Friday, June 24, 2016

Pinball Collectors, Collections, and Why They Collect (Case Study #2)

Today on Pinball Aficionado, we're going to return to the world of collecting; the people, the games, and the reasons why they go about acquiring them. What drives someone to collect 300 pound machines that cost thousands of dollars and take up massive amounts of real estate anyway?

Our pinball hobby is full of different types of people, from operators who get games and put them out to earn money, to collectors, big and small, who may acquire games for many reasons. Whether it's the one game they grew up with, or someone who gets these machines as quasi art installations that they can enjoy in their home, the reasons are varied. A while back we looked at our first collector, an opeator with a large number of machines. Today we're going to look at an enthusiast that can be seen as the opposite, a die hard fan with a single game.

Dennis' awesome Surfer!


Collector: Dennis

Location: South Florida

Number of Games: 1

Reason for Collecting: Pinball is Life and you have to start somewhere. Hehe!

Dennis and his Wife at the Pinball Asylum!

Pinball Aficionado: "Do you go after any particular types of games, eras, or the titles from a certain designer or company?"

Dennis: "I Really like solid states and EM's. The basic rules and ease of getting into them appeals to me. I have started to understand and get into modern DMD games, but its a completely different approach; it's more about knowing the rules and maximizing features, modes and multiballs which is pretty cool but much more complicated to wrap your head around all the craziness."

PA: "Why did you choose the game you picked, how did you acquire it?"

Dennis: "I went with my wife to the Orlando Free Play Florida last year (2015) and they had a couple of EM's one of which was Surf Champ which is the 4 player version of Surfer and my wife and I loved it. We came back to it throughout the weekend so, for us, it stood out as a table that offered us repeated challenge and fun. Some time later a collector posted he had a working Surfer for sale, so I went to try it out and liked it, and he even offered to deliver it! I have wanted a pinball machine to practice my shots, etc. and this was a perfect opportunity, and for the price, i couldn't pass it up."

PA: "When acquiring a game, did you do it for a specific reason (gameplay, art, opportunity)?"

Dennis: "For me, this specific table had a little bit of everything. Cool bright colors, good art, good bumper location, good spinner location, drop down targets, and some nice challenging and satisfying shots. Again, out of all the games at Free Play Florida, this one stood out for my wife and myself, so I already knew the boss (my wife) liked it, so that's always good when getting something that's going to take half of the living room space it has permission to be there :-) "

PA: "Anything else you'd like to share???"

Dennis: "The pinball scene in south Florida is amazing! I have met so many incredible, friendly and selfless people that are in this hobby to enjoy themselves but also to share their love of pinball with the rest of the community. The Village BBS (ed. note: an amazing forum for collectors in FL) has been a great place to share ideas, stay up to date with events and stay in touch with a lot of the people involved. I really enjoy going to events and seeing the same friendly faces, as well as new people, and talk about whats going on in the world of pinball and how it has gotten more interesting throughout the years. Through the local events I have gotten into the competitive pinball scene and it has been a very fun ride. The Florida APE was an amazing show this year, and am always looking forward to a new expo or convention that I can attend. I am set to attend the Replay FX in Pittsburgh this year and am eager to hang out and cheer for my pinball friends."

PA: "Awesome! Thanks for your time."

Dennis: "No problem."

So, all you aficionado collectors out there, why do you collect? What kinds of games do you go after? If you'd like to be featured in a future profile, shoot me an email!

Till next time!

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Plight of the Pinball Collector

Hey there Aficionados!

What'cha lookin at bub?!?

I was recently chatting on Facebook with other collectors about pinball machine ownership, and it dawned onto me that the person in question needs three things to have a collection they want. Two of the three are absolutely essential, the third is preferable, as otherwise the collection might turn out mediocre. People who don't own games may not realize this, but these things really come into play as vans pull up to your door and money leaves your wallet, so without further ado:

The Three Things You Need to be a Collector: 


You definitely need money. While you can later trade machines once you have a collection going, you do need money to buy that initial game you want. You will also need money for repairs, restoration, etc. Money is pivotal to owning real pinball.


