(Topic ID: 85117)

Why did stern make austin powers so cheaply


By Dawson

5 years ago



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  • 47 posts
  • 18 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 5 years ago by MXV
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Worn indy.jpg
worn afm.jpg
MM repair 035.jpg
AFM before 0106.JPG

-1
#1 5 years ago

I just picked up one of these , way over paid .because I had to have one ... "Don't do that" after looking into it it seems like it was make for home use only ... Why are the graphics pixilated ? Fasteners seem cheep ? The cab seems really cheaply made , legs like tin... And what about the two targets on either side of the center ramp? Just weird?

Was it the end of an era?

#2 5 years ago

A lot of people dislike this game, I however, am not one of them.

As far as being ''cheaply made'' I don't think it really was...You have to remember that this game was being made when pinball was left for dead. Just two years prior to this, Pinball 2000 launched and then went out. Either one of those games in both quality and build, pretty much blew everything away before it and pretty much anything made current day imho. But in doing so, it proved to williams and the pin community that it wasn't enough, and that pinball was done, why bother making tanks when you can make bicycles.

I mean, quality control might be in question, but you have to remember that this is still an early Stern effort, so it's not to be confused with a Spiderman or LOTR Le,

Spinning mini me, raising dr evil, spinning Austin, Cannon shot, spinning magnet, fat bastard toilet..plenty of toys. It's actually a fairly difficult pin... if it was really cheaply made, half of those above features wouldn't even be included.

#3 5 years ago

You are right about the ,extras plenty of them.. I thought the ideas where a great . Poorly executed in quality it seems , I will add I like the game it flows nice, has a lot of multiballs and great call outs ... Even though the sound quality is awful ... I did get the hum out of mine via sterns bulletin ..

#4 5 years ago

It was dire times for pinball, and Stern did what had to be done.
And Stern was successful in my opinion.

#5 5 years ago

Didn't find it "cheaply made". Thought the shots and rules were BORING…couldn't justify keeping it around for more than a few months…

Don't think the quality of the game has anything to do with the time period. Some pins turn out great, some don't. A couple years after AP, Stern did some of their best work (LOTR, TSPP) and public pinball was still on a steep decline.

#6 5 years ago

The pins created by Stern prior to Monopoly always reminded me of SEGAs in design quality and rules (complete x shot y times to start z mode). I like to state Monopoly, Playboy, and RCT as an intermission period; Lord of the Rings truly made Stern capable of producing premium machines with premium features and rules.

-3
#7 5 years ago

Cheap and Stern are synonymous. Even their best machines, LOTR, TSPP, SM, ACDC still feel much less in quality than anything b/w. Stern quality left after classic Stern dived in the early 80s with ever one else, and it’s never returned.

Having said that, maybe it’s just that b/w went above and beyond with their quality and QC testing and set the bar too high for others not at the top to compete. But still, all stern does is copy, and still makes early 90s wpc dmds, so no, stern is just flat out cheap.

#8 5 years ago

I love AP.

I hate the Sega/Stern targets to the left and right of the time machine. They are horrid and can be replaced with williams targets. I choose to put drop dead foam on my AP in front of those targets. I put some rainbow colored duck tape in front of the foam and I think it makes the game play so much better.

I still have yet to reach the wizard modes in the game. AP has a great theme and bad artwork, but a really fun pin, if you can stand the multiball extravaganza this game has.

#9 5 years ago

All pins were cheaply made because "in the day" the game paid for itself in 2 months, made money for a few years, then got dumped at the auction, or just tossed in the dumpster.

They were not designed to last 20 years

#10 5 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

They were not designed to last 20 years

I don't know about that. Williams went to some great lengths to perfect their CC, and I don't think that was in anticipation of a few months. If that comment was true, I don't think there would have been any reason to change what they were doing from the wpc-pre DC days.

Williams has always appeared to make a quality product. It's a machine with a bunch of plastic and a hammer basically flying around inside, so aspects are not going to last forever, but most of the routed WPC machines I have seen in my time have very little wear if maintained even on the low end.

