(Topic ID: 141528)

Stern quality going down the drain??


By theke

3 years ago



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  • Latest reply 4 months ago by JY64
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    There are 304 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 7.
    #1 3 years ago

    I will not buy a new Stern pinball machine...I feel the quality control and cost savings measures in place by Stern are a disservice to the folks that pay big $ for the new stuff coming out. I have purchased new machines in the past and have seen the quality go down exponentially...

    From Spiderman to AC/DC to Star Trek to the latest games, I have purchased them new and the cost cutting in materials and quality has most definitely gone down. Your mileage may vary, but I have seen this and have been able to compare their older games to their newer games first hand and the changes that have been made in their products.

    I do love Stern games...please don't take this post as a Stern game bashing post but I can see the QUALITY in manufacturing from Stern going down, and in my opinion it is in the name of cost savings. New technology is great and Stern is stepping up, but the poor quality of materials used and cheapness of assembly is bothersome to me...

    I may get flamed for this post, but I hate the "flimsiness" of the new games...come on Stern

    #2 3 years ago

    What, specifically, are the cost cutting measures you feel make the games 'flimsy'?

    #3 3 years ago

    I'm going to go with Betteridge's law. Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.

    10
    #4 3 years ago
    Quoted from theke:

    I have purchased new machines in the past and have seen the quality go down exponentially

    What have you seen on your games?

    -

    Thinner plywood?

    Chalky paint?

    Unplated metals?

    Thinner glass?

    Unheard of designers?

    Mono sound?

    A return to incandescent lighting?

    A smaller color pallet on playfields?

    Mylar instead of clearcoat?

    Missing coin mechs?

    Staples instead of woodscrews?

    Wall paneling for cabinet bottoms?

    Unfused bridged rectifiers?

    No longer UL listed?

    Hack artists rather than the masters?

    Audio clips rather than full songs?

    #5 3 years ago

    they drain the same

    #6 3 years ago
    Quoted from theke:

    please don't take this post as a Stern game bashing post

    Well, it's kind of hard not to take it this way without some specifics. Compared to something like, my latest NIB Kiss or NIB TWD arrived and had x, y, z problems, which are more than when my previous games arrived. At least that might add some credibility to starting a new thread and give us an idea what set you off. Or, you could just jump on the Stern NIB playfield quality thread and rant and rave there.

    15
    #7 3 years ago

    Outside of the head decal problems I kind of have to disagree. Ever play a stern PB (or any Stern from that time period)? Would you say it was built better than a Stern made in the last year? I doubt so. Those were the cheap times IMHO.

    I just don't understand why Stern keeps being the only ones getting bashed for their "quality".

    Time for me to get flamed a bit..... Have you ever gotten up close with an AMH? Their customer service is great but man, that game cut a lot of corners and cost more than a Stern Pro. Why do they get a pass but people bitch and complain to no end about Stern?

    How about JJP quality? Light boards, PF's losing their clear, etc..

    I get it that the quality of machines is not where we want it to be but why does it feel that the only MFG really getting pitchforked on this site is Stern.

    #8 3 years ago

    Not sure I agree with your AMH comment. Had the opportunity to spend some time at a friends house on a brand new one and that thing was sweet. I thought it was top notch. I prefer older 90's Bally/Willliams and will probably never purchase a NIB table. All manufacturers are going to have issues at some point.

    #9 3 years ago

    It seems like Stern gets picked on a lot. People are getting out the magnifying glasses and complaining about the slightest imperfection. Reason of course is that we expect a lot when paying upwards of $8000. Pealing decals seem to be the biggest issue along with some kinks in the new Spike system. Overall, I think most owners of Sterns bought over the last few years had no issues that couldn't be fixed without a little tweaking.

    I bought a ST over 10 months ago. It still looks brand new after hundreds of plays. I've had to adjust a few things and fiddle with some wires. Sure, I have dimples in the playfield, some cracks in plastics, and normal signs of use. The only thing that failed was an led bulb in one of the pop bumpers. I can argue that it feels cheap, art is meh, and point out all the corner cutting parts like pegs instead of rails. Those are obvious things you have to consider when buying any Stern or really any pin in general. I don't think those things have changed much over the years but price has. Like anything, you have to judge whether you think all the "cheapness" is worth the asking price.

