EM pinball machines prices on the way down...on the way up

(Topic ID: 210370)

EM pinball machines prices on the way down...on the way up


By Grayman_EM

12 months ago



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  • 72 posts
  • 38 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 10 months ago by Electrocute
  • Topic is favorited by 1 Pinsider

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There are 72 posts in this topic. You are on page 2 of 2.
#51 11 months ago

One thing I have discovered that EM's will always have over their digital counterparts is longevity and serviceability.

The earliest SS machines are now 40 years old. Sys11's are pushing into their 30's. Some of the IC's for these games are already obsolete and no longer available new. In other cases, substitute parts require modifications. I'm not talking about wholesale "upgrades / swaps" like replacement displays and more efficient power supplies... I'm talking about things like 6821 PIAs and other chips which aren't getting easier to find. Workarounds and/or expensive redesigns will become required at some point...

...Even then you'll always be at the mercy of a semiconductor plant with the specialized materials and clean room technology to manufacture arcane components with sufficient ROI.

Guys are already freaking out over Stern's Spike system which is only what, 3 years old? No info, SM components, limited availability. Good luck with those in 10/20 years. Even if the scematics and troubleshooting knowledge becomes available, it's all about parts. Nobody can make an IC in the basement. Even if you can break its functionality out into discrete components, that becomes a repackaging hack soup nightmare.

Whereas, with an EM... you can basically fix almost anything with a rock and some wire. Well, I oversimplify there but you get the idea. Even the most arcane one-off parts could be remade with common tools more readily accessible to the average hobbyist or supplier. There's something to be said for that!

#52 11 months ago
Quoted from bkbirge:

Man that's one of the things I love most about EM's it's the retro art, mostly unlicensed themes, often everyday kind of scenes,

These are my favorites as well: cards, bowling, pool, even Christmas caroling (‘Sing Along’) remind me of the popular leisure activities of my youth. Not a big fan of sci-fi artwork from late 70’s

#53 11 months ago

It occurred to me a while back, while looking inside one of my EM pins, that Edison's crew could have made one of these back in the 1890s. It's basically electromagnetic coils, switches, wire, cams, wood, screws, springs, small electric bulbs, glass, bits of metal, paint, and a small electric motor. Celluloid instead of plastic for the bumper caps/skirts and playfield plastics, vulcanised rubber, etc etc. And a ball bearing. All available at that time. So the invention of EM pinballs wasn't waiting for any technical advance, but it could only happen with gradual incremental improvements (from bagatelle) because no one in 1890 could think that far ahead. And yes, because the bits are simple, it's possible that replacement parts for just about everything could still be made hundreds or thousands of years from now, when all the ICs and chips etc are long since dead. Maybe the last pinball machine will be an EM. Which one should it be?

#54 11 months ago
Quoted from goingincirclez:

One thing I have discovered that EM's will always have over their digital counterparts is longevity and serviceability.

Whereas, with an EM... you can basically fix almost anything with a rock and some wire. Well, I oversimplify there but you get the idea. Even the most arcane one-off parts could be remade with common tools more readily accessible to the average hobbyist or supplier. There's something to be said for that!

If this was Gilligan's Island wouldn't that be with bamboo and cocoanuts?

#55 11 months ago
Quoted from rufessor:

(never have sold a game- I have 5 and buy carefully)

Over how long a time?

I think I bought and sold 15 games my first year, and I'm about around 60 or 70 at this point, almost 6 or 7 years in.

#56 11 months ago
Quoted from Grayman_EM:

ebay.com link » Like
Got to love it. Skylab $1,999.00 98% working, wonder where the other 2% is?
Mine $600.00 and well not perfect it is well worth the price.

What percent is yours?

#57 11 months ago

100%

#58 11 months ago
Quoted from Frax:

Over how long a time?
I think I bought and sold 15 games my first year, and I'm about around 60 or 70 at this point, almost 6 or 7 years in.

I am 5 years in (ish?) still have every game I purchased still have only 5. I am not super interested in turning the crank. I buy only games I think I would like playing and that fit the vibe I like. To be honest- it’s all about look and fit so there are not so many games I want to own. Then I work on them slowly as I have time. I try to keep it a relaxing affair and just don’t have the time to put many hours into it at once. That’s the cool part about this hobby- there are SO MANY ways to enjoy it.

