(Topic ID: 224169)

EM A-list?


By n1teowl

6 months ago



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  • Latest reply 4 months ago by phil-lee
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    #1 6 months ago

    I'm looking to learn more about EMs, and which games collectors consider the best and/or most collectible. What would you consider to be on the EM A-list?

    #2 6 months ago

    There is no correct answer to your question. People like different aspects of the EM games based on personal preferences. Different things like themes, manufacture, the designer, and even the artist.

    For a general answer look at Top 100 lists, Pinside, IPDB, just to name 2 lists.

    #3 6 months ago

    Fireball 1972 is up there in collectibility and price.

    #4 6 months ago

    El Dorado, Centigrade 37, High Hand, Buccaneer

    If multiplayer Wizard and Captain Fantastic are cool.

    #5 6 months ago

    Any Add-A-Ball game!

    Eric

    #6 6 months ago

    Some I like:

    Joker Poker
    Grand Prix
    Surf Champ
    Bow and Arrow
    Fireball
    El Dorado
    Big Hit
    Fast Draw
    Royal Flush
    4MBC

    #7 6 months ago

    The Top 100 list is flawed.If you think River Boat is the Number 1 EM, how much more proof do you need?

    #8 6 months ago

    You aren't going to get a consensus on which EMs are good...mostly because there are so many of them, almost all of them are worth the same amount of money, and they don't command the same rabid thirst that the expensive newer games do.

    You are just gonna have to play 'em to find out!

    #9 6 months ago

    Thanks for the replies. I guess the answer is that there is no A-list for EMs like there is for 90s B/W games. Whether you like the games or not, I think most would agree that Attack from Mars, Twilight Zone, and Addams are all A-List titles from a collectors standpoint. I was wondering if there was any similar consensus on EMs.

    #10 6 months ago
    Quoted from Zep:

    If you think River Boat is the Number 1 EM, how much more proof do you need?

    It's not number one in my collection, but a hell of a lot better than some of the other more talked about games on this forum, and one of the games I do play very often.

    #11 6 months ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    It's not number one in my collection, but a hell of a lot better than some of the other more talked about games on this forum, and one of the games I do play very often.

    And that is the point.

    #12 6 months ago

    Agree the lists are questionable... I have an Argosy in really nice shape and I enjoy it. Agreed that it's simple and relatively one dimensional - but looking at the IPDB ratings it's rated near the absolute bottom. I'd never advocate it as being the best ever - but for $300 (good art and fully working, no less!) it scratches a really nice EM itch. I'd say it's all in what you can find and take it from there.

    Then again - I had a Sound Stage which is somehow rated even worse than Argosy.

    #13 6 months ago

    EMs I've enjoyed:

    Jungle Queen
    Royal Flush
    Golden Arrow
    C37
    Fireball

    #14 6 months ago

    Centigrade 37

    #15 6 months ago
    Quoted from statictrance:

    Agree the lists are questionable... I have an Argosy in really nice shape and I enjoy it. Agreed that it's simple and relatively one dimensional - but looking at the IPDB ratings it's rated near the absolute bottom. I'd never advocate it as being the best ever - but for $300 (good art and fully working, no less!) it scratches a really nice EM itch. I'd say it's all in what you can find and take it from there.
    Then again - I had a Sound Stage which is somehow rated even worse than Argosy.

    Argosy rules great playing game. Can't fathom why it would be rated poorly, very popular tournament game these days, and not any more "dimensional" than any other EM game.

    #16 6 months ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    Can't fathom why it would be rated poorly,...

    Probably because it's a Williams I would assume.

    #17 6 months ago

    I would list Fireball, El Dorado, and Grand Prix as the "top" EM machines in the terms you are looking for. If you find any of those in great condition at a good price you would be the envy of everyone on the EM board.

    #18 6 months ago
    Quoted from Matesamo:

    I would list Fireball, El Dorado, and Grand Prix as the "top" EM machines in the terms you are looking for. If you find any of those in great condition at a good price you would be the envy of everyone on the EM board.

