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(Topic ID: 40249)

When Tales of the Arabian Nights was new (a two-pronged question/diatribe...)

By lukerp

7 years ago

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  • 14 posts
  • 11 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 7 years ago by Slate
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#1 7 years ago

Hey all,

This popped into my head, and I figured as opposed to plugging up other people's threads, I'd toss this out there. And no, I'm not looking to start arguments, I'm just floating something out there. And yeah, this is going to be a bit long and rambling (edit: I just finished and scrolled to the top, and yeah, it IS long and rambling).

I have a question for anyone who was into pinball when TOTAN came out. Did the spinning lamp have a tendency to break, or does anyone recall one breaking, period? You probably already see where I'm going with this, but hear me out.

The reason I ask is that some people have had problems with the cube on The Avengers breaking. I'm not going to comment one way or another on that, but I am going to say it's effectively the same toy in give or take the same position on the playfield. If TOTAN had the problem, I'd be inclined to say, "okay, this is maybe a poor idea across the board, and maybe this spinning-toy-on-the-playfield thing was a bad idea from the get-go". If TOTAN didn't have the problem, I'm inclined to say, "what's different about TOTAN's setup from the one on The Avengers, and why didn't Stern do it that way?" The main difference I see is that the cube is, well, a cube on one of its points, meaning less area to mount to the spinner mechanism than the flat bottom of the lamp on TOTAN. The stress is concentrated on a smaller area, so to speak.

Why am I thinking about this? A few people have spoken up regarding it on NIB machines, and how this was a disappointment and it shouldn't happen, and some other people have said, hey, these things happen on new machines. And really, both of these groups of people are right. But what this leads me toward is what this is costing Stern in the long run.

Stern, as far as I know, has been addressing this properly, saying, "yep, your part broke, new part is in the mail." People get their stuff fixed and keep in playing. And that's good. Obviously, if Stern said, "Too bad; new cube is $50; might wanna get two; they're known to break!", people would be REALLY upset, and justifiably so. So Stern is doing what they can do in the situation.

Where I think the real cost to Stern is going to be is in lost new in box sales to homeowners. I'll use an analogy. I got a 2001 Ford F-150 at the end of 2001 (December 29th, to be really specific). Had about seven or eight miles on it. Brand new. Fast forward to the fall of 2003. The truck's not even two years old, rougly 30,000 miles, and it blows a head gasket. The truck was still under warranty, and Ford fixed it, just like they should. Ford still lost a customer with that head gasket. I won't buy another one of their vehicles.

Did Ford fix the problem as they should have? Yes. Does that still, in my mind, fall into the category of "pretty major things that render the product useless that shouldn't fail that early in the life of the product"? Yes. 100 percent. I'd had a few other problems with the truck, and I had some pretty heavy duty ones shortly thereafter, some off warranty. But really, head gasket, 30,000 miles, twelve hours of shop time plus parts? Not going to deal with them again.

And that leads me back to Stern. If a pinball machine breaks, the world doesn't end. We've established that. Keeping in mind that I've never bought a NIB machine, I think if I bought one and pulled it out of the box, and some relatively minor things were wrong, I would probably be a bit frustrated, but that stuff happens when shipping a 300 pound machine thousands of miles. I can lift the playfield up and resolder a switch or drop a new coil in or what have you. They're pinball machines; that sort of thing happens, and just because it's new doesn't mean that Stern didn't have a faulty switch in the parts bin. Such is life.

Where things would get dicey with me is if something like that cube broke. That's where it falls into the category of "I can't play the machine; I can't pull one of these out of my parts bin and fix it; this is now a $5,000 paperweight." And Stern can send me a new part, and that machine will work again. But that probably puts the seed in my mind that maybe that for $5,000, I can get a pretty nice, well, almost any other machine out there that's not new. And the next time I'm buying a machine, I might not be thinking new Stern. And all of a sudden, a relatively cheap part just cost Stern a sale. Just my two cents.


#2 7 years ago


That's really long. You don't really realize it until it gets posted.


#3 7 years ago

My lamp broke off my TOTAN. It didn't break off the stem. But the actual lamp broke. I replaced it with a pinball decals shiny lamp. As for avengers, its "a person" that had this problem. You're making this out to be some new common problem. But thanks for starting a whole new thread on this same issue because the existing one wasn't enough. Awesome.

As for having a paperweight, you'd get a replacement part in a few days. If you were in a hurry you could patch it up while you wait. Id guess drilling a hole and inserting a metal stud into the stem then jb weld would hold it a couple days while a new part shipped out.

#4 7 years ago

Hey Luke.