#59 11 months ago

I hear that. I haven't bought much in the last 2 years at ALL.

#60 11 months ago

EM titles are pricing down right now IMO except for uncommon or rare titles, also 70's pins with drop targets and 3" Flippers are more desirable right now than 60's games with short flippers and no drop targets, but the market is very fluid and can change on any given month.

Just my 2 cents.

#61 11 months ago
Quoted from oldtowner:

It occurred to me a while back, while looking inside one of my EM pins, that Edison's crew could have made one of these back in the 1890s. It's basically electromagnetic coils, switches, wire, cams, wood, screws, springs, small electric bulbs, glass, bits of metal, paint, and a small electric motor.

I read somewhere on another pinball forum a comment from someone saying how much he preferred the old EM analog machines better than the modern digital ones....and it hit me like a brick:

These old EM machines aren't analog at all...they're 100% digital. Sure, they're not digital in the sense of ICs, base-2 calculations, and-gates, or-gates, nor-gates, etc., but they're absolutely digital all the same! Everything is on-or-off. "1" or "0". Not a single component has an "in between" or a "maybe".....it's all just switches. Open or closed. The very definition of digital.

Really very cool when you stop to think about it...

#62 11 months ago
Quoted from EM-PINMAN:

EM titles are pricing down right now IMO except for uncommon or rare titles, also 70's pins with drop targets and 3" Flippers are more desirable right now than 60's games with short flippers and no drop targets, but the market is very fluid and can change on any given month.
Just my 2 cents.

Clean or pristine original examples, rare or not, still command a premium. Probably for two reasons: 1. There are those that prefer original to a "restoration" and 2. The going rate for said restorations can run you $1000 to $3500. So its easy to see why some would pay $1000-$2000 for a nice example and not have to worry about investing in parts and labor to make it "attractive" again.

But I believe you are correct, beat up examples of high production games are in a down swing these days. And fewer and fewer "New" collectors care about the 60's and older stuff. Me included. Who knows, you might even see more and more of some less than stellar 60's wedge heads give up their life for parts and cabinets to restore the more desirable 70's wedgies. 70's games keep showing up with missing lock down bars, chime units (I know, most 60's have bells!), no back doors, and wrenched or rusty coin doors. It doesn't take long to get back $150 to $250 invested in a Gottlieb Parts game. Hell, even a score motor is costly to repair or replace these days.

#63 11 months ago

In my view, the EM market is growing. As one of the administrators of the EM PINBALL Facebook page, I have witnessed in that group a robust membership growth. The group, which began in December 2014, currently has 3,764 members. In the last few months, membership has increased by 50+ per week and in some weeks twice that rate. Similar growth is evident with other Facebook groups, such as those dedicated to woodrails and vintage arcade/coin-op machines.

Whether the interest in EMs is a product of high NIB games and/or the ability to repair EMs without regard to esoteric part availability is certainly a valid debate topic.

Irrespective of underlying reasons for entry into the electromechanical game market, I have observed one constant in the EM marketplace. The low-production, scarce and desirable EM titles, in good condition, have historically survived significant price fluctuations. That class of game, with few exceptions, has increased in value over the last 30 years. Indeed, most have enjoyed substantial appreciation during each decade. Gottliebs have been the most predictable. Williams and Bally have been less so.

Back in the nineties, the woodrail market experienced a spike, primarily because the European collectors began buying up just about any available Gottlieb woodrail. In the years thereafter, the values of the lesser woodrail titles reverted to previous levels whereas the prized titles catapulted to new, considerably higher pricing floors.

The sixties EM market peaked in the last decade or earlier for restored games. However, the project game prices have increased. Thus, the sixties EM market is currently more truncated.

The seventies EM market has exhibited enhanced valuation, especially in the last 10 years. Arguably, there is some validity to the "nostalgia" postulate for the marked interest in seventies games in recent years.

