A Funny Thing Happened During a Visit to a Local Store.....

By Greaseman

December 04, 2020

51 days ago

A funny thing happened during a recent visit to a local electronics store…..

This is a bit of a long story.  You may read it, you may skim it, you may skip to the end, you may pass on it entirely, or you may wish I was never born.  But the story needs to be told because had you asked me 2 weeks ago if I would be taken prisoner by a new hobby and held for ransom, I would have said you are crazy.  

We recently refinished our basement and have ping pong and darts (not quite set up yet), but it needed something else, so I wanted to surprise my son for Christmas by just feeling out what he may like in the game room area of a local “everything” store and then come back later to purchase it.  I was thinking he would go for air hockey or foosball.

But wait….what’s that pinball machine in the corner?  Jurassic Park?  I’ve always loved pinball and had mentioned it in passing that it would be cool to have a machine in the basement, if we ever finished it.  So, of course, I asked to play a few games, and of course, my son and I didn’t want to stop.  At one point, the credits ran out and I was frantically hitting buttons trying to get it to start – I’m sure the salesperson was enjoying this because she was standing right next to us.  I simply said “um….I wanted to check something out, can we get 1 more game.”   I actually did want to check something – I noticed the right flipper was weaker than the left so was curious about it.  Well, anyway, the game was quickly over (we both stink at pinball) and the smiles on our faces when we received a “match” was priceless, I’m sure.  I asked about availability – we only have 1 of the Pros in stock she said, none of the Premiums.  And we won’t be getting more of either in until Feb/March.  Ugh.  Last thing I needed to hear.  My son was sold – he wanted that more than anything else.  But 20 minutes later he changed his mind – Dad, I don’t think we need to get it.  Huh?  So, now I’m in a quandry. 

I don’t know much about pinball machines, but I do know I’m not particularly handy and I’m sure these things eventually break, so the research began.  I plopped down on a nearby couch while my wife and son wandered away.   20 minutes later, I decided I will need to think this one over.   In the meantime, my son comes over and says “Mom wants this thing – you need to come see it”.  So, we went to the upper level of the store and she’s sitting in a massager chair.  Uh-oh.  Well played. 

So that evening the official research project began.  Forum of pinball aficionados, check (thanks pinside.com).  Jurassic Park, highly rated, check.   Pinball machine repair stores in the Chicago area, check (ha ha – not kidding).  Playfield issues with the Jurassic Park machines on earlier models – uh-oh, I’m assuming this one was built recently, right?   Measurements in the basement – where would it go….would be great here, I think.  Maybe over here?  On and on it went.   Wow, the Premium with the moving T-Rex looks awesome – should I get that one and just wait?  Uh-oh, could have reliability issues – not good for me.  So, after 2-3 hours, I decided that I was going to get the Jurassic Park Pro.  To top it off, the next morning the first thing my son says to me is "Dad, I really do want that pinball machine".   Of course, I'm terrible at keeping a secret so told him I'm going back to buy it as soon as they open.  My wife and I believe he knew it was expensive and he didn't want to ask for something like that so he was torn, so he was stoked that I had already decided to get it.   I was there when the store opened the next day and luckily it was still available – purchased it and it would be delivered in 2 days.  Boom.  And, yep, it was the last one – phew.   Then I went and bought the massager chair – no way I can buy that pinball machine and not the massager chair for my wife.  So, we walked into this store the previous day looking to buy an air hockey table or foosball, and, well…..I don’t even know how to comprehend what just happened.  I guess retirement will need to be postponed a bit.

I’m totally blow away – having a blast.  Wife and son are having a blast.  The Jurassic Park Pro is amazing - no issues other than an occasional Autoplunger misfire up the ramp, but not a big deal.  Learning pinball lingo, leveled the playfield using an App, looking at mods, adjusting settings, watching YouTube videos to try to get better, scouting the next machine (Iron Maiden!!...um, yeah, I need that), etc...

What do I like most:

I don’t need WiFi to play

I get to bang stuff with a metal ball

I’m not staring a screen constantly (TV, Phone, Tablet) – yes, there is a screen on the machine but it’s ancillary to the gameplay.

Jurassic Park has strategy and tactics (execution) combined and ruleset is crazy deep – my kind of thing

Hitting necessary shots is a rush

I’m a sucker for the T-Rex roar on multi-ball and get totally jazzed for balls flying around

Our family is playing together

Fast forward 10 days from the Jurassic Park Pro purchase.  Avengers Infinity Quest Premium just showed up.  Machine #2.  A friend said I was crazy - probably, can't argue.  My son is stoked...."Dad, you can level up characters!".  Of course, the spinning disc malfunctioned after 10 plays – ugh.  Here we go……..

Just what kind of rabbit hole have I found myself in?   

Story photos

jp (resized).jpg


41 days ago

Like looking into a mirror. Great story

40 days ago

You are in the deepest rabbit hole now...:)
Thanks for sharing this great story. Agree with @moat-pin this sounds very familiar. I am 2 years in having bought 2 pins at once (now own 3), and now have experience soldering, trading (coming soon), etc. It's a great hobby but highly addictive! ENjoy!

