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Considering Buying my First Pinball Machine... Any Advice?

Jan 09 at 7:57:11 AM
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jonebone (545)
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I'm sure there are some Pinball owners or experienced players around here and I'm looking for advice.

My experience level with Pinballs machines are extremely casual at best.  No real nostalgia for them and minimal experience with them.  So far my main interest has been gravitating towards themes I like, such as Simpsons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mario (of course) or possibly other 90s era themes (Arnold, movies, etc.) I know this will be bought primarily as an interactive collectible that gets occassional gameplay rather than something that would get played everyday with people fighting over high scores.

Also want to be "kid-friendly" (so no horror themes), hopefully something that wouldn't be too challenging.  Since I don't know much about maintaining them either, I'd be willing to pay more for one in nice condition or Home Use Only, hoping it would be easier to maintain.  The couple of Arcade machines that I own have been entirely maintenance free thus far, owning them over a year with the minimal gameplay they get.  I'm hoping a Pin can be similar.

So, any advice for someone like me?  Appreciate any inisght, whether it is advice on theme / gameplay, maintenance, etc.  Started to lurk on Pinside as well, but figured NA could be a resource too!

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Jan 09 at 8:08:30 AM
MattMan (5)
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I don't have any advice for you but I just wanted to say I've been looking for one as well. I really want the Terminator one. I used to play it all the time in the arcade and would love to have it in my home. Good luck!

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Jan 09 at 8:52:09 AM
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Bronty (65)
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Hi Jone,

I've gotten into pinball the last couple years and have enjoyed it tremendously.

I've had both old machines and a brand new machine.

Based on what you're saying about not wanting to work on them, go new.

Old ones break. All the time. You are smashing a metal ball around a slab of wood and plastic and metal. Its inevitable, most non-new machines are from the 90s or earlier. That's 25+ years of hard mileage.

I recommend getting one of the Bally/Williams remakes from Chicago Gaming Company (brand new reprints of some of the most classic machines ever made).

So far they have remade Medieval Madness (fantasy theme), Attack from Mars (aliens invade earth theme), and Monster Bash (the Universal Monsters from 30s - 50s).

I have a monster bash and it is NOT scary and NOT horror. That being said you may prefer the other two.

They are highly recommended and you won't have to fix a darn thing.

I've had mine for a couple months and I waxed the playfield once and I guess I should change the balls out now. That's it.

PM me any time for more details.

I suppose the only drawback to a new machine is price in that you'll pay 7 or 8k for what I'm describing.    However, the classic old machines are just as much.   Lesser older ones can be had for 3-5k, or even 1-2k if you go really old school, but you will be fixing things all the time.    

Based on what you're telling me, just pay for new.   You'll be glad you did.  

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Edited: 01/09/2019 at 09:28 AM by Bronty

Jan 09 at 9:06:02 AM
leatherrebel5150 (180)
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I dont know anything about this stuff but i do check out KLOV forums on occasion and thry seem to have a knowledgeable group there. Try their pinball subforums

Jan 09 at 9:29:17 AM
PhearedPhool (73)
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1992 data east star wars. It is the only machine I have and am a pinball novice as well. Not scary, very fun and interactive game. Maybe I have had good luck with older games but mine has continued to run fine.

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Jan 09 at 9:41:39 AM
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MrWunderful (286)
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Ive always wanted to tinker with a pin. They are an electrical and mechanical project dream, too bad I dont have the space or else I would have one.

Are you buying for investment/ collecting, or just for fun to play?

Jan 09 at 10:03:45 AM
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captmorgandrinker (562)
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I would recommend the Super Mario one if you don't go brand new, as that checks all your other boxes.

Find out who your local pinball repair guys are if you don't want to mess with it yourself should it need serviced.

Jan 09 at 10:10:02 AM
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jonebone (545)
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Originally posted by: MrWunderful

Ive always wanted to tinker with a pin. They are an electrical and mechanical project dream, too bad I dont have the space or else I would have one.

Are you buying for investment/ collecting, or just for fun to play?
For collecting basically, bonus that it is interactive.

If it is anything like the Arcades I own, it'll probably get played for 15-30 minutes a day the first week, then taper to once/twice a week, then maybe two to three times a month in 10 minute or less spurts at best.  I have a TMNT arcade and we haven't got past the 2nd level in probably a year, usually that's when my daughters lose interest and we turn it off.  I expect something similiar with this. 

