(Topic ID: 212158)

Electromechanical Pinball Revival


By phil-lee

1 year ago



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  • 20 posts
  • 14 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 1 year ago by xTheBlackKnightx
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    #1 1 year ago

    It's happening Folks. an EM revival. All kinds of people are suddenly interested in EM Pinball and want to play. Projects are snapped up, decent priced machines disappear. Everyone I know prefers the chimes and bells, the rattle of a re-set, and the great Artwork.
    Young people respond to these machines in a positive way, just like many of us did when they were new.
    I see good times for EM pinball.

    #2 1 year ago
    Quoted from phil-lee:

    It's happening Folks. an EM revival. All kinds of people are suddenly interested in EM Pinball and want to play. Projects are snapped up, decent priced machines disappear. Everyone I know prefers the chimes and bells, the rattle of a re-set, and the great Artwork.
    Young people respond to these machines in a positive way, just like many of us did when they were new.
    I see good times for EM pinball.

    Great theory but no way. Despite what people keep saying here, EM games prices have risen very little, especially compared to everything else. You can still get nice EMs for $400-700, just like you could 10 years ago. You can still find decent EM projects for cheaper than that, just like 10 years ago.

    There's always gonna a place in this hobby for EM games, and people will always enjoy them. But there's always going to be a limit for those who want them - newbies, the ones flocking to pinside by the thousands over the last 5 years - generally have no interest. When was the last time you saw a "pinball is a rich man's hobby!" or "the bubble is about to burst!!!" newbie post about EM games?

    The answer of course is never. Because virtually nobody new to the pinball hobby has any interest in EMs.

    There's some reasons...there's no nostalgia attached except for very old people (older than I even!). The gameplay and show isn't exactly as exciting as later stuff. Plus...and this is coming from someone who has resurrected probably hundreds of EMs...the goddamn things are just a bitch to keep running/get running sometimes. I'm getting pretty tired of dealing with them to be honest. Why spend hours pulling (what's left) of your hair out trying to get a bunch of gottlieb latch trip relays to work right, or spending hours battling with some bizarre Bally EM logic that makes no sense, emerging with filthy sliced and weathered hands? Isn't it just easier to redo some connectors, pop in a new board, and get a late 70s Bally working?

    yes, it is.

    EMs been driving me nuts lately, and I consider(ed) myself very good at working on them. Maybe I just need to take a break but I'm starting to hate them.

    #3 1 year ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    Great theory but no way. Despite what people keep saying here, EM games prices have risen very little, especially compared to everything else. You can still get nice EMs for $400-700, just like you could 10 years ago. You can still find decent EM projects for cheaper than that, just like 10 years ago.
    There's always gonna a place in this hobby for EM games, and people will always enjoy them. But there's always going to be a limit for those who want them - newbies, the ones flocking to pinside by the thousands over the last 5 years - generally have no interest. When was the last time you saw a "pinball is a rich man's hobby!" or "the bubble is about to burst!!!" newbie post about EM games?
    The answer of course is never. Because virtually nobody new to the pinball hobby has any interest in EMs.
    There's some reasons...there's no nostalgia attached except for very old people (older than I even!). Plus...and this is coming from someone who has resurrected probably hundreds of EMs...the goddamn things are just a bitch to keep running/get running sometimes. I'm getting pretty tired of dealing with them to be honest. Why spend hours pulling (what's left) of your hair out trying to get a bunch of gottlieb latch trip relays to work right, or spending hours battling with some bizarre Bally EM logic that makes no sense, emerging with filthy sliced and weathered hands? Isn't it just easier to redo some connectors, pop in a new board, and get a late 70s Bally working?
    yes, it is.
    EMs been driving me nuts lately, and I consider(ed) myself very good at working on them. Maybe I just need to take a break but I'm starting to hate them.

    Completely disagree with you but have said the same thing in the past. I know there isn’t and probably won’t be a huge demand for EMs that would make there prices skyrocket like modern pins. But can say a good 90% of the friends I have made since joining a league last year are
    1: new to the hobby in the past 5 years.
    2: either own one or two EM pins
    3: are too young to have played EMs out in the wild.
    Some are in their early 20’s.
    Also if done right the first time EMs are very reliable.

