Well, took Friday off and picked up my THSE #240 directly from JJP. My neighbor also got his THLE at the same time. We had the machines up and running within a couple hours of getting back to our houses.
I deal with freight and shipping for work, so let's just say I'm glad I live close enough to be able to go get the game and not have to worry about freight. Given the size, weight and general *design* of a pinball machine, I know in-transit damage has a decent probability of happening. Happy to report nothing was damaged or loose on my machine. Machines are protected and packed well. Set-up was a breeze. Machine weighs a gazillion pounds - two people is a must, a third to place a support under the back when installing the back legs is key.
Once in place and plugged in, THSE powered up without issue!
THSE is visually stunning. It sits next to my LOTR-LE. Absolutely no comparison. Integration of the artwork on THSE is incredible. Period. Light show - phenomenal. Sound - ditto!
My machine was delivered with the latest code, 1.21, and the new left wire ramp. The beast pop-up insert thingies aren't ready yet so I don't have them. Haven't had a ball stuck in the front of a pop-up yet. Did have one stuck in the back, but that quickly rectified itself with the ball search. Wife had one ball get stuck (don't remember where) but a nudge on the cabinet took care of that. I'll ask her where it was and address it if need be. Only two mechanical issues - one of the pop-ups registers a hit as soon as it goes up, so I think I need to adjust the leaf switch. Should be easy. Other is one of the drop targets sticks in the up position. Not all the time, but often. Not sure about that one - that may be easy too - at least I hope so!
Game play was awesome! It's pretty easy to get Smaug MB, so I adjusted the settings to make it more difficult. Into the Fire MB is absolutely bananas! Main LCD is extremely impressive and overwhelming - so much going on there. The mini-LCD is great and is definitely an asset for the player. It gives you the I don't have any issues hitting any shots/ramps, but I did up the flipper power to 22 for both bottom flippers. Was set at 20 from the factory. The game is fast and furious, especially when you add-a-ball during a multiball. I had all 5 balls going a couple of times and it is crazy. Smaug integration is spot on at the moment, and with more and more sound bites coming, he'll be over the top.
I think the axe slings are cool - they're not loud at all and they add a nice visual aspect to the game. They're no more annoying than any other sling mechanism! The drop targets aren't terribly loud in my opinion. Yes, you hear them, but I don't find it distracting or obnoxious at all. Beast pop-ups are great and already well integrated into play. Very clever usage that will only continue to get better.
I do like the LE armor better than the SE amour. Both are great, but the LE bronze looks better to me. Gold Smaug is nice, I might prefer normal red Smaug though. The Smaug attract video clip is a nice touch.
Flow versus floaty? Well, this game has both! Can it be a little "floaty?" Sure - it's a wide body pin with a fairly open playfield. When the beast pop-ups aren't active, for whatever reason, there are times where play can be floaty. But it doesn't last very long for sure. However, when you hit the ramps and orbits, you've got very nice flow to say the least. I've played hundreds of games on my LOTR - it can be a little floaty and clunky, especially if you're not hitting shots. TH is more floaty, but not much more in my opinion. Way less clunkiness on TH too.
TH is an experience - I think it's a great game already, and it's only going to get better. I'm incredibly happy I stayed in on it - I'll be honest - I was close to bailing. The wait was beyond worth it.