Roughly a week ago, Knapp Arcade had quite an interesting update regarding a potential new "Mystery Pinball Company". It was a bit lost in all the Harry Potter rumor drama, understandably, but it stood out because it's not the first time we've seen images like these.
In it, Knapp references some photos of some rogue marketing materials from the recent Allentown show and an anonymous mystery e-mail sent to his inbox.
Similar visuals have been referenced at other times by other pinball media folks (Kaneda comes to mind). Frankly, it's been quite triggering for my own personal marketing spidey-sense! As a long-time marketer, I've certainly learned to appreciate a good marketing stunt.
It's been rumored for quite some time that Stern has a Venom machine in the queue, with Brian Eddy supposedly at the helm. In fact, a lot of people were expecting an imminent Venom announcement around when Todd McFarlane and Ozzy Osbourne appeared together in Stern's booth at Comic-Con. But it wound up being James Bond instead.
No doubt someone on some social media site has also already connected these dots. And we have zero insider knowledge, but the aforementioned marketing spidey-sense says this is more likely to be a clever guerrilla marketing campaign from Stern for what we think could be an Amazing Spider-Man pinball machine (not Venom), rather than something from an entirely new pinball company. More specifically, a game based around the story of Amazing Spider-Man #300 where Venom makes his debut, and which Todd McFarlane famously had a hand in creating.
The dots feel there to be connected already. Todd & Ozzy with Stern at Comic-Con. Existing rumors of a Venom machine. Now these AMAZING spider-man-esque visuals popping up at various pinball shows.
Plus, in Amazing Spider-Man #300, there's a bell that figures pretty heavily into the plot, with its own ball-like visual design that looks an awful lot like the makings of a potential pinball mech. There are also other visuals or plot devices that could strengthen the connection. Like the fact that Venom doesn't trigger Spider-man's spidey-sense and the Venom v. Spider-Man black on red motif.
As with most rumors and speculation, we could be wildly off-target. But it's fun to play pinball detective sometimes! If it does end up being Amazing Spider-Man, could that mean we also get an appearance from the Fantastic Four, a la some of the X-Men in Deadpool? Until the next clue, we suppose!