40 days ago

Welcome to the madness!

My first machine was an I'll advised basket case Wpc from an auction

11yrs later 24 deep, still enjoy bringing them back to life

40 days ago

Great story. My madness started at just about this time last year. Now I have two working machines and, for some unknown reason, a project from 1957 that I’m sure I won’t really enjoy playing but it was close by and the price was very right. Welcome to the club.

40 days ago

This is awesome, congrats and welcome to the party!!! Our first machine was a hope and a prayer that I bought on Criagslist for $100 (1979 Gottlieb - Countdown) and it looked like a boat anchor... After a complete tear down and some new boards; she was better than new and the only table yet to leave the house! Soon enough you'll be trading them in and out with the rest of us, looking forward to hearing more down the road. Have a great holiday and stay warm up there!



40 days ago

Welcome to the club! Hopefully you won't get into the same s**t I'm in and have 150 games and only space to set up half of them at most!! Be careful, this hobby can get waaaay out of control :-)

40 days ago

That's a wonderful and heartwarming story. I totally agree with the benefits of 1) not staring at a screen, and 2) playing with family. A few games of pinball here and there between my wife and I has been a great way to break up the monotony of some of these days working from home.

40 days ago

Excellent story!!! And you ended up with the game and massage chair. It is definitely a thrill to play and enjoy those first 50 games or so.

I will say...you don't need just brand new or NIB games. A lot of them tend to play the same, have similar layouts, etc. Explore all of pinball...early SS games, alphanumeric and earlier DMD games. There are a ton, a lot of good, child-friendly themes, and they won't weigh in as heavily on the wallet (or prevent your early retirement). You obviously found local repair techs, and that often isn't overly expensive.

Just find the right repair guy, and develop a relationship. Or buy older bulletproofed games. They tend to run for a while without significant issues. Plus, the more you play and learn, you'll also be able to ease into repairs and maintenance on your own.

Welcome to the hobby (addiction)!!!

39 days ago

I went to pick up my first game RS ,,had a large paving job to do and said to myself ill treat myself if i do this ,, job done and on the deal went and got RS but there was a FT there as well and well with little nudging had 2 on my first buy they were certainly alot cheaper then still have ft and rs bit managed to find HUO versions over time 26 games now
There are worse vices to have

39 days ago

As someone who is also not handy in the least, I enjoyed reading about your trepidation, as it was and sometimes still is a feeling that I share. Not to worry though, I've had pinball machines for more than a decade now and they are both (with a third on the way) in working order. Being the type who isn't very good at fixing things, when something goes wrong on one of your machines and you fix it, there's really no better feeling. Enjoy. Glad to hear you're getting the next generation into it as well.

39 days ago

Well done! Nothing beats family and friends gathering together to play pinball. Competing, offering advice, beating high scores, making that impossible shot at the last second, are such wonderful experiences to share. Eventually, that massager chair will have to go to make room for another pinball table. Be fair warned...

38 days ago

Walked into a mall "Mancave" store 2years ago. Saw Iron Maiden Pinball (Pro) Machine. Played one game for the first time in probably twenty years and knew this was mine. 8 Pins deep now in just 2 years. Welcome to the party.

38 days ago

Awesome story... welcome to the pinball addiction, uh I mean hobby. ;)

Be prepared for more conveniently timed gifts for the wife to ease the purchase of more pins... ha ha!

I'm in the NW suburbs of Chicago too. I'm assuming the electronics store you visited was ABT?

Anyway, PM me if you want maybe we're located nearby each other? I'm always happy to talk pinball and meet new people locally in the hobby.

38 days ago

Welcome to the hobby! Great to have you. Thanks for posting a truly interesting story.
Now that you have two, they will be able to multiply more rapidly...

37 days ago

And that’s how it all begins!!! I’m begging my wife to see her f we can add the same JP to our collection!

37 days ago

Congrats!! Great journey. Just beginning!!

37 days ago

Great story. I have a pro coming at the end of the month. My second pin. Loves it the moment I played it too. There’s a fix for the airballs I believe and a mod for the trexalive so he will move. Enjoy the hobby and let us know when you get your second one because you will get a second one lol

37 days ago

Hey all, thanks for the comments – great community! Thought I’d give a quick update to the story…..

Fast forward to today, 2 weeks after I wrote the above story and 4 weeks after that fateful visit to the store – the rabbit hole has gotten deeper and wider (is wider even possible in a rabbit hole?).

I fixed the AIQ Premium spinner issue. That’s a good sign – namely that I’m not as inept as I thought. A pinsider gave me a contact at Stern and they responded promptly with a suggested fix – worked great, back in business.

I…..um….ordered a Led Zeppelin LE sight unseen a week ago. Further craziness? Yep. Watched the livestream last night for approx. 90 minutes and watched 30 minutes of it again today. Listened to the podcast with the interview of the Zeppelin design team. Yeah, that’s gonna work for me.

