(Topic ID: 225981)

Cost of Building 90's Pins vs Buying


By wolfemaaan

11 months ago



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  • 71 posts
  • 35 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 days ago by dc2010
  • Topic is favorited by 6 Pinsiders

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Topic poll

“Cost of Building 90's Pins vs Buying”

  • Buy a finished machine for $10K 5 votes
    24%
  • Build a $10K machine 4 votes
    19%
  • I’m fine with the sub $5K Pin I own 12 votes
    57%

(21 votes)

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There are 71 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
#1 11 months ago

Ok, so I didn't see a thread breaking this down in detail, so figured I would ask and possibly break down this comparison.

I have been in the market for a TOTAN and I just cant ever see myself dropping $10K+ (One is for sale right now at $13,000) for a machine that will inevitably have issues and problems. Average price is $8-$9K in decent condition. I am just finishing up stripping a Data East Star Wars to the playfield and rebuilding it, and if you've done this you know DEWS is decent build. I have watched several of the HEP restores of TOTAN here and there are some pros here that I'm sure wouldn't buy a machine period, but building a new one from scratch is definitely quite a bit of a jump in difficulty from just simply stripping a playfield. And DESW has parts you cant even find (R2D2 and Deathstar Assembly) - so if TOTAN has 1 of a kind items, then this discussion is over.

So forget about labor, because that would tip the scale and not even be a comparison, but if you had to break out an excel sheet and price out all the parts (Playfield, Cabinet, Playfield Parts, Power supply, Transformers, Computer boards, Hardware, wiring, etc.) would it even come close to spending $10K? The one thing for sure is, you will know how to repair it if you can finish it. I'm assuming since this would be unit 3,129 without official serial numbers, the value wouldn't be there - but this is a pin I would never be selling so not worried about that.

Anybody go down this road before and actually compare build vs buy costs? Curious.

I might put together a sheet of every single part number with price depending on if this is just a bad idea.

Thoughts?

#2 11 months ago
Quoted from wolfemaaan:

Anybody go down this road before and actually compare build vs buy costs? Curious.

Search Pinside. A man made two Medieval Madness pins. Finished right before the MMR announcement. Quite the project. He had to make many parts himself.

LTG : )

#3 11 months ago

I believe cgc has proven this model to be both feasible and profitable...

Of course they have a factory, and an economy of scale in their favor.

I know a guy that built a MM, would he do it again? Hell no. Was it worth it to him to take on such an endeavor? It sure was.

#4 11 months ago

I've noticed more than a few comments here on the various Forums chipping away at TOTAN desirability, seems its an attractive machine that falls short with repeated play. I have no axe to grind either way.
I would have to mod the game with all my favorite features going through all the trouble to build it. Not certain about re-sale value either, not being from the OEM.

#6 11 months ago
Quoted from LTG:

Search Pinside. A man made two Medieval Madness pins. Finished right before the MMR announcement. Quite the project. He had to make many parts himself.
LTG : )

I’m down with making some parts, I had to Frankenstein the up/Down Deathstar Guide - but until I have a 3D printer and can print the Genie lamp, would make sure prior all parts could be found. I’ll check out the MM thread, sounds like an equally high bar of difficulty

#7 11 months ago

There are a lot of examples of this.

Built from scratch (or built from parts) games that I have heard of or played include:

Monster Bash
MM
Cactus Canyon
Big Bang Bar
Fathom
Quicksilver
Star Gazer
Kingpin

Just search for wiring harnesses or metal play field guides. Those are two key items that are most challenging to reproduce.

I myself made a Defender from a play field only. That was challenging but pales in comparison to the above examples. As long as you have the schematic, it can be done.

#8 11 months ago

A couple years ago I contacted Wally about doing a Monster Bash and joined his group of people who build WPC games from scratch. If you want to try that, he is a very nice guy and they can certainly help you.

