Alien Pinball Machine Update

Posted by HLD 26 APRIL 2016

After the success of their first pinball machine, Heighway Pinball, are due to release a blockbuster this year - the Alien pinball machine. Based on the first two films of the Alien saga, this license will no doubt prove to be a huge release for the small Wales-based pinball manufacturer. We caught up with CEO of the company, Andrew Heighway, to get the latest on the Alien pinball machine, including what kind of features the game will include, when we can expect to see the machine and its release date. 


Over the last couple of years or so, Heighway Pinball has announced its presence as the only major UK manufacturer of pinball with the bold statement that it intends to champion a new way of manufacturing pinball, aiming to eliminate the many reoccurring problems that pinball players, owners, operators and engineers encounter with traditional machines. Last year, our team here at HLD went ot visit the Heighway factory in Merthyr Tydfil, guided by Andrew Heighway himself, who highlighted these issues and demonstrated how they had developed their first machine, Full Throttle, to tackle these problems. From creating an easily interchangeable games system, to installing an LCD screen in the playfield to replace the traditional dot-matrix-display in the back box, although he was keen to stress that he wasn’t looking to reinvent the game, just make it easier for the current market to enjoy a pinball revival, whether in a commercial setting or home environment. 

Andy Heighway, CEO, appeared on ITV News Wales to talk about the business and how they are progressing.

Heighway Pinball - ITV News Wales Feature

It seemed that these kind of improvements have been a long time coming in the pinball world and something the larger manufacturers weren’t keen to explore. But Andrew’s hard work in responding to pinball enthusiast’s demands has gained him success with their first pinball release, Full Throttle, especially in commercial environments and has allowed the company to continue to grow rapidly. Not only have they been able to grow their team and production speed considerably, they have also been able to secure and develop such an impressive license as Alien. And it doesn’t stop there - during the interview, Andrew hinted to us that they have 3 more top secret, highly sought after licensed games in production right now!

We decided to catch up with Andrew Heighway to try and get some more information on the Alien pinball machine in particular, as were all huge fans of the films and that it’s such an exciting project to have going on only an hour away from the Home Leisure Direct showrooms.

Full interview with Andrew Heighway


In our interview with him, Andrew expressed his love for the Alien and Aliens films too, naming them as his favourite films which makes him the perfect man for the job! Within the game, Heighway want to create the the true “Alien experience” for the player so that they can fully immerse themselves into the game.

The game itself will include iconic scenes from the two original hit films, Alien and Aliens, with the player being able to choose between them at the start. Andrew breaks down the very different atmospheres between the two films and how they’re trying “ integrate Alien, which is more of a sort of haunted house in space type of movie, with Aliens which is a sort of shoot’em up/shooting gallery type [of film]”. Creating two atmospheres for the player within one game will be a great experience, especially for Alien and Aliens fans.


There will be 5 main modes within each game, 4 regular modes and one wizard mode. Complete these and the game progresses to the other film, where you’ll be challenged with a new set of 5 modes, again, 4 regular modes and a wizard mode. 

It seems that this machine will be packed with multiball modes too, in the same format as the missions; 5 multiballs, 4 regular multiballs and 1 special wizard multiball. So the games should be action packed with great missions to complete throughout! 

Heighway’s website states that the widebody Alien pinball machine will include 4 flippers, an Alien Xenomorph Toy, Facehuggers, Chest Bursters, Pulse Rifle Gunfights and Robot Sentries among other features - it sounds terrifying already! 


More details on their site reveal that the 35th Anniversary Edition will be released in a batch of 500 ‘to celebrate 35 years of cinematic terror’. Available to pre-order now for a scheduled production of September 2015. This Limited Edition version will be constructed with a black gloss cabinet, finished with a bright lime green powder coated metal trim and legs, topped with a yellow flashing beacon. It will also feature exclusive 35th Anniversary Edition backglass and side art and a plaque with a specially allocated number 001-500. Two more added extras to this LE model are fibre optic ramp lighting and a shaker motor. It will also arrive with an Alien Pinball goodie bag, packed with lots of Alien related goodies.


Heighway Pinball release images of printed test playfields

Andrew also hinted that special edition models could possibly include sirens, a self destruct sequence and the option to add a smoke machine to your model too. For Alien and Aliens fans, it creates the option to fully immerse yourself in the movie. Andrew Heighway described it as a “separate experience” and that it feels like you are “living and experiencing the best parts of the film” which is very exciting!

A very interesting point that Andrew mentioned in our interview is that famous American pinball designer Barry Oursler has joined forces with Heighway Pinball to help with the Alien pinball machine design. Pinball fans will know Barry for the many well-loved classic pinball machines he was on the design team for, including Doctor Who, Jack-Bot and WHO Dunnit, so we can expecting some really exciting and immersive gameplay for Heighway’s future projects with this level of pro-pin designer on their side!


As for the production status of the Alien pinball machine, Andrew told us that the rules for Alien are 80% complete, the animations are 60% complete and that they are preparing to present the pinball machine to Fox over the coming months. This is an exciting stage for the development of this machine, because as soon as Fox sign the design off, the sooner Heighway Pinball can start production and the sooner we can get to see and play the game.

The good news for Full Throttle owners is that the Alien pinball machine will be fully interchangeable with their Heighway machine. This means that players can have two games at a cheaper cost as the play field can be easily removed and swapped over, as can the translite and side artwork to fully transform a Full Throttle machine into an Alien machine. This will be the case for all machines Heighway Pinball produce and the best part is, that the games can be swapped over by one person in a matter of minutes! Check out the demonstration video Heighway have made in their factory to show how easy it is. It’s amazing simple design allows you to unplug three connections at the back of the machine and slide the playfeild out of the cabinet, before replacing it with a different cabinet. The side artwork and translite in the backglass also slide out and can be replaced with different artwork. In the video below, Sandor, Production Manager at Heighway Pinball, swaps the game in 3 minutes and 32 seconds!

Heighway Pinball - Game Swap 

During the interview, Andy mentioned that Heighway also have three other machines in production at the moment and told us that they are very strong licenses. After the interview, he hinted to us that one of them may be a music based license. After much gossip here in the office, we’re thinking a Beatles pinball machine maybe?!

Overall, we’re very impressed with how Heighway have grounded themselves in the pinball market so far with some great upcoming and groundbreaking ideas including the interchangeable machines and much more! We’re really intrigued to see what Heighway can come up with next and are keen to support such an amazing pinball manufacturer who have been brave enough to take on the pinball giants through innovation and passion.

Heighway really are taking the pinball industry by storm and appealing to a wide target market, from home to commercial and from the younger audiences who aren’t used to playing pinball, to the older fan base who remember playing in the classic pinball arcades and bars.

We can’t wait to get our hands on Heighway’s new Alien pinball when it’s ready, we’ll make sure to keep you updated with the news of its release. All we know is that Andrew Heighway is very excited about some big news in the coming weeks and we cant wait to see what it is!  

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