    Alright I'm throwing it out there....

    Collectable and expensive yes but Fireball sucks (and I own one right now). I MUCH prefer the large-flipper 1985 version, which is an actual playable machine rather than a skill shot and a ton of luck.

    Once in a blue moon you can get on a roll on Fireball but for the most part it's a luck box and all about the gimmicks rather than a fun, skill-based pinball experience.

    Grand Prix ain't bad but the definition of one dimensional (shoot the spinners).

    For the 70s gottliebs I just love Jungle Queen. That's a super fun game. Most of the 70s gottliebs are pretty good though, much less junk than Bally and Williams.

    #19 6 months ago

    There are too many EMS for most to have played them all, especially set up and playing correctly. So all I can do is have my own list based on what I like in regards to gameplay, artwork, and that one more game factor. And what works for me, won't always be what others are looking for.

    I certainly won't buy games based off a top 100 list that others have made up.

    #20 6 months ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    ...especially set up and playing correctly....

    That's the big thing with EMs always.

    #21 6 months ago
    Quoted from TheLaw:

    That's the big thing with EMs always.

    Yeah, mine are all set up and playing real good.

    I've had a lot come thru here, in many cases just to try them out, and the ones that get played stay. The ones that don't or have artwork that doesn't appeal to me get gone in a hurry. Many that have been booted are in many case someone elses favorite game.

    #22 6 months ago

    Pinball Magazine No. 5 is covering a lot of Gottlieb EMs, who at the time was the #1 pinball manufacturer. It will give you some background stories as well, that may help to enjoy certain games even more.

    To answer your question: There are so many EMs that you need a lot of feedback to come up with a list that many will see as representative. Some of my favorites:
    Wizard
    Honey (mostly personal sentimental value)
    Bow and Arrow
    Grand Prix
    Slick Chick
    Majorettes
    Queen of Hearts
    Lightning Ball
    Sittin Pretty
    Spirit of 76
    Hit The Deck
    several of the Zaccaria EMs

    #23 6 months ago
    Quoted from unigroove:

    Pinball Magazine No. 5 is covering a lot of Gottlieb EMs, who at the time were the #1 pinball manufacturer.

    Quantity wise, most years they were. Except when Williams in the late 60s caught up and one year actually produced more, and Bally during the last EM years and perhaps during the 30s when they were churning out games like Bally Hoo.

    For me, I tend to like short flipper games. Gottlieb from the late 40s to the mid 50s had quite a few gems, then mostly Williams from the mid 50s to the late 60s are my games of preference due to not sticking to one formula and adding variety in features, artwork, and layouts.

    #24 6 months ago

    Some of the more valuable ones:

    Star Jet
    Evel Knievel
    Charlies Angels
    Mata Hari
    Joker Poker
    Mermaid
    Centigrade 37
    Space Walk
    Fireball
    4 mil BC
    Six Shooter
    Blue Note

    #25 6 months ago

    What defines an A-B-C title game? Price?
    If that's the case, look at average sales data and specific titles should shuffle to the top.

    #26 6 months ago
    Quoted from brenna98:

    If that's the case, look at average sales data and specific titles should shuffle to the top.

    Yeah but in a lot of cases, the most valuable EMs have only sold a few times and there are 0 sales tracked because the vast majority of the time, the sales are private, cash transactions, many years ago.

    #27 6 months ago

    Like to add:

    Surfer / Surf Champ
    Top Score / 300
    Cleopatra

    #28 6 months ago

    My list would include mostly games that I played on the street growing up. Probably the same with most old-timers here. 75% of the pins on the street in my area of St. Louis were Gottlieb's. The rest were Williams. The only Bally games were bingos.

