Quoted from seeker939:
Still problematic: Smaug. With the mountain gone the 180 spin is gone. So why not scrap the svivelling mechanism altogether? It seems unnecessary. The sideways motion doesn't add much over a static head sculpt (aside from costs and weight, obviously).
But then again, I get it. Only the talking seems not to be enough for this toy. Everyone - including Jack - wants Smaug to do more than that. After all, this is a (the?) main feature of the game. And with the "tail" diverter gone there is even less left of the original concept. So of course they will keep the sideways movement. It's a bit lame, but what else can you do.
Of course, if Smaug didn't have to be designed to spin in the first place there'd be a good chance they could have fit a (partial) body sculpt in that area (looking like Smaug coming out of his cave or sleeping and rising up or something like that) instead of a chopped off head. Well, too late for that now.
The Smaug concept is broken. The original idea didn't work out and what's going to be in the game is not what anybody wanted, it's what JJP is stuck with. It's not particularly awful but it's not great either. It's another toy, nothing special.
The book. Who cares? I don't see the need for another display when you're using a huge screen but whatever. If you want to have a book in your game it makes sense to do it this way because you're gonna be able to actually turn pages. But at it's current position it's blocking the view on the barrel underneith, that's just weird. I guess the barrel needs to go. But even then the book doesn't integrate well with the rest of the table.
I agree with both of these points.
The broken concept of Smaug is the main reason I cancelled my order. It's a poor sculpt and even worse mechanics. A rotating Smaug marionette doll head is just lame in every way. I agree that something more dragon-like should've been attempted (dragon's don't spin their heads around like Howdy Doody; they twist their necks more like snakes, so just leave off the motion if you can't do it right, I say). But it is what it is at this point, and they are trying to dress it up as best they can with gold paint and what-not. As bad as the Expo Rock-head Smaug was, I actually think I prefer it to this painted gold Smaug.
For WOZ, the crystal ball is an exceeding cool design. Not only do you have an extra tiny display, which is not in any way distracting, it's in the flipper view, so you don't have to look up. It's also like a personal player monitor, because it's difficult for anyone but the player to see with the small viewing angle. For Hobbit, the "book" is just a smaller monitor directly under a bigger monitor, sort of looks added on and distracting. I guess it depends how it's used in gameplay, but that's my first reaction to it.
The Smaug toy fail was the deal-breaker for me, but if everything else is done superbly and gameplay draws me in then I certainly won't rule out a Hobbit eventually. And I honestly still can't wait to play it this weekend. I initially ordered it because of my love for the book as a kid, not to mention the awesome 80's cartoon. It's a theme I love, and maybe that's why I'm slightly overly critical of it (full disclosure).
Beyond all of that is my biggest fear: the kinetics of the game. No shots really look all that appealing, other than shooting the moving drop targets. The center ramps are just awful kinetically. When I watch gameplay video and see the U-turns constantly rattling back down, and center shot after center shot... Just doesn't look fun, I'm sorry. I feel Hobbit may suffer from lack of a Sweet Shot. Why is Balcer so opposed to placing in the sweet shot of a ramp? Especially a well-placed and paced left ramp shot, for right-handed players to get that release of a full power ramp shot right in the wheelhouse. The center ramps, perfectly symmetrical, look like something which was drawn in and looked cool in CAD but which unfortunately don't translate to great gameplay.
A nameless friend of mine text me a short, disappointing text from IAAPA yesterday:
That's what I'm worried about more than the toys gone wrong. The software will be superb. Artwork looks 1000x better now. Toys are toys, and they'll grow on you, or you can ignore them. But the kinetics of great pinball gameplay can't be painted back in or added on or updated. And that's the main thing I'm worried about. The layout just doesn't look fun to me. I hope I'm wrong, though.