabinet and playfield art, audio and display are undeniably better than LOTR. I can update JP2 with a USB stick, or even change the callouts if I want to. LOTR had less clear coming from the factory, so it’s true that there weren’t clearcoat problems. But the playfield colors and registration were often off. I bought a LOTR playfield that was hand-picked by Ron Kruzman, didn’t realize how bad my NIB playfield was until I saw them side-by-side.
So yeah, reminisce about the “good old days”. But at least acknowledge that Stern has made lots of improvements in the past 15 years. I’m not saying this to excuse the current batch of playfield issues. Maybe Stern should go back to using thinner clear. Pixelated art and weird colors aside, my ‘04 LOTR playfield has held up really well.

I totally agree Stern has improved dramatically on artwork (both artists and print quality). In most cases, the high-res decals work great (notable exception KISS). While the high-res displays/grahpics are wizzy on the recent games, LOTR is a perfect example where the dots & shot choreography are just perfect (and "trump" wizzy). With the ColorDMD, it really shines.

Hate the new/cheap SPIKE fans...this isn't progress. The cheap power supplies and node boards don't measure up to Whitestar/SAM.

Overall, I much prefer the quality, feel, and maintainability of my pre-Spike Sterns (MET, AC/DC, TRON Pro, TRON LE, LOTR).

IMG_2581 (resized).jpeg
1 week later
#1473 5 months ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

It is a very tough problem with likely MANY subcontractors, many moving parts in the manufacturing process, and also a very tough chemical and physical engineering problem to really get to the root cause and then solve (plus put in verification steps to make sure it does not go back to bad once fixed).
I think communication is always key in these matters and the company that comes out to more openly talk about it and the solutions being put in place will likely win the longer term loyalty of the customer base.

Great post, but I'm skeptical it's "a very tough problem" from an R&D perspective. Why? For many years, most of these problems didn't exist. Sure, the chemicals and process have changed, but it should be *really easy* for folks closest to this manufacturing process to figure out what variables have changed. It's highly likely folks doing this work have seen the process "evolve" over the past decade (minimally).

As you also point out, the process is likely rushed since game production is up and PF manufacturers are likely down (though we don't have much visibility into this). Combine this with rising cost of production and (likely) stagnant profit margin for the PF manufacturer. When Stern raises prices, I'd imagine they aren't handing over more $$ to the PF manufacturers. If PF profit margins aren't improving, they look for ways to cut cost out of the product.

#1493 5 months ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

Thanks. I personally think it is difficult as there are lots of people, companies, etc... involved.
In my experience that can make even simple problems tough. It allows lots of blame shifting between them rather than accountability.
Every step has questions, possible root casues, and possible changes (many may not be divulged)
-Where does the wood come from/ what has changed?
-ink chemical changes?
-pf prep changes?
-clear chemical or application changes?
There is even a chance that this could all come down to a very simple thing which could easily be overlooked because a subcontractor does not even think of it as a change. For example "well yeah we put a new nozzle on our automatic clear coat robot, but all that did was change the spray pattern for better coverage in fewer passes" This could in effect change density of product which would impact the need for longer cure time between coats.
Sometimes these imperceptibly small changes can have huge down stream impacts.
Just a guess, but quite possible that you have a variety of wood providers to the pf cutting company. That pf cutting company has a variety of people handling the blanks differently on different machines. The printed has lots of automation and more each day and some ink colors may change chemical composition without them even knowing as they may come from lots of different supplies. same with basically every step of the process and we are dealing with wood, ink, clear, and assembly at minimum.
Even if the ink and clear are one subcontractor, then they have likely multiple sources for base ink and clear (or accelerators, etc...)
TLDR >> lots of possibilities for change that happened without people even realizing it and now you have to pick apart everything to get it fixed.
On the flip side, it can be easy to just restart and walk the process... but the time and cost associate with it can be huge.

Sure...your analysis is all "good", but consider this:

When CPR sells it's PF's (I've owned a few over the years), it "grades" them as Bronze/Silver/Gold (and prices them accordingly). Love this scrutiny over their manufacturing process!

When Stern get's a PF from it's supplier, many NIB defects show up fairly quickly during manufacturing. In an ideal world, Stern would stop production and send the defective PF back to the supplier. The reason they don't is time-to-market...they need to ship these games to earn revenue. So...the PF manufacturer isn't "punished" for the crappy job.

I recently built a house from a very large "production" builder that allocates ~5 months to build a pretty substantial home (which is really fast...should take 9 months IMHO). A simple example/issue is poorly installed sheet rock that isn't level. We had some fancy tile installed over the misshapen wall that was a joke. You ask yourself why a tile installer would install expensive tile over a wavy wall? (which obviously impacted the aesthetics of the tile installation). The answer is everyone is on a schedule and there aren't enough foreman to check everyone's work. Even if the foreman noticed the issue, chances are he would let it go since he/she is graded on completing the home in 5 months! (INDEPENDENT OF QUALITY). "Quality" is someone else's job Builders simply hope you don't notice the lousy work. After I purchased my home, I had 9 months of fixes (almost all can be traced back to inadequate time to do the right job). I spoke with many of the sub-contractors who were often very blunt about the pressures they are under.

Unfortunately, manufacturing in this country isn't as respected as it use to be. Sad.

#1498 5 months ago
Quoted from Faustria:

People complain about CPR grading all the time. The "scrutiny" is almost non existent.
What, if any, knowledge of construction timing do you have to determine it should take nine months? I'm guessing none.

Your assertion about CPR scrutiny isn't my experience, but my CPR PF's are 8-10 years old. Maybe things have changed...

I've built many homes over the years in many different states. The work was done by professionals that I've contracted. I've also known & interviewed many builders, construction companies, and sub-contractors. So, to answer your question, my knowledge is from the consumers perspective. Same thing for my knowledge & observation of pinball construction over the past 15 years. I don't have to physically build a home or pinball machines to have insights on what I've received, witnessed and learned. How many homes have you built?

Production builders bang these homes out at record speeds and hire the least expensive workers to accomplish the job. From my limited experience of building/buying, the time-to-market demands on large scale "production" construction are considerable. Quality is an afterthought for most production builders and I've seen them take enormous advantage of folks that aren't in a position to fight for fixing warranty issues.

#1786 5 months ago
Quoted from Tranquilize:

why on earth would they attempt to save money on the clear coat and art? Some ppl and their illogical assumptions, I tell ya.

**IF** the Pinsider quote below is accurate, it explains a lot. Now that Churchill/CGC has a healthy remake pinball biz, they are likely prioritizing themselves over Stern. So Stern figures, shit...let's do this in-house (and save $$ and have more control over production). Unfortunately, they apparently under estimated the expertise to manufacture their own PF's (and we are paying the price).

CGC PF's have been noticeably absent from this discussion, so the comment below does seem credible.

Quoted from AUKraut:

Technology and manufacturer change. They went from contracting to Churchill/CGC making playfields via screen printing to doing it in house via digital printing.
The JP2 LE reports so far are encouraging, so maybe there is some hope going forward. Unfortunately that still leaves a lot of people with issues from the last few years.....

1 month later
#2834 3 months ago
Quoted from sohchx:

Found this other day. Owner says..... I called Chaz for my “post update kit”, I asked him if stern was doing anything about these playfield with pooling/damage. He said he could send me a playfield epoxy repair kit. LMAO. Just what I want to do to a $6000 game with 1000 plays.[quoted image]

That's sad to see on such a new game. Just ordered a Premium and was assured that Stern had nailed their PF issues. Oh well. Looks like the post could be the culprit I guess. Whatever the reason, shit like this just didn't happen for so many years. Sigh.

#2839 3 months ago
Quoted from pinballcorpse:

Not defending what is happening with other areas of clearcoat, but the playfield behind that post (which serves to protect the flipper in the middle of the playfield) is going to get repeatedly hammered and be an area where I would expect to see damages anyway.

I've owned 3 Trons...all with 4 posts that get hammered. Thousands of play...no damage. Hitting a post shouldn't cause PF damage...! My LOTR has over 10k plays with posts that get hammered and 0 damage.

Based on the little I know, I would bet the post isn't secured well. As the post loosens and gets hammered, it chips away @ the PF. One of the posts on my KISS would loosen after 50 plays or so. Added a lock washer and hasn't loosened since.

#2849 3 months ago
Quoted from metallik:

Threaded post into just T-nut means every hit to the right side of it will cause CCW motion and unscrew the post a tiny bit. Yea, needs a nut underneath playfield to fix permanently. Similar to problem on DrWho, the post on left side of time expander backs out after so many hits and causes the springsteel across front of mini-PF to bow upward.

