Pinball, where have you been all my life?!

By Vonbaronmattso

June 04, 2022

This story got featured & frontpaged on June 09, 2022

25 days ago

Do you rememebr the old Time Out arcades that popped up in malls back in the 80s?  The summers of my youth were spent with my best friend exploring the woods behind our homes, playing on Owasco Lake, or taking in a movie at the mall... followed by time spent in Time Out.  I remember them having pinball, and I liked playing, but the games loved my quarters more, so I gravitated towards the arcades where my play time would last a lot longer.  It was also fun to "team play" the the arcades (Gauntlet & Golden Axe were favorites).   Life moved on and I never saw a pinball machine for many years - out of sight out of mind.  

Fast forward to several years ago when my wife and I visited an arcade bar here in Denver.  I had never seen so many pins in one place!  Of course I found one that somehow kept giving me free credits (Simpsons PP - not out of skill but for some unknow reason) and my wife had to drag me away after 2 hours.  I couldn't wait to go back, but with young kids in my life, I never found the time.  Two years ago, we visited a food hall downtown that was connected to a hotel.  In the Lobby area, there happened to be 2 EM machines set on free play.  The kids were in tow and we played several games before politely passing the opportunity to another family, but it was during this moment I realized we could get our own pinball machine. The kids thought it would be cool and mom was on board, but then life moved on and I forgot about it, again.  It wasn't until Mother's Day 2021 when I was asking the kids what present we should get.  Our basement was empty and I had wanted to create a gameroom when the kids got older.  At 8 years old that was old enough, but if I was going to sell mom on the idea we needed to put her first.  She had always talked up skee-ball and we played it whenever we saw one, so I bought a home version from the Skee-Ball company and had it delivered the day before mother's day.  I almost got it in without her knowing, but the guys showed up early - that never happens!  She loved the game and agreed it would be fun to have a pinball machine as well.  So the hunt began.

Having had such a great experience with SPP, that was the game I wanted to buy, but not everyone agreed.  My wife said she was happy with the Skee-ball machine and bowed out of the decision.  I wanted to include my kids, so we went to the local arcade sales shop and played both new and used games.  The kids couldn't decide, but I found a game I really liked.  A used game by the name of Pinbot.  It wasn't very expsenvie (in terms of pinball machines) so I deiceded then and there I would buy them a game of their choosing later, but Pinbot was going home with us.  Actually it would be devlivered a week later.  

Just shy of a week later, I was visiting with my yonger brother and shared the news we had Pinbot being delivered the following day.  I found out he had been a pinball lover for years.  I had no idea!  Apparently there was a bar with pins near his college in OH.  He told me his favorite was Creature from the Black Lagoon and suggested that would be a fun family game.  It just so happens I spotted one on craigslist that morning, so I called up the guy and bought it the next day.  It worked out perfectly.  The delivery guys were happy to take extra cash to get both pins into my basement. 

After some time playing Pinbot and showing pictures to friends and family, it dawned on my why liked the game so mcuh.  It was very familar.  I realized It was the first pinball machine I played back at Time Out!  I played them both for hours and hours, and when I wasn't playing, I was thinking about pinball.  I even began having dreams about pinball,  I felt like I had discovered the kid inside me again and all of a sudden I was happier than I had been in many years. 

The first game I shopped was a Dr Dude and Pinball hooked me again.  I began my first full restoration on a Stern Spider-man back in November (pf swap, cabnit art, and all the goodies installed).  It's finished and now I'm just finishing a partial restoration on a CV.  I have a trashed MB I'm about to tear into next with several more porjects to follow.  Although I probably should look for games that really need it, I went on a parts buying spree for all the games I own that aren't looking as new as the others.  Looks like I'll be in happy land for many years to come.  Pinball, where have you been all my life?!

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20 days ago

Lovely. A sickness for sure. Yeah, I'm right beside you Vonbarronmattso. I'm pretty deep already, and it has just begun for me too...Great story.

19 days ago

I remember Time Out at Springfield mall in Northern VA. At one point, they had two arcades within Springfield mall. If I ever do a game room, I want to do a "Time Out" Motif. Right now, I have 2 EMs, 1 SS, 1 shuffle bowler, several Pachislo (japanese slot machines), and 2 US slot machines (both projects)

19 days ago

I've been checking eBay once in a while to try and find one of those vintage Time Out signs. I have a Williams Strike Master shuffle bowler, lots of fun, and a 4 player multicade to round things out. The other non-pin game I would like to own would be an Ice Cold Beer machine, but they are hard to come by at a reasonable price.

19 days ago

Great story. Thanks for sharing. I hope the kids are learning pinball repair and electronics.

18 days ago

Denver is a great place for pinball and fun place to be in general. Love to visit CO.

16 days ago

I haven’t roped the kids into repairs yet. They tend to favor the multicade for now, but I’m hopeful they come around. One of them did help me build a fence a few weeks ago, and she’s only 9.

Colorado has a ton of pinball in the Denver area!

13 days ago

Man, I can relate to your story… I bought my first machine 2 years ago. Also a PINBOT! The theme, sounds and light show takes me right back to the 80’s arcade days.. I have bought 3 more high dollar units since. AFM, Godzilla premium, Tron w/ a ton of MOD’s. I was trying to build a 80’s arcade vibe, but after playing my two new pinballs late into the the night, i feel more like I made a 90’s Crack House, CUZ THESE THINGS ARE ADDICTING!
What a fun hobby!

10 days ago

Have you played Bride of Pinbot? The music and theme of that game just gets me. I have one I’m going to fully restore.

The 90s games are my favorites. CFTBL, WH20, MM, TZ are tops for me.

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