(Topic ID: 251159)

Just entering collecting hobby: Recommendations?


By jacksparrow0112

40 days ago



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  • 47 posts
  • 41 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 40 days ago by Coz
  • Topic is favorited by 1 Pinsider

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    #1 40 days ago

    Hello Pinside Community,

    My wife, children and I were bit by the pinball bug about 18 months ago. We have played enough on location to know that we will eventually purchase a pin for our home and enjoy the heck out of it as a family. We are lucky enough to have a fairly large finished basement with a main room that we plan to convert into our family game room. This room is large enough to have a home bar, pool table, and up to 4 pins against the wall. It certainly is what you would call a blank canvas.

    That being said, I expect there is a lot of collective expertise and lessons learned within this forum and its members. I would love to hear what advice those in the community would have to someone just getting into collecting pins for home use. As of today, our dream line up is Jurassic Park (Stern), Pirates (JJP), Theater of Magic and Attack from Mars (CGC remake) which I hope to purchase over the next 1-4 years.

    The basic questions I have are around purchasing, maintaining and fixing these games. On the purchasing side I am curious if I should focus on NIB vs HUO games. On the maintenance side I am curious about how much time is required to upkeep 4 pins that maybe will see 25-50 plays a week each. I do have an engineering background so am not immediately frightening by the concept of lifting a playfield to troubleshoot and fix issues. In fact, I anticipate actually enjoying the process of learning how these things work. My engineering background is more on the software programming side, but certainly have some limited experience in soldering and laying out bread-boarded circuits. With that being said, am I well positioned to stay on-top of the maintenance?

    I know there is a lot I still need to learn. At this point I don't know what I don't know, and am just curious as to what I am not considering. Are the next 2 years an advisable time to invest in these games, or would some of you advise to wait and see how the resurgence of pinball continues to trend? I get that nobody has a crystal ball, but am curious how some of you would advise someone new entering the collecting hobby.

    Overall we are thrilled to have found this hobby and cannot wait to get the first game in our home. I more than look forward to making lasting pinball memories with our 2 your boys.

    Thanks in advance!

    11
    #2 40 days ago

    Don't start is the best advice. ; )

    #3 40 days ago

    Welcome.....now get out as soon as possible!

    Seriously, the fact you're wanting to work on them is big. You may find yourself liking to work on them more then playing at times. As for upkeep .... the old saying "it's a steel ball with plastic parts comes to mind". It's not a matter of will there be issues it's a matter of there will be issues.

    btw - having space for 4 machines is nice BUT start looking at where you can put the 5th one and so on. Might also want to look where you can expand your gameroom! You'll laugh reading this but trust us ..... the time will come!

    #4 40 days ago

    Welcome to the hobby!

    There's a lot of questions contained, so I'll pick a couple to answer. First off, it sounds like you'll be fine taking care of the maintenance end of things. Pinball isn't necessarily easy, but the techs here at Pinside are some of the most helpful people i know. If you have a problem, you can rest assured someone (or several people) here can help. There's nothing on these games that can't be fixed with enough determination.

    As far as first game, i personally would go with AFM. That game is everything awesome about pinball in one exceptionally streamlined package. The sound package, the wiggling martians, the big saucer, the humor--such an awesome game. I think a couple young boys would have a blast with it. Next I'd go with ToM. So many fun toys and different modes to play, and again, i think the kids will love it. Can't comment much on the other 2, but you've got good taste for sure.

    Good luck moving forward, and be sure to come visit the tech forums if you run into any trouble!

    #5 40 days ago
    Quoted from jacksparrow0112:

