(Topic ID: 2199)

First machine choices + questions

By smokedog

9 years ago

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  • 46 posts
  • 15 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 9 years ago by smokedog
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#1 9 years ago

Hi all

I'm currently shopping for my first machine, and I have a couple of tough choices to make. All the machines are roughly in the same shape, near mint for most of them. Locations vary greatly though.

My choices:
Indiana Jones 93' (would have to have it shipped from the States @ $525)
Theater of Magic (6 hours away, I could pick it up)
Twilight Zone (2.5 hours away, I could pick up)

Questions for you all:
Any idea what customs will ding me for bringing a machine up to Canada?
Of the three, which would you prefer? Game play wise.
Anyone have any dealings buying from the Mr. Pinball Classifieds?

They are all fairly close in cost (only 1K separates the lowest to highest). This will be my first pin. I will be looking to add a Creature to my collection as well.

Thanks in advance!

#2 9 years ago

Ok, I am not going to guess at what machine is the best as I am new to this as well.

I recently bought a Mousin Around in Depew New York. At the border if you pick it up its the standard 13% HST on the calculated Canadian Value. The calculated Canadian valve is what you paid for it in US funds converted to Canadian Dollars at the current exchange rate.

So $1000.00 US x 1.015% exchange = $1,015.00 CAN x 13% = $1146.00 total

Not sure where you are in Canada but I would have it shipped to a location close the border on the US side then go pick it up. Why? brokerage fees, you dont want to pay those.

If in Niagara I can give you an address to have them shipped to that offer very reasonable handing rates.

Good Luck

#3 9 years ago

With the choices and details given I would pick the TZ. Negotiate though some. Don't act like it's a must have it. Kinda like buying that used car. See which pickup will do the best deal. Sometimes they will meet you half way and transfer the machine. Welcome to our forum and thanks for asking our members advice.

#4 9 years ago

For what it's worth, game play wise I would rank them TZ, IJ, TOM.

#5 9 years ago

I agree 100 % with hawkeye.

#6 9 years ago

I have never played TZ but I think IJ is better than ToM. ToM is pretty and has good flow and toys but the game play is just too simple for me. My buddy has it and I get bored after a while.
IJ has some tough shots like the mode hole and the PoA. You have to hit them just right. It also has good quotes and lots to do. And it doesn't feel like a widebody to me because the lower part of the playfield is narrowed to normal size.

#7 9 years ago

Wow to be honest you can't go wrong with any of those as a first pin however my choice would be IndianaJones..its just the total package,beautiful to look at,fun to play,very challanging and fantastic sounds and classic movie one liners!

Theater would be my 2nd choice followed by Twilight Zone

#8 9 years ago

Thanks all for the advice. I'll rule out ToM for now, as I think it is super pretty to look at, but agree that the game play is not as in depth as the other two. I found another IJ, a little closer to home. The cabinet has some fade, but play field is the same. The first one I found, the seller will only take Paypal, and wants the extra 3.5% pay pal fees on top. That adds a nice chunk to an already expensive machine.

I'll report back on my decision. It may come down to cost. I think I can get the IJ for cheaper, even with shipping.


#9 9 years ago

I'm currently in the market for a ToM. I've been playing it a lot on location recently, and it has really grown on me. That being said, a lot of people I've talked to seem to have the same opinion as SC (i.e. it becomes boring after a while). For this reason, TZ and IJ are probably better choices for a first pin. I'm looking to build a larger collection, plus I already own a TZ, so ToM fits the bill for me.

#10 9 years ago

Now I waffle again.

I can actually go, look at and play the TZ, then take it home. The IJ, I pay (via paypal), wait, deal with customs, wait some more, get it home (hopefully!). Both will roughly cost the same after shipping.

Honestly, this is a very tough decision. I will have this pin for awhile, and it's my first one. I feel like it's a choose your own adventure:

Do you a)drive for two hours and come home with a great pin? or b)Send off your money and hope you end up with a great pin in your home?

#11 9 years ago

If that TZ has the inter-dimensional portal addon just be sure to never use it. Otherwise this ghostly old door will appear and suck your machine into it never to be seen again

Let us know and post some pics when you get whatever home. Personally I would not trust paying sight unseen and then risking shipping damage (especially through customs who may open it for inspection). Some people know how to pack and pallet and some don't. If you do go that route have it taken and sent by some company like North American Van Lines etc.

#12 9 years ago

"Personally I would not trust paying sight unseen and then risking shipping damage ..."

I agree with this 100%. You are talking about a large investment, and it's definitely safer to buy a game that you can see in person and play before plunking down all that cash. All you need is ten minutes with a game, and you can usually tell if there is anything major not working (flippers, slings, bumpers, DMD, etc ...).

#13 9 years ago

Avoid the paypal thing. Sounds like a scam waiting to happen. Cash is king. Anyone not wanting cash should be suspect. That's just me.

From the RGP discussions I have seen IJ would be a poor choice. I have not played it but still it seems there is a lot of "hate" for this pin. Maybe I am mistaken. But I would visit RGP and do a search for IJ...maybe it's a different version I am referring to..but still worth the research.

