I just bought my first pin for the home, a NIB The Walking Dead (Premium/LE). I have one at my office (a Pro model) and my 4 year old son has become obsessed with it when he visits me at work. Granted, it's not the most family-friendly theme, but he loves killing the "bazombies" (as he calls them) .
I bought one for the home for several reasons, but the primary reason is because when I grew up, I was a tinkerer with computers and electronics which led to an engineering career for me and I was hoping that as my son (and daughter) get older, they will enjoy tinkering, fixing, modding a pinball machine since, compared to today's home computers, they are relatively "low tech" and good from an instruction point of view. I grew up during the Nintendo/Genesis/Street Fighter heyday and so the arcade experience for me rarely included pinball. But since having one at work over the last few years, I've really grown to appreciate them more, how deep their gameplay is, and as a good balance to the ever-increasing computerization of life.
I therefore knew what I was getting myself into (or at least I thought I did), and expected that I would have a certain level of upkeep needed to keep the pin playing well over the years. We haven't had any service to the machine at work, and we've had it for 4 years now so I was surprised by the things that needed attention from the machine I unboxed last week:
1. The launch button (only present on the Premium/LE models) didn't work (the metal contact of the switch was simply too far away from the plunger on the button). This of course affects not just the primary launch, but also the crossbow mode which was one of the main benefits to me of the Premium model. This wasn't a minor adjustment - the metal band had to be bent a fair amount so that it would come in contact with the plunger. I can't imagine this *ever* worked given the distance and this doesn't seem like something that happen during shipping.
2. The 4th ball switch in the ball trough was high enough that at least once per game, a ball's weight/momentum was not enough to allow the ball to pass over it. This meant that on every game played, we had to suffer through the "finding ball" routine which take about 30 seconds. It took me quite a while to identify that it was a switch in the trough leading to this problem - I couldn't understand why the game kept "missing a ball"
3. There was a loose plug that powered a light which was not plugged in. I figure this is a pretty common shipping issue and fortunately the plug was labeled so I knew exactly where to plug it in.
4. A metal wire that powers one of the two stab targets on both sides of the prison was simply not soldered and was loose. Its counterpart was soldered, but this one was not and thus the stab target was not functioning.
None of these issues were difficult to fix - and in fact I enjoyed the "debugging" effort. However as I think more about it (and compare it to the experience we've had with the machine in the office), I guess I'm surprised that at least #1 and #2 above made it through quality control. Are these "normal" things to experience on a brand new Stern machine (manufacture date of 11/17)?
If the answer is yes, then I'm a happy camper - like I said, I fully expected this to be a life long "project" to keep this thing running through the years. I'm just a little nervous I bought a "lemon" (if there is such a thing).