The Walking Dead television show is getting a pinball machine, Stern Pinball told Polygon today.
The machine will be based on the AMC television show and feature a playfield based on the overarching struggle of a group of survivors pitted against a world turned zombie.
The pro version of the game, which sells for $5,995, includes zombie bash toys and some familiar locations, like Cell Block C. The limited edition version of the machine, which sells for $8,595, will also include tiny toys based on designs from the show, like a bicycle girl and a fish tank with an illuminated zombie head. Most impressive though is the way players will shoot the ball in the limited edition version.
"A giant crossbow comes out of the front of the machine, it literally slides out, and you can fire pinballs anywhere on the field," said Jody Dankberg, Stern's director of marketing and licensing. "It's going to be a really fantastic looking and playing game.
"It has some really cool toys on it."
Dankberg said the tiny toys on the table were created with the help of Gregory Nicotero, a special effects creator whose work has appeared in The Walking Dead, Predators and the original Day of the Dead.
"He's a master sculptor," Dankberg said. "He did all of the toys for us."
John Borg, the machine designer and technician behind classic pinballs like Star Wars, Guns N' Roses and Twister, is doing the design for the table and Lyman Sheats, a programmer whose work includes Tommy Pinball Wizard, Medieval Madness and AC/DC, is in charge of programming.
"It will feature familiar scenes and familiar characters from the show," Dankberg said. It won't include any voice work from the actors, he added.
The Walking Dead pinball is one of six machines Stern Pinball has planned through 2015, Dankberg said.
"We are in the middle of a pinball renaissance right now," he said. "We came in about five years ago, near the end of 2009, with a group of venture capitalists to help turn the company around along with some of the founders. Things have grown drastically since then.
"When I walked into the factory five years ago it was dead silence. Now we create 250 to 350 machines a day."
Dankberg called the creation of hand-made pinball tables a "fascinating symphony of talent."
Over the years, the drop in widespread pinball sales lead to a shift in what sort of machines were created. Nowadays it's unlikely for a pinball creator to make a machine not based on a licensed product.
"We can't afford to really have a big miss," Dankberg said. "They need to be based on an A+ title that is recognized here and around the world.
"If we tell someone we have a pinball about guys flying around in space, they'll tell us to send them two. If we say have have a Star Trek pinball, they'll say send us 80."
Like all of their machines, Stern's The Walking Dead pinball required a designer to create a barebones version of the game, free of paint and decorations, just to see how the game shoots and the parts fit together. Then they'll have to add speech, music, light shows, rules and logistics.
"They have to figure out what is fun. How do you make it fun for a guy who is a novice but also fun for a tournament player," he said. "It's a delicate balance. Like creating a giant Rube Goldberg machine."