Mirror-Glazed Premium Pinballs
Review by Kevin Steele
I've discovered that you can easily get carried away when you buy your first pinball machine. Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you, but it happens.
In my case, I won my first machine, a Doctor Who pinball, on eBay (yes my first pinball came from eBay, and it was in great condition. Call me naive but very, very lucky). Anyway, after winning the auction I immediately started searching eBay for any pinball accessories I might need, such as a new set of pinball rubbers for the game. I also started wondering if the game would actually be shipped with any pinballs (naive, remember?), so I bid on a set of 5 "Mirror-Glazed Premium Pinballs" from Ken Iman.
As it turns out, my first-timer fears were unfounded — the machine arrived with all balls included, and my "premium" pinballs arrived on the same day, individually wrapped in small plastic bags with a light coating of oil to prevent oxidation.
Even at first glance it was obvious which was the "prettier" of the two sets of pinballs, but I decided to do some play-testing with each set to see if there was actually any difference in the way the game played.
As it turns out, there was. One change was the optical illusion that the mirror-glazed balls were "sliding" around on the playfield. This was due to the fact that there were no surface marks at all to show the motion of the ball. It almost looked like the ball was hovering just above the playfield.
The second effect was that the mirror-glazed balls had a different "spin" from the regular balls. At first, I thought they had less spin, but then realized it was just the fact that I couldn't see the spin that made it look like there wasn't any. The surface was so smooth you can't see any surface movement on the ball.
After watching the ball mysteriously slow or change path in mid-flight a few times, I realized that there was just as much spin going on — it just wasn't having as pronounced of an effect on the ball's path. The ball seemed easier to control, and overall gameplay felt faster.
In the end, the choice was easy. The game did seem to play better with the mirror-glazed balls, and they definitely were the more aesthetically-pleasing choice. I can't comment on the claims of "near perfect" shape or their non-magnetic properties (Doctor Who has no magnets), but they performed well for me and the shine has held up amazingly well even after five months in the machine.
Ken sells 10 polished pinballs for $21 (or $2.10 a ball), while "regular" pinballs from Marco Specialities cost $1.40 per ball in the same quantity. Since Mirror-Glazed pinballs only cost slightly more than regular pinballs, it seems a worthwhile investment.
A warning: Ken Iman's got an amazingly amateurish web site, full of goofy graphics, hyper-salesman hyperbole, and bad page design. Had I seen the site before ordering the pinballs, I probably wouldn't have bought from him, but the product is good and the financial risk small. It's a bit like dealing with a sleazy used-car salesman who actually sells you a good car at a fair price. You may have gotten a deal, but you still somehow feel dirty afterwards.
If you're looking for a shiny finishing touch to your pinball, Mirror-Glazed pinballs are a inexpensive way to add some "bling" to your machine.