Same issue for me as the OP, the price of MB just pissed me off and I refused to pay it but still wanted the game. If memory serves, at that time there was a Frank assembly on Ebay for around $1k and the consensus was that we needed to start reproducing some unobtainium parts since CGC won't do it. At the time MB was pushing $10k - $13k. That unobtainium Frank part for such a ridiculous price just killed the idea for me to try and build a game from scratch.

I could see myself buying a donor NBAFB, getting the MB decals, making the cabinet, creating the wire harness, get a repro PF, etc. I was afraid I'd get to the end and one of two things would happen, either some unobtainium part would remain forever missing, or MBR would come to fruition and make the whole thing obsolete. Then you have a parts machine to get rid of at a loss.

The remake effect is such that the A-listers that are not immediately next in the queue quickly ascend to ridiculous price as the speculators try to get their money out. I saw that as a sign to get some B-list B/W games at decent prices and forget A-list until the remakes in current production include the title that I want. Then seek out an original for a better price or get the remake. I prefer an original but loath hunting one down, so its a matter of convenience.

I am in a similar boat as you, TOTAN is on the list of games I want. It is effectively the new Monster Bash for today. I won't pay $10k for it.
Although not on CGC's published list, at this price level that can change. If I were you, I would wait and definitely not look at building the machine from scratch.

#9 11 months ago
Quoted from mamawaldee:

A couple years ago I contacted Wally about doing a Monster Bash and joined his group of people who build WPC games from scratch. If you want to try that, he is a very nice guy and they can certainly help you.
Same issue for me as the OP, the price of MB just pissed me off and I refused to pay it but still wanted the game. If memory serves, at that time there was a Frank assembly on Ebay for around $1k and the consensus was that we needed to start reproducing some unobtainium parts since CGC won't do it. At the time MB was pushing $10k - $13k. That unobtainium Frank part for such a ridiculous price just killed the idea for me to try and build a game from scratch.
I could see myself buying a donor NBAFB, getting the MB decals, making the cabinet, creating the wire harness, get a repro PF, etc. I was afraid I'd get to the end and one of two things would happen, either some unobtainium part would remain forever missing, or MBR would come to fruition and make the whole thing obsolete. Then you have a parts machine to get rid of at a loss.
The remake effect is such that the A-listers that are not immediately next in the queue quickly ascend to ridiculous price as the speculators try to get their money out. I saw that as a sign to get some B-list B/W games at decent prices and forget A-list until the remakes in current production include the title that I want. Then seek out an original for a better price or get the remake. I prefer an original but loath hunting one down, so its a matter of convenience.
I am in a similar boat as you, TOTAN is on the list of games I want. It is effectively the new Monster Bash for today. I won't pay $10k for it.
Although not on CGC's published list, at this price level that can change. If I were you, I would wait and definitely not look at building the machine from scratch.

I might call Marcos and see if there is a way they can pull all part numbers for TOTAN and export them with price to get an idea. I know there are many after market parts, mods, redundant stuff but might be a good start and then I can tweak it to make the numbers right. (1x Rubber Kit, 68 Bumper posts, 2x Flipper Assembly's, etc.)

#10 11 months ago

I'm working off memory here but I want to say the guy remaking MMs spent ~$10k a piece including the donor game. Not to mention the countless hours of labor. So this would probably be a crazy (cool) project, but not a route to substantial savings, especially on a "cheap" game like TOTAN.

On the general topic, there's a HEP restored TOTAN for sale on Pinside now for $9.5k:
https://pinside.com/pinball/market/classifieds/ad/65885

Assuming it's legit, that seems like a bargain if average condition machines are fetching $8-$9k.

-4
#13 11 months ago

Not to mention that building a game from scratch would violate copyright laws......If you kept it and never sell it you might be fine, but if you sell it you could be in a world of hurt.

#14 11 months ago

Building a home brew machine, I can tell you the whole process costs a ton. I’m willing to bet you will spend more this way, not even counting labour

#15 11 months ago

gorgar007 what did you have into the first Afm remake in existence? It’s expensive folks.... Also, the donor fast breaks aren’t cheap anymore!

I’d bet you’d have 8k into it plus a ton of your time. Just buy the hep

#16 11 months ago
Quoted from WackyBrakke:

Not to mention that building a game from scratch would violate copyright laws......If you kept it and never sell it you might be fine, but if you sell it you could be in a world of hurt.

Sorry, this isn’t necessarily true. If he buys licensed parts he can assemble and resell them however he wants, including as a functional machine.

#17 11 months ago

Last year, I took the time to price out some of the major parts for building an AFM.

In no time at all, it blew past $6k. I could have quickly added $5k more in parts on top of that, but I could easily see where the total price was heading, so I stopped there.

It's expensive to build a game from scratch. A donor game makes it easier, but even then, it's still expensive to convert from one game to another.

It's simply not economical. It's also very time consuming.

You're better off saving your money up until you can afford a game.

The only time where it can make sense to build from scratch is if the game is so rare that it's pretty much unobtainable through usual means.

#18 11 months ago
Quoted from ForceFlow:

The only time where it can make sense to build from scratch is if the game is so rare that it's pretty much unobtainable through usual means.

And at that point how would you even get the parts? Nobody would stock parts for 3 existing games, they would never sell.

#19 11 months ago

I have thought about this, I think if I could find a trashed populated playfield for an addams family I would take the plunge. Maybe someday!

#20 11 months ago

There is no way you could build a game for less than 10K unless you already had most of the parts or had a deep deep discount from a supplier. It will take you 2 minutes to start pricing things to come to this conclusion. 1k cabinet, $500 decals, $1200 boards, etc etc etc

#21 11 months ago
Quoted from orangegsx:

I have thought about this, I think if I could find a trashed populated playfield for an addams family I would take the plunge. Maybe someday!

They do sell nice playfields for about $1K. I can see it adding up just wondering what the actual math is. So it doesn’t cost me anything to do at least that

#22 11 months ago

I would think that for folks who take something like this on it’s really about the challenge, not the cost. It must be amazing to solve all of those challenges and end up with a game you’re that proud of.

Marc

#23 11 months ago

You can find totan much cheaper than u mentioned.... u can get nice modded /mostly restored ones for 7-8k fairly easily.

#24 11 months ago
Quoted from Crash:

And at that point how would you even get the parts? Nobody would stock parts for 3 existing games, they would never sell.

That would depend on the title and game system. You could probably get most of the common game parts, rework some as needed, but the rest you would probably have to fabricate on your own. Some people have already done this, but it's not easy.

Sometimes, there are rare games that had only a couple built, but a small stock of parts existed beyond that--one prime example is Gottlieb's Brooks & Dunn. Someone built one from existing & fabricated parts, and brought it to one of the big shows a couple years ago--TPF or Expo, I think.

#25 11 months ago
Quoted from wolfemaaan:

They do sell nice playfields for about $1K. I can see it adding up just wondering what the actual math is. So it doesn’t cost me anything to do at least that

I'm not worried about the playfield itself. It's the tons of small brackets and random things screwed to it. I can build a cabinet, I can buy boards and make a backbox harness. Getting a trash playfield that is 90% populated at least would save the time of piecing all that small stuff together.

#26 11 months ago

The OP should ask a upfront question.

Have you ever performed a playfield swap?
If not, this is a even deeper different level of added experience to build entire games.
Having built games from scratch, parts availability is different today, and much harder for oddball requirements, not considering special mounting bracket fabrication.

Bottom line: This is not a project for novices, and you will easily spend $7K+ BoM, and still be missing crirical components for added costs. Personal labor cannot be estimated unless experience is known.

Good luck.

#27 11 months ago

We are about to do a scratch build of a Twilight Zone. I figured, why start small?
May chrome a few parts along the way

#28 11 months ago
Quoted from sc93cobra:

We are about to do a scratch build of a Twilight Zone. I figured, why start small?