You definitely need space. While you can be richer than Bill Gates, it won't matter if your available area is the size of a bathtub, no space means no collection. The collector needs room, which is why many of us often times offloads our games in other people's homes, to accommodate for a lack of immediate space.


This attribute is not necessarily pivotal to owning machines like the last two, but is definitely handy in getting the collection you want, let me illustrate. Here in Florida, if I wanted to buy a Williams Jack*Bot today (2015) in good condition, I'm going to spend approximately 2300-2500 dollars for one. That is what they currently go for here. Had I been collecting 10 years ago, I could have snagged one in similar condition for about 1400-1500 dollars. Is that because the dollar has devalued that much in that time? No, it's because ten years ago, pinball in general wasn't as popular, games like Jack*Bot were harder to sell as not as many people knew about that game than they do now (thanks to Internet, Pinside, IPDB, Pinball Arcade, Facebook, etc), and replacement parts were harder to source back then. I wasn't lucky enough to be in the hobby 10 years ago, so now if I want one I'm going to pay the premium to get one. Another way of looking at the luck factor, you want a TX Sector. A game that is not rare but almost never comes up for sale anywhere, as the people that own that game love it and won't let them go. You can be super wealthy, have all the room in the world but you may spend YEARS waiting for one to become available. The flip-side of that, you have a game in your collection, you have the opportunity to sell it or trade it for another game BUT YOU CAN'T because you KNOW that you will never find another example of said game again, or in the condition of the one you currently own. This is the crux of luck in pinball collecting, unlike many other forms of entertainment (movies, music, sports, video games), finding a specific title you want to own might take years or may never happen, no matter how much money you have to go and buy one, at any price.

So there, the three pillars of pinball collecting: money, space, and luck. To be successful at it you need all three, and then some.

What do you think? Am I completely off? Do you agree? Can you think of any other things you need to have a good pinball collection??


Until next time!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Pinball Stances

Player 1.........Step Up!

Pinball Stances, we all have them, but why do we do them? Is it natural? 

What drives aficionados to stand the way they do at a machine?

A typical bank of games in a collection...

Is it due to Center of Gravity? Height? Visibility? Is there even a reason at all???

I wondered about this and started to ask around...And I found some answers!

Marcel Gonzalez (Arcade Pinball Expo show runner):

"A stance aids in the eye level most comfortable to a player. some is low , very close to playfield level (Lyman). Some are almost perpendicular to playfield.

Tall people are pretty screwed in a crowded room. Same as me. I'd have to switch to a stance not so comfortable to me. I guess tall pinheads need space."

I guess surrounding conditions can contribute to someone's pinball stance at the moment...

Whysnow (Pinside Member):
"I actually find that I play best when I am in a more casual stance. Getting closer to the glass tends to help me concentrate and focus, but rarely do I play better.
My wife makes fun of my stance and says I look like I am going to fall over sometimes.

A good friend has the patented 'enders pinball stance' where he stands very wide legged directly in front of the game for a firm base and good nudging core. I heard he does 500 sit-ups a day just to get better at nudging."
Hmm...."Ender's Pinball Stance"???

Rollitover(Pinside Member):
"Me? I stand left foot forward and straight on, right foot back and at a slight angle outward. Upper body tilted slightly toward the machine. Hands firmly down on the machine. I nudge from time to time but not as much as I should and use body english at tense moments. I swear it helps as much as nudging.

My son? He stands feet side by side or right foot back a pinch. His upper body nearly straight up. His hands rest slightly and he rarely nudges. He says he likes to let the machine "play out".

He is a damn good player so lots of people are now copying his stance."

Great responses! So I guess in the end it's all of the above, space factors, height, comfort, boils down to the player and what they personally want when they step up.

In the end, no matter how you stand at a game, it's where the ball is that counts.
And last but not least:

Rick Stetta, does it best!

