(Topic ID: 239472)

Are we in the golden age of pinball right now?


By Luckydogg420

6 months ago



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  • 31 posts
  • 24 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 6 months ago by eagle18
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    #1 6 months ago

    There’s mention of the 90’s being the golden age of pinball, right before the collapse. There were many great games from that time period that people love still today.

    But, I just think we’re currently in a pretty awesome time for pinball. (Besides the price increases). Currently we have new games being built by a handful of companies that are pretty great. There’s remakes coming out of the classic games that people alread love, and there’s enough homebrew support to make your own game if there’s nothing coming to market that you like.

    Pinball is increasingly common place in top budget movies and tv and this just adds to the notoriety and hype around the hobby, pushing it more into the mainstream.

    What do you think? could this resurgence in pinball be enough to bring it back into pop culture mainstream for years to come?

    #2 6 months ago

    Well, I share your opinion on this. Time is great, we all have a choice from many beautiful machines, many well balanced machines and almost 4 new titles per year. This is blowing my mind as well.

    BUT

    I think the older machines are built with another mindset than the newer machines. If I look at my own collection I only have the end 80's/begin 90's machines. I love my TZ, I love my BOP, I love my FH. Owned a POTC and that left after one year. I loved the machine for a year and now it's over. Look at the new sterns, all lovely machines, deep rulesets, but are exchanging owners more often than I change my underwear. (Yeah, that's actually incorrect, or is it?? )

    What I absolutely love is the amount of choice we've got at this moment. If you like system-11, eey, grab a system-11. If you like the new sterns, eey, get a stern. If you're a girl, eey, fix yourself up with a Wizard of Oz. (Just joking guys, djeez...)

    What has changed is the experience, in the 90's you could go out and enjoy pinball with your friends in a bar. Now it is at somebody's house, still with friends. Back in the day (with limited funds) I wasn't able to work on my skills. Now, owning a pinball machine (actually I own 6 at this moment), I am able to work on my skills. That actually has the pleasant side effect that a much deeper ruleset is needed to keep me interested. On the other hand I sometimes want to play some quick pinball and like the fact that sys11 had a limited ruleset. Just enjoy some pinball and forget the daily crapp we all have to put up with.

    So, in conclusion, the golden era of pinball seems to be now AND in the early 90's. The experience has changed, we now have more choice. Funfactor is the same amount but fun is different. So I count myself lucky to be able to experience both.

    19
    #3 6 months ago

    No. I'd call it a silver age or bronze age. Could say Gold was classic EM/early SS days (60's to 70's) where Pins were everywhere. In coffee shops, restaurants, soda shops, department stores, bars, etc. Then Silver age with late SS and DMD's (80's and 90's) where we had the birth of the arcade. We then had the dark age (2000--2010-ish) and have a new bronze age of HUO and now bar-cades. However, I am concerned that the saturated market of new pins from an increasing number of manufacturers and a healthy backlog of used and now used HUO games available. This, plus the rising cost per game, both new and used(Haunted House for $4,000) are going to really test this market. Not being a bubble burst Chicken Little, but I only have so much money and space and I expect that is the same for a lot of us. To be a true golden age, pinball would have to be available to the masses like it was in the past. Where you could spot a game just about anywhere. Plus, at $1 per game, non-pinheads will just pass that by. When I set up my first pin in my home, I had to teach my kids' friends and even their parents how to start the game and use the flippers...and this was an EM!

    #4 6 months ago

    I think it is a great time for pinball but certainly not "the golden age". Especially since so many "new" titles are remakes or otherwise linked to classic titles from the best times of pinball. Now if these titles start to sell so well that it gives companies (probably just Stern) the confidence to get more creative and create their own unlicensed themes/IP and start making 10k+ units to satisfy the masses like Williams ramped up in the early 90s, sure, maybe we enter a new golden age. But I believe we are seeing Stern and some other companies cashing in on the nostalgic and "retro" part of pinball, targeting mostly a group of people that used to play pinball back in the real golden age.

    #5 6 months ago

    I do agree it’s a second comming of pinball, but it’s hard to top the era of Bally, Williams, Stern, Sega, Data East and Gottlieb. 1990 to 1997 was a great time for Pinball players and designers.

    #6 6 months ago

    Maybe in terms of artwork and rules. JJP isn't building fast enough and Stern doesn't come close to the creativity of peak WMS.

    #7 6 months ago

    Golden age of pinball smack talk for sure.

    It’s a great time to be in the hobby. Lots of choice is always better than less.

    #8 6 months ago

    it is a good time for pinball, but not a 'golden age'
    that would have been in the 70s and early 80s when you had three manufactures, bringing out at least 6 new games a year, new ideas were tried, tecnology was embrased, and arcades still existed

    #9 6 months ago

    I'm in the process of starting a pinball/retro arcade. I feel like Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams. Dumping money on a pastime which many have given up on and forgotten. Still though as I dream of a place filled wall to wall with pinball machines and old arcade games I can't help but hear a voice whisper to me.."if you build it they will come.."

