After a couple of false starts, Stern Pinball officially announced their next release today, the ‘studio’ game Elvira’s House of Horrors.
Stern have opted to make this a ‘studio’ title rather than one of their own in-house ‘cornerstone’ games for a couple of reasons. First, the design of the game was by Dennis Nordman who was contracted to Stern for this project and then joined Deeproot Pinball to design games for them.
Stern Pinball’s press release describes the title as a joint production between Stern and Dennis’s & Greg Freres’s Whizbang Pinball, who worked with Stern to produce the Whoa Nellie! Big Juicy Melons game which was subsequently re-themed as The Pabst Can Crusher and Primus.
Secondly, Stern see this as a premium title appealing to the collector market in particular, and so have adopted the Batman 66 model of variants where the playfield is the same in all three versions but they step-up the range by dropping the Pro at the bottom end and adding a Signature Edition at the top.
The game was revealed as being in development back at the Texas Pinball Festival in March 2017, where Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) appeared alongside Dennis and Greg at the Spooky Pinball seminar.
Since then, there have been regular questions asked about why it was taking so long to bring the game to market. Releasing it around Halloween seemed like a sensible time, so maybe it took until 2019 for that late-September production slot to become available?
So, what of the game itself? Let’s begin with the Premium model which is the bottom of the range. Remember, all three models feature the same playfield design and features, as well as the same translite/backglass artwork.
So, the Premium model features the familiar black ‘wrinkle’ lock bar, side rails and legs with the game title used for the cabinet artwork. Elvira appears on the backbox sides in a design which is common across all three models, although the colour scheme changes for the Premium, with green text as opposed to the red text on the upper two variants.
Speaking of which, here’s the mid-range Limited Edition.
Blood red armour and custom side rails are the main external distinguishing features of the Limited Edition run of 400 machines, although the cabinet colours introduce a purple hue and there is an obvious audio upgrade in the backbox to add Kenwood speakers.
The backbox image is still a translite on this Limited Edition model. To get some real glass, you need to move up to the top-of-the-range Signature Edition.
Cosmetically, the cabinet and backbox artwork is identical to the Limited Edition. Where the Signature Edition shows its exclusivity is through the sparkle-finish body armour and the ‘hyper chrome’ embossed cabinet artwork, which will presumably be similar in depth and shine to the Batman 66 Super Limited Edition cabinet decals. It also gains rarity through the limited run of just 50 machines.
Where some of the intended added-value (and indeed the name) of the Signature Edition comes from, is the signed Elvira collector card mounted on the bottom apron.
It’s worth mentioning the other Signature Edition benefits for those 50 buyers who get this top-end model – a special certificate of authenticity and swatch of the red velvet material from Elvira’s sofa.
Is that enough to justify the price premium over and above the Limited Edition? It’s impossible to say at this stage as pricing of the Signature Edition is ‘on application’, while the Premium model’s suggested price is $7,999 and the Limited Edition goes for $9,599.
Turning to the playfield, Elvira’s House of Horrors is a two-flippered game with most of the ramps and toys pushed up towards the top of the single-level playfield. The lower part is a mass of coloured inserts indicating the shots and the many modes and features within the game.
If we compare this with the Limited Edition model, you will see the addition of art-blades along the inside of the cabinet.
As you can see, the artwork is more comic than photo-realistic, with Elvira’s likeness taking a back seat to illustrations of the Freak Fryer, Crypt Cleaner and movie processor devices.
On the left side of the playfield is the trunk, where players can lock balls for a two-ball multiball. This is in a similar position to the coffin in Scared Stiff, but balls are locked by completing the three 36-24-36 targets below the trunk and then shooting the left ramp.
The top of the trunk is hinged at the bottom so it can open up, allowing the ball to drop off the ramp and enter the trunk.
Balls are ejected out the front of the trunk. It’s a slight oddity that although there is a cutout for a rollover switch at the exit, it seems the ball is actually detected by a vertically-mounted opto pair, suggesting space under the playfield is tight.
The artwork suggests 36-24-36 might be a lock combination, but there is an obvious alternative explanation for using those particular numbers. Indeed, you can expect to find similar double-entendres popping up throughout the game.
Shooting those standup targets is one way to complete them, but there is a Crypt Kicker kickout on the opposite side of the playfield which also shoots the ball across the playfield and into the target bank.
Towards the top on the right is the Deadhead Family Crypt.
This is an ingenious device featuring an entry door with three possible states. The door can be fully closed, partially opened to reveal a Deadhead skull bash toy, or full open to accept balls inside the crypt.
The crypt is flanked by a pair of gargoyle leaper toys, which work just like the frog leapers on Scared Stiff, jumping into the air on a long rod when the target in front of them is struck.
Two more gargoyle leapers are found either side of the centre ramp which is also one of the entrances into the House of Horrors.
The House is the main toy in the game, having three possible entry points.
The first is up the centre ramp into the main part of the House.
The second way into the House is found when the centre ramp is raised to reveal a shot into the basement. It appears that the ramp really is motorised rather than being raised and lowered with a simple solenoid.
The third route into the house is through the lock lane to the left of the centre ramp. This is in a similar place to the castle lock in Medieval Madness, but has the added complication of a drop target in front to navigate first but benefits from no moat to catch any weaker shots.
