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If you had an epic childhood, you probably recall the pinball machine at your movie theater or even in your local gaming arcade. While this was fun at the time, imagine having a pinball machine of your own.
When looking to purchase a pinball machine, there are several factors that you will need to consider. The cost of a pinball machine may be your first question!
How Much Do Pinball Machines Cost?
Pinball machines will have a price range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Below is the average price that you can expect to play for different pinball machines.
- Old pinball machines without flippers: $200-$500
- Old pinball machines that are not in working condition: $300-$600 (depends on condition)
- Old pinball machines in working condition: $800-$1,500 (depends on condition and title)
- New pinball machines: $7,000-$10,000 (depending on the title)
With older machines that are several decades old how much you will have to pay for one depends almost entirely on the condition and which pinball game it is. Pinball machines that have popular characters from TV shows or movies (like the Addams Family, Twilight Zone, etc.) will sell for more than those that are just fun to play.
Collectors of those characters will cause the prices of the pinball machine to go higher so you should expect to pay a few hundred dollars (or more) extra for a pinball machine that has well-known characters.
An older pinball machine that is in good condition with graphics that are still in decent shape and gameplay mechanics that all still work will be worth far more than a pinball machine from the 70’s that is virtually falling apart and that needs switches, bulbs, electronics, and other hardware repaired.
Newer games will be priced based on the characters and what the manufacturer feels it is worth. With a used pinball machine the price will be negotiable or best offer as well while new machines will often just take it or leave it.
Of course, there is so much more than just price when it comes to purchasing a pinball machine. You will also want to take into consideration the type of pinball machine you want, the cost of upkeep on the machine, and the popular pinball machine brands!
Below, you will find a simple guide to follow when purchasing a pinball machine!
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If you have a game room (or want one) you have to check out this classic arcade game console that attaches directly to your TV.
This machine has classic arcade controls but hooks directly up to your big-screen TV so you can easily move it (even if you don’t have a dedicated game room).
Oh, and did I mention that it has 5,000 games built in that you can play anytime you like?!?!
The Cost of Owning a Pinball Machine
The first aspect of owning a pinball machine is going to be the big purchase! If you are just starting your search for a pinball machine, you will want to ask yourself whether you would like a new pinball machine or an old-school one.
While each has its benefits and pitfalls, there is no right answer!
New Pinball Machines
If you are considering purchasing a new pinball machine, two companies are currently making pinball machines. As you could have probably guessed already, most companies have turned toward the modern age of gaming.
The two companies include Stern and Jersey Jack.
Stern is based out of Chicago and produces branded pinball machines, including Spider-Man, The Avengers, Lord of the Rings, and more. Jersey Jack has a more futuristic style to their pinball machines and offers two games, including The Hobbit and The Wizard of Oz.
While Stern’s pinball machines are going to cost you around $3,500, Jersey Jack’s games are $8,000.
Used Pinball Machines
The other option you have is going to be purchasing a used pinball machine. Individuals typically enjoy purchasing older pinball machines not just due to a lower cost, but also because they are generally more nostalgic!
While you can look for these at local shops, you may want to consider eBay and Craigslist for a great hunt!
As far as used pinball machines go, you will find that they range anywhere from $500-$2,000. As you can see, this is fairly inexpensive compared to a new machine, but there are several factors that you will need to take into consideration, including the cost to ship, the trust of the seller, and the cost of repair.
If you have an understanding of these prices, you will be able to work the numbers into your budget!
Pinball Machine Shipping
The next aspect you will need to take into consideration when purchasing a pinball machine is going to be the cost of shipping! As of right now, two popular shipping companies can ship your newly purchased pinball machine.
These two companies include North American Van Lines and Precision Transportation.
One of the major factors that add to shipping is the total distance between the shop and your home. Generally, you will probably see that the cost of shipping a pinball machine is going to be between $300 and $400.
You will also find that shipping your pinball machine without legs is going to be cheaper, but you will have to put them back on yourself.
Best Way to Move a Pinball Machine
Speaking of shipping costs, it will be handy to understand how to move a pinball machine, especially if you plan on completing this task by yourself!
