(Topic ID: 236203)

Being new to pinball, this makes me nervous


By SimpleSam

3 months ago



Topic Stats

  • 23 posts
  • 17 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 88 days ago by TheLaw
  • No one calls this topic a favorite

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    #1 3 months ago

    I've decided to get a pinball machine so I've been researching on this site (and others) and watching Craigslist for local machines. One of the things that I see people say is that if you don't like your pinball, they're easy to resell at little or no loss. I'm not sure that is true.

    I was checking Craigslist today and I found this ad: reno.craigslist.org link . I won't post a screen shot because I don't know how and it appears to contain a lot of personal information on the seller. It's for an Excalibur and the seller is asking $1,200 to $1,800 (why there's a range is anybody's guess). The only description of the condition of the machine is "warms up". There are two pictures including one with the GI lights on. The other picture is what makes me nervous. It's a receipt from TNT Amusements showing that it had been sold to this guy (?) and delivered last May. The receipt shows it was $2,800 and $300 in shipping. I'm sure there's a story about why he is asking so little for a machine he's had less than a year. If he gets the $1,200 he's asking, he will have incurred a $1,900 loss in less than one year's ownership.

    This isn't the only thing that makes me nervous about buying a pinball machine. I see machines posted on CL for months before they sell. A member here had a Robocop for sale on CL for quite some time. I wasn't ready to buy at the time but it seemed like a really good deal on an interesting title. He had done a series of videos showing the restoration of the machine so the condition was well documented. I think he eventually sold it here when he couldn't sell it locally. Currently, there's a Spanish Eyes for $950 locally that has been up since at least December with no takers. I know there's a limited market for EM games (and the seller is in an out of the way location) but that is a bit much.

    I've decided that I need to be careful about the title I choose as a popular one would be easier to sell if I don't like it. My first pin will also be in the $2,500 to $3,500 range as that seems the sweet spot for great titles and easy to resell. I'm still nervous about my ability to inspect a used machine but I guess I will have to run that risk.

    Any advice for a first time pinball machine buyer?

    #2 3 months ago

    That 2500-3500 should get you into a Fish Tales, Johnny Mnemonic, Demo Man, BSD and leave you room to sell at about the same price when you're ready.

    We'll have bunches of machines for sale at Golden State in May. If you find one you like come grab me in the shirt that says Eric on it and I'll give you my opinion on the price and gameplay!

    #3 3 months ago

    Keep some simple,
    common sense thoughts in mind.
    For your first machine, inspect firsthand and, if possible bring a more experienced pinball owner with you.
    You recognized something "fishy" with that CL add immediately.
    Trust your instincts. You know the rule:
    if it seems too good to be true...
    Familiarize yourself with typical pricing.
    This sight is invaluable for that.
    Deal with established people,
    whether buyers or sellers.
    There are many other things to learn in the wonderful world of pinball my friend.
    You learn many along the way.
    Happy hunting!
    And hey, once ya' get one home be
    sure to let us know.

    #4 3 months ago

    It's perfectly reasonable to ask "Why are you selling?"

    #5 3 months ago

    Buy from a local pinsider as your first pin. If you find a game you may want check the sellers forum posts - are they helpful? Nice? Seem to care about pinball and the people who play? If so move forward. Look for a CL deal later on. You may even make a friend also.

    Not saying there aren’t good deals that pop up, but get some experience before you go and have to make a split second decision if you want a game if you are at the house and the game is right in front of you.

    #6 3 months ago

    I don’t know around ther e, but if a pin has been on Craigslist for more than a few days then it’s not that great of a deal . Usually people are keeping there eyes out for deals at least to buy and flip . If you see a game that’s been there for months just keep walking . Do your research , ask questions and like they said above get your first pin from a fellow liaised or meet a few guys at a show and play the games see what you like and have them tell you what to look for . In your budget you can get a really fun pin that if bought right should pretty much hold its value when your ready to trade or sell .

    -3
    #7 89 days ago

    I would never buy from Craigslist. Find a friend that has games and get to know his/her friends and buy locally or at a show.

    #8 89 days ago
    Quoted from PSchwisow:

    It's perfectly reasonable to ask "Why are you selling?"

    No it isn't, it's annoying and pointless.

    If something is for sale it's for sale. What do you want the seller to say?

    "Oh, I love the game, but my wife hates it."

    "It's a great pinball machine but I also like money so I decided I would trade the pinball machine for money."

    "Oh this is a great game, but my dog has cancer and I need money for surgery."

    I can't imagine why anybody would think there's good information to be gained by asking a seller "why are you selling this game?" Like, what exactly are you hoping to hear that's going to make you feel better about the deal?

    #9 89 days ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    Like, what exactly are you hoping to hear that's going to make you feel better about the deal?

    A response that sounds plausible and matches what they have previously told me. If your BS detector goes off about a meaningless question like that then they are probably BSing you about the important stuff too and you thank them for their time and walk away.