    Hello Pinside Community,
    My wife, children and I were bit by the pinball bug about 18 months ago. We have played enough on location to know that we will eventually purchase a pin for our home and enjoy the heck out of it as a family. We are lucky enough to have a fairly large finished basement with a main room that we plan to convert into our family game room. This room is large enough to have a home bar, pool table, and up to 4 pins against the wall. It certainly is what you would call a blank canvas.
    That being said, I expect there is a lot of collective expertise and lessons learned within this forum and its members. I would love to hear what advice those in the community would have to someone just getting into collecting pins for home use. As of today, our dream line up is Jurassic Park (Stern), Pirates (JJP), Theater of Magic and Attack from Mars (CGC remake) which I hope to purchase over the next 1-4 years.
    The basic questions I have are around purchasing, maintaining and fixing these games. On the purchasing side I am curious if I should focus on NIB vs HUO games. On the maintenance side I am curious about how much time is required to upkeep 4 pins that maybe will see 25-50 plays a week each. I do have an engineering background so am not immediately frightening by the concept of lifting a playfield to troubleshoot and fix issues. In fact, I anticipate actually enjoying the process of learning how these things work. My engineering background is more on the software programming side, but certainly have some limited experience in soldering and laying out bread-boarded circuits. With that being said, am I well positioned to stay on-top of the maintenance?
    I know there is a lot I still need to learn. At this point I don't know what I don't know, and am just curious as to what I am not considering. Are the next 2 years an advisable time to invest in these games, or would some of you advise to wait and see how the resurgence of pinball continues to trend? I get that nobody has a crystal ball, but am curious how some of you would advise someone new entering the collecting hobby.
    Overall we are thrilled to have found this hobby and cannot wait to get the first game in our home. I more than look forward to making lasting pinball memories with our 2 your boys.
    Thanks in advance!

    I would stay away from NIB at the moment unless it is chicago gaming remake. See playfield issues with new Stern/JJP games. First few games I would try to find fairly close to you so you can drive and check them out before you buy.

    I enjoy tinkering with them as much as playing them, so I try to keep a few nice playing games around and then a couple projects to work on in my spare time.

    #6 40 days ago

    Run....run now, do not look back and close your account.
    Take wife on cruise or trip to europe instead.

    #7 40 days ago

    On a serious note, EMs are cheap. Personally I don't care for them but if you do, you'll have those 4 slots filled quickly.
    Look at sale history here. While not the bible, itll give you an idea.
    You may or may not be surprised just how un-knowledgeable a pin owner might be. Assume the person is in fact green. Do your research on how to identify the basic problems, what it means and how much it'll cost you. Like, what is a credit dot and how to troubleshoot that.
    That trouble gives you negotiation power.
    If you're not familiar with how a game plays then watch videos of it being played.
    Ask the seller what they've personally done to the machine and any history of repairs. Again, lots of so called pin heads don't do basic maintenance and you'll spend a day or two replacing coil sleeves, plungers, plunger stops etc etc.
    If the machine has plastic ramps verify there are replacements available. Some people dump titles due to lack of replacement part availability. Ramps generally run $200-$300. Again, negotiating power if you feel the price is a little steep.
    And while not necessary, take a look in the back box. If you see a rotten dog board (or any aftermarket) ask if they still have the original. See if they'll throw it in.

    #8 40 days ago

    Welcome to the insanity.

    I started with one pin, 19 years ago, and I've got 28 now. They multiply worse than rabbits, so go ahead and start on building the add-on to your house.

    You've selected some nice titles, but also fairly high dollar titles. I wouldn't jump in personally at such a high valuation. There are plenty of pins that are as fun, if not better, for much less $. And you'll be able to find some that you can fix up, play, and get your money out of. The titles you've chosen, you will likely receive little to no ROI on them. Of course, we've been saying the market has peaked for the last 5 years, so what do I know, but that's just a personal opinion. If I were you, I'd find a couple of late 80's system 11 or Bally's, or early 90's wpc/gottliebs to get your feet wet. That era of machines will give you plenty of opportunity to learn to fix them.

    Edit to ad: There should be many pinsiders in your area of Indiana. I would encourage you to meet up with some, experience their games, and get a better feel for what's available. Your experience is probably limited to the newer games at your local barcade.

    #9 40 days ago

    Spend as much money as possible as quickly as possible! Only way to ensure you’ll be happy.

    #10 40 days ago

    Welcome to the hobby.

    Now find a time machine and travel back in time 5 - 10 years when prices were still within the stratosphere.

    #11 40 days ago

    I bought a DE Star Wars in 2009 for my kids. I was initially worried about the maintenance, but that actually became my favorite part of the hobby. I bought several restored/HUO games in the beginning but now I only look for machines that need some work. Any technical problems I have encountered are usually resolved within 30 min after posting a question here. As long as you can solder and use a multimeter ( neither of which I could do in 2009) don't worry about keeping things running. If you like to learn new things and take shit apart it is a fantastic hobby.
    I too have a game room that can comfortably hold 4 pins, but somehow I now own 8 with another one on the way! Be careful!!!