    #10 3 years ago

    I bought a NIB AC/DC Premium, NIB STLE and NIB TWD LE. Other than a few easily fixable minor issues, they have all been pretty rock solid.

    #11 3 years ago

    I think Stern has done some things that create a cheap impression, but I don't know that I would say that's all necessarily true.

    Easy example: people miss the old lockdown bar latch. Honestly the new double latch system, while not quite as convenient, holds the lockdown bar in place way better.

    They went to decals instead of screened cabs, but the resolution and quality is way better (assuming your decals aren't peeling).

    The support pegs instead of rails are bullshit though.

    In my mind the problem is more that they *look* cheap. The art packages post Metallica have all been a little cheesy and just haven't oozed quality and care. The packaging for the game makes it looked cheaper to me. Doesn't mean the parts and gameplay are crap though.

    #12 3 years ago

    Pinball machines are designed to make money. Is anybody finding quality issues that are preventing them from doing that?

    #13 3 years ago

    Wait until you see the new leg bolts on GoT, they're half the depth of normal bolts

    #14 3 years ago
    Quoted from mufcmufc:

    Wait until you see the new leg bolts on GoT, they're half the depth of normal bolts

    Do they make it all the way through the leg plate threads?

    #15 3 years ago

    My Tron Pro feels light weight and has the support pegs and double latch

    My Star Trek LE, Mustang LE, TWD LE, and Kiss LE feel big, heavier (than the Pro, but not B/W 1990s heavy - I hate that), solid with true support rails and old school lockdown bar mech.

    I'd say things are getting way better.

    That said, maybe these are differences between Pro models and LE models. Perhaps some Pro owners can verify...

    #16 3 years ago
    Quoted from bayoubilly70:

    My Tron Pro feels light weight

    Quoted from bayoubilly70:

    That said, maybe these are differences between Pro models and LE models. Perhaps some Pro owners can verify...

    Tron Pro and LE both weigh 250 pounds.

    #17 3 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    Tron Pro and LE both weigh 250 pounds.

    I'm talking about Tron Pro versus the other games listed in my post, not Tron Pro versus Tron LE

    10
    #18 3 years ago

    I have a bunch of Sterns, I would somewhat agree with the poster. Maybe it's not quality, but it does appear like the newer games are taking shortcuts that may not be all the way thought through. Like:

    power switch now inaccessible
    pegs instead of rails
    head decals falling off
    an uptick in clearcoat failure
    lockdown bar clips instead of the standard
    no LCD yet despite having almost 5 years since JJP announced it

    It's not necessarily all quality based, but it does feel like the 'bang for buck' equation keeps sliding lower and lower as newer players come on the scene.

    -1
    #19 3 years ago
    Quoted from bayoubilly70:

    My Tron Pro feels light weight and has the support pegs and double latch
    My Star Trek LE, Mustang LE, TWD LE, and Kiss LE feel big, heavy, solid with true support rails and old school lockdown bar mech.
    I'd say things are getting way better.
    That said, maybe these are differences between Pro models and LE models. Perhaps some Pro owners can verify...

    Why does heavy = better quality? Heck, that may mean worse quality and the wood wasn't dried properly for the cabinet. Either way, heavy has nothing to do with quality. I'd prefer a much lighter pin for sure

    Quoted from taylor34:

    I have a bunch of Sterns, I would somewhat agree with the poster. Maybe it's not quality, but it does appear like the newer games are taking shortcuts that may not be all the way thought through. Like:
    power switch now inaccessible
    pegs instead of rails
    head decals falling off
    an uptick in clearcoat failure
    lockdown bar clips instead of the standard
    no LCD yet despite having almost 5 years since JJP announced it
    It's not necessarily all quality based, but it does feel like the 'bang for buck' equation keeps sliding lower and lower as newer players come on the scene.

    What? You only mentioned a few real issues there. Head decals seem more of a defect than a quality control issue. They aren't going to be keeping games at the factory for months. Lockbar isn't any cheaper at all with its. No LCD would never sway me from buying a stern. I'll be too busy playing to have any idea whats floating around on the 90's looking 3d images

    #20 3 years ago
    Quoted from Aurich:

    In my mind the problem is more that they *look* cheap. The art packages post Metallica have all been a little cheesy and just haven't oozed quality and care.

    Pre-Metallica as well. Metallica was an aberration.