Quoted from sohchx:

I was told it's an early run machine

I'm told this has been fixed in more recent builds.

#2853 3 months ago
Quoted from Rondogg:

Wow, American seems to be the only manufacturer brave enough to post in this thread. Good for them! And Jersey Jack at least responded in a stream to the recent issues. Stern looking like either incompetents or scam artists right about now.

From my perspective, it's sloppiness/incompetence caused by time-to-market pressures. In the past, we've dealt with incomplete software. Now, we have to deal with incomplete/untested hardware. If they would have put a couple hundred plays on an early build BEFORE starting to build for customers, this would have been solved prior to customer shipments. Just unacceptable...feel badly for folks that have to deal with this kind of BS. Reminds me of my DILE debacle 1 year ago.


#2855 3 months ago
Quoted from pinballcorpse:

I think my previous post was misunderstood. (Maybe my post wasn't secured well )
Sure-I agree in theory the playfield *should not* get damaged.
By your own admission you had a post on a game loosen in 50 plays. Also you agree as a loose post gets hammered it chips at the playfield.
You are very meticulous with your games, so you would pay attention more. Further you stated you had to add a lock washer that wasn't there. Imagine if that loose post were on a route game with nobody paying attention like you do.
So to me, it seems very plausible that at a location with a staff not as diligent and caring as you and the other collectors here could have a post loosen and cause the damage I observed.
Again, I'm not saying anyone should accept the playfield issues, I am just simply saying that I am not surprised that in *that* particular post location that I saw damage.
I'll stop there-nothing more that I can add without repeating myself.

Just to be clear, I'm not surprised either (given the numerous missteps designing/manufacturing the newer games).

Apparently, time-to-market is causing testing to be thrown out the door. Really sloppy to not anticipate this post needed to be secured properly given it's location! C'mon. Aesthetics aside, I'd imagine this post would be a nightmare to maintain on location where the game is getting played 500 times a week! (like in some of the LA arcades).

#2887 3 months ago
Quoted from WackyBrakke:

You are still looking at easily 20 hours of work. I make $200/hr, so is Stern going to pay me $4000 for me to swap my playfield?

Quoted from Multiballmaniac1:

Stern will pay you. They cut me a check for doing a swap.

That's shocking. I'm sure the check wasn't close to 4k. I'd guess "swap comp" would be in the $500-$1000 range...which is certainly better than nothing (and somewhat fair considering many situations). The waste associated with populated PF swaps is huge, since the old PF parts aren't re-useable.

#2890 3 months ago
Quoted from CrazyLevi:

It's not about doing a playfield swap. It's about having a NOS playfield to "throw in" on a future sale of the game if someone complains about the playfield in the game that's being sold.
Nobody really cares about these playfields and minor imperfections most people can't or won't notice, it's all about resale. Nobody is swapping their playfields, they are just sitting on the NOS ones they get from Stern. Plus, they "got something outta Stern" which also provides some peace of mind.

Makes sense...definitely more about peace of mind and recognition of the mishap. When I've had issues, I've been offered an unpopulated PF or topper. In one instance, took the topper since it was more useful. Taking a PF that will never actually be used didn't make sense to me. Guess it depends on the situation.

Quoted from Multiballmaniac1:

I was being sarcastic.

Makes MUCH more sense

#2895 3 months ago
Quoted from Manic:

Well the "old" PF parts are actually reusable. That's why they have you send back your populated PF. The mechs, etc are usually in great shape and are ready to go back in the parts bin. These parts aren't like used condoms. Not yet anyways

In theory. In practice, old populated PF's likely get thrown around & damaged during the trip back to Stern. Years ago, I sent back an old AC/DC populated PF and the "packaging" was primitive/adhoc...definitely wouldn't want the plastic ramps from someone's "old" PF! I agree many mechs are more likely to make the trip back in good shape.

Quoted from Manic:

I always write this too but people *do* care... to some degree. After dropping 7k you don't want to to see two bare wood patches on your new purchase. Especially if none of your 20 years old machines show any bare wood.
I agree most don't get swapped though... it's a good salve for the unhappy customer.
Here's one of the guys two PF spots...[quoted image]

Man, that PF damage is a bummer. Is this a home-use game?

#2902 3 months ago
Quoted from Extraballz:

No I would say Stern actually sent precedent by giving out populated PF’s in the past well before Jersey Jack ever sent out anything. Stern just used what Jersey Jack did recently to stop giving populated PF’s. What Stern is now saying to customers is “we used to do the right thing but because another company chose to do the wrong thing we will just do that now”. Unreal folks.

I get your frustration, but it's unclear if JJP's decision has anything to do with Stern. I imagine the background is more complex. Let's be clear, the ability for ANY manufacturer to offer populated playfield replacements is dependent on HOW MANY populated PF's are being requested. If PF issues/defects have become more common, then it becomes a larger "business decision" for any company! The obvious solution is building fewer defective products

In other domains (unrelated to pinball), I've received "replacement compensation" for product defects. With the advent of social media, it's become common for companies to ask you to sign non-disclosure agreements! (to limit exposure and precedent). The idea that companies will "take care" of you if you don't disclose the defect/compensation is kind of slimy, but is the new normal in many industries (unfortunately).

#2904 3 months ago
Quoted from Extraballz:

Stern knows it should replace the defective PF’s with populated ones. Know how I know.......cause that’s exactly what they used to do. And no that would be incorrect to say the ability to replace defective products is dependent on how many defective products. That’s why you don’t put out defective products.Because a group of angry customers could take up a case action lawsuit against you. And since Stern already set a type of precedent by giving out populated PF’s for defective ones they would definitely lose that case. You tell me how they would explain that away. No frustration here. Just truth.

Unfortunately, there is no universal truth when it comes to defining a "defective one". It's totally unclear if Stern has entirely abandoned taking care of serious issues with populated PF's. I don't think it's "black & white". Until Stern makes a public statement to the entire community, I'm certain some distributors have leverage with taking care of their customers.

#2915 3 months ago
Quoted from JodyG:

Shame on people for accepting an unpopulated playfield as an acceptable remedy. Stern sold a defective product, end of story. Their options are to come pick their machine up and send a new one, or send someone out to swap in a populated playfield. Anything less is enabling Stern to produce even crappier products because they know they can get away with it.

Shame on you for assuming all of us "slackers" roll over when we receive less-than-perfect Stern products. The reality is many of us reach out to our distributors and Stern to highlight and/or resolve issues. The process is imperfect, but so is pinball. If the process is so burdensome, folks should simply avoid purchasing new games and stick to buying older games that don't suffer from the newer "issues".

#2924 3 months ago
Quoted from PtownPin:

Like you stated I stick to "older" games.... perfectly content with never buying another NIB Stern game. Their arrogance, and lack of customer service is complete BS....buying nice HUO games resolves the drama and risk of buying a NIB Stern game. Newly released titles can always be had within 6 months of initial release...just requires a little patience

Agree 100%. I've dialed back my NIB purchases to limit my exposure/risk. Waited 1 year to pick-up a BM66 and was rewarded with new code, a nicely modded flawless example, and saved over 1k OTOH, I'm taking a chance with JP2 since I've played it on location and love the way it shoots. So while patience can pay off, I'm still a sucker for the adrenaline rush of a great shooting game (which Stern still delivers on, despite the build quality missteps).

#2938 3 months ago
Quoted from EaglePin:

With this JP2 flipper post it seems like it might be a different issue where there is playfield wood damage caused by the loosened post getting hit and bashing into the side of the post hole? If that’s the case then it seems like the post needs to be secured with threadlock and/or a nut, because any time it comes loose and gets bashed into the side of the post hole it’ll probably do the same thing.

Stern apparently corrected this issue on the LE's & Premium's...

#2998 3 months ago

While changing out the sling rubber on my LOTR I was reminded of this thread (wrt post putting pressure on the PF clear).

Check out how nicely the sling posts are engineered. Recessed, metal post guide, no art. Solid/perfect after 15 years and ~15k plays.

IMG_0362 (resized).jpeg
#3000 3 months ago
Quoted from romulusx:

Looks good,judging by the small amount we see of the playfield I would say you put a few mods on?

The only mods are ColorDMD, LED's/LEDOCD, and Titan rubber. Everything else is "stock" IIRC...I bought the game NIB in 2004.