    #4 1 year ago
    Quoted from arcademojo:

    Completely disagree with you but have said the same thing in the past. I know there isn’t and probably won’t be a huge demand for EMs that would make there prices skyrocket like modern pins. But can say a good 90% of the friends I have made since joining a league last year are
    1: new to the hobby in the past 5 years.
    2: either one at least one or two EM pin
    3: are too young to have played EMs out in the wild.
    Some are in their early 20’s.
    Also if done right the first time EMs are very reliable.

    That's great, and all true, but does it constitute a "revival?"

    EMs will always be around. They will always be cheap. And they will always be part of the hobby. I'm not saying they are going anywhere but "revival?" Just more of the same for EM pinball in the future I think.

    #5 1 year ago

    I think they are headed up but one way to check, www.pinballprices.com (don't forget the 's'), new website that has over 550 sales (90% from past 24 months) from live auctions and ebay - searchable database - all verified with links to actual sales sites. Shameless plug for my new website. Best viewed on laptop or tablet but smart phone is ok. Thanks.

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    #6 1 year ago

    Heartfelt response Levi, appreciate it. You are right in a lot of ways.The repair issue is a big one. Price stagnation and a resistance from Buyers to pay more is another. Pinball is a member of the boredom killing Business and reading a new thread about people becoming bored with their machines is an obvious conclusion no matter how many is in the lineup.
    Maybe its time to move on. The revival happened 5 years ago, now all we have is overpriced speculative Auctions, a boring lineup of second and third - tier offerings, as well as desperate picked over projects. When the inevitable liquidation does occur due to age of the collector prices will plummet. Many more will end up as coffee tables, parts machines and landfill offal.

    #7 1 year ago

    Dont get me wrong i love my ss williams pins but something has to be said for quality of ems ive pulled a few literaly out of a field and had them playing for under 20 bucks .you cant say the same for a ss machine.

    #8 1 year ago

    My em's have been as reliable or even more reliable after going through them than some solid state/dmd games I've owned.

    #9 1 year ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    Plus...and this is coming from someone who has resurrected probably hundreds of EMs...the goddamn things are just a bitch to keep running/get running sometimes. I'm getting pretty tired of dealing with them to be honest. Why spend hours pulling (what's left) of your hair out trying to get a bunch of gottlieb latch trip relays to work right, or spending hours battling with some bizarre Bally EM logic that makes no sense, emerging with filthy sliced and weathered hands? Isn't it just easier to redo some connectors, pop in a new board, and get a late 70s Bally working?
    yes, it is.
    EMs been driving me nuts lately, and I consider(ed) myself very good at working on them. Maybe I just need to take a break but I'm starting to hate them.

    Your perspective is from someone who finds lifeless games and brings them back to life, yes? That's work, I hear you. Either I bought my EMs long ago before they got ruined or I bought them after someone like you shopped them, because they always fire right up, year after year. I find them very low maintenance and when I clean the playfield, it's easy to strip it. I wouldn't enjoy disassembling some modern playfields.

    #10 1 year ago
    Quoted from TomT:

    My em's have been as reliable or even more reliable after going through them than some solid state/dmd games I've owned.

    I have to agree, perhaps it was good fortune but all of my machines are extremely reliable. I would feel better getting an EM for my next machine. Understanding of the working innards, patience to go through it right one time are essential.
    It just seems there is an undercurrent of discovery about EM among the chatter, as well as the response from complete strangers when they actually play a clean,working machine.
    Hard to believe but EM machines are being listed for even higher prices than recent history (yeah, I know, its some kind of head warp marketing thing). But it is now translating into 1400 dollar (asking) Swingers. Just one example.
    Higher demand from new buyers, terrible selection of offerings at super inflated prices. Sounds like it will work out.

    #11 1 year ago
    Quoted from phil-lee:

    When the inevitable liquidation does occur due to age of the collector prices will plummet.

    What does the community feel is the average age of a pinball collector?

