Buying and Selling Pinball On A Budget

By Petie423

July 12, 2021

65 days ago

The Start

Back in 2019, a friend of mine got me back into pinball, I have always owned a Gottlieb Flipper (1960), where I am actually the 3rd generation to own the machine, as it was my Grandfather's, my parents, and now mine.  The story on that one is just that, and since I got rehooked on pinball, I have own 6 pinball tables, and there's a little story with each.  I also wanted to share on what I purchased each table for, and what I sold it for as well,  to prove you do not need to be very wealthy to be able to buy and enjoy pinball.

Super Star (1972)

Super Star is the very first pin that I bought in my life, I was able to find one being sold for $200, and only about a 4 hour round trip, so not that bad. It was advertised that the table was not currently operational, but when the seller described what was happening to it, it sounded like it could be fixed, and worth the purchase. When I got there with friends the seller turned on the table, and it was apparent that just one score reel contact was staying on, and it would likely just be an easy adjustment to fix. Having never fixed tables before, I was overconfident, so I bought it and brought it home, I was not able to fix it on my own, but was able to get someone to get the table operational for $100. Where this purchase gets interesting is that, there were 25 silver dollars inside of the machine, when I sold those silver dollars in 2021, I sold those for $520, and also in 2021 I sold the table for $500.  I was able to make a nice profit on the first table I bought.

Purchase : $200

Repair : $100

Silver Dollars : $520

Sold : $500

Total Profit : $720

Bullseye (1994)

To call Bullseye a pinball table may be stretching the definition just a little, but it has a plunger and a pinball, so in my counts. I spent months looking at facebook marketplace for a new table, and ran across someone in Indiana selling 3 Bullseye units (1 working, 2 not) for $500. I was very unsure if that was a purchase I even wanted to make, the drive alone was enough to drive me away from it, but for some reason I just couldn't let it go. I decided to wait a week and see if it was still for sale after that, which is was, so I made the deal and convinced my dad to make the 8 hour round trip with me. There's not much to say about the trip or purchase, other than that once I cleaned the mouse crap and dirt off the 2 non working tables, they were all in decent shape. I sold one of the non working tables to a friend for $150, he wanted to make a virtual pin. I sold the working one for $300 by selling that through facebook in 2021 and kept the other non working table to make a virtual pin for myself.

Purchase : $500 (3 tables total)

Sold 1 2020 : $150

Sold 1 2021: $300

Total Loss : $50

I consider this a loss only because I kept the one table, I can easily sell my virtual pin if I'd like and make a profit, but I have not done that, and I don't intend to.

F14 Tomcat (1987)

When I purchased my next table in 2020, it was by pure luck. at the time I was working for a telecommuncations company, and as I was in his home fixing his service, we went into the basement and there just happened to be a Tomcat down there. I jokingly said to the customer "what would you sell that for"? He simply responded "give me an offer", as we talked back and force we agreed on a price of $500. We turned on the table just to see if it still started, and it only had the issue of the batteries needing to be replaced, thankfully there was no corrosion, and the start button contact needed to be adjusted. To say the least, I was very happy with the purchase, it has been a table I througoughly enjoyed for a year, and only sold it recently, because I wanted to get a table from the dmd era. I was fortunate by chance to have a conversation with someone willing to buy it for $2500, which again turned a nice profit.

Purchase : $500

Sold : $2500

Total Profit: $2000

Hollywood Heat (1986) and Monopoly (2001)

There is not much of a story to either of these table purchases other than that I wanted both of them. I purchased Hollywood Heat for $2000,  the playfield was in great shape, and I just really enjoy playing that table, and the cheesiness does not bother me. Monopoly I also purchased for $4000, at first I never liked the game, but as I learned the rules, I came to love it.

Hollywood Heat : $2000

Monopoly : $4000

To Sum Things Up

To sum things up in a span of 2 years, I have been able to have 6 different tables in my basement without spending a ridiculous about of money. Don't get me wrong, I have still spent $3,330, which is a lot of money, but I can also sell tables that I currently own to make that money back. I guess my main point is to just show that with time, patience, and a lot of luck, pinball is something that everyone can enjoy in their home, if they want to. Don't get me wrong, I would love to have a brand new table in my house one day, and maybe I will, but for now, I enjoy the hell out of what I can afford, and do not push myself beyond that.

I hope you enjoyed this and are able to take something away from it if you plan to get a table of your own.

Thank you

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51 days ago

My favorite piece of advise for someone getting into the hobby is "stay within your budget." If you can afford to and want to buy a new game, great! But if you can't/don't want to, that's completely fine too! There are plenty of low/mid budget games available out there that are still great games. As time goes on and your equity in the hobby increases you may be even be able to buy/sell or trade games to make your collection better. Any collection or hobby has to start somewhere!

49 days ago

Great article!

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