    #21 3 years ago
    Quoted from Aurich:

    In my mind the problem is more that they *look* cheap. The art packages post Metallica have all been a little cheesy and just haven't oozed quality and care. The packaging for the game makes it looked cheaper to me. Doesn't mean the parts and gameplay are crap though.

    This is pretty much every Steve Ritchie game ever though, all the way back to williams. He has 1 or maybe 2 ok games on PF art. Otherwise, they all have that same look

    10
    #22 3 years ago

    Stern is pushing the envelope with cost cutting and will continue to do so until they see a decrease in sales.

    The back box redesign, pegs for service rails on pros, shorter service rails on premiums / LE's, LE's using an inferior mirrored backglass creation process, the power button being moved to the head, longer wait for code updates or very few, decals peeling, and overall less mechanical features in games (more bash toys) are all examples of Stern cost cutting.

    Also, the fact that Stern still hasn't included an LCD as their primary display even with their new Spike system is even more proof of cost cutting. It's true that the Spike system can support LCD's but in my opinion that's not why it was created. The Spike system was created to lower production costs.

    Have any of the changes above led to a better product or lower prices. Hell no but rather the complete opposite and that is a slap in the face to home buyers.

    #23 3 years ago

    How is not including an lcd cost cutting? That's gotta be the dumbest logic I've ever heard. They've never had an lcd so it's not cutting costs to still not include one.

    I'm super chapped by their cost cutting because I didn't get a new car included for free when I bought walking dead.

    To the original poster: good job saying over and over how stern is cutting costs without any examples whatsoever. To that I'll simply disagree. I don't see any cost cutting in the last few years since the pegs came out.

    Why would anyone argue the back box redesign is a cost cutting measure? The new back box is great. No more wrench that's always lost. The DMD angle is improved. The whole machine is slightly lighter now and easier to move. Man people can't make any changes or move forward without old timers constantly complaining about things changing.

    #24 3 years ago

    Always amazed at how much everybody knows about the inner-workings at Stern

    #25 3 years ago
    Quoted from markmon:

    The whole machine is slightly lighter now and easier to move.

    A lot easier to steal.

    #26 3 years ago

    I like pinball

    #27 3 years ago
    Quoted from markmon:

    How is not including an lcd cost cutting? That's gotta be the dumbest logic I've ever heard. They've never had an lcd so it's not cutting costs to still not include one.
    I'm super chapped by their cost cutting because I didn't get a new car included for free when I bought Walking Dead.
    To the original poster: good job saying over an over how street is cutting costs without any examples whatsoever. To that I'll simply disagree. I don't see any cost cutting in the last few years since the pegs came out.
    Why would anyone argue the back box redesign is a cost cutting measure? The new back box is great. No more wrench that's always lost. The DMD angle is improved. The whole machine is slightly lighter now and easier to move. Man people can't make any changes or move forward without old timers constantly complaining about things changing.

    It's hidden cost cutting at its finest Hell, it's 2015 and Stern won't even include a ColorDMD in their games! Lazy. Shame!

    Hats off to Stern though for still being able to successfully sell $5k - $8k games with DMD's. That would be like RCA still selling old color CRT's today at LCD / LED TV prices. Bravo.

    #28 3 years ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    A lot easier to steal.

    Put nuts on the back of the leg bolts and watch the fun.

    #29 3 years ago
    Quoted from PanzerFreak:

    It's hidden cost cutting at its finest Hell, it's 2015 and Stern won't even include a ColorDMD in their games! Lazy. Shame!

    Exactly.

    Saving money by not installing a feature they don't feel is necessary.

    #30 3 years ago
    Quoted from PanzerFreak:

    It's hidden cost cutting at its finest Hell, it's 2015 and Stern won't even include a ColorDMD in their games! Lazy. Shame!
    Hats off to Stern though for still being able to successfully sell $5k - $8k games with DMD's. That would be like RCA still selling old color CRT's today at LCD / LED TV prices. Bravo.

    AMH doesn't have a color DMD and cost more than a NIB Stern Pro. Is Spooky cost cutting too?

    WOZ has a LCD but it's "pro" version cost $2K+ a Stern Pro and their "LE" version cost $1K+ a Stern LE/Prem.