    #12 40 days ago

    I was in the same position as you were, with less of a technical background. I have been huge into the hobby for 16 months now, and made the leap about 5 weeks ago to purchase my first machine, which was a NIB Star Wars Pro. I am someone who is not particularly skilled at repairing things, and although I had been saving for a JJPOTC, I settled on buying one of the least populated games in terms of mechs in SW Pro. I thought it would be a good test to see how comfortable I would be making some repairs.

    In the 5 weeks, I called a tech on the first day because the flipper assemblies were both not working out of box, primarily due to an issue with the overtightening of the leaf switches at the factory and the switches were pitted. I have been comfortable taking off the glass and lifting the playfield and have done so at least a dozen times primarily to look at the assemblies underneath of out of curiousity and to make some minor adjustments to the game. I just cleaned and waxed the playfield on Sunday, and am loving life having a game in my home.

    I am sure there is at least one tech in your area, and I recommend that you confirm that just in case something goes awry that is out of your comfort zone, particularly on a game like Pirates. It’s an addictive hobby though and I am already scouring ads daily for game #2.

    #13 40 days ago

    1. Never buy pins off ebay
    2. never say "this pin is never leaving my collection"(keep a cycle going)
    3. Choose pins based on gameplay and not theme.
    4. Shows and expos are the best place to get pins. Big selection, great prices, and the ability to see and play. The deals to be had are worth the travel and or truck rental.
    5. Pinball is it's most fun when enjoyed with other people. Invite people to play as much as you can. Find a group of people and start a pinball night.

    #14 40 days ago

    Forget all the "HUO" gibberish. I've seen routed pins that were very well maintained and HUO pins that were in desperate need of attention. Pay for condition, not where the pin spent its life.

    You've gotten pretty good advice from others in this thread.

    #15 40 days ago

    Go and see the pins you are buying meet people most people enjoy others playing there machines. Get the family involved from the beginning my kid loved the pinball road trip.

    #16 40 days ago

    Here is my big top 10 lessons learned writeup from my first year in the hobby. https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/10-lessons-learned-from-my-year-in-the-hobby

    The one thing I'll tell you is to not focus on your "forever pins". Start off with a used machine to cut your teeth on. Get something older (early 90s) and cheaper the family will have fun with. I don't know how old your kids are, but I'd say a World Cup Soccer, Data East Jurassic Park, or Last Action Hero. After you've had it 6 months, sell it and buy another machine. I personally have really enjoyed rotating through machines, and once you know for sure you can buy/sell without losing your shirt it is much easier to put more money into the hobby knowing you could likely get it back out.

    Good luck and welcome to the hobby!

    #17 40 days ago

    My two pieces of advice are rethink the pool table They take up a lot of space and don’t get much use, and second, consider getting an older game as well that may need a little work. It will help you get more familiar with the machines and your kids may enjoy that too. Something like fishtales or no fear are less expensive and fun.

    #18 40 days ago

    The advice I wish I would have taken is to buy HUO/used. If you can hold off on a new release, their will be deals to be had. Summer time seems to be a terrible time to be a seller, but a great time to buy if you have the cash. Lots of good deals if you just have patience. I’d also recommend staying away from eBay. Welcome!

    #19 40 days ago

    If you buy one, more will come regardless of significant others opinion.

    #20 40 days ago

    You've chosen an excellent set of 4 pins there.
    JJP POTC is really a special game, that's the one Id' recommend as your first.

    NOTE: it most likely will have the clearcoat issue, but it's such a great game. It looks like JJP is taking care of customers to the extent of providing a replacement playfield - but not installed. Personally, I'm good with that fix.

    #21 40 days ago

    I’m a EE who started the hobby in reverse from you. I bought a pin to fix for fun but ended up loving the games that followed.

    I have a 40 y/o solid state game that is humming now, but took a lot of time to get there. On the other hand I have a 2018 game which sees tons more play. I spent a few hours corrected known issues from the forums here and otherwise just spend an hour or so a week making adjustments and cleaning.