#29 11 months ago

I’m think more than $10K but I’m not an expert. I would assume time frustration and space would also be worth something to you. But I understand where you’re coming from. Go for it, worst thing that can happen is you paid $10k for a John popaduik game that doesn’t work, and in that sense you’d be gettin off cheap

#30 11 months ago
Quoted from sc93cobra:

We are about to do a scratch build of a Twilight Zone. I figured, why start small?
May chrome a few parts along the way

Best of luck! Hell of an enterprise, you’ll spend a ton, learn a ton, and hopefully end up with a flipping game at the end of it all!

#31 11 months ago
Quoted from fosaisu:

Best of luck! Hell of an enterprise, you’ll spend a ton, learn a ton, and hopefully end up with a flipping game at the end of it all!

I should say, I did start with buying a complete playfield at a game auction a couple of years ago. Didn't know why at the time, just knew I should get it, even though everyone around me thought I lost my mind and wanted to know why I got it, lol. Once I do it, I will probably be in love with it and keep it, but you never know

#32 11 months ago

Parts list in txt format can be downloaded at ipdb.org for most wpc games..
https://www.ipdb.org/files/3824/Williams_1996_Tales_of_the_Arabian_Nights_Parts_List.txt

If you'd start something like this then I would change the system to proc/fast/.. or some other controller instead of replicating the wpc95 hardware identical.

#33 11 months ago
Quoted from sc93cobra:

We are about to do a scratch build of a Twilight Zone. I figured, why start small?
May chrome a few parts along the way

See that’s the spirit. In the end, if it matches the cost of a used one, it will still be better because they’re will be no mysteries. But definitely want to calculate the cost prior to see what I’m about to venture into

#34 11 months ago
Quoted from aeneas:

Parts list in txt format can be downloaded at ipdb.org for most wpc games..
https://www.ipdb.org/files/3824/Williams_1996_Tales_of_the_Arabian_Nights_Parts_List.txt
If you'd start something like this then I would change the system to proc/fast/.. or some other controller instead of replicating the wpc95 hardware identical.

Wow Now that’s a list. Ok, guess I’ll start there. Man $10k might look good after pricing that

#35 11 months ago

TOTAN has a lot of game-specific parts in it that will be expensive and difficult to find.

You are better off to just pay the $10K.

#36 11 months ago
Quoted from Rdoyle1978:

There is no way you could build a game for less than 10K unless you already had most of the parts or had a deep deep discount from a supplier. It will take you 2 minutes to start pricing things to come to this conclusion. 1k cabinet, $500 decals, $1200 boards, etc etc etc

Of course no one in their right mind would ever pay $500.00 for a set of pinball cabinet decals......

#37 11 months ago
Quoted from MrBally:

Of course no one in their right mind would ever pay $500.00 for a set of pinball cabinet decals......

He already said he wants to build a pinball from scratch, who said anything about him being in his right mind?

#38 11 months ago

Go for it. My third project, which I still collect parts for as they come up, is a Scared Stiff. I'm not building a normal version, so much of it is customized anyway. I got a free cabinet, a cheap PF, some cheap weldments, etc. It won't be a stock SS by any means(the ROMs are running from a modified pinmame which drives a DMD, etc), but it will be unique. I added it up one time, and it will end up being about $5-6k. But, realistically, I am doing it as much for the fun of making it happen as I am for the finished project.
If this sort of hacking is up your alley, then there is no need to ask if it's worth it. If you are looking to strictly save money, it's not for you. If you dig this sort of reverse engineering and such, then it's a fun project that just happens to end with you having a custom pinball.

#39 11 months ago
Quoted from fosaisu:

He already said he wants to build a pinball from scratch, who said anything about him being in his right mind?

