Parenting Vs. Excitement for New Pinball

One of the great struggles I deal with on a daily basis is that my kid is 6 years old.  It’s not her behavior, attitude, school-work, or anything like that.  It’s that she’s becoming so much fun to hang out with that I want to start sharing some of my favorite cartoons/movies/books from my youth but…

She’s at an age where she roles her eyes when I make bad puns at dinner, she has friends she’d rather hang out with than me, and she gets as frustrated with me as her mother as often as her mother (which in my opinion takes a certain amount of effort to accomplish).  These traits will likely describe her accurately at 6 years old, or at 13, or 21.  So why am I struggling with her being 6?

There is so much I want to do with Zoe (my 6 year old) that it seems like she can handle… but she’s still too young to enjoy with me.  Star Wars, Harry Potter, Flight of the Navigator, and the list goes on.  Occasionally, we find gems in appropriately aged content like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Teen Titans: Go to the Movies, and Avatar: The Last Airbender but there is so much more that I’m looking forward to sharing with her that I find it frustrating sometimes to have to hold up and be patient.

“Patience is not a strong suit of mine”

– All Parents

I want to watch Star Wars with her (episodes 4, 5, 6 and maybe Rogue One and not even tell her about 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, and Han Solo).  I want to read her Harry Potter.  I’d love to watch Flight of the Navigator with her or Willow, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Goonies, or any of the hundreds of movies that helped me get through the 80s and 90s but…

Troll Boogers

Even though she’s displaying all kinds of signs that she’s growing up, she’s still 6 and had nightmares about the troll from the first Harry Potter (the one that Harry got “troll bogies” all over his wand from) for over a week when we tried to rush it a few months ago on a movie night because I told my wife I thought she could handle it.  I was wrong and my wife likes to point that out any time I suggest a movie on movie night (Wednesday nights) that may push her out of her comfort zone.  And by point out, I mean immediately crush my argument like a nut-cracker on Thanksgiving.

So what does all of this have to do with Stern’s newest pinball machine likely being released this spring/summer?  Based on information from TWIP (, TPN (, podcasts, streams, and just about everywhere…

It’s the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

And oh boy am I excited! Apparently it’s going to be a John Borg design with artwork by Zombie Yeti ( I’m not sure who’s going to be on rules but I’m thinking Tanio Klyce since Deadpool is finished, Lonnie is on Stranger Things, Rick is stuck forever with Keith, and Lyman is on Elvira.

Borg has been on a couple of projects recently that kind of missed the mark but I’m going to argue that it’s not his fault.  Some of my favorite layouts are Borg’s creations: The Walking Dead (TWD), X-Men, Metallica (MET), Tron… And in recent interviews and a chance meeting at TPF in 2018 I feel certain Borg still has the pinball bug. In every sense of the word he’s still genuinely “excited” by what he does.

What about Guardians of the Galaxy (GOTG) and Munsters? How are those titles in the same bucket as the few I just mentioned?

Guardians of the Galaxy LE (Stern)

Is Guardians of the Galaxy a bad pin?  Or maybe, just maybe, did it suffer from being forced out the door due to licensing agreement issues 3-6 months early?  The code on GOTG was so bad initially that the pin’s rating on Pinside is still suffering from it.  So bad (as I shudder from the memories).  But is there an issue with the layout?  You could argue that it’s a bit of a re-skin of Metallica but there’s another argument that every fan layout is really just reskins of the greats Attack from Mars and Medieval Madness.  Some might argue that the ramps are too tight (especially the right one) but to quote another prolific pinball designer… “Play better”.  Is it a fun game to play?  Yes.  Is it weird that you’re bashing the good guys?  Yes. 

Munsters LE (Stern)

And Munsters? I have never played a more silky smooth fan layout in my life. I don’t care for the theme or the seemingly uninspired ruleset… but just shooting this pin is an experience I think everyone should have. What about the lower playfield, isn’t that just a rehash of the premium/LE version of AC/DC with smaller balls? Yes. But I do like the 2nd set of buttons. It makes for a really interesting trap/play method in the wizard mode.

Should there be any concern than that it’s Borg on the layout?  As long as we’re not getting another fan layout, I’d say no emphatically.

Note: There is a whole other article about how Pinside generates rankings for pins that warrants discussion but we’re not going to tackle that today.

Once again, what does this have to do with your daughter only being 6 years old!?  Hush, I’m getting there.

And Zombie Yeti?  Is there any concern from anyone on his art?  Anyone?  No.  I thought so.  Ghostbusters, Iron Maiden, Deadpool, and that crappy PBR Can Crusher re-skin: Primus.  There is literally no one who looks at his art in the pinball hobby and says, “Eh, I kind of wish someone else did the art” for one of those pins.  So Zombie Yeti given the go-ahead to make TMNT look rad, tubular, awesome… no concerns here and not one concern I’ve heard on Pinside which is amazing considering how divisive that entire site can be.

