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If you’re thinking about selling your pinball machine anytime soon and you want to know what it’s worth, then you’ll need to consider several things before you can price your machine. Figuring out how much a pinball machine is worth is no easy process since the price of any pinball machine depends on several factors.
When figuring out what your pinball machine is worth, you’ll need to consider the factors in this article.
So, what is your pinball machine worth?
If you have a newer pinball machine it is likely worth between $3,000-$5,000. If you have a vintage machine it could be worth anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands depending on the condition and game that it is.
The value or your pinball machine depends on the type of game, the popularity of the game, the rarity of the game, the game’s condition, the location, and whether the pinball machine works or not.
When you can figure out those factors, you can then usually get an appraisal or offer on your pinball machine that will give you a more accurate value.
Since there isn’t a lot of information available on the Internet today that can help guide you on figuring out what your pinball machine is worth, we’ll cover the factors that influence your pinball machine’s pricing below.
Then we’ll talk about the different types of pinball machines, what to consider when selling your pinball machine, how to figure out a fair price, and what to look for to help assess that price.
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Factors that Influence Pinball Machine Pricing
If you’re ready to sell your pinball machine, but you aren’t quite sure what it is worth yet, don’t worry. We are here to help you out.
Remember, several factors are involved when it comes to figuring out the price of your pinball machine. We’ll discuss each one of those pricing factors in a bit more detail below.
Factor #1: Type of Game
Although people don’t always realize it, there is a bevy of different kinds of pinball machines with an even wider variety of games featured within them. In the 1960s and the 1970s, the pinball machine craze began with Electromechanical Machines.
Then, after the 1970s, we saw more and more Solid-State machines.
Solid State pinball machines use a computer to control their activity. However, that’s a fundamental definition of what a solid-state pinball machine can do. The process is complex and uses a CPU to control what happens in the game. On the other hand, an electromechanical (EM) pinball machine uses a system of switches to control what happens.
With an EM game, you’ll get score reels as well as chimes and bells that help indicate the current score.
Last, there is the DMD pinball machine. A DMD pinball machine is an advanced SS machine that also sometimes gets lumped into the SS field. However, DMD means Dot Matrix Display, which is a rectangular box you’ll see in the cabinet with a plasma display that started to be a standard from 1992.
However, a more modern pinball machine would have a TV LCD.
Factor #2: The Game’s Popularity
Another huge factor that can affect the price of your pinball machine is the game’s popularity. Some devices became popular immediately after their release, putting their values more on the high-end of the spectrum even when the game isn’t in great shape.
For instance, two games that are priced very high because of their desirability are The Addams Family and The Twilight Zone.
Although both of these pinball machine games have more than 10,000 units of each made, they are still in high demand, meaning you’d get a very high price for a pinball machine like this. Other trendy favorites include games like Medieval Madness and Cirqus Voltaire.
Other games that sell great even when they don’t work are Monster Bash, Cactus Canyon, Attack from Mars, Star Trek, Medieval Madness, Scared Stiff, and Centaur.
However, this isn’t a pervasive list, so whatever game you have in your pinball machine is something you’ll need to research.
Factor #3: Rarity of the Game
Depending on when your pinball machine was made, your game may be scarce or not rare at all. At the start of the 1990s, pinball machines were coming out by the thousands. However, the popularity of pinball machines didn’t last until the end of the decade because of the rise of PC gaming at the time.
So, many games weren’t manufactured as often by the end of the 1990s.
A few of the pinball machine games that came out during the 1990s, like Cactus Canyon, never sold and shipped more than a thousand units. Because of that, Cactus Canyon and other games like it are in high demand.
Also, because of this factor, several late 90s machines can cost large amounts of money nowadays.
Factor #4: Game Condition
Pinball machine pricing works similarly to a vintage car. If your pinball machine is in excellent condition, then the buyer will be more likely to want it, and it will also sell for a potentially higher price.
However, if you have a pinball machine that needs some work, then it won’t be as desirable to buy, and you’ll need to think about whether the price of repairs is worth it or not.
Some pinball machine collectors will be specific about how your pinball machine’s restoration standard is. Individual collectors will be interested only in all original parts or will consider a restoration with new-old-stock parts included.
However, as long as the pinball machine has a good restoration standard, most pinball machine buyers will want to purchase that machine.
