LAKEWOOD, NJ -- "We are close." So says Jack Guarnieri about the launch of his eagerly awaited The Wizard of Oz pinball machine.
Nearly complete machines have been making appearances around the country. In San Rafael, CA, at the recent Pacific Pinball Expo, the WOZ pin game was set on free play, attracting a waiting line of 50 people or more at times, reported Guarnieri.
PHOTO: Kids and grownups line up to have their turn at The Wizard of Oz pin game during recent Pacific Pinball Expo in California. (Photo by Martin Ayub of Pinball News)
"It was amazing to see everyone's reactions and hear their feedback," the pinball manufacturer said. "The game was played for 11 hours straight." The Wizard of Oz game won Pacific Pinball Expo's Overall Best of Show award. | SEE PINBALL NEWS
Next week, the new pinball machine makes a stop at New York Comic Con in midtown Manhattan. New York Comic Con, the East Coast's biggest pop culture convention, takes place at the Javits Center from Oct. 11 to 14. Last year's show drew more than 105,000 pop-culture adventure seekers. Two WOZ pinballs will be on display in booth 1683.
Before production models begin shipping in December, The Wizard of Oz machine will make a final prelaunch showing at mid-November's IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando, FL.
The Wizard of Oz pinball machine is manufactured by Jersey Jack Pinball Inc., based in Lakewood, NJ. The company was established in early 2011 by Guarnieri, a coin-op veteran who began his career in the 1970s repairing electromechanical pinball machines. Jersey Jack Pinball has a team of designers and support staff charged with reviving the craftsmanship and artistry of the classic flipper game. It also has a growing distribution network; PinballSTAR Amusements is the latest to become a factory-authorized reseller.
If it happens, the official WOZ rollout in December will occur almost a year later than the originally planned launch date. But that first production run, which will consist of 1,000 limited-edition Emerald City models, has been presold; a small number of limited editions will be available through distributors, and a run of standard WOZ models is expected to follow.
So far, $2 million has been invested in the Jersey Jack Pinball project, which is attempting to revive one of America's last cottage industries. "I don't know the last time a company, which started with nothing, spent that much developing a product for our industry," Guarnieri told VT.