The Big Lebowski Pinball Machine: The Ultimate Resource

Posted by Scott 08 JUNE 2015

Update 20th October 2015

There is good and bad news to unveil. This update is going to be short and sharp. The bad news is that The Big Lebowski  doesn't have the license for the official music. The problem was that the master version was only allowed to be played in full, as in the 3-4 minute movie-clip. This obviously isn't practical for a pinball machine so unforetunately it won't have the official music. We are certain the guys at Dutch Pinball will still do a fantastic job from it though. It does have the official clips and it looks fantastic on the LCD screen. This is a real added value to the machine, high quality clips to enjoy whilst playing!

Dutch Pinball have also sent us some images of their prototype vs pre-production machine. The increase in quality and strcture of the inside of the machine is incredible. The there is no pinball machine for sale yet. We still don't have an official release date but we sense it isn't far away now. Images below of the before and after pictures.

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It’s official—pinball is making a comeback. This year, Dutch Pinball will be releasing their very first pinball machine and joining the ranks of the new wave of pinball manufacturers, which currently includes Stern Pinball (founded in 1999) and Jersey Jack Pinball (who released their first machine, The Wizard of Oz, in 2013). As the people at Dutch Pinball themselves put it, “We didn’t invest in a production line for just one theme.”

These are exciting times for pinball enthusiasts!

Dutch Pinball will be releasing The Big Lebowski sometime in the third quarter of this year (between July and September). They have been working on the machine since 2012. In 2013, they released their first teaser trailer for the table, and the first playable prototypes were showcased at this past year’s Pinball Expo in October. Up until recently, the table was scheduled for release in the second quarter of 2015, rumors going around that June would be the month. However, it looks like it has been moved back to the third quarter, according to the official website. Videos of the Big Lebowski are at the bottom of this article if you want to skip over the text and see it in action!

Regardless of when it comes out this year, rest assured that Home Leisure Direct will have The Big Lebowski machines in stock and ready for you. We’re just as excited as you are for this epic-looking table.

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“Launch the ball and enter the world of The Dude.” That’s how the table is introduced on the official website, and it’s not kidding. Astoundingly, Dutch Pinball incorporates the soundtrack and audio clips from the movie because they were able to sign a worldwide exclusive licensing agreement with Universal Studios. Those who were fortunate enough to play the prototype machines—making appearances at several pinball events, not just at the Pinball Expo—were overcome with nostalgic bliss as the movie’s quotes and rocking soundtrack blasted from the pinball machine. With songs like Bob Dylan’s “The Man in Me,” the Gypsy Kings’ cover of “Hotel California,” and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” how could you not enjoy the audio experience from this brand new pin game?

An important feature to take note of is the “adult language” that remains present in the movie quotes. This was a tricky decision for the manufacturer because on the one hand, Dutch Pinball wants to reach out to a wide public audience, but on the other hand, they want to stay true to the spirit of the movie. Fortunately, parental controls are an available option for when the kiddies play. In fact, all tables will start up in Family Mode as default, but this can easily be switched over to Normal Mode by whomever owns the machine. Family Mode is an important addition, as it allows for the table to be displayed in child-friendly, public environments such as arcades and bowling alleys. 

Speaking of bowling, true to the movie, this game has a Brunswick bowling alley built right into the machine as the subplayfield! When the ball enters this area, the player tries to roll the ball into ten miniature bowling pins for either a strike or spare (or neither, if you’re bad at bowling). The bowling game actually goes through ten frames of play! Obviously, you won’t be playing through all ten frames at once—this isn’t a bowling game, it’s a pin game—but it’s a really cool pinball toy.

Big Lebowski Parts

That’s not the only toy on the playing field either. On the main playfield, the center lane has a rug—yes, THE rug—that gets rolled back every time you crash the ball into it. The rug eventually rolls back far enough for the player to drop the ball into the hidden hole and start one of three rug modes.

Another iconic item from the movie, a life-sized model of The Dude’s favorite cocktail, the White Russian, sits on the right side of the table and looks really impressive, especially when it lights up.

The final toy can be found on the table’s upper playfield. When activated, a toy car modeled after The Dude’s Torino comes out in the open for the player to bash the ball into it for big points (and hilarious sound clips).

The overall art and presentation of the machine are fantastic as well. The cult classic film came out in 1998 and is definitely worthy of the pinball treatment. However, it hasn’t received the love it has deserved for the past seventeen years! Fortunately, the hand-drawn art style and dot-matrix screen on the backglass pay tribute to the 90s style that was prevalent back when the film came out, so it’s easy to imagine this table coming out back then; it would fit right in with the rest of the 90s tables. 

That is not to say that The Big Lebowski looks or feels dated; far from it. This is a tremendous first effort by a brand new pinball manufacturer that dazzles the player’s senses with retro pizzazz and film fanfare. The attract mode is especially lovely with its captivating patterns of blinking lights. Another nice little touch is when the screen displays a White Russian almost sloshing out of the glass when the table issues a tilt warning.