    Cover Girl
    Rack-A-Ball
    Sing Along
    King Of Diamonds
    El Dorado
    Apollo
    Full House
    Gusher
    Lady Luck
    Old Chicago

    #29 6 months ago

    Came to add El Dorado in it's many forms (Gold Strike, Target Alpha, Solar City, and Canada Dry). I'm a fan of drop targets in EMs, so it's naturally one of my favorites. For overall "popularity" you might want to look at the games which have the most ratings. They tend to be the ones people seek out to play: Fireball (96), Centigrade 37 (87), Wizard! (69), El Dorado (67), Atlantis (65), Grand Prix (64), Abra Ca Dabra (61), Capt. Fantastic (59), Surf Champ (54), Jacks Open (52), Target Alpha (50), etc. Seems to work for SS games too. Most of the games people consider to be A-Listers have a lot of ratings. Games further down on the list tend to have fewer ratings. Not perfect, but if I had to use something statistically that's probably where I'd start.

    #30 6 months ago

    King Of Diamonds ...if that's the one where the cards drop on the backglass....I Love It!!

    #31 6 months ago
    Quoted from lpeters82:

    CFor overall "popularity" you might want to look at the games which have the most ratings. They tend to be the ones people seek out to play: Fireball (96), Centigrade 37 (87), Wizard! (69), El Dorado (67), Atlantis (65), Grand Prix (64), Abra Ca Dabra (61), Capt. Fantastic (59), Surf Champ (54), Jacks Open (52), Target Alpha (50), etc.

    Thanks for this. This list seems to be the closest to what i was expecting to see on the A-List. I think your theory makes total sense.

    #32 6 months ago

    Sometimes, but not always, it has to do with the Nostalgia factor of games that you grew up with. I grew up in the mid-to-late seventies, so tend to prefer that era. Like some 60s games though.

    #33 6 months ago
    Quoted from Matesamo:

    I would list Fireball, El Dorado, and Grand Prix as the "top" EM machines in the terms you are looking for. If you find any of those in great condition at a good price you would be the envy of everyone on the EM board.

    I guess I got lucky!

    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/em-show-us-your-em-pinball-machines/page/224#post-4560853

    #34 6 months ago

    I also "struck gold". Went to pickup a Ms. Pacman & Big Buck Hunter Pro (arcade) and they happened to have a non-working pinball machine in the way back.

    e523d8828f5ed1b8f30414330ada41e0cc7780f4 (resized).jpg

    #35 6 months ago

    My list as far as long term keepers, overall design, artwork, and replay ability for myself and my guests.

    As mentioned when they stop getting played, they get shown to the door and that list is a lot longer than this one.

    Pit Stop
    Big Daddy
    Frontiersman
    Trade Winds
    Magic Clock
    River Boat
    Rocket
    Arrow Head
    Serenade
    Eager Beaver

    Eight out of the nine being Williams from the late 50s to late 60s. They stay because they get the most play and I like to look at them.

    #36 6 months ago

    Seems like there’s a lot of popular and expensive wedgeheads that are considered top tier simply because they’re great players with unique designs: Atlantis, C37, El Dorado, Abra Ca Dabra.

    There are the the games that are collectible based pretty much on theme, but are kinda butt cheeks to play, Captain Fantastic is the one that really comes to mind.

    Then there are the games that are valuable pretty much due to rarity, like TKO, Blue Note, Star Jet, Mermaid, Minstrel Man, Knock Out, and a lot of the EM/SS crossover titles, like Cleopatra/Pyramid, Charlie’s Angels and Evel Knievel.

    Then you have the multiplayer games that are just a blast to play, and despite making boatloads, they still hold their value: Surf Champ, Royal Flush, Fireball, Grand Prix, 4 Million BC, and so forth.

    I like the cult classics with low prices, like Argosy and Mars Trek. I think they’re absolutely terrific games that are worthy of being a-listers.

    #37 6 months ago

    I'm not really an EM guy, but I think volley, Atlantis and C37 are the nest wedgeheads. Grand Prix is my favorite multiplayer game.

    #38 6 months ago

    You might get more of a concensus
    as to what EM pins are on
    the D or F List!!!

    #39 6 months ago

    I remember way back when,
    when GTB Buckaroo used to be considered
    one of the most desirable EM pins.

