(Topic ID: 32294)

JPop's Magic Girl and Zombie Adventure Shop Tour


By doghouse

6 years ago



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  • Latest reply 4 years ago by HighProtein
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17
#1 6 years ago

I posted this yesterday on The Florida Pinball Forum, and thought I share it with the Pinside crowd as well.

Last week I was fortunate enough to meet up with John Popadiuk and take a tour of the Zidware shop where BHZA and Magic Girl are currently being designed, and their prototypes built.

I was in on BHZA fairly early (#16) but had been lagging behind in sending my next payment. While I had spoken to John on the telephone a couple of times, and exchanged many emails, I had never had the chance to meet in person.

Please note that while I didn't set out to make my description of this experience sound like an advertisement for JPop or Zidware, the whole thing was a little like walking through the door to Willy Wonka's factory. So be warned if I seem a bit bowled over by what I saw.

John was very cool to hang out with, and was kind enough to spend well over three hours showing me around the shop. I really did get a good look at both MG and BHZA's progress. To the naysayers and doubters, you might consider keeping an open mind, because when you see the end product, I'm pretty sure you are going to be blown away. John really is designing and building handmade pinball machines from scratch. This is a REAL pinball company, and significant progress has been made on both machines. To compare what John is doing with either JJP or Stern, would be comparing a hand built Aston-Martin to a mass-produced Cadillac. I'm guessing that these machines ultimately will be considered true pieces of art when they are completed.

I was able to see a lot more of BHZA than MG, though MG appears to be quite a bit further along. John said he expects that he'll have prototypes of MG in the next few months. He also said that BHZA is still on schedule, which means Q4 2013, for those counting the days.

CABINET: Both machines use a new style cabinet which is solid plywood, deeper at the top than the traditional B/W and Stern cabinets to accommodate the new LCD screens, and really quite beautiful. All trim pieces are stainless steel. The close-to-final cabinet art that I saw for MG was stunning-- in design, colors, and in printing which was direct to wood and appeared to be a different process than currently being used by JJP. The cabinet art for BHZA also seemed to be close to the final, though not yet printed to wood. If I understood correctly, the legs will be stainless steel as well, with a unique design that appears to fit the cabinet nicely.

PLAYFIELD: I saw several variations of the playfield art for BHZA, all of which looked very interesting. The actual shot layout appeared to be still in flux, with a foam core design mounted inside a near-finished cabinet. One proposed new playfield toy is a zombie head you can customize with your own face, your wife's face, etc. and looked like a combination between the leapers on SS and the ringmaster on CV. I also saw whitewoods for MG which were beautiful and contained a zillion inserts, a couple of which are were shapes unique to this game. John mentioned that only a couple of people have seen the MG playfield art, and alas, I was not one of them. I did see the MG plastics, which looked really good.

BACKGLASS: The BHZA back glass art I saw was only in black and white, and not the final, but a few generations beyond what I have seen posted online. The style of artwork reminded me a bit of the great cartoonist Charles Burns-- very well-done, humorous, and creepy in a very cool and retro way. BHZA in particular looks to be very much a stylistic departure from any pinball machines we've ever seen. I really liked the quality and humor of the art a lot. The MG backglass was noticeably hidden behind paper and blue tape on a finished cabinet.

DISPLAYS: If you look at John's website you'll see I'm not giving anything away here, but these machines will both feature a 19" Color LCD mounted on the play field like CV. I saw some of the custom animations for MG, and I was pretty well amazed. I won't give away more than to just say JPop's idea about replacing the traditional DMD trumps JJP's by a few miles.

INNOVATION: I asked John a couple of times about how much stuff I could tell people, and he pretty much said tell people whatever is reasonable, just don't ruin all the surprises. While I have held back most of the specific details, I can tell you both of these machines appear to have many innovations which will be copied. Much of the secrecy and NDA stuff is due to patent filings which John said have resulted in at least a few new patents for these two machines. I'm not sure how many $10-16K pinball machines a company could sell, but if they all look like I expect these two to look when completed, I'd say JPOP's #3 is going to sell out very, very fast. That being said, John's plan is to continue to innovate, and he plans on building more machines for at least the next 10 years,

BUILD-QUALITY: John is designing all of his brackets and mechs in CAD, and many of the boards from scratch. I looked at a lot of stuff, much of which was heavy-duty stainless steel and beautifully built. He's building these machines to last forever.