Until Next time!!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

.........And We're Back!

"Phew! I never thought that bathroom line was ever going to let up........."

Hello pinball aficionados, after a while away, I'm excited to announce that WE ARE BACK!!! 


Keep on the lookout for new posts on everything in the world of pinball, including Shows, Tournaments, Games, Players and More!

In our next post we'll be looking at Pinball Stances... 

Hmm, I wonder who that is...
Stay Tuned!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

To Trade or Not to Trade...........That is the Question

In the world of pinball collecting, often times an aficionado has the option to acquire a game through trading as opposed to a straight sale. This usually consists of either a "Trade with Cash" or the "Straight Trade." Trading with cash is usually where two machines are traded and both parties agree to adding/subtracting cash on the side to make it even and satisfactory for both groups. Straight trade is when two people trade without any cash outlay on the side. While under most situations a straight trade would be done for two machines of equal market value, sometimes it might not be, especially if both individuals want the game the other person has. This has led to some very interesting possibilities for trades, game swaps that might not normally make sense, unless you factor in where one is located as well as the rarity and desirability of a particular game in that area.

Would you swap a Metallica for a Centaur?

Stern's Metallica Pro


That sounds crazy on the surface, a new Stern DMD game from 2013 for a 33 year old machine with limited sound, lighting effects, and more primitive rules. Yet in Florida (where I live) Centaur is highly desirable and almost never for sale. In that light, a trade for a Metallica Pro would not only seem possible, but some might consider it a bad deal for the initial Centaur owner, as getting another Centaur would be a lot harder than getting a new Metallica. Though in the end, if both parties are happy, that's all that matters.

What happens if the trade really isn't balanced? Lets say a collector has a Stern Lord of the Rings (market value around $4200.00 and commonly available) but really wants a Swords of Fury (technically an $1800.00 dollar game but super uncommon, maybe only 2 in the state he resides in and nobody letting go of one, and it never for sale anywhere)? He being a fantasy themed fan, and someone who's grown tired of chasing after the One Ring, has decided he wants a Swords of Fury above it all, none are for sale anywhere within 1000 miles of him, so when he finds an owner with one, that person will only take a LOTR for trade, and so he's got a serious choice to make, take the hit and agree to the trade, or hold out hoping another game pops up. Not all Pinball games get reprints, a rare game that's never getting remade will stay rare, and while most may dismiss a trade offer like that, one man's warm-up machine is another man's grail, and pinball people can do unbelievable things when they get the fiery desire to have a game in their collection no matter what.

It boils down to desirability and what the person or people are after in the trade, and what a person is willing to do to get a game that he really wants.

What do you guys think? Have any of you ever been in the situation where you REALLY wanted a game and were willing to trade down just to get it? Do any of you have any stories you'd like to share? 

Comment Below!

PS. I'd like to take the opportunity to thank Marshall down at 24 Hour Distribution for sending me the flyer to one of my favorite games, Bad Cats!

Meow Meow Meow Meow.................

Marshall is a true Pinball Aficionado!!!! Thanks again man!!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pinball Collectors, Collections, and Why They Collect (Case Study #1)

Today on Pinball Aficionado, we're going to take our first look at the world of collecting; the people that do it, the games they go after, and the reasons why they do what they do. What drives someone to go and fill their house with machines that cost thousands of dollars and take up massive amounts of real estate
 and weigh a ton!

Some of FLECOM's collection in his living room

Historically, that great hobby we call pinball can usually be divided into two general realms. One is the world of the operator and location games, where pinball machines are out in public spaces and are playable by the masses. The other world is that of the home collector, where individuals (usually after getting their first machine) go after and acquire games they are interested in owning and before long can have rooms, and then houses full of pinball tables. In years past, a majority of pinball owners were operators, but in recent decades there has been an ever growing shift toward collecting, so with that, let's look at our first collector.


Collector: FLECOM

Location: South Florida

Number of Games: Over 20

Reason for Collecting: Mental Illness 

Mental Illness??? Wha?!?!?!...................