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Edited: 01/09/2019 at 10:10 AM by jonebone

Jan 09 at 1:26:23 PM
DefaultGen (24)
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Nothing is going to be maintenance free. Pinball machines exist to break, but a new Stern pro would be your best bet in terms of maintenance because of wear/tear, newer parts, and having a phone line to call for support. You'll still have to take off the glass to wax the playfield, fix stuck balls, and maybe unscrew some things to replace some broken rubbers, but it doesn't sound like you're that hopeless if you already own arcades. Some people literally expect to do nothing because they paid $6000 for a piece of commercial equipment in their house.

In terms of newer stuff JJP can be a nightmare (great phone support though!), Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite games but it's an absolute bear to maintain. I'm a pinball tech for a local hospital and wish they would have literally any other game. Boutique companies like Spooky don't have reliability that matches Stern, and Stern's reliability record isn't like Toyota stellar or anything. Multiple locations near me have had to get rid of boutique pins because they required too much attention.

Anything older you'll have to work on at least occasionally, either to just initially shop it out or fix minor problems. Bulletproof one thing, another thing will crop up a few dozen plays later   Even if you buy a game "100% working", there is no chance that there isn't something behind the scenes that could be improved, a connector that can be repinned, solder that can be reflowed, a hard to reach mech that can be cleaned, etc. The majority of people are happy to have a relatively clean, relatively working game and don't strip games to bone and ultrasonic clean every component or replace aging components before they fail. The good news is that common problems are super well documented. The most popular games share boardsets and people have been working on them nonstop for decades, so resources like PinWiki and PinRepair will take you through things step by step. Don't get tricked by LEDs either. Tons of people put LEDs in their games. It can make them look like a million bucks in pictures, but a shitty game with LEDs is a shitty game with LEDs. Many people cheap out on cheap looking LEDs as well, I would not pay extra for them because I always end up redoing them myself.

If you do go 90s, unfortunately LOTS of the licensed themes are balls IMO. Turtles, Star Wars, Simpsons, Mario, or Street Fighter II for example are all not great, meanwhile Johnny Mnemonic, Congo, and World Cup Soccer '94 are pretty stupid themes but killer games. The goldilocks combination of killer theme and game is usually pricey and those games are often complex (Indiana Jones, Twilight Zone, Star Trek TNG, Medieval Madness, Monster Bash, etc.). I'd really recommend going to the Silverball Museum or Crabtowne USA if you're near enough to them to get some hands on time and see what you like. My first pin was Terminator 2 and I ended up hating it because it's like 90% shooting a cannon and 10% pinball.

Like video games, different eras of pinball are totally different so you have to know what you like. 90s Bally/Williams are the golden years for me (and nearly everyone), followed by late 70s/early 80s Bally games. I really couldn't give two hoots about most modern Sterns. Modern games are much, much more complex (in terms of rules) and balls times are usually long because they're generally safer, easier games.

Also just to echo Bronty, the remade CGC Williams games (Medieval Madness, Attack From Mars, Monster Bash) are absolutely universally loved games and with their super bright LEDs and giant color displays they look better than even most tricked out originals. For better or worse, pinball retains its value unreasonably well. It's not like a new car where it loses $1000s in value when you drive it off the lot. Used games trade hands for way too close to MSRP IMO, which is good if you want to switch things up.

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Edited: 01/09/2019 at 01:50 PM by DefaultGen

Jan 09 at 1:49:12 PM
arch_8ngel (68)
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Originally posted by: DefaultGen


Also just to echo Bronty, the remade CGC Williams games (Medieval Madness, Attack From Mars, Monster Bash) are absolutely universally loved games and with their super bright LEDs and giant color displays they look better than even most tricked out originals.
I haven't played Medieval Madness or Monster Bash, but a movie theater near me had an original Attack From Mars for a number of years.  (made for some great long lunch breaks)

For somebody that just wants ONE table, Attack from Mars is a great one, and has tons to do.


 

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Jan 09 at 2:21:33 PM
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darkchylde28 (9)
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I can't believe with all the name drops that have occurred in this thread, Addams Family hasn't been mentioned. It's arguably the most popular pinball game and is statistically the best selling pinball game of all time. They've gotten expensive in the last few years, but then again, what popular classic games haven't tended toward that direction? If you end up looking for this one, be aware that there is a "Gold" edition of the game produced, limited to 1000 numbered examples, which includes new scoring rules, lots of new voice samples, etc., in additional to the normal (fantastic) gameplay.

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Jan 09 at 2:33:13 PM
arch_8ngel (68)
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Originally posted by: darkchylde28

I can't believe with all the name drops that have occurred in this thread, Addams Family hasn't been mentioned. It's arguably the most popular pinball game and is statistically the best selling pinball game of all time. They've gotten expensive in the last few years, but then again, what popular classic games haven't tended toward that direction? 
I didn't mention it since the conversation was leaning toward less maintenance -- i.e. a new machine versus a 90's-era machine.

