Article by Gene Goodman, M&P Amusement
Back in the early 1970s to the early 1990s, you could find pinball machines everywhere. You would see them in your local bars, arcade, restaurants, bowling alleys, and even your corner stores.
Pinball made game operators a lot of money but required a lot of maintenance. Pinball machines have several moving parts plus over a mile of wire in a single pinball. With more parts in a game, the higher the chance of something going wrong.
In the mid to late '80s, arcade video games like Pong started taking over at these same commercial locations. They became the product to push since they required less maintenance and game play could be more easily controlled. Timed play made it easier for the venue to make more money.
Pinball machines were slowly phased out at this point and became harder to find for those folks that lived for the game.
The pinball market is having a huge resurgence largely because those who grew up playing it can now purchase machines for their homes. Rather than new games based on popular TVs and movies like Star Wars, it’s the classic, refurbished games that they are willing to pay for.
It is amazing to see so many new companies building great pinball machines again.
While new pinball machines look and play fantastic, there is even a larger demand for the classic games people remember playing when they grew up. They want to face that machine again that they almost mastered before.
Titles like The Addams Family, Attack From Mars, and Twilight Zone are bringing top dollar, with The Addams Family being the top-selling modern pinball machine to date.
Pinball collectors want these classic pinball machines refurbished; looking and playing like new games. The top 10 highest rated pinball machines are mostly pinball games from the 1990s.
New vs. Classic Pinball Machines
New pinball sales are also doing great. Most commercial locations buy new machines because of the reliability. Most new pinball machines are license-themed games with current movies, or bands. These new games come with great new features that can capture our attention immediately, whereas, the classic games bring back memories of youth and a desire to own the game they remember.
There are several companies stocking pinball parts and artwork for the classic pinball machines. You can find companies all over the country refurbishing and selling pinball games now. One company, Planetary Pinball, saw the demand for Williams pinball titles and remade one of the best pinball machines ever called Medieval Madness.
Even with a new version of this game available, folks are willing to pay more for an original Medieval Madness pinball. The new standard version of Medieval Madness retails for around $8,500, while the original retails for almost $10,000.
The growing retro market has led to a large market for collectors as well. The current pinball manufacturers caught on to that and started offering premium and limited edition versions of their games. These limited games have features that you cannot get in the standard models. Collectors will snatch up a lot of these games, but their game room is also filled with the greatest titles of the past.
Our customers range from pinball collectors to folks just starting in the hobby. There is a sense of pride when showing off your pinball machine to friends and family. They found the game they have been on the hunt for. Folks love seeing older classic pinball machines that look and play like a brand new game. With the older games there is a bit of history that comes with it.
Back in 2003 a brand new, in the box, Stern The Simpsons Pinball Party retailed for $3,695.00. That same game, now, 14 years later is bringing close to $6,000.00 refurbished. The price of well-known and trusted titles keep going up. One of the last titles to come out from Bally/Williams was Cactus Canyon. Less than 1,000 of these games were made and they now can sell for $12,000-$15,000 for restored machines.
New pinball games are keeping pinball current again. That, in itself, is great news for pinball lovers. With the demand for both new and classic pinball machines, these games will become easier to find again.
It does not matter how many times you play the same pinball machine, you will never have the same game twice.
© Pinball News 2017