I found out that Iron Maiden will be produced again this year…….so….um…..I pre-ordered a Premium. Will arrive sometime this summer. A piece of exercise equipment in our basement will need to be relocated to make way for Maiden – it clearly needs to sit next to Zeppelin. I actually use this exercise equipment 5-6 times a week, but it looks like I’ll be using it somewhere else in the house.

The massager chair shows up today. As far as I can discern, it’s not possible to play pinball while sitting in it so I will have very little use for it at the moment.

Finally, it appears that observations in the above comments are spot on. I will probably stop at 4 pins though. These things are kind of pricey and draining on the budget (see what I did there) and also take up space not allotted for in our basement refinish plans. So, problem solved – 4 is the magic number.

What’s this….Alien? Wow, that looks amazing. Research beginning…..Help? Please?

36 days ago

You have the bug man! Congratulations on yours and your famlies new hobby!!!!

35 days ago

As a great pinsider wrote to me when I said I was stopping at 2 games “...Hey look at this guy that is going to stop - He thinks he is something special. Are you going to go cold turkey or wear the patch.” I HAVE stopped at 2 games - At least until a 2007 Spider-Man becomes available near me. Then I am definitely stopping at 3 games...Definitely..

34 days ago

Great story, my adventure started 16 years ago as a Christmas present was older pins but overall it’s a great hobby and you’ll meet a lot of other pinball enthusiasts on the internet and closer to home.

34 days ago

Congratulations! I have a Jurassic Park Pro as well. Great game. Mine has been bulletproof. I live in the Chicagoland area as well and can recommended a good repair guys that I use if you need.

34 days ago

Well done!

33 days ago

Love it! Such a great story! Best part is the gift for the wife.....when I picked up my grail pin recently (Metallica) I was forced to buy a Peloton for the wife. I feel the pain....

33 days ago

Holy Moley, Two weeks in and you already have a second pin, you’ve already jumped in the deep end of the pool. Welcome to pinball.

32 days ago

Welcome to the club, hobby, addiction. Bought my first game, 4 Square, for $600, Feb 2016. Second game, Drop A Card, 4 days later. Within 6 months had 5 games. Don't have a basement, so all in my half of 2 car garage. Insulated the garage and paneled 1 wall for games. Started buying old games and refurbing in late 2016. Now have 10 games in my "collection", and have owned 41. Working on game 40 as a refurb (Top Score), and have Doodle Bug, game 41, hiding below the other games waiting for refurb. But really, any of us can stop any time we want........

28 days ago

I also own JP Pro. I turned on replay to allow freeballs every Million point. Soi I can progress further up the map as I'm a terrible player. I have so much more fun now as it is a really hard game with such tight shots. Congrads!!

27 days ago

I just want to know what kind of store has brand new pinball machines for sale! I have never heard such a thing. Very cool!

25 days ago

Great story, triggered my first post after eleven months of lurking. I’m in the processing of bringing my first game home sometime in the near future. Shared your story with the little lady and she laughed and said I’m going to need a bigger house. She also said she would love for you to update after LZ arrives. Again thanks for sharing.

20 days ago

Great story man! And what a machine this is. JP has it all , lots of shots, lots of things to explore. Good music and callouts, many mods to be found (although the playfield is crowded enough as it is.

Mandatory upgrades (IMO):
- mirror blades
- shaker motor
- convolux
- bigger woofer (JBL Stage 810).

I also added a sheet of PDI glass, a set of palm trees (6 dollar for 15 pieces at Ali), lighted flipperbuttons and trough lighting. And some custom cards of course.

Enjoy the rush down this rabbit hole. It tends to take a whole lot but it gives and gives back great things. The main upside I get out of it are my new buddies I meet, the social aspect.

19 days ago

Hah, great story.

It was nice meeting you at the store. We will need to invite you over for the pinball parties at the house, they are a lot of fun :)

Welcome to the hobby, if you need any local help reach out.


18 days ago

Love the story! Sounds like my dad and I last December. Started with our first machine and now working on number 7. It is a great hobby and also a very addicting one. Enjoy!

13 days ago

thanks for the post...oh so this is normal... I thought it was just myself this is happening to... lol
waiting for machine #1

13 days ago

edit: I am not getting the massage chair though... lol

10 days ago

One of us, one of us, one of us...

10 days ago

First one, then two.. in a year 10! Welcome to the insanity club :D

6 days ago

You will know you really have a problem when you begin to farm out your machines to your friend's homes, garages, and workshops.

5 days ago

Congratulations on your new hobby! It will be fun to fix the machines with your son as they break. You both will learn a lot over time. Both are great games. Both playfields are designed by Keith Elwin! Something to take note. He has one other game out (Iron Maiden). Funny that you as a beginner are going for one of the best players in pinball's layout and designs right out of the gate! Enjoy your new hobby. I went from PC gaming enthusiast to Pinball nut over the course of the last year and a half. Can't get enough!

5 days ago

You have absolutely no idea of how much of a rabbit hole you just dug yourself into!!! Once you get in deep enough, it's virtually almost impossible to get out of it. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Add a comment

Wanna make a comment? Click here to sign in or register.