#3002 3 months ago
Quoted from CLEllison:

Hello Visa support?
Yes how may I help you today?
I need to file a charge back.

I'm still confused about this "charge back" solution. Did you purchase the game on Amazon? If not, you must have purchased from a distributor. If so, the distributor is the one feeling the "pain"...no?

#3059 3 months ago
Quoted from iceman44:

The idea of every LE now is priced at $8995, no matter what's in it, for a cornerstone game, is on its face absurd and insulting.
If you need to charge me more because you put it all in there, do it.

The last compelling LE Stern made was TRON. The LE differences are very rarely compelling. If folks have extra money and truly want to add uniqueness, there are more creative and cost effective options. The idea that you have an x/500 game is BS when the differences are purely cosmetic.

The CGC LE toppers are pretty stunning and worthy of the LE differentiation.

#3110 3 months ago
Quoted from metallik:

That's because Tron was essentially a premium level game, compared to "pro" level regular Tron. They didn't have three levels back then. Demand for Tron LEs are what caused Stern to introduce the Premium line... i.e. "unlimited" LEs. Differences between Pro and Premium games these days are about equal to Tron's differences back then.

I understand, and it explains why LE's make no sense to me now (since the gameplay is identical and the aesthetic differences are almost always really minor). Beatles is the most dramatic example of 3 identical games that only differ by artwork/trim. I have no idea why anyone would pay up for a Diamond/Platinum.

1 month later
#3300 63 days ago
Quoted from TomGWI:

They won’t. They don’t care. Why would they help me out? I’ve only bought 19 NIB games from them in the last 10 years. I’m just a number like everyone else. Unless you are in the industry or know someone at Stern they are not going to go the extra mile. They are more worried about getting games on the line then fixing issues that go out the door.
I told my distributor I would not buy Elvira and now Stranger Things. I’m not going to buy a new game from them to repopulate another playfield. My time and money are too valuable.
When I do repopulate it, assuming I still get a playfield, I am going to stream it and put it up on YouTube and Facebook. At least it’s will help those effected.

It's shocking that the company culture hasn't evolved to be more collector friendly. I've been a loyal customer for over 15 years with many NIB purchases (though not quite as many as you).

I realize all customers should be treated with respect, but you'd think Stern would recognize/reward loyalty? Can't believe they don't engage with you. If all 19 NIB games were purchased from the same distributor, then it's even more shocking the distributor isn't able to help you.

I do think the very early adopters end up taking the biggest risk. My JP2 Premium was built 11/22 and Stern seems to have worked out many of the build issues. The coil stops are still an issue, however (which is bizarre it hasn't been corrected yet).

It's very clear that time-to-market encourages many missteps. If they don't want to slow down, you'd think they would have QA/insurance budget set aside to help folks that get a flawed build. Not suggesting Stern should roll over on all issues/requests, but not engaging with both you & the distributor is just unacceptable.

Good luck!

#3306 63 days ago
Quoted from Max_Badazz:

Here we go ....this happened on game #15
[quoted image][quoted image]

Shocking that it happened so soon. If the post is secured properly (i.e. no "play"), I wouldn't expect a chip like that. Have you taken the glass off to see if the post has any slack or movement?

I'm over 100 games and I've been checking the posts. So far, they haven't loosened at all.

#3349 62 days ago
Quoted from Multiballmaniac1:

I really want a Stranger Things and have the money. Yes I haven’t even seen the darn thing yet, but man these QC issues are holding me back from a nib purchase. Damn shame.

I felt the same way until I played Keith's awesome JP2. Decided to move forward and fortunately received a solid build (11/22).

After 120 games, only needed to replace 1 coil stop. No PF issues. Raptor pit and right flipper need "dialing in", but the game is really solid otherwise. All things considered, I'm pleased with what I received.

#3378 60 days ago
Quoted from Who-Dey:

They should all be made the same. It doesn't matter if you spend 6k or 9k you should still get a quality product. When you go buy a new car they don't say "if you want a nice paint job you have to buy the Cadillac, the cheaper cars have bad paint jobs with the paint chipping off of them"

Car paint jobs vary pretty dramatically between car manufacturers (i.e. the paint quality on a Honda Civic isn't the same as an Audi R8). I've owned both, so I have first hand experience. Some manufacturers "upcharge" for certain colors.

In any event, most cars are painted by robots. Stern's games are built largely by humans. Whenever humans are doing the job, it's tougher to control quality...especially when you are likely employing humans at minimum wage and measuring them on day-to-day output (rather than quality).

I'm not excusing the quality issues...I sympathize with many folks having to deal with issues (including myself

#3382 60 days ago
Quoted from TomGWI:

So Stern should hire robots. Gotcha.

Gotcha? Not sure I grok. I’m sure Stern would love to replace humans with robots if they could. Hard to find an industry that isn’t replacing humans with robots.

#3400 59 days ago
Quoted from Who-Dey:

All true but the paint doesnt chip off of even the cheap cars and It wouldn't be considered acceptable if it did, not by you or anyone else.

It’s interesting...helped my nephew purchase a used, low mileage Honda Civic. The Civic was in Florida and the black paint ended up fading really badly. Looked awful. My nephew fought hard with Honda to have them repaint the car (which they did

Great companies feel badly when their product fails (and they take action). That’s my biggest disappointment with Stern...as a company, they just don’t seem to care much. The process is murky. Even when they agree to take care of an issue, it takes forever to make it happen.

#3468 55 days ago
Quoted from Extraballz:

Bring on the defense team. Most of them have trouble being objective because
A. They own a bunch of Sterns and have a lot of money tied up in machines
B. Are operators who rely on Stern for new machines to excite their customers
C. Are tournament players who have pinball as the biggest part of their personality and Stern is top dog sponsoring tournaments. Don’t bite the hand that feeds.
I just judge the current pins against those I played and owned in the 90s. It’s pretty obvious the current Sterns are sub par machines. And who actually cares who the Stern talent is when they have the lowest budget in the business and the designers can’t really do what they want in designing a pin. Stern is mostly hype with very little substance. By hey they make the most machines so they must make the best.........

Seems like you have it all figured out!

How do you "judge" JP2 against all the games you've owned/played?

From my perspective, gameplay needs to be factored into "quality". A perfectly built game (with no dimples and perfect clear isn't very exciting if the gameplay is BORING. I've owned a HEP CCC and PMD TOTAN and sold them because the gameplay was BORING.

I can't stop playing JP2 and think it's one of the best shooting games of all time. The shots available to the right upper flipper are just awesome.

Since Stern currently produces the most games (by far), it's not surprising they produce some duds. As they know very well, it takes a spectrum of games to satisfy a pretty diverse customer base. Casual players don't like the same games as fanatics that play every day.

#3471 55 days ago
Quoted from cpr9999:

“best shooting game of all time”.... I get it is a good game for most.... but heck give it 5 or 10 years before making those comments.

You misquoted me. I said "one of the best shooting games of all time". I've been playing pinball for 40 years and collecting for 20 years.

Quoted from Extraballz:

Maybe you don’t understand how many collectors of high priced items operate. The highest of quality is expected.. Cars ,watches, motorcycles or most other mech items. Doesn’t matter. Most serious collectors expect high quality. With Stern you can clearly see where they dropped quality for profit margin. That can be a deal breaker for some who would own something expensive. So no gameplay is not factored into quality. They are completely separate and for some if the high quality is not there they don’t want to own it. Play at a barcade sure.....but not to own.

One of the more pretentious responses I've ever received on Pinside. So let's see...if you aren't enraged by Stern's various quality issues, you aren't a "serious collector" or have high expectations. Wow. Would love to see your collection! A modern pinball collection without any Stern pinballs isn't a serious collection...that I can safely say. I'm far from a Stern "fan boy", but give the company a little respect! You seem to be full of yourself...that's for certain.

#3475 55 days ago
Quoted from donkadelic:

There are seemingly no repercussions is the problem. Those of us who speak up against it are somehow shunned as anti-pinball. And people just keep shelling out 6k+ for an 1800$ pinball machine without batting an eye. If you were Stern or JJP why change? Just send out a 280$ playfield to the few people who complain enough and lie to your customers all along the way.
The dimpling will never even out. The fact that these things are showing major dimpling after a few weeks when Bally Williams games still have very little after 30-40 years is absolutely pathetic. The dimpling is just as bad if not worse than the chipping and pooling if you ask me because it actually alters ball trajectory and effects gameplay.
I don't see myself buying a NIB from Stern or JJP at any point in the coming years. It will take years to undo the bad taste in my mouth even if they fix the problems.
Instead I'll wait 1-2 years and find the rare one used that doesnt have any problems. And then probably only JJP to be honest. At least Jack has acknowledged the problem to customers personally, I'll give him that.

It's interesting that you/Extraballz have been on Pinside for <1 year and like making broad, dramatic assertions about being "shunned as anti-pinball".

FWIW, I totally respect folks who are enraged by some of the issues (and stand on the sidelines if that's what comforts you). In fact, I've slowed by NIB purchases and try and buy used (a situation that removes some of the NIB "risk"). The world isn't black and white, and it wouldn't hurt to respect folks that arguably have years of combat experience with Stern products!

#3478 55 days ago
Quoted from donkadelic:

JP2 is a solid game design-wise however...
Build quality is absolutely dogshit. Granted its not every single machine but at least half I've seen on location (a dozen or so) have major chipping/pooling, insane levels of dimpling, posts removed, washers covering up damage, it's really pathetic. I've seen so many missing posts under the upper right flipper its not even funny. At some point it just does more harm than good to have it there as it's literally ripping apart the playfield.

My build was 11/22, and I believe they must have resolved many of the issues (since mine looks great aesthetically). I had a couple mechanical problems (raptor gate sticking, coil stop causing minor flipper sticking). My IMDN Premium had *many* more issues by comparison...took me 1 month to dial-in.

I totally agree that the issues you've outlined are pathetic. I just don't know how pervasive they are (i.e. what % of games are defective).

#3480 55 days ago
Quoted from donkadelic:

How long someone has been on pinside (or even playing pinball) has absolutely zero to do with the issue and is nothing more than an Ad Hominem attack.
The points all remain valid and who is saying them has no relevance to this debate/conversation.
Just because you've been collecting games for 20 years doesn't mean cracking playfields and dimpling on a NIB is in any way acceptable.

OMG...I didn't say your points have no relevance. You seem to only want to fight...go joust with someone else. I'm done with you.

#3483 55 days ago
Quoted from Who-Dey:

Well no offense to anyone because you guys are all my friends but I AM a Stern fanboy but I also call it like I see it, and their quality sucks right now and there's no way that I would buy a NIB game at the moment. We will see how they treat me on my current issues also. I also just bought a IMDN topper and i gotta tell ya, that is a 400 dollar freakin joke. Cheap ass plastic topper for 400 dollars and if that isnt already embarrassing enough, the background piece wasn't cut right and and in the top right corner you can see a big gap and the light shines through it and it looks bad.
This clearcoat debacle that's going on right now though is 100 percent stopping me from buying JP2 and Elvira 3 from them. I have two bad playfields right now, I dont need it want anymore.

Sure, but if you could "wave a wand" and stop all Stern NIB purchases, you'd be hurting the hobby you love (and it's not like there are any other companies to truly fill the void).

I trust you are right, and I just was fortunate to "get a good one". I've gotten bad ones over the past 20 years...trust me. Stern did a populated PF replacement on my AC/DC years ago (when they had the "cloudy insert" problem with the lower PF).

Since Stern sales occur almost exclusively through distributors, it's odd/disturbing that the distributors don't have more impact on Stern. At the end of the day, THEY are the ones that CURRENTLY have more leverage over Stern.

#3484 55 days ago
Quoted from Extraballz:

You seem to be the only one calling people names. You don’t like what you are hearing and are throwing a fit over it. I am sure plenty of folks here can see that. You don’t like my argument on things how about a logical counter argument. Nope your going to call people pretentious and dramatic. My substance vs your substance. Let’s see if you can actually do that. You are just trying to discredit people because you can’t win the argument. People will see this.

No fit. Name calling is different than characterizing your post (which was wildly pretentious by any metric).

#3486 55 days ago
Quoted from Extraballz:

I have been on this forum for less than 1 year but I have been on other Internet forums for over 10 years. I have seen every tactic there is for when someone will try to discredit someone or silence someone because they can’t win the argument. This is what you are attempting in this thread with me right now. I advise you try to win on the merits of the argument instead of trying to win on some sort of half assed technicality like discredit or shame. BTW “ wildly pretentious “? You sure I am the dramatic one?

Merit's of your argument?

Schooling us about what affluent people expect from misc. purchases is arguably/wildly pretentious.

Here is what you said (verbatim): "Maybe you don’t understand how many collectors of high priced items operate. The highest of quality is expected.. Cars ,watches, motorcycles or most other mech items. Doesn’t matter. Most serious collectors expect high quality.").

This has 0 to do with pinball!

#3492 55 days ago
Quoted from Extraballz:

How about you try and tell me how Stern’s quality hasn’t actually gone down and here are the facts to prove that. I call it like I see it and I see lower quality as prices climb.

Stern's quality has definitely gone down over the years...no argument whatsoever. I've had hundreds of posts that talk about specific quality issues & solutions. No doubt that some of the issues require a populated PF replacement. It sucks that Stern's decision to pump out these games is worth sacrificing quality (to them, obviously).

If you weren't talking about "affluent people", you could have fooled me. In my mind, affluent people are the folks purchasing the "high priced" items you referenced. If you can't understand this, I don't know what else to say. If you aren't affluent, I also have no idea how you can judge what they think or how they behave. I've known quite a few affluent people and they don't all behave or think the same (as you were portraying).

My original post was simply this...if you like the way a game shoots/plays/etc. (like I do with Keith's PF2 design), it's worth taking the "NIB risk" (if you just can't wait for collectors to start selling them on Pinside). I waited patiently for BM66 and I'm happy I did...I wasn't impatient and the risk was worth the reward. Saved me money and grief (since I was able to see/play it NOB). After playing JP2 at a local arcade, decided it was a game worth purchasing.

I have no ill will toward the fairly small community of JP2 haters...we all focus on different aspects of a game. Different strokes...

#3493 55 days ago
Quoted from Who-Dey:

I agree with you and I am not on a crusade to try and get people to stop buying games and run them out of business by any means. I want the exact opposite of that, I want them to succeed and build great products because they make a product that I want and love.
With that being said though I'm also not going to hide the fact that these playfields are shit right now and my IMDN topper is shit too for 400 dollars. There are just too many things that get by their quality control and I just find it disturbing truthfully. I mean think about this, the first batch of Munsters toppers that shipped were pretty much 100% defective it appears, and then after that many of the 2nd batch weren't working either AFTER they said that they would every single one be bench tested before they shipped. That's just dumb and bad QC and bad management any way you slice it.
I love Stern games but they have got to get a handle on their quality and they have also got to stand behind their product better than they have been recently. I know they have a good track record of doing so but here lately they haven't been and have actually been ignoring customers completely for months and months and I dont like that.
I finally had to call stern after 5 months of being ignored. I'm pretty sure that my distributor is too blame for this though as their communications skills are beyond horrible. It appears as if they never even turned in my two tickets to Stern, I wont be buying from them anymore that's for sure.
I could go on for another hour ranting but I'm not going to, it is what it is. Stern knows that they need to improve I am sure and any distributors that are not taking care of their customers will learn the hard way by losing sales and losing sales in such a small market like pinball is not a good thing. I so want to blast this distributor on here that alot of people thinks is so great but I'm not going to do that just yet. Maybe one day though when I'm in the right mood.

I hear you! My Munsters CPU died within the first 2 weeks of ownership (or 30 plays, to be precise). Took Stern one month to get me a new CPU! Immediately after receiving the new CPU, I sold the game at a loss. The game didn't impress me and not being able to enjoy it so soon after taking delivery pissed me off.

The distributors that don't support our purchases need to take more heat...

#3498 55 days ago
Quoted from Jackalwere:

I'm a quality supervisor and at my factory I will shut the line down in a heartbeat if there is even a small chance that it will negatively impact the customer. You'd be amazed how quickly and creatively problems can be solved when quality is prioritized over production.

Good to hear you have the right attitude.

I imagine that (a) you produce products in a competitive industry, and (b) you are supported by upper management. I worked in tech for 25 years and had the same attitude.

Stern recently hired a new Director of QA (https://sternpinball.com/2019/10/10/stern-pinball-enhances-quality-assurance-team/), so let's hope that he is working on the issues that concern us. Would love to know what he is doing to turn things around...changing around a company culture isn't trivial. He will obviously need the support of other Stern executives. I'd also hope he is meeting with major distributors to hear about our quality issues first hand.