1. The first step you are going to take is to remove the balls from the pinball machine. You do not want these things sliding around while trying to move a big, heavy machine
2. Next, you are going to want to either remove the head or fold it down and secure it the best you can. If you do plan on removing the head, you will find that several cables will need to be unplugged first.
3. When you are set, it is highly suggested that you remove the legs, especially if you are shipping the pinball machine. You will want to start by removing the back legs first. This way, you will be able to set the back end down and lift the cabinet of the pinball machine onto the back.
4. Lastly, you will want to go ahead and remove the front legs. By completing the moving process this way, you will be able to protect your pinball machine from unnecessary damage.
Styles of Pinball Machines
Once you have decided on the type of pinball machine that you want in your home, there are several different machine types for you to consider! Below, you will find each machine type to help you choose one.
Electronic Pinball Machines (1977-Now)
In the modern age, we have electronic pinball machines. While these were first developed in the early 1970s, they weren’t released until later in the decade. If you like an old-time machine with a modern feel, the electronic pinball machine is going to be right up your alley.
The electronic pinball machines offer multi-ball, and electronic sounds, and have a digital display.
Electromechanical Pinball Machines (Before 1977)
Before technology really took off in pinball machines, you would find electromechanical pinball machines. They were pretty similar to the electronic pinball machine, but the technology wasn’t quite there yet.
For this version of a pinball machine, the electromechanical pinball machines offer bells, chimes, and a mechanical scoring reel. You will find that these represent many of the machines that were made until the middle of the 1970s.
Bingo Pinball Machine
Next on the list, we have the bingo pinball machine! While these machines look like your average pinball machine, this version does not have flippers! Instead, this version of the pinball machine was designed to be more like a gambling machine, despite being the same size as a basic pinball machine.
The way this game would work was by shooting a predetermined number of balls into the playfield, and they would land in saucer holes that lighted numbers on the back glass. If your numbers lined with the lighted line, you would win another game!
This version of the pinball machine was extremely popular in the 1950s. In the modern age, this is one of the least popular versions of pinball machines, and you will find they are going to be generally cheaper as well. What you may appreciate about a Bingo pinball machine is that they are gorgeous to look at and often have interesting artwork on them.
Flipperless Pinball Machines
Another type of pinball machine that you will find without flippers is going to be the flipperless pinball machine. Generally, you will find that these were mass-produced before 1947. With this version of the game, you will see that the ball is going to roll down with minimal player interaction and are considered fairly passive.
In the modern age, you can purchase an aftermarket kid to add flippers, but generally, these are more or less meant for decoration! As you can probably already tell, the values for this type of pinball machine is going to be limited. However, if you are looking for a very simple game, this will be a great option for you.
Home Model Pinball Machine
Next on the list, we have the home model version of the pinball machine! This type of pinball machine was extremely popular in the late 1970s into the early 1980s. You will find that many of these machines were sold in popular stores such as Sears!
This version may be beneficial for your home because they were built to be smaller to fit in the common home. While it is smaller, the pinball machine still offers basic functionality and electronic circuitry. You will find that some of these versions include popular characters in their artwork like Elvis, Evel Knievel, and Capt. Fantastic.
Considerations for Purchasing a Pinball Machine
While it may be a dream of yours to have a pinball machine in your house, there are several aspects you will want to take into consideration.
As you may already know, pinball machines are loud! Of course, they are loud because they were built to be in a loud environment, such as an arcade or a bar.
When purchasing a pinball machine of your own, you may want to consider a more modern pinball machine, because you will be able to turn that sound right down when it reaches the point of being obnoxious.
With older machines that loud “pop” when you win a game can’t be adjusted so you don’t wake other people in the house.
With such a big piece of equipment, you will absolutely want to consider the weight of a pinball machine before bringing one into your home. Generally, they are going to weigh anywhere from 200 to 300 pounds.
This means that a machine is going to be fairly expensive to ship (as already discussed), but also you want to avoid hurting yourself if you are to move and assemble the pinball machine yourself.
