I am currently planning to purchase JP3 as our family's first in-home pin once I receive my work bonus check in April (so...far....away...). The only decision that has been up in the air for our family has been pro vs. premium. After weeks of playing pro models on location I finally had an opportunity to play a premium on location yesterday afternoon. Going into the experience I was very excited to see how much new features like the animatronic TREX, dynamic velociraptor cage and rotating helicopter blades added to the overall gameplay experience. Also, since I was never a huge fan of the pro cabinet/backglass art, I was also very excited to see the premium art in person. After yesterday's experience I am surprised to find myself leaning towards a pro model.
Moving TREX Head: Yes this was cool. I enjoyed watching the head moving around in the back. A few times the mouth would open to coincide with the audio roar and the overall effect was impressive. Then the head would lower, mouth would open and would not accept any of the shots. I know that other pinsiders have commented on how adjustments need to be made to increase the probability of putting it up in the mouth, but even when that gimmick did work, I found it somewhat breaking up the flow of gameplay, and missed having the ball race back to the raised in-lane post. I am probably in the minority, but my first impression was that I actually prefer the TREX ramp on the pro model better. A "best of both worlds" scenario IMO would be a moving/roaring TREX head in the back that didn't lower and grab the balls. From earlier thread posts it sounds like something like this might be on its way from the mod community.
Raptor Cage: I was really hoping that the new features in this area of the playfield would wow me towards purchasing a premium. The lowering gate was an improvement, but the lunging raptor effect in the back was minimal even after direct target hits. The pro raptor cage with the backdoor feed to the control room is just fine for me. That being said, I never got to lock a ball in the premium cage and use it as a newton ball. It is possible if I were a better player this would be a big selling point.
Spinning Helicopter Blades: It was neat to see movement in this area of the playfield. What was a surprise was the sound effect of slowing helicopter blades that went along with it. That did add to the experience. I wish that a similar sound effect played whenever a shot hits that ramp on the pro model. If it does, then my memory is failing me.
Art Package: Originally I detested the pro cabinet and backglass, and thought the premium art was somewhat better (especially the left-hand side). Yesterday afternoon I found myself not liking it as much in person. I think it is the composition of the raptors on the backglass that kills it for me. The one full raptor in profile on the right side has such a dopey smile. Ok, now I know I am being overly picky..LOL.
If I needed to pull the trigger today, I would be a pro buyer all the way. I plan on enhancing the gameplay experience with a shaker motor and a sub. Before making the final decision in April however I hope to play on a premium again that has been setup correctly.