(Topic ID: 280718)

Is Buying an AP Game Today a Big Gamble?


By Jason_Jehosaphat

80 days ago



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  • Latest reply 79 days ago by NorCalRealtor
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#1 80 days ago

Before I go any further, I want to stress that I wish AP and all the pinball manufacturers continued success. However, we're in the grips of a pandemic and a recession, and it would be foolish, as prospective buyers, not to at least discuss the possibility that AP will not survive into next year. AP has sold a modest amount of each of its three titles. I know they belong to a diversified company called Aimtron. Could Aimtron, upon consideration of the marginal profits secured in pinball, decide to pivot and close its pinball operations come January? I don't mean to be unkind by even speculating a thing like that, but for those of us who are interested in Hot Wheels right now, assessing the risks of buying a game from a company whose days may be numbered is prudent, IMO.

How big is the gamble if we *do* buy now? If - Heaven forbid! - AP were to fold its tent come January, what kind of parts and tech support could AP game owners expect to have thereafter? Some? None at all? I've read that AP games use P-Rock boards, just like those in Spooky and I believe Multimorphic. Great, so I wouldn't have to worry about boards, but what about the rest of the parts on the game? Why would AP games be any easier to service in the wake of the company's closure than those of, say, Andrew Heighway? Let's say I buy Hot Wheels this month and I need a ramp or a plastic or a this or a that come next February. Who will have those parts for sale? Will AP sell them to Planetary for resale? And how quickly will they run out? I don't expect to need lots of parts - for this or any game - but it's good to know they're available, just in case, and their availability would most certainly affect the resaleability of HUO games. How reluctant will people be to buy HUO AP games after the company has folded? People are buying Alien today, despite the lack of support from Heighway. Alien is a niche game and collectors will take that gamble. But will they be willing to buy a Hot Wheels for even $4500 if the company is no longer?

I like the quality of AP. They really are standouts as manufacturers, if not as theme selectors. I would like to support them - especially now, when their rivals Stern and JJP are putting sub-par playfields in their games and pretending no one is noticing. AP deserves my business right now, but is the gamble just too big?

12
#2 80 days ago

Let's actually look at your scenario from a different manufacturer.

Gottlieb...Company is long gone, yet we the enthusiasts are adapting and making the parts we need for our machines.
Power supply, mpu and driver boards have all been reproduced.

Your concerns should only be what is the best price I can purchase Hot Wheels at and how much fun can I have before I rotate it out of the lineup.

-Mike

#3 80 days ago

Many of the common wear parts are made to W/B standards. Common parts will be available.

#4 80 days ago
Quoted from Jason_Jehosaphat:

but is the gamble just too big?

Nah.

Even highway game owners haven't been completely left in the lurch. There's a small dedicated group of folks supporting those games, despite the collapse of that company.

#5 80 days ago

My theory is it’s always best to buy “low”. AP pins are underrated. They are also getting better with each release, but the spread on the quality with each release isn’t as great as say Spooky. In other words, Houdini is an excellent pin whereas AMH was clearly a good first pin. Tight shots with Houdini but that’s a matter of preference and for $5000 you get a ton of pin. At the end of the day, don’t overthink it and just get what you want.

#6 80 days ago

PS: We are both in Minneapolis and should connect sometime.

#7 80 days ago

I agree. It won't be your last anyway

#8 80 days ago
Quoted from Grizlyrig:

Let's actually look at your scenario from a different manufacturer.
Gottlieb...Company is long gone, yet we the enthusiasts are adapting and making the parts we need for our machines.
Power supply, mpu and driver boards have all been reproduced.
Your concerns should only be what is the best price I can purchase Hot Wheels at and how much fun can I have before I rotate it out of the lineup.
-Mike

Gottlieb is a poor comparison. Alvin g is a better one. Gottlieb was around for decades and made hubdreds of thousands of games. Alvin g made it a similar amount of time to ap and made a couole thousand games.

Even then can still maintain an alvin g, but restoring one is near inpossible due to lack of game specific parts.

#9 80 days ago

will the upcoming aimtron announcement be that they are shuttering their pinball division?

#10 80 days ago

I deliberated for a long time on a HUO pristine Houdini here for months. Worried it might have issues that some have had. Josh was a great support and offered very helpful advice and I’m a second hand buyer. That says a lot. Also that they are still investing into their first game. Beta code in test as we speak. Again this says a lot. They are in for the long haul.

All i can say is I’m very happy to have gone ahead and purchased this pin. Great game great build quality. I’ve had no issue with power supply or milk can shot 99.8% accurate to date. Tweaked a couple of switches to get it spot on. No different to what I do to current model Sterns. This game is really quite deep. Can’t thank Josh enough for his availability and input. Buy AP with confidence I say.

#11 80 days ago
Quoted from greenhornet:

will the upcoming aimtron announcement be that they are shuttering their pinball division?

No. The announcement is referring to the Hot wheels legends tour. American Pinball has produced 3 quality games and backed it up with many code updates. They back up their games with good tech support as well.

#12 80 days ago

Funny, your post outlines the reason why I'm planning on picking up Hot Wheels next. It looks like a really solid game and I'd love to support AP.

#13 80 days ago

The answer to your question is,... NO!

#14 80 days ago

No ... buy the game and have fun!
Just played HotWheels today fun game,nice flow on the ramps. Love that Williams build feel that they have.
People keep buying the door stays open. Customer service is beyond reproach!

#15 80 days ago

Your entire post is speculation. Has there been an announcement or news report stating that AP is in any sort of financial trouble? I haven’t heard a thing. To be quite honest a lot of companies are struggling because of the pandemic impact. Seriously, has there been any credible reports mentioning financial trouble at AP?

#16 80 days ago

No dude. All 3 of their games are outstanding and they have a long term plan to do contract builds, plus they are backed by a huge company doing other manufacturing. I’d feel confident

#17 80 days ago

No worries here either, pulling the trigger on HW in the next week or two. As it stands now AP is about the only company I trust to deliver a product that won’t disappoint with maddening quality deficits (such as playfields and under-engineered, cost-cut mechs). I sincerely hope they are wildly successful and force Stern and JJP to seriously up their game in this regard (SO disappointed to see playfield issues with GNR, was almost 100% certain it would be my next game but potential quality issues with something as vital (and hard to replace) as the playfield makes me hard-pass at this time.

In my observation, AP has exhibited nothing less than consummate professionalism. What I really appreciate most is the refreshing absence of any bullshit! While just about every other company (except maybe Spooky) was floundering with widespread QC issues, grandiose announcements followed by vaporware and excuses, and ongoing decontenting and cheapening of the products AP appears to have been quietly kicking ass and taking names.

Buying a $$$$ high-end toy should be anxiety-free pure joy, NOT an exercise in bravery!

#18 80 days ago

The only worry is resale value, quality and parts is a non factor. AP pins seem to take a more significant hit and have higher immediate depreciation than other titles by my math. I think that will correct as their name gets better and more titles come out. Love their originality and themes but they need a big title/license under their belt in the next couple of years IMO

#19 80 days ago

good news is, it is made in the USA, so common parts are used and can be found
not like a game that was built from the ground up in china using no pre-existing parts

11
#20 80 days ago

Over the years, I must have owned (literally) a hundred or more games, from all manufacturers.

I currently own a Houdini (purchased NIB) and I have to say that the build quality of this game is as good, or better than any game I have ever owned. Build quality has to be a 10/10. Stunning to look at and incredible gameplay, also, despite what the naysayers have to say.

To those of you who have never owned an AP game but wet your pants every time a new JJP or Stern game is announced, you don't know what you're missing. And, yes, I currently own a DI LE (great game) and have owned many Sterns.

Also, as others have said, AP tech support is legendary. After many games, a switch stopped registering. I called Dave in tech support and he diagnosed the issue in a few minutes, went out of his way to tell me an easy route to install a new switch and shipped a replacement switch to me, same day. It does not get any better than that.

Even if I thought AP would be going out of the pinball business (which they are not) my Houdini would not be going anywhere.

Roger

#21 80 days ago

For what it’s worth, I’m planning on getting a Houdini after the first of the year when my bonus money comes in. I know there are naysayers but I’m pretty sure that those that have spent a material amount of time on it, think it’s a great and underrated pin. I don’t mind tight shots. Not the worst thing in the world for home use.

#22 80 days ago

I agree with all the positive comments. I own 9 pins from a variety of manufacturers. Houdini is, thus far, my only AP game, but I’ll certainly be buying more as soon as they choose a theme that excites me. The build quality on Houdini is second to none and the game is a blast to play. I’m a huge AP fan. You can buy their products with confidence.

#23 80 days ago

If people can keep their Atari, game plan, and zaccaria games running I don’t see why you’d worry about your AP game.

AP also has the ability to build games - an actual factory - and pinball demand is way up. Don’t see an issue, if you like an AP game buy it.

#24 80 days ago

I have a subscription to Credit Risk Monitor (am a Chief Credit Officer for a fund in the Bay Area).

Trade payment data shows that the parent company (Aimtron) is paying its bills on time and has an index score of 9 out of 10 (10 being the best).

Also, the probability of the parent company to file for chapter 11 BK in the next 12 months is ranging between 1.2% and 1.6%.

full disclosure: I don't have the audited financials of this company since its privately held and am unable to give a personal opinion on the viability of the company.

#25 80 days ago

I love my HW!! Just played a couple games on it, great flow and many ways to attack the scoring. All the shots feel really good

#26 80 days ago

Owned a Houdini...loved it
Currently have an Oktoberfest...love it
Will own a Hot Wheels someday...sure I will love it

AP get's shit on way too much in IMO, shame really but you can pick up some great games for good prices.

#27 80 days ago
Quoted from rogerdodger:

Over the years, I must have owned (literally) a hundred or more games, from all manufacturers.
I currently own a Houdini (purchased NIB) and I have to say that the build quality of this game is as good, or better than any game I have ever owned. Build quality has to be a 10/10. Stunning to look at and incredible gameplay, also, despite what the naysayers have to say.
To those of you who have never owned an AP game but wet your pants every time a new JJP or Stern game is announced, you don't know what you're missing. And, yes, I currently own a DI LE (great game) and have owned many Sterns.
Also, as others have said, AP tech support is legendary. After many games, a switch stopped registering. I called Dave in tech support and he diagnosed the issue in a few minutes, went out of his way to tell me an easy route to install a new switch and shipped a replacement switch to me, same day. It does not get any better than that.
Even if I thought AP would be going out of the pinball business (which they are not) my Houdini would not be going anywhere.
Roger

Glad to hear that about Houdini, have you encountered any trouble with under-rated PS, lack of flipper EOS switches, or the stage mech? I seem to remember reading about these issues, but couldn’t really get a good “read” on how troublesome they were in the real world.

I really like the game, and definitely noticed the good quality feel even though I’ve spent less than an hour total on one. I have been set on HW, but Houdini is so unique and packed with goodies that I am very tempted, I just have slight reservations given the above (but I am more than willing to be talked out of my anxiety ).

#28 80 days ago

Thanks for everyone's opinions/suggestions.
I'm still on the fence.
As posters pointed out, the deprecation of AP games - fair/justified/sensible or not - is rather steep. If the company were to fold, I can see my HW struggling to bring even $5K.
Many of you suggest I just buy what I like now and worry less, but I've taken a real bath on the majority of my games - all DMD Sterns - when selling. I envy all the collectors who claim to juggle all these games and accumulate minimal losses.

#29 80 days ago

I think you should wait until tomorrow...

#30 80 days ago
Quoted from Jason_Jehosaphat:

Thanks for everyone's opinions/suggestions.
I'm still on the fence.
As posters pointed out, the deprecation of AP games - fair/justified/sensible or not - is rather steep. If the company were to fold, I can see my HW struggling to bring even $5K.
Many of you suggest I just buy what I like now and worry less, but I've taken a real bath on the majority of my games - all DMD Sterns - when selling. I envy all the collectors who claim to juggle all these games and accumulate minimal losses.

If you are “taking a bath” on stern games you’ll take a bath on anything.

If this is a problem for you don’t buy new games, stick to used stuff.

If financial considerations are paralyzing ALL your pinball purchase decisions, this is probably the wrong hobby for you. Pinball not always a great investment portfolio.

#31 80 days ago
Quoted from Jason_Jehosaphat:

I've taken a real bath on the majority of my games - all DMD Sterns

If you are referring to your TWD, I just think you had bad luck. I had a TWD Pro that I payed $4500 for. After owning it for a year or so, I sold it quickly for $4750. A lot of it is just timing and luck, so I wouldn’t let a bad past experience dictate your future.

#32 80 days ago
Quoted from Jason_Jehosaphat:

I'm still on the fence.

What a waste of time this thread was... asked for opinion if AP was going out of business then still won't commit because of depreciation!
Don't by a new car ....

#33 80 days ago

Very satisfied owner of all three of their games here. Great tech support -- they're easy to reach on the phone and also are all over these forums. Very solid build quality. And they also make really entertaining, unique games. All three are quite different from each other in both theme and play. Houdini is a tight shooter requiring your "A" game with a black humorish theme, Oktoberfest is more wide open with ramp spaghetti everywhere with a festive beer and food and cheeky innuendo atmosphere, Hot Wheels is an easier shooter but very fast with a lot of flow with a fun cartoon theme, like eating four bowls of Lucky Charms during Saturday morning cartoons.

Also, I think some pinball people frequently overrate repair difficulty, and this is coming from someone who may have been playing pinball for 40 years, but has only owned them (and therefore, fixing them) for just a few. Difficult is finding one-off parts for old EMs, or with small early SS makers like Allied Leisure and GamePlan and Atari who's stuff breaks a lot and you either have to wait months for some dealer to get the part in stock and then charge $25 for a 50 cent piece of plastic, or rig something up yourself like MacGyver, or learn 3D printing, or buy non-working machines for parts. *That's* a pain.

#34 80 days ago

Last I checked Bally and Williams were out of the pinball business and selling better then ever. Like B/W API uses all stock components off the shelf from PinballLife or similar. IF your only looking to buy games that don’t depreciate there are NONE!

#35 80 days ago

I've owned a Houdini for about 2 years now, and it's not leaving anytime soon. Still the wife's favorite pin. Build quality is excellent, support is beyond great.

Also, keep in mind that Aimtron is the parent company of AP (they make PCB assemblies), so there is a bit a diversity in the financial aspect of it.

It also uses some of the P-ROC boards, so that's reassuring too.

#36 80 days ago
Quoted from greenhornet:

will the upcoming aimtron announcement be that they are shuttering their pinball division?

That wouldn't be a 'new and exciting' announcement.
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#37 80 days ago
Quoted from Jason_Jehosaphat:

Thanks for everyone's opinions/suggestions.
I'm still on the fence.
As posters pointed out, the deprecation of AP games - fair/justified/sensible or not - is rather steep. If the company were to fold, I can see my HW struggling to bring even $5K.
Many of you suggest I just buy what I like now and worry less, but I've taken a real bath on the majority of my games - all DMD Sterns - when selling. I envy all the collectors who claim to juggle all these games and accumulate minimal losses.

#38 80 days ago

Dude is deffo in wrong hobby

#39 80 days ago
Quoted from russdx:

Dude is deffo in wrong hobby

Of the massive influx of noobs, I’d guess at least 20 percent are in the wrong hobby.

They believe their new games should magically protected from depreciation, unlike anything else they buy.

They don’t think pinball is exciting or innovative enough. Yet they want to buy pinball machines. Doesn’t make much sense.

They think pinball is an investment.

They just don’t understand this hobby or pinball.

#40 80 days ago
Quoted from Thermionic:

Glad to hear that about Houdini, have you encountered any trouble with under-rated PS, lack of flipper EOS switches, or the stage mech? I seem to remember reading about these issues, but couldn’t really get a good “read” on how troublesome they were in the real world.
I really like the game, and definitely noticed the good quality feel even though I’ve spent less than an hour total on one. I have been set on HW, but Houdini is so unique and packed with goodies that I am very tempted, I just have slight reservations given the above (but I am more than willing to be talked out of my anxiety ).

OK, let me talk you out of your anxiety:

I didn't mention that I have owned 2 Houdini's! The first was a couple of years ago and I, foolishly, sold it. I missed it so much that I purchased a new one NIB. In all my pinball years, I don't ever remember buying back the same game in such a short space of time.

I have never had a power supply problem, flipper problem or stage mech problem on either machine. Having said that, my newest one had the upgraded power supply from the factory and I added the cap kit for the flippers, not because it needed it but because everyone here said that it was a must to do. The cap kit was cheap enough, so I did it anyway, just for insurance. I also added a shaker motor, which is great.

Hope this helps you make a decision!

Roger

#41 80 days ago

I never buy a pin with the goal of maximizing resell value or investment. I buy for the enjoyment.

#42 80 days ago
Quoted from Thermionic:

Glad to hear that about Houdini, have you encountered any trouble with under-rated PS, lack of flipper EOS switches, or the stage mech? I seem to remember reading about these issues, but couldn’t really get a good “read” on how troublesome they were in the real world.
I really like the game, and definitely noticed the good quality feel even though I’ve spent less than an hour total on one. I have been set on HW, but Houdini is so unique and packed with goodies that I am very tempted, I just have slight reservations given the above (but I am more than willing to be talked out of my anxiety ).

The lack of EOS switches is a non-issue. I have them installed 'just because'. Makes absolutely no difference. I had one of them accidentally disconnected for a month and didn't notice. Reinstalled it. No difference.

AP did screw up on the original run of their power supplies. They provided an upgrade, games made in the past year or so (I'm not sure exactly) have a completely reworked power supply. There aren't many out in the wild that don't have either the upgrade or the new one.

There is a cheap upgrade to the flippers which *does* make a bit of difference. IT helps with extreme cases where there are magnets going, multiple balls flying, and the flippers get a little weak for a split second. IT is kind of noticeable (depends a lot on your house's power situation), and this helps. I'd call it an almost-must-have. But it's like $20 and takes 9 seconds to install.

The other issues are nonsense. The flippers are great 99.99% of the time, the power supply is a notable but not really that "noticeable" upgrade (again, depends on your house's consistency of electricity). The layout is very unique, it's hard without being punishing, and there's no game like it. PLUS THE FRICKIN CATAPULT IS COOL EVERY SINGLE TIME. Still. Also there's an update coming out hopefully soon...

#43 79 days ago
Quoted from Rdoyle1978:

The lack of EOS switches is a non-issue. I have them installed 'just because'. Makes absolutely no difference....

Ditto here Rdoyle, never even bothered. I did get the power supply upgrade even though I have great power and didn't need it simply because they offered a $150 credit (that I really didn't use much of).

Might get the cap mod, just for the heck of it.

#44 79 days ago

Ill also echo what many have said. I own several games, and houdini is hands down my favorite. Brutal game play, that will always challenge you. Amazing toys and tricks, and really cool code. Build quality is amazing. AP has also always been top notch when/if you need them.

#45 79 days ago
Quoted from Jason_Jehosaphat:

Thanks for everyone's opinions/suggestions.
I'm still on the fence.
As posters pointed out, the deprecation of AP games - fair/justified/sensible or not - is rather steep. If the company were to fold, I can see my HW struggling to bring even $5K.
Many of you suggest I just buy what I like now and worry less, but I've taken a real bath on the majority of my games - all DMD Sterns - when selling. I envy all the collectors who claim to juggle all these games and accumulate minimal losses.

You should worry less and try not to compare to other collectors. Everyone's case is different.

If you worry about taking a loss, maybe you should try trading machines and not just sell. If you have a good paying job or career, then what's the issue?

#46 79 days ago

You can't buy game specific parts for even old Sterns from even the early 2000s.

This whole 'my company is no longer here' concern is a poor marker of ease of ownership in the pinball hobby.

#47 79 days ago

When purchasing a Collectable you intend to keep its always a good idea to go ahead and get replacement parts for it while they are available.
After 10 years it will be great to pull out those replacement ramps or a new power source and not have to worry about it.

#48 79 days ago
Quoted from rogerdodger:

OK, let me talk you out of your anxiety....

Quoted from Rdoyle1978:

The lack of EOS.....

I sincerely thank both of you for taking the time to write those excellent responses; you did, in fact, successfully talk me out of my anxiety!

I can acknowledge that I’ve probably been a bit of an OCD control freak all my adult life, so the reassurance offers a little sense of the “control” I guess I crave. (Anxiety sucks, but it IS a damn powerful motivator, and honestly I probably wouldn’t be in a position to do things like write a check for a NIB pin without at least a little of it!)

#49 79 days ago

AP is making the best pins outside of Stern and CGC, and definitely the best bang-for-buck. Long live AP!

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