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Le 22 Juin 2014, Sart to Jjp Pinball, Warehouse
A little over a week ago, I flew to the US on a Friday, more specifically to New Jersey to visit Jack Jersey Pinball and my friend Jack.
Snapshot into plane:
Takeoff at 10:55 from Luxembourg. I arrive in Amsterdam one hour later. The flight is with KLM. Everything goes smoothly. Unexpected complication while in transit at Amsterdam Airport. The lady at passport control finds me suspicious … she asks me a lot of questions: Who are you going to see? How do you know him? Why? Where are you going to stay? Without looking, can you tell me what is in your bag? How much did you pay for your plane ticket? Is it a business trip? You look stressed … Of course, I look stressed, a crazy trip awaits me; this is my first trip overseas, and the weekend promises to be exhausting … normal, no?
She examines my passport, which I just got the week before. I only have one piece of hand luggage. I haven’t been to the hairdresser’s for two months, but I’m shaven … Bizarre? She calls her colleague over who also looks at my passport, he shrugs and has nothing to say, and he tells her to let me pass. She looks at me one more time before letting me go.
Honestly I thought that was it for a moment …
The plane trip is very nice. There are lots of video games and movies on command on my personal screen. I watch "The Devil Wears Prada" and "The Hobbit" :)
With a six-hour time difference, I land at 3:30 pm and try to call Steve, who is supposed to pick me up from the airport.
Major stress, I can’t find him and my phone doesn’t work in the States. I don’t have any change to use the payphone so I buy some chocolates to get some coins, but I’m out of luck; one needs at least a dollar and I don’t have enough. I go back to the cashier to ask her for more change, but she can’t or doesn’t want to open her register if I don’t buy anything. I decide to find another way. I tell my situation to a lady in charge of orientating passengers. She offers to lend me her cell phone, but I ask her to call Steve herself so she can better explain where I am. Great :) I then go where she told me to go, but I don’t see him … huge stress. I go back to see her, and we call him again. Steve had gone upstairs … Finally, I see him holding a "bienvenue" sign! Huge, my friends!
It must have been about 4:15 pm when we left the airport to go to the factory. We arrive around 5:30 pm. but everyone is already gone as they leave around 5 pm on Fridays. Too bad because I would have liked to greet Jen, Jack’s daughter, who by the way is getting married this week (my best wishes to her) as well as the accountant Katie with whom I often communicate. I’ll have to wait until next time to see the factory in action.
We stay about two and a half hours at the factory. We look around, talk, and exchange ideas with the head of production and Steve (who checks that the pinball machines are working once they’ve been made).
Around 8 pm, local time, I get tired … I hadn’t eaten much on the plane and I’m starting to feel sleepy … it is 2 am in Europe. So we go to a typical American restaurant next to the hotel. I ate excellent meat, not like in Europe, with creamed corn that was just too good, and a cheesecake to die for. The decor was typically American, and I had the impression I was dreaming.
Earlier we had stopped by the hotel to drop off my luggage. Two double beds, just for me, a really nice room. I go to bed around 11:30 pm, totally dead.
Vers 23h30, je me couche, crevé évidemment.
The next day Jack picks me up at the hotel at 8 am. We go to the factory and stay there until about 11:30, and I get the complete tour - I hear all about the WOZ, the Hobbit, the factory, etc.
Jack leaves for a few minutes. All the telephone lines, he had shown me the 14,700 emails he had received, and I answer the phone while he’s gone (lol).
The boss returns and takes over again:
Photo of the conference room
I find myself at the heart of the decision center of JJP, and I see things that amateurs of original sketches will appreciate. Also a photo of the mini board on the right where one can see photos of the employees of JJP as well as the drawings that had to be pulled because Warner Bros. refused them.
Then a photo in front of the headquarters of JJP with a model of the Eiffel Tower (Jack loves France).
I am now going to show you the various phases in the making of a pinball machine.