    #10 89 days ago

    Well, at some point you just got to jump in the deep end and go for it. It would help to meet people and have them show you what to look for. Don't over think it, though. If a game functions properly and looks well maintained then it's probably fine. Check boards for anything that looks hacked or battery corrosion. I made the mistake of overlooking that on one of my games and it end up costing me a lot in repairs. There will probably be a few things that need a little work but that's pinball. For your first pin, I would avoid projects or games with a lot of problems. If the flippers are weak or a switch is not working, those are easy to fix. It would help to learn pricing so you don't overspend. Condition determines price more than anything. If the playfield is worn out or plastics are broken and unobtainable, that affects price a lot.

    #11 89 days ago
    Quoted from YeOldPinPlayer:

    A response that sounds plausible and matches what they have previously told me. If your BS detector goes off about a meaningless question like that then they are probably BSing you about the important stuff too and you thank them for their time and walk away.

    A BS question deserves a BS answer.

    If you are that suspicious of a seller that you have have to ask something as inane as "why are you selling this?" you should probably move on to a less shady deal.

    Quoted from jawjaw:

    Well, at some point you just got to jump in the deep end and go for it. It would help to meet people and have them show you what to look for. Don't over think it, though. If a game functions properly and looks well maintained then it's probably fine. Check boards for anything that looks hacked or battery corrosion. I made the mistake of overlooking that on one of my games and it end up costing me a lot in repairs. There will probably be a few things that need a little work but that's pinball. For your first pin, I would avoid projects or games with a lot of problems. If the flippers are weak or a switch is not working, those are easy to fix. It would help to learn pricing so you don't overspend. Condition determines price more than anything. If the playfield is worn out or plastics are broken and unobtainable, that affects price a lot.

    This is great advice really.

    #12 89 days ago

    I agree, try to make first purchase via pinside, ask what to look for, read old threads too. I had the same worries my first CL adventure, just be chosey about what and where, and ask questions to sniff out fishy deals. I have great experience with CL though. Got a IJ and TZ both from the same area..nicer neighborhood, and couldn’t be happier. Got great deals on both, under pinside estimates based on condition. Good luck and have fun, chasing down a pin you want is half the fun!

    #13 89 days ago
    Quoted from SimpleSam:

    I've decided to get a pinball machine so I've been researching on this site (and others) and watching Craigslist for local machines. One of the things that I see people say is that if you don't like your pinball, they're easy to resell at little or no loss. I'm not sure that is true.
    I was checking Craigslist today and I found this ad: reno.craigslist.org link . I won't post a screen shot because I don't know how and it appears to contain a lot of personal information on the seller. It's for an Excalibur and the seller is asking $1,200 to $1,800 (why there's a range is anybody's guess). The only description of the condition of the machine is "warms up". There are two pictures including one with the GI lights on. The other picture is what makes me nervous. It's a receipt from TNT Amusements showing that it had been sold to this guy (?) and delivered last May. The receipt shows it was $2,800 and $300 in shipping. I'm sure there's a story about why he is asking so little for a machine he's had less than a year. If he gets the $1,200 he's asking, he will have incurred a $1,900 loss in less than one year's ownership.
    This isn't the only thing that makes me nervous about buying a pinball machine. I see machines posted on CL for months before they sell. A member here had a Robocop for sale on CL for quite some time. I wasn't ready to buy at the time but it seemed like a really good deal on an interesting title. He had done a series of videos showing the restoration of the machine so the condition was well documented. I think he eventually sold it here when he couldn't sell it locally. Currently, there's a Spanish Eyes for $950 locally that has been up since at least December with no takers. I know there's a limited market for EM games (and the seller is in an out of the way location) but that is a bit much.
    I've decided that I need to be careful about the title I choose as a popular one would be easier to sell if I don't like it. My first pin will also be in the $2,500 to $3,500 range as that seems the sweet spot for great titles and easy to resell. I'm still nervous about my ability to inspect a used machine but I guess I will have to run that risk.
    Any advice for a first time pinball machine buyer?

    Getaway HSII would also be in that price range, and it is my first and only pin at this point.

    My recommendation would be to find a friend who is into pinball to go with you to check out any machine you are interested in. I didn’t have anyone to go with me, but was able to talk in deatail to a couple of pinheads before I went to look at it (FYI, mine was a Craigslist find).

    I would also highly recommend looking through ads here on Pinside within your driving distance. I would like to think that most Pinsiders are more honest and open about their pin’s condition, and you can see some history about them (how long they have been on the site, what pins they own, what they have posted, etc.)

    There are plenty of scams out there, so you must be cautious with who you are dealing with, a pin’s condition, payment method, etc.