    #22 40 days ago

    I wouldn't base a 4 year plan on games currently available. The pins you listed are quite expensive and in a year or two there will be new choices in that price range.

    #23 40 days ago

    Find other local pinheads. That is the best advice you can have right now.

    Pinball is almost full of great people... and a very small amount of bad apples. You will be able to spot the difference quickly.

    So get to know some of the local chaps. Most of the people I know have or participate in informal gatherings or private leagues (private only because they are in peoples homes and most people can't handle 100 people showing up at their house). At its core, pinball is a social hobby. You get to know people as you chat with them week after week. When I come across a deal, if it is something I'm not interested in, I'll let one of my buddies know about it. They do the same for me. If the people you meet know you are looking, you increase your odds of finding a good machine at a reasonable price. One of them might even help you look at it for the first time or two so you know what to look for in a game.

    Have fun with it. It is such a great hobby to be in.

    #24 40 days ago

    Don’t buy anything

    #25 40 days ago

    Don’t kid yourself about having four pins. They tend to multiply until all space is consumed. You’ll come across titles you never thought about, but they’ll be deals you just can’t pass up. You’ll meet new friends, and they’ll have pins they want to move. It becomes easy. Then there may be parallels, “oh it’d be nice to have a pac man”, “maybe a slot machine”, “ooo a jukebox”. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.....

    #26 40 days ago

    Wow - What an amazing community here! Just 1 hour after posting and I already have 20+ individual responses. This is really exciting. Thanks everyone for being so generous in sharing lessons learned and recommendations.

    So far there are definitely some themes emerging from the posts above. Many of you recommend that I start off by looking at older/cheaper titles to get my feet wet. Though I love the vintage look and sounds of EMs (especially their amazing artwork) the kids and I are not really a fan of playing them. The only exception might be "Black Hole" because I love that reverse lower playfield concept. I will consider researching the Gottliebs and Data Easts that are out there to see if I can find something as a viable starter pin. My original thought was that a NIB pin would have less chance of issues, but I'm beginning to learn that that isn't necessarily the case.

    To date, my entire pinball education has been provided in the form of podcasts. I spend 10 hours a week commuting and dedicate that time to catching up on all of the great content available. It's a great way to unwind after a hard day at the office. I have learned so much this past year about all of the current manufacturers, their latest offerings, and yes, even some of the quality issues that have been occurring. Most recently with the release of Jurassic Park I have discovered Twitch and streaming and have been tuning into the FlipNOut Monday streams of that title. As I get to be a better player (hopefully through playing our first home pin) I look forward to joining a local league and/or playing in local tournaments. Just recently I figured out that one can learn a lot by watching more experienced players play in person.

    As far as I figure, I have a few advantages entering this hobby. The first one is that my wife approves and is also excited to get into it. I can't imagine trying to justify the price tags associated with these games if she wasn't into it. Second - I have a great room layout. It is a walkout basement and the future pin wall is directly adjacent to the sliding glass patio door. I can literally back my wrangler up to the door to load and unload pins. No needing to navigate hallways and staircases which seems to be a big plus.

    Thanks again everyone for reaching out. I really look forward to officially joining this hobby, and you have no idea how much I envy those of you who have one or more pins in your home right now. It's been a dream since childhood that I hope to realize in the next 12-18 months.

    #27 40 days ago
    Quoted from bam10:

    rethink the pool table They take up a lot of space and don’t get much use,

    Mine got plenty of use as a great place to put disassembled parts when cleaning the pinball machines.

    But other than that, I completely agree.

    #28 40 days ago

    He's Doomed!

    5f2a81d8c8f43fbdb0b3de04136fda2efd0b143ddad8bea5f19b2b555334defc (resized).jpg
    #29 40 days ago

    I'm pushing 7 years into this hobby. I started out with completely NO KNOWLEDGE on how to fix anything. I'm still not great on electrical issues but you have to learn as you go. heck, I'd never soldered anything in my life but I bought a soldering iron and watched a bunch of videos on how to solder stuff. I learned a new skill and that was cool.

    This community is very helpful when you run into troubleshooting issues.

    Also very helpful is finding other pinheads. Though I do not get together with people very often, pinball is a great medium for meeting new people. Guess what? Those folks likely know how to fix things you don't and can also be very helpful for teaching you the ropes on pinball maintenance.

