My pinball far...

By Jediturtle

December 22, 2011

10 years ago

The first pinball machine that I can specifically remember playing was Pinbot. The local roller-rink had one back in my middle school days when that was the place to hang out. I remember they always had it right next to the “hallway” that you skated down to get to the skating floor, with its left side exposed to take some “abuse” from the kids skating by. (Yes, this will have relevance later in my story!) They always had a video game next to it, The Simpsons being the one I remember most. I pumped a lot of quarters into that Pinbot during those days. The biggest thing that stood out about it was that it had so much personality. It wasn’t JUST a pinball machine…it was PinBOT! I know that I played pins earlier in my life, but I can’t remember any specific titles. There was an Aladdin’s Castle arcade in the mall and my Mom would give me a few quarters while she was shopping, but I can’t for the life of me remember what games I would play. I always picture Black Knight in my mind, but I am just not sure.

After the Pinbot days, it was a few years before I really discovered pins again. The year after I graduated high school, a buddy and I saw a Data East Star Wars in a local bowling alley. We must have pumped a couple hundred bucks of our Taco Bell paychecks into that machine that year. Unfortunately I must have burned out on that game, because now when I get a chance to play one, I don’t have the same nostalgic feeling I get from Pinbot. Either way, it was great at the time. I remember those nights fondly.

Through college, I kind of forgot about the game again. I’d play one here or there when I stumbled across one, but nothing serious. It was only after getting married and buying a house with a nice big finished basement that the sickness really came. I really only INTENDED to get one…really I did. What a slippery slope that was. I found the rgp newsgroup and started reading. I spent months lurking and trying to learn the “language” and get an idea of what I was in for.

In November of 2006 it was time to jump in. I was amazed as to how much money these things cost, but I found one in the price range we were willing to spend, and decided to go for it. My wife and I made a 6 hour drive (each way!) to pick up a 1977 Stern Stingray. In retrospect that was pretty silly, but on the other hand the experience of that trip set the future in motion. We didn’t pick it up from just anyone, we picked it up from John Dayhuff. For those that do not know John, he has about 70 machines set-up and working in his basement. As a complete newbie this was staggering to walk into. I hadn’t seen that many machines in my whole life, much less all in one place. John let us play to our heart’s content and then showed me the Stingray. I didn’t so much as know how to take the glass off, but John gave me a quick Pinball 101 and sent us on our way. He also had a Tales from the Crypt there for sale, and I really wish we would have sprung for that one, but it was just too expensive at the time. We’ll fix that mistake someday soon. Stingray was good to us though. It was working 100%, but like all machines had some minor issues spring up which were a nice intro to fixing and keeping them working. So really, no regrets.

Nothing against Stingray, but I was longing for something more “modern” with more to it. Something more like what I remembered playing as a kid. That’s when The Black Knight came along, less than 3 months later. I thought pinball was cool before that, but BK turned me into a pinhead. My first DMD game, Star Trek: TNG followed a few months later as a 30th birthday present to myself. By the end of 2007 I was up to 6 machines, including my first attempt at board work with a battery acid damaged Memory Lane. I got that fixed up and was still hungry for more. I also attended my first pinball shows that year, Midwest Gaming Classic in June (where my ST:TNG ended up coming from) and Expo in October. I started meeting other local hobbyists and attending pinball parties from time to time. The love just kept building.

In 2008, among others, I bought a Pinbot of my own, found at a local garage sale of all places. It was in pretty good shape. Needed some work, but fixed up and cleaned up pretty well. But the cabinet...well the left side of the cabinet is worn and faded, almost as though the left hand side was exposed to some kids skating by it at a roller-rink. I have no idea if this is really the same machine, but I sure like to think that it is, and I now own the game that started my love for pins all those years ago. I will never repaint that cabinet.

Since that time more games kept coming. Old, new, projects to nearly perfect, I enjoy them all. At the 2010 MGC I bought my first EM and have started delving into that world. Talk about masterpieces of engineering! Since then I have added a second EM pin, an EM shuffle bowler, an EM crane game, and a 1952 Rockola Jukebox. That old-school stuff sure is addicting and adds a character to the gameroom that you just can’t beat.

Only one game has left so far. My first Judge Dredd machine was traded towards a Cirqus Voltaire. I didn’t want to lose JD, but it was the only way I could swing the CV, so I did it. I missed that Dredd so much that a couple years later I bought another one. I guess I’m just not a seller…I get too attached to them. Eventually I’ll run out of room and be forced to make hard decisions, but for now, that’s ok.

I have become involved with helping out at Midwest Gaming Classic the past few years, and that has been a great experience. I’ve met many great friends that way and it has really made me feel like a part of a bigger “family”. That and the other good friends that I have made along the way have been the most rewarding part about this hobby. There are so many great people in this hobby, always willing to help each other out. It’s a great community.

As of the end of 2011 I am now up to 14 pins, ranging from a 1961 Gottlieb Aloha to a 2008 Stern CSI, with a nice range in between. The pool table will have to go pretty soon to make room for a few more pins. Then I will have to start getting creative with room, but I am nowhere near done. I can’t think of any other hobby that could be this much fun!

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10 years ago

welcome aboard, jediturtle! I only intended to just get one as well... but you and I aren't alone in that as I'm sure that was how every collector started out in this crazy hobby! lol

10 years ago

You have a great variety of games from every era of pinball.

10 years ago

Well Jedi!!!

10 years ago

"I can’t think of any other hobby that could be this much fun!"
Pretty much the universal sentiment around these parts...
Now get those skates on for some good old fashioned "Red Light, Green Light"!
Is that 'Depeche Mode' I hear??? lol...

10 years ago

14 Pins awe you lucky dog!!! I can't think of another hobby this fun either. Welcome to Pinside.

6 years ago

very nice story

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