(Topic ID: 76734)

Review of Comet Pinball retro LEDs in an EM

By blondetall

5 years ago

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  • 37 posts
  • 7 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 5 years ago by blondetall
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#1 5 years ago

Art with Comet Pinball needed a test subject for his new retro LED bulbs in an EM, and I volunteered. This thread is my attempt at an unbiased review for informative purposes. As a full disclaimer he did send me the bulbs for free.

The keys have long been gone, so I broke into my EM earlier and took a few quick pics, but didn't go all out because I've got friends coming over tomorrow for a mini pin tournament and didn't want it in pieces since it's the tie-breaker game. I'll probably do more with it on Sun for the full thread, but here are some pics to get started. I'm typing on my computer then loading the pics from my phone, so hopefully this works.

Please excuse the dirty pin. My dad and I shopped it out last June when we first got JP and TAF and were buying things, because it had just been neglected in the basement for years. Now that I have better stuff and kinda know what I'm doing, I'm going to give it a very good cleaning. I still have no clue how to work on EMs but luckily it is pretty faithful and just keeps running.

#2 5 years ago

First pics show the slings. The warm white retro bulbs are in the left sling, incandescent in the right. Close-ups provided.

image-912.jpg image-777.jpg image-235.jpg
#3 5 years ago

Next is a full play field shot after I added a few more LEDs. The left sling has the warm white retros as before, but I added cool white retro LEDs in the middle plastic on the left side. Close-up of that as well. Along the back you'll see an area with a removed plastic and 5 bulbs. From left to right is a bullet warm LED, incandescent, retro warm LED, incandescent, and bullet warm LED. Close-up provided.



#4 5 years ago

Last for now are the pop numbers. I'm not sure why my phone turned the pics upside down, but the green bumper is always incandescent. This pic has the left bumper with a warm white retro LED.

#5 5 years ago

This pic has the yellow bumper with a cool white retro LED.

#6 5 years ago

And just for fun, this pic shows the yellow bumper with Comet's 5 LED stacked bulb made for brightening up large areas.


#7 5 years ago

These are the bulbs that I tested with. From left to right is a retro LED, a bullet-style LED, an incandescent bulb, and the 5 LED stack. All LEDs are from Comet Pinball.

I didn't really have time to test out the bullets tonight, and I haven't tried anything under the play field as of yet. I believe that I got 2 of each style of bulb in bayonet and wedge, so I can't test out a huge area but will test out some more if you all will let me know what you want to see. I cant test the wedge in my EM of course but I do have a RFM that is incandescent that I can play with if needed. I also have colored bulbs in case anyone wants to see what a specific color looks like.

This is the link for the retro bulbs, so you can see the colors available in case anyone needs to see something specific:


This is the link for the bullet bulbs, which only come in warm/cool white but have a frosted option:



#8 5 years ago

Morning bump. Anyone want me to test anything before I put Twin Win back together for my little party?

#9 5 years ago

Do you have existing Comet Pinball 5050 single LED warm whites? If so how does the color temperature compare with the new retros? Like with other companies' warm whites, the color is too white to be considered a close replacement for incandescents.


#10 5 years ago

I believe that is what I got from him to use in my Stargate. I will double check when I get back from a post office run and let you know.

#11 5 years ago

Your photos do a good job of showing the shortcoming of using LEDs for GI (both Playfield and Backglass). Incandescent bulbs have the filament located higher and emit light all around including downward. This puts a flood of light down onto the white playfield or back box insert which in turn reflects upward. This light more evenly lights the area around the bulb. LEDs produce a hot spot directly above the bulb tip and not enough light emitted out the side. You end up with bright circles of light on the plastics or Backglass directly above the bulb.

Thanks for taking the time to show us the comparison of the various types.

#12 5 years ago

Hi Crash,

While you wait for M's eyes to share how she sees them, allow me to add.

When we were working on the retros, we sampled 4 different Kelvin rated colors, 50 degrees apart (approx) in the
"warm" color spectrum of white.