Last up is Tanio Klyce.  The lead developer behind Deadpool.  Now I’m a bit biased on Deadpool.  Not only am I a huge fan of the comic books and movies, I purchased the pinball machine NIB for delivery a few weeks after it released.  I put over 600 games on my Pro, beat the Final Battle Wizard Mode (the 3rd wizard mode), and then sold it without losing much money. 

Am I going to be a bit biased when I say that Tanio on software makes me happy? Yeah.

Deadpool could have been a fluke.  It could have been Tanio’s first lead but he was managed closely by other programmers with more experience and this next game, he’s on his own without that support and it will be unplayable.  But I just laugh at that.  I watched an interview with Tanio Klyce and it seems that he and Gomez worked through the majority of Deadpool together with much of the theme and overall game/mode progressions coming from him!

Should there be any concern over Tanio Klyce as the lead programmer (if in fact, it is him)?  No.  None at all.

What is there to be concerned about?  I think the only real concerns I have is which iteration of TMNT they’re going to base the animations and art from.  Will it be the TMNT from the 80s cartoons?  The movies?  Any of the comic book series that are still active today?  The anime version released in the 2000s?  The weird live action version released in the past few years by Michael Bay?  The 4-person video game from the 90s?

TMNT vs. Power Rangers No. 1

Are the TMNT comics are still active?  Yes, I just bought the 3rd issue of a Power Rangers TMNT cross-over comic last week that is wonderful 🙂

Batman Vs. TMNT

I think the 80s cartoons will work well but I struggle to think of how Zombie Yeti could possibly keep his artwork from going “metal” or “evil” which says to me it’s probably not going to be 80s cartoon style artwork. Maybe the comic style artwork with retro low-res style animations consistent with the 4 person video game? If I had to guess, that is EXACTLY what this machine will be. But what about the anime style cartoons or the more recent cross-overs?

And this brings me back to how this article started with my daughter. TMNT cross-overs seem all the rage right now. So much so, that a movie was recently released (direct to video) of TMNT vs. Batman. It seemed during the targeted ads from Facebook to me (I have no idea how Facebook determined that I was going to be a fan of TMNT) that the cartoon would be something maybe we could watch with my daughter. My wife balked instantly and I (having just been sooooo wrong about Harry Potter) relented quickly and my wife and I decided to watch it together first by ourselves before we viewed it with Zoe.

“Crap, my wife was right again”

– All Spouses

The cartoon was magnificent.  I didn’t realize how much I had missed the turtles.  More specifically the well defined dynamics of the geek, the leader, the rebel, and the idiot who are family and overcome all obstacles by playing to their strengths.  The movie was superb and the voice acting was spot on.  My wife was right because the movie took a dark turn when it came to Shredder, Raz Al’Gul, and the Arkum Asylum (with all of its awful inhabitants). 

Side-note: Don’t let youngsters watch this cartoon.  Parental Guidance suggested 😉

The live action versions from the 2010s are a no-go for kids.  Too much violence.  But the cartoon from the 80s/90s?  Yes.  Absolutely these will work with younger children.  Only… those haven’t aged very well. 

I went back and watched a few with my daughter and I struggled to understand how writing so focused entirely on the kids ever made it back in the day?  The shows of today have topical themes and settings meant to attract kids, teach them basic morals, and keep them entertained but dialogue and references that keep it entertaining for the adults as well.  That formula has worked out so well for shows like My Little Pony and Teen Titans in the past few years. 

TMNT from the 80s

I think maybe it’s because in the 80s and early 90s, parents set their kids in front of the TVs and forgot about them?  Maybe.  My folks love to point out how little effort they made in raising children when we were growing up and we turned out just fine. I usually respond with something like, “You forgot to start that sentence with the word ‘Despite'”, but I digress… back on topic.

I’m excited for the release of TMNT.  The nostalgia and art are going to be amazing.  Assuming the layout is fun, challenging, and flowy with a deep and entertaining ruleset/animation will likely make this a NIB purchase for me. 

And if Kaneda’s information ( on how the game is designed with players choosing their turtle and potentially working together to defeat the shredder in pinball co-op are correct, then I’m all-in on my first LE NIB.

But I find myself in a weird place where I can’t really prepare in the way I’d like to with my family for the purchase of a pin so culturally significant to me because my daughter is at this in-between age where it seems like she’d be fine but I have concerns about her waking up in the middle of the night screaming that ninjas and the “Foot” were in her room or under her bed, or nightmares of Bebop and Rocksteady breaking into her room, or the Techno-turtle befriending her one minute and then hacked and suddenly the bad guy a little later.

What do you think? Where do you stand on kids and TV/Movies? What about TMNT, are you as excited for the nostalgia trip as I am? Comment below: