Super Types

January 21, 2010

The Comics Console: Pinball!

The Comics Console has always featured some of comic book’s greatest and not-so-greatest adventures in video games, but this week we’re taking a look at a piece of super hero gaming history that doesn’t use a joystick, or memory card, or online capabilities; just a roll of quarters and a large soda — Pinball!

Atari may be most recognized with revolutionizing home video gaming with the Atari 2600, but along with developing the future of entertainment, they built a few classics along the way. In 1979 comic book fans could walk into a pizza parlor or convenience store and play a few rounds of pinball to the theme of The Man of Steel.

This beautiful machine features comic book relevant art of the Last Son of Krypton and a few key characters like Lois Lane and Lex Luthor. The psychedelic color palate is really fitting of the funky period it was built in, and features all your regular bumpers, sliders, and spinners of your standard pinball machine. Collectors can pick one of these up on eBay for around $2,000.

A year later Marvel fans saw their Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man make his way to pinball courtesy of Gottlieb.

This machine is much more fan pleasing with nearly every important character in Peter Parker’s life, as well as some of Spidy’s rogues gallery like Kraven the Hunter, Scorpion, Green Goblin to name a few. Aside from being absolutely gorgeous, it’s packed with all the key features you want in your pinball machine, and a few more. A nice addition to any bar, game room, or geek’s garage, this baby shills from $2,500 – $4,000.

That same year Gottlieb also released an Incredible Hulk machine. This game’s set up is almost the exact same as Spider-Man’s aside from the placement of a few bumpers, but isn’t nearly as stunning. There aren’t any other characters featured other than the Green Goliath himself, and it looks pretty generic, but if you’re more interested in a game of pinball rather than pretty comic book characters, then you’ll definitely be satiated. Hulk buffs can find this one for around $1,500.

In 1991 Data East released a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pinball machine that I personally have fond memories of playing. While the graphic on the side cabinet features art that would closely match the style of the super popular cartoon show, the score bored and playing field have a style closer to Peter Laird’s original design.

The playing field itself has evolved since 1980 with more modern tracks and rails, and even cool little figures of Don, Leo, Mike and Raph. One day…I promise you…one day I’ll be dropping about $2,500 on one of these for my living room.

Data East also would be the team behind a Batman pinball machine based off of Tim Burton’s film. Batman’s first adventure into pinball isn’t as deep as its TMNT cousin, lacking the cool tracks and figures, but it’s a great representation of the film with some pretty cool art. This machine goes for around $2,000.

You would think that in a day with Playstantion 3s and Xbox 360s, the market for pinball machines would be dead, and while pinball’s popularity is nothing like it was 30 years ago, we’re still getting awesome machines today.

Based off the films, Stern created a great Spider-Man machine. Stern keeps a more classic style of pinball with the usual bumpers and spinners, but with a few tracks, and plenty of lights. One of the cooler features of this machine are the great figures of the villains from the three Spider-Man movies. You can pick up one of these for around $5,000.

Stern made another movie based pinball machine, this time featuring The Dark Knight. Stern’s Dark Knight game is identical to Spider-Man’s with the classic, yet contemporary playing field, and a kind of casino vibe. the machine also isn’t without cool Joker, Batman, and Scarecrow figures inside. This one also sells for about $5,000.

Pinball may be a simple and dated game, but you can’t deny how majestic and even somewhat classy they feel. What comic book character would you want featured in their own pinball machine that you would flaunt in your own home?

Andrew Hurst



  1. Dakk

    man. i havnt played on an actual pinball machine in ages. I rly want to now. great article! 😀 i remember this KISS pinball machine i used to play way back in my stepgrandmothers’ bowling alley. good times.

  2. Kristin

    Boy…April’s looking rather whorish up there, isn’t she.

    By the way, all I can really think of is how much anime or individual video games I could buy for $2-5,000. The answer is WAY more value and worth than I’d ever get out of a single huge pinball machine. 🙂

  3. Holy shit dude, these are AWESOME!!

    Where are these machines?? Your LCS?

  4. Oh, and I also want the TMNT machine!! I’d love to see an X-Men or Megaman pinball. *sigh*

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  6. InfiniteSpeech

    Pinball is one of my guilty pleasures and from the TMNT machine on down I’ve played ’em all! I miss the arcades, there was nothing like beating someone’s score or them in public! I don’t get the same satisfaction of beating someone online in Tekken or Marvel vs Capcom 2 as I did with a huge crowd behind me…ahhh the good ole days! lol

  7. Drew

    Oh man! They used to have a chain of restaurants in new York State called Ground-Round, and mine totally used to have that Ninja Turtles Pinball machine (and a Twilight Zone one)

  8. billy

    I have seen the Spider-Man pinball game at a local flea market. It didn’t have a price and I don’t know if it even works but I’ve always wanted to buy it. 🙂

  9. Eli

    I haven’t played pinball for years, but they look really cool. I could never bring myself to spend that for a pinball game. Imagine how many comics I could buy for all that money?!?

  10. […] Zen Studios showed off the tables for their upcoming Marvel Pinball, available on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade before the end of the year. The first set of tables feature very flattering themes of Marvel’s top properties. Spider-Man, Blade, Wolverine, and Iron Man are are shown in the trailer with hopefully more to come in the future. These tables looks beautiful, and I love a great game of pinball. Get more comic book pinball action here! […]

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