Few are the air hockey tables that deliver premium performance and build quality at the price of the Playcraft Champion. Its regulation-sized playing surface paired with the consistent blower motor results in amazing gameplay that can be enjoyed both by casual players and professionals. In this review, we will take a look at this table’s features, its pros, cons, and at the end, we will compare it with other tables in the premium price class.
If you are interested in more air hockey tables, definitely check out my full Buyer’s Guide on some of the top models for 2021. There, I’ve compared different tables, their features, and have pointed out their most notable pros and cons. Now, let’s jump into this!
Overview and Features
While the Champion looks rather boring at first, it does hold more inside than the eye can see. Also, its traditional and straightforward approach is exactly why it is a user favorite and a top seller air hockey table. Most people aren’t after flashy designs and wow factors like overhead scoring systems and whatnot. If you’re looking for a basic yet consistent air hockey table that is good for family evenings and tournament training sessions, this has to be it.
Design & Build Quality
The design of this table is pretty straightforward. It won’t attract a ton of attention but it is highly functional and it fits perfectly in places such as school gyms, game rooms, bars, and more. It is simplistic and clean, making it easy to maintain and work with. There isn’t an overhead scoring unit or any other type of LED scoring system like on other expensive tables. However, you can use the physical scoring system on both sides of the table.
The build quality is something I cannot fault, however. The table is made out of reversible MDF aprons with PVC laminate on all sides. The legs are sturdy and can be adjusted to the surface. This simple design paired with the decent build quality brings the weight down quite a bit, making the table weigh around 240 pounds, which is significantly lighter than other premium models out there.
Another cool thing about the design is that this table comes in two colors – Black or Cherry. Most air hockey tables don’t offer that option so it is good to see a manufacturer offer some sort of choice in this regard.
Thanks to the simple design, assembling this table won’t be a hassle. However, it still weighs quite a bit, meaning you will need at least 1 more person to help you with the set-up. The brand offers expert assembly for 90 additional dollars which is a bargain considering this will save you quite some time. Once fully assembled, the table will be ready to go immediately if your family is anxious to try it out as quickly as possible!
The performance of the Playcraft Champion is defined by two things – its blower motor and the playing surface. The motor is plenty powerful and has some serious consistency behind it. It doesn’t have weak spots on the field that will hinder the puck’s movement nor does it ever slow down after continuous play. The stainless steel surface makes for slick puck movements, although it might need some lubrication further down the road.
Another thing that helps with the performance is the railing all around the playing surface. The table has 3.625″ rails on all sides. These rails are made specifically to aid with the gameplay and make for great puck rebounds. The rails are also quite durable and long-lasting, even if you use the table on a regular basis, further adding to the maintenance-free nature of this table.
Scoreboard & Accessories
As I already mentioned, there is no automatic tracking system here which is a notable downside. With the lack of an overhead scoring unit, the table becomes lighter (and also cheaper). However, it isn’t as fun to play if you don’t want to constantly track the score manually. That is one of the biggest disadvantages of the Champion when put side to side with other tables from this price class.
In terms of accessories, you get 2 pucks and 2 paddles which is great for one-on-one games but you will need an extra set if you want to play 2 vs 2.
Dimensions-wise, the Champion is a bit bulky, housing a regulation-sized playfield on top. It is 88 inches long, 47 inches deep/wide, and 32 inches tall. With its 240 lbs of weight, it sits firmly anywhere you put it, although it is best to have it on a hard floor to avoid leveling issues.
Price & Warranty
The price of this table puts it firmly in the middle of the mid-tier air hockey tables. While there are countless models cheaper than this one, when it comes to tables as big as the Champion, this price is pretty much the starting point, making it one of the cheaper “professional” tables out there. That price also gives you a 1-year warranty covering things such as manufacturing defects and other issues.
Now, let’s take a look at the ups and downs of buying the Playfield Champion air hockey table…
Advantages and Disadvantages
- Good price-to-value ratio
- Not too heavy compared to other expensive models
- Commercial rated blower motor
- Smooth and consistent puck performance
- Stainless steel playfield
- Comes with a set of pucks and paddles
- Matte Black Finish
- Long-lasting durability
- Ideal for schools and game rooms
- Needs at least 2 people for installation
- The motor can be a bit noisy
- Plain design
- Lacks a digital scoring system
- A bit expensive for people on a tight budget
Playcraft Champion vs Gold Standard Games Home Pro Elite
Playcraft is a brand that specializes in all sorts of game room accessories and tables, other brands like Gold Standard Games bring similar if not better performance. One good example for a similarly-sized table with even better build quality but also a more expensive price tag is the Gold Standard Games Home Pro Elite.
The GSG table’s main advantage is the aluminum base and frames which make for a sturdier construction. However, it weighs quite a lot more than the Champion, making it harder to transport and set up. The Home Pro Elite also has an automatic scoring system with LED displays in the middle of the field. The motor of the GSG table is also slightly superior, although it is quite a bit noisier.
Conclusion and Rating
The Playcraft Champion 88″ Air Hockey Table is a regulation-sized air hockey table that is produced with quality and performance in mind. It sits in the middle of all air hockey tables in terms of price but it delivers a good-enough performance to allow it to compete with the premium models.
It lacks certain features such as a LED scoring system and different game modes, but it more than makes up for all that with its durable construction, powerful and consistent blower motor, and stainless steel playing surface. Overall, I gave it a score of four and a half stars out of five, mainly due to the fact that it is a bit plain and boring in its design and it also is objectively expensive for people on a tighter budget.