Advice for first Pin

(Topic ID: 232452)

Advice for first Pin


By Pinball_Gizzard

52 days ago



Topic Stats

  • 43 posts
  • 31 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 49 days ago by madmama
  • Topic is favorited by 1 Pinsider

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    #1 52 days ago

    Hello all, new member to Pinside and new to the Pinball scene as well.

    I am looking for a little advice from those more knowledgeable and experienced than I as I try to sort my way through my first Pinball purchase.

    A little background first so you can better see where I am coming from and what my needs are for the machine. I have 4 kids, ages 8-16. We are in the process of transitioning our upstairs loft area from a more kiddie designed area to a more teenager/young adult type area. We just got a nice foosball table for the space and that got me thinking about what else would go well in a gameroom type loft. DUH, a pinball machine! So that started the idea rolling several weeks ago.

    I have gotten approval from the wife to start looking for machines and even though I grew up in the 80s and 90s my personal experience with pinball is a little limited. I usually played the video arcade games in the arcades when I was a kid and never really played pinball all that much. The one machine I do have memories of is The Addams Family which was in the commons area of my dorm in college and we used to play that machine quite a bit. If I had a "holy grail" machine at this point, that would be it.

    We have space to eventually house about three machines in the space we are looking at but my guess is the first machine will be a solo machine for at least a year if not a little more. So, I am trying to decide between getting a solid first machine on the cheaper end, probably alpha-numeric, vs saving up and trying to find a great deal on a good DMD machine.

    I did some research and put together a spreadsheet of the machines I would be considering and tried to rank them based on a bang for the buck type calculation. Ideally I would like to keep my first machine under $2000 but I could probably go up as high as $4000 without too much heartburn. My son and I played Funhouse at a local arcade and he really loved that machine, I have to say the creepy factor appeals to me too.

    So, looking at what is a well regarded machine in my target price range I have come up with:
    Taxi
    Whirlwind
    F-14 Tomcat
    FunHouse

    I know Funhouse may be a bit more expensive but I think I would be willing to splurge a little for that one. I would also be interested in some of the more popular DMD type machines but as those are out of my initial price range I have eliminated them for now. If I could find an The Addams Family for $5000 or so I would probably pull the trigger on that but I am thinking that may not be likely.

    So given all that background, a few questions:

    First, are there any other good games that I should be considering in my target price range? I was thinking system 11 games or other late 80s/early 90s games would probably be my best bet but I am open to other ideas as well. EM games don't appeal to me as much at this point.

    Second, from those who have been there and done that, would you say it is better to start out with a less expensive machine and work your way up to an Addams Family or the like or just go for that "holy grail" machine that you might be happy with by itself vs the others which would likely not be enough to be the only machine in the collection? I'm not sure that made great sense but hopefully you get the idea.

    Lastly, I do have a line on a Taxi machine that isn't too far from me, owner says it is in good shape and he is asking $1500 but says he is negotiable in person with cash. I am tempted to go look at that machine and see if I can take it home for $1200 or so but I am again kind of torn because while I like Taxi from what I have played on Visual Pinball it would not be a "oh my gosh I can't believe I have this machine" type experience. It would be more of an entry into the hobby with the idea of playing it for a few years and then probably moving it on. What appeals to me is that if I could get the machine for a good price I would likely be able to move it along in a year or two for what I had in it or maybe even a little more. Thoughts?

    Thanks in advance for any advice or help you can give.

    #2 52 days ago

    Jump on the taxi and worst case you can play it for a year and trade up towards TAF. Seems like a great price, but never know til you see it. If it plays at all, buy it. It’s a great pin and won’t be wasted money at all. Hindsight is 20/20, but trust me you’ll be kicking yourself down the road for passing on a 1200-1500 taxi.

    #3 52 days ago

    Pinball’s multiply fast.... like well under a year fast

    1500 for a taxi? Ya go check that out. The game is averaging about $2000-2500 but I think the market is finally cooling off. At 1500 I would expect a “players” condition with the playfield and cabinet planking and having artwork gone but you never know. If that taxi is working and in good shape it is well worth 1500, great game.

    #4 52 days ago

    Welcome to Pinside and welcome to the awesome hobby of pinball.

    You have done the right thing in setting yourself a budget for your first pin and also playing machines within that budget so you can narrow down your target list. Funnily enough, when I first started looking for a machine, I went for a System 11 game and bought PinBot. That lasted a few years before it was sold to make way for an Attack From Mars Remake LE.

