September 19, 2021

From Supreme to ‘Stranger Things’, how the pandemic has catapulted the ‘pinball’ as a decoration object

“I’m going to tell you two things,” says Sören Manzoni as he opens the blinds of his garage in Barcelona. “One: Between the fifties and sixties, the pinball came to collect more than the cinema. And another: Spain was the second manufacturer behind the United States, little joke. Back then, in our country they were called petacos, pinbola, million-dollar machines, or flippers, according to the time, ”he continues.

The Sören store is not a typical workshop. Manzoni’s Garage, which is the name of his private chocolate factory for adults, is a museum that houses collector’s pieces from the seventies, eighties and nineties. This retro fever is represented by approximately 20 pinballs limited edition, 150 cassette tapes, 100 lunchboxes, 1.000 skates, anthological motorcycles and everything a nostalgic person could wish for.

Sören Manzoni has 20 pinball machines in his collection of vintage objects. Photo: Marc Dura

But this has only just begun. Those who go to Ibiza, and drop by the hotels more instagrammable, Romeo’s (inspired by love motels de la Ruta 66) and Paradiso (a tribute to contemporary art in a pink key millennial), They look for the photo next to the machines installed in their rooms.

“We are lovers of pieces and furniture vintage. On each of the landings we always like there to be a pinball O jukebox from the sixties or seventies. It is one more way to differentiate yourself from the rest, which is our goal when we create hotel brands. In our offices we also have a pinball Casanova from the year 66 and a Wurlitzer Americana II from 68 ”, recognizes Diego Calvo, CEO of Concept Hotel Group, the chain of Romeos and Paradiso.


The Luce Bar of the Prada foundation in Milan, designed by Wes Anderson. Photo: Cordon Press

Even with these, if someone confirmed that in 2021 the pinballs they would be in fashion, it was Miuccia. Without last name. And it is that the Prada foundation, which opened its headquarters in Milan in 2015, came forward. In it is the Bar Luce, designed by the filmmaker Wes Anderson. Drink from the classic Milanese cafes of the 1950s and 1960s and the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in the Italian city. Wallpaper on the ceiling, terrazzo flooring, green Formica tables, colored chairs in the director’s own palette, a jukebox and a pinball dedicated to Steve Zizou. Let’s see if Prada and Anderson say pinballs, for something will be.

However, the obsession does not come from now, not even from six years ago. Whole scene new wave, punk rock In the early eighties he used to meet at the famous CBGB in New York. It was the cradle where Blondie, Los Ramones or Talking Heads began their first concerts. In this way, Debbie Harry and Joe Ramone consolidated their friendship between game and game. Many others like Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner or The Who have also flirted with this game. In fact, the British group dedicated a song to him, which was part of the soundtrack of the cult film Tommy (1975), with Elton John as the main character.

“Since I was a child
I’ve played with the silver balls
From Soho to Brighton
I must have touched them all. “


Blondie, pinball fans in 1977. Photo: Getty

What happened next to the pinballs? In the early 1990s, they lost popularity to video games. But already in 1992, Michael Jordan asked Data East Pinball for an exclusive design with his image and only seven units were made (for him and his friends), which have never been marketed. The day any of them go on sale, the price will be exorbitant. The fewer units, the more desire, of course.

In 2018, Stern Pinball, the largest manufacturer and the only one to keep production when leisure moved from the arcade to home, created the most valued machine in history. A collaboration with Supreme. “Only 100 units were manufactured, they were sold in 10 minutes and today more than 400,000 euros are paid for one of them,” says Javier Gutiérrez, Stern distributor in Spain. And just as famous have been Stern Pinball’s collaborations with Netflix series. There is also a limited edition of 500 units with Stranger Things, at 9,000 euros each.


In 2018, the collaboration between Supreme and Stern Pinball broke records: 100 units were sold in 10 minutes. Photo: In 2018, the collaboration between Supreme and Stern Pinball broke records: 100 units were sold in 10 minutes.

“In addition, this year we plan to double the sales of 2020, which was already a record year, and the pandemic has catapulted the pinball as an object of decoration ”, adds Javier. There are even models from Metallica or Gun’s & Roses, the latter produced by Jersey Jack. “By the way, when in 2019 Gun’s & Roses played in Barcelona, ​​I put together two pinballs in Slash’s dressing room in order for him to play them before going on stage. And Ryan Adams always travels with one on his tours, ”explains Manzoni.

If Jordan, Supreme and Netflix coincide, they are the perfect triplet to determine that something is in vogue today.

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