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RUMOR: Some Manufacturer Will Launch a John Popadiuk-Designed Pinball Machine in 2024 - UPDATED

Years ago, back when John Popadiuk (JPop) was an actual pinball designer for Bally Williams and not the maligned industry figure that he is today, he created a one-off prototype pinball machine for Bally Williams based on the 1865 Lewis Carroll children's book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (and later iconic 1951 Disney animated film).


According to the records on Pinside, this single Bally Williams Alice in Wonderland prototype was likely built somewhere between the 1987 game Williams F-14 Tomcat and the 1994 Bally pin World Cup Soccer.


Flash forward a number of years and Popadiuk's decided to create his own boutique pinball company, Zidware pinball. That's where his trouble started. Despite designing and taking pre-order money for a number of games at his company, including the infamous Magic Girl and Retro Atomic Zombie Adventureland - neither of which ever functioned properly or made it to mass market, he did a mockup for a third game that again was based on Alice in Wonderland.


The Zidware Alice in Wonderland game, contained amazing art by the then brand new pinball artist Zombie Yeti. It's absolutely stunning (see below). That game was never actually produced...until now? Kaneda's Pinball Podcast (see below for update) recently mentioned that some manufacturer is bringing a JPop game to market in 2024. There has been some chatter on Pinside that this game might be Alice in Wonderland or Magic Girl. I'm pretty skeptical of both unless it's Dutch Pinball doing a small run of something in between its winding down production of The Big Lebowski and finishing its upcoming Back to the Future pin. Even then, I don't really see it.


To me, what makes the most sense is that Pedretti Gaming - which was recently officially given a contract by Planetary Pinball to remake Bally Williams pinball machines, is going to produce JPop's 1996 Williams pin Tales of the Arabian Nights (TOTAN) or his1995 Bally game Theatre of Magic (TOM). IMHO, both of those games would be absolute home runs as Pedretti's first remake.


TOTAN is one of my wife's favorite pinball machines. That would be an easy green light for me to grab one, so that's what I am rooting for. As a pinball fan, I'd be cool with Theatre of Magic too. It's an amazing pin as well. Did you know that TOM was originally supposed to be a licensed game based on David Copperfield, but they never got the licensing ironed out so it just became a generic magic pin?


Anyhow, those last two are my guess as to which JPop game we would see if one does really come to market in 2024 as rumored. They by far make the most sense. Finishing Magic Girl or basically making Alice in Wonderland from scratch are fun to talk about (and they let me share the fantastic Zombie Yeti art) but they seem somewhat unlikely to me. I have no personal firsthand knowledge about a possible JPop game at all, this is all based upon stuff that I've read.


Anyhow, enjoy the interesting pics of the Alice in Wonderland prototypes below :)


UPDATE: I learned a little more about the rumor from Kaneda and supposedly it is confirmed that an Alice in Wonderland game in a Bally Williams cabinet is coming in a super limited run in April or May of 2024. Supposedly neither JPop nor Zombie Yeti (who is now a full-time employee of Stern Pinball) are involved in the project. The iconic Zombie Yeti art for the game will be colorized.


UPDATE 2: Zombie Yeti confirmed that the project exists in a post on Pinside and reiterated that he is not involved:


"I can appreciate that there is some positivity toward the concept of AIW. But to my knowledge, that is all it is. A concept.


I never worked on art for a playfield btw - look closer and you can see JPOP took bits and pieces and 'mocked' up the PF art from cab & backglass art... I also never did color studies or anything past ink... I'd also argue that some stuff that exists wasn't finished by my standard.


fwiw - I was approached about finishing this and graciously declined... Too many folks screwed over to keep these concepts alive. Keep them in the past and remember why they don't exist... best of luck to those pursuing this - but I'd spend the energy on something new and untarnished."


The Zidware AIW courtesy of Pinside:







The Bally Williams Alice Prototype:











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5 Comments


Looks like under the right ramp is the neon tube from CV?

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That prototype looks amazing. Love the outlane flipper, the bumper tea cups, the spiral tail of the cheshire cat, and that playfield clock is a brilliant idea. Ship it!

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Jason
Jason
Jan 09
Replying to

Yeah that was the first thing that I noticed as well. I wonder if that outlane flipper would actually work the way it's supposed to. Cool idea.

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Does Turner Pinball own this IP now?

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Jason
Jason
Jan 09
Replying to

That's a good question. I'm not sure who owns what at this point. Turner definitely has a lot of the physical RAZA assets and the code. Beyond that, who knows?

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