Below is my story of how and what started my collecting of pinball machines.
Firstly, I’ll apologise if this is boring to you, I’ll try to make it as interesting as possible.
I believe everyone has a unique tale of how they started. I believe that my story is unique too. My story consists of fire, hash, little toy figures and a few key trades. If you’re still reading then I hope I still have your attention
My story starts in 1988. I was 12 years old and grew up in a town called Redcliffe in Queensland Australia. There was a local arcade called Penny Lane after the Beatles song. The song played regularly on their Jukebox. The place had an assortment of arcades and pinball machines. I was more interested in arcade games I have to admit.
Because I was really poor I could afford to play. So I came up with a scheme to offer to sweep and vacuum the floors each day in exchange for free games after hours. Double Dragon was my game of choice. The only pinball I ever played or even remember being there was High Speed. I did put quite a few games on it. If I could find one cheap enough I’d buy one today. It was a good game.
My time at Penny Lane came to an end not long after however when the owner burned the place down to try and collect the insurance money so I was told. What a waste of great machines. That was pretty much it for arcades in Redcliffe too though a place named Space City lasted a little while. I don’t remember seeing a pinball there though.
The next part of the journey came in 1994 when the fish n’ chips shop got a Guns n Roses pinball. By this time I was a massive fan of GNR and so the pinball got my attention and I played it a lot. Then they traded it in for a Royal Rumble! I was devestated but grew to enjoy Royal Rumble too. This is important for the next part of the story.
I then went to University and work. Pinball and arcade took a back seat to console games and a girl. Until I got divorced in 2007. One of my best mates gave me his 2 arcade machines that he wasn’t using as a single guy gift. This got me thinking about pinball again.
So.....I searched for nearly a year becuase the only machine I wanted was a Guns n Roses. The fact that I lived in a 1 bedroom apartment didn't deter me. It should have. Owning a band pinball in a small apartment complex caused me some pain. But it was so worth it. I had the cops called on me on 3 seperate occasions because of my pinball playing at 10pm. It was only 10pm for f...s sake. Funny story here - there was a 4th call to the cops. I wasn't even home! 3 of us boys wanted to go to the local pub to do what you do at the pub. A 4th didn't want to come out as he wanted to stay and have a few "Mary-Janes" So we went without him. Of course he played pinball, the cops were called (Hash is illegal here) Luckily he is a paranoid sort and hid the stash under the kitchen sink. Nobody checked there and we were off the hook.
I still own that machine 12 years later, it's never leaving. I'd rather sell my left testicle. It was also played so much that it still is the only machine I own that has a high score with someone's initials apart from mine on it (4 people in fact) I currently have 16 machines though this now changes somewhat regularly
Once I came to my senses and moved away from my horrible cop calling neighbours, I had space for a couple more machines. Royal Rumble was next on my wanted list. At this stage of my life I'd still only played 3 different machines (High Speed,GNR, WWF) but they were the ones I wanted. I missed out on a Royal Rumble that was in average condition and was pretty upset, only to find a near perfect one 3 months later. I was overjoyed. Funny thing is I bought another machine in between as the fellow who sold his Rumble under my nose had another machine for sale - Monday Night Football.
I love gridiron and it was cheap so I bought it! I also still have it 10 years later. I was told at the time only 3 were in Australia, not sure how true that is now but it's a rare title here. Had those 3 for a couple of years until I moved again and had more space. By this time though I had also started collecting M.U.S.C.L.E. figures and you're probably wondering what on earth that has to do with pinball. Well those little 2 inch tall figures have now paid for 3 pinball machines due to me collecting a bunch of rare ones at the right time. Yes I've been able to swap little tiny figures made of pvc type stuff for pinball machines! I've also been able to turn Pop Funko figures I bought cheap into pinball machines.
The other interesting part of my story centres around how my first 4 machines were Data East (Star Wars was the 4th title) I didn't do this on purpose, it was just the titles I was exposed to. As much as people bash them now for poor quality etc, they are easy identified by their great license agreements.
So now I'm hooked. I'm still not rich though so I've been able to do some restoring work and then slowly trade my way up to better titles. Here is how some of my trades & sales have gone
Judge Dredd for a White Water
White Water for a Theatre of Magic
Super Mario Bros for a Batman Forever
Batman Forever for a Bram Stokers Dracula and Roadshow
Bram Stokers Dracula and a project Funhouse for a Simpsons Pinball Party
Street Fighter 2 for a No Good Gofers
No Good Gofers and Black Rose for Attack From Mars
Popeye for Johnny Mnemonic
Twilight Zone for Monster Bash
So...thanks for reading! I enjoy a good trade and want to try as many machines that appeal to me as possible. Some I've kept for a long time and others move on after a few months.
Funny I've never been able to get a High Speed.....would I be bored of it now seeing all my machines are 90's? I'm not sure