Quoted from Jvspin:
Granted, the decapitated head looks a little weird by itself but it's not finished yet and I think the detail in the sculpt thus far is good. If they are able to mechanically bring Smaug to life with talking, lighting effects and movement, I consider it a win (even in its current state) and preferred over a tail that diverts the ball, or a claw that grabs the ball to lock or some such effect.
They may be more of a step sideways than a step back. I like the idea of playfield artwork that is more like a playfield plastic piece. Artwork printed on the backside of a piece of clear plastic that is then applied to the finished cabinet. Super durable and glossy. Might even be better than direct print.
I'm guessing one of the problems with a direct print cabinet is that all the pieces are printed before the cabinet is assembled. What a nightmare is must be to keep all the pieces undamaged through the assembly process.
The original promotion for WOZ was decals with more colors and higher definition that had previously been done. The direct print cabinets were a pleasant surprise, unfortunately it looks like JJP learned the hard way that they were not production worthy.
I was noticing this as well. I think the troll mechs take up a lot of space where inserts would go. I was also thinking that perhaps there wasn't a good way to use inserts to convey the amount of information 28+ modes might require, so they decided to use the two LCD displays instead and leave the playfield less cluttered and confusing.
Downside is I don't know how they will be able to do the amazing light shows they did with WOZ without all the inserts.
I think there are a lot of toys, just different. 11 directly controlled drop targets, four pop up targets, talking Smaug, 5" LCD and the lock bar button. And, I don't think we've seen everything yet. You could argue that the toys in the Hobbit have more potential to change up the game play than the toys in WOZ.
Cleary, JJP was going for a different type of game play with the Hobbit. We won't know how good it is until we play it. I'm hopeful because JJP has a very experienced team of designers. If they were allowed to make a game that they think is fun chances are good I will think it's fun.
In my opinion, JJP does not need to compete with WOZ. They need to compete with the other manufacturers. If they offer a machine that has more value than the competition for the price, then they've done well. It doesn't need to offer 2x the value to be a success.
WOZ was their flagship model and it needed to be spectacular for them to survive. I wouldn't be surprised if they lost money on it.
Why does a Stern LE command $3000 more than the pro? A fairer comparison would be the Stern LE to the Hobbit. Which is only a $1000 to $1500 difference.
Even so, where is the $4000 in the Hobbit LE versus the Stern TWD Pro? I don't know yet because I haven't seen the finished Hobbit. Though perhaps not $4000 higher, from what has been shown, the BOM is certainly much higher on the Hobbit LE (invisiglass, shaker, 26" LCD, 5" LCD, RGB lighting, back glass, powder coated armor, 11 drop targets, 4 pop up targets, talking and moving Smaug, three flippers, subway, two magnets, all metal ramps and habitrails, widebody, etc...) Actually, that's a pretty impressive list.
Still, the BOM doesn't tell the whole story. The rest of the story is told by the quality and amount of engineering that is put into the game. To me, the additional value is in the depth of code, the sound content, the artwork, LCD effects and lighting. With Keith and Ted on rules, David Theil on sound and JP on LCD animation, I would say the Hobbit has the potential to be an excellent value at $4000 more than the TWD pro.