Pinball Construction

Breaking Down the Nitty Gritty: Learn About How Pinball Machines Are Made

Pure, unadulterated magic. Whether you’re a kid or an adult, it’s hard to stop on that one game on the pinball machine once you’ve gotten in the groove. 

But what is it that makes the magic happen behind these bright, loud, and colourful machines that have us so entranced? 

For this, we take a look on the inside and see what it’s all about. 


Pinball Over The Ages

To start, you must first understand the evolution of pinball machines over time. While the first ‘modern’ pinball machine appeared in the early 1930s, many of pinball’s familiar aspects have actually not changed over the decades. 

To show what I mean, here are two videos that showcase two pinball machines eras. The first is Williams’ original Medieval Madness model that was showcased in 1997, while the second is Stern’s 2018 Deadpool pinball machine release. 


One of Brian Eddy’s earliest works as a pinball designer, Medieval Madness has been regarded by fans as one of the best pinball machines that have ever been made.


Debuting in the same year as the movie sequel’s release, Stern manages to perfectly capture the anti-hero’s antiques into the machine’s gameplay.


While technology, graphics and lighting have clearly improved over the ages, you can still spot the signature ramps, chutes, and even interactive props that make mechanical pinball machines really such interactive and sensory experiences that cannot be mimicked through digital means. Both familiar and nostalgic, this is the reason why collectors and pinheads alike still flock towards pinball machines despite the decades. 


Knowing What Goes On Inside: A Pinball Machine’s Anatomy

While this video by Home Leisure Direct covers the playfield areas that we can see [link here to 1st article] and names some of the specific shots that players can make during their game, the finished, physical product that we can touch and see when playing is only a fraction of the effort that’s been put into making pinball machines work. 


With years of skin in the business, Stern Pinball (the last major pinball manufacturers) breaks down what you’ll need to create one pinball machine from start to finish.


As you can see, pinball machines start out as conceptual ideas or designs first, before slowly making their way into becoming actual physical machines. And the more complicated or difficult designs or themes are, the more wiring or parts are required to fully actualise these concepts into reality.

Regardless of machine or themes, the number range of these parts and wiring can easily rack up to a few thousand, and must usually be prepped and installed by hand due to their complexity and delicacy required. So the next time you decide to play a game on a pinball machine, think of the amount of work that has been done to ensure a seamless gaming experience for each individual machine. 

But if this is just not enough detail for you, we’ve got you covered! Pinheads have also created plenty of pinball machine guides that can help you modify and even create your very own pinball machine! 


Heck does a good job in illustrating the more technical expertise that is required to put your pinball themes and ideas onto an actual working machine.

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran, someone just getting into pinball, or even a pop culture fan, there’s an aspect of pinball for everyone to enjoy! It’s also with this and the rise of technology that I believe the future of pinball machines will continue to be on the rise rather than diminish. As we go through better and better reiterations of pinball machines that give us more immersive gaming experiences, it’s obvious that pinball’s legacy has only just begun. 

Inspired? Check out our fantastic range of pinball machines here.


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