Wow, thank you all for the great replies!
I'm not any huge rush to pick up pins, we're just working on filling out our game room and have dedicated space to 4 of them.
Quoted from Neal_W:
You are close to Pinballz Arcade in Austin. They sell pins at high retail, but at least you can try 100 titles, and then stop at Buffalo Billiards for dinner and try a dozen more.
That's actually the arcade I was speaking of. I wasn't sure if anyone would know of it so I didn't mention a name. Yes, we have spent a decent amount of time there playing all of their pins. I feel like we get lured into the ones that we have the most fun with while we're there (such as the ones listed above) however I worry about their staying power. I suppose you'd tire of any machine eventually though.
Quoted from wantdataeast:
My advise is this.... pace yourself. Post a few "wanted pinball machine(s)" in your local craigslist and see what your response is. And religiously search CL as well (but you are up against a half a dozen other collectors doing the same thing) so get the craigslist app on your iPad / iPhone that notifies you when your search results are met (obviously searching for "pinball" and don't forget "pin ball") check it several times a day. Yes you have to work hard to find a good deal, but the hunt is part of the fun. AND expect to drop everything and immediately go get a machine when you see something you like... otherwise someone will beat you to it.
I've been doing this for a long while now, actually! It's tedious and mostly disappointing, haha. A few prospects have come up but, as you mentioned, there were other fanatics out there that beat me to the punch. I've recently been branching out to other states, considering shipping a pin I might want. Mr. Pinball sketches me out a bit in terms of being scammed but I peruse the site as well.
Quoted from jawjaw:
It's easy to blow a lot of cash on top rated games but that doesn't mean they are more fun to play than less rated games that sell for less money.
Yes, I've been quite curious about this. All of the games I mentioned above, with maybe the exception of WH2O seem so overpriced. But then again, what do I know; I'm new! The catch that always seems to get me (and my wife) are the themes. While I know there are other games that hold up just as well as the high-in-demand games in terms of gameplay, we're not super sold on having Dracula or Johnny Depp hanging out in our game room. For instance, while haunted house is a bit slow and we're terrible at it, we still have fun and it looks very cool to boot.
Quoted from swampfire:
My advice is to go to a few large shows so you can really make a list of what you like. Definitely go to the Texas Pinball Festival.
I do plan to go to Texas Pinball Festival this year for exactly that reason; to play games. Right now I feel like we're pretty limited as to what we've played (whatever is at Pinballz) and I'm curious to hear what other titles are out there. That being said, while I want to wait until March, we definitely have an itch right now! Are there generally games for sale at reasonable prices at these shows?
Thank you guys again for all of the suggestions!