Are Pinball Machines A Good Investment?


Are Pinball Machines A Good Investment?

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Vintage pinball machines are finding a new audience among nostalgic enthusiasts. Savvy collectors seek out the finest pieces to invest in for a chance to turn a profit. Some simply want to add the beloved relics to their collections for enjoyment and entertainment. Either way, the popularity of this classic is markedly increasing and doesn’t seem to be fading any time soon.

Are pinball machines a good Investment? A pinball machine is considered to be a good investment plainly because of the appreciation value. The machine’s value can range from thousands to tens of thousands based on varying factors. With the recently renewed interest, the values are definitely going up.

Choosing to collect pinball machines as an investment requires some knowledge if you want to make a return on your investment. The market is tough for collectors who aren’t savvy to the buy-and-sell game. If you choose to keep your machine for a time before selling, it’s important to know the care that a pinball requires. They can depreciate quickly when they’re neglected.

To see some of the most popular pinball machines on the market today just click here.

Do Pinball Machines Appreciate Over Time?

Pinball machine collections require more of your time and effort than most collections. If you want something hands-off, this is not the investment for you. That being said, if you’re ready to put in a little elbow grease, pinball machines may just be your thing.

The value a pinball machine has will decide what you are able to bring in profit when its sold. Maintaining the machine is critical to its value appreciation. A machine that has received regular and routine servicing is going to be valued much higher. This machine could be rated as a ‘like new’ machine. A deteriorated machine, of course, will be worth a lot less as the only people who would want to buy it are restorers. . Collectors seeking a valuable machine make sure to check these things:

  • The condition. This the ultimate indication of value for anything that you collect. With a pinball machine, you want to check out the paint, the raphics, the general appearance to determine how worn it is.
  • The function. This comes in as a close second to the appearance as you can always have repairs done. Ask the seller how the machine operates. A good seller is going to disclose any malfunctions or trouble areas. You should ask to try out any machine you’re considering and test all of the different components.
  • The completeness of the playfield. Make sure that the pinball comes with all the playfield objects. These are a tough find if they need replaced. Playing pinball can be significantly impacted without these, not to mention the negative effect on appearance. This makes it worth much less.
  • The back glass. This is essentially the most relevant part of the pinball but also probably the most difficult to change out. You want to find a machine that offers a backglass that’s in decent shape to ensure the  value isn’t hurt.

The Factors That Determine Value For A Pinball Machine

Pinball machines are a challenge as a collectible because they require so much care. And, as with any collection, the pieces are rated based on their condition and appearance.

  • How the machine functions is going to be important to your wallet. You’re the one who will need to have it fixed. But this doesn’t play as much of a part in the value as the condition along with the demand for the title and the rarity of the piece.
  • The rarity of the title and basic demand for the game increase the value. A portion of machines had small production runs. This makes them that much more desirable and increases their worth.

Condition and Function of the Pinball Machine

A collector is going to initially inspect the body of the pinball to check for abuse in the way of dings, rust, or scratches. All machines are going to have a degree of wear, but you want to attempt to find a pinball machine in the best shape possible for your investment.

Finding a machine that offers functionality is a plus. You always want to look at the circuit board. Look for lights that may be broken or burned out and check the rubber rings to make sure they’re intact. Inspect the small details that many wouldn’t think of. These could contribute to keeping its value higher. 

Need Help Valuing Your Machine?

There is a website, Pinpedia, that offers details pertaining to virtually any pinball machine in existence and how they did at auction. Investing in a pinball machine takes quite a lot of research of the market to understand the ins and out of what you should be looking for to get the most valued pieces. This is one of the helpful resources online for educating yourself.

Why Own A Pinball Machine?

Pinball has found renewed popularity in the world today because it is now being played digitally. This has brought a sense of curiosity to people who want to see what it’s like to actually play an original machine.  Now it’s not just collectors who are interested in owning these classic pieces but the average Joe who wants one for their game room.

Pinball doesn’t have to be something that you do as a means to make a profit. It can merely be a form of entertainment for a game night among a group of friends. Or your secret indulgence if you’re a true gamer from back in the day who used to spend half a paycheck on pinball at the neighborhood arcade.

There are some pinball enthusiasts who enjoy working on the machines the same way people like to fiddle with cars. Sure, they require a great deal of maintenance and servicing, but there are many modifications that can be made to the machines as a fun pastime. There are sites you can go on to learn various upgrades and groups you can join to collaborate with others who enjoy the same passion.

Is There a Downside of Owning a Pinball Machine?

Drawbacks are a part of any collectible and pinball machines are no exception. They are massive. Unless you have your purchase delivered to you, there is a challenge ahead. Not only can they weigh upwards of 300 pounds, but they are awkward to lift as well. 

Once you get them home, they require a great deal of space. If you’re going to actually play them, you’ll need an area where noise and disruption can be appreciated – or at least tolerated. These are incredibly loud as they were meant to be played in large arcades and the designers wanted them to draw attention. 

A pinball machine does require significant care, and there are not many pinball repair places. If you want to maintain the value of your machine, its critical that it be serviced regularly. If you’re not mechanically inclined, there are things that can be sent out for repair and tutorials online that you can follow to help with maintenance.

Is a Pinball Machine a Good Investment For You?

Buying a pinball machine can prove to be a good investment if that’s how you choose to approach it. If you purchase it under the right conditions and factor in all of the necessary considerations, it can prove to be quite advantageous.

It’s important to do your research on the market and start out small. No one becomes an overnight success with their investments and you likely won’t with pinball machines either That’s really not what it’s about. The whole idea with the ‘hunt’ of collecting, the ‘buy-and-sell,’ is the thrill. It’s fun.

But once you learn the ins and outs of how to maneuver with those who are savvy, you’ll find your specific niche. It’s important to keep learning and stay ahead of the market. There are treasures to be had. It’s just a matter of finding them.

The popularity and demand are ever-increasing leading to an evolving value. The amusement industry will always thrive despite what pessimists may say. Nostalgia translates from one generation to the next allowing for the many beloved classics, traditions, and relics that we still hold onto today. And pinball machines are no exception.

Matt Robbs

There is nothing quite so enjoyable as bringing back memories from your childhood. We used to spend hours playing pinball in my friends basement and that really got me involved in everything retro!

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