You are correct sir, outta my mind. But so is Pinball life

#40 11 months ago
Quoted from wolfemaaan:

See that’s the spirit. In the end, if it matches the cost of a used one, it will still be better because they’re will be no mysteries. But definitely want to calculate the cost prior to see what I’m about to venture into

I truly believe that I/we can build a better, much nicer pin for less money than I could go buy a restored one for. And I believe I will prove myself right. Of course if you factor in the time you spend that's a whole other thing.

#41 10 months ago
Quoted from ThatOneDude:

Go for it. My third project, which I still collect parts for as they come up, is a Scared Stiff. I'm not building a normal version, so much of it is customized anyway. I got a free cabinet, a cheap PF, some cheap weldments, etc. It won't be a stock SS by any means(the ROMs are running from a modified pinmame which drives a DMD, etc), but it will be unique. I added it up one time, and it will end up being about $5-6k. But, realistically, I am doing it as much for the fun of making it happen as I am for the finished project.
If this sort of hacking is up your alley, then there is no need to ask if it's worth it. If you are looking to strictly save money, it's not for you. If you dig this sort of reverse engineering and such, then it's a fun project that just happens to end with you having a custom pinball.

Yeah, there’s something about building a Pin, it’s like mental yoga and good for the mind

4 weeks later
#42 9 months ago

Sorry for digging up a corpse, just thought I'd chip in as I'm currently in the process of building an Addams Family from scratch. I mean, I'm not sure this is the orthodox definition of "from scratch", but I guess it's pretty close.. They go around in Europe for between $3500 and $8000 depending on what condition the game is. I found one in Portugal, it was actually a bundle (MM and TAF for approximately $7000). Both games were severely beaten up hence the price. I wanted to buy both games back then, but I my budget was heavily constricted. I ended up convincing the guy to sell me the TAF alone as he'd definitely find a buyer for MM in that price range, therefore I ended up picking up an Addams Family for $1800. Good bargain, wouldn't you say?

Well, all things considered what the $1800 got me was a wiring harness, all the ball guides (some needed thorough cleaning and replating) apart from one (the swamp one is missing, that whole area was actually completely wrecked), what was left of the cabinet and backbox (Schenker damaged the pin during shipping, which is how I recuperated $800 from the cost), the electronics (amazingly, all the boards except for the CPU board are in great condition), a 5/10 translite, the power line (transformer, fuse box, wiring). Everything else was in an appalling state and I decided not to use anything else, apart from a few screws and bolts (which I cleaned before swapping). So, from the top of my head, this was my shopping list.

Playfield:
- new playfield from Mirco
- new plastics
- new posts
- new rubbers
- new scoops and brackets (the only ones I left were the cleaned-to-a-shine swamp bracket and scoop because the replacements didn't fit)
- new ramps (subway and main ramp)
- new coils and coil sleeves
- new wiregates
- new switches
- new Thing box (the one under the playfield)
- new popbumpers (everything there is new, including the solenoid brackets)
- protectors (playfield protector, lexane washers, cliffies for all ball entries)
- new lamp domes
- rivet kit
- spacers (plastic and hexes)
- Thing hand (I kept the motor and gearbox because they worked fine, tested them with my 12V supply)
- new bookcase assembly (this one did get a new motor and gearbox)
- wood repair materials (mostly black paint and filler, but also some tools, needed to repair the wooden frame that surrounds the playfield)

Cabinet and backbox
- new decals
- new gold trim (siderails, playfield glass trim, legs, backbox hinges, lockbar, leg bolts)
- new lockbar receiver
- new pinblades from Pedretti
- new leg mounting brackets
- new CPU board
- new fuse kit
- new topper
- new gold ball plunger (with the Rose shooter from Pedretti)
- new PinSound speaker

I'm sure there's a few other things, but this is all I can remember off the top of my head. I've invested almost three times what I payed for the pin so far, but it looks amazing and it will basically be as close as possible to a NIB game... TAF is my favourite pin, so I wasn't going to compromise on this one. Pic of the playfield, not completed yet (unfortunately the expenses associated with this project were so vast that they exhausted my ability to invest in a rotisserie ).