We set them up and had about 40-50 local pinheads over several weeks, in games, and loose, answer, "Which one is best" "Which one looks most like an incandescent"

About 30% said, "none" an incandescent is just different, we would "NEVER" put an LED on a game with an incandescent. They are correct, No LED bulb can be an Incandescent. (and these guys will never change to LED)

When asked about the color hue of matching warm, there honestly was no consensus, yes one bulb stood out more then the others in opinions, but all 4 received "votes" as being closest in color.

What this shows me is everyones eyes see colors differently, and the forever debate, may not be settled until one can dial in their own Kelvin rating. We went with the average, it is close to a 5050 SMD, but the construction and output of an SMD, not to mention the effect of a frosted lens, is different then an encapsulated diode in an LED.
For that reason, and aesthetics, (as well as application), We offer whites, and colors in 6mm lens, (retro), 8 mm, and 10mm...they all look slightly different in color hue because of the lens.

How much?...everyones eyes see differently. Color matching to everyones unique tastes can be pretty tough,
but I try to give the variety, so people can decide for themselves.

Also, as much as we would like 100% of every bulb in every batch to be perfectly matched in color to each other,
Human testing, and construction at $.13 an hour in China, does produce batches with subtle differences.
The only way around that are encapsulated LEDs that are 2-3 times more expensive, generally from Taiwan and Malaysia. Generally people dont want to pay $.70-$1.00 or more for an encapsulated LED.

Lets see how M's eyes see this....

#13 5 years ago

If you sand the top down on the LEDs with the lenses they disperse the light and possibly remove the spotlight effect. You have to careful not to destroy it. Art can chime in here, but I have done that in the past.

#14 5 years ago

Thank you Art for taking the time to explain things in detail. Appreciate your products and the support you give us.

#15 5 years ago

BTW, I exclusively use Art's LEDs in my Metallica LED lit speakers and the Stern Star Trek Pro Vengeance plastic LED flasher mods. The are the 8 surface mounted diodes (SMDs).

#16 5 years ago

I cant find any of the bulbs you were talking about, Crash. I have some of the frosted warm white bullets in my Stargate if that would help any, but it will be tomorrow before I can tear it down to get bulbs out since I have people here at 5 and still have a house to clean.

#17 5 years ago

Thank you guys!

I think the hardest thing for me to do is answer any "debate". Many great choices for bulbs, we have done this before.
I appreciate M taking the time to post, her life is busy enough. I also welcome feedback,
But most times its "Taste Great or Less Filling", "Democrat or Republican", "Ohio State or Michigan!"

I have piles of bulbs from everyone, not all, and samples from over 20 factories.
Not so easy to sort them, or tell many apart. (We have done the eq. of blind taste tests)
My eyes are old, others are young....You just gotta try some retros and see for yourself!

The worst that happens is you spend two bucks and send 25 back for a refund.
The best thing is you have an affordable way to help out some EMs, and SS.

The colors are awesome in some cases on EMs, sometimes for some people.
( not trying to start a debate on whether to, or not to LED an EM...its personal)

For me, the life and change it brings is amazing!

This is true because think of Christmas Lights, we all go out and see how different
other houses are...we all dont want our houses to look the same.
Or better some of the recent posts with rows of EMs, Awesome, but they begin to blur after a while.
Remember the first game you saw with LEDs? How Amazing!

The point is, I love Pinball and I love LEDs!

Why worry about a small expenditure
to try bulbs that are new, or old, from me or anyone?

Oh, also as Tim mentioned. right now there are no half frosted, half clear bulbs to help with hot spots.
We are testing, hopefully this week something in between.
In the mean time, yes, first, if you pull a bulb further away from a plastic, or backbox, the lower the hotspot.
This is one reason we carry 3 heights, and clear/frosted. It often depends on the screening and colors in a plastic, but most EMs are light colored, so a frosted Retro is to an EM as a Frosted SMD is to a current game.
The bulb is both lower to the source and frosted. It will throw light differently, but then it is your taste...can you accept a change?
For Frosting bullets, domes, flat tops, or 2 SMD faceted, simply swipe back and forth, like an eraser on some fine sandpaper. Congrats! you have a bulb with a diffused frosted top and clear or faceting out the side!
Does wonders for Back Boxes, with a Lighter graphic, but a need for a good light throw! My favorites for ease are a flat top and a flat 2 SMD. This too, needs to be tried once, at least...Frost the top of a 2 SMD, and try it in back box or GI....it goes places you may have rejected because of a Halo or Hot Spot.

