Maybe you should collect video games!

By brannonrad

February 15, 2013

This story got frontpaged on April 11, 2013

11 years ago

Hi! My name is Brannon and I'm 46 years old (in 2013).

I remember as a kid in the 70's, you could find arcades everywhere, and I remember playing an Evel Knievel pin that I was able to get replays on pretty easily. That allowed me to play that game for a long time on 1 quarter. I played other pins of course, but this one stands out.

I didn't think much about pinball shortly after that due to the arrival and allure of video games! All the convenience stores had a game or two, even! Of course we had to have the Atari at home, so played that to heck. I talked my dad into buying me (and my brother!) a TRS-80 Color Computer when it first came out in 1980. I started playing with the built-in computer BASIC programming language and completely fell in love with programming. I knew that was what I wanted to do for a living (I was 13-14 years old). Of course, it kind of gave me an excuse to play video games (this is my future! I would say...)

I did get my Computer Science degree in 1988, and it really is the right career for me. I started working for Harris in 1996 and they sent me to Alaska to work on a project with the FAA in Anchorage. In the break room at the FAA's ARTCC (where I worked at every day), they had a couple of pins. My boss and I would play nearly every day, with the loser treating the winer to a coke. They rotated in Demolition Man, Star Trek The Next Generation, Twilight Zone, Terminator 2, and No Good Gofers while I was there. I saw how much better pinball had become as far as goals, modes, rules, TOYS, etc.

A couple of years later, I was back home in Florida and thought it would be awesome to have my own pinball game. I found one for sale in a local classified ad - Bally's Dungeons and Dragons! Since I was a fan of D&D at the time, I thought this would be perfect! (I knew nothing about the machine at all!) So I bought it, I think it was $700.

I also didn't know a thing about REPAIRING pins, so the first time something went wrong I was completely lost. I had to call a local pinball company for help. They were happy to have my money, er... business! Another $700 for repairs and "shopping" the machine later, I decided I had better learn how to fix these things! So I bought a pinball repair book from the web and started learning.

My next machine was another local ad, Bally's Hardbody. This one was only like $400 though. I found out soon it was from the same designer as Dungeons & Dragons (Ward Pemberton) and the same era too (1987). What a strange coincidence!

I started looking for the machines that I loved from Alaska. I really liked Demolition Man a lot, and I found one from an arcade company in Orlando. Their price seemed high, so I tried to be smart and research what a good price to pay was, so I looked to eBay completed auctions. I was able to talk their price down to $1700, and even though that price was still high, they assured me it came with an in-home warranty. Since my repair skills were still not up to snuff, I thought it would be nice to have a hassle-free machine! I also agreed to buying a Last Action Hero pin, because I was a big Arnold fan and thought it looked like fun.

Well, there were problems with the machines. Simple things like lights not working to more complex things like magnets not functioning. I had them come out to the house a couple of times per their warranty to fix things. They never could fix the Last Action Hero problems, so they offered me a Lethal Weapon 3 as replacement, which I agreed to. But still, problems kept creeping up and they got sick of me calling them. The owner said, "Maybe you shouldn't own pinball machines, how about video games?" But I didn't want video games (I had computers and MAME already!) I realized I had paid too much for their machines and told them to just take them back and give me a refund. And they did!

By then I had learned enough by watching their repairs and doing my own research - I was ready to look for the machines I wanted at prices that were fair. I found a Demolition Man nearby for $700! I really wanted a STTNG too, as I was a big fan of the show and the machine was amazing, so I found one in Orlando for $2000. I really wanted a TZ too, but there were none available locally. I found a guy on eBay with a good reputation who had a clearcoated TZ and I bought it. I think it was $3000. He also had a Medeival Madness, which was a machine I had never even heard much about, but as I looked into it, it seemed like everyone thought this was either the best or one of the best pins ever. He wanted $4500 for it, so I bought that as well.

When I received the MM, I was stunned at how incredible the game was. They were right - this WAS the best pin I had ever played! I kept that MM for 3 years, and by then I was ready to part with it. I sold it for $7500 in 2006, which was a good price back then (of course, NOW...!)

My first NIB was a LOTR in 2004. I absolutely LOVED the movies and had read the early hype on this pin and simply had to have one! Even though the game was "clunky" (especially early on!) I really loved it. And it was a game that kept getting better as new ROM releases came out (thanks Keith!) I actually liked LOTR more than MM, and I still feel that way today. The layout is similar enough, but the rules for LOTR are inspired, especially if you enjoy the movies as much as I do.

I've bought and sold many pins over the years. I've had most of the 'A' titles, at least for a little while. Some lasted longer than others. I've owned several titles multiple times: DM (3x), STTNG (2x), TZ (3x), IJ (2x), LOTR (2x). Those are the games that I have probably enjoyed the most.

Below was my collection at one time, perhaps 2004.

I also had my own "linked" NBAFB's. I built my own cable - that was fun!

Story photos

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11 years ago

Very good story!

11 years ago

Great info, funny we are the same age. We were both lucky to live in the "golden age "of pins and vids. Its for this reason I am taking my kids to the Louisville show next month. Glad you are doing what you enjoy too, thats hard to find also, again we are both lucky to be doing what we like!

11 years ago

I'm also the same age (Turn 46 this year). I also bought a NIB LOTR back in December of 2003. Kept it for over eight years but the long ball times were really starting to get to me and I traded it last year. I Have not been doing this as long as you and have not had anywhere near as many pins but I'm loving this hobby. One of my newest (STTNG) is my favorite.

11 years ago

You jumped from pinball to video games in the early days but other than that you have been a true pinhead:). I read your story and my hat is off.
John. (20/01/1966)

11 years ago

I think that might be what your collection looked like 10/09/2005. XD. Totally drooling over that lineup! Great story, Extra Ball awarded!

11 years ago

Very nice story, you have a nice collection. If I was in Alaska, it would have been a tossup between pinning & fishing. Fishing in Alaska is a must do before I die.

10 years ago

I remember my dad bringing home a TRS-80 too. Man I loved that thing, a few months ago I downloaded a emulated version of Dungeons of Daggorath. Hey, I can't play pins all the time.

Great story and collection!

10 years ago

Cool story!

10 years ago

Great story and good read.

10 years ago

Great story, Also 46 in 2013 shared a lot of your pinball timelines....

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