The prewar pinball marketplace has skyrocketed in the last 7 - 12 years, especially on the most sought-after titles. It is self-evident that collectors/enthusiasts purchasing 1930s vintage games never played those games on location. Thus, the "nostalgia theory" is an untenable explanation for the demonstrable spike in prewar game value. Likewise, the "dying off/estate sale theory" has not manifested an influx of prewar games to the marketplace during the last 20 years. I suspect that cool mechanical items will always be cool and collectors of each generation will tend to recognize that fact. The growing pinball market has exposed new, younger enthusiasts to these gems.

I know of no empirical evidence to suggest, in the future, that the above historical pricing vector will waver on the scarce and well-maintained EM titles. EMs will never be remade. Retro Pinball's King of Diamonds remake was a solid state game, which only served to heighten interest and enhance the value of the EM counterpart. Benchmark's solid state remake of 1954 Genco's Two Player Basketball and 1957 Williams Ten Strike also increased the values of those classic EM arcade games. In contrast, the MM and AFM remakes had the opposite effect on the originals.

#64 11 months ago

As you might have heard I’ve got a whole new gig just around the corner. Once I get settled in, the EM videos and in-person classes will finally be unleashed to kick everything up a notch.

If we can get the knowledge out there, the EM’s will survive and perhaps regain some popularity.

I’m betting “all in” on cleared, stealth LED’d, restored multiplayer EM’s, because the social aspect is what makes them timeless. This is why billiards and darts have been played for centuries and still are today.

So hey, if I’ve had an effect upon EM prices, great! Better get what you want now because I intend to bring a whole lot more people into the hobby.

#65 11 months ago

All power to you Nico. Exciting news. Sorry I'm a few thousand miles away, so won't be able to get to the in-person classes. Anyway, I'm a crumbly, and you need to get young people interested. Best of luck.

#66 11 months ago

Do tell... I’m out of the loop!

#67 11 months ago
Quoted from EM-PINMAN:

70's pins with drop targets and 3" Flippers are more desirable right now than 60's games with short flippers and no drop targets

Where does that leave 60s games with short flippers and drop targets? I'll tell ya.

That makes them the most desirable of them all!

#68 11 months ago

The short flippers and 50's, 60's pins are the most desirable to me!

I could never get into the 3" flippers or the SS pins.

#69 11 months ago

Short flippers ok, 3' flippers ok, Paul Bunyan (1968) with 6 flippers just to much!

Even 4 flippers sometimes bother me.

#70 11 months ago

I think they are headed up but one way to check, http://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.
Added 10 months ago: Update: A little self-promotion here, but to check out where prices really are over the last 24 months go to www.PinballPrices.com (with a 's' - NOT the other guys that have been down for 2 years). All the sales are verified and have a direct link to that sale! eBay is about half the database of 700 sales (updated DAILY) but the other half are online and onsite auction sales that I have pulled. Prices do not reflect sales within the "pinball community" - private sales that I have no way to actually verify.
The database is powered by AirTable and searchable in desktop view, scan-able in mobile. Let me know what you think and how I can improve the site.

Added 10 months ago: Update: A little self-promotion here, but to check out where prices really are over the last 24 months go to www.PinballPrices.com (with a 's' - NOT the other guys that have been down for 2 years). All the sales are verified and have a direct link to that sale! eBay is about half the database of 700 sales (updated DAILY) but the other half are online and onsite auction sales that I have pulled. Prices do not reflect sales within the "pinball community" - private sales that I have no way to actually verify.

The database is powered by AirTable and searchable in desktop view, scan-able in mobile. Let me know what you think and how I can improve the site.

3 weeks later
#71 10 months ago

On the way up with this ad from Mr. Pinball! Flash! Really?

Flash, 1978 Williams: 5000
Complete restoration, restored clearcoat playfield, cabinet, list too long. Email for list N pics.
Kenneth, Phone: (650) 400-0207
Burlingame, California 94010

Posted: 8 April 2018

#72 10 months ago
Quoted from Grayman_EM:

On the way up with this ad from Mr. Pinball! Flash! Really?
Flash, 1978 Williams: 5000
Complete restoration, restored clearcoat playfield, cabinet, list too long. Email for list N pics.
Kenneth, Phone: (650) 400-0207
Burlingame, California 94010
Posted: 8 April 2018

Maybe it's a very rare EM version of the game.

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