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.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pinball Aficionado Facebook Page!!!

The Joker's Realm... In Batman: The Dark Knight Pinball by Stern!!!

Hey all you aficionados out there! Just want to give everyone a head's up! Pinball Aficionado is now officially on Facebook!!! Now you can more easily see blog posts, links, make comments, share info, check out photos, and more!


Lots of stuff is coming in the next few weeks to the blog, we're going to go from one end of the pinball universe to the other and back again, hope you guys stay tuned, it's going be a great ride!!!!!

-- Eric

Thursday, October 2, 2014

What Makes You Prefer One Machine Over Another? -> The Responses!!!!!!!

The world famous "Wall of Pins" at Arcade Odyssey (in Miami FL)

WOW! You guys really responded!!! Awesome! I'm not sure I've ever had so many comments to a single post before! Last week we asked what makes you pinball aficionados prefer one machine over another and we got some incredible answers.

One reader, mentioned that first and foremost it was art (or how the table looked), followed closely by game play (amount of action and shots). Another comment, talked of how the rules of a table can differentiate similar layouts, so that they while two games may look VERY similar, almost the same, they end up playing and "feeling" completely different. 

Other replies went on, talking about not just the shots, but how much "flow" or continuous ball movement potential a table might have, and how well this factor of movement worked with other elements of the table, such as sounds, call outs, and light shows. 

Universes under glass...

Others went further, explaining that a major factor for them preferring a game over another was dependent on if they owned it or if they were just playing it at a location. If they owned it, it would need deeper rules (for longevity) and/or possibly have a lower production run, and be in near museum quality condition to make a game in a private collection just that more special for the owner.
Public Games...

Finally, one person, mentioned that another factor is nostalgia, as in a game they played in their youth versus one they are less familiar with. How playing a particular game that feels special to them, brings them to a happier place in their mindset, and gives them greater enjoyment. 

Phew!!! OK, Let's compile all those factors:

Shot Geometry / Design


If one looks at all the responses, it would appear that the answer is complicated. While going by the number of comments, it seems that the most mentioned points are "design", "flow", and "rules", but that is not all. Other factors play into those for everybody, and so the key to desirability would seem to be more a combination of multiple attributes - many times working together in concert - to make a game more preferable to someone over another.

So many factors bring a game together...
I guess this is why when you ask multiple people to list their favorite game, you get different lists, and one man's bonfire pin is another man's grail treasure. 

So the answer appears to be multiple factors, combined in varying amounts, for different tastes. Wow, my hat off to the designers of these games. They bring all these disparate elements together and somehow make it all work, talk about a tricky proposition!

Finally! You're probably asking "So who won the T shirt!" I can now say that we have a winner!!!!!

Drumroll................................................................And the winner is.................................. 


Kevin, A Winner is You!!!!!!!!!
Kevin,  please message me (use the contact form on this blog) your address and I will send you the Stern Shop Tshirt! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Till next time.