Let's Talk Rubbers

I mean Flipper Rubbers. :wink:

There are now a lot of different options when it comes to flipper rubbers and just wanted to hear players thoughts on the different types and brands, pros & cons, etc.

Traditional Flipper Rubbers
SuperBands
Titan Pinball Silicone
Saturn Rubbers (are these still available)

I know a lot of locations are switching to SuperBands as they hold up very well over time. Are these bands becoming the norm for pinball on location?

Tom.

I love SuperBands (red or black), mostly because they don’t degrade like traditional rubbers. They do present some unique bouncing and spin situations, but it is what it is. However, traditional rubbers feel great, and I don’t nearly kill myself when trying to put them on.

E: Weren’t Saturn Bands the ones that had a LOT of manufacturing issues? I think some folks said the #2 hardness were the best they offered, but too many inconsistencies made them not worth it. I’d love to hear reviews on Titan as an alternative to Supers.

In traditional rubber I much prefer the stuff Pinball Life sells to either HAPP or whatever Marco has. I personally put PL rubber on all my games except for the 3/8" wide Gottliebs which PL didn’t have rings for last I checked.

Superbands are okay, I don’t hate them but they feel really hard and it’s not pleasing. They bounce okay despite that hardness but catches are easier IMO.

I had some Saturn rings and they felt a bit more like normal rubber bounce wise but it seemed to me they made the games play a lot easier. I got the highest scores I was able to achieve on my old Creature when it had the IFPA Saturn rings. Put back regular rubber and suddenly shots that seemed easy to repeat were more difficult again and my scores decreased dramatically.

Never used Titan rings.

Whatever my local arcade uses is ridiculously bouncy, makes getting control on MET or WD really hard!

Personally the biggest thing to me when playing with the various options is CONSISTENCY. If a ball behaves the same way all the time, I can deal with it being more bouncy, less bouncy, more grippy, less grippy, etc.

In the various iterations of the IFPA Saturn rubbers it took a while before I felt like the ball was consistently behaving the same way with the reaction it had to the rubber. I don’t know where it fell on the #1/#2/#3 depth chart, but I believe the durometer I finally settled on being good enough for our organization to endorse was like 46 or 47.

I haven’t had a chance to play the Titan rubbers yet, but they did send me samples to try. Hoping to get to that at some point to evaluate.

The biggest problem I’ve had with SuperBands, besides about breaking my finger trying to put them on, was how inconsistent they were. You simply couldn’t rely on them to behave a certain way for a given situation, so the idea of knowing that dead pass will make it over . . . sometimes it will, sometimes it won’t with SuperBands (maybe depending on ball spin?). I will say Joe sent me a set of SuperBands 2.0, and I thought they were EXCELLENT. I actually still have them on my AFM at home and saw no reason to swap them out. They are extremely predictable in their behavior, and extremely consistent.

An operator near me put SuperBands on Flash Gordon and you can backhand the left inlane from a trap to build the bonus up. Thanks, SuperBands!

1 Like

Superbands 2.0?

Also, pro tip for putting on Superbands:
I put them in a bowl of hot water for 10 minutes or so before drying them and putting them on. Makes it much easier.

We just got a set oF titan competition silicone rings for the sanctum but haven’t put them on yet. After this weekends tournament we will give them a try. If they feel nicer than super bands we will probably put them on al 30 games.

1 Like

I thought I remembered planetary pinball posting that they had the original Bally rubber formula formula and molds? I’ve never seen or played the originals but it seemed like people thought these were the holy grail of rubbers. I do know they are stronger than steel after 35+ years.

What is good for the operator is not necessarily good for the player.

Anything that reduces maintenance is good for pinball as a whole and for the casual location player. The number one killer of pinball is when new players put money into a broken machine and have a bad time.

4 Likes

Interesting… I didn’t know that Super Bands could fix broken switches, replace burnt out bulbs, or rejuvenate weak/broken flipper bats.

