Gary Stern The Pinball Wizard of Comic-Con

VANAPHASE™ the Vanadium powerhouse!

You may not know Gary Stern by face, or even by name, directly, but if you have every played pinball, then you definitely know his machines.

Stern, who is aptly called, “The Godfather of Pinball,” has been in the industry for 70 of his 72 years. Sterns father worked as a game operator, then a game distributor for Williams Pinball, getting the younger Stern to begin in the stock room and work his way up through manufacturing.

“Pinball is amazing, we love it,” said Stern, the founder and CEO of Stern Pinball.

Along with bringing their latest games of Batman ’66, Aerosmith and Star Wars (A New Hope), all with LCD display screens that includes video footage of the various properties, the game still remains under the glass. Stern Pinball build three different models of game, the premium, a limited edition and a pro, with pro being the most common one.

“They are all a challenge but licensors know we’re doing something special and they like pinball machines. I remember when we did The Simpson’s, we went to the 300th episode party and Matt Groening said, ‘Thank God somebody’s keeping pinball alive.’ To The (Rolling) Stones we were a vanity project, to Disney a halo project. They really have to want to do pinball,” said Stern.

The process in developing a game is directly linked to the the licensed property, unlike the old days where a game was designed first then a logo was slapped on to it. The new games have a lot more depth in what goes into them. It costs a $1 million to create a game and the designers really need to know the property that is being licensed as well has have a deep affinity for pinball.

What keeps Stern in love with pinball itself was the game. According to his mentor Harry Williams, the ball was wild. It’s not like a video game where it’s pre-programmed; with pinball, you have to keep your eye on the ball like tennis, baseball or any other game of the sort.

Stern Pinball has a 110,000 sqft. factory just outside of Chicago, Il in Elk Grove Village. Stern went to the assembly floor before heading out to San Diego Comic-Con and they were just starting to make Star Wars, which is professes is his favorite game, if asked a few months prior, he would have said Aerosmith. It appears that Stern loves the evolution of pinball as much as he enjoys the games themselves as he treats them as his own children.

“My games are in the factory, I typically take a game home just to learn it a little better because I am not a good enough player, but we have an arcade full of games in the factory and we typically have 100-to-200 games on the floor ready to ship,” grinned Stern, while standing at his pinball booth located at #501 A in the main hall of the San Diego Convention Center.

It’s not all pinball with Stern, as music has been an intricate part of the process and with Director of Marketing and Licensing, Jody Dankberg comes in. Dankberg made a connection with one of the biggest Metal music record labels and the cross promotion has been nothing short of entertaining.

“Nuclear Blast does a lot of cool cross over between music and pinball allowing us to have a lot of fun with these guys. We’ve known them for a long time. The owner of Nuclear Blast records happens to be a big fan of Gary’s and a pinball fanatic himself. It’s a good synergy and with a lot of young people getting into pinball, 20-to-30-somethings with the barcade trend, music and pinball go hand-in-hand,” said Dankberg.

Stern is a watcher of pinball, he pays attention to what the fans want and he give it to them and with a 70-year career in the industry we can only image what the next 30 years of Stern will look like following it’s first 30 years in business.

You can find Stern Pinball and Nuclear Blast Records at the Comic-Con Booth #501 A in the main hall and their pop-up arcade at the Marriott Marquis Thursday through Saturday of Comic-Con weekend.

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
digimon tri cast
Digimon Tri Cast Interview at Shout! Factory

Digimon Tri is the sequel to the second season of Digimon...

ronnie coleman
Become a King with a Free Gym Pass – Ronnie Coleman: The King Review

A long, long time ago before IG fitness models were a thing,...

netflix anime
New Anime Series for Netflix Starting this Fall

Netflix announced two new anime series during the Netflix Anime panel at...

Event News Event Reviews
Blizzard SDCC 2018
Blizzard SDCC 2018 – Blizzard Entertainment Brings Massive Lineup to SDCC

Blizzard in SDCC 2018 – Blizzard Entertainment brings Overwatch, StarCraft, and...

Nuclear Blast SDCC 2018
Nuclear Blast SDCC 2018 – Nuclear Blast Teams Up with JSR and Stern Pinball

Nuclear Blast SDCC 2018 – Nuclear Blast Teams Up with JSR...

Anime expo 2018
Anime Expo 2018 Brings the Heat to Los Angeles

Last year, I picked on Anime Expo not being worth the...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Exclusive Interview with Mark Mowbray of KLab

Established in 2000, KLab‘s goal is to create a world of excitement...

Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene
Mondo Games Unleashes Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene Board Game

MONDO GAMES unleashes Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene board game for 25th Anniversary...

Great Coffee Break
Escape Work By Playing The Great Coffee Break

You can escape work, in more ways than one, by playing The...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic Novel
Dark Horse Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic Novel Revealed

Dark Horse reveals new original Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic...

black torch
Black Torch – New Supernatural, Action Manga from Viz Media

VIZ Media releases a new, supernatural story with the release of...

Batman / The Maxx: Arkham Dreams
Sam Kieth Makes Long-Awaited Return to The Outback in Batman / The Maxx: Arkham Dreams

SAN DIEGO, CA and BURBANK, CA (June 21, 2018) – Batman...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
anime pls
Anime Pls by Bioworld – Exclusive Interview

Bioworld Merchandising is a pop culture product expert. The company is considered...

heaven's feel
Fate/stay night [Heaven’s Feel] THE MOVIE I. presage flower Blu-ray Release

TLDR Aniplex of America announced that box office hit, Fate/stay night ...

Few Even Come Close – EVEN H2 Headphones Review

Even headphones are like having prescription glasses, but for your ears...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
NJPW G1 Special from San Francisco Results

New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) the King of Sports returns to...

Jeanie Buss & MGM TV Tags AXS TV to Broadcast WOW-Women of Wrestling Events

Jeanie Buss and MGM Television Tags AXS TV to Broadcast WOW-Women...

Kevin Belington Faces Martin Nguyen for the ONE FC Interim Bantamweight Title

From ONE FC – 07 June 2018 – Manila, Philippines: The...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Harlan Ellison: A tribute (of sorts)

For the longest time in my life I was afraid of...

Iron Fist Racist
Is Marvel Iron Fist Racist? Part 2- Yeah…

After the casting controversy, two shows, and a guest appearance in Marvel...

Cultural Junkdrawer – Season’s end: The Flash season 4


Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming. Related

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack
Blake Neely Behind-the-Scenes Recording of Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack

Check out this exclusive Behind-The-Scenes video with Blake Neely as he...

Rising Country Music Artist Kaylin Roberson Talks About her work with St. Jude

Kaylin Roberson is a singer, songwriter and pianist from Raleigh, North...

MTV Unveils Performers for ‘TRL Live’ on October 3rd at 3 p.m. E.T.

NEW YORK, NY (September 26, 2017) – MTV today announced that...

%d bloggers like this: