I was in your shoes a month ago and looking for a first machine of the same quality. I bought a really nice Ripley's from a local pinsider with great references and history. Two weeks later I purchased another from a pinsider in NC and had it shipped to me. It was even better than I hoped for. And then another from Paul Drabik of Wanna Pinball. I was very lucky as all were in immaculate shape as described, and I saw none of them in person. Paul's was brand new from Stern so no troubles there. Both used games came with a TON of high resolution pictures and numerous communications before I closed the deals. I took a huge leap of faith that luckily paid off, you really need to trust your instincts and do research on the sellers here. If somebody has a large history of activity here, sales etc... You should be good. What's great is you can save a ton of money by purchasing from a collector here vs. eBay or Craigslist, and generally get a much better quality machine. Of course by all means you should see and play something before you buy. Living in the metro NYC area you have tons of opportunities to do so. Take your time, and watch out for anything that comes from a new member and/or does not have sharp photos of the entire machine including under playfield and back box. For me I decided to stick with post 2000 Sterns as I was also not ready to jump into maintaining an older machine. I've already learned a ton and will probably go for a classic next year. Good luck and have fun!