    I just don't get this argument at all. Cost cutting is when something was present and then later removed for a lower cost item/feature and the price was not reduced. You can't cost cut by not adding in a new feature. The only "cost cutting" example I have seen so far is the removal of the service rails in the Pro's. Funny how there are a lot of Bally/Williams games that didn't come with service rails and only came with a prop rod (or nothing). Shouldn't we complain about Williams/Bally's cost cutting now? And I know you all love the prem/LE style lock bars (as that is one example thrown out a lot) but while owning both I actually prefer the new pro latch better. Makes for a tighter lock bar without having to mess around with adjustments.

    #31 3 years ago
    Quoted from mufcmufc:

    Wait until you see the new leg bolts on GoT, they're half the depth of normal bolts

    Let's get the torches
    #Where'stheextralongbolts?

    #32 3 years ago

    Its not the cost cutting that is the problem.

    Its the Pro, premium, LE model.

    Eliminate the pro. The premium really should just be at the pro price point. And the LE can be $2000 more for different art, trim and a # plaque.

    Eg. LOTR, Spiderman and almost all other older Sterns before they " invented" the 3 different models yes there are LE/black versions but no difference in gameplay features.

    Because with this logic Shreck is a family guy LE. So it should have cost $2000 more.
    Different playfield art, different cab art, different toys. Different code. Different backglass Powdercoated trim. And a limited run of about 300. Yet it was the same price.
    Hell, it was an entirely different licence to pay for.

    I think it isnt a fact of cost cutting. Its basically the difference in price of the premium vs pro and missing features that don't nearly cost what Stern is charging for that difference.

    Extra flipper, extra magnet. Or some toys somehow = $1000's more.

    #33 3 years ago

    Was is ever up the drain?
    It's a mixed bag they do some things better and some things worse. Trade off is gold dust from cheap ass coil stops, but you get much better printing then they used to do. I have a RBION & Metallica, so 10 years apart and they are pretty close.

    #34 3 years ago
    Quoted from erak:

    Its not the cost cutting that is the problem.

    Its the Pro, premium, LE model.

    We are not here to discuss differences in models.

    We are here to determine if Stern's quality has gone down the drain, exponentially.

    "Exponentially = characterized by or being an extremely rapid increase, increasingly rapid"

    #35 3 years ago
    Quoted from taylor34:

    power switch now inaccessible

    haha. really? How does anyone turn these pins on? If the waitress at my location that is five foot nothing can do it ... well, I guess Stern just lost the dwarf market.

    #36 3 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    "Exponentially = characterized by or being an extremely rapid increase, increasingly rapid"

    You're really into looking up definitions today aren't you?

    Quoted from taylor34:

    power switch now inaccessible

    I'm not tall, and I can reach it. It takes some serious stretching though

    #37 3 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    We are not here to discuss differences in models.
    We are here to determine if Stern's quality has gone down the drain, exponentially.
    "Exponentially = characterized by or being an extremely rapid increase, increasingly rapid"

    I agree but the op and other posted about value for their $. Quality is not the issue. The quality of Stern pins is great.
    Its the $ spent vs what you are getting for that $ that is the problem.

    Mainly because of the flaws in the pro, prem, le Stern model.
    That this hobby has accepted somehow. And Stern has embraced/exploited it to the fullest.
    $$ wise.

    #38 3 years ago
    Quoted from TheLaw:

    You're really into looking up definitions today aren't you?

    I love words.

    #39 3 years ago
    Quoted from smokedog:

    haha. really? How does anyone turn these pins on? If the waitress at my location that is five foot nothing can do it ... well, I guess Stern just lost the dwarf market.

    I heard they were going to start shipping one of these with their LE's.

    dowel.jpeg

    #40 3 years ago
    Quoted from smokedog:

    If the waitress at my location that is five foot nothing can do it ... well, I guess Stern just lost the dwarf market.

    Well if I really think aboot it I don't doubt many of the pin crowd are a little too wide to fit betwixed 2 games. Maybe Stern is trying to tell us something?

    #41 3 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    Thinner plywood?

    cheaper plywood that appears to be less dense

    metal backbox in place of wood

    Quoted from vid1900:

    Unplated metals?

    softer metals that fail quicker and need repair. Also thinner metal in some mechs.

