On January 1, 2011, when amusement game industry veteran Jack Guarnieri announced the formation of a new company to design and build commercial Pinball Machines, the world of Pinball turned upside down. The company known as Jersey Jack Pinball, Inc. had licensed the iconic film, The Wizard of Oz, from Warner Bros. Consumer Products to be their first game. Jack’s roots have been in pinball since 1975 when he started to repair electromechanical pinball machines.
Jersey Jack Pinball, Inc. (JJP) will build 1,000 very special ‘Emerald City Limited Edition’ versions followed by a standard version The Wizard of Oz Pinball Machine which the company expects to be a big hit worldwide. Since JJP began taking pre-orders shortly after they announced the title, by last July they were sold out of the Limited Edition games although a few games may be available through distributors.
JJP keeps its customers and fans aware of progress. Jack said, “We even have a special online Newsgroup just for The Wizard Of Oz owners. This has become an amazing community; our customers are just as much a part of this journey as our team members are. Some customers have even said that waiting for the email updates from us is like waiting for Christmas morning!” One of JJP’s latest updates revealed the created by artist, Greg Freres.
JJP began production officially on March 13, 2012, as many vendors are producing parts for the game in different locations across the country. All of these parts are slowly making their way to JJP’s 42,000-sq foot building in Lakewood, New Jersey where games will be assembled. The plan is to be shipping games by summer.
The game employs the use of Bally/Williams parts which have been used in what players would agree is the best era parts to have. The game is a wide-body game which gives more room for designers to add toys, ramps, and lots of action to the game. It is loaded with five flippers, four magnets, four pop bumpers, and Dorothy’s house located on the upper Munchkinland playfield that players will have to make a loop shot around to get it spinning and, when it drops, make the feet of the Wicked Witch of the East pop out from its bottom!
There is another upper playfield that represents the Wicked Witch’s Castle. From there, a Winged Monkey flies down and grabs your magnetized pinball and flies it up to the Wicked Witch’s Castle and locks it behind a door. You need to knock down the Winkie Guard target and get up to the Wicked Witch’s Castle and complete the targets, spelling RESCUE to free the ball. There are many opportunities for an extra ball, multi-ball, and Wizard Modes.
In recent years, pinball has become more of a novelty in commercial arcades. Through one of Jack’s other companies, PinballSales.com, which he founded in 1999 to sell commercial amusement games to the consumer marketplace, Jack has built a reputation for customer service and a customer base of over 12,000 all over the world. The trademark saying of PinballSales.com is, “We sell everything nobody needs.”
Pinball today still has the true mechanical action of a pinball machine, but instead of a static picture in the back head or backbox of the game, JJP’s The Wizard of Oz Pinball Machines feature a commercial 26″ LCD monitor which will display scores and movie clips. The booming sound system which features and voice characterizations from professional actors who marry pinball language and speech calls to the iconic movie weave the classic story through this pinball machine.
This game will check the boxes of many “industry firsts” and is a paradigm shift for pinball into the 21st century. The idea is to build a new player base of young people who have never played pinball before. Loading JJP’s games with new technology, custom sounds, light shows, physical interaction, and animation on an LCD monitor all add up to a fun experience for millions of new players.
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