    Are we talking 10 years until this massive sale? 20? 35?

    #12 1 year ago
    Quoted from steviechs:

    What does the community feel is the average age of a pinball collector?
    Are we talking 10 years until this massive sale? 20? 35?

    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/how-old-are-pinsiders-poll/page/2#post-1619206

    #13 1 year ago

    Per that poll, with nearly 70 something percent in their 30s and 40s, my guess is there won't be that big selloff. People get into the collecting hobby with disposable income. There will always be a new group entering with some extra cash and a few at the other end of the spectrum clearing out.

    Even if there was no new interest, with the current collectors in their 30s and 40s that inevitable selloff would be at least 20-30 years down the road and would still be spaced out over 2 decades. It seems so unrealistic, yet I'm sure there are countless other "collectibles" that have seen similar spikes and recessions.

    Idk, I just don't see any dip in popularity nor any "mass extinction" from an aging population anytime soon. I got into pinball because my grandparents had one in their basement. 20 years later I bought the same pin they had. I'm betting my 3 year old will take my machines or get his own one day. It's just something that seems to appeal to any generation

    #14 1 year ago

    Portland has first EM only tournament event coming. There is genuine interest, although I cannot say for how long. Those in there 20s rarely have ever seen EMs "in the wild".

    The reason why "projects are being acquired" is enthusiasts cannot afford modern SS games, but still want something to play. The price point tipped for new owners. It part of the rotational aspect of the ebb and flow of the pinball secondary market which I discussed several years ago. Eventually this fades as well, as many do not want to conduct full maintenance, and disappear from public notice.

    EMs outperform SS games in terms of durability, but not necessarily reliability, unless maintained weekly.

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    #15 1 year ago

    Competitive pinball seems to be a growing area, along with tuition videos on youtube etc. Bowen videos are awesome.

    As people realize that adding an early SS and an EM to same old, same old collections, is a great way to improve flipper skills, more of these games might be snapped up.

    I never wanted a Paragon until I watched the Bowen video.

    And if competitive pinball grows, then so do classic tournaments and makes sense to have a few games at home.

    Variety is the spice of life

    #16 1 year ago

    "Per that poll, with nearly 70 something percent in their 30s and 40s, my guess is there won't be that big selloff. "
    Not all older pinball enthusiasts participated in the poll. Some may not be Pinside members nor even surf the web for that matter. Therefore your conclusions may be skewed. Statistics are something that can be misleading and easily manipulated to support a certain point of view. Fake news comes to mind without getting into politics. I agree with many arguments made here, especially regarding EM project prices and scarcity.

    #17 1 year ago

    I’ve seen a little boost in EM prices, probably because they are getting a little lift from the overall pinball market which is still rising.

    On a more personal level I’m planning to bring more “EM tech” into the mainstream with classes, videos, and gameplay reviews.

    #18 1 year ago

    The "massive selloff" is occurring as we speak, yet is a quiet affair, through Auction,word of mouth.There will be a few like the Oklahoma affair but thousands of Estate sales where a EM is featured.
    Same result. Little fanfare.
    Nico, the RPM is a class act,if only it was closer. Perhaps quality smaller "Satellite locations" or a mobile demonstration bus?

    #19 1 year ago

    The popularity of EM pinball machines seems to be regional... For example, project EM pinball machines for sale in this area sit for months. EM machines that are working and in decent cosmetic condition will probably sell within a month. Although, working EM machines with higher price tags are slow to sell. But, project SS machines by Bally, Wms, Gottlieb and Stern sell within days of being listed... I guess sales depend on where all the "EM" people are located....

    #20 1 year ago

    It also depends on the pinball EM education of the enthusiast's region. Owners can ask for the sky regarding sale prices, and experienced restorers will laugh and walk away, while a new owner will overpay. Some do know what they want in specificity, eras, and manufacturers. EM prices in certain areas of the US are unjustifiable too many, such as certain areas of CA.

    See the Gator, $5000 (firm) as a general example of absurdity, as person does not need to be a Ted Zale expert for that specfic ad.

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