    The Addams Family (TAF) is a sort after machine and demands top $$$. If you were to find one cheap, I would want to check it out to make sure it doesn’t end up costing you big dollars to fix it up etc. Best bet would be to take someone that knows what to check on machines so you can avoid expensive repairs before you even get to flip the game once.

    Speaking from my own experience, start with the budget you have set yourself and aim for the machine on your list - they are all pretty great titles to get you started in owning a pinball machine (and of course, having heaps of fun).

    #5 52 days ago

    Try to locate a collectors or player pin groups in your area. Unless you are in the Antarctic, there should be some in your area. They will have pins to play and know people with pins for sale. You need to play to see what you like. For $2K to $4K, you can get some really nice pins in really great shape that would be great to own. Nothing trumps playing a game to see what you like. You can always go to pinside to check out pricing histories. The only other advice I’d offer is make sure your first pin is in good shape and working. If you can by from someone who will stand behind what they sell and help you move and set it up, it’s worth the extra money. These things are complex and daunting in the beginning - especially if you are not possessed of moderate soldering skills and working with small stuff in awakward positions with little room. Nothing worse than getting in over one’s head and tremendously frustrated - can drive folks away from this great hobby.

    #6 52 days ago

    Congrats on taking the plunge.

    Always look over the CPU board in the backbox in any game for any battery damage.

    #7 52 days ago

    Welcome to the hobby! There’s nothing else like pinball. The games you are interested in are about 30 years old. Are you willing to dive in and do likely repairs such as soldering and flipper rebuilds? Otherwise you might want to spend more money and get a newer Stern, like Deadpool, Iron Maiden, etc. not trying to scare you off, but just want to be sure you are willing to do repairs. Fixing up older games can be very rewarding. You just need to be willing to do it. Do you have a multimeter, soldering iron, etc? Have you read up on pinwiki?

    #8 52 days ago

    I'd recommend World Cup Soccer 94. Kids love it here on our street and none of us are die hard soccer fans. The game is good, the rules are fun and it has staying power. Just a thought. Welcome to the hobby and best of luck with whatever you decide. Pinball is a very subjective thing, and what floats some peoples boat, may sink yours.

    #9 52 days ago

    F-14 is a sure thing. You'll find one on a budget.

    #10 52 days ago
    Quoted from Pinball_Gizzard:

    Thanks in advance for any advice or help you can give.

    Where are you? If you're in the US pin pricing can vary greatly from coast to coast to midwest. Knowing where you are would help with recommendations.

    #11 52 days ago

    As a long time lurker and newer pinball owner myself, here is my advice:

    1) Check out any and all "barcades" near you to play as many pins as possible. There may well be games you fall in love with that you never even knew existed. You will get a better idea of what you really like.

    2) check out the top 100 list here on pinside and compare it with IPDB and other websites. These scores are calculated by serious pinheads.

    3) decide what factors are most important to you; theme? Fast playing? Artwork? Callouts? Lighting? Playfield toys? Focus on whats most important.

    4) I would highly recommend getting the newest/best shape pin you can afford. I have 3 kids and they really beat pins up. If you want to keep it up and playing with little down time maintenance...get the best possible. If you are able, get one new or from a pinball restorer.

    5) Share with us where you are located. You may be able to get a good connection on a pinball through someone on here. If you live close to me, I could tell you about dozens of pins available from trusted sellers. I even know a guy with The Addams Family.

    #12 52 days ago

    Thanks for all the great replies guys! I live in Texas if that helps.

    #13 52 days ago
    Quoted from Pinball_Gizzard:

    Thanks for all the great replies guys! I live in Texas if that helps.

    Texas is big, but looking at the map, there are some good places across the state to get some hands-on time before making a final decision. Hopefully you're close to one or more.

    There's an enormous arcade in Houston, Joystix. Pinballz in Austin has a huge pin collection. Cybercade, Versus, and Free Play are go-to in Dallas. What's Brewing in San Antonio has a great selection.

    #14 52 days ago
    Quoted from Pinball_Gizzard:

    Thanks for all the great replies guys! I live in Texas if that helps.

    I am also in Texas (Dallas area). I know lots of pinballers in DFW and in the Austin/San Antonio area.
    If you want to pm me, I will pass along some info on sellers in these areas.

    #15 52 days ago

    If you’re on a budget, and you’re sure you’re keeping just one pin, go for a deeper rule set and bang for buck. As stated, World Cup soccer can be had for a good price and your family will love it for years.

