JJP’s Wizard of Oz pinball is home!
Two and a half years later, the dream has become reality.
Posted by Daniel Tonks on July 16, 2013 at 8:06 AM
Pinplay Photo #1
Back on January 1st, 2011, industry veteran and PinballSales.com owner Jack Guarnieri shocked both the pinball and arcade worlds by announcing the formation of Jersey Jack Pinball on the Spooky Pinball podcast. In this announcement, he revealed that his new venture – which was quickly abbreviated to JJP – would design and manufacture full-sized coin-op pinball machines in an industry that has been dominated for the past decade by a solitary player, and was in visible decline. On top of this, Jack had no plans to uproot and move to the pinball capital of the world (AKA Chicago, Illinois), and would instead build his games in Lakewood, New Jersey. Where? Exactly!

For years, much of the general public has been under the impression that pinball was all but dead – an image bolstered by nostalgic news articles glorifying the heyday of pinball... and then, almost like an afterthought, briefly mentioning that these olden-time games are, in fact, still being made. Industry veterans rightfully called Jack crazy for wanting to jump into that kind of situation head first!

Pinplay Photo #9
But as someone seemingly driven by an irrationally optimistic desire to prove that the game of pinball could not only survive but indeed thrive in this modern world of iPhones and Xbox, Jack didn’t plan to start off small and see how it went. No, his first project would be the Emerald City Limited Edition Wizard of Oz, a super-deluxe pinball he promised would be loaded with mechanical features and built like no other game ever produced. And, of course, priced to match! Pinball collectors everywhere salivated at the previously unthinkable notion of there once again being a second pinball manufacturer – something once discussed only in wistful “if I won the lottery”-type threads on RGP (the Rec.Games.Pinball newsgroup).

Then, after an overwhelmingly positive response to the announcement, on the afternoon of January 9th Jack opened his website to preorders for his upcoming limited edition “WOZ” game. Preorders were done not only as a way to allow buyers to secure a place in line, but also to gauge market interest – was there really enough desire for a premium pinball to make the project worthwhile?

Early the next morning, I excitedly joined the growing numbers by sending in my deposit along with a little note that read as follows:

“Well Jack, I know nothing about it yet, but I may as well get in line and hope you create something amazing!”

At the time, we really did know next to nothing about what was being ordered. There was only a company that barely existed... a theme... a few recognizable industry names attached to the project (but nowhere near what’s attached now)... and a promise to build something special. More cautious individuals (some might say, more sane) would’ve raised an eyebrow in amusement and moved on. But for many unhappy with the current state of things, the idea of supporting someone with the guts to do what had only been dreamed about was simply too appealing to pass up.

The Day Finally Arrives
Fast-forward exactly two and a half years later – and that’s admittedly a heck of a lot of fast-forwarding to do, especially when the earliest estimates pegged game delivery by Christmas 2011 – and last week on July 10th, 2013, I received official notification from JJP that my finished game had left and was beginning the not-so-long journey by truck from Lakewood, New Jersey, to the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada.

Pinplay Photo #2
After suffering this past weekend with my game sitting in a terminal only a half hour away, it ultimately arrived yesterday morning. Supposedly, the very first direct residential delivery by JJP to Canada (although a few who ordered through the Canadian JJP distributor, Starburst, have already received games through them). I’m honestly finding it hard to believe it’s actually here! The project has taken so long to get from podcast promise to playable pinball, and I’ve been so involved with following the project’s ups and downs along the way, that it’s reached a kind of mythical status... and as I witnessed the box coming off the truck, I got the same kind of disconnected feeling as a dream.

Is it really here? Truly? My precious... (whoops, that JJP game isn’t coming until 2014!)

Although I haven’t yet had a chance to unpack my latest and greatest acquisition, it and its rather substantial 350 pound bulk now sits comfortably in my garage, waiting for me to clear space indoors. Here’s a few obligatory box photos!

Pinplay Photo #3
Pinplay Photo #4
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Pinplay Photo #8

Finally, a quick word about Pinplay – a new site residing on a domain I registered not long after first getting into the hobby. For years it’s sat idle and unused, but no longer! I hope to turn Pinplay into a useful and informative pinball blog, covering not only my experiences with JJP’s WOZ, but also the other games in my collection as well as everything else that catches my interest. Reviews, photos, videos and more – stay tuned!

As a note, this site is running on my own custom software that was still being written as recently as this morning. So, if you spot any glitches, errors or something that just doesn’t look right, please take the time to notify me!

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