(Topic ID: 51603)

How big is this hobby, anyway?


By Craig

6 years ago



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    #1 6 years ago

    The "How Many Pinheads..." thread got me to wondering how large a tribe we are. Does anyone have an informed idea how many people (in the U.S. and also elsewhere) own at least one pinball machine and, more important, how many actively collect pinball machines? And on what basis would you make that determination?

    #2 6 years ago

    The truth is, nobody really knows. RGP/Pinside/etc...accounts for a small fraction I would assume. I know quite a few people (from 1 machine owners to over 100) who have never posted on any pinball site.

    #3 6 years ago

    I'm going to take an estimated guess of.........

    ONE MILLION PINBALL OWNERS

    #4 6 years ago

    you could add a poll to your post and ask everyone to vote for their country/continent. that might you a more reasonable number than asking robin since many members haven't bothered to fill in their locations

    if it were me doing this, I would break it up something like this:
    - canada
    - western europe (england, ireland, scotland, wales)
    - eastern europe (spain, italy, france, germany, netherlands)
    - asia (china, japan, maylasia, taiwan, korea, philippines, russia)
    - united states
    - south america
    - mexico
    - africa
    - austalia & new zealand

    #5 6 years ago

    When I buy pins locally to people I don't know I always ask if they are on pinside and maybe 5% of the time I get a yes. A lot of those people have 1-5 pins as well. There are pins sitting everywhere out there.

    #6 6 years ago

    Doesnt Dana put a little statistical thingy in the beginning of his price guides with an estimate of current owners?

    #7 6 years ago

    63 400 hundreds and six or 63,100,100,100,100.06

    #8 6 years ago

    In the Mr. Pinball Price Guide, there's an interesting figure: 1 in 100 homes in in the US have a pinball machine in them. I read the entire guide, back to front, because I'm obsessed and saw this factoid in there. I thought that was a pretty surprising amount actually. Growing up, I never knew anyone with a pinball machine in their house, but by those numbers, that would mean almost one house out of any large neighborhood would have at least one in it.

    Goes to show there are a lot more people with pinball machines that aren't necessarily "pinheads" out there. More often than not, this type of owner is the absolute best person to find with a machine for sale because it's usually lightly used and they don't realize the recent pinflation.

    #9 6 years ago

    I would estimate that in my country there are 100 machines left at maximum (Serbia, Europe). They are getting exported all the time and its extremely hard to find any pin for sale (in any condition).

    #10 6 years ago

    I am in my mid 40’s and have never to this day been over anyone else’s house that had a real pinball machine. I have been to one person’s house that had an arcade machine, and that was about 30 years ago.

    If a new release of a machine is successful at somewhere between 5-10K units (or les for WOZ?), this is a tiny tiny hobby.

    #11 6 years ago
    Quoted from Rando:

    If a new release of a machine is successful at somewhere between 5-10K units (or les for WOZ?), this is a tiny tiny hobby.

    It's a bigger hobby than you might guess. It would be interesting to know how many machines are still in circulation. I bet it's well in excess of 100K units.

    #12 6 years ago

    It keeps getting bigger and the supply smaller IMHO

    big_woman_on_little_man.gif

    #13 6 years ago

    Pinball Owners http://www.pinballowners.com/ has 5,842 members from all over the world owning 36,084 pins. That's a little over 6 pins per member. I'm sure that's just a small percentage of people in this hobby and several are duplicates of Pinside, RGP, Yahoo em group, etc..

    #14 6 years ago

    Depends on what your definition of "big" is.

    Quoted from heckheck:

    It's a bigger hobby than you might guess. It would be interesting to know how many machines are still in circulation. I bet it's well in excess of 100K units.

    Some population stats for comparison:

    Top 10 Most Populous Countries
    Rank. Country Population Rank. Country. Population NaN
    1. China 1,349,585,838 6. Pakistan 193,238,868
    2. India 1,220,800,359 7. Nigeria 174,507,539
    3. United States 316,668,567 8. Bangladesh 163,654,860
    4. Indonesia 251,160,124 9. Russia 142,500,482
    5. Brazil 201,009,622 10. Japan 127,253,075

    Ford sold 83,000 Mustangs last year, that's .03% (I think? My math is awful) of the US pop buying a Mustang last year.

    Ford made their 1,000,000th Mustang in April of 2013. If say 50% of those were still running/owned, that would be .16% of the US population if each person owned one.

    I imagine that the number of Mustang owners is higher than Pinball owners. Although .1% of the entire US population is pretty big as a size, it's still pretty rare that you're going to come across another one in the wild.

    Right?

