Traditionally strength tester machines could be found at seaside locations and travelling fun fairs. However, as the popularity of redemption continues to grow, so could the opportunities for strength testers. Jenni Shuttleworth looks at their appeal and what they can provide operators if included in the game mix

OFTEN associated with young, competitive males who are keen to out-do their mates or impress a girl, strength tester machines are actually a very profitable piece of equipment that encourage long and repeated play among groups.

Human beings are competitive by nature and there is no better piece of amusement equipment that can satisfy this competitive streak than a strength tester machine. Whether it is a hammer, a punch bag, a football or a themed game, a strength tester provides players with the opportunity to physically showcase their strength in real terms.

But the appeal of the machine goes much further than this. "It is a game of simplicity," said Kos Kyrylov, a partner of Punchline. "There are no complicated rules, buttons or special moves. Anyone can insert a coin, press the start button and see the results. You could be drinking beer and watching a football game one minute, beating the highest score on a machine the next minute, then be back at the table with your friends cheering as your team scores a goal."

Punchline is a major international player in the manufacturing, distributing and operating of strength testers, with offices in Russia, France, Canada, the US and Brazil. Kyrylov and his two partners started the company from scratch so he has seen the changes that have evolved within this sector.

He told InterGame: "The concept has remained the same. What has changed now though is that the machines are fully automated. Players insert a coin or a bill, press the start button and the punch bag automatically drops down.

"Originally, machines were fully mechanical but now they feature electronics such as digital sound, voice responses, music, compatibility with coin or bill acceptors, ticket dispensers, thermal printers or even GSM communication device for remote monitoring."

The look of strength tester machines has changed too. Brighter colours, flashing lights, themed games and generally more attractive and less intimidating looking machines make strength testers more appealing to the masses - women, men, children, families, older people - as opposed to a specific target audience - young males.


Punchline’s Kyrylov believes that the machines have become more user-friendly too, which attracts not only a more diverse range of players but also more operators. "Our software is updatable on any model we’ve produced over the years. Redemption features have been introduced and more importantly, reliability and safety features have evolved.

"There is padding almost anywhere it could be. We have also increased the distance from the punching bag to the cabinet and our machines are now more compact and portable."

Andrew Ritchie from Harem Leisure, a distributor of amusement machines, believes that although changes and modernisation will attract more players, strength testers are already profitable machines.

"Strength testers can attract different customers altogether. These customers might not usually come into your venue, yet now they are at the front door they will see what else is available. If a group of five people come and only three want to play, other machines will then get used."

Although it would appear that strength games attract mainly men aged between 18 and 40, the range of players is partly dependent upon the location of the machine.

Pubs and late night take aways have long been popular locations to house strength tester machines but you can now also find them in FECs, bowling alleys, arcade centres, theme parks and at seaside resorts. As a result, the range of players is broader than you might initially think.

Sebastian Grubicki is sales manager at Kalkomat, a manufacturer of strength machines such as Kicker, Hammer Horse and Boxer Cube, just to name a few. He told InterGame: "I have sold strength tester machines to hotels and we have machine operators at seaside and mountain resorts. There are many different, sometimes strange locations where Kalkomat machines are operating to give pleasure to players and profit to owners."

Speaking to InterGame about the range of players that strength games attract, sales manager of stength tester manufacturer X-Line, Marcin Klimsara, said: "There is no specified age I guess. Kids always like to play with eye-catching machines that look big and unbeatable, and older players like to compete to reach the highest score. We have also noticed that even old people like to see how the machine works as it probably reminds them of old models."


Punchline’s Kyrylov told InterGame he too believes that the popularity of strength games has increased, judging by the company’s sales over the past few years. "At first, the games used to be at carnivals and seaside tourist locations but there are more bars, pubs, clubs and bowling alleys than carnivals now, so once the product began appearing in such venues, it started appealing to a new demographic. It became part of the entertainment programme for the night."

He continued: "As strength testers became popular, operators had no choice but to have it on their inventory and the tougher economy persuaded a lot of operators. I have heard comments like ‘I was always hesitant about using one of these in my locations but I heard so many comments about huge earnings they bring in and so many locations asked for these that I simply have no choice anymore.’"

Cosmic Video distributes strength tester machines to a range of locations. John Farrington from the company told InterGame: "Progressive operators have seen new style sites for these type of games and they are proving to be very successful. Our boxer games are doing very well in night clubs and sports bars as well as the conventional seaside arcades."

But what is it that attracts players to the machines in the first place? Strength testers are social machines, generating more activity than other machines might do and creating a fun and atmoshpheric location. This in turn generates food and drink sales and encourages repeat play and keeps customers returning.

Kalkomat’s Grubicki told InterGame: "Our machines give players the opportunity to compete and test power without fighting each other. They are safe and there is no blood or rivalry involved. The machines give players joy and entertainment at the same time.

"I have heard reports that since our machines have been placed in a location such as a pub or a disco, the violence level has decreased and as a result, there has been an increase in people visting the location because it is safer."

Safety seems to be a hot topic within the strength tester sector, especially when it comes to the future of the machines. "Safety is very important in North America and Europe. Some still view strength testers as something violent.

The safer a product looks, the less concern it will have for a location." said Punchline’s Kyrylov. Safety issues aside, it seems that when it comes to moving forward with strength testers, the same rule applies as it does to most coin-op machines.

Speaking to InterGame Kyrylov said: "Redemption is something that helps revenue and may keep players interested longer with competitions and prizes. It is hard to say about future changes but as a manufacturer, we follow the demand that we see."