What the heck am I doing?

What the heck am I doing?

By TooFiddyMan

July 29, 2018

3 months ago

We all have friends.  Some have more than others.  Some have friends you just get to relax and hang out with.  Some of us have friends who are only friends when they need something.  Then we have the friends who are bad influences......lets call those friends "Bob." 

Less than a year ago, while minding my own business, Bob says "Hey man, you should buy a pinball machine."  Which I replied "Yeah?  Sounds cool.....it would be fun to have one.  Find me one for $500 and I'm in!"  We were always talking about things that nobody else cared about.....vinyl records, old motorcycles, BMX bikes, vintage stereo equipment, and now pinball machines.  All of these things which I love, minus the BMX thing.  I assume like me, a lot of the people on Pinside were born too late in history.  Think of the things our parents and grandparents got to see invented; real music, cars with metal bumpers, non-cookie cutter motorcycles, phones with cords, the list goes on and on. 

The search for a pinball bargain began.  Bob sent me text after text with pins for sale.  None in my price range.....which we all know was a little low for the pinball world we currently live in.  I was amazed at the availability of pins in the big metro areas....problem is we live in ND.  Not a lot of pins for sale in central ND!  Minneapolis, Denver, Chicago.....had tons of them.  Bob eventually found himself a deal on a 1986 Bally Motordome and a 1981 Bally Eightball deluxe and we road tripped out west to pick them up.  We arrived at the address given to us.  Now, over the years I've been to some pretty sketchy places to buy records, bikes and other crap, and each time I would text someone the address and a picture of the house/building in case I never return home.  A few times I figured I was destined to be locked in some psycho's basement or thrown in some killers freezer.  This place although, was a decent looking trailer house in an average trailer park. We were not overly concerned until the owner came out wearing pajama pants, flip flops and no shirt....at about 2:00 in the afternoon.  The trailer was home to a long hair single dude, a humongous dog, an amazing flying V guitar collection and endless marijuana related items.  He had about 8 pins shoved in his kitchen.  The smell was painful.  We paid the man, loaded the pins, and got the hell out of there.  He never did offer us any weed which I thought was strange for a guy with so much weed stuff.....not a very 'weed like' thing to do....oh well.  We laughed on the way home about the whole situation and agreed that we would be OK with dying over pins and vinyl! 

After playing Motordome in Bobs garage, I was hooked.  I needed one.  I wanted one so bad I could taste it.  He eventually did some horse trading with his Motordome and somehow ended up with a 1990 Williams Whirlwind.  Good trade.  The search for me continued.  I was forced to raise my spending limit as my interest grew.  I found myself wanting anything I could find in my price range.  I was advised by Bob and other pin heads that I needed to be patient and the right one would come along, kinda like girlfriends in high school.  Bob finally found me a candidate: a 1986 Williams High Speed.  I drove 5 hours to buy a game I've never seen, played or even really knew anything about.  Best. Decision. Ever. 

I have a tendency to over do things.  I go all in.  Sometimes a little on the crazy side.  I've since taken some super long journeys in the search of a good deal or a pin I just had to have.  But, I'm OK with it.  Some people fish and hunt....we all know what a waste of time and money that is!  Anybody who plays or collects pinball machines will attest to the addictiveness of them.  I thought my desire for vinyl records was bad....my desire for pins is worse.  Maybe it's because they are harder to find or how different each game is from one another.  Bob always says "That's a phat game" no matter what game he is talking about.  You can always find something super cool and original with each game you play.  I am up to only 7 machines, but have no real thought of stopping, even though I constantly say I am done buying them.  It could be worse, I could collect beanie babies or stamps.  

