Stern Pinball Star Gazer (1980) Rollovers Near Flippers Suggests a Modern Playfield Area Needing More Creativity?

By Todd Russell Jun6,2024

Recently, got the chance to play Star Gazer (Stern 1980) pinball machine and it has a number of curious design choices that stuck out to me. One of them are the rollovers near the flippers.

Note in the red circled items immediately to the left and right above each flipper. The designer of Star Gazer according to Pinside (https://pinside.com/pinball/machine/star-gazer) was Brian Polacki. I like how when playing and cradling, the ball will roll up and score against these rollovers.

Polacki also placed slings beneath the top edge above these rollovers, as noted by red arrows pointing down pictured above. Also, note no safe outlanes, both sides drain, but because of these slings you have a good chance not going down these outlanes when playing.

Modern pinball machines don’t take as many creative design risks as many older machines did. Not sure if this is because players have come to like a more consistent look to the flipper area and layouts like this are unusual.

However, from the design, Polacki really put some thought and play to make it challenging but provide a great scoring opportunities as well. Would love to see modern designers experiment like this with newer machines.

For comparison and analysis, here are the bottom flipper sections of several newer pinball machines:

Jaws (Stern 2024)

Elton John (Jersey Jack Pinball 2023)

Pulp Fiction (Chicago Gaming 2023)

Princess Bride (Multimorphic P3 2024)

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