Oh, yes, also, for anyone looking, I did sell out of a Ton of stuff, with our sale 6 weeks ago.
I am tracking online, and I have several hundred pounds arriving in 4 shipments this week.
Starting Monday.....Stock will be updated online ASAP, starting Monday.

#18 5 years ago

The 5050 LEDs look like this:

#19 5 years ago

Here is a lineup of incandescent, retro warm, 5050 frosted warm, bullet warm, and (because I had one) a 2 faceted dome warm. All by Comet.

image-726.jpg image-294.jpg image-941.jpg
#20 5 years ago

Here is it with the plastic set back on top. (Thr black spot is the machine's original tax sticker, not a bulb issue.)

image-215.jpg image-671.jpg
#21 5 years ago

The retro looks surprisingly cool compared to the 5050 warm white. But if it gives off more infrared light it will be picked up as white changing the appearance on camera. I know this is subjective but does it look like it has the same warm color as the frosted 5050?

#22 5 years ago

And once again in the pops for direct comparison. The green is always incandescent.

Retro warm:


#23 5 years ago

Hmm it must be just an exposure or color correction thing. The above picture looks much more convincing.

#27 5 years ago

I am literally doing this as I am posting to keep the pics straight, since all bulb pics look alike after the fact. The retro warm looks cooler than the 5050 in person, but to me the 5050 is yellowish compared to the rest. Hang on, let me try something...

#28 5 years ago

blondetall the photos are great, thanks, but shooting pics of lights it so tricky. Hard to capture what things really look like. What's your personal opinion on how they look in person?

#29 5 years ago

Cool retro, warm retro, incan, warm bullet, cool bullet.

image-678.jpg image-215.jpg
#30 5 years ago

Cool retro, warm retro, warm 5050, warm bullet, cool bullet.

#31 5 years ago

Oh yeah, shooting pics of lights is tricky. I guess it depends on what you are looking for and personal opinion. If someone wants the absolute incandescent look and will accept no substitute, then just keep the incandescents. They're dirt cheap and easy to find.
Personally I have been changing over to LED so that I dont have to take apart machines to replace bulbs if/when they go out, and to keep the strain off my breakers for the times we are running 7 machines and a theater at the same time. I am still poking around on these and just got an idea...

#32 5 years ago

Ok, ran and got an emory board, and created this.
Retro warm, retro warm with top sanded to opaque, incan, bullet warm, bullet warm with sanded down top.



#33 5 years ago

To me, the best color match to the incan is the retro warm white. In photos it does not disperse like the incan does, but in person it looks great. For instance, this sling has an incan in the left (checkered flag) and a retro warm in the right (red/white stripes.) In person it looks better to me on the right side and the left has a definite halo top, but when I take a picture it looks totally opposite.


#34 5 years ago

Anything else anyone want to see while I have my machine apart?

#36 5 years ago

I know these aren't retros, but wanted to add these pics just in case anyone is interested in them. Art told me the 5 stack was for brightening play fields, when originally I was thinking they were for pop bumpers. Anywhoo, last night my party friends were mentioning how dark Stargate was after playing the Spiderman that sits right beside it. There isn't much GI on Stargate and I had to use the bullet bulbs because of the size of the openings in the play field being too small for much else, but I put in the 5-stack (pictured below, far right) and it made a big difference. I don't have a true "before" pic but I did snap one right after I put in the left bulb (you can see the right side is much darker) and then another pic with both in place.

If you've got a GI spot that needs a lot of light, I highly recommend these bulbs and will be getting some more down the line. I believe these are cool white and will probably change to warm white to match the game better, but at least the back isn't in total darkness now.


#37 5 years ago

Found an old pic for a 'before' reference.

image-106.jpg image-690.jpg
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