Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Before I get into this review of Playboy, I just want to give you a warning that this table has ladies in various states of undress. This review is ADULTS ONLY and NOT SAFE FOR WORK!

Playboy has seen many iterations throughout the history of pinball. The Playboy bunny first emerged on an early solid-state table by Bally in 1978.
 Data East obtained the license in 1989, releasing a Playboy-themed table for the magazine's 35th anniversary. Stern was the latest manufacturer to release a Playboy table, their version having come out in 2002. Stern's Playboy will the table of choice for this review as I have found one in Leslieville at a great local bar, Stratengers!
Playboy is a highlight of Stern's early years. Released in January of 2002, Playboy was the creation of George Gomez. This was Gomez' first title with Stern and is a great example of the simple yet engaging pinball tables that he would go on to release under the Stern Pinball banner.
Playboy has a soft spot with me; I first found out about this table during my days in Oshawa after I had returned from school. My brother Shane and I were beginning to make regular rounds at our local bowling alley, Leisure Lanes. One fateful night, we had our first encounter with the legend MJB! I'll keep the story short for MJB as that is for another post but we spoke with him for a little while and asked if he knew of any other places in Oshawa that had pinball. He told us that there was a bar called Stag's Head in the downtown area that had Playboy but he preferred Leisure Lanes because the tall boys were cheaper. Undeterred by the price of beer, Shane and I headed over to Stag's Head and discovered Playboy! That summer, Stag's Head became a local hangout for me and the gang, spending a lot of time and money playing Playboy and trying to steal the Playboy Champion marquee from MJB!

Fast forward a few years later to 2014, I heard rumor that the fabled Queen St East was home to several machines! Living on the west-end in St. Clair West, Queen St East is pretty much Timbuktu to me though one day I did find an opportunity to head out to the neighbourhood of Leslieville and to the bar Stratengers in hopes of putting a few games in on their Playboy machine. I certainly was not disappointed; I discovered that not only did they have a Playboy table but a refurbished table outfitted with LEDs!
Here is a neat little tidbit about the Playboy table; Stern released the table with three different settings: Clothed, Non-Nude, and Nude. Gomez mentioned in his interview on TOPCast that the factory-recommended setting for Playboy is Nude! The table at Stratengers had the Non-Nude settings, though the girl's outfits left little to the imagination...
Now, before I get into the nitty-gritty of this review, I'm just going to warn you again. There will definitely be some pictures of scantily-clad women, not fully nude, mind you, but pretty close to. If that's not your thing, you find it offensive, you're at work, whatever, then here is the chance to turn back! Jump the cut and it's boob country...

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


I have good memories of Stern's AC/DC. I wouldn't exactly say fond memories but it was the first Stern table that I got to play when it was a new release. Back in 2011, when the ball really started rolling on my pinball obsession, I was playing a lot of older Stern tables, like Iron Man and Pirates of The Caribbean. When I moved to Toronto in 2012 and the Pinball Cafe opened, AC/DC was the first modern table to enter the Cafe. Previously, the owner's mandate was to only have EM's and early solid-states but when AC/DC was released, it was too tempting not to bring it in, thus opening the floodgates for many more modern tables to appear at the Cafe. I remember when AC/DC first hit the floor, it made its presence known by being the loudest and gaudiest table among a couple of mild-mannered tables from the 20th century. Once more modern tables came onto the floor of the Pinball Cafe, AC/DC eventually left the building but popped up occasionally throughout the city, its latest location being at Boo Radley's in the Junction. I wasn't the biggest fan of AC/DC when it first arrived at the Cafe back in February 2012; the game was infamous for having unfinished code at release and felt quite incomplete. AC/DC is also notorious for it's difficulty and perhaps my skills were not up to par back then. But here we are in 2014, AC/DC has received quite a few code updates, my skills have been sharpened and my opinion of this old rock 'n' roll table have changed quite a bit.
AC/DC's difficulty has become legendary among the pinball community. I have spoken previously of difficult tables like Stern's latest release The Walking Dead, but AC/DC takes the cake for Stern's hardest table of the 2010's so far. Steve Ritchie is the designer of AC/DC and opted for a classic playfield with the dual ramps and simplistic layout that Ritchie is known for. The table plays really fast and is packed with risky shots which makes for a hella dangerous combination.