Asheville Pinball Museum - my take (Nov 2015)

(Topic ID: 144902)

Asheville Pinball Museum - my take (Nov 2015)


By swampfire

3 years ago



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  • 25 posts
  • 13 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 1 year ago by BleacherBum
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#1 3 years ago

I'd like to start by thanking the owners for creating APM. We had a college visit nearby this weekend, at Brevard College. After a drive through Pisgah National Forest, I said to my wife, "Hey look, we're coming into Asheville!". I warmed her up with a visit to the Grove Park Inn and gallery, and after that it was easy to talk the family into a trip to the APM. My 17-year-old son and I went there, while my wife went shopping.

Let's start with the good. At 3:30, my son and I were visitors #97 and #98. That tells me that the APM is doing a booming business. I'd say they took in at least $1000 today. They seem to have a great location, with shopping for disinterested family members nearby, and plenty of parking (we parked in a deck a few blocks away). The vibe is very much "80's arcade", with low lighting, and ceilings painted flat black. Behind the bar was an explosion of 80's/90's kitsch, which my son loved. He said "This is my childhood, Dad!" and took a bunch of pictures with his phone. Some of the older games were converted to frosted white LEDs, and they looked and played great. Roller Games was the only pin turned off; everything else was playable except an EM gun game in the back.

The video section is nice. Tempest and Asteroids looked and played great. I'm just happy to see a few nice vectors, so to be honest I missed everything else. The kids apparently love the Neo Geo, and some of the newer games. Beyond the video section, there's a back-back-room, which appears to double as a staging area and break room. Even here, there were playable games (mostly gun games). The bathroom is also back here, and the kitsch continues with action figures up near the ceiling.

There are some negatives. With a few exceptions (IM, and pins with frosted LEDs), most games were poorly lit. The DMDs were missing entire strings of GI lighting: No GI in the top third of Jurassic Park, left string out on Who Dunnit, and no GI at all on TAF. RCT was dark and had no backbox lighting. Several games used colored LEDs for lighting (also the most directional kind, which made it even worse).

I didn't notice any serious problems with games being level, but man were they slow! It soon became clear that this was to compensate for weak flippers, in many cases. The games all *played*, but half of them had some signature defect. The pop bumpers were out on one game, and there were a few machine-gunning slings. Hercules was fun, but several GI bulbs were out. Gorgar was really dark, and one switch was stuck, scoring points repeatedly. There's no way you could run a tournament here.

On the path from the front door to the bar, there are 5-6 pins from the 40's and 50's. They're all beautiful examples, but "display only" - you couldn't play them. I won't begrudge them for the Space Station coffee table in this area, which actually looked pretty nice.

I want to end on a few high notes: the employees at APM are great people. I mentioned that Mars Trek had run out of credits, and the tech leaped into action, even apologizing. Mars Trek is a really fun pin, by the way. There were also some rare pins (Allied Leisure "Getaway"), and 3 fully working system 80s - quite a feat in itself. A nice-ish working Panthera was for sale for $900, and it was only the prospect of divorce that kept me from buying it and taking it home.

In summary, I think the APM have a good thing going, but they're missing out on repeat business. When I go back to Asheville, I'll probably check out the microbreweries, or go for a hike nearby. Life is too short to play dark, slow pins.

#2 3 years ago

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#3 3 years ago

I think one of the issues APM has is rapid turnover of games. If you look at the walk-through below from 4 months ago, you'll see 13 pins that are no longer there:

Star Explorer
Bride of Pinbot
Lethal Weapon
Bally Star Trek
Xenon
Space Odyssey
Top Score
Eight Ball
T3
Shaq Attack
Cue Ball Wizard (?)
Black Rose
Viking (EM)

I know that turnover CAN be a good thing. If they're selling the games for a nice profit, that's good for business. And it means that APM will be a different experience each time, if I only go every 2-3 years. But for this to work, APM really needs to hire a tech who can fix problems with the new games as they come in. I mean, come on - TAF is still dark, after 4 months.

Apologies to the owners, if they have been trying to find a new pin tech. I know that they are not at all easy to come by.

#4 3 years ago

I have been to the APM several times and have sold the owner several games before. I am not certain but I believe he has had a very hard time finding someone that can keep the machines up to par for him. I believe a lot of times we find out that games that we run for a couple of hours cannot handle the strain of 8-9 hours a day. I am actually heading down that way on Wednesday morning.

#5 3 years ago

I can empathize with that. I took 8 pins to our local show (SFGE), and 3 of them broke down over the long weekend. These were all pins that had been working for years in my basement gameroom without any problems.