7472eaabb44370f1cc358bd49d568f55cdc5cce7 (resized).jpg

So, in terms of buying or building from scratch, my opinion is this. If you have the money and the time to build a game from scratch, GO FOR IT. This was an incredible challenge, but it feels so damn rewarding. The fact that I put this thing together piece by piece, bit by bit... I feel like I've developed a kind of bond with the game, and that I just know it. I know what's where, I remember putting an area of the playfield together, I'm familiar with the layout if I need to fix anything. I'd only do this with a pin I really, really value. TAF is my favourite pin, so this was a nobrainer. MM is my dreampin, and it still aches me that I couldn't have bought both the pins from that guy. In all honesty, the MM was in a relatively better state (it would still need a new playfield), but I think that would be a much harder project since there are less parts available for it here. Building a pin from scratch is definitely an adventure anyone serious about this hobby should try to venture on - for one, I'm certainly glad I have.

#43 9 months ago

I’m still considering this. I still need to get the parts doc with prices together before I make the decision

#44 9 months ago
Quoted from wolfemaaan:

I’m still considering this. I still need to get the parts doc with prices together before I make the decision

Tbh, I'd do it just because TOTAN is worth it. It's the crown jewel of my collection. And if stateside prices are north of $10k I can't see you not making it worth the effort. It depends on how much the wiring harness is (it is possible to build one with a new harness, but that is just so much work...). CPR has PFs for $800, the next big spend would be the dedicated parts (ramps, shooter target, genie, plastics, translite, decals) and I reckon that would come close to $1000. Your biggest enemy is all the ball guides and brackets - these aren't rarely available and if so they cost a lot of money (I'm lucky I only had to reproduce one ball guide for my TAF). Most of the other parts shouldn't be hard to source, particularly in the US. The switches, diodes, optos, etc. shouldn't exceeds $300, but that does not include opto boards et al. I'm just working off the top of my head. What I would recommend is to get any WPC95 game (or other suitable alternative) just for parts such as the AC line filter and transformer, ball trough, various brackets, miscellaneous parts. That was essentially my Addams build - I ordered near 80-90% of new parts, but I had the old game to source what I couldn't find.
If there's anything you need photo wise or for advice, as a TOTAN owner I'd be delighted to help and make sure you have number 3,129. There really should be more of these games out there (I am actually expecting CGC to put out a TOTANr).

#45 9 months ago

Wire harness will be the toughest part to find I think.

#46 9 months ago
Quoted from Luckydogg420:

Wire harness will be the toughest part to find I think.

Couldn’t you just buy spools of the correct colors? Somebody must sell this gage/color combos no? Again, it’s a boat load of work but I’d almost prefer to do this as the lengths will be accurate

#47 9 months ago

I built a Whitewater from parts.. it's not new.. And missing the waterfall effect on the topper.. But it ran under 4k.
I was able to get decent chunks of used parts for way less than buying individually.. that's probably a key part.

#48 9 months ago
Quoted from wolfemaaan:

Couldn’t you just buy spools of the correct colors? Somebody must sell this gage/color combos no? Again, it’s a boat load of work but I’d almost prefer to do this as the lengths will be accurate

Yes, but there is usually a minimum length if it's not already in stock. $10-$50 for a spool of wire and 100 unique wiring colors will add up really quickly. Atari "solved" that problem by using all white wiring in superman and adding labels to the wiring...which have mostly fallen off by this point.

#49 9 months ago

How many different wire colors would there be in a WPC cabinet for example? Anyone?

#50 9 months ago
Quoted from lordloss:

How many different wire colors would there be in a WPC cabinet for example? Anyone?

Pull up a manual and check the lamp and switch matrixes, that is about 40 right there including dedicated switches. Then coils.

LTG : )

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