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85 days ago
Good story! You're not alone man, hadn't played pinball in 30 years (since a teen) then suddenly rediscovered it and instantly addicted. Just bought my first pin a few months ago and now have 3 more being shipped to me, even though my wife asks "where did this obsession come from? " and we don't have room on the house for them (so says my wife, I think they will squeeze in, or they will just be collected in our storage room). I have a huge Pinside wishlist and can't exactly explain my cravings for collecting more, but there it is. Sounds like you made a few good finds, and wish you all the best.
85 days ago
stamp collector is such a chick magnet thing to do
83 days ago
Same thing happened to me. Two years ago, I bought a Revenge From Mars, just because I had never seen one and I thought it was cool. I had decided to put a pinball machine in the house, and originally set out to get a Scared Stiff, till the sticker shock hit me. Fast forward two years later, aND I still have five in the house. I've been up to as many as 8 at one time, and have probably been through 20 different ones by this point. Pinball grabbed me like nothing else ever has, and I've read many stories and have met many people with the same problem. Lol. Well, maybe I should say "situation, as I don't see it as a problem. As soon as I know that my basement is totally waterproofed, I intend on filling it with them. The wish list is long, but distinguished. Whirlwind, Earthshaker, Pinbot, Elvira And The Party Monsters... I find that the 80s and 90s Williams /Bally games are the ones I gravitate towards. I was born in 1966, so the new Sterns and others that pack so much stuff in that ball times can be an hour, just aren't me. Nothing against them, at all. I love the simplicity and fun factor of my Jokerz, for instance. And I just can't see paying $10K for a game, either. $5K at the very most, for me. I want a Tales Of The Arabian Nights, and a Scared Stiff, so bad that I'm gonna have to bend a little, though. Great story, and happy pinballing to you!
72 days ago
Same here I’m hooked!! I can’t look on Craigslist or pinside market place anymore or at least for a while ;)
66 days ago
I Just told myself no more.
Then recently i picked up
Im out of control.
61 days ago
Don't fight the urge! Buy more games. Buy more good games and keep letting me play them!!!!
60 days ago
It's starting... I also just bought my first two pins. And can't stop looking for more. Slowly considering driving over 5+ hours to pick up new machines.
58 days ago
Just logged onto Pinside & this story caught my eye for some reason so I clicked on it & read through the whole thing only to find out that I would be the pajama pants, flip flop wearing "hippy" from Dickinson you are speaking of with the 2 pins I sold your buddy awhile back. Glad to see that his purchase(s) sparked something inside you to want to start your own collection. It's an addiction all its own in my opinion. Hit me up if you are ever in the neighborhood, stop in & burn one down or just play some good ol' fashion pinball. I do have my Metallica & Banzai Run on the market if interested!
57 days ago
So... I would imagine that pin collecting is similar to arcade collecting. I would get a new (old) game. Fix it up, sell it for a little more than I paid for it, then buy new better (old) game. I kept trading up till I could get a couple. My problem right now, is that I don't want to part with my Black Knight which makes trading up somewhat problematic.

Aside from the insane luck of getting gifted with a pin from some dead unknown relative, how are you guys affording the addiction? Actually... I would still like to hear about it if it were some dead unknown relative too. But I am seeing some folks with 6-8k$ games which is the price of a used car. I am not judging folks if that's how they want to spend their money. But... Personally, I refuse to put myself in debt to play pinball. I will go in search of a bowling alley if I have to play that badly (and I have).

One day I hope to have a Black Hole, and the little brother to the one I have, Black Knight 2000. I would love to be in a conversation and someone remembers that they have... I don't know... some pinball in the basement, and I could have it if I felt like fixing it, then I replace that one fuse, and it magically springs back to life. I think that's the thing that keeps me hopeful. Many people have no technical understand of what they have. It breaks, and they, confused, no longer use the thing. I know they are out there. Perhaps that's what "Bob" meant. You just have to be patient, "kinda like girlfriends in high school."
35 days ago
Really enjoyed reading your story. I find it fascinating to hear how people are drawn into collecting pinball machines
26 days ago
Good story, same thing happened to me. Two years ago I found a high speed for 1k. Then it was any deal I would buy. Family would play and if they didn’t like it I sold to get a new one. Originally only supposed to have 2 pins max, Then 5, then 8 now it’s 10 and we have 11 :). We really like our line up now so it’s getting harder to replace the ones we have but it took a lot of pins to figure out the mix we like. Luckily I found them reasonable and sold them reasonable after a couple months if we wanted to change it up. Gone through 36 pins in that time but slowing down now. Really want a whirlwind to round out the lineup. Problem is if I get that then I’m really slowing down which is hard to do

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