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!!!


Unknown said...

For ME This "Plight of the Pinball Collector" could not be more correct!!
Thankfully I did start collecting 15 years ago and acquired most of my 200 pinballs at a reasonable price, happened to have built a giant garage prior to collecting, AND NO I'm NOT selling my TX Sector!!! :) Plan to FLIP ON into eternity, Ron Shuster

Pinball Aficionado said...

Thanks Ron! Coming from a major collector like you means a lot!