    #15 6 years ago
    Quoted from dsuperbee:

    The truth is, nobody really knows.

    Another thing nobody really knows is how many of each title is left. Unlike cars where the history is kept on record thru the VIN, pins go here, go there, and end up who knows where. Which makes this hobby even more interesting.

    #16 6 years ago

    Pinsiders on our map gives a nice picture of pinball spreading over the world http://pinside.com/pinball/map/pinsiders

    #17 6 years ago
    Quoted from Rando:

    I am in my mid 40’s and have never to this day been over anyone else’s house that had a real pinball machine. I have been to one person’s house that had an arcade machine, and that was about 30 years ago.
    If a new release of a machine is successful at somewhere between 5-10K units (or les for WOZ?), this is a tiny tiny hobby.

    Well consider this (all estimates too lazy to get real numbers):

    Addams: 20k+
    High speed: 18K
    STTNG: 10k

    Too lazy to keep going, but those 3 right there just totaled almost 50k pins produced. We can't just get stuck on whats the latest pins being run. Not to mention that hundreds and even thousands of EM titles out there with who knows how many produced of each!

    #18 6 years ago

    I can really only remember one time I met someone that had a pinball machine that I didn't already know was in the hobby. It was a High Speed purchased more to go with an automotive themed room next to the garage than any innate love of pinball. I like old System 11 games and most people are still shocked by the prices. The price of a new machine would be considered wasteful in the extreme.

    I said it in another thread, but I think once 3 or 4 companies are making games again, the market will top out really fast. The home market is carrying the hobby and I just can't picture it supporting the release of five $5,500 to 7,000 games a year (figuring Stern for 2, JJ for 1, and boutique manufacturers like Jpop and Heighway and SkitB for one every couple years). It almost feels like Stern is trying to swamp the market before anyone else gets rolling.

    #19 6 years ago
    Quoted from TOK:

    I said it in another thread, but I think once 3 or 4 companies are making games again, the market will top out really fast. The home market is carrying the hobby and I just can't picture it supporting the release of five $5,500 to 7,000 games a year (figuring Stern for 2, JJ for 1, and boutique manufacturers like Jpop and Heighway and SkitB for one every couple years). It almost feels like Stern is trying to swamp the market before anyone else gets rolling.

    Stern makes its 2-4 games a year.
    JJP so far is on pace to make .3 games a year

    All others are on pace to make .0 games a year. It's only there to theorize as it is still fairly uncertain if the other companies pins will be sweet in the end

    #20 6 years ago
    Quoted from TOK:

    I can really only remember one time I met someone that had a pinball machine that I didn't already know was in the hobby

    3 members of my extended family have pins in their house and none of them are hobbiest/collectors.. Pins have been a popular 'game piece' in basement for many years.. just like foosball, pool, jukeboxes, etc. But they were expensive so they are less frequent.

    #21 6 years ago

    Been thinking the same...how many? Enough for at least 1 big name manufacturer and now two to thrive. Not to mention all the parts dealers...

    #22 6 years ago

    I would estimate that in my country there are 100 machines left at maximum (Serbia, Europe). They are getting exported all the time and its extremely hard to find any pin for sale (in any condition).

    Sad

    To cheer you up I'll share with you, my Sarplaninac (Serbian Dogs)! Xena Ceca & Niko Arkon.

    Xena_and_Nico.jpg

    Edit: Hey Mod! How come my quotes don't have the original posters name?

    Post edited by DEWSHO : Post question.

    #23 6 years ago
    Quoted from jrivelli:

    Well consider this (all estimates too lazy to get real numbers):
    Addams: 20k+
    High Speed: 18K
    STTNG: 10k

    But, as mentioned earlier, how many are left?

    No one knows. There might might only be 10,000 TAF's left in existence (or less). We really have no way of knowing.

    #24 6 years ago
    Quoted from jrivelli:

    Stern makes its 2-4 games a year.
    JJP so far is on pace to make .3 games a year
    All others are on pace to make .0 games a year. It's only there to theorize as it is still fairly uncertain if the other companies pins will be sweet in the end

    I didn't look at JJ's release schedule for Hobbit, but I think they are over the hump on hardware.Their next releases are going to be able to re-use so much of what was done from scratch for WoZ, from OS to hardware to relationships with manufacturers.

    #25 6 years ago

    I would say that more than half of all pinball owners are people that don't want to be. A hand me down EM pinball that their uncle left them, or their father had sitting in their basement/garage/spare room etc.. 9 out of 10 people that I have run into that had a pinball in their house fit in this category but the others nearly always own multiple machines, 5+

    12
    #26 6 years ago

    I heard there will be 10k of us by Christmas

    #27 6 years ago
    Quoted from The_Director:

    In the Mr. Pinball Price Guide, there's an interesting figure: 1 in 100 homes in in the US have a pinball machine in them.