Remember, just because your pinball machine looks dirty, doesn’t mean it’s in horrible condition. What diminishes the value of your pinball machine are things like wear on the machine’s playfield surface, broken parts, scratched cabinets, burns on the plastic, or missing pieces.
The better the pinball machine’s condition, the more money you are likely to get for your pinball machine.
Factor #5: Location
Also, where you live can make a huge difference when it comes to the price of your pinball machine. Pinball machines located in the northeastern United States and on the west coast tend to get higher rates.
If there are many collectors in your area like there are in these areas, those collectors will be willing to pay more money for a high-quality machine.
If you live in a smaller area with not many people around (like many places in the Midwest) then you will not be able to sell the machine for as much unless you are willing to ship the item or deliver it long distances.
If you have an incredibly rare machine someone might be willing to drive to you to get it but that would be quite rare.
Factor #6: Does Your Machine Work?
Another factor that affects the price of your pinball machine is whether your device actually works or not. While there are exceptions like Stern Pinball and Jersey Jack Pinball, your standard pinball machine game was probably built anywhere from ten years to thirty years ago.
Depending on the age of your machine, the parts for your pinball device may be challenging to find or expensive to purchase.
However, much of that depends on problems you may have with the machine because some games only need simple fixes. One good thing about pinball machines was that back when they were initially built, they were made to take a lot of abuse at the arcade.
So, typically, when one of these machines isn’t working, it’s most likely something very minor that’s wrong with it.
Although the different prices for different pinball machines are always changing, most pinball machines are seen today as excellent investments. That’s because the value of most pinball machines has steadily risen over the past few decades.
While this isn’t true for every single pinball machine out there, several pinball machines on the market are worth over twice their original value, and sometimes, even more.
What to Consider When Selling Your Pinball Machine
When you are thinking about selling your pinball machine, there are a few factors that you should consider.
Factor #1: Price Range of Your Pinball Machine
First, you’ll need to figure out the price range of your pinball machine if you are going to sell it. As we already covered, the pricing for pinball machines can vary widely.
If you own a less popular EM pinball machine and it isn’t in great shape, those types of devices can be sold for $400 or less.
However, if you own a SS machine, you will probably be selling it in the range of a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Again, much of that depends on the game and its condition, however.
DMD pinball machines can start at $2,000 and then cost as much as $10,000 or more if your pinball machine happens to be a collectible one or if it is brand new.
Factor #2: Understand a “Fair Price”
Also, make sure you understand what a “fair price” is as it applies to pinball machines. Prices can vary widely for the same type of pinball machine. Sometimes, that has to do with the different condition levels that those same pinball machine games are in at the time.
Other times, either the seller or buyer don’t get the right price for their machines. Over the past two decades, the cost of pinball machines has gone up a lot because supply has gone down, and demand is on the rise.
We’ll talk about the “fair price” concept in a bit more detail below.
Factor #3: Location
We already mentioned how where you are at can affect the price of your pinball machine. Along with that, where in the house is your pinball machine located? That’s another factor you’ll need to consider.
That’s because pinball machines are quite large and weigh a lot, usually between two hundred to four hundred pounds. If your pinball machine is older, it can be split into two parts.
Many new pinball machines fold down. Regardless, all pinball machines are heavy and can be challenging to move especially if they are in a basement or upstairs.
Factor #4: Repairs
Also, if your pinball machine needs repairs, then you might need to consider that depending on what the repair is. Remember, these pinball machines are typically between twenty to sixty years old, so they are going to break.
Since they’ll need to be maintained consistently and can break down and become unusable, you may also want to consider referring your potential buyer to somebody that knows how to keep the machine up if they require such assistance.
A Fair Price for Pinball Machines
A fair price means the price to which the buyer and seller agree. Of course, much of that depends on the factors we covered above, like the condition of the pinball machine, the popularity of the game, etc.
If you aren’t sure how to research to figure out what a fair price is for your pinball machine, don’t worry.
We’ll provide you with a few resources below to help you better estimate your pinball machine before you sell it.
Source #1: Mr. Pinball Pricing Guide
We highly recommend checking out the Mr. Pinball Pricing Guide when you are trying to figure out a fair price for your pinball machine.