#3515 54 days ago
Quoted from jfh:

Stern isn’t in danger of folding over this because people keep moaning about QC and buying anyway. And if Stern does go out of business, there won’t be “another Stern”. Others may benefit but none will scale that large. Stern got to the top (such as it was) when WMS exited the business because they were the only game in town and was barely able to hang on long enough to survive.

Yep, and a reminder that Stern was "circling the drain" in the 2000's and almost bellied up. A venture capital firm led by Dave Peterson (https://sternpinball.com/about/) saved the company. The folks that saved the company are likely at the helm of pushing Stern to new heights (in terms of output/growth). Unfortunately, quality hasn't kept pace with output. Some of the missteps could be avoided...others are most likely due to pushing Stern manufacturing (and R&D) to it's limits.

#3525 54 days ago
Quoted from jfh:

In some cases Stern realized they pushed too far (e.g. support pegs and cabinet stability) and changed course.

They "realized" it after many customers pushed for change (me being one of them). I am not shy about emailing Stern executives about my experiences with their products. My recommendation to other Pinsiders is send feedback directly to Stern and your distributor. Venting on Pinside is therapeutic, however not as effective as thoughtful, direct correspondence with Stern management (like the new QA director, for example). Use videos and photos to tell your story. If enough people engage with Stern, I'm hopeful the pendulum can swing back to sanity.

#3543 54 days ago
Quoted from Extraballz:

I am sure you are a nice guy and I don’t want you to think I have it in for you but man do you have this whole thing completely backwards. IMO the ONLY thing that has made Stern reverse course or consider fixing a defect is PUBLIC outcry on forums and podcasts. What you want is actually what Stern wants. Everything hidden so when they do nothing no one knows any different. Stern just hopes the fact they release a shiny new object every 4 months or so will just shift attention from the problems with their previous release to FOMO over the new release. For the last 10 years Stern’s business model is to continue to cut cost in order to increase profit. And it shows with the obvious decline in the quality of their machines.
Telling people to not speak up publicly is the absolute worst thing you could tell consumers to do in today’s day and age if they want companies to do right by them. I have to wonder if people realize just how little respect a pin company has to have for its customer base to knowingly put out machines with bad PFs. Stern and JJP know damn well that the playfield is the MOST important piece of every pin. It is absolutely disgraceful. And people should stay quiet and politely email Stern? These quality issues by Stern and JJP are not unknown to the companies involved. They know what they are doing and are just seeing what they can get away with all in the name of higher profits. Not only should people speak publicly they should speak more often. The next best thing to not buying a NIB from Stern or JJP is a threat that you won’t buy if things don’t change. Those pictures on public forums of bad PFs are probably the most effective way to get peoples point across to these pin companies. Don’t listen to those who try and silence you. They are misguided.

You are mischaracterizing my comments on many levels. For example, I never said anything should be hidden.

Listen, I could care less if you like me OR have it in for me. Please move on...you aren't adding any value whatsoever. Just more drama/BS.

#3547 54 days ago
Quoted from Jackalwere:

I work for a semiconductor manufacturer, and yes it is very competitive. I have over 27 years in, all in Quality. Management is very supportive now but even in the dark days just 6-8 years ago when they pressured me to release questionable material, I stood my ground. I always felt that my job was to protect the customer when everyone else was focused on cost and keeping production running. We haven't had a customer return/field failure in the last 18 months.
jfh is right in that quality will not cause Stern to fail under the current system, because people are taking the risk and buying machines or remain blissfully unaware. The only way things will change is if *distributors* band together to demand accountability, better quality and threaten to quit taking orders to protect their customers.

Totally agree. In addition, folks should get references on distributors. The distributor makes a difference. I've been fortunate and have had good distributors that helped me get parts when necessary. As I said earlier, even a populated PF from Stern for my AC/DC years ago. In those days, Curly from Little Shop of Games had my back (along with his partner Jimmy, who actually installed the PF for me).

#3548 54 days ago
Quoted from Extraballz:

But someone like you who is clearly part of the problem should be free to speak. Give me a break.

I'm part of the problem? Why? Because I still buy Stern products and hold them accountable for the quality of what I've received (on both Pinside and in private communication). The more you speak, the more you show your ignorance. As I said, please move on.

#3550 54 days ago
Quoted from Extraballz:

Trying to encourage people to not speak publicly about their issues is certainly part of the problem. Go back and read some of what you wrote man. You have respect for those who stay on the sidelines. Venting on Pinside is therapeutic but will have no effect on Stern. Send a polite email and they will listen. You are obviously more worried about Sterns well being over the poor customers who have been screwed. I advise you stop trying to silence people.

You must have a reading comprehension problem (I'm not trying to silence people).

I stand-by my point, which was this: forum posts won't get Stern to fix your game. Period.

Forum posts are group therapy so everyone can see what's up and help each other if possible (I understand PF defects are an exception). The posts may or may not effect someones buying decision (which is personal). There are COUNTLESS other issues with NIB games that get aired/resolved here on Pinside. This is goodness. I feel I have some credibility, since I've gotten Stern to work with me over the past 15 years (not always to my satisfaction, I might add).

Here is a post I made on my IMDN that Stern decided to do nothing about:


I'm pretty vocal about my issues on Pinside, but don't expect ANY post to be read or acted on by Stern. I make the posts as a public service. I've known many other collectors that have issues but DON'T speak up on Pinside because they don't want a cloud over their precious game if/when they try to sell.

#3616 53 days ago
Quoted from guitarded:

Which neither company have admitted to having or identified the cause of or duration of.
IF they had, there would be no need for this Thread at all.
A simple : 'We Fucked Up' to start with.
Followed by a : "We've identified the issue and the runs of machines affected and we will provide 100% of the support necessary to resolve any and all issues resulting to our aforementioned fuckup. Thanks for your support."
Conversely, you can take the AUDI approach.

AUDI is thriving, which would argue against Stern taking your advice.

#3617 53 days ago
Quoted from Lermods:

This isn't entirely true. I’d suggest attending a show and having a conversation with stern staff. I did. They won’t tell you specifics because they are trade secrets, but they did more than just thin the clear. I want to see issues with playfields that were produced post September. So far, none have been shown. If there is evidence of chipping/pooling/excessive dimpling in these newer playfields, we should continue to be vocal. No doubt that playfields in 2019 and prior had issues, but it seems both jjp and stern may have now addressed these issues.

I hope the issue has been solved. My JP2 was built on 11/22 and has 212 plays. PF was flawless upon delivery and still looks great (as far as I can tell). Minor dimpling. In general, my JP2 PF is much nicer than my IMDN PF (https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/continued-playfield-issues-with-jjp-and-stern/page/24#post-5193747).

#3638 52 days ago
Quoted from guitarded:

Ask an adult how the 80s worked out for them.

Well, I’m 58...but sure, my Dad (85) actually owned an Audi in the 80’s and was taken care of quite nicely and bought Audi’s over several generations. Did you ever own a defective Audi? Probably not...

Quoted from MrBally:

I loved their first response in 1986: $5000.00 off any new Audi 5000 model with an automatic transmission. Then in '87 it went up to $8,000.00 of ANY new Audi (this was USA only).
If JJP offers $8k off any of their pins, it would save face. No need to adjust for inflation.

#3642 52 days ago
Quoted from guitarded:

I owned about 25 Quattros through the years. Used to make good money flipping them back in the 90s. The issue Audi had was loss of market share due to their horrible handling of manufacturing issues. The cars were, for the most part, perfectly safe. It was their reaction to the problem that set them back for over a decade.

Got it. As an owner, I feel like my dad was taken care of (by Audi). As a result, he stuck with the brand. Since Audi resale took a dive when the media latched onto the issues (which I agree were overblown), I'm not surprised flippers were hurt.

In any event, the original point is Audi weathered the storm and is thriving. Unlike Audi, Stern doesn't get much media attention on quality issues (which removes the "spin" factor from this discussion).

Back to Stern...

If Stern were to handle these issues as well as Audi handled my dad's case, I believe Stern would maintain their loyal followers in this thread.

For folks with arguably messed up PF's, sending them an unpopulated PF isn't a fair resolution (since doing a PF swap isn't practical). If Stern resists sending out populated PF's, why not give customers a screaming deal on their next game? Unpopulated PF's cost about $200...a screaming deal on a new pinball would be a 1-2k reduction say (off MSRP). For example, maybe offer folks a Premium @ the Pro price? Considering Stern margins, they wouldn't be losing money and they maintain good relations with their fan base.