Great table, though, if he wants to spend the money and deal with the maintenance (versus new).

 

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Jan 09 at 3:22:24 PM
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darkchylde28 (9)
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Originally posted by: arch_8ngel
Originally posted by: darkchylde28

I can't believe with all the name drops that have occurred in this thread, Addams Family hasn't been mentioned. It's arguably the most popular pinball game and is statistically the best selling pinball game of all time. They've gotten expensive in the last few years, but then again, what popular classic games haven't tended toward that direction? 
I didn't mention it since the conversation was leaning toward less maintenance -- i.e. a new machine versus a 90's-era machine.

Great table, though, if he wants to spend the money and deal with the maintenance (versus new).

Well, as others have pointed out (and/or indicated), nothing is going to be absolutely maintenance free.  I helped a friend work on and maintain his machines (original Addams Family, FunHouse, Twilight Zone and Creature from the Black Lagoon) and found it extremely easy to work on.  If you're not prepared to potentially do a little soldering and do basic things like changing out bad bumpers, servos, etc., it's the wrong hobby, regardless of how old or new the machine is.  With Addams Family being at or near the pinnacle of interest, there are tons of videos showing how to do most every repair, troubleshooting and basic maintenance that anyone would ever need to, making something in that vein more of a no brainer to me since you don't have to worry about support from the manufacturer evaporating one day and left to scrabble about looking for one or two elusive pieces of information that a comparative handful of old timres happen to have.

-------------------------
Need Stadium Events + Panesian titles, 6-in-1's, Menace Beach, Moon Ranger & Secret Scout to complete my licensed/unlicensed sets.

If you've got any of the above for sale, hit me up!

Jan 09 at 3:28:51 PM
arch_8ngel (68)
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Originally posted by: darkchylde28
 
Originally posted by: arch_8ngel
Originally posted by: darkchylde28

I can't believe with all the name drops that have occurred in this thread, Addams Family hasn't been mentioned. It's arguably the most popular pinball game and is statistically the best selling pinball game of all time. They've gotten expensive in the last few years, but then again, what popular classic games haven't tended toward that direction? 
I didn't mention it since the conversation was leaning toward less maintenance -- i.e. a new machine versus a 90's-era machine.

Great table, though, if he wants to spend the money and deal with the maintenance (versus new).

Well, as others have pointed out (and/or indicated), nothing is going to be absolutely maintenance free.  I helped a friend work on and maintain his machines (original Addams Family, FunHouse, Twilight Zone and Creature from the Black Lagoon) and found it extremely easy to work on.  If you're not prepared to potentially do a little soldering and do basic things like changing out bad bumpers, servos, etc., it's the wrong hobby, regardless of how old or new the machine is.  With Addams Family being at or near the pinnacle of interest, there are tons of videos showing how to do most every repair, troubleshooting and basic maintenance that anyone would ever need to, making something in that vein more of a no brainer to me since you don't have to worry about support from the manufacturer evaporating one day and left to scrabble about looking for one or two elusive pieces of information that a comparative handful of old timres happen to have.
What is the going rate on a decent condition Addam's Family nowadays?

 

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Jan 09 at 3:34:02 PM
Davec13 (0)
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Brand new vs a freshly shopped machine is probably a wash cost wise. If you buy from a decent seller the should stand behind their work and take care of any problems that may come up on a shopped machine.

As a personal thing, the newer pins have way too much going on. The led bulbs are extremely bright and the constant scrolling of the display it gets far to distracting for my taste.


Look at adams family which has a ton of stuff happening.




And then look at the new walking dead.




It's almost like they want to cause a seizure.

Jan 09 at 3:40:06 PM
arch_8ngel (68)
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Originally posted by: Davec13

Brand new vs a freshly shopped machine is probably a wash cost wise.
 
Really?

I had the impression that the new machines from Stern were in the $6k range, and some of the more desireable 90's tables were well over $10k (with a few into the $15k range).

Been a long time since I've priced out pinball tables, though, so maybe my recollection is based on a blip in the market regarding "grail" tables.
(also entirely possible that re-issues of the good stuff have driven down prices of the originals)

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Edited: 01/09/2019 at 03:40 PM by arch_8ngel

Jan 09 at 3:40:32 PM
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captmorgandrinker (562)
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I'm partial to JunkYard or Bride of Pinbot for favorite pinballs (besides Rollergames, which I bought more for the theme than the action).

Want to get an Apollo 13 (seriously, 13 ball multiball?!?!?) or the newer Indy that has the 8 ball multiball that dumps out from the chest, which is very easy to activate.

Jan 09 at 3:43:06 PM
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captmorgandrinker (562)
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Originally posted by: arch_8ngel
 
Originally posted by: Davec13

Brand new vs a freshly shopped machine is probably a wash cost wise.
 
Really?

I had the impression that the new machines from Stern were in the $6k range, and some of the more desireable 90's tables were well over $10k (with a few into the $15k range).

Been a long time since I've priced out pinball tables, though, so maybe my recollection is based on a blip in the market regarding "grail" tables.
(also entirely possible that re-issues of the good stuff have driven down prices of the originals)

I see a flood of new machines for sale in the pinball groups, and overly priced desirable 90s tables will get you laughed off of the page.

Other than the new Ghostbusters one, the new ones really didn't keep my interest long vs the 90s stuff.
 

Jan 09 at 3:56:24 PM
Davec13 (0)
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Originally posted by: arch_8ngel
 
Originally posted by: Davec13

Brand new vs a freshly shopped machine is probably a wash cost wise.
 
Really?

I had the impression that the new machines from Stern were in the $6k range, and some of the more desireable 90's tables were well over $10k (with a few into the $15k range).

Been a long time since I've priced out pinball tables, though, so maybe my recollection is based on a blip in the market regarding "grail" tables.
(also entirely possible that re-issues of the good stuff have driven down prices of the originals)

There are some "grail" type pins that pull serious money. In general though a 90's era pin is gonna be very close or less than a new one.

 

Jan 09 at 3:57:55 PM
arch_8ngel (68)
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Originally posted by: captmorgandrinker
 
Originally posted by: arch_8ngel
 
Originally posted by: Davec13

Brand new vs a freshly shopped machine is probably a wash cost wise.
 
Really?

I had the impression that the new machines from Stern were in the $6k range, and some of the more desireable 90's tables were well over $10k (with a few into the $15k range).

Been a long time since I've priced out pinball tables, though, so maybe my recollection is based on a blip in the market regarding "grail" tables.
(also entirely possible that re-issues of the good stuff have driven down prices of the originals)

I see a flood of new machines for sale in the pinball groups, and overly priced desirable 90s tables will get you laughed off of the page.

Other than the new Ghostbusters one, the new ones really didn't keep my interest long vs the 90s stuff.
 
Good to know.



 

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Jan 09 at 3:57:59 PM
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Br81zad (97)
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Originally posted by: captmorgandrinker


I see a flood of new machines for sale in the pinball groups, and overly priced desirable 90s tables will get you laughed off of the page.

Other than the new Ghostbusters one, the new ones really didn't keep my interest long vs the 90s stuff.
 

The new Ghostbusters machine is pretty fun. There's one here at a local bar-cade (RecBar)
Not good enough that I'd buy one, but it's nice to play a few bucks at a time

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Jan 09 at 4:03:55 PM
Abelardo (76)
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I've considered getting into pinball for a while since I'm into arcades but I've got no space for it and the market value of classic pinballs is generally high, and new machines are even more expensive. One thing I learned from arcades is that they're going to need maintenance at some point and you better get confortable with the idea of having to do some yourself, more so with pinballs as they have tons of mechanical parts, it seems to me that pinballs have much more room for malfunction compared to arcade machines so an older pinball machine doesn't seem like a good prospect if you want minimal maintenance, good news is that there are tons of cool new pinball machines out there, I saw some time ago a Ghostbusters themed one that looked pretty sweet, by the way you'll have to assemble the whole thing yourself so keep that in mind as well. Good luck, looking forward to see what you end up picking up.

Jan 09 at 4:06:52 PM
Davec13 (0)
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Originally posted by: captmorgandrinker


Other than the new Ghostbusters one, the new ones really didn't keep my interest long vs the 90s stuff.
 
Did you ever play safe cracker? I still have some of the tokens it would roll down the glass to you. It was a really cool concept, but it didn't last too long at most arcades.

 

Jan 09 at 4:07:57 PM
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captmorgandrinker (562)
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Originally posted by: Davec13
 
Originally posted by: captmorgandrinker


Other than the new Ghostbusters one, the new ones really didn't keep my interest long vs the 90s stuff.
 
Did you ever play safe cracker? I still have some of the tokens it would roll down the glass to you. It was a really cool concept, but it didn't last too long at most arcades.

 

Not a real one, but it's on one of the Pinball Arcade seasons on PS4.  
 

Jan 09 at 4:19:29 PM
romiked2689 (51)
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Honest opinion from a huge pinball fan and arcade fan. Had a twilight pinball machine and that thing was a blast when it wasn't broken. It was always broken  so it's gone. As above go new/huo if you are set on having a pinball machine at your house to play.

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