    I’d also consider demolition man. It is packed with features and has a better rule set than most realize, especially when tuned up. Both of these pins are an absolute bargain at 2500-3k, prob low end of that in Texas.

    Out of your list, the only one I’d consider as a sole pin is Whirlwind, but you’d have to adjust the rules to maximum difficulty and crank up the angle. I don’t recommend TAF for home use, but many would disagree. I find it to be a great location pin, but for home it gets redundant quick. If you want a Williams/Bally grail, go with TZ.

    #16 52 days ago

    A lot really depends on how deep you want to get into the repair /maintenance side of the hobby, unfortunately the old saying,"if it ain't broke, it ain't pinball" is largely true, especially on older machines. Unless you are buying a System 11/WPC era game that has been completely gone thru both mechanically and electronically, you can expect some issues which if you're not prepared for, could make for a less than happy first experience.

    One of the best things about getting into the pinball hobby now is how much info and parts are out there, it truly has never been easier to find what you need.

    I would look closely at the Taxi, it is a fun game and the price sounds quite reasonable in today's market. System 11's are generally quite solid, so it, Whirlwind or F-14 would be good first choices within your budget.

    Good Luck!

    #17 52 days ago

    One thing I would recommend is getting to know people locally involved in the hobby who are knowledgeable and willing to show you a few basic things. The community is very helpful and can help avoid frustrations.

    #18 52 days ago

    The Texas pinball Festival in March is a great place to go play multiple games. It usually hits the 300 mark. www.texaspinball.com

    #19 52 days ago

    Depending on your budget you can get some DMD pins in the $1800-2500 range. In the 2500-3000 range you might even start to find pins like Flintstones, Fish Tales and several others. They are out there.........very important for you is that you know how to repair these machines regardless of what you buy. Lots of working parts and alot of problems can arise as many of these machines are 30+ years old.

    Good luck

    #20 52 days ago

    Best advice for your first pin, is to plan for your second pin

    #21 52 days ago

    You will prolly get burnt out on a single pin if thats all you get. If u can, get the taxi and get the tomcat. You wont regret having the options, and you will have two great pins for around $3500-$4000.

    Welcome to the hobby!

    #22 51 days ago

    Cannot go wrong with the Taxi

    #23 51 days ago

    I believe your best bet for a first pin is to buy one specifically that you do not think will be there long term. Pinballs can be bought and sold for roughly what you pay for them, so as long as you have extra money sitting around it doesn't have to cost a lot. If you were looking at something to buy as an introductory pin that is family friendly, will hold it's value well, and isn't too mechanically complex I'd look at an early 90s Bally Williams DMD machine. I would specifically recommend World Cup Soccer 94 or Fish Tales. These are going to both come in at around 3k, are relatively common, and should sell for ... about 3k. So you can get a pinball machine, keep it in you house for 6 months, and then sell it for about what you paid for it. This will allow you to mentally justify a more expensive machine later on. A 2k TV for that loft will cost a lot more than a 3k pinball machine.

    World Cup Soccer and Fish Tales are very family friendly. They are also great machines for competitive or tournament play (shallow ruleset, fast, little luck involved). This machines will require some work or tuning at some point in time, and are simple enough that you could learn on the machines. The downside is that they are not incredibly deep machines, so playing them over and over can get a little repetitive once you can get to wizard mode.

    If you wanted something a little deeper but mechanically complex and within budget, you could look at an older Data East (90s DMD). Stargate is cheap (2000-2500), Jurassic Park has a great theme, and there are a few others that are in budget. These will likely require work to maintain, but it could be educational for your kids. Something as simple as switching out bulbs for LEDs could be a great learning experience for an 8-16 year old.

    If you want a deeper game in budget but don't care as much about theme you could go for Demolition Man, The Shadow, Johnny Pneumonic, or anything along those lines. All machines listed so far should sell for about what you pay for them, if not more as long as you do your research.

    All in all it's a fun hobby. Hope you have fun!

    #24 51 days ago

    1. You have good location and timing. Take your time. Lots of games will be for sale at TPF with many deals made in the run up. That will be you best shot to see and try a ton of games.

    2. Figure out if you can or want to fix a game. If so, how far down that rabbit hole do you really want to go? If not, get something in better condition.

