June 15

News : Pinball wizards bring game to life : Lakewood Sentinel

The Lakewood Sentinel has posted an article about Bill Manke and Travis Hetman, owners of Lakewood’s Boxwood Pinball who create pinball machines that represent more of the older style of play, such as a bagatelle with flippers.  The machines look great and it appears that so much workmanship goes into each play field.


Some of the different games Boxwood Pinball co-founder Bill Manke has designed. Each game tells a different story and requires different strategic thinking.

When most people think about pinball machines, they picture loud dings and rings, flashing lights and colorful characters.

Bill Manke and Travis Hetman, owners of Lakewood’s Boxwood Pinball, wanted to get back to the game’s roots.

“Pinball became electronic very quickly, but it wasn’t always that way,” Manke said. “We wanted to take it back to being player versus player. To being more about social interaction.”

Three years ago, Manke and Hetman met at the Denver Art Society in the Santa Fe Arts District, and bonded over a shared appreciation of pinball. Manke studied sculpture and kinetic art, and started making bagatelle pinball machines out of wood.

“Bagatelle was pinball before flippers and all the stuff we see today,” Manke explained. “It was all about the skill of the plunge.”

Together, Manke and Hetman started Boxwood, with Manke making and designing the games and Hetman creating the art for each piece. The process for crafting each one takes around six weeks. The machines Boxwood makes provide dual uses — they can be hung on the wall as art, or played.

Manke designs the games to cater to a range of skill levels. People can just walk up and play, but he also has adventure books he created to play through for more dedicated players.

“The story aspect is important because it allows for the creation of goals,” Manke said. “My plan is also to create one new tournament board a year.”

According to Manke, bagatelle machines became popular bar games during the Great Depression. Tapping into that history, Boxwood has machines at area brewpubs and distilleries, like Englewood’s Devil’s Head Distillery.

“We’ve had one of the machines here for three months,” said Devil’s Head owner Ryan White. “I’d never seen a machine like it before, and it’s been a great game for guests to play.”

Read the rest of the article here along with pictures from the article :

Thanks to the Daily Sentinel and Clarke Reader for the article and pictures.