    I also agree that it is hard to own only 4 games. That sounds like a lot and it is in certain ways but I would be hard pressed to get down to 4 though I've considered it more than once.

    If you're using your basement and if it is not a walk-out basement, invest in an Escalera stair climbing dolly. That is some of the best money you will spend! Sometimes you can buy them used (I did) but either way that is a strong recommendation. (EDIT: I just noticed you DO have a walk-out basement...PERFECT!)

    Last, don't be fearful of switching out games! The thrill of the chase is part of the fun of this hobby. Buy from some respectable folks and before you know it you will have people calling you with known great games that you might like. Doing multiple deals with people over time certainly makes the buying/selling process easier. Especially for your first few purchases, don't buy something that you cannot inspect first. Better yet, buy from someone who can help you set it up. Level it. Etc. If going somewhere to pick up a pin, look at it and play it. Don't be afraid to walk away if it is not what you were expecting.

    I hope that helps.

    #30 40 days ago
    Quoted from jacksparrow0112:

    I am curious if I should focus on NIB vs HUO games.

    If you've been reading pinside for any amount of time, then you should know NIB is a total gamble right now.

    Mystery box arrives and you are stuck with it.

    #31 40 days ago

    Best Advice. Become a Pinsider. You already did that. Many helpful and experienced people here, when needing to buy or fix your machine at any juncture of the ongoing process of pin ownership. Ask away...

    #32 40 days ago

    Learn how to fix them. They will break.

    #33 40 days ago

    It's amazing how many of you half-joke that 4 pins will be impossible to limit myself to. As an outsiderto this collector's hobby dying to get in, that sounds like an almost unattainable goal right now. Luckily (or maybe unluckily) with some furniture rearranging I could realistically fit up to 25 pins in my walk-out basement alone. But in there lies the paradox because I would surely be divorced and as a result no longer living in this house...LOL!

    #34 40 days ago

    You also might not think ROI is an issue, but, trust us, you’ll likely want to sell some titles, even ones you like, to get others and keep things fresh as time goes on. I personally don’t need to make money on a pin, I just want to feel confident that if I ever sell it, I’ll get back what I paid for it.

    I have all EMs, but I think this applies across the board. BTW, if you ever find a Black Hole that’s an EM, let me know!

    #35 40 days ago

    PS

    I am also one of the minority with a wife who likes pins. It’s a great blessing!

    #36 40 days ago

    I am in the minority that doesn't have a wife to dictate what I do or don't. Call that a blessing if you like.

    #37 40 days ago
    Quoted from wolverinetuner:

    You also might not think ROI is an issue, but, trust us, you’ll likely want to sell some titles, even ones you like, to get others and keep things fresh as time goes on. I personally don’t need to make money on a pin, I just want to feel confident that if I ever sell it, I’ll get back what I paid for it.
    I have all EMs, but I think this applies across the board. BTW, if you ever find a Black Hole that’s an EM, let me know!

    HA! Just goes to show how much I still have to learn about this hobby. Total noob mistake right there. Thanks for the education.

    #38 40 days ago

    and then you will want to put pins on location.....

    #39 40 days ago

    Just to rehash....I would stay away from new titles from Stern or JJP until they resolve this clear coat fiasco.

    #40 40 days ago

    Be prepared to have your life completely taken over by pinball, and I don't mean that in a bad way.

    Also, be prepared to sell off the pool table when you need room for games five and up. It WILL happen.

    #41 40 days ago

    Buy a game. Play your game. Have fun.

    Things will break. They can be fixed. Wear happens. Plastics break. New games aren’t perfect. Nothing stays new forever. Don’t take it personally.

    Don’t blow a bunch of money on mods unless you love them. You probably won’t get any value back.

    PINSIDE IS NOT THE WHOLE PINBALL WORLD.

    #42 40 days ago
    Quoted from gunstarhero:

    PINSIDE IS NOT THE WHOLE PINBALL WORLD.

    This!

    #43 40 days ago
    Quoted from jacksparrow0112:

    HA! Just goes to show how much I still have to learn about this hobby. Total noob mistake right there. Thanks for the education.

    Look at the game count on the right hand side next to everyone's avatar, that might