    3. Spend less than your budget on the game, parts and “stuff” will be needed.

    #25 51 days ago

    Welcome to our addiction!! I would like to add to the discussion, remember a loft is upstairs! pinballs weigh in at over 600lbs!I as well have a TAFG,and it was my grail pin! Now,the older pins may need extensive repair soon.Sys.11 pins are very reliable,I have a Diner,so your Taxi might be a good no.1! I buy from established dealers! Look at sites like Gameroomguys, or,GEX in Colorado is very good! For $4000.you can maybe get a pin that has been fully shopped out,clean and fun! You will have to learn how to do the basics of cleaning and rubber ring replacement! Thats where Pinside is your best aid!!Have fun,B safe!!!

    #26 51 days ago

    Getting two pins close together may be what you need here. You have quite an age spread in your kids so what makes your 16 yo and friends happy will be to hard for your younger ones. Now, getting two doesn’t have to be pricey. One could be an em like space mission ($600), and the other a full feature game like your funhouse. But you need something for everyone.

    As been stated before wcs and fish tales are fun, family friendly titles.

    #27 51 days ago

    Advice for your first pin: get a working game as close to 100% if you can. You definitely want to be playing your game not working on it. You will learn as you go and may have parts break or malfunction, that will be a learning experience. Try to connect with a local Facebook group or league to gain contacts and connections. That $1500 taxi sounds like a good start. The main thing is to have fun!

    #28 51 days ago

    Thanks for the great replies and info guys!

    I contacted the seller of the Taxi machine and it sold within a day or so of him posting it so that machine is gone. I will continue the hunt!

    #29 51 days ago

    This thread makes me think twice about selling my TAF (which was my first pin). I'd need to let it go if I want a JJP since I only have room for one pin. Just deciding if I should get pirates or wait till ?willy wonka? But I still think to myself how could i keep this TAF and get a new machine.

    #30 51 days ago
    Quoted from Vdrums:

    This thread makes me think twice about selling my TAF (which was my first pin). I'd need to let it go if I want a JJP since I only have room for one pin. Just deciding if I should get pirates or wait till ?willy wonka? But I still think to myself how could i keep this TAF and get a new machine.

    TAF is overrated imho. Pirates would be waaay better. Also, you can find TAF on location if you need a fix. Replays are usually a given too, which is a bonus. Lastly, they made so many of them, so you can always repurchase, and the way the market’s going, you’d sell high and repurchase low.

    #31 51 days ago
    Quoted from Tranquilize:

    TAF is overrated imho.

    Which is good for him. Sell now for high, buy a new game and enjoy it for awHile. If it really pains you, like Tranq said you can always buy another one.

    #32 51 days ago
    Quoted from Pinball_Gizzard:

    Second, from those who have been there and done that, would you say it is better to start out with a less expensive machine and work your way up to an Addams Family or the like or just go for that "holy grail" machine that you might be happy with by itself vs the others which would likely not be enough to be the only machine in the collection? I'm not sure that made great sense but hopefully you get the idea.

    When I started, I wanted games like Funhouse, TZ, Whitewater, and maybe Addams Family. After discovering how expensive these type of games get and how they can be hard to find, I turned to cheaper games that are easier to find. I was also nervous getting a game like TZ because I thought it would be a maintenance nightmare. I ended up getting other games for different reasons. No regrets but do wish I jumped on the games I really wanted. I finally got a TZ earlier this year and really feels good to own one. Truth is maintenance on pins is pretty much the same and once you get your feet wet it's not that bad. I would try to play as many pins as your can. Get a feel for what you like and go for the ones that are the most fun to play game after game. All games are fun at first but some get old fast.

    On the flip side, getting expensive A-title games or NIB games is great but tough to build up a collection for a beginner due to cost. Any one game can get old fast when that is all you have to play. It also gets annoying when the game breaks and there is nothing to play. There is some value in getting cheaper games to build up a 3-4 pin collection then trading your way up to those more expensive games.

    #33 51 days ago
    Quoted from Tranquilize:

    TAF is overrated imho. Pirates would be waaay better. Also, you can find TAF on location if you need a fix. Replays are usually a given too, which is a bonus. Lastly, they made so many of them, so you can always repurchase, and the way the market’s going, you’d sell high and repurchase low.

    JJP POTC is amazing! Obe of the best games ever made. His hobbit is incredible too

    #34 51 days ago
    Quoted from Pinball_Gizzard:

    Thanks for the great replies and info guys!
    I contacted the seller of the Taxi machine and it sold within a day or so of him posting it so that machine is gone. I will continue the hunt!

