That’s right! We’re doing it.
After years of procrastinating, I’m finally getting off my backside and trying to pull together this dream project; a ’66 Batman pinball re-theme.
Just to get things started off on the right foot:
-I am not selling Batman pinball machines and have no plans to produce these (aside for a couple of examples for those involved in the creation of this project)
-I do not have an agreement with the license holders. This is a fan project only and should fall within the realm of “fair use” for purposes of this project.
-Only Williams Fan-Tas-Tics were harmed in the creation of this project
It was October 2014 and I was at the Ottawa pinball show where a local collector and EM guru had brought his Jetsons pinball machine; a re-themed Jet-Spin. It was complete with all new art, custom backglass, MP3 triggers for custom callouts but, most impressive of all, it had modified playfield mechs and features that had been wired and engineered to change the game and introduce new rules.
He’d done other similar re-themes in the past, including Loony Toons and Herbie the Love bug. Needless to say, I was inspired! I knew that I had to create a classic (Adam West era) Batman pin. Not sure why this never got done… but I was doing it.
I started hunting for a suitable and inexpensive donor machine and found a Williams Fan-Tas-Tic. Not a very popular or even well-known game. In fact, it seemed downright ugly. However, it had some great EM features. It was a 4 player, it had a cool roulette wheel in the playfield and it also offered player activated kickback, ball gate and extra ball! The game also has a very unusual pop bumper configuration between the flippers; only seen in games like Spanish Eyes or a prototype Freedom. I immediately started thinking about how to alter these to the theme. The roulette wheel wold become Penguin’s umbrella. The 3 stars the needed to be collected for extra ball would be Riddler’s clues. The kickback was a batarang and so on.
I enlisted the help of our EM guru and, after showing him this mock-up that I cobbled together in Photoshop, he agreed to help me modify the game. We altered some of the shots, added a vari-target, replaced stand-up targets with drops and even relocated some of the saucers. It was a pretty great feat that he was able to do all this and make it work.
The one thing that we could not figure out how to do was to create a bat-cave gobble hole behind the newly added drop targets. I wanted to create a subway that would direct the ball back to the shooter lane via a VUK of some sort or a flap (think Centaur/pitch and bat games). The mass of relays and steppers under the machine just made it nearly impossible. And, despite his efforts, the game just never seemed to quite come together and game play was suffering. I eventually just set it aside and, for nearly 2 years, it has sat there neglected while I played around with other projects.
There were rumors floating around for a year or so that Stern might use this theme to do a VE edition of their BDK title, so that also made me cool my heels a bit.
Fast forward to today….