    Quoted from vid1900:

    Missing coin mechs?

    in the case of some games, yes

    other things >> poorly made connectors
    lack of improvements when examples are repeatedly show of failures (IDC connectors on troughboards always failing, decals pealing).
    using external bolts to secure bacbox
    moved power switch to less desired spot
    bent legs new from factory (thinner metal?)
    crossthreaded leg plates from factory
    misaligned mechs repositioned multiple times from factory (multiple screw holes and factory stripped holes)

    #42 3 years ago

    oh yes, forgot one of the most important which is an increased failure rate of pf top layer. NIBpro which had chipped off paint in chuncks in under 50 plays. Defective prep of wood before coating?

    #43 3 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    What have you seen on your games?
    Hack artists rather than the masters?

    Well I don't own a Kiss machine so luckily I don't have to look at the MASTERFUL painting on Gene's head

    #44 3 years ago
    Quoted from TheLaw:

    Well if I really think aboot it I don't doubt many of the pin crowd are a little too wide to fit betwixed 2 games. Maybe Stern is trying to tell us something?

    My girl leans over the front of the machine. Pins at my location are close together.

    #45 3 years ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    cheaper plywood that appears to be less dense

    If the cab still weighs the same as before, how is the wood less dense?

    How can we determine that the wood cost less than the crappy wood that was used throughout the 70-90s?

    Quoted from Whysnow:

    metal backbox in place of wood

    Would you not rather have a Metal Backbox than a wood one?

    All the old wood backboxes are always missing chunks and generally look like ass.

    Quoted from Whysnow:

    softer metals that fail quicker and need repair.

    Where are you seeing this?

    I have a Rockwell hardness tester at work. I can verify your findings scientifically.

    Quoted from Whysnow:

    in the case of some games, yes

    What game did they stop shipping coin mechs on, GOT?

    KISS came with coin mechs.

    Quoted from Whysnow:

    bent legs new from factory (thinner metal?)

    KISS has the same thickness legs as WTP, so it appears to be the same.

    Quoted from Whysnow:

    decals pealing

    Decals have been peeling at least since the 1980s Bally's. Nothing new there.

    #46 3 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    Unheard of designers?

    Pretty sure there was a time when Steve Ritchie was an unknown. Why is this a bad thing? Where do you think the hobby will be in 20 years when Ritchie, Borg, and Trudeau aren't cranking out designs left and right without new blood?

    #47 3 years ago
    Quoted from smokedog:

    well, I guess Stern just lost the dwarf market.

    And now I'm offended. It's "little person".

    Quoted from davewtf:

    they drain the same

    Oh the comedic genius of Dave,

    #48 3 years ago
    Quoted from taylor34:

    no LCD yet despite having almost 5 years since JJP announced it
    It's not necessarily all quality based, but it does feel like the 'bang for buck' equation keeps sliding lower and lower as newer players come on the scene.

    Stern had out out, what, a dozen models since that JJP announcement...while jjp has done one.

    #49 3 years ago
    Quoted from Frax:

    Pretty sure there was a time when Steve Ritchie was an unknown. Why is this a bad thing?

    If Stern fired SR and hired an unknown designer, everybody would be crying like bitches that they had "cheapened the design" by not paying SR his $260,000 a year salary.

    You know that.

    Quoted from Frax:

    Where do you think the hobby will be in 20 years when Ritchie, Borg, and Trudeau aren't cranking out designs left and right without new blood?

    Honestly, I don't see there being all that big of a hobby in 20 years.

    Today's youth is not taking their lunch money every day and wasting it playing pinball.

    They aren't standing in line at the gas station to play the latest TWD game.

    I'd guess that in 20 years people will be searching for old smartphones so they can play Mindcraft "how it was meant to be played", reliving their lost youth.

    -3
    #50 3 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    Would you not rather have a Metal Backbox than a wood one?

    I will take the wood. Adds more weight to the game and wood is easily repaired in 20 years.

    Quoted from vid1900:

    Where are you seeing this?

    Specifically ACDC and onward flipper mechs which shed metal savings and fail in short order. Typical fix is drilling, retapping and better screws/bolts. In general mech bodies are softer IME and strip out VERY easily. Different metal composition or thickness? not sure which?

    Quoted from vid1900:

    What game did they stop shipping coin mechs on

    MMR

    Quoted from vid1900:

    KISS has the same thickness legs

    our kiss legs were actually back to the thicker style. TWD and WWE were thinner. WWE specifically was thinner as I measured with caliper after looking at them.

    Quoted from vid1900:

    Decals have been peeling at least since the 1980s Bally's

    no decals falling off on any other game I own or have seen.

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