Iron Man pinball machine!

May 5th, 2010

Phoenix Nest Classic Video arcade is happy to announce that we have added the newest Stern pinball machine, Iron Man, to the arcade!

Iron Man at Phoenix Nest ArcadeIron Man pinball at Phoenix Nest Arcade

This is a multi-ball oriented game, featuring two magnets and a large Iron Monger toy that rises out of the center of the playfield during play.  I was pleasantly surprised that Stern was able to release this game before the movie came out, and hope that this continues for movie licenses.

The other pinball machines were all given a basic cleaning and had some lights changed and minor repairs done, so they should all be playing a lot better now.  I currently plan to rotate through them giving them a thorough cleaning and maintenance check when I’m done restoring Addams Family.

Late, breaking news

April 22nd, 2010

First, the BIG news.  We have installed a 4 X-Box lan center (licensed through iGames) in the gaming area.  Cost to play is $4 per hour per person or $8 per hour per console for multi-player games.  Currently available and licensed games are Hal Wars and Command and Conquer 4:  Modern Warfare 2.  Coming soon will be Halo 3:  ODST and Forza 3, as well as wired controllers.  How fast we add titles will depend on what people want to play, whether or not we can license the game, and how much the lan gets used.

Second, a subtle hint that if you enjoy the Episode 1 pinball machine, you should get your fill of playing it now.  It is soon to be rotated out of the arcade in favor of…well, let me keep some suprises, although if you follow news on the pinball industry it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out...

Trying to figure out if the Marvel vs. Capcom 2 board is worth sending out for repair.  Whatever is wrong with it is beyond my abilities (it uses surface-mount components, which I am not good enough with a soldering iron to work on beyond the big parts.)  Will update when I know more.

Hitting the wall

March 27th, 2010

Been working on Marvel vs. Capcom 2.  Game had stopped working, so ran a few tests.  Monitor is only displaying a line across the screen, and the game doesn’t boot.  Recapped the monitor, checked it over, everything looks fine.  Had a part on the game board that was corroded, waited several days for the part I needed to arrive in the mail (I miss the days when electronics stores stocked more than just the basic parts and cell phones…), installed it, fired the game up…

Screen is a warped line across the screen.  (insert colorful metaphor here)!  However, the game booted, so I figure I must have done something right.  Try to coin the game up, and no sound.  I did exactly nothing that in any way should have been able to affect the sound system.  With no picture beyond the thin line, I can’t tell if it took the credit without sound.

So my brain starts chewing on the latest problems.  Need to pull the monitor for further testing, and jump the game board to an external monitor and see what I get on the screen.  No problem.

Except that my fist won’t unclench.  This is what is called ‘hitting the wall.’  I was actually getting angry at the game for not working.  I’ve got several difficult projects going currently (needing to learn playfield repair for Addams Family, among other things.  I didn’t post about the small fire in one of the pins I’m working on, did I?  Hmm, next post, then) and really thought Marvel vs. Capcom 2 would be easy.

So to make a long story short, I’m taking a break.  I love arcade games and pinball.  I LOVE working on them.  I spend a heck of a lot of time reading about arcade repair and restoration.  In a few days, I’ll go back to work on the game, and post an update.

Lord of the Rings pinball post-mortem

March 16th, 2010

Now that the game is back in the arcade (and I have no idea where the screw that jammed the Gollum/Gimli upkicker came from…sigh…), I wanted to make a post about the changes that have been made to the game.

First, LED lighting has been installed, and for the most part I like it.  The general illumination lighting is noticeably ‘colder’ than with incandescent lights (which is why we kept incandescent lights on the back arch of the game), but I don’t think it looks bad.  I LOVE the bright colors produced by putting colored LEDs under the playfield inserts, and am looking forward to rarely having to change a bulb (there are a couple lights out right now, which is caused by the new bulbs not being an exact fit.  This should be easy to correct).

Second, as was done on the Simpsons pinball machine, we switched the side rails to the newer kind that covers the flipper area, which both looks and feels better.  Sadly, the newest pinball machine, Big Buck Hunter Pro, is shipping with the older side rails.  I understand the need to keep production cost down, but personally don’t believe this is the place to do it.

lotr flipper wearlotr pin with shield installed

(sorry the after picture is so dark)

Third, we installed Pinbits plastic protectors to help prevent the playfield plastics from becoming broken.  I love the protectors, having had to replace plastics on Lord of the Rings and Spiderman that would never have broken if I’d installed these first.  Given that the replacement parts are more expensive than the protectors, I consider them money VERY well spent.