#11 5 years ago

The fit and finish to a Williams/Bally from the 90's is almost something that can't be explained. You just know it when you see and play it. I think that RFM/SWE1 are just about the two most impressive pins ever made from a build stand point. Can you think of a game that is more smooth to play? They're like ice and tight like a battleship.

I think Sterns best effort and best pin is SM overall, I think that is the closest thing they have done to a Williams/Bally. SM is a very smooth game and plenty of features (and depending on the run, built with metal apron and slide rails lol)

#12 5 years ago

Totally agree with you guys about b/w quality. I've now had enough years in collecting to learn a little something & have owned all the major manufacturers.
Even back in the day I think GTB made some decent quality pins physically, but then the electronics would be lacking. For the past year I wanted to try some different manufacturers, & in my lineup was a GTB, DE, Stern, & Sega. All but the Stern are already gone, which is WPT which I think has decent quality to it & I really enjoy it but its still not quite up to b/w standards.

To replace those I recently got a JM & Black Rose, & now I'm real happy to have b/w back in my lineup. They just feel "right" in every way. I won't get into all the details but many of you know what I'm talking about. Other manufacturers have made some super fun games that I love, I'm only talking about quality here, although I must say that even gameplay can be affected by poorer quality, b/w still has the best flippers IMHO. Yes, perhaps b/w simply did set the bar too high. But as of now I'm placed firmly in the camp of if you can get something like a JM or BR in the $2k range or less (which you can), then I think its a total steal.

#13 5 years ago

That's a good call vid , what was the cost of ap new?

The apron is cheep, the cab is awfully made? Seems to Made of cheaper materials ... And what's up with that digital pixilated printing job on both the cab and playfield ?

#14 5 years ago
Quoted from Atomicboy:

I don't know about that. Williams went to some great lengths to perfect their CC, and I don't think that was in anticipation of a few months. If that comment was true, I don't think there would have been any reason to change what they were doing from the wpc-pre DC days.

Williams has always appeared to make a quality product. It's a machine with a bunch of plastic and a hammer basically flying around inside, so aspects are not going to last forever, but most of the routed WPC machines I have seen in my time have very little wear if maintained even on the low end.

Just look at all the paper thin ramps on games like Space Shuttle or the corkscrew ramp on Comet. They could not be thinner if they tried.

No clear coat on games like F-14, just Mylar over 90% of the playfield (they left gaps to make sure it wore).

No fuses on the bridge rectifiers until 1987.

Look at any popular game like KISS, Playboy, Space Shuttle, Adams Family - those playfields are always worn to the bare wood.

The super crappy, always broken head on Grand Lizard.

Board connectors that were rated from the manufacturer for only 25 cycles.

You guys see all these games now with guards on the ramps from Cliffy, thicker ramps from Pinball Inc, properly fused PS, replaced connectors restored and whatnot, but I was there doing service when the games would get 100s of plays a day - they were made as cheaply as they could possibly get away with.

#15 5 years ago

I think Sterns less-than-great QA is a bummer, but once you get through the break-in period and fix whatever Stern missed, their pins are pretty darn reliable in a home environment. For example, my STLE sling-arm busted within the first 50 plays. Never had a sling arm bust on ANY pin (and I've owned a bunch). Stern sent me a new one immediately. As long as Stern continues to support their products, I have no problem with having to make a fix here and there. From my perspective, pinball is not a consumer-friendly product…they are best owned by hobbyists. If you aren't a hobbyist, you will need direct support from your distributor. This is true for B/W pins as well…

#16 5 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

Just look at all the paper thin ramps on games like Space Shuttle or the corkscrew ramp on Comet. They could not be thinner if they tried.
No clear coat on games like F-14, just Mylar over 90% of the playfield (they left gaps to make sure it wore).
No fuses on the bridge rectifiers until 1987.
Look at any popular game like KISS, Playboy, Space Shuttle, Adams Family - those playfields are always worn to the bare wood.
The super crappy, always broken head on Grand Lizard.
Board connectors that were rated from the manufacturer for only 25 cycles.
You guys see all these games now with guards on the ramps from Cliffy, thicker ramps from Pinball Inc, properly fused PS, replaced connectors restored and whatnot, but I was there doing service when the games would get 100s of plays a day - they were made as cheaply as they could possibly get away with.