Replacing a flipper rubber is literally the easiest piece of maintenance there is. A machine with any or all of the above problems is still a poor experience with or without Super Bands, so I don’t buy the “reduced maintenance” line.

1 Like

But replacing rubbers is still simply not done a fair amount.

And a game with a broken flipper rubber is dreadful to play. A game with a burnt out bulb or ten is merely bad. Note that burnt out bulbs are also being attacked by new technology.

The things that go wrong faster or more dramatically are the points that new technology can help more. I think superbands certainly are a help to ops.

1 Like

I would argue that super bands make a machine broken.I seriously think they are one of the worst things to happen to pinball recently. They play so, incredibly bad.

I have a bunch of stashes of different rubber, from all the different batches that pinball life has run (pre crazy bouncy stuff), to wico, happ, STC and others.

The best rubbers hands down are STC red imo. They play super consistent, have a great medium bounce and don’t take very long to break in. The STC black are also perfect if you need to add abit more control and a little less bounce to a game. Happ has recently started to suck and is very “sticky”, though its not bad. Wico is still great if you can find it.

5 Likes

I don’t think anyone other than hardcores notices the different way superbands play.

I’m not as hardcore as some on here and IMO superband’s are terrible. Bounce overs seem less reliable and can get you in to trouble. Live catches are so easy it almost makes up for the lack of bounce. The worst IMO is how a ball rolling down the inlane changes speed as soon as it rolls onto the superband rubber. Its almost like playing a game with a nasty ball hop.

That being said, my friend got a spiderman that had superbands installed when he got it and they played great. We ended up replacing them with red PBL rubber and the improvement was marginal. I’m not sure how these particular superbands out performed every other superband I’ve ever played but, it surprised us both.

It would be a drag if 5 years from now you go play on location and can’t find the classic feel of pinball.

Aside from feel, I’ve seen tension from Bands deforming flippers.

I’m sorry if wiping down the playfield and changing the rubber is too much of a pain…

I’m not familiar with the varying brands of traditional rubber (Wico, Happ, etc), but I have used each of the three silicone brands (Saturn, Super Bands, Titan) and can provide feedback on them:

Super Bands - Liked them at first, but after about a year with them I had to take them off my games. I didn’t have a problem with dead bouncing, but I did find that they put crazy spin on the ball in unusual ways that I haven’t seen with any form of regular rubber. The ball also tends to roll off the flipper more consistently, whereas with standard rubber it might roll to the tip and then roll back to where you can cradle it. A lot of players in my area have noticed the same issues and are taking them off their games as well.

Saturn Rings - These were the first I tried. The hardest grade (supposedly equal to black rubber) snapped on me after three or four days. The normal/softer grade lasted me and I still have them, although I had them on an old Bally solid state so the action wasn’t nearly as fast. After finding that many others experienced reliability issues, I gave up on them.

Titan - I just got a pair of these last week. So far they seem fine and comparable to the black rubber I previously had on the game they were installed on. They are soft and can be easily stretched like standard rubber. They may even be slightly more loose, now that I think about it. The feel seems consistent so far, but I will have to give it more time since it’s only been a few days now. I’m hoping the reliability is better than the Saturn rings.

its already happening :frowning:

I’ve tried all the new style bands and have even done some bounce tests on the different hardness levels offered. While they’re totally passable, I just can’t get over how easy they are to play with. The ball sticks to them so strongly that it will immediately inflate your scores by a huge amount. I don’t like them much, but I understand why an operator might choose them for longevity reasons.

If you are going to use Saturn rings, the soft are bouncier than regular rubber, the medium is the closest, and the hard gives you the best control with a lower bounce. All of them are “stickier” than rubber though, so your ability to trap and catch goes way up.

For me, it has to be the standard red or else I feel like I’m cheating a bit. Some of the other colors, that are still rubber, are okay as well, but nothing feels as perfect as the classic red.