Quoted from Mank:
I'll give you a pinball consumer point of view. I bought my first pin, a TZ, in 2001. I jumped right in not knowing anything about pinball other than I liked playing at the arcades as a kid. I paid $1800. A really nice one mind you, not a beater project. I didn't even know that Williams had closed it's pinball division like 2 years before that TZ purchase. There was no manufacturer or distributor to got to for help. You had to learn for yourself. At the time, there was no Pinside. There were no leagues. There were no pins on location. No local experts I knew about. Really, to me, there was
rec.games.pinball and Clay's guides. I read that forum every day and read through Clay's guides, and these were incredibly helpful for me the noob. I had TZ for about 2 years before getting the itch to buy another. I ended up getting IJ and MM. The IJ was just over $3000 and the MM was just over $4000. Both were in immaculate shape. True "collector quality." In the early 2000's, MM was like a holy grail and I got one. Having multiple games at that time made me come to the realization that parts were almost impossible to find. There was a whole black market of parts that came and went over time. It was weird because no one was "officially" making parts, under license. The black market manufacturer would eventually get shut down for making parts without a license. No parts from the person with the license, and if you decided to make your own and sell them, even out of sheer need, you'd get shut down. So in this environment of being able to get really good Bally/Williams games for a few thousand dollars and knowing that parts would be hard to get, BBB gets announced. I must have read about it on rec.games.pinball. I do remember that you had to email Illinois Pinball and they sent you a return email that you faxed back as a commitment. I'm just about positive the game was going to be $5000 and limited to 180 games total. At the time, I thought that was a huge amount of money. It was the highest amount I had ever heard of for a pin. There were no $8000, $10,000, or $15,000 NIB pins at that time. $5000 was a huge amount of money to ask, especially because they were going to be build, not built and ready to ship. I passed. Everyone who forked over the $5000 took a huge risk and my hats off to them that it paid off, but the machines took well over a year to get from time of payment. A lot of uncertainty, especially for the buyers. Now I see them going for $20,000 and I think good for the person who took the risk. Sometimes I regret not buying a BBB when I had the chance, but that could have easily ended up a $5000 loss. I do remember sometime after BBB got made, Illinois Pinball had an "open house" and they were selling parts for either one day only or a weekend. I saw pictures of parts that were socked away and you could actually buy and I couldn't believe it. It may have been a bankruptcy sale. Now THAT I regret not going to. There was a time not long ago, that pinball was dead from a pinball consumer point of view. I'm very appreciative of those who somehow kept it going and even getting it back into the mainstream. Amazing.
The games were $4,500 each, half down up front.