The House of Horrors has a few tricks up its sleeve when it comes to where the ball ends up, thanks to a subway system below the playfield. It also has a rather fun rotating roof section above the centre ramp which has four possible positions, each with a different lit symbol. With Dennis spending his spare time building intricate and convoluted dolls houses, it’s no surprise this House of Horrors is no ordinary static model.
There is another area which is hidden from view most of the time, but it features the top of the orbit lane, two rollover lanes and three pop bumpers.
This is Elvira’s Hot Tub, where the Mistress of the Dark is joined by Deadheads and Gargoyles at the end of a long day’s haunting.
Here’s a look at all the features on the three different versions of Elvira’s House of Horrors. Remember that unlike a regular Stern ‘Cornerstone’ title, the playfield features are the same across all the three models.
Finally, here’s how Stern Pinball announced their latest title through their customary press release.
Stern Pinball Announces New Elvira’s House of Horrors Pinball Machines
CHICAGO, IL – September 18, 2019 – Stern Pinball, Inc., a global lifestyle brand based on the iconic and outrageously fun modern American game of pinball, announced today the availability of a new line of pinball machines celebrating the iconic character, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark! The game was developed in collaboration with the Whizbang Pinball Studio team of Greg Freres and Dennis Nordman. Greg and Dennis developed the first two Elvira games. Elvira’s House of Horrors pinball machines will be available in Premium, Limited Edition, and Signature Edition models.
The taunting is over and the haunting begins in the third and campiest installment of the Elvira pinball trilogy! Trying to sell her mansion through “Alternate Realty”, Elvira’s house is haunted by the movie characters from her past. These ghouls, ghosts, monsters, and strange assortment of vintage characters with horrific acting skills seek revenge on Elvira while she and the player confront them, sending them back to the “film” from which they came! Elvira’s House of Horrors immerses players in a fun, campy, B-movie universe filled with all of the humor expected from the Mistress of the Dark including custom speech and, in a pinball first, exclusive filming of Elvira for custom video scenes featured throughout the game!
The Premium, Limited Edition, and Signature Edition models all feature Elvira’s “House of Horrors”, a frightening Victorian fixer-upper, full of creepy charm and supernatural surprises. Players can gain access to the mansion through the front door, the cellar, or through the garage which is guarded by a gravestone drop-target. An orchestra of color changing RGB lights accentuates the house in sync with the different “House Haunts” featured throughout the game. Lighted windows and a spinning attic turret track players’ progression on their pinball journey.
If a haunted mansion wasn’t enough to keep your skin crawling, beware of the “Deadhead Family Crypt”! This mausoleum houses a variety of characters that need an awakening courtesy of a steel silver ball to their head. This interactive crypt will keep players on their toes with the Crypt entrance unleashing balls from a separate location while also becoming a physical bash toy. And with Elvira’s pending move from her hopeful home sale, the interactive Elvira’s “Junk in the Trunk” toy allows players to lock balls for a frantic two-ball multiball.
“It was a pleasure to work directly with the Mistress of the Dark on this third collaboration,” said Gary Stern, Chairman and CEO of Stern Pinball, Inc. “Elvira’s House of Horrors pinball is a haunting fun time!”
The Limited Edition model is limited to 400 units globally. The Limited Edition model includes additional unique features such as a sequentially numbered plaque, an exclusive mirrored backglass, exclusive custom themed cabinet artwork, a custom autographed bottom arch, exclusive custom art blades, anti-reflection pinball glass, and a shaker motor.
The highly collectible Signature Edition model is limited to 50 units globally. The Signature Edition model includes all features of the Limited Edition game, plus special hyper-chrome embossed cabinet decals, a personally autographed Elvira collectible trading card with cover and mounting, and a signed special Elvira certificate of authenticity that includes a swatch of fabric from Elvira’s iconic red velvet sofa.
Complementing the immersive theme and exciting gameplay experience, Stern Pinball’s powerful SPIKE electronics hardware system enables high-definition graphics and innovative animations on the video display. SPIKE reduces system complexity and energy usage resulting in enhanced reliability and simplified servicing. The state-of-the-art electronic system also powers a high-fidelity 3-channel audio system that is three times more powerful than audio systems of previous generations.
Pricing and Availability:
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price:
MSRP for sales to USA end-users, before any VAT, GST, Sales Tax, Duties, or other taxes.
Premium Model: $US 7,999
Limited Edition Model: $US 9,599
Signature Edition Model: CALL FOR PRICE
Elvira’s House of Horrors pinball machines are available through authorized Stern Pinball distributors and dealers around the world.
About Stern Pinball, Inc. Stern Pinball, Inc. is a global lifestyle brand based on the iconic and outrageously fun modern American game of pinball. Headquartered minutes from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in the heart of North America, the company creates, designs, engineers, manufactures, markets, and distributes a full line of technologically advanced terrestrial and digital pinball games, parts, accessories, and merchandise. Stern Pinball serves digital, consumer, commercial, and corporate markets around the globe.
Recent Stern Pinball titles include Jurassic Park, Black Knight: Sword of Rage, The Munsters, The Beatles, Deadpool, Iron Maiden, Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Wars, Aerosmith, Ghostbusters, KISS, Metallica, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Star Trek, AC/DC, Batman, and Spider-Man. A broad range of players enjoy Stern Pinball’s games from professional pinball players who compete in high-stakes competitions around the globe to novice players who are discovering the allure of the silver ball for the first time. To join the fun and learn more, please visit www.sternpinball.com.