(Topic ID: 231591)

Stern LOTR vault???

By srmonte

2 years ago

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  • 289 posts
  • 102 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 4 months ago by PinballManiac40
  • Topic is favorited by 15 Pinsiders


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#12 2 years ago
Quoted from Black_Knight:

There are plenty of nice ones out there for less money than a NIB, so why bother.

People love to say this kind of thing. But it didn’t stop Stern from doing AC/DC or Star Trek. We all know they’d sell plenty of LOTRs if they did a run. People love this game and used ones are close enough to NIB pricing that it won’t be a huge factor.

Quoted from Black_Knight:

I'm sure JJP also got protection when they bought the Hobbit license so there wouldn't be any other Tolkien machines to compete with.

Maybe, maybe not. JJP would have had limited leverage in that negotiation, just like any other pinball mfr. (we’re not talking big dollars for the rights holders here). Licensing is a potential bar, but no one on Pinside knows what the studio/likeness rights situation is.

#15 2 years ago
Quoted from Black_Knight:

My real point was why wait, there are nice LOTRs out there if you really want a LOTR, especially if you have to wait a couple of more years for a new license.
To me, finding a really nice used example of a machine is more rewarding than a NIB. Anyone can buy a NIB, but finding a low play HUO machine thats 15 years old or more is a real treat.

Understood, but you’re probably not the Vault target audience! There are people that get psyched about potential changes/improvements (print quality and sound quality in this case), and people that just love NIB. If you’re in that camp and can live with not owning an LOTR for a few more years to see what Stern does, there’s no harm in hoping and waiting.

#26 2 years ago
Quoted from J85M:

As for the Tolkien estate I doubt they would agree to any stipulations that would limit their licensing income.

The Tolkien estate has nothing to do with it, and lucky for us, as they would never, ever license a pinball machine (his son absolutely hates the movies and all of the merchandising). But Tolkien sold all film and licensing rights off back in the 60s, and all of the LOTR/Hobbit licensed stuff is working off of that license.


New Line in turn got a license from them to make LOTR, presumably including the right to make movie-related merch. So Stern would be negotiating with New Line and/or Middle-earth Enterprises. If they're willing to redo the deal at a reasonable rate, then all is well. Only wrinkle is whether the actors signed away likeness rights to Lionsgate forever, or if Stern would have to go negotiate them individually (which would presumably be a huge pain and probably a deal killer).

#33 2 years ago
Quoted from Rarehero:

About 8000 or so units exist. Go buy one.

Who cares? Every game Stern has ever re-made was relatively plentiful compared to the truly-rare games out there like BBB (or 24, for that matter). Supply is entirely meaningless without acknowledging the demand. And demand for LOTR is strong. There are 8,000 of them and it still fetches $5-$6k. Which looks to me like stronger demand than for almost anything other than maybe Addams Family.

@srmonte wants a NIB LOTR with improved art and sound, and is apparently willing to pay for it. If there are enough buyers like him then Stern can make money on a remake. I think it's a pretty safe bet that they'd sell enough of this highly regarded game to make it worth their while.

#70 2 years ago
Quoted from dung:

They never owned the rights to the figures so doubt that would happen.

They figured something out on Iron Man VE, right?

#81 2 years ago
Quoted from flynnibus:

Size and shape complexity for one thing... number of figures is another. LOTR uses 12 figures... IM uses 3

Sure there are more of them and they may be a bit more complex, but it's extremely hard to imagine figurines being the thing that keeps an LOTRVE from happening. If it was crazy expensive to do a small run of custom-cast and painted toys, IM wouldn't have had them. Worst case they make another run without figurines, and Pinside modders will instantly step up to prove they can be recreated piecemeal.

Figurines won't kill the deal.

#88 2 years ago
Quoted from srmonte:

How much were iron man vaults?

Looks like $5495 MSRP from that Stern price tracking thread. Not sure what street price was, but somewhat less anyway.

The pinball market has changed a lot since 2014, so regardless of whether licensing and production costs would be that much different, it'd be a pipedream to expect an LOTR at that price when Pros are going for ~$6k.

