“We wanted to make something that was very kinetic in our design and that would empower people to have a tactile experience in playing the game,” explains Ben t. Matchstick, CEO of Cardboard Teck LLC, makers of the DIY cardboard pinball machine kit PinBox 3000.  “What’s cool about cardboard is it’s bendable, it’s pliable, but it’s strong, it’s free, it’s recyclable. … It’s porous, it’s lightweight. Cardboard and paper have a memory, once you bend it, it wants to go back into its original shape. And that’s how PinBox works.”

Philadelphia artists and makers customized the tabletop pinball game for the “Flip the System” exhibition at Studio 34 Yoga in Philadelphia, which closes July 9, 2023. It’s aligned with their new Kickstarter campaign to manufacture PinBox 3000.

Ben t. Matchstick. (Rich Wexler photo)
Ben t. Matchstick. (Rich Wexler photo)

Matchstick is based in Montpelier, Vermont, where he teaches, and runs after-school programs and residencies. He describes himself as “BoxHead Professor of Cardboard Teck Instantute.” 

Matchstick was part of Glover, Vermont’s Bread and Puppet Theater company in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and there for many summers. The company is known for its giant papier-mâché and cardboard puppets. “We used to do workshops at colleges and the puppeteers would always go to me to show how to make giant shapes out of cardboard,” Matchstick says. “And then everybody just started calling it cardboard teck.”

Matchstick went on to start Montpelier’s Langdon Street Cafe, “where I’d do regular cardboard insurgencies.” (Through the cafe he also met Anaïs Mitchell “and we started working on ‘Hadestown,’” and for two years toured the show, which went on to Broadway and won several Tony Awards.)

Matchstick and lead designer and engineer Pete Talbot, now based in Minneapolis, devised a cardboard pinball machine that they prototyped via the laser cutter at the Generator Maker Space in Burlington, Vermont, in 2015. They’ve moved to a faster manufacturing process: die-cuting paper shapes that plug into cardboard shapes. 

“Punch out and slot and tab targets and obstacles that plug right into the cardboard,” Matchstick says. “It’s kind of magical how it comes together.”

With digital artist Michael Tonn and graphic designer Raychel Severance, they’ve launched a new Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a new production manufactured in Philadelphia and Maine.

If this is the kind of coverage of arts, cultures and activisms you appreciate, please support Wonderland by contributing to Wonderland on Patreon. And sign up for our free, occasional newsletter so that you don’t miss any of our reporting. (All content ©Greg Cook 2023 or the respective creators.)

Categories: Art Design