Come on, the first attempt at anything always exposes issues. They also corrected most of these issues. Any TAF PF worn to the wood was due to excessive play for the most popular machine ever AND bad balls. I simply do not believe DP PF's can get center wear from even remotely worn balls.

And in comparison to what? Stern went on with DE running off yet again another stolen board set and worked off a sys11'ish design for years.

As for connectors, did they make trifurcon pins back then? Williams clearly did not take the cheapest ways possible. Gottlieb went to "street level" pins, DE just copied b/w designs, b/w put out the best product by far, and the most solid product by far to date, all in all.

Of course there are issues in the design, even if they fixed all those, there would still be more. And of course they didn't intend on them running for 20 years, but I sure as shit believe they intended on them lasting longer than anyone else's!

#17 5 years ago
Quoted from Atomicboy:

I simply do not believe DP PF's can get center wear from even remotely worn balls.

Believe it.

MM the scroll section is often worn to the wood (and of course the Joust section and Blue horse knight is always worn)

AFM the honeycomb section by the flippers will often be worn off, all the printing on the hotdog insert will be worn off.

I could go on, but suffice it to say that I've restored many hundreds of playfields and DP is not a forever coating in a commercial environment.

#18 5 years ago

AFM before 0106.JPG

#19 5 years ago

MM repair 035.jpg

#20 5 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

MM repair 035.jpg 140 KB

Yikes. I have never seen a modern game with that much wear. Looks like it had some use over the years.

#21 5 years ago

AP is a great game and has some very funny call outs when adult mode is applied.
I love the toys and has some nice flow. It really does make me think that they copied AP to make IM and that is a wanted game now.
Fire that firkin laser cannon!

As far as cheap. I think it holds up well and as far as wear, put on Mylar and Polish with treasure cove kit, turns out like glass, plays fast and offers fantastic protection. Mylar s a great product, still curious on longevity of clear coat is going to be interesting as time goes on?

#22 5 years ago
Quoted from TomGWI:

Yikes. I have never seen a modern game with that much wear. Looks like it had some use over the years.

That MM is rusty balls, flat out. Vid, you even have to agree on that.

Despite "issues" on each machine, you have to admit b/w went to good length to tackle what they could prevent, one of the biggest being the best CC out there.

I'm sure you have gone through many more machines than I, but I have seen my share, and the only huge issues I have seen PF wise on DP PF's is flipper wear from broken bushings, and that can hardly be blamed on them. There are come machines that have some common issues due to the design, but all in all you think b/w tried to cheap out every step they could?

I read somewhere with the CC that they actually tested this for two years prior to perfecting the DP mix, adding additives to give it slight traction, and making a mix that was just what they wanted. A solid strong CC would have been more than enough, more than anything out there, but they went the extra mile to perfect this. I don't think they were thinking 3 months use in this.

Many of these machines have been running much longer then 2-3 years and STILL look outstanding for their age, all things considered.

#23 5 years ago
Quoted from TomGWI:

Yikes. I have never seen a modern game with that much wear. Looks like it had some use over the years.

Collectors are still finding heavily routed games in the backrooms of Skill-crane and Juke operators.

A few months ago James dragged some REALLY worn TAF, AFM and Junkyard machines from a movie theater that had been boarded up for probably a decade.

A Skill-crane still had Jame's sticker on it, and the landlord demanded he come get "his" equipment.

Of course on Pinside, we see all these fully restored games and it becomes the norm, but there are still quite a few routed games out there.

#24 5 years ago
Quoted from Atomicboy:

That MM is rusty balls, flat out. Vid, you even have to agree on that.

I don't know what condition balls were originally in it.

The op had metal washers under the slingshots, and those can often nick up the balls; and I don't have to tell you guys how fast nicked balls chew through DP....

#25 5 years ago
Quoted from oldskool1969:

AP is a great game and has some very funny call outs when adult mode is applied.
I love the toys and has some nice flow. It really does make me think that they copied AP to make IM and that is a wanted game now.
Fire that firkin laser cannon!