#112 2 years ago
Quoted from srmonte:

Well I guess most people love over paying to stern. If stern asked 7k for a nib lotrv and they did not add features to justify the increase I would not purchase. I bought my mble because cgc put effort into it with lots of upgrades. Prices are ridiculous because of all of you saying stern should ask 7k. No how about stern vault it close to the original and sell it for 5500. Quit encouraging stern to steal and pillage the pinball community. If you all think a nib lotrv should be at 7k guess what it will be.

I’d love an LOTRVE at $5.5k. But you can’t even get a Pro for that anymore, so it’s not remotely realistic.

2 months later
#169 2 years ago
Quoted from Jason_Jehosaphat:

Is this speculation gaining any serious traction today? I'm hearing things. Like, 2019-release things.

Was it on a podcast? That guy’s on fire today!

#175 2 years ago
Quoted from PinMonk:

Will not be Whitestar. Spike2 hardware. It's been discussed extensively a while back, and is the reason they'll sell to people that have the original - color screen, shaker motor, non-fade coils, etc, etc, etc.

It's definitely been "discussed extensively" but with nothing at all from Stern we're all just speculating. I still think an LOTR Vault would be good business for Stern and I hope they make one, but none of us know if, when, or how it might happen.

#178 2 years ago
Quoted from PinMonk:

I can confidently say there are people here who know those answers.

I’ll bite - who?

#180 2 years ago

This isn’t vault related, but it was cool playing LOTR right next to John Rhys-Davies (at his signature table) this weekend at TPF. I’m sure he got sick of hearing his voice doing the call outs, but it was fun for me!

1 year later
#239 1 year ago
Quoted from MRG:

there are still NIB games available for people to buy. No need to make more.

Quoted from snaroff:

They did several runs. Over 5000 manufactured, which is fairly high. Resales are often very fairly priced as well.

Quoted from Rarehero:

LOTR isn’t unobtanium. There are probably like 8000 of them out there. I bought one for $500 once lol.

The fact that they made 5,000, or 8,000, is irrelevant to whether a Vault makes sense. Unless you think Stern runs Vault games so that everyone can get a chance to play its rarer games, instead of to maximize profit and fill the line during down-periods. In the case of LOTR, despite a very large run there's enough demand that even routed examples go for more than $5k. Tron may go for more (though I'm not even sure if that's true any more, LOTR keeps creeping up in price) but with only a fraction of the number of games made, so there's plainly more demand for LOTR. If Stern is looking to make more Vaults at this point -- and who knows in the pandemic era, they may well end up with a backlog of new game designs they could run and have no time or interest in doing Vaults -- LOTR is still right at the top of the list of logical games to run again.

The question as always is whether they could make the licensing work, and it's still the case that no one on Pinside knows anything about that. Though if someone pushes forward and tries to license the "The Art of Pinball" playfield shown in this thread so it can be reproduced and sold, they may learn something about the state of the LOTR license through that process. Of course no one with any sense would expect the results of that conversation to show up on Pinside, but if they can get approvals to move this project forward that will suggest that licensing for a LOTR Vault is not a lost cause.

Either way, Scott9, looking forward to seeing you finalize that new design, which will be just as cool whether it remains a one-off or makes it into production.

#243 1 year ago
Quoted from Rarehero:

They’re not all that green. Some playfields look like they ran out of red ink. Here’s what mine looks like:[quoted image]

You’ve definitely got one of the good ones (as I recall the print resolution on yours is quite good too). It’s amazing how much variability in play field print quality there was on this game.

2 months later
#269 1 year ago
Quoted from thedefog:

I'd imagine Tolkien estate is probably a pita to work with.

I looked into this a whole back, it’s not the Tolkien estate as JRR sold off all movie rights while he was still alive:


#271 1 year ago
Quoted from DeathHimself:

we all seen what happened to the Arwen plastic which was rumored to be a licensing dispute.

I don't know what happened with the Arwen plastic, but it looks like at some point Stern started running replacements with her image removed? If that's what you're talking about, I'm not sure it tells us much one way or the other about the status of the LOTR actors' likeness rights. Stern would need a license from LionsGate to reproduce images from the film regardless, and since that license expired some years ago, Stern can no longer make the Arwen plastic.

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