Finally, you will want to consider the size of a pinball machine when bringing one into your own home. While it may seem like a good idea on the outside, pinball machines typically appear much larger in a home setting compared to being in an open arcade or bar.
In general, you will find that pinball machines are going to be 32” wide by 70” tall and 52” deep. These measurements are important because some interior doors are only 32”. It seems silly to purchase a pinball machine that you can’t even fit through your front door!
Determining The Condition Of A Pinball Machine
If you are going to purchase a used pinball machine, there are several aspects that you are going to want to take into consideration. Generally, you are going to find that people valuing their pinball machines is going to be on a scale from 1-10.
As you shop, you are going to see that many people place their machines anywhere from 7-10 in the condition range. However, if you know very little about pinball machines, you probably won’t know what to look for in the first place!
There are going to be four major components that you will want to keep in mind if you are looking to determine the condition of a machine by yourself.
Condition of the Body
During the initial inspection of a pinball machine, be sure that you take the condition of the body, head, legs, and coin door into consideration. While, of course, any used machine is going to have some wear and tear, these won’t have a dire effect on the game itself.
In fact, you will find that less than 5% of pinball machines are going to be in Mint Condition. Sometimes, a little character can be nice!
Condition of the Playfield
Next, you will want to take a good, hard look at the pinball machine’s playfield. The playing field is going to include several parts, such as plastics, drop targets, and bumpers.
The playfield is going to wear down the paint and finish, but there is such a thing as too much wear. Generally speaking, you will want to make sure that the wear and tear are minimal.
If you find that there is missing paint, this could be a sign of neglect.
Condition of Backglass
After you have checked over the playfield and the condition of the body, you will want to turn your attention toward the backglass. While, of course, you want to make sure there are no chips or cracks in the glass, you will also want to check the backside to check for any scratches, peeling paint, or even faded color.
In this case, you may find that you need to remove the glass itself to thoroughly inspect the backside. Just be careful because the backglass is hard to replace and will be one of the more expensive parts of a pinball machine.
If you are satisfied with the above areas, make sure you are happy with the overall playability of the pinball machines. With the used pinball machines, it can be common to find broken rubber rings or burned-out light bulbs.
Luckily, these are fairly easy to replace, but they will still be at your expense.
Often, you can tell how well a machine has been taken care of depending on how many parts you have to replace. You will find that the newer machines have batteries that will need to be replaced.
Batteries have only been designed in the most recent years, but you want to be careful with this, as burnt-out batteries could leak onto the circuit board and cause damage.
Popular Pinball Machine Brands
Lastly, you will want to consider the brand when purchasing your pinball machine. By knowing the top brands of the pinball industry, you can be sure that you are purchasing a quality product. It should be noted that you will want to do your own research to find the perfect brand for you, here are some of the top contestants!
First, on the list, we have Stern Pinball. This brand is best known for its innovative products meant for hardcore gamers. As you first begin your search for pinball machines, this will probably be one of the names you will see on a regular basis as they are the leading brands for arcade-style games.
There are many individuals who are familiar with Sega! This is a classic brand, and interestingly enough was a company that existed in the 1990s and was sold to Stern in 1999!
If you are looking for a product that offers the features of Stern, but with a more classic aspect, this will be a brand for you to consider.
Last on our list, we have Bally Entertainment. Bally Entertainment is both an amateur and professional pinball association that is all about pinball. In fact, they truly pride themselves on promoting the best products meant for friendly and casual competition for those who love pinball just as much as they do.
Want to learn more about buying a pinball machine? Check out the video below that has the complete buyer’s guide to help you when buying your new machine.
If you ever have any other questions based around pinball machines such as how to repair or clean them, there are plenty of resources on the internet for you! Having a pinball machine in the house can be fun, but there are obviously several aspects that you are going to need to consider.
Whether you choose to go old school or modern is completely up to you! As stated earlier, they both have their benefits and pitfalls; what matters is what is going to keep you entertained! Remember, before you purchase a pinball machine, ask yourself these questions, and you will be well on your way!
- Am I going to have fun playing this?
- Can I afford a pinball machine?
- Do I have the space for a pinball machine?
- What type of pinball machine do I want?