    Patience is key. In the meantime just find and play as much as you can. Make your New Years resolution to attend as many shows as possible in 2019.

    #35 51 days ago
    Quoted from chuckwurt:

    Patience is key. In the meantime just find and play as much as you can. Make your New Years resolution to attend as many shows as possible in 2019.

    Great advice! Build up your pinball funds and keep an eye out for a good deal. Be patient, plenty of games for sale out there. Keep your cash ready in case a good deal pops up!

    #36 51 days ago
    Quoted from Pinball_Gizzard:

    Thanks for the great replies and info guys!
    I contacted the seller of the Taxi machine and it sold within a day or so of him posting it so that machine is gone. I will continue the hunt!

    Fyi- deals go quick in this hobby.

    #37 51 days ago

    Not sure if you like EM pinballs, but this guy has a 1973 pro football and he is in Irving.
    He said he would take 450, but i ended up getting another pin.

    dallas.craigslist.org link

    #38 51 days ago
    Quoted from Pinball_Gizzard:

    Thanks for the great replies and info guys!
    I contacted the seller of the Taxi machine and it sold within a day or so of him posting it so that machine is gone. I will continue the hunt!

    No good deals sit for long. When one come up you need to be ready & jump on it quickly

    #39 51 days ago

    Welcome to the hobby. With all due respect to some of the others, pinball collecting is generally more expensive in Texas. It is very challenging to find stuff that you want here in south Texas. I don't know what it is, but I constantly find machines in upstate New York. They have to be shipped down and that costs money. If you can buy locally by having connections, that is great. You are way ahead of most others.

    As far as flipping later once you buy, I think that is possible. The number of machines is fairly limited so there it is a good market for sellers. Texans are also willing to pay more for games since they are more rare, so I honestly think you will make a profit as long as it is a title that is in demand.

    #40 50 days ago

    Welcome! I bought my first pin about 6 months ago, and like you I tend to be very deliberative and rational about decisions like this. My main piece of advice would be, don't be so deliberative and rational about this! The #1 criteria should be buying a game that you're excited about. Always remember that if you do your market research and make sure that you're getting a decent price, you always have the option of turning around and selling it for about what you paid for it if it doesn't work out for you (as long as it's not NIB). It's also hard to predict exactly what owning a particular machine is going to be like for you. For instance, I went in thinking that I didn't really care much about the theme, but I ended up with one with a theme I like a lot. In retrospect I'm very glad that I did, since a theme that I didn't like would get awfully annoying after awhile.

    I agree with the advice about lots of repairs/maintenance being likely on an older, cheaper machine. If that doesn't sound like something you want to get into, spend more like $3-$5k for your first pin if you can. An "entry level" game should be a more expensive one, and then as you get into the hobby and learn more you can tackle needier, cheaper machines.

    Something that I did was to make sure I bought from a Pinsider with an established and positive seller's history, since I didn't really know what to look for myself in terms of assessing the condition of the game. That made me a lot more confident that I wasn't getting ripped off or making a huge mistake. In retrospect, it probably wasn't absolutely necessary to go that far, but it certainly made me more comfortable. Partly because I wanted to do it this way, I didn't have one game I was looking for, but rather a list and once I saw one from a good seller at a good price I was ready to jump on it. As others have said it's important to be able to move quickly when the machine you want gets listed.

    One last thing is that there are certain games that are highly sought after, and though they are usually great games, they tend to not be good value for the money. One of those on your list is Funhouse- great game, but you can get one that's almost as good for a couple thousand dollars less. That said, if you find yourself really wanting a Funhouse, go for it. Good luck!

    #41 50 days ago

    I've owned Taxi and F-14 simultaneously. It makes for a great pairing. One is brutally fast, the other has flow and more specific shots.

    I'd say go for 2 pins, which are different from each other. It will give you diversity, and if one goes down you're still good.

    Plus, since you have the family, it would be nice to share the wealth of top player

    #42 50 days ago

    Do you have any leads on pins currently?

    #43 49 days ago

    I fully support your desire to have Funhouse. It was the 2nd pin we purchased and it’s been nothing but love. It was our top desired pin after we bought our first pin, (STTNG - which was my #1… and still is),… and it meant that any repair it needed - we were ready to bend over backwards and do repairs the right way and never give up on it. It’s now working perfectly and any repair it needs - we’re ready to take care of it. There’s something different about owning a game you really lusted after.

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