Yet in a 21st century twist, players follow the story — and their score — on a 26-inch LCD screen. The playing field brightens with colorful LED lights. A crystal ball displays 31 different videos.
“You’re basically telling a story through game-playing,” says Jack Guarnieri, president and CEO of Jersey Jack Pinball Inc. “You’ve got to get Dorothy home.”
Jersey Jack Pinball is rolling out its “Wizard of Oz” game, a painstakingly built pinball machine that is turning heads as fast as Dorothy’s house spins with a perfectly played shot.
It combines newfangled technology with an old-school game in a way that industry observers say could win back consumers who left pinball machines for video games at home and arcade games that offer redemption prizes.
By way of proof: Guarnieri started the Lakewood business in 2011 without the help of bankers, instead depending on pre-orders from customers to raise the $2 million he needed to get started. Two years later, the company is on pace for annual sales of $8 million.
The “Wizard of Oz” game is front and center at the Silver Ball Museum in Asbury Park, which offers visitors the chance to play dozens of pinball machines, some of which date to the 1930s.
Fedak Arashi, 19, a camp counselor from Middlesex supervising a field trip to Silver Ball last week, took aim at the record 136,461 points set by someone named Jim S. He didn’t come close to the record.
Arashi said he was neither a fan of “The Wizard of Oz” nor pinball. But he walked away with what sounded like new-found respect.
“It’s a pretty good pinball machine,” he said. “I give it two thumbs up.”
Jersey Jack Pinball employs about 50 workers at its 42,000-square-foot headquarters in an industrial park in Ocean County and at a smaller office in Arlington Heights, Ill.
It has given New Jersey a manufacturing company that — aside from the high-definition screens and digital stereo sound systems — is decidedly low-tech.
Workers have as many as 5,000 parts to assemble for the finished product. They make 10 machines a day, five days a week. And it’s tough to envision much room for automation.
Even with a six- to nine-month wait, sales have been brisk. The company sells a standard pinball machine for $7,000 and a limited edition pinball machine — one with emerald-colored rails, legs and wire ramps and a glass top that doesn’t reflect light — for $10,000. Guarnieri pulled up a photo on his iPad of musician Slash, standing in front of his new “Wizard of Oz” pinball machine.
Read more via thedailyjournal