The Mr. Pinball Pricing Guide is probably the most complete source of information that includes costs for just about every individual pinball machine that’s ever appeared on the market. You can purchase a paper version of this guide for $25 or download it electronically.
Source #2: Pinside
Another great resource on pinball machine prices is Pinside. Pinside isn’t as complete of a pricing guide as Mr. Pinball is, but it still should give you enough information to help you out, depending on the pinball machine that you own.
Source #3: PinPedia
Pinpedia isn’t as detailed as either one of our other two options, but it will still give you some helpful information about pricing if you need it.
Source #4: Pinball Price
Pinball Price was previously an excellent database with plenty of pinball machine pricing. However, some of the database links seem to be broken and under-maintained as of late. Still, we feel this website still offers some decent guidance on pinball machine prices.
Now, before you sell your pinball machine and determine the overall price you want to get for it, you’ll need to take some time to assess the current state of your pinball machine. We’ll review how you can do that below.
What to Assess on Your Pinball Machine
Now that you know where to go to get some pricing information on your pinball machine, we’ll tell you how you can assess your pinball machine’s state to make your overall pricing estimate more valuable before you list your pinball machine for sale.
#1: Check the Playfield
The first area of your pinball machine you’ll want to assess for price estimate reasons is the playfield. The biggest thing you are looking for here when you check the playfield is wear and tear.
Typically, older games feature lacquer coats, so they’ll usually have some wear spots from play. Newer pinball machines feature a harder coating called Diamond Plate. Most pinball machines that have that retain playfields that look like they are unique.
Diamond Plate uses the automotive urethane to create the coating on the pinball machine. If your pinball machine features Diamond Plate, you should see that brand’s name somewhere on the playfield.
However, if your pinball machine is too old to feature a Diamond Plate coating and has some wear spots, then it would still be pretty typical, and you could market it at average value due to its age.
However, if large sections are worn to the wood, then the playfield is toast, and the value of your pinball machine will be far less than a machine with a perfect playing field.
On some older pinball machine playfields, you’ll see spots of Mylar put in high wear and tear areas.
While Mylar does an excellent job of protecting pinball machines, it clouds up with age, and also starts to pull up around the edges where it’s placed. Plus, wherever your Mylar ends, then that part of the playfield can get a lot of excessive wear.
Can I Replace the Playfield if Necessary?
That all depends on the pinball machine game that you own. For some of the popular games, you can purchase new playfields and replace your old one before you sell your pinball machine.
However, if you are going to take that step, you may need to put some thought into it since it isn’t a cheap option. Most playfields start at $600 and then increase in price. Also, if you don’t know how to transfer the playfield yourself, you’ll have to include the cost of labor.
Although Diamond Plate is an excellent protector for playfields, even Diamond Plate playfields often come with some wear and tear issues. The worst type of problem that can happen with a Diamond Plate playfield is called “planking.”
Planking occurs when the wood below the playfield starts to separate, and then you see vertical lines that then make your paint peel. If the playfield on your pinball machine is planking, then your device is worth far less than the traditional market value.
When trying to assess the condition of your playfield, you should also be checking your pinball machine for broken or missing playfield parts. These playfield parts cover the machinery on your playfield. The typical places that break on pinball machines are right above the lower flippers in the slingshot area.
Still, other parts can also be damaged, so check thoroughly. If you want to replace any of those parts, you can usually replace a piece like this for about $200.
Of course, if playfield parts are broken on your machine and your machine is in otherwise good working order, it would be a good idea to quickly fix those playfield parts so that you get the most money for your device.
Thus, as we continue to discuss pricing for your pinball machine, you can also see how wear and tear will affect the price of your pinball machine and figure out what fixes you should move forward and complete.
#2 Check the Back Glass
All pinball machines made before 1986 have back glass on them. So, if you have one of those older pinball machines, you’ll want to pay special attention to this part. Unfortunately, backglass can peel and flake like crazy once it starts to age.
First, the color will go, and next, the back glass will flake off. If your pinball machine has terrible back glass, then it will bring down the price value for your game.
However, that doesn’t mean the machine still won’t sell. People that see a pinball machine with flaking back glass may even be interested if it is restorable. Also, since many of these pinball machines that come with back glass are so old, they are often already flaking.
