Let's face it guys, Stern is the only real pinball company in town. Sure not everything they make is a hit, but they just keep coming and holy cow KISS! The sheer beauty of this pin is so remarkable that even if you don't like KISS as a band you want to own this pin. What I love most about Stern is their constant momentum. They always deliver something for us to buy every few months. Sure the code issue is annoying but they clearly have a model down that works. Coding takes a long time and 99 percent of us would rather wait for code then wait years just to have the damn pin.
Stern is on such a roll right now, why even bother with VE's? KISS is gonna sell like hot cakes (yes all of us who questioned that were wrong) and then it's Game of Thrones and Jurassic World. Like holy crap, what amazing things to come. So I have to ask, do these guys really have any true competition?
JJP: the delays are killing these guys. They can't sustain any hype because of the delays. And hype is important because pin heads want what's hot and what's proven. We've all been looking at the hobbit forever and what's the hold up now? Just no excuses anymore. stern shows you Kiss and you'll have it before one Hobbit that was announced 3 years ago ships. These guys can't survive like this.
Dutch: Lebowski is great and hopefully it ships when scheduled. Not sure pins coming from overseas will be ideal for most. Are they making any in the states / canada? But again by the time the pin ships will it still be the hot new pin it was a year ago? I think theme / game is awesome and for Dutch, it's gonna be interesting to hear what pins 2 and 3 are. Still don't think this model of waiting years will work. They need a faster pipeline.
Heighway: these guys have the production down and are not basing anything on pre orders. Out of all the competition, these guys seem to have their manufacturing in place but can they make a great pin? Safe to say nobody cares about Full Throttle so everything rides on Aliens. Great theme if they can make it a hit and have pins 3 and 4 follow suit. Swapping out the play fields is never gonna catch on. Just focus and great pins.
Spooky: these guys will be just fine and aren't even trying to compete with Stern. They figured out how to make boutique work without pre orders. For that we will always love them and I expect spooky to sell out of every pin they make.
JPOP: so sad. I saw magic girl full play field last week and it's a thing of sheer beauty. Too many obvious reasons why there's no real competition here. Now if JPOP could team up with someone who had production down, that would give stern a run.
In the end, I think Stern is upping their game because of competition. It's healthy for there to be a few major players making pins. Means more innovation and hopefully better prices for all. But right now it's hard to take anyone else very seriously other then Stern. They just know how to do it and do it right and by the time you see a new pin from them, you don't have to dream about owning it for years, you'll be flipping within 2 months. Until someone can match that, it's gonna be lights out for the guys who have nothing on the assembly line for years.