Pinball Aficionado: "Do you go after any particular types of games, eras, or the titles from a certain designer or company?"

Flecom: "I buy games that I can find for a good price, then fix them up and restore them to a playable condition. I really love seeing these games come back to life, that's when I know my hard work pays off.

My main focus has been finding good deals on games that I feel play well and then fixing them up. I tend to prefer DMD games with good flowing shots. As for designers, I do like John Popadiuk and am very happy to own all 5 of his released games including his self described 'Trilogy of Awesomeness' (Theater of Magic, Tales of the Arabian Nights, and Cirqus Voltaire)."

PA: "You say you have over 20 games, do you have them all in once place? Where do you put them all?"

Flecom: "I'm a collector/operator, I have several games here in my place, the rest are around, wherever I have room for them, including some on location at Arcade Odyssey.

PA: "What was your first game, and how did you come about acquiring it?"

Flecom: "My first game was a Data East Star Wars, which I picked up a little over 3 years ago. I was watching 'Pawn Stars' and saw they had a pinball machine in an episode (I think it was a KISS). I thought owning a pinball machine might be neat, decided I wanted one, and went to Ebay to see what was available. Seeing that nothing was for sale nearby, I then went on Craigslist, found a DESW for sale and bought it. I picked that game as I'm a Star Wars fan. Little did I know that it would lead me into this hobby."

PA: "Very Cool! Thanks for your time."

Flecom: "No problem."

So, all you aficionado collectors out there, why do you collect? What kinds of games do you go after? If you'd like to be featured in a future profile, shoot me an email!

Till next time!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pinball Art and the Whoa Nellie Controversy

Whoa Nellie! The game that is fruitful for some and rotten for others. - Photo courtesy of Whizbang Pinball

This week on Pinball Aficionado, we're going to look at a controversy that has developed in recent hours online. It was during Pinball Expo and involves Stern's announcement of a game they will soon be manufacturing in early 2015 for Whizbang Pinball (the design duo comprised of Dennis Nordman and Greg Freres).

It's Whoa Nellie, an older electromechanical style design that's been in the works in one form or another for over 4 years. As soon as the announcement was made on Facebook there were many who lauded the move, as it's essentially an original theme with a homage to classic pinball art of the 1970's. There were also dozens of comments by people who found the artwork offensive, misogynistic, even one person alluding that it fed into rape culture.

Whoa indeed!

It's an interesting debate, and could prove a very slippery slope for Stern. On the one hand, having a simpler, EM style game with "classic art" could definitely appeal to the hobby's prime demographic, older white men (statistically the average pinballer's age today is around 42) who grew up on games with that visual style. 

The  Warrior's Bride in Paragon

Slave girl from Hercules

Sacrifice in Gorgar

Girl in Genie
The Fire Queen.............She might be sexualized, but is she a "victim" or "inferior"???

On the other hand, this kind of art today could definitely rub some the wrong way. Today more people, especially women are now in the hobby, and they find these visuals to not have any redeeming or artistic value, and as such find that this older graphic style is offensive and outdated. It's a valid point, more people are trying to move past older stereotypes and trying to be more inclusive and respectful. There was even an article written for showing female player Kayla Greet's view toward the sexualization of the feminine form in games past and present (including contemporary titles such as ACDC Luci) and how it was distracting, demeaning, and did not leave a positive impact for young people in general.

So that possibly leaves Stern in a vulnerable place, cater to the largest pinball playing demographic, or try to appeal to a wider audience. In a relatively small hobby like pinball, Stern's obviously catering to their largest audience, though if they continue to focus on them, its likely to remain small. Time will tell if it was the right move or not. 

The Playfield..... - Photo courtesy of Ministry of Pinball

Anyway, what does everyone think of this controversy, is it legitimate? Blown out of proportion? What's your view of the debate??? Comment!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Until Next time!

-- Special Thanks to Amanda Kotchon for contributing to this entry.