Projects & Improvements

Be a DIY Pinball Wizard With the New Makerball Kit

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Makerball)

Like a massive Waldorf toy for grownups, the Makerball DIY pinball machine “toytool” kit is promising to bring back the joys of the 1980s arcade for an entirely new generation — mullets and moustaches not required.

The Kickstarter video claims the flat-pack wood kit creates “an affordable, stable, mutable, pure & simple pinball machine that can be upgraded digitally,” all assembled in just 30 to 60 minutes with a simple screwdriver.

(Image credit: Makerball)

Fans of modular design will also love it’s aesthetic adaptability: the video shows how you can challenge your imagination to create Guggenheim-like ramps, school science project-like volcanoes, or entire succulent-trend-inspired Mini Golf Park landscape designs in miniature for your pinball obstacles. You can even paint or “pimp” the frame and legs to match your decor (and vintage pinball fantasies).

(Image credit: Makerball)

Launched in Zurich, Switzerland by Make & Play, the initial offering includes options for a desktop version ($245, full design without legs) or a Starter Kit ($340, full design with legs), plus a luxury option (approximately $9,500) for the Make & Play team to travel to your workspace anywhere in the world so you can build a “playfield” together. Fans and makers can also upgrade their Makerball kits digitally in the future: with an additional microcontroller (to connect to the wires and conductive copper plates included in the Kickstarter kits) and a free smartphone scoring app, so you can actually play for points and host arcade-style tournaments.

“I’ve always liked playing pinball and wanted to own my own pinball machine, but I never had the means to buy one,” says Alain Schibli, the 36-year-old Swiss inventor, graphic designer, “dreamer and maker” behind the Makerball machine. “Used models weren’t an option either because I wouldn’t know how to repair them. And I couldn’t decide which kind of machine I wanted anyway. So I came up with the idea of Makerball: an affordable, simple and versatile DIY pinball machine.”

(Image credit: Makerball)

A quick search on Etsy and eBay show the market is hot for analog arcade games and vintage pinball machines, too, so they must really be onto something: collectible machines, even those not in working order, fetch upwards of $1,500 on the resale market right now.

Expect to see more Makerball machines in “universities, bars, co-working spaces and creative studios — anywhere where fun should replace stress” near you very soon. Start flexing and working on those supple wrists right now, pinball wizards.