Since I've owned both, I have a pretty strong opinion on this…

IM is a very difficult game with a very cool rule set…AP is a fairly easy game with a pretty lame rule set. The only similarity I see between IM & AP is the ramps…probably a cost cutting measure.

IM is highly desired because of the cool/relevant theme and great gameplay. The price difference tells the real story…sold my HUO/Mint AP for $2,500 and picked up a HUO/mint/heavily-customized IM "LE" for $7,000. Pretty significant price difference!

#26 5 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

Collectors are still finding heavily routed games in the backrooms of Skill-crane and Juke operators.A few months ago James dragged some REALLY worn TAF, AFM and junkyard machines from a movie theater that had been boarded up for probably a decade.Of course on Pinside, we see all these fully restored games and it becomes the norm, but there are still quite a few routed games out there.

All you have to do is get the "pinball container for sale" pictures from Europe to know that Vid is correct. MM in particular gets very bad PF wear, esp around the lock inserts and the "king" inserts.

Always interesting that a lot of new guys jump on the "BW is best" bandwagon. Because everything you read on the Internet is true. (Cough cough...)

Which is a shame, because they're depriving themselves of some top machines.

All machines wear. All machines break.

I like almost all of the brands. The only machines I don't like are 90s Gottliebs because the software is awful.

My DE/Sega/Stern machines have proven very reliable, some of them I've owned for well over 10 years now.

rd.

#27 5 years ago
Quoted from snaroff:

Since I've owned both, I have a pretty strong opinion on this…
IM is a very difficult game with a very cool rule set…AP is a fairly easy game with a pretty lame rule set. The only similarity I see between IM & AP is the ramps…probably a cost cutting measure.

Dr. Evil & Iron Monger?

Granted, Iron Monger is designed better....but clearly Borg pulled out his Austin Powers design and augmented it into Iron Man. Toilet shot became a kickback. Scoop became a magnet & target area. Time Machine went bye-bye and now feeds to the pops. Magnet divertor & laser beam shot went bye-bye. NBA Jam's design was dusted off and augmented into NBA. Borg was the only designer at the time and had a short schedule & low budget. He had to do what he had to do...good thing that IM & NBA turned out to be way more fun than the games they were based on!

#28 5 years ago
Quoted from Dawson:

I just picked up one of these , way over paid .because I had to have one ... "Don't do that" after looking into it it seems like it was make for home use only ... Why are the graphics pixilated ? Fasteners seem cheep ? The cab seems really cheaply made , legs like tin... And what about the two targets on either side of the center ramp? Just weird?
Was it the end of an era?

I don't know about the rest the pixilated graphics were a Stern style for a time

#29 5 years ago
Quoted from rotordave:

"BW is best" bandwagon

They are the best, no question. Seriously, who is better? DE made better machines?

I have a bit of everything as well, other they any premier sys3's, but 15 (I think) wpc's. I've shopped tons, and there is no question in seeing how everything is made, put together and produced that WPC's were made far superior. That's not to say as a package, rules considered, they naturally are the best from number 1 machine down to the end of the their list.

#30 5 years ago

Have to give Stern props for listening and improving.
Bitch, bitch, bitch about pixelated plastics and side art. They fixed it. I have STLE, TFLE, Met and Tron sitting here and no pixilation - in fact, I would say close to B/W quality - at least the decal days.
Bitching about code. Well, no one can disagree that starting in January they are a different company than before, both with complete code and communication. The games ARE being finished.
It's true that JJP MADE them step up their game with "stuff" on the playfield and every release since WoZ was announced is a great looking and playing game [haven't played a mustang so I'll exclude that one].

#31 5 years ago

The playfield art on this game may be the worst of all time. It's horrid. The game itself is decent IMO. Not great but not Gilligans Island bad or anything.

#32 5 years ago
Quoted from Atomicboy:

I don't think they were thinking 3 months use in this.

The games paid themselves off in 2-3 months, so they would have to last longer than that, or you would not make any money, lol

#33 5 years ago
Quoted from Pimp77:

The playfield art on this game may be the worst of all time. It's horrid. The game itself is decent IMO. Not great but not Gilligans Island bad or anything.