    That's 1,148,000 households according to the 2010 census. Not saying it's unreasonable, but even at one pin per houshold that's alot! And people with 4-8 while in the minority adjust the total quite a bit.

    #28 6 years ago

    I think it's getting bigger

    #29 6 years ago
    Quoted from Astropin:

    But, as mentioned earlier, how many are left?
    No one knows. There might might only be 10,000 TAF's left in existence (or less). We really have no way of knowing.

    Not reallly my point. Point is i named 3 titles with over 50k total. There are a bajillion other titles. Id say over a million pins made. Seems reasonable

    #30 6 years ago
    Quoted from The_Director:

    In the Mr. Pinball Price Guide, there's an interesting figure: 1 in 100 homes in in the US have a pinball machine in them. I read the entire guide, back to front, because I'm obsessed and saw this factoid in there. I thought that was a pretty surprising amount actually. Growing up, I never knew anyone with a pinball machine in their house, but by those numbers, that would mean almost one house out of any large neighborhood would have at least one in it.

    That's a really good estimate in my experience. I work for FedEx and I know of at least one house in almost every neighborhood on my route that has or has had at least one pinball machine. The population of both cities on my route is about 30,000 combined.

    #31 6 years ago
    Quoted from Rando:

    Depends on what your definition of "big" is.

    Some population stats for comparison:
    Top 10 Most Populous Countries
    Rank. Country Population Rank. Country. Population NaN
    1. China 1,349,585,838 6. Pakistan 193,238,868
    2. India 1,220,800,359 7. Nigeria 174,507,539
    3. United States 316,668,567 8. Bangladesh 163,654,860
    4. Indonesia 251,160,124 9. Russia 142,500,482
    5. Brazil 201,009,622 10. Japan 127,253,075
    Ford sold 83,000 Mustangs last year, that's .03% (I think? My math is awful) of the US pop buying a Mustang last year.
    Ford made their 1,000,000th Mustang in April of 2013. If say 50% of those were still running/owned, that would be .16% of the US population if each person owned one.
    I imagine that the number of Mustang owners is higher than Pinball owners. Although .1% of the entire US population is pretty big as a size, it's still pretty rare that you're going to come across another one in the wild.
    Right?

    but Mustangs are not a "hobby" they are modes of transportation. If we are talking about "hobbies" it's seems fairly large and growing daily.

    #32 6 years ago
    Quoted from rmancini:

    but Mustangs are not a "hobby" they are modes of transportation. If we are talking about "hobbies" it's seems fairly large and growing daily.

    I disagree with that statement, which is why I chose a Mustang over something like an Accord. Some of the newer owners are just car drivers yes, but I would consider any Mustang still around with a production year of 64.5 through say... 2005ish to be owned by a car enthusiest, that likely owns another vehicle as their primary transportation, and I would classify as a Hobbiest. And Mustang owners don't define that Hobby, they share the hobby with owners of old Camaros, Chargers, 'Cudas, and many other old cars that don't start with C. Including myself, I know 6 or 7 people "into" cars enough to own a rare/unique one.

    I'm not bashing Pinball as a hobby, it's awesome, I'm just saying that it's a really tiny one. Ranking it among other Hobbies based strictly on size, I'm guessing we're below Car clubs, motorcycling, coin collecting, etc. Maybe on par with people who fly small planes? That may even be too big, I personally know 4 people off the top of my head who do that... Just a guess.

    Now I do know a bunch of people who would LIKE a pinball machine, but none enough to actually actually pull the trigger on one.

    #33 6 years ago

    I have been trying to think of a single person I have ever known outside of these circles (Pinside, Bash, RGP, etc.) who owned/owns a pinball machine. I cannot think of one. Lots of pool tables and plenty of jukeboxes and vids, but no pinball machines.

    #34 6 years ago

    There are more than we will ever imagine.

    #35 6 years ago

    I think that we are going to see pinball grow more and more over the next few years as the children of the 90's get older.