And forth, the new product that will be installed in all of the pinball machines at the shop.  A DMD glare filter.  The before and after picture should say everything for me (or looking at the pin in person, then looking at the pin next to it).  Glare on the upper playfield from the DMD is something that I, as a player, hate, and this product is easy to install and eliminates the problem.

lotr pin dmd glarelotr pin with dmd glare filer

And now I can FINALLY get back to work on the Addams Family, figure out what is wrong with Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and get to work on our not-so-secret project (hint, it includes the letter x, the word box, and the abbreviation LAN.  And that’s all the clues I’m giving…)

Lord of the Rings pinball returns

March 10th, 2010

Title says it all.  I’ll post tomorrow with details about the changes (one of which will be implimented soon on all the pinball machines), but I’m feeling under the weather so figured a quick ‘it’s here’ was better than nothing!

As far as I know, everything on the game works now, so let Dan know if we missed anything (the right flipper might feel a little odd, it has the wrong spring currently which will be addressed as soon as the replacement arrives).

Quick updates

March 9th, 2010

Trying to figure out a problem that popped up while playing a test game of Lord of the Rings.  Everything seemed to be fine, then Carrie shot the Legolas ramp. The ball stuck half way up.  It really shouldn’t be able to do that…

Assuming we figure out what’s causing it, pin should go back in the arcade today.  It’s been cleaned, new lights installed.  If you notice the new lighting while playing (or if you don’t notice a difference, for that matter), please let Dan know what you think.  As I think I said, we’re thinking of switching all the pins over to LED lighting, so would really value player’s opinions.

Lord of the Rings pinball with LED lighting

Part whatever I’m on

March 8th, 2010

One of the two other problems earlier mentioned turned out to be harder to fix than we thought:  The right flipper should work properly now, but took way longer to fix than we had planned.  Playfield is cleaned (guess who forgot to take pictures to post…), as well as most of the parts, and new lights have been installed.  I’ll post more before going out to start reassembly in the morning, as I really need to go to bed, but remembered I said I’d post an update.  Good morning!

Lord of the Rings pinball, part 3

March 7th, 2010

The pin will not be going back in the arcade today, due to a combination of weather and the game being more work than I thought.

First, had to fix some minor playfield damage.  This was caused by the mount coming loose on the Balrog.  This was reported to Dan quickly (don’t remember now who told him, but THANK YOU!), which resulted in relatively minor damage.

Lord of the Rings pinball playfield damage

Read the rest of this entry »

Lord of the Rings, part 2

March 5th, 2010

Haven’t really gotten to work yet due to a headache, but here’s the picture of the current lighting:

Pre-light replacement while doing maintenance on Lord of the Rings pinball

As you can see, I forgot to rotate the image.  Also, almost all the general illumination lights are burned out (surprisingly, not a single under-playfield light is burned out), which makes the game harder to see, and thus less fun.  Although replacing light bulbs can be a bit of a pain, sometimes requiring removing a great deal of the playfield parts to get to one light, it’s also very important.  So I’m trying something new with this cleaning:


I’m going to be replacing all the lights (almost all, there are a few bulbs that need to be able to fade in and out, which LED bulbs can not do) with LED bulbs, in this case ordered from (different styles of LED bulbs can also be ordered from other suppliers, including  The bulb life on LEDs means I should rarely need to replace one, and they also run much cooler, meaning they don’t damage the plastic in the game and consume less power.  If they look good, I will probably replace the lights in the other machines too.

I was going to post pictures of an area of the game I need to repair, but I forgot to charge the battery in my camera, and it’s the type that must be removed to recharge.  I really need to buy a second battery.  So, more later, probably tomorrow.

Back, with Lord of the Rings news

March 5th, 2010

As you may have noticed, the Lord of the Rings pinball machine has left the building.  Fear not, it will return in a few days (assuming a box can get from the postal hub in Federal Way in two days…), after some very much needed TLC.

More will be posted in the afternoon, after I have a chance to fire it up.  A LOT more.  I plan on fully documenting the cleaning and repair, so you can see just what goes in to maintaining a pinball machine (and so you can see what happens if an operator, sadly me in this case, fails to do routine maintenance).  For now, a few pictures:

First, before.  Again, a pin should be cleaned BEFORE it gets like this.

LotR pinball dirty

And second, a picture after a few passes with some Novus no. 2 plastic polish.  This is only the beginning, but already much better.

Same LotR pinball after a few passes with Novus

Next, I’ll fire it up and check the lights (most of the general illumination lights are burned out, which will be posted about in detail later) before I take anything apart.  Which will happen after I get some sleep.