    Don’t let your emotions control your purchasing decision. I had been seriously looking for and wanting a pin in a similar price range as you for about 3 months. Even with all the advice and homework I did, I overlooked a few things when buying my Getaway. I think I negotiated a fair price, but when I got it home there were several little things that needed repaired that I easily could have checked before. Actually play the game before you buy it. Also, open the coin door and use the service controls to run through all of the system tests to check for anything not working (switches, lights, DMD, etc.). Have them open the back box for you too to make sure all of the circuit boards appear to me in good shape (especially look for battery acid damage). Before you go see it, take the time to download and read through the manual so you don’t look like a complete newbie to the seller. Finally, don’t spend your entire budget on purchasing the pin. You will have repairs and mods you will want to add that all cost money.

    Also, I have no issue asking someone why they are selling, but not right out of the gate and make it casual. No matter what I am buying, at some point later in the conversation after I have built some rapport but before I negotiate price, I’ll say something like, “From what I can see everything is in good condition and I think what you are wanting for it is in the ballpark, but before I make a offer may I ask why you’ve decided to sell it?” I’m not necessarily looking for a specific response (you will get all kinds), but by putting the seller in a position to tell the truth or to lie about a fairly harmless question, you can read body language and listen to tone to help decide if the person is someone you trust to do business with or not.

    Some other conversational questions to give you more info and to let the seller talk:
    - How long have you owned the pin?
    - In that time what repairs have you had to make?
    - Have you done anything custom to the pin?
    - Are you aware of anything currently that is not functioning properly or is in need of repair?
    - What did you like about this pin?
    - Can you please show me anything you think I need to know about the pin (eg how to remove glass and lift Playfield, how to access backbox, an6nspecial features of the game, how to turn it on and off (make them cycle power so you can actually see it boot from cold start)
    - Do you have the keys for the coin door and backbox (if you don’t first observe them using them)

    The final thing I will say has to do with the seller’s pinball experience. If they are an experienced pinball hobbiest, they will probably proactively address most of your concerns and questions - they love pinball and are probably selling just to rotate their collection. If the are a pinball dealer, they will typically share that with you and they want their pins to be in good working order for the most part to keep a good reputation. In my case, I bought from a first time pin owner. He really didn’t know much about the machine. I think he got into the hobby thinking it would be fun, but in the end it just wasn’t for him. Therefore, I had to ask a lot of questions to help me assess if I thought he was truthful enough about the pin for me to do business with him, and I did and don’t regret it.

    #14 89 days ago

    "why are you selling?"
    "to get monies."
    That should be the end of it. If there's any further "questioning" than that you're a weirdo.

    #15 89 days ago
    Quoted from TheLaw:

    "why are you selling?"
    "to get monies."
    That should be the end of it. If there's any further "questioning" than that you're a weirdo.

    "why are you selling"

    "Darn it you got me!!! It's a scam. Sorry man I apologize. I'm gonna go rethink my life choices."

    #16 89 days ago

    If it's local, you should be able to go see it, inspect it, play it, etc.. That should tell you what you need to know.

    Also, if possible, take someone along who has some PIN experience to help you.

    #17 89 days ago

    The sale was legit and another Reno collector snatched it up. Hopefully I will be able to play it soon.

    #18 89 days ago

    Just like a home, if it’s priced right it will sell fast. It is true that generally pinball machines hold their value very well and may even appreciate.

    #19 88 days ago
    Quoted from TheLaw:

    "why are you selling?"
    "to get monies."
    That should be the end of it. If there's any further "questioning" than that you're a weirdo.

    ANYBODY that uses the word "monies" for money,
    is OUT. No deal!#!

    #20 88 days ago
    Quoted from rollitover:

    ANYBODY that uses the word "monies" for money,
    is OUT. No deal!#!

    It’s the same with the folks who refer to a pinball machine as a table or deck. I’m not a violent guy and couldn’t fight my way out of a paper bag, but I have an irrational desire to slap those folks.

    #21 88 days ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    Like, what exactly are you hoping to hear that's going to make you feel better about the deal?

    The answer I got was "Since I got a virtual pinball machine, I haven't played the other games too often, so I am selling them off." Since I saw the virtual pinball machine in the room when I was checking on my prospective purchase, I felt more confident that he was not lying about other things.

    As others have pointed out, it can be good BS indicator. Do you know a lot of pinball folks that *don't* want to talk about their collections?

    #22 88 days ago
    Quoted from PSchwisow:

    The answer I got was "Since I got a virtual pinball machine, I haven't played the other games too often, so I am selling them off." Since I saw the virtual pinball machine in the room when I was checking on my prospective purchase, I felt more confident that he was not lying about other things.
    As others have pointed out, it can be good BS indicator. Do you know a lot of pinball folks that *don't* want to talk about their collections?

    I wouldn’t trust anybody with a virtual pinball machine either.

    I stand corrected.

    #23 88 days ago
    Quoted from rollitover:

    ANYBODY that uses the word "monies" for money,
    is OUT. No deal!#!

    You dirty dog!

    Quoted from Mike_J:

    It’s the same with the folks who refer to a pinball machine as a table or deck. I’m not a violent guy and couldn’t fight my way out of a paper bag, but I have an irrational desire to slap those folks.

    Better start working the heavy bag a little more, they're EVERYWHERE here

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