Quoted from greenhornet:
the alien xeno mech performs the same action as addams familys 'thing' - a magnet that reaches out to retrieve the ball. over 25 years ago bally made more than 20,000 AF with 'things' that worked. HP made less that 200 aliens, many with xenos that malfunctioned. i couldnt understand why people got so excited over the xeno thinking it was something new/different/innovative.
I agree that it's very similar to Adams family Thing so not really something spectacularly innovative from a hardware standpoint. However, it is a bit different in that the tongue comes out to get it.
I also agree that I heard that many malfunctioned so this is just an example of it not going through enough engineering before release. There is nothing intrinsically complicated about this, it just was not designed well enough.
Now, a separate topic really is that of Mechanical Theme Integration and if they pulled it off here. I would say yes. The reason is that someone took an element from the Movie and tried to make it come alive in the game itself. If it was something really novel I would say great but the main goal was to make the multiple head-opening-tongue-shooting-out element from Alien come alive I think they accomplished that (at least in principle).
Mechanical Theme Integration is about making something from the theme come to life in pinball hardware and not necessarily about that hardware being something we have never seen before (but bonus points if it is novel of course).