    I really hope this a new era for pinball. For many of us 30 something players the arcade/pinball era was gone before it ever really got started.

    #10 6 months ago

    Golden Age? Let's consider the year 1977, including just the big four manufacturers, and only those games that we have production numbers for. Bally, Gottlieb, Williams, and Stern shipped just shy of 200,000 pinball machines in 1977 alone! It took pretty much the entire 1990s decade to even come close to matching production for that one year.

    #11 6 months ago

    I'm really liking the current health of the hobby.
    I jumped into the madness right after B/W shuttered their pinball division and it was pretty much just the 1-man-Stern-show and the RGP forum. I dig all of the new and old manufacturers of pins and pin parts. ...and Pinside.

    Cheers, Steveo

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    #12 6 months ago

    Certainly not. The 1930's were the Golden Age when pinball was new and exciting and games started showing up every where's and being built by dozens and dozens of company's all trying to out do one another and the nickel's were being taken in faster then they could empty the games. And nobody had to put "mod's and blinky lights" on there games to make them more exciting to players... What a great time for pinball indeed.

    John

    #13 6 months ago

    This kinda is the golden age..
    Take off your shoes when u are ready for your shower.
    Next..oh, yes, here is your YBR...
    Next..

    #14 6 months ago

    I wasn’t alive for the 70’s golden era and I was just getting into playing pinball in the 90’s.

    But the modern pinball era is different because of the Internet. Now we have small companies making mods for new games as well as parts for old games. We have many options to build homebrew games from scratch. Retheming a game is now easier then ever with photoshop and 3d printers. I just think that pinball has a lot going for it, that it didn’t have in the past.

    Or maybe I’m just to young to know what the good times were like.

    #15 6 months ago
    Quoted from Luckydogg420:

    I wasn’t alive for the 70’s golden era and I was just getting into playing pinball in the 90’s.
    But the modern pinball era is different because of the Internet. Now we have small companies making mods for new games as well as parts for old games. We have many options to build homebrew games from scratch. Retheming a game is now easier then ever with photoshop and 3d printers. I just think that pinball has a lot going for it, that it didn’t have in the past.
    Or maybe I’m just to young to know what the good times were like.

    sucks to be you
    people my age saw the end of EMs and the start of SS
    we saw games go from one playfeild to having two or three
    the solid state era was one that went ahead in leaps and bounds, the simple games of 1977 were quickly followed by the epic machines in 1979/80

    it was a great time to be a teenager

    1 week later
    #16 6 months ago

    I think we are absolutely in the golden age of pinball right now. Sure more games were sold years ago but I don't think that automatically makes that time the best era.

    The designs, use of technology, code, animations, music, etc in games today is leaps and bounds better on average than what existed 20, 30, or 40 years ago. Also, the pinball community is more connected than ever today thanks to the internet with sites like Pinside, multiple pinball podcasts, people streaming games such as Dead Flip and Buffalo Pinball, and Stern heavily promoting on location play. We even have a live award show at a huge pinball event, the TWIPYS at TPF, with staff from multiple companies showing up to celebrate pinball together. Pretty much every game being announced right now looks awesome and there's so many titles to choose from and from multiple manufacturers. This is an amazing time for pinball and I hope it doesn't end anytime soon.

    #17 6 months ago

    No this isn't the golden age with prices so high and Stern mediocre qc. Also much harder to find routes games than it used to be. This is an interesting time but not the golden age.

    #18 6 months ago

    Yeah, you need a pile of it to be in the hobby anymore.

    #19 6 months ago

    Just my $.02...

    It might be the golden age to some people, but only because they don't have any context. OK...how many arcades are there in your town today? When's the last time you saw a pinball machine in a laundromat? A 7-11? A gas station? A barbershop? A roller rink? The American Legion hall? The drive-in (the movie kind and the burger kind)? Oh...in a newsstand? The bus station in my town always had two or three games, the Greyhound and the Trailways. Movie theater? They were EVERYWHERE.

    If you go to your local high school on Monday and ask the first boy you saw "Where's the closest place to play pinball?" He would have no clue.

    Three, five-ball games for a quarter was my pricing. I made $1.75 an hour bagging groceries, so I could play 21 games, 105 balls, for an hour's pay. At $8 an hour today at a McD's, you can MAYBE play 8 games, 24 balls, for an hour's pay.

    A wedgehead sold new for $350 or so in the 60's. I could have bought one for 200 hours of work. Today, the McD's kid would have to work 750 hours to by a $6,000 Stern.

    I don't know how many games Stern makes a year, but I do know that Gottlieb made 13,000 Jack in the Box/Jumpin Jacks in 1973. THAT was "golden".

    Relatively speaking, pinball is extinct today, and out of reach for the average person.