What you've posted here is essentially why I cancelled my AC/DC pre-order.

I asked my distributor about cancelling the order, and he said he would talk to Stern, and even go to the factory to check my machine out before boxing it up, making sure it met his approval. Great service.

I decided to think about it for a couple days. It was while I was thinking it over that I saw the broken Avengers thread that you're talking about. It kind of cemented my decision.

I may regret it, but I probably won't. It's a great game, but I've come to the realization that my expectations for its quality probably would never have lined up to reality, and my enthusiasm for it had all but evaporated due to this.

#5 7 years ago

I played TOTAN the first day they dropped it in the arcade 15 years ago. I found it to be a boring rehash of games that had already been made, with that genie lamp just in the way. I hoped their next creation would be more inspiring. I've had a chance to play it again recently, and my opinion has not changed. Again, that is my opinion, and opinions vary. Oh yeah, and it didn't take long before I noticed pieces of that lamp scattered on the playfield.


#6 7 years ago

Wow I think TOTAN is one of the greatest games ever made. It's my favorite Popadiuk.

#7 7 years ago
Quoted from markmon:

Wow I think TOTAN is one of the greatest games ever made. It's my favorite Popadiuk.

+1 on that...awesome game.

#8 7 years ago

Great game TOTAN I have had mine for 3 years and played with family and friends over 2,000 times and the lamp works fine every time. B/W quality is better overall.

#9 7 years ago

Hey all,

Just to clarify, I'm not out to make this Cube issue out to be some overly common thing, I was more so commenting upon/questioning what effect these sort of problems will create for Stern.

The more I think about it, the more I think the problem for them might not have anything to do with QC, it might have to do with the sheer volume of information available to buyers. Twenty years ago, if The Avengers came out and the exact same problem happened to the exact same person, I'd never know. Not in a million years. I probably wouldn't know about the aux board issues on XMen; there's a fellow about 150 miles from me who went through four of them. Twenty years ago, I probably wouldn't have known that this fellow even existed.

I also think it's the target market. I'll still say the argument could be made for the Pro models being targeted toward operators. But in my opinion, the LEs and premiums are almost exclusively targeted toward homeowners, making them a consumer product. I can't think many ops would make the price jump up to the higher levels unless they themselves had a vested interest in playing the game; the ROI just isn't there. As a consumer product, people expect a bit more. An op twenty years ago with a good route probably wouldn't care if one or two of the twenty new machines he bought that year had a problem that required a special part to be ordered, and those machines were down for a week. For a homeowner today, where that LE is the jewel of a collection and maybe required a bit of financial sacrifice, that's a really big issue. And with the ability for a guy in Australia to mention this to a guy in Canada twenty minutes after a part breaks, I think it's something Stern might have to address, whether it really is a QC thing or not. Again, just my two cents.


#10 7 years ago

I've had my TOTAN for a couple years now and played it hundreds of times and not had an issue with anything breaking on the spinning lamp toy

#11 7 years ago

I bought my TOTAN brand new back in the day, still have it, and i have never had the slightest problem with the lamp.

#12 7 years ago

OP, I get it. It's not about the spinning lamp directly, just about a know common issue and lack of quality control. All businesses suffer with the QC issue and struggle with it. I too have sworn off certain brands because of obvious design flaws in products and total disregard by the manufacture. Every person will have some issues (i.e. Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, Volk, Toyota, Nissan, ect.) with products. Most items continue to be built by humans to some degree and that in itself will cause problems in manufacture. It's not what problems arise, that's inevitable, it's how the company handles and corrects those problems. It is unacceptable for a major manufacture to have a obvious and known design flaw and address it with total disregard. Any business with these practices is on the slope to non-existance. I have a 1997 Ford truck that cracked a head in 1999 and Ford replaced it under warranty. I'm still driving that truck today and just changed the factory battery out ten months ago. I have been very happy with my Ford and will buy another when the time comes. There's not right or wrong here just different experences. I hope that Stern will address it's issues appropriately and in my experience they have to this point for me.

#13 7 years ago

absolutely not....we had 0% failure....the design is quite more beefy than the tessaract....also we used bronze oil-less bearings and not a plastic flipper bearing. only issue we had was the gram weight of the lamp. some lamps were 3% larger and heavier...but did not spin as is an iron clad design by Jack Skalon...

#14 7 years ago

Everyone knows Stern buys the cheapest price wise parts out there. Sterm says he wants to keep pinball alive which I belive but he uses the cost as an excuse.

Look at the plastic Transformers machine they release for 3k. If this is not Chinese Stamped out junk.

At least with Totan and Williams did have a budget to make a quality game with quality parts. Capture.jpg

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