First, take the playfields, the big one and the two little ones:
Then, place on either side of the playfield the small pieces needed for assembly. Ideally, you should have everything on a shock-absorbing table.
The next step is assembling and testing the PC. You can see the playfield on the right of the PC.
The following pictures illustrate the different stages for assembling the playfield.
Now that the playfield is finished, we go get the case and the header.
Now that the pinball machine is finished, it needs to be tested. That’s Steve’s job :)
Then it’s time to get the box and pack the game:
And a picture before shipping the finished pinball machine:
Dear friend Michel, aka Aladinice, take note of the fact that this is WOZ number 45, yours in other words, the one you bought. It should arrive before the end of July with the last LE ones that your importer has ordered.
The factory turns, and games are being produced. The assembly line is under study in the hope of doubling production. The last LE games will be produced at the end of July, then will come THE HOBBIT.
Did you say THE HOBBIT?
What can I tell you about THE HOBBIT? The case is superb, and I love the playfield. I was able to see certain things in the workspace that is not shown on the net … which I must keep silent about, of course. Interactive dragon? Yes. Interactive metallic arch? Yes.
I’ll let you discover the rest little by little. The prototype will be finished at the beginning of November 2014 and showcased in the States. Production will follow soon thereafter, and some games will already be sent out at the time of the release of Peter Jackson’s third episode of THE HOBBIT.
When will we have our THE HOBBIT LEs in France? We have to understand that 1,500 LE machines will be produced, and deliveries will depend on the ability to double production or not. What is for certain is that by the end of July, the LE machines will all be finished, and JJP will then turn its attention to the WOZ 75th anniversary pinball machine. This latter model, also known the RUBY, will not have direct printing on the pinball case, but will have stickers.
This is the end of my visit at the factory … but not of my trip …
After having left the factory, we went to a pinball machine museum, an incredible place next to the ocean with 200 machines. I got a T-shirt and posed with the museum manager. One can’t imagine such a place or finding it next to the beach.
Then we went to eat by the ocean and visited a large gaming center. Jack has various machines there, not just pinball machines. Then we went to Jack’s house to pick up his wife and go to a restaurant on the beach. It was crowded and classy with a night club upstairs. Then we went back along the seaside while looking online at the price of houses for sale that we passed. The houses were amazing and beautiful.
I get to the hotel after 11 pm, exhausted.
The next morning, Fathers’ Day, Jack picked me up at the hotel at 6:45 am to take me to the train station, which was about half an hour away. The time to say our goodbyes had come, and I took my train to New York City!!!
I had a few hours to kill before taking my flight, which left at 6 pm.
On the way back to Europe, I changed planes in Amsterdam and arrived in Luxembourg at 11 am. In good shape? Hmm, not really, absolutely exhausted, but with a head filled with beautiful memories I will never forget.
What else can I add? Jack was a real gentleman, a man with a big heart who welcomed me with open arms, who gave me a camera to take pictures in NY because mine was out of battery and impossible to recharge. I didn’t pay a cent for my stay and I was received like a king.
I had titled this report "The Hobbit in the Land of the Magician of Oz, an unforgettable journey," but it could also have been "A King in New York" or "Christophe in Wonderland."
I hope you will all come to the Festiflip at the end of October 2014 and meet this great man in the world of pinball machines, a man who gets up in the morning with great faith in the pinball machine, a man who has uplifted the pinball industry by bringing it his energy and his love of the game and created an exceptional game.
There is no doubt that THE HOBBIT will be a success, and we will know that soon enough as things are speeding up at JJP.
Would you like to know about the third pinball machine from JJP? Pat Lawlor is working on it, and it should be done by March 2015. John Youssi and Pat signed on for three games.
Pat’s game won’t be a licensed game, which means it will be a pinball machine with drawings … His inspiration is ***************** - sorry, I can’t say ….
A little patience, one thing at a time.
"Vive le flip, vive JJP"