#3690 49 days ago
Quoted from donkadelic:

Wrong, all playfields do not dimple to some extent, and the ones that do don't leave giant craters after 1 day of play. It's this kind of attitude that allows these companies to keep screwing over it's customers for 6000$ toys with about 1800$ worth of parts and labor. Don't allow defects to become the norm, no other hobbyist industry would allow this shit.

No doubt PF quality has gone down over the past 5 years or so. Both cost cutting and aggressive time-to-market deadlines (for Stern in particular) are the likely causes. You say "Don't allow defects to become the norm"...what's your proposal?

#3700 49 days ago
Quoted from wrd1972:

In my opinion, there is plenty of room for improvement on the part of Stern to make a higher quality playfield, than what is currently being produced. If it requires an up-charge for harder, and higher quality wood, then tack on another $50 or so. If it means a harder, and higher quality clear-coat, then tack on another $50 or so. I honestly believe the NIB buyers would gladly pay a bit more it if it means that the obviousness of these dimples/craters, is greatly reduced on the playfield. I know I would, if I ever manage to buy an NIB pin. If its not feasible, or not possible to do the above, maybe its time to transition to a hardtop like overlay over top a composite surface like Masonite or similar.
The bottom line here is - a better quality playfield CAN be produced, IF Stern wants to produce it. But as has already been mentioned, the bean-counters are likely making the decision to force cost-reductions into the product, wherever possible, and the vast majority of folks are going to either never notice it, or they are simply going to be indifferent to it.
Hopefully Stern will at the very least, make an attempt to find some middle ground here, and consider some of the suggestions that you guys are putting forth. I believe it would be very foolish to continue status-quo.

Totally agree...good post. The problem is Stern built it's business selling games to operators/arcades (who care less about the aesthetic issues collectors focus on). Collectors have always been 2nd class citizens...the Premium/LE distinction is more about margins/profit (especially the LE). If Stern respected the collector community, they would be much more open with us about the issues that concern us. Imagine a collector advisory board where collectors could talk to Stern executives face-to-face about the issues that concern us.

I'd prefer a 2-tier model...Pro & Premium. The Pro would remain unchanged and targeted @ operators. The Premium could be customized with both "traditional" options (e.g. power-coated armor, art blades, shaker, etc.) and more elaborate options like you suggest (upgraded PF wood/clear, improved audio w/external volume control, etc.). Unfortunately, my approach would likely slow Premium production (and the effect on the bottom line is unclear). Manufacturing pinball machines is already a tricky business...adding more options to the build process is harder to pull off, and unlikely to be adopted by Stern.

#3731 47 days ago
Quoted from Extraballz:

I would say ALL pin manufacturers are on notice for producing quality playfields. Sterns look the worst IMO but some of the CGC playfields look real bad also. These pin companies would be foolish to ignore the outrage of this issue. It is not going away. From what I am seeing Spooky is doing the best with PF quality but I will have to see more examples to be sure. Honestly I haven’t seen many AP pins so wouldn’t comment on them. The company who makes the best quality pins will have an advantage going forward IMO. At least for my dollars they will.

For the money we're paying, holding pinball manufacturers to a high standard make sense...no doubt.

I believe Stern produced ~25,000 machines in 2019 (that's ~500 per week!). They were building ~8 titles in 2019 : Deadpool, Beatles, Munsters, Black Knight, Jurassic Park, Elvira, Star Wars Comic Art, Stranger Things. Of the 8, 6 were brand new releases.

If 5-10% of the PF's are defective, that's still a lot of machines. If you combine all other pinball output in 2019, they don't come close to Stern's numbers.

From my perspective, quality hasn't kept pace with this staggering output (https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/continued-playfield-issues-with-jjp-and-stern/page/71#post-5380918). Hopefully Stern can resolve (or improve) their quality issues in 2020. The customer service also needs to improve...the lag time to get parts from Stern is abysmal.

Quoted from Extraballz:

So it is pretty obvious softer wood is being used to make modern playfields. What I would really like to know is can the harder wood still be acquired for a higher price or are these pin manufacturers just unwilling to pay the higher price for harder wood. After we know that we can move on to the issues with the clearcoat. It is either just the wood or a combination of the wood and clear. I lean towards a combination of the two but I am not sure what the percentage of blame goes to wood or clear.

I believe it's softer wood as well. Clear will never prevent a dimple/ding (on a pinball machine OR car).

The 7-ply wood on JP2 appears to be consistent with older B/W games (like STTNG, TZ, etc.)...so it's not the number of layers. It's the density.

IMG_0904 (resized).jpg
#3733 47 days ago
Quoted from frolic:

It's probably less than 1/2 that, but still a ton compared to everyone else.
edit: I went and compared serial numbers from a Munsters box and a Stranger Things box.
Stranger Things: 300293
Munsters: 286868
13,425 difference approx a year apart. That's the semi real number of what their factory is producing.

Interesting...I got my number from an industry insider (not an employee of Stern) and thought it was on the high side.

Your "algorithm" makes sense. Still a huge number of machines to produce without flaws. Revenue is likely 100-150M. You'd think they could set aside 5M to deal with flawed units? (which includes PF's, obviously).

#3759 46 days ago
Quoted from Extraballz:

I am sorry but if it was the speed of the ball in modern Sterns causing these dimples wouldn’t they ALL have the same degree of dimpling. Some seem to have very little to none. How is that possible if ALL the machines are fast. Materials have been degraded across the board with Stern and others. The playfield issues are just an extension of the overall downgrading of materials.

Exactly. When you produce nearly 15,000 games per year, some % of the parts (not just PF’s) are going to be flawed. My last 4 NIB Stern’s had a grainy PF, bad CPU, node board, & coils stops.

On the JP2 thread, someone had 2 JP2’s (a Pro and an LE). One suffered from bad dimpling, the other did not.

As someone recently pointed out, until Stern decides to open up on this topic, we are all in the dark.

No doubt that air balls might be worsening the situation, however air balls SHOULD be uncommon. None of my games produce a lot of air balls. None. I briefly owned an AFMrLE and it had a ton of air balls (when the flipper firmware was poorly programmed).

#3787 45 days ago
Quoted from donkadelic:

New games being faster....has no impact on cratering scientifically, so you're wrong on that.
No games that don't dimple...also just plainly wrong, plenty of recent spooky machines with none.
How old am I and how long have I been in the hobby? None of your god damn business, sorry.

New games often play faster, and restored games with heavy clearcoats DEFINITELY play faster (sometimes, unnaturally fast). If you play a "stock" AFM from back-in-the-day and play a restored HEP AFM, the speed difference is considerable (as a result of the fancy/thick/beautiful clearcoat). The speed of the ball will definitely impact wear of the PF. I had dimples on my HEP cleared, Mirco PF (which I no longer own, or I'd post a photo).

Hard to compare a company that produces ~15,000 games per year with a company that produces ~500 games per year. It would be great if Stern were more open with the data/issues, but they aren't. The alternatives to the NIB crapshoot are purchase used or sit on the sidelines. You decide.

#3807 45 days ago
Quoted from pinballaddicted:

I also believe that people are taking photos (posted on pinside and social media) of the stuffed playfields and putting bogus claims in to Stern saying it is their machine. Hoping to get a free playfield. This makes it very hard for Stern to work out which claims are genuine and which claims are not. I have not posted or given anyone photos of our 3lvira playfield. Surprise surprise no one else has the same issue..

Hard to work out which claims are genuine? Doesn't make sense to me. Seems like time/location stamped photos, along with a distributor confirmation (vouching for the customer/game) seems like it should be enough. No? Shit, even obtaining replacement parts involves a Stern "handshake/approval" from the distributor.

#3814 45 days ago
Quoted from pinballaddicted:

How many times has a distro come to your place to personally inspect your warranty claim?
Time and location stamps on photos are easily changed. Ever taken a photo of a photo?
I am only explaining what has been said to me is happening. Believe what ever you wish.
If you want to get a warranty claim through from Stern you need a good distro to help you out, I agree with you. My wife and I have a fantastic distro.

No...I've never taken a photo of a photo for the purposes of committing fraud.

Buyers have a warranty and distributor. In many instances, the distributor has done business with the person before and can vouch for them (even if they can't personally inspect the game). Games have identification that can be cross checked with Stern and the distro.

It's not a matter of believing what I wish. It's a matter of knowing your rights and fighting for them. Just because someone has committed fraud doesn't mean loyal customers need to be screwed/denied! I'm not talking to you, since you apparently feel you are in a good place with your distributor.

#3816 45 days ago
Quoted from WackyBrakke:

My Tron LE does not have dimples. My LOTR does not have dimples. My TSPP does not have dimples. My Black SM does not have dimples, but starting with my Star Trek LE and onward.....dimple fest. The old stuff was different somehow. We’ll never know the secret sauce.

That is my experience as well (and my LOTR has ~15,000 plays IIRC

2 weeks later
#3978 30 days ago
Quoted from PinballSTAR:

You are welcome to come to my office and you can read the emails from Goetz I allude to. It's nothing short of extortion - tells JJP give me what I want I'll stay quiet and I'll sign an NDA - does that sound like it's cool to you ? Has any one else in this thread done that ?

Unfortunately, in today's world, the "NDA solution" is often promoted by manufacturers of high value products (such as new homes, which I've dealt with it). The system rewards the most savvy/vocal critics and ignores everyone else. Happens all the time, and is often pushed by manufacturers, NOT clients. That said, I'm not surprised some customers mention this when trying to resolve an issue with a high-value product (where the manufacturer doesn't want to claim responsibility for all defective units). Obviously, the customer would like to see the manufacturer fix everyone's issue, however this isn't financially desirable to the manufacturer (obviously).

Joe, all I can say is you "took care of me" (big time) on a defective game built by CGC. You were honest and upfront and even though we've only worked together on the flawed game, I would have no problem doing business with you in the future. Your "defense" here is also admirable. From my perspective, you are one of the "good guys". Period.

#3987 30 days ago
Quoted from PinballSTAR:

Would you be so kindly about him if you found out today that he got a $ 3,000 discount and you didn't or would you be roasting him ? Please... JJP did the right thing to rebuff him even though it would have been easier to pay him off and shut him up.

If he got a 3k discount, the manufacturer would be the one to be angry at, NOT the customer. As I said in an earlier post, manufacturers push NDA's when they "take care of someone"...NOT the customer. Sure, a customer might mention it as a solution, but the manufacturers in many industries have set the tone that they will take care of the most vocal/savvy folks. It's survival of the fittest. I'm not saying it's right, but it's reality folks.

FWIW, I hope pinball manufacturers resist cutting NDA's. Like it or not, the Internet and social media effect how manufacturers deal with customers (and NDA's are a part of it to limit exposure). If pinball machines were as expensive as homes, I have no doubt JJP/Stern would be cutting NDA's (to limit legal exposure and financial liability).

#4044 30 days ago
Quoted from DerGoetz:

Point is, you promised me PREFERRED treatment, I now got the same treatment as anyone else.
I have NO use for an unpopulated playfield, I wrote you and Jack that. It's a waste of Jacks money, shipping and my space. All I can do is sell it with the pinball.
I offered that I would be happy with a price break on the coming Guns and Roses that you told me about in January 2019. That is on the other hand correct.
You giving me a small break would not have cost you a dime, you would have sold a pin for Jack, I would have continued to be a customer of both yourself and JJP.
Instead you threw Jack under the bus by promising something he cannot keep. And now start a public shit storm. Be my guest.
And if you, as threatened, want to take legal action against me it will be popcorn time on Pinside.

Lucid post. Just a few comments:

- One thing I've learned over the years is there is no such thing as preferred treatment! I've dealt with 6 distributors over the years and they all seem to be at the mercy of the manufacturer. In a sane world, the distributors would have more clout.
- I totally agree that unpopulated PF's are a really wasteful solution for 99.5% of the population. PF swaps are wildly complicated.
- I like your suggestion of a price break on a future game, but I would be a bit more aggressive. For example, a Stern Premium for the price of a Pro...which at Stern's BOM cost difference is a no-brainer!

In any event, sorry about the grief and hope something good comes of it.

#4077 29 days ago
Quoted from PinballSTAR:

You didn't give 2 shits about the community in general - you cared about you and didn't care who got shafted. No different than what you are doing to me right now. Why don't you tell each and every reader in this thread how you were willing to sell them all out for your own personal benefit ? If you got your deal you'd be on here lying to them - singing everyone's praises, mine and JJP's if they gave in. Nice guy folks huh ?

Now you are being unfair.

As individual customers, we (DerGoetz, Who-Day, etc.) aren't in a position to fix this issue for the community. For example: Years ago, Stern provided a populated AC/DC PF to me correct the cloudy lower PF problem. Does the fact that I received a populated PF imply that I don't give a shit about other AC/DC owners? No. Should I have refused the populated PF until a community wide solution was developed? Of course not!

As a distributor, YOU have the leverage...the larger the distributor, the larger the leverage. The distributors are in the best position to "Judge" if a claim is valid AND monitor how many defective units were sold through their distributorship. At the moment, we have no idea how many defective PF's have been sold. If the issues are rare enough, I would imagine it would be easier to negotiate with Stern on resolving the issues.

Bottom line: Having been in this situation, it just seems like distributors aren't fighting for us (in general...not talking about you specifically).

#4091 29 days ago
Quoted from PinballSTAR:

Absolutely agree - we have more leverage than you... And I'm sure we all fought for you - every distributor with every company. You stated earlier how I did exactly that for you with CG on another matter. But, again, we don't have the final say. I spoke with my wallet and didn't buy / sell any products for MONTHS until I was comfortable the pf issues were resolved. Did you see me at ReplayFX ? Did you see me at York ? Nope - I shut down and didn't do shows, etc... JJP shut down their line and didn't ship or sell anything until they had a handle on it... Were other companies coming out with new games ? Were other distributors at shows selling games with no idea if they were good or not ? So ya, Steve I did take a stand. But like you we only can do so much.

Quoted from PtownPin:

I completely agree....this guy lost me at extortion....he can't be serious...the guy was looking for a creative solution so he didn't have to take the financial hit yet this knucklehead calls it extortion....all these distributors should be eliminated as they are completely useless

As someone who has been purchased NIB since 2004, the general vibe I've gotten from Stern distributors over the years is this: Stern is fairly unresponsive to "us" (i.e. it's distributors), so if you have a serious quality issue, you need to deal directly with Stern.

Since a very large % of pin purchases are from remote distributors (and are unable to come to your home to fix something), the distributors end up being useless for most transactions. So, a pile of money is being made by the distributors with no insurance for selling the defective products to it's customers. To be honest, even when it comes to getting replacement parts, you are at Sterns mercy! Most recently, I've been waiting 6 weeks to get a couple parts for my JP2! (and need to follow-up with Chas today). Distributor unable to help expedite. A complete shit show, unfortunately.

#4194 28 days ago
Quoted from gliebig:

You said they can't afford it. I call bs. They just won't do it. Huge difference.

I call bs on your bs. PtownPin's comments are spot on.

#4197 28 days ago
Quoted from PtownPin:

I mean whats it really cost to replace a play field.... shipping costs both ways + play field (which Im sure is free) + labor to move the parts over....Assuming they get the play field for free I bet its less than $1000, and they still won't do it

It's all about setting a precedent...which is why companies use NDA's. In today's social media world, manufacturers don't want to be on the hook for a range of aesthetic issues. If this were a mechanical issue that resulted in the game being unplayable, I'm sure they would take care of the situation. These aesthetic issues are very hard to quantify. I had a large gash in the SIM hole on my DILE after 50 plays. Cliffy hid the damage. Some folks in this situation would want a new, populated PF (which I think would be unreasonable). I "settled" the issue with JJP in a way that was fair to both parties. Not everyone is reasonable (and that's why companies worry about precedent and have customers sign NDA's).

#4203 28 days ago
Quoted from PtownPin:

I agree....especially in a niche business like pinball

I think the larger issue is manufacturing in this country has become a shit show rooted in greed. I've seen it firsthand in home building on both coasts. Went to my HOA meeting last night regarding construction defect mediation/arbitration/litigation that is 2 years old and likely another year from resolution. Ultimately, the builder's insurance company will write a large check to cover the screwups. The lawyer reminded us that these expensive insurance policies to protect the builder were part of our (expensive) sales price. In other words, the home buyer ultimately pays to get the builder off the hook. What a world!

#4206 28 days ago
Quoted from mbeardsley:

I don't think it's really a manufacturing issue. It's more of a business sense issue.
The emphasis now is on short term profits rather than on long term profitability. Investors want "returns" now (and don't really care if the business is viable in two years - by that time they've moved onto some other investment anyway).
I worked for a small (profitable) company that went public. Suddenly we were making decisions that we knew would hurt us long-term but would keep Wall Street happy "this quarter". Each quarter we would jeopardize future profits for short term gains. You can guess what happened from there...but that's okay, by that time the original investors had long since departed with their "returns".

Unfortunately, manufacturing and business and tightly woven. Sub-contractors (in home building) and assembly line workers (in pinball) are given quotas they have to meet. If a sub has 5 minutes to trim a window and they notice any problems, do they have the power to stop and call a foreman (to fix the window alignment) or do they cover it up and just slap the trim on as best as they can? In today's lean and mean building world, there usually isn't a foreman around to consult with! What happens? Shit work happens. Why? Because someone made a business decision that homes need to be cranked out in 4-5 months and there is little need for foreman since the business folks have legal agreements the size of dictionaries to protect them. If something goes wrong, the sub is at fault. Lot's of room for finger pointing.

When it comes to pinball, these games are being cranked out and I'm sure in some instances, an assembly worker can see some of the PF imperfections in this thread. Do they have the "power" to call a supervisor and pull the unit from the line? Based on the info at hand, it doesn't appear they do. In addition, there are so many tweaks that need to be made by us...another indication that these games are being manufactured very quickly without proper attention to detail. I could bore you to tears with many recent examples from NIB pinball games I've owned. For folks that are new to the hobby, they have no clue about many of the issues. Kind of true for home building as well...takes experience and a keen eye to identify/document issues and hold builders accountable.

#4216 28 days ago
Quoted from Seatmandan:

I highly doubt these things are being held to a production speed quota of "X amount of units a day", or hour, or whatever, like the auto industry, or other durable goods industries are. Seems to me they are essentially "slow built" with nearly zero automation, and almost 100% human power. This to me says they DO have the ability to QC things such as the playfields BEFORE they are populated. To me, this is where the wheels fell off.
Since the issue is purely aesthetic , and not functional (inhibiting the ability for gameplay) It explains why they're not doing much about it. Kinda sad, really, since JJPs products are really amazing.

You could doubt it all you want, but when companies are churning out products, time is ALWAYS a factor. “Slow built” is unfortunately a thing of the past in many industries...like it or not, humans are being asked to compete with robots. Even tough robots don’t build homes, many components are pre-assembled by robots off site (reducing the number of workers involved to say, complete a roof).

Assembly line work by definition is time critical. Sub-contractors building homes are always under time constraints...and over the past decade, the constraints have tightened. My insight is based on actual transactions & experiences with home building (where the mistakes make pinball look pretty damn good). I have no idea how Stern runs it’s assembly line, but it’s very clear more machines are being produced with more defects (many, related to manufacturing).

#4217 28 days ago
Quoted from guitarded:

There's your problem. You are buying union built homes? Just asking for issues.

Totally off target. I use the term “foreman” loosely...meaning a supervisor that makes sure all the sub-contractors aren’t stepping on each other’s toes. The role of a supervisor has nothing to do with union or non-union.

#4260 28 days ago
Quoted from harryhoudini:

We need an advocacy group of pinball enthusiasts who can organize and get manufacturers to change their stance on quality and customer service.

Agreed, but when I mentioned this to one of my distributors years ago, he wasn't optimistic.

Quoted from Seatmandan:

I'm a Product Development Engineer at Ford Motor Company, and understand slow build v.s. production speed. That's why I mentioned it. these pinballs are more akin to how Ferrari, RR and Jaguar USED to build vehicles, and less like how we do things today with automation and computers. That's the only reason I said it. I've seen the video walkthru on Stern and JJP of their production facility which is 98% human labor. This IS the equivelant of "slow build" in a highlt automated industry such as the auto industry.

I understand pinball machines are built my humans, not robots...old school by design

My point is simply this...a manufacturing process that involves humans doesn't all happen at one speed! For example, large/efficient home builders are often referred to as "production" builders (e.g. Toll Brothers, Pulte, etc.). These companies have wildly aggressive schedules for building homes. No slack in the schedules...they prefer to built with mistakes than slow down (actually a part of the business model). If customers notice issues and hold their feet to the fire, the builder (or it's sub-contractors) will come back and fix issues. Production builders typically restrict/limit customization. The more customization, the harder it is to build on a precise schedule.

Stern is like a "production" builder of pinball machines. They can produce ~500 games per week, which is 20-30x their competitors production capability. Spooky is on the other end of the spectrum...they build ~10 games per week. The huge output difference isn't just about more/less bodies...the process/culture of the companies is likely different as well. I have no idea how many JJP is capable of building in a week.

At Apple (where I worked for 20 years), the manufacturing process involves both automation and humans. Even though Apple iPhone assembly in China is labor intensive, it's far from a "slow build"!

#4282 27 days ago
Quoted from Legacy:

I've been following this thread. I haven't bought a NIB game in 4 years or more. Was planning on taking my son to Joystix tomorrow to check out all the recent games but what's the deal here? Am I going to buy something and get screwed over? What is the general recommendation?

Easy answer: Buy NOB, where you can see & play what you are getting. Almost any title you’d like is available for sale on Pinside...and Pinsiders have profiles with ratings and reviews. For example, I have a BM66 for sale...the buyer would have confidence they are buying a game without pooling, chipping, or cratering (i.e. severe dimpling). The density of the wood “is what it is”...my game has very minor dimpling (which is normal). Folks annoyed by ANY dimpling apparently add PF protectors (which I’m not a fan of).

#4289 27 days ago
Quoted from V4Vendetta:

he was told that because he first asked if ce buyers get prefered treatment so that mentality was there to begin with.

JJP's CE Edition is $5,000 more than a Standard Edition!!! That's roughly a 65% up-charge for some pretty modest upgrades! I've never purchased a CE model, but if I did, I'd *expect* the game was built with the craftsmanship fitting for a "collector edition" (and the *massive* upgrade charge). What's so objectionable about that? Sure, in an ideal world, ALL games would be built with extreme care/quality (unfortunately, real world production apparently doesn't care how much money you are spending...it's simply a "crap shoot"). Let's face it, many of the aesthetic issues discussed in this thread aren't important to operators vending these machines. I'd have no problem if "paying up" implied more scrutiny on the aesthetics...I always liked CPR's Bronze/Silver/Gold PF distinctions. It shows how discriminating they were and gives you the opportunity to "pay up" for a PF that they consider "Gold".

#4319 27 days ago
Quoted from Roostking:

At this point, why buy NIB unless you are an operator or $$$. Even if you want the super duper limited 'Whatever' at least a few will be for sale aoon after launch. See how the pin turns out first.

Agreed, but sometimes I still take the dive. Picked up JP2 Premium NIB and it worked out great...PF was perfect and trex worked great. Still needed some dialing in, but overall very happy with the build quality (11/22/19). It's a stunning game and was worth the risk. From my perspective, the best game Stern has produced in a very long time! I liked IMDN (Keith Elwin's first Stern game), but JP2 is in a different league. Definitely looking forward to Keith's next effort...hope Stern continues to give him the resources to thrive.

#4321 27 days ago
Quoted from DerGoetz:

All of this is crazy and seemingly exclusive to Pinball.
What are these distributors good for in the end?

If you consider pinball's coinop roots, it all makes sense. The entire culture isn't consumer friendly. The business wasn't/isn't setup or optimized for dealing with the flourishing collector community. Arcades employ tech folk to keep everything up and running. Now, we are the "tech folk". Without Pinside, it would be very hard to deal. When I call Stern/JJP tech support, they are often unaware of issues we discover & solve here!

#4352 25 days ago
Quoted from donkadelic:

anecdotal, but the dozen or so nib sterns ive played over the last 2 months have all had immediate and noticeable cratering. jp, elvira & st. for the record, i havent seen any pooling chipping, but the clearcoat and/or wood are obviously weaker since the "fix".
maybe you have a different experience, i just dont see how theres any variation in their pfs very recently.

My NIB JP2 build quality is great. Approaching 500 plays and the dimpling is minor. PF artwork and inserts all look great.

#4399 24 days ago
Quoted from cooked71:

Fair enough - can only speak from personal experience. I’ve absolutely had my fair share of sh*t Stern Playfields, but am very happy with my JPLE. Absolutely agree that all manufacturers need to fix the mess of the last couple of years. I can’t believe that the pinball industry’s collective knowledge on how to make a Playfield has somehow been lost.

At the risk of sounding cynical, I imagine it’s more about reducing costs and increasing output (than collective amnesia). Whatever the case, I totally agree they need to cleanup their act! Like you, I am very happy with my JP Premium...

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