GI is the best game ever a Dude. Some people just don't have taster I guess?

#34 5 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

All pins were cheaply made because "in the day" the game paid for itself in 2 months, made money for a few years, then got dumped at the auction, or just tossed in the dumpster.
They were not designed to last 20 years

True statement. If they designed games to last 20 years for OPs, they would design themselves out of business.

#35 5 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

All pins were cheaply made because "in the day" the game paid for itself in 2 months, made money for a few years, then got dumped at the auction, or just tossed in the dumpster.
They were not designed to last 20 years

I've been in the hobby for 10 years now, and from my perspective these pins are built like tanks for home use purposes. Considering they are entirely handmade and were engineered to be in public places, they will last a very long time if maintained properly. This doesn't imply they don't need love & care, but that a function of the technology and vast number of parts they use, not because the parts are "cheap" per se.

My LOTR will be 10 years old this year and it's given me flawless service. Stern has certainly cut some corners over the past decade, but most issues are easy to diagnose and fix (and I've owned many).

My 2$.

#36 5 years ago
Quoted from snaroff:

I've been in the hobby for 10 years now, and from my perspective these pins are built like tanks for home use purposes. Considering they are entirely handmade and were engineered to be in public places, they will last a very long time if maintained properly. This doesn't imply they don't need love & care, but that a function of the technology and vast number of parts they use, not because the parts are "cheap" per se.
My LOTR will be 10 years old this year and it's given me flawless service. Stern has certainly cut some corners over the past decade, but most issues are easy to diagnose and fix (and I've owned many).
My 2$.

Yeah, I've never had any massive problems with Sterns, even old routed ones. Sure, the routed ones look and play like crap - but you can get them back into HUO condition and playability. No different than B/W in that regard. I had a routed MB and a routed Elvis that looked like they came out of the tar pits and played horribly. After a bit of work, repair and parts, both look and play great.

#37 5 years ago
Quoted from Rarehero:

Yeah, I've never had any massive problems with Sterns, even old routed ones. Sure, the routed ones look and play like crap - but you can get them back into HUO condition and playability. No different than B/W in that regard. I had a routed MB and a routed Elvis that looked like they came out of the tar pits and played horribly. After a bit of work, repair and parts, both look and play great.

There is a reason Tim and PHOF said no more sterns after he blew threw an acdc premium in 6 months, PF worn to wood. Massive difference in Stern quality PF's.

#38 5 years ago
Quoted from Atomicboy:

There is a reason Tim and PHOF said no more sterns after he blew threw an acdc premium in 6 months, PF worn to wood. Massive difference in Stern quality PF's.

Sounds like it was getting tons of play...with old/bad balls perhaps?

My routed Elvis had 40,000 plays on it. Not one shred of wear on the playfield. Granted, the dirt probably protected it.

I've seen more B/W Diamondplate games with wear than Sterns.

#39 5 years ago

Skypilot's AFM:

worn afm.jpg
#40 5 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

Skypilot's AFM:

worn afm.jpg 382 KB

STEEEEEERRRN!!!! ...oh wait.

#41 5 years ago

Stern was a startup at a time all others were going under. So if they cut corners on early games to live so be it.

#42 5 years ago

Clearly broken bushings and I can't believe anyone believes there were not rusted balls that should have been changed a long time prior.

#43 5 years ago

Worn indy.jpg

#44 5 years ago

Again though, those are from the tips of the flipper bats rudding due to the bushings breaking.

#45 5 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

I don't know what condition balls were originally in it.
The op had metal washers under the slingshots, and those can often nick up the balls; and I don't have to tell you guys how fast nicked balls chew through DP....

At some point after ToM, WMS started putting those washers under the slings many games to keep the slingshot plastics from getting broken.

#46 5 years ago

I always use plastic washers so they don't nick up the balls.

#47 5 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

I always use plastic washers so they don't nick up the balls.

I should probably change mine out someday for those. It makes sense. A couple of my games have pinbits plastic protectors under the playfield plastics that I installed and when I did I removed the metal washers since they were no longer necessary. I really like those and plan to get them for a couple more of my games that they are available for when time and funds permit.

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