If you know how to restore your pinball machine, you can purchase a reproduction of the back glass, which usually starts at $200 and goes up from there.
Depending on the worth of your machine, you may or may not want to consider fixing the back glass. However, it’s something to consider because if you replace it, depending on your machine, you can get a lot more value for your game.
On the other hand, if your pinball machine’s back glass is broken, or the pieces aren’t almost there, then your game is going to be worth much, much less. That’s because broken back glasses mean the pinball machine will require some serious restoration in most cases. However, you may still be able to sell your pinball machine for parts or to a restorer.
#3 Check the Translite
The first Translite was used in 1986 for the pinball machine game Raven. After the release of that pinball machines, new pinball machines were produced with Translite.
Translite is a picture that’s printed on some plastic and used in place of the backglass. Also, if the Translite has been appropriately maintained, it will usually last a lot longer than backglass will.
If your pinball machine has a Translite instead of back glass, then it’s a newer machine, and you probably won’t have as many issues that might happen. However, you can still experience problems with your backbox if you have a Translite, so you’ll want to make sure everything is stable there.
If there are any issues with the Translite or the backbox, it will drop the value of your pinball machine to below average.
If you’ve got a pinball machine with a backbox, then you might also have a pinball machine with a topper. That’s because some of the pinball machines that have backboxes also have toppers on top of those back boxes.
So, if your pinball machine originally included a topper on the backbox, then you will need to sell it with the device and make sure it’s in good condition. If the topper isn’t in good condition or you don’t have it, then the pinball machine value will be damaged significantly.
So, can you purchase a topper to replace your missing topper? That all depends on the pinball machine that you own.
There are some toppers out there on the market that do have reproductions available. However, for some pinball machines, like Whitewater, no extra toppers were ever made.
Also, newer pinball machines include toppers in LE or collectible products only. Some toppers aren’t original to their devices and can be sold as extras.
#5 Check the Cabinet
The cabinet of your pinball machine is another part you’ll want to assess. That’s because pinball cabinets can wear down and fade as the sunlight hits them. Typically, the more wear and tear you see on the cabinet, the less expensive your pinball machine is.
Sunlight usually makes any red paint fade or disappear from a pinball machine. It might be hard to know if that has happened to your pinball machine without getting some reference.
So, look for a picture of your pinball machine’s cabinet on the IPDB website to see what it should look like, and compare.
#6 Check Your EM Pins
It’s quite simple to check your EM pins and test them out before you list your pinball machine. To do this with an EM machine, remove the playfield glass and then turn your game on.
Take your finger and touch each target to see that they all register. Then, grab the ball and roll it into the individual scoring holes and switches to make sure everything works.
While you are testing the parts out, pay attention to the scores on your pinball machine. Make sure that the machine’s reels are moving smoothly, and the next reel registers when digits move from a 9 to a 0.
You’ll also want to ensure that when the ball is in play, it advances each time it leaves the playfield and setup again consistently. When the last ball is played, the machine should go into “game over” mode.
After this, restart your game and see if everything resets quickly. If the score reel gets stuck, then your pinball machine has a problem that could wind up making the machine worth far less. However, if everything works smoothly, then you can ensure that everything is in good condition and sell the pinball machine at a “good condition” price.
#7 Check the Flippers
The part that traditionally wears out the fastest on most pinball machines is the flippers. It’s not easy to rebuild flippers. However, you do want to check them to make sure they are still powerful, and that both sides open and close the same.
Also, on several types of pinball machines, you’ll find a mark on the playfield area that tells you how the flippers should align. If you notice the flippers look off, then the price value of the pinball machine will decrease to below average.
Now that you know how to assess your pinball machine to figure out its condition, and you also have some pricing reference guides to use, you should be able to finish evaluating the price of your pinball machine. And if you are ready to sell it, that’s great news for you!
Ultimately what your pinball machine will sell for is dependant on a variety of factors. The biggest factor of all is the buyer and seller. Some buyers might not be willing to spend over a certain amount even if your machine commands a premium price.
As the seller you have to decide if you are willing to go down in price to make the deal happen or if you are going to stand firm on price.
In most situations it is better to set the starting price a little higher than what you would like to get so you have some wiggle room. That allow you to not seem inflexible while also allowing the buyer to feel like they are getting a deal