TEAM: John is very clearly the guy in charge, but it looks like he has a great team of both talented young guys just breaking into pinball, as well as a few veteran pinball guys behind the scenes. One of the things that impressed me the most, after spending quite a bit of time with him, is John's knowledge and involvement of seemingly every aspect of the designing and building of pinball machines. Yes, he is-- in my opinion-- one of the best DESIGNERS to ever work in pinball, but he is also a mega-idea guy with the practical ability to test and build the physical object, and he understands how to manage a team.

THE "COOL" FACTOR: I've read a few comments on Pinside how John is building machines for the elite collector. I'd like to counter that with this thought: If you could buy a NIB machine as cool as TOTAN, TOM and/or CV, wouldn't you sell a machine or two to get there? That's where I am at this point in my collecting life. While I've bought a few NIB Sterns, I've never taken the plunge for a MM, CC, or BBB. BHZA is less expensive than any of those three, will be NIB when I get it, have stuff none of those machines have, and probably be a lot cooler looking and better built. Will it be as much fun, or hopefully, even more fun to play than the newer Sterns or the classic B/W machines? Well, that's really the $64,000 question. Definitely expect these machines to be cooler than anything we've seen from Stern in the last ten years, and to trump JJP in the innovation department.

CONCLUSION: As I stated in the beginning of this post, I fully expect these machines to be considered works of art when they are completed. That said, as much as the next guy, I like to PLAY pinball machines, not just look at them. So, if BHZA and MG turn out to be REALLY FUN to play, then these games and JPop are destined to inspire a new generation (and maybe some of the old generation) to rethink the way games are designed and built. While it is true that with only 19 MG's and 124 BHZA's being built many people may never get to see or play one, I think the influence of these games will spill over to the general pinball hobby, and hopefully to the other manufacturers. And perhaps with that in mind, as I suggested to him myself, John will be persuaded to make his next few games a little less exclusive, with larger runs.

Ultimately I went to see JPop and the Zidware shop to decide whether I was moving forward with my own order for BHZA. In the end, I not only affirmed my confidence in the project and the progress being made, but I also came away with a new respect for John, and caused my own excitement level to go up about 10 notches. I hope to visit the shop again next summer, but in the meantime I'm really hoping for more updates, and to finally see the Magic Girl prototypes in the Spring.

#2 6 years ago

Cool thanks for posting

#3 6 years ago

No doubt will be very cool when completed. I "was" in on BHZA but too much $$$ up front too far in advance for me.

#4 6 years ago

Drool - So Glad I pulled the trigger on BHZA. From what i've heard as well it sounds amazing.

#5 6 years ago

Exciting stuff!

#6 6 years ago

Great post thanks for sharing.

#7 6 years ago

Thanks for posting. Had not made It to the shop yet but plan to at some point. Great news your like the 5th person who has had nothing but great things to say after visiting. However u made a statement about not fair to compare JPOP games to stern and JPP but than you compare them ? Oh well.. #20CT

PS whoever has #17 BHZA cointaker addition if you wanna trade with me im #20 only reason i have #17 TronLE so would be kinda cool thanks

JPOP give us a little BHZA teaser!

#8 6 years ago

Thanks for posting, very well said.

One thing that really impresses me with JPop and Zidware is his commitment to high quality. You can't fake high quality, there is no substitute for it. You either want high quality or you are indifferent to it or can't afford to do it.

#9 6 years ago

Nice write up.

Hopefully JP has someone on staff up to the challenge of putting together a solid ruleset.

I don't doubt his ability to come up with a sweet layout, beautiful art, or fun mechs, but rules have been the downfall on most of his pins.

#10 6 years ago

Everyone that has been to John's shop all say the same exact thing. Me included! What he is doing will change pinball IMO. Inovation is off the charts. There was only one thing that was a bit off

"if BHZA and MG turn out to be REALLY FUN to play"

After talking to John you can tell where he is going with his games. John has made some of the best playing games in pinball. This is not even a question. MG and BHZA will be beyond his "greatest games" from what I have seen.

#11 6 years ago

Thanks for sharing this.. very well written, and well described!

man.. my money tree needs to grow faster

#12 6 years ago

I want both...

#13 6 years ago

wish i had preordered one

#14 6 years ago
Quoted from 6S3NC3:

There was only one thing that was a bit off

"if BHZA and MG turn out to be REALLY FUN to play"

After talking to John you can tell where he is going with his games. John has made some of the best playing games in pinball. This is not even a question.

I HOPE and THINK you are right about this. I personally think all of JPop's machines are fun to play, but that is the only thing that can't be quantified until the game comes out.

Quoted from Newsom:

I don't doubt his ability to come up with a sweet layout, beautiful art, or fun mechs, but rules have been the downfall on most of his pins.

This is also a biggie on whether these games will be fun to play, AND specifically, longterm fun games to own. We tend to measure games as deep that have great and complex software, but whether this is VERY high up on John's list of goals is hard to say. I should have asked this specific question about the depth of rulesets he has planned when I was there. He did say the programming is being done by younger guys, and we talked about very specific gameplay features on Magic Girl involving a very large number of characters and a some very cool and complex goals on the game.

#15 6 years ago

Thanks for the write up! I have BHZA #20 on order, I live in the Chicago area, and I still haven't been to John's shop. I really gotta get out there. Did you come to Chicago solely for the purpose of visiting with John?

#16 6 years ago

They sound amazing. If they are totally fun to play I may go for number 3 if I like the theme.

#17 6 years ago
Quoted from gweempose:

I live in the Chicago area, and I still haven't been to John's shop. I really gotta get out there. Did you come to Chicago solely for the purpose of visiting with John?

You've got to go if you live that close! I was actually in Chicago for a trade show.

#18 6 years ago

Did you have to check your cell phone at the door?

#19 6 years ago

I drive 1 hour to work. John is only about 35-40min from Gweempose. I would be visiting John every few months just for fun

#20 6 years ago
Quoted from doghouse:

John was very cool to hang out with, and was kind enough to spend well over three hours showing me around the shop.

Hey, you're slowing down BHZA production! Thanks for the detailed report, very cool to read and I am not surprised to hear it's all top-notch quality.

#21 6 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

Did you have to check your cell phone at the door?

No... but I afraid to even take it out of my pocket when I was there. I did get a cheesy self-taken pic of me and John. Actually wish I had asked to take some pics of the little office in front of the shop, as there was a lot of cool (non-Zidware) stuff in there including two older working pins to play.

#22 6 years ago

Great read, thanks for posting.

I'm a huge fan of JPop's work, it's killing me that I don't have enough money to get in on Magic Girl. Can't wait to see it.

#23 6 years ago

Wow great write up! Thanks for posting.

If anyone out there wants to sell their magic girl position, please please do pm me : )

-Mauro

#24 6 years ago
Quoted from marlboroman:

Wow great write up! Thanks for posting.

If anyone out there wants to sell their magic girl position, please please do pm me : )

-Mauro

My recommendation is to email JPop and get on the wait list. You may have a good chance to still get a machine. Sounds like a number of people have bounced off and new folks have gotten on from my conversation with John.

#25 6 years ago

John is a great talent and, as I've learned over the last couple of months, a super nice guy too.
I've had the good fortune to talk to John a few times through this process and I always leave the conversation with a renewed sense of anticipation and confidence towards these projects.
I think everyone will be absolutely blown away when these games hit the street and his commitment to the final product, as well as re-energizing this industry with new talent and ideas, is something we all should applaud.

#26 6 years ago

I toured Jpop's place a few weeks ago but didn't write anything here about the tour. I agree with everything that doghouse has said.

I was so impressed that I added my name to the MG waiting list. I think I am #5 or #6 on the list. I am hoping for the chance to buy one but that is pretty far back for such a small production run.

#27 6 years ago

I thought I read something about the code being open source. So would that mean it's possible for a person with a knowledge of programming to be be able to modify the rules and share?

That would be cool especially if there were several different sets of rules kind of like expansion packs on a video game.

#28 6 years ago
Quoted from Newsom:

Nice write up.
Hopefully JP has someone on staff up to the challenge of putting together a solid ruleset.
I don't doubt his ability to come up with a sweet layout, beautiful art, or fun mechs, but rules have been the downfall on most of his pins.

I think the rules in CV are some of the best in pinball. How could you even improve them? The rewards for ringmaster are fun. The wizard mode is still the best out there. Lots of stacking and strategy to get high wire and arc mb at same time etc. I think the layout is similar to theatre of magic but the rules is where CV shines.

#29 6 years ago
Quoted from markmon:

I think the rules in CV are some of the best in pinball. How could you even improve them? The rewards for ringmaster are fun. The wizard mode is still the best out there. Lots of stacking and strategy to get high wire and arc mb at same time etc. I think the layout is similar to Theatre of Magic but the rules is where CV shines.

Yes, CV and WCS have nice rules. Other JPop, not so good.

#30 6 years ago

we are thinking about having a Xmas party! real elves too! rules are tough as every player has his/her expectations. we are trying some new rule ideas for both games.

#31 6 years ago
Quoted from Newsom:

Yes, CV and WCS have nice rules. Other JPop, not so good.

Yep, TOTAN and TOM stink for rules...but game design is killer for both.

#32 6 years ago

I don't mean to be Captain Bummer to those waiting for a Magic Girl opening. But according to the contract, the owners would be paid in full a long time ago or have already backed out. A possible opening at this point would be for someone to sell their spot and that would most likely mean at a premium.

I also have been to JPOP's place and agree these game will blow people away. To quote JPOP when I was there "Magic Girl will be my best game ever"

Kim

#33 6 years ago

but one man's stink is another man's chocolate!

#34 6 years ago

These 2 titles sound great....

I'm sure that John will deliver an awesome game....

I think he is the most creative person in the pinball design business...for sure..

#35 6 years ago

Damn after reading this post, it looks like I am going to have to eat my words again. Jpop is my favorite designer because he is a true artist, but sometimes I just think he is from outer space..............Maybe that's why he is such an amazing out of the box thinker. I guess I just wish that he would work for a company like JJP so his games could get mass produced again and we wouldn't have to wait.

#36 6 years ago
Quoted from Mr68:

I also have been to JPOP's place and agree these game will blow people away. To quote JPOP when I was there "Magic Girl will be my best game ever"
Kim

I hope Magic Girl is his second best game ever...

Dave
BHZA#98

#37 6 years ago

From the looks of it, I think Jpop will blow Stern and JJP out of the water.

#38 6 years ago
Quoted from Mr68:

someone to sell their spot and that would most likely mean at a premium.

I would gladly accept this scenario of course with JPOP blessing as well. My bad for snoozing on pulling the trigger on MG anyone want out I'm in like gin!! Do get in touch with me.

Didn't miss the second time around though... proud future owner of BHZA #67

-Mauro

#39 6 years ago
Quoted from jpop:

we are thinking about having a Xmas party! real elves too! rules are tough as every player has his/her expectations. we are trying some new rule ideas for both games.

As long as Arthur is on the machines, it's all good.

#40 6 years ago

GREAT write up and thanks for putting so much input into it!

Way to go Jpop.....

#41 6 years ago

Thank you very much for the update...super glad I dropped out of WoZ (no offense to the other owners, I've seen it and it is going to be cool) and got in on BHZA CT edition #14 (my lucky number!)

I'd heard about some of the stuff posted but not to that extent, can't wait to see these! I missed out on MG but would be open to taking someones spot if they want out...regardless this is VERY promising.

Thanks for the detailed yet not overly revealing update!

#42 6 years ago

but one man's stink is another man's chocolate!

I like the saying another man's trash is somebody else's treasure better. Happy Friday to you John, thanks for the nice email earlier today Dec is a hard month with Christmas and my birthday and my dad's so any delay is great even if only for another month. I am getting more exciting to see Avengers (TOTAN 1 and 1/2) anyways I been playing more and more of it trying to get another person high score off, not an easy challenge and ready myself for Avengers. Love your mechanical toys and art direction or your team members who helped. TOM and WCS 94 both have made over 50k in earning so I am happy to be in your future pin plans as a purchaser. Because of those pins I was able to buy a TOTAN back and finally get a CV my missing pin from your collection. I so remember my distributor telling me dont but that one as you are gonna need to save your money for pin 2000. I did get MB but missed CV and CC both a great closeout prices.

IMG_0050.JPG IMG_0051.JPG IMG_0191.JPG 100_4402.JPG 100_4415.JPG

#43 6 years ago
Quoted from dmesserly:

I hope Magic Girl is his second best game ever...
Dave
BHZA#98

Ha!

Also attending my meeting with Jpop that day was Ben Heck. The two of them have a synergy they both seem to feed off of. Many of the innovations developed for Magic Girl will be carried over to BHZA. Both games will be unique and so far they are both looking like winners.

Kim

#44 6 years ago
Quoted from rai:

I thought I read something about the code being open source. So would that mean it's possible for a person with a knowledge of programming to be be able to modify the rules and share?

I'm not sure this is the case. Might have been discussed in the beginning, but I haven't heard that this was going to happen.

#45 6 years ago
Quoted from jpop:

we are thinking about having a Xmas party! real elves too! rules are tough as every player has his/her expectations. we are trying some new rule ideas for both games.

If I was closer, I'd definitely be there. Take pictures!

#46 6 years ago

IIRC from other forum posts, Jpop and company plan to use the P-ROC platform, which can be controlled via open source software: http://www.pinballcontrollers.com/index.php/products/p-roc/software

#47 6 years ago

Reading this thread makes me want a JPOP machine!

#48 6 years ago

Well, thanks to whoever backed out, I managed to get a Zombie . Just got the owners package in the mail today with my serial #. Let the good times roll!

#49 6 years ago

I wish I hadn't backed out.

#50 6 years ago

we want you back coasterguy!

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