    #40 6 months ago
    Quoted from pinwiztom:

    You might get more of a concensus
    as to what EM pins are on
    the D or F List!!!

    Give us an E for El Toro?

    I give my Williams El Toro a solid B+.

    As a two player it is going to outlast Fashion Show, which will probably be the next to leave the building. Not a bad two player, if you have two to play it. Multiplayers that stay have to also be able to function as a single player and stay fun for the long haul.

    #41 6 months ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    I give my Williams El Toro a solid B+.

    I agree that WMS El Toro
    is a very good game
    but not great pin.

    #42 6 months ago
    Quoted from pinwiztom:

    I agree that WMS El Toro
    is a very good game
    but not great pin.

    It's kinda been on and off the chopping block as I whittle down the collection to my all time keepers and that is why it didn't make my top list, but has surprisingly outlasted quite a few others.

    It has a few things going for it like two of the hardest to knock down drop targets in pinball, and one of those brutally hard to keep the ball in play layouts Steve Kordek is famous for in that era. And doesn't hand out points like candy, you have to earn every one.

    Also when two play, it has very balanced scoring, and there is no lucky shot that awards one player a big amount of points that both have worked for just because he happens to do so at the right time. And those games tend to stay close and it is usually a fight to the finish.

    But, if I ever say I'm putting my two player Pit Stop on the chopping block, somebody please slap me.

    #44 6 months ago

    Sure, why not?

    Anybody that is of the opinion EMs play slow, especially the older wobdrails with two inch flippers has probably never played a Rocket like the one on the far right. In fact, I think I'll go throw down a few games on it right now.

    My first wood rail has made the never leaving team. And deservedly so. I think at one time it was actually near the top of the pinside top 100 EM games without my vote. Not bad for such a rare machine. I think I will probably be keeping all of these.
    Woodys (resized).jpg

    #45 6 months ago

    Atlantis is at the top of my list, followed by River Boat. Two totally different kinds of games but both great playing games.

    I love Jacks Open but it's just not quite at the level of those two.

    Bally had some of the innovations in the 70s, such as Fireball and Nip It with multi ball and the balligator, but to me the play is pretty much average. I have a Nip It in really nice shape and I enjoy it, but it is simply not the player that the others are.

    #46 6 months ago

    Totally a matter of taste. "C-37" has been mentioned here several times, but it wouldn't appear on my A, B, C, or even D list. It does seem to be one of the more desirable, and thus "valuable" EM titles, but not to me.

    #47 6 months ago

    I don't want to pick particular titles... I'd rather group them by years of what I prefer playing...

    late 50s- 1963-ish - Gottlieb
    1963- early 1970s - Bally
    1972-ish to end of EM era - Williams

    #48 6 months ago

    My uncle is a pinball guy, and was a pinball guy through the 70's as he routed games to pay his way through college.
    he's seen my collection, and thinks its pretty cool...
    But the ONLY game I have that he was truly impressed by was my Fireball 72. he calls it "the biggest collectable from my generation".
    He just asked me if I was ready to sell it yet.

    That's some random dude's perspective.

    #49 6 months ago

    Take the pinside top 100 list with a grain of salt. It seems to change like tide. And myself, I have no influence on it.

    If you want all the most expensive games all in a row, then you have your list. If I want to keep all the best looking, best playing games I have come across, then I have mine.

    #50 6 months ago
    Quoted from tamoore:

    But the ONLY game I have that he was truly impressed by was my Fireball 72. he calls it "the biggest collectable from my generation".
    He just asked me if I was ready to sell it yet.

    That's some random dude's perspective.

    He must have read that article in Playboy.

    What Fireball did do in the 70s was took the ideas Ted Zale had been working on in the 60s and put them together in one package. But this time an artist new to the pinball scene named Dave Christensen gave it a new look and it became an instant hit. Christensen's art went onto help propel Bally to the top of the flipper pinball world by the end of the decade. At least that's the way I saw it at the time.

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