Good luck on your first pin. Have you considered older pins like SS or EM style pins? Might save some $$ and ease yourself in to the hobby. Just an idea.


#14 9 years ago

Most of the hate is for Sterns IJ. It wouldn't be in the top 5 if there was a lot of hate for it. Some people may not love it but there are few who hate the Williams IJ.

I would at least go look at the TZ. If it isn't worth it then you have that piece of mind. Just don't buy it just because you drove 2 hours. Try to remain objective. I know it is hard when that shiny candy apple is dangling in front of you.

Paypal is safer than sending cash, check or money order. At least there is some buyer's protection with Paypal. Anyone not willing to take Paypal is suspect. Take it from someone who has been burned. I will never buy something on ebay from someone who doesn't take paypal.

#15 9 years ago

Save yourself the trouble and buy them both. You will want them both in your collection anyway. =)

#16 9 years ago

"Save yourself the trouble and buy them both. You will want them both in your collection anyway. =) "

How true! Of the three, TZ 1st, IJ 2nd and TOM last. And cash is always king if you can do the transaction face to face otherwise PayPal is a fairly safe way of doing a transaction. With a sum that large, I would have to either know the seller and the sellers rep or I would definitely have to see it in person before I would close that deal. PayPal is safe but not fool proof. Good luck! I traded away my TZ for a HUO LOTR and although I do like the LOTR, wow do I miss my TZ. If and when I get another, its definitely going to stay for the long haul. Good luck!!

#17 9 years ago

My waffling cost me. I decided to head out to think this over, and played some LoTR and Sopranos at our local Uni arcade. Got home to find an email saying the TZ is probably sold

Oh well, my hunt continues. If the TZ ends up being for sale, I may grab it. He also has a LoTR, for a little more cash.

I also got a number of a local guy who restores pins. I will talk to him this afternoon, and see what he can find. He already told me it would cost at least 4K for him to get an IJ in, and that is before any restoring.

#18 9 years ago

$4k is steep for an IJ. I found mine in rough shape for $2500, but I did most the restoration and shopping myself. Ended up spending another couple hundred on decals, parts, bi-plane, and board repair. All told, still under $3k.

#19 9 years ago

Sadly in pins, you kinda have to act fast. So, you really need to know your stuff so as not to get burned.

PS - I meant in my previous post, paypal is OK for a deposit but I still prefer cash on the top glass of the pin as you buy it. Yeah, mailing cash is silly. Do people do that? Scary. But buying in person (bring a friend so they have to use at least two bullets to shoot you) is best with cash, IMO.

Check, the sticky at the top of this forum that talks about some dude who does weird stuff when sent paypal money...

#20 9 years ago

Good pins at great prices don't last. A TZ came up for sale in my area last week for $3250 and sold within 2 hours of the post. A Batman forever came up for $1400 and same thing. Sold as soon as the post hit the classifieds. SL,UT seems to have quite a few people watching for good titles at fair prices. They sell as soon as they are listed.

#21 9 years ago

I would love to find an IJ that needed work. Save some money and spend time doing the restore, with a finished product that I would get years of enjoyment out of. Win/Win.

My eyes are peeled now, cash is in hand. Seems like there are some good deals to be had in the states, alas, I am up in the frozen north.

Talked to one guy in town, and he said him and some friends cleaned out the prairies in the late 90's, restoring and selling them down in the states. He said he sold over a dozen TZ's. I think I missed the hey day here by a few years.

I called the local Coin Op place, and he unloaded his stock of 400 pin's just over three years ago.

#22 9 years ago

You need an avatar smokedog

#24 9 years ago

Anyone have any experience with Dr. Scott's Pinball Store? They have a CftBL and an IJ.

The IJ will need new decals, but other wise looks in great shape. The Creature looks great as well.

#25 9 years ago

If you can get your hands on that Twilight Zone, I would go for that one.

Creature and IJ (Williams). Both great games.

I rarely ever see IJ's without it having some kind of cabinet fade.

One thing I can say about Creature (from an owner perspective), is its fairly easy to maintain (i.e. great for a first time owner). Its not that hard at all to keep clean. The bulbs on the swirly ramp that leads to the whirlpool takes a bit of time to replace as they are connected in strings...but otherwise really easy to maintain. Probably the easiest of the machines I have worked on, next to Terminator 2, that was super easy to change out rubbers & clean the playfield.

Creature is one of the tougher pins. Sometimes brutal, but I can't recommend a better home machine with free play enabled (Bram Stoker's Dracula is another great home machine). You will keep coming back for more, even after you ricochet balls into the outlanes or down the center (no thanks to the snack bar).

#26 9 years ago

Quick update. I found an Addams Family local. Needs to be shopped. It was a route piece. I am going to call the owner today to see how much he wants for it. I have no idea how much one of these costs to repair.

#27 9 years ago

smokedog are you looking on xmission for pins in canada? If not check these classifieds

Let us know what you get

#28 9 years ago

Take a good look at everything. Routed machines can be a blessing being cheap or an overpriced POS that was abused. If the simple things like rubbers weren't taken care of then probably nothing else was either. I've known good and bad routers. Don't expect perfection though too.

#29 9 years ago

Broke: Thanks, I will take a bunch of pics as well. It's in a local guy's shop. He has quoted me $600 for the rebuild + parts.

Donny: Yes, I have been using that. None of the pins I want can be found up here. I have spoken to a guy in Toronto that has a lot of connections. He has my list, hopefully he can find something.

#30 9 years ago

Addam's family would be an awesome first pin.

#31 9 years ago

Another update in my continuing quest. I found some more machines local.

MM - he won't sell. It's a route machine and still brings in good coin. If it starts doing worse, he will sell.
TotAN - $2,600. Another route piece. Won't be available for a couple of weeks.
Addams Family - will be ready (shopped) end of Feb. $4,000
Addams Family - was a route piece. Will have a rough clean up, electronics fully working, but that's it. $3,200
LoTR - fully shopped with mods. $5,500

No Creech's, no Indy's. The two I wanted the most. I don't believe I will find these local.

I am making a family trip down to Anaheim in Feb. I will be there for 10 days. Does anyone know of any shops in the area? I could always look while down there, and just have it shipped back.


#32 9 years ago

$3200 for the routed Addams sounds decent. I'd check to see how worn the playfield is, or how scratched up the cabinet will be. To be honest, I'd also check to see the playfield and cabinet on the $4000 machine (should be free of errors or problems), since they got to be super nice for that kind of cash. Nice examples of Addams usually go for $3500-3800.

TOTAN price sounds really nice. I would keep my eye on this one if I were you. Check to see how the playfield is, though to be honest, it shouldn't be that bad for a late 90's pin (the only late 90's pin I would expect to be horribly worn is Attack From Mars). Worst case scenario for the TOTAN, is the cabinet is faded, which is common.

LOTR for $5500 is ridiculous. I hope this is a Limited Edition LOTR being listed.

Check out the RGP group list (rec games pinball on the google group). People usually post for sale ads, and lots of people on there are from Southern California.

#33 9 years ago

I really feel bad for you wanting your first machine. I've never paid over $800 for any of mine. But then I am near Chicago and got a lot of old old Indiana farmers and people with stuff tucked away for ages.

#34 9 years ago

I'd recommend finding a simpsons pinball party. Rules are deeper than TZ, and I find the playfield much more enjoyable to bat the ball around on.

That said Addams family is an awesome game. Fairly simple, but addictive gameplay. I'd be wary of a routed TOTAN, there are a ton of plastics in that game that are easily broken.

#36 9 years ago

The price seems pretty high for the condition. I take it the glass and legs are there but not on it right now ? I couldn't see much of the coin door. Are the mechanisms intact or have they been taken off or used for parts on another machine?

Just from the wear around the flipper button it's had ALOT of plays.

The DMD looks OK. I would definitely run it through all diagnostic and switch tests. As far as missing or broken parts I will let those who own the machine point anything out.

#37 9 years ago

I'm pretty sure legs and glass are included, just not on it right now. I will make sure I run the diagnostics, and have a couple of plays on it to check out all the shots, modes, etc.

It looks like it's had a lot of plays for sure. You can see the wear on the mansion. I may try and talk him down a bit.


#38 9 years ago

You should either try and talk him down, or ask him to clean it up for you. $3200 is a fair price, but for a shopped one. If you hire a technician to do the shop job for you, it will probably be another $400 to clean it up. Looks like it needs a least new rubbers, a good clean and wax, and probably has some lights and switches that need to be fixed.

That looks like it would be a good machine, but it is going to need some elbow grease if you are going to be happy with it. It isn't perfect, but I have seen a lot worse.

#39 9 years ago

I have seen Addams that are much worse, donjagra. Much-much worse. <shudders>

#40 9 years ago

Quick update. I picked up TAF. Talked him down a couple hundred. Have it home and set up, just going to wait a day until all the condensation is gone. Can't wait to polish this baby up!

Thanks for all your help!

#41 9 years ago

Congratulations, post some pics!

#42 9 years ago

Hi all

Couple of quick newbie questions. Can any canucks in the house chime in? I went looking for Novus cleaner (#2 and #3), and my grocery store does not carry it, and neither does Canadian Tire. Where do I buy this in Canada?

Also, I will be placing an order online for various sundry parts. I need some bulbs (or may go LED's), some new balls, new insert decals, new rubber kit, etc. What's the best place to order from? I'm looking at speed of delivery, customer service, selection and prices.

Thanks a ton!

#43 9 years ago

In my opinion, the best place to buy stuff like Novus is at Pinball Life:


I don't know how much he charges to ship to Canada, but Terry tends to have the best prices on almost everything he sells.

#44 9 years ago

You can definatly find it on E-bay as well...

1 week later
#46 9 years ago


So here it is, in my office at the moment. Our basement needs a re-do, so until that's done this is where it will stay.

I ordered a bunch of parts from Pinball Life. Terry was awesome. I missed a part on my order, emailed him and got it in with my other order, no fuss.

I'll post a follow up when I have it fully shopped. It does need some work (replace DMD, fix the flippers, and really good cleaning), but should come out like a champ. Looking forward to it!

Next up, that TOTAN I was looking at ....

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