#6 3 years ago

I need to get back out there, I was only there a few weeks after it opened and the conditions of games sounds about the same. Having such turnover, I can see why they're not going to fully restore and bulletproof each game. My main interest is the rare stuff, it's a shame that the woodrails aren't playable, I remember at least 1-2 were up when I was there.

What kind of condition is Hercules in, are the flippers and pops good? I can jam out on that game for a while, everyone else seems to hate it halfway through a game.

#7 3 years ago

I'm a native of this town and even though I live outside of it now I'm still up there 3 days a week. The issues I have is the owner is very new to pins.He has no interest in holding any sort of tournament because of making less money that day... his words. He only started buying pins because of the business which is ok . But that's what your gonna get... slow pins that are dirty and half broken. I've been there 3 times and twice just quit playing over being frustrated. There alot of places there in the town to play some pins that are in better shape. This place is there and making money out of pure nostalgia. Its not a pinball enthusiasts destination.

#8 3 years ago
Quoted from DefaultGen:

What kind of condition is Hercules in, are the flippers and pops good? I can jam out on that game for a while, everyone else seems to hate it halfway through a game.

You can see the lighting in the pic above - it needs help. I think the pops are dead, but the flippers are working. My son liked it a lot. The place mainly needs a lighting expert: either someone who can fix and improve the GI on each game, or someone who can put up some spotlights above the games. An external fix is probably the way to go, if the game turnover is going to be 100% per year.

Quoted from ChadNC:

There alot of places there in the town to play some pins that are in better shape. This place is there and making money out of pure nostalgia. Its not a pinball enthusiasts destination.

I got the sense that they really don't need repeat business, which is fine. But all those games give pinball a bad name. Imagine all those kids who are used to Dave & Busters quality videogames, shooters and ticket spitters. This pinball arcade must look sad and shabby to them, like hobos standing around a barrel of fire for warmth.

#9 3 years ago

Yeah I was contemplating a trip out to Asheville but was gonna if I could squeeze in pinball and hit up the museum about hosting a charity pinball tournament there that I would run and promote with the help of the mayor's office. Got shut down and they didn't seem interested in hosting a tournament at all. Glad to hear there are other places to go to play pins there in case I do make it out there.

#10 3 years ago

I have offered in the past, and am happy to do so, my personal help in their game lighting needs.

Public venues as a business do need the upkeep, and lighting.....not withstanding the Great LED Debate.....to attract and keep New customers.

I hope the message you have shared of your visit, might help the owners know we care, and want the best of success for them!

We appreciate them being there!

#11 3 years ago

Gene, be glad you got shut down. With a few exceptions, the games there just aren't tournament-ready, or even league-ready.

#12 3 years ago
Quoted from OLDPINGUY:

I have offered in the past, and am happy to do so, my personal help in their game lighting needs.
Public venues as a business do need the upkeep, and lighting.....not withstanding the Great LED Debate.....to attract and keep New customers.
I hope the message you have shared of your visit, might help the owners know we care, and want the best of success for them!
We appreciate them being there!

What they could really use is passion for the hobby and someone that is somewhat knowledgeable to help with newcomers. I Know Of 6,7 People Who Have Tried to get them to have a charity tournament or have people help with the pins but
They're just not worried. Again the guy bought his first pin a couple months before he opened the door.
There is usually 4,5 pins over at the Desoto lounge that's in better working order.

#13 3 years ago

I heard they bought my Twin Rifle a couple of months ago. Did you happen to see it there?

#14 3 years ago

I think I did see a Twin Rifle. I know I played at least one EM gun game. One thing I will give them credit for, they have a nice variety of games.

#15 3 years ago

I am embarrassed to say that I live here ( Asheville) but haven't been there in quite some time.....Owner is awesome, and had my Son's soccer team there for an end of season party some time back.....from a pure player's perspective, probably not quite the experience.....but they are way into the nostalgia and passion of the hobby, and I commend them for that.
Desperately need to go by, as I appreciate what they are trying to do for pinball and our little area ( Sierra Nevada has its only east coast location here, as well....a must visit).....mark

#16 3 years ago

Ive been there twice. I bought a pin there. I made payments on it until I got it. When I did, it was trashed, filthy black inside, and PF worn down to the wood.. It looked like it had been rode very very hard and put away very very wet. It took me 2 months to clean up that pin. T.C. is an honest nice guy, but the pins were trashed when I went this summer. And none of the games listed by anyone here were there late this summer, so turnover is insane. It's a dirty pin recycling center..Cheap to get in, but the pins were all trashed, dirty, broken, and worn out. It's just not a place for picky collectors...just everyday people that walk in to play pinball casually for the first time in 20 years and a place to squeeze every quarter out of every frail and dying wood fiber...you know..just like all the arcade owners of the 80s and 90s.

