Pinball Machines: 2015 Wishlist

Posted by Scott 25 JUNE 2015

Stern’s formula for designing a pinball table has typically been to take a well-known franchise or pop culture icon and give it the pinball treatment. Rarely do they do a theme that is “original.” There are critics out there who frown upon Stern for that very reason. However, can any true pinball fan have negative feelings toward the one manufacturer that has single-handedly preserved pinball machines for more than a decade? Not only that, but Stern has also helped re-vitalize the public’s interest in pinball in recent years.  Whether you are a fan of the manufacturer or not, you have to admit that Stern is a powerhouse that has brought pinball back from the grave for the masses to enjoy once again. How can you not admire them for that?

On top of Stern’s pinball-preservation efforts, they have also churned out quite a few hits that will definitely be considered pinball classics in the years to come. We have already mentioned several of their tables in our lists of Top 5 Musicians Tables and Top Marvel Tables, and Stern has quite a few other tables that are worth your time and investment as well.

With that in mind, we would like to take this opportunity to look to the future of Stern and dream big about the tables we want to see Stern produce next. We have categorized our wish list into four sections: TV, movies, musicians, and video games. These four categories are the normal pools of inspiration from which Stern chooses their next pin table theme or franchise. With that in mind, here are Home Leisure Direct’s top picks for Stern tables we would like to see in the future.

TV Shows

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The Walking Dead just came out last year, and it proved to be another popular table by Stern. They have also done 24, The Sopranoes, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Simpsons, and Family Guy—all iconic shows that have peaked in popularity in the past decade or so. We can think of a few other shows that have been equally popular, if not more so, during the same time period.

The most obvious one is Game of Thrones. Imagine an epic table similar to Stern’s Lord of the Rings where the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros are laid out in the playfield artwork, and key characters are featured in the ruleset and audio clips. Interestingly, if Stern made this game, they would be following in the footsteps of Telltale Games, who have developed both The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones as point-and-click adventure video games. Like Stern, Telltale Games is a company that has not only preserved an entertainment art-form that many thought would never come back, but they have actually re-popularized it. Game of Thrones is an obvious option for Stern’s next table.

Other shows we’re interested in Stern getting a hold of are Blacklist, Sherlock, and any of the new Marvel and DC Comics shows that have sprouted up, like Gotham or Daredevil.


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Out of all the categories in this list, this is the one most likely to be used by Stern for their next table. With last year being one of the greatest years in film that we’ve seen in decades and 2015 following the trend, we are salivating over which movie Stern will choose to do next. The rest of this article could be devoted to just the movies that could be transformed into brilliant pin tables, but there are still two more categories to cover, so we’ll just list some of our top picks here.

Star Wars: the Force Awakens is a given—this will happen. Our hope is that both the movie and the pinball table fare better than the prequels and the only prequel pinball table produced, Star Wars Episode I by Williams for the Pinball 2000 platform. Only time will tell, but we believe Stern will pull out all the stops for this one.

We would also like to see a Mad Max table that effectively translates the all-out action of the film onto the playfield. Other tables we would like to play are Terminator Genysis, Edge of Tomorrow, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Jurassic World, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice—Wow! What a great time for movies! The list goes on and on. Stern needs to get to work on these right away.


So far, Stern has stuck with iconic bands from bygone eras rather than up and coming pop star sensations. In light of that trend, Stern absolutely needs to do a table paying homage to the legacy of The Beatles. How has this not been done yet? And no, Beat Time (1967) featuring “The Bootles” doesn’t count. We would like to see Stern one-up their Elvis table by placing all four members of The Beatles on the playfield and syncing their movements to the music. Like in Elvis, the player could collect their top hits and explore literal representations of their songs like “Yellow Submarine” and “Strawberry Fields.” Maybe there could even be an Abbey Road for the ball to roll down. 

In line with Stern’s obsession over metal bands of the 70s and 80s, how about some Black Sabbath? Or Motley Crue—they have a virtual pinball table on the Sega Mega Drive; it’s time they got the real deal as well. There are many other musicians that deserve to get their own pinball table, but those are the ones we would really like to see.

Video Games


The final category is one that Stern hasn’t focused much on. The only tables that they have designed based on video games are Roller Coaster Tycoon and Big Buck Hunter. But why shouldn’t they? There are video games about pinball, so why not the other way around? Stern, it’s time to admit that the video game industry is one of the big boys in the entertainment biz now, and there are plenty of video game franchises to choose from. We think game series such as Halo, Fallout, Assassin’s Creed, Uncharted, and Bioshock have similar tones to Stern’s preferences in other categories.

Let’s just take Bioshock for an example. The underwater city of Rapture would make for some perfect ramps and trapdoors on the playfield. And rail systems could send the ball whizzing around like the player does in Bioshock Infinite. You could collect Big Daddy bonuses and have a game mode where you have to rescue all of the Little Sisters. It’s a perfect setup for a fun pinball game. Hopefully, Stern thinks so too and will make some interesting video game-themed tables for us soon.

So there you go—our wish list for future Stern tables. What do you want Stern to make next? Which one of our picks do you think will be the next Stern table? We’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.

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