Stern Pinball’s LOTR Game
Stern Pinball – “the only coin-op pinball manufacturer on the planet!” – produced the LOTR arcade pinball game in 2003. This machine incorporates visual and storyline features each of the films in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. They created a limited edition version (150 units) and a regular version (as of 2010, I have not found information on the quantity made for the regular version).
Below are images of the advertising brochure for this pinball machine, and the cover of the manual. The manual includes all kinds of technical details and schematics, and shows how each sector of the machine works. The flyer is not particularly rare, and it usually lists on eBay for a few dollars. The manual is harder to find, and usually lists for around $10.
Pin Game Journal
Here are images of the front and back cover from Pin Game Journal (#102, January 2004), which features an article on the Lord of the Rings pinball machine. Note on the back the photo of translight artist Jerry VanderStelt. See the link on the Stern website below for the image of the translite. At this point, issue #102 is out of print, according to the Pin Game Journal back issues page. I have seen this magazine appear on eBay rarely, and so do not have an estimate of current value.
Stern Pinball Website
Stern’s main LOTR page overviews the goal and gameplay for this particular unit. The description includes excerpts from the official press release, an image of the translite (backglass artwork), and a side-shot image of the cabinet art. There is also information on New Line Cinema.
This page gives details of the machine’s dimensions, both boxed and unboxed. It also contains links to several images and downloads:
- Product Details (1 page PDF).
- Backglass (image of Translite Artwork).
- Game Details (image of the playfield, with additional graphics and descriptions of specific areas/shots). This page also includes a link to a Playfield Shot Map (initial shows as an html image, but in upper left corner is a link for a 2-page PDF version of the Playfield Shot Map).
- Instruction Card (10 page PDF, with a separate page of instructions in each of five languages – English, French, German, Italian, Spanish – and another separate page in each language for printing smaller versions of the instruction card three to a sheet).
- Details on Service Game Manual on CD-R (available through local distributors).
- Information on Optional ToPS Kit (ToPS stands for “Tournament Pinball System”).
As of 2010, the flyer, paper version of the manual, and various parts/kits for the Stern Pinball show up on eBay regularly. Occasionally, someone sells one of the machines. Less often, the backglass/translite shows up on auction. It is particularly worth taking a look at, as the artwork on it (and the cabinet) was done by Jerry VanderStelt, who has produced numerous other high-end, official lithographs for the LOTR trilogy.
BMI Gaming Press Release. Contains the October 20, 2003, press release from Stern, along with 25 photos of the pinball machine and people playing the game, taken October 21, 2003. This site also contains a video of the pinball machine in action (1 minute 39 seconds). (See below for link to the same video on YouTube.)
BMI Gaming Stock Status and Stern Pinball Catalog. These pages are essential the same content. Both give a description of the game, an angled side view of the entire machine, purchase information, and several links. Most of the links are for the original LOTR machine, not the “limited edition” version, which had only 150 manufactured.
- YouTube Lord of the Rings Pinball Machine video (1:39). Check the YouTube search for additional videos of the LOTR pinball in action – such as Lord of the Ring Visual Pinball (2:55).
- Lord of the Rings Pinball Machine Flyer (2-page PDF).
- Detailed Machine Dimensions (image with key measurements shown).
Main Pinball News LOTR page. This contains links to:
- Comprehensive Review of the LOTR Game. This page gives an incredibly detailed, technical flow-through account of various action areas in the machine, along with 23 close-up photos showing each area.
- Stern Pinball’s Announcement of the Game. Three photos and the key parts of Stern Pinball’s official press release about the LOTR game.
- Detailed Pictures. Two detailed photos of the pinball, one from above showing the entire playfield, and one an angle-shot of the cabinet and playfield from the left-hand side.
- Site Pictures of the Game. Contains 15 photos from a test site in Chicago, 4 of the pinball cabinet and 11 of the playfield.