#17 3 years ago
Quoted from PINBALL-LUST:

Ive been there twice. I bought a pin there. I made payments on it until I got it. When I did, it was trashed, filthy black inside, and PF worn down to the wood.. It looked like it had been rode very very hard and put away very very wet. It took me 2 months to clean up that pin. T.C. is an honest nice guy, but the pins were trashed when I went this summer. And none of the games listed by anyone here were there late this summer, so turnover is insane. It's a dirty pin recycling center..Cheap to get in, but the pins were all trashed, dirty, broken, and worn out. It's just not a place for picky collectors...just everyday people that walk in to play pinball casually for the first time in 20 years and a place to squeeze every quarter out of every frail and dying wood fiber...you know..just like all the arcade owners of the 80s and 90s.

He had a few nice ones when I was there last (AFM and MET come to mind), but T.C. is a schoolteacher, and just has a passion for the hobby ( definitely not doing it for the $$$)....all the machines had a price on the back, and would just say look it over well before you buy, so no surprises for anyone.....

In a great area of downtown, and I'm sure just under capitalized to route killer titles w a full time tech....I appreciate what he is trying to do....wish I had more time to interact...

#18 3 years ago
Quoted from MK6PIN:

I am embarrassed to say that I live here ( Asheville) but haven't been there in quite some time.....Owner is awesome, and had my Son's soccer team there for an end of season party some time back.....from a pure player's perspective, probably not quite the experience.....but they are way into the nostalgia and passion of the hobby, and I commend them for that.
Desperately need to go by, as I appreciate what they are trying to do for pinball and our little area ( Sierra Nevada has its only east coast location here, as well....a must visit).....mark

#19 3 years ago

I also live in Asheville. Everyone's observations are accurate. TC is a nice guy. He is a school teacher who does this on the side. I think his repair person is part time and not there very often. My son and I fixed a ball trough problem on a STTNG when we were there one time, and it was clear they he is the business man - very limited technical knowledge.

He buys a lot of player quality older pins that he can pick up cheaply and fill his museum. Every machine is for sell and I think his prices are high but he moves them. I posted a Laser War pin on Craigs list about 2 years ago and he called me in about 4 hours so he must watch constantly for sales. (I had already sold it within an hour).

With a lot of turn over there is very little routine maintenance done - in my opinion most of the pins are dirty and have lights out and broken plastics, etc.

The few times I have dropped by it was mainly just to see pins that I am not familiar with. Definitely not a place for a tournament.

But thankfully he seems to be successful. He limits the size of the crowd and I know there are times that people are turned away. This year he moved down the block to a larger location and added a large video game section. I wish him the best.

#20 3 years ago

The tech told me he was given some interest in the business.. He seemed to know his stuff, so I assumed the games would play good.. Sorry to hear this.

#21 3 years ago
Quoted from Jiggly_Martian:

The tech told me he was given some interest in the business.. He seemed to know his stuff, so I assumed the games would play good.. Sorry to hear this.

He might just be overwhelmed, especially if this isn't a full-time job. I wish them the best of luck. It's a great representation of all eras of pinball, that's for sure.

#22 3 years ago

I did not play every game while I was there. Mainly a business trip (he now has a super nice Breakshot btw). All the games I played were in decent enough shape for casual player. Lights out on who dunnit. Top flipper sticks on taf. Pinbot flippers were way too weak. Lights out on JP. A couple of other issues I'm sure. He has a nice iron man and twilight zone. Haunted house and black hole are two I play a lot down there. He has a nice fire! Which I set the top score on lol. Go me!!! I have fun everytime I go

1 year later
#23 1 year ago

took my 7 and 9 year old to Asheville Pinball Museum and we had a great time. Its a nice place for sure. There were a few games not working, but overly nice clean games, and a nice selection. Only complaint was the tilts were WAY too sensitive, I set them off a few times and I don't even nudge the table. But worth the drive for sure!

#24 1 year ago

Oh, and the OP is correct, several of the games were too dim, but we still had a good time.

#25 1 year ago

I was just there this past Monday. I agree with most of the earlier observations. Nice place and I did enjoy myself. However, most games could use a good cleaning. Yes tilts were too sensitive. A couple of the EMs were not level side to side and two other were too slow that the ball stopped rolling behind posts. Lots of lights out. Flippers were in need of repair or adjusting on a couple of other. Having said that I will probably stop in the next time I am in Asheville.

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