    #20 6 months ago
    Quoted from JoeGrenuk:

    When's the last time you saw a pinball machine in a laundromat? A 7-11? A gas station? A barbershop? A roller rink?

    We are lesser as a Society, more boring, since the demise of prolific pins. It wasn't just a store, it had two pinball machines, a place to rest the cares away and go briefly in your own little game space.
    Now it is "Structured", as well as much more expensive. Pinball is an Event, not a happening.

    #21 6 months ago

    If this makes any sense it's a golden age for collectors and hobbyists ,the golden age of pinball was when it was more mainstream like other people said mid 70's to the early 80's.

    #22 6 months ago
    Quoted from Mcshaney:

    If this makes any sense it's a golden age for collectors and hobbyists ,the golden age of pinball was when it was more mainstream like other people said mid 70's to the early 80's.

    So, maybe this is kinda my point. I don’t meant to single you out with quoting your post. Just wondering.

    Pinball is nowhere near as mainstream as it has been in the past. But, is the pinnacle of success measured in popularity? The current “golden age” may just be for collectors and hobbyists, but is that a bad thing? In my humble opinion pinball is way more diverse then it has been at any time in the past, could this be a measure greatness?

    Pinball has been popular before, but pinball has never seen the internet and modern computers. With everything from pinball apps on phones and tablets making new games, to full sized virtual pinball machines making new games, to custom Proc hardware making new games, to multiple new companies building new games, the vibrancy of pinball is at quite a unique time period.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, I’m uneducated because of my age, but in the past, even when pinball was everywhere, was there much more going on with the community other then going out on location to play games? Was there even much of a “pinball community” in the 70’s? How about the 40’s?

    If your new to pinball in 2019. If you’ve never seen one before and instantly fall in love at first sight. Then, with the modern resurgence in pinball you can do so much more to enjoy every aspect of the hobby then you could in the 80’s. some things that were never even associated with pinball in the past like molding games for example, I can’t imagine that there was much of that decades ago.

    The breadth of the pinball world is unlike anything it has lived through before and pinside has been a great tool to bring us all together into one place.

    #23 6 months ago
    Quoted from Mcshaney:

    If this makes any sense it's a golden age for collectors and hobbyists ,the golden age of pinball was when it was more mainstream like other people said mid 70's to the early 80's.

    I don't know the diff between collectors and hobbyists, but collecting in the 70's and 80's...especially the 80's was a lot better than it is today. Games were cheap. I had 20-30 games....mostly EM's by 1984 and I can't recall ever paying more than $300 for one. There were tons of EM's and Bally SS games available because vids drove them out of locations fast. And, the condition of games was FAR better than it is today...things are pretty well picked over.

    One thing that is significantly different in collecting now is the availability of parts. While there were a large number of NOS playfields were available then....I once bought 200 NOS Gottlieb playfields in one deal...but no one ever thought that playfields would ever be reproduced. Same thing with plastics. It was a huge deal when repro legs became available. Pop bumper caps were the ones that come with your game; I personally bought games so I could get the plastics or bumper caps for a better example of the game.

    #24 6 months ago

    Outside of pin collectors most people are not even aware new games are being built so no not the golden age

    #25 6 months ago

    I'll even argue it's not a golden age for collectors since prices have never been higher. It's effectively killed it as a hobby for everyone but the most wealthy.

    #26 6 months ago
    Quoted from jwilson:

    I'll even argue it's not a golden age for collectors since prices have never been higher. It's effectively killed it as a hobby for everyone but the most wealthy.

    I’ll agree with that statement

    #27 6 months ago

    I'm in MY golden age ...

    #28 6 months ago

    Late 70's early 80's was the golden age to me.

    #29 6 months ago
    Quoted from jwilson:

    I'll even argue it's not a golden age for collectors since prices have never been higher. It's effectively killed it as a hobby for everyone but the most wealthy.

    70s and 80s for collectors. Video games drove pins off location in droves, and when they were driven out, they were young and low mileage. So games were widely available, and very cheap by any standard. You just didn't go look for, say, a C37 or Joker Poker and grab the first one you saw, you looked at a dozen or two until you found the one in great condition. And most major cities had at least a couple of game auctions a year, with hundreds of pins for sale at each one. And then....the internet came along a effed everything up.

    Today is a golden age for collectors in only one aspect: you can pretty much buy the parts to build a whole game. In the 70's and 80's, you could even buy a leg.

    #30 6 months ago

    60s and 70s was it.

    I was born right on time and I'm ever thankful I was. Games and arcades were everywhere.

    #31 6 months ago

    I graduated high school and college in the 70’s. Like people have said earlier.... there were pins everywhere. We didn’t have cable tv, cell phones or internet but PINBALL was plentiful. I didn’t know anybody in the 70’s that owned a pinball machine. Definitely a great time for EM’s and SS’s.

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