The three rug modes have already been mentioned, but what else will this table offer? Well, obviously there will be multiball and tournament mode and wizard mode (aptly titled “The Dude Abides”). But beyond those, Dutch Pinball wants to incorporate a unique theme where the player “becomes” one of three characters. The player will need to unlock three character modes based on the three main characters—The Dude (aka Jeffrey Lebowski), Walter, and Donny. There are also two car modes, a “Mark it Zero” bonus to collect, and many other features, including some Easter eggs not yet known at this time.

The Big Lebowski pinball game is set to retail at $8,500 (a little more than £5,560), plus taxes and any other fees that apply. You can keep updated on new announcements concerning the machine’s progress by checking out Dutch Pinball’s Facebook page or their website. Home Leisure Direct will be sure to let you know when we get the machines in stock as well. We can’t wait for the chance to immerse ourselves in The Dude’s story all over again. We hope you are just as excited as us. If not…yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

Big Lebowski Parts

The Most Recent Developments

In a recent Q&A session with the good people at Pinside, Dutch Pinball shared the latest developments in the overall progress of The Big Lebowski Pinball production. Here are the further details they had to share:

As of May 2015, 100% of the artwork, including the translite/backglass artwork, has been approved. The same is true for the playfields’ design and layout. Dutch Pinball will continue to use High Class Pinballs’ services to produce the playfields. The Germany-based company handled the prototype tables’ playfields last year, and Dutch Pinball has been satisfied with their work so far. The playfields will be made of extra hard wood and given three layers of clear coat to guarantee the playfields’ durability.

In fact, durability was the main focus in this Q&A session. Dutch Pinball wanted to make it clear that they will ship The Big Lebowski pinball tables in 100% working order with a complete code and the inclusion of all intended game modes and features. They have promised that their customers will get the full product upon initial release instead of only half of a working table with future updates required later on. So if you ordered a Big Lebowski pinball table, you will be getting the full game. No half-baked releases here. That’s Dutch Pinball’s promise to their customers. Right now, they are doing everything possible to make sure that they stay true to that promise. They have checked and re-checked all hardware to ensure that it is in working order at all times.

They gave some specific examples of that process, such as the rug toy which has been modified from the original prototype model. The changes made were based on the malfunctions that occurred in the prototype tables. The new-and-improved version has been tested with over 100,000 ball collisions, and it works perfectly. Changes were also made to the subplayfield bowling alley in order to prevent the various errors the team noticed in the prototype models. Now, the bowling alley’s design is 100% complete and approved. But just in case the rug or bowling alley or one of the other complicated mechanisms breaks down, every table shipped will include spare parts. As the team stated, “We will not ship games if we are not confident they will last for a long time without major hardware issues. Of course, this is really hard to guarantee, because—although we tested the games a lot—it’s always possible to have some unforeseen bug or ball hang-up we’ve never experienced before.” But Dutch Pinball is doing their best to catch all errors and malfunctions prior to release.

Like with the rug toy and the bowling alley, Dutch Pinball has learned a lot from their experiences with the prototype tables, and they have said how glad they were to have produced no less than five prototypes because each table presented different problems in the overall design of the game. Because of how the prototype tables handled, the team was able to fix many smaller problems. 

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So now, the ball guides have been improved so that the ball is exactly where it should be at all times, the car’s entrance and exit from the playfield is smooth and flawless, and the ball’s release in the bowling alley has been tweaked. Dutch Pinball also mentioned that they made other significant, non-visual changes that won’t mean anything for the player but have had positive effects on the expenses and time invested in the production of their machine. One specific example that they shared was the mini-playfield—in the past, it was a very complicated, time-consuming part of the table to set up, but now, it is much more streamlined.

Really, the only part still left for the team to handle is the coding. The code of the finished product will be much different from the prototypes’ code, which was never intended as the finished programming. The team is pouring countless hours into working out all the bugs and kinks in the code before shipment. They have based many of their changes on what they learned when coding for Bride of Pinbot 2.0. The final version of the code may have a few problems discovered later on, so there might be some small updates post-release, but nothing major.

At present, Dutch Pinball is in the middle of the process of ordering parts and finalising approval for all audio and movie clips. The team has declared these two processes as the primary reasons behind the release date being delayed until the third quarter of 2015—they are taking longer to complete than originally expected.

These delays do not mean that there is a problem, however. Even though there has been some controversial speculation over whether Dutch Pinball has run into some licensing problems with Universal Studios, the truth is that Dutch Pinball secured the licensing rights back in 2013 and nothing has changed since then. However, they still need to receive the official approval from the actors and other people who take interest in each audio and movie clip. All of that paperwork takes time, as you can imagine.

As for the actual shipment of the pin games, no word yet on an official release date, but Dutch Pinball has stated their intention to ship all pre-ordered tables before the end of 2015. For those in the UK and in the rest of Europe, that means a policy of first-come, first-serve. However, it will be a little different for American buyers. They will have to wait for containers, which hold up to 30 machines, to fill up before being shipped to local distributors. 

Poor Americans. Lucky us.

If you wish to see the full Q&A document, complete with an early rules logic diagram of the game, click on this link. Home Leisure Direct will keep you informed if we hear of any other developments between now and The Big Lebowski Pinball’s release date. Until then, we can hardly wait to spend some quality time with The Dude.

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