    #36 6 years ago

    Its a GLOBAL epidemic

    #37 6 years ago
    Quoted from Rando:

    I disagree with that statement, which is why I chose a Mustang over something like an Accord. Some of the newer owners are just car drivers yes, but I would consider any Mustang still around with a production year of 64.5 through say... 2005ish to be owned by a car enthusiest, that likely owns another vehicle as their primary transportation, and I would classify as a Hobbiest. And Mustang owners don't define that Hobby, they share the hobby with owners of old Camaros, Chargers, 'Cudas, and many other old cars that don't start with C. Including myself, I know 6 or 7 people "into" cars enough to own a rare/unique one.
    I'm not bashing Pinball as a hobby, it's awesome, I'm just saying that it's a really tiny one. Ranking it among other Hobbies based strictly on size, I'm guessing we're below Car clubs, motorcycling, coin collecting, etc. Maybe on par with people who fly small planes? That may even be too big, I personally know 4 people off the top of my head who do that... Just a guess.
    Now I do know a bunch of people who would LIKE a pinball machine, but none enough to actually actually pull the trigger on one.

    I guess I can agree. As a 72 z28 owner I get it. Its the same type of hobbie I guess. I wake up on Sunday. Wax and polish, Open the hood then fire it up and go. (That statement can be made for either pinball or cars) ahhaa.

    #38 6 years ago

    All the Craigslist ads should give you a hint how many are out there...

    #39 6 years ago
    Quoted from Skypilot:

    It keeps getting bigger and the supply smaller IMHO

    God lord man!!!!!! What a scary picture . . . I sure hope that was photo shopped. If not, I hope whoever took that picture called the police when he was done to report the murder.

    #40 6 years ago

    We had a grad party for my sons last night (twins). Neither really 'wanted' to have a party and thought it was weird. Nonetheless, between the time of the original idea and now I suddenly got my latest obsession - pinball. In a couple of months have my first two (three if you count the one I shopped and sold) machines. Last night I'd say probably 200 games of BC and RG were played, maybe more. There were about 20 teenagers between 16 and 18 here and I'm willing to bet maybe only one or two had ever played pinball before much less seen one. I'm hoping their experience last night sparks some interest and the next time they see one, they'll know what it is and gravitate towards it. The more people that play, the more interest there will be. As for how many in the wild, the growth in pinball population is probably negligible versus the overall population of machines. In a decade or two, however, as more EMs and older SS machines go into dumps, if Stern and others continue to manufacture that population will depend on new production.

    #41 6 years ago

    Big!

    image.jpg

    #42 6 years ago
    Quoted from DEWSHO:

    Sad
    To cheer you up I'll share with you, my Sarplaninac (Serbian Dogs)! Xena Ceca & Niko Arkon.

    Dog on the right looks stoned.....

    #44 6 years ago

    Dog on the right looks stoned.....

    Yea, me and him had to quit smoking pot. Here he is with my youngest pinballer.

    DSCN1655.jpg

    #45 6 years ago

    It keeps getting bigger and the supply smaller IMHO

    .

    images-1.jpeg

    #46 6 years ago

    It would be pretty hard to figure out. One thought occurs to me is to poll an area to get some pinballs/household insight, and then determine the correlation to the volume of sales activity on CL and ebay.

    You would have to poll several areas of varying demographics (large urban centers on the coasts, lower density population areas (flyover states), and some in between. But ultimately what it would mean is, when there are x number of pinheads in an area, there tend to be y number CL/Ebay ads. Therefore, if I see y number of CL/ebay ads in a random unpolled area, there are likely x number of pinheads.

    Probably a more accurate way is to go by Stern's sales numbers instead of CL/Ebay, but of course, that information is not public.

    There is probably also a pretty tight correlation between purchasers of video pinball on xbla and psn and the total pinheads in an area, but again, not public info.

    #47 6 years ago

    My uncle had an old EM machine when I was growing up, but other than that, I've never met anyone outside of videogame/pinball forums that owned one.

    #48 6 years ago
    Quoted from Bole909:

    I would estimate that in my country there are 100 machines left at maximum (Serbia, Europe). They are getting exported all the time and its extremely hard to find any pin for sale (in any condition).

    Hehe, small world. I'm from Serbia too (p.m. me to get in touch), and I have in the course of last year seen in person 9 pinball machines in service, I own 2, and have seen at least 50 in different ads online (I know few online sources where pinballs are advertised locally), so it has to be more than that. Prices are rising similar to Pinside though. Last summer it was 300 to 1000 EUR for most WPC titles, now I see more 800 - 1500 EUR. All unshopped, leagues below collector status, but mainly working. Indiana Joneses, Twilight Zones, Addams Families are 1500 EUR mostly. There is a Star Trek for 1500 also now. It's way too steep for our salaries, so these sit a lot waiting for buyers.

    #49 6 years ago

    Hehe, small world. I'm from Serbia too

    Another Serb! More Sarplaninac pics!

    DSCN1659.jpg

    8 months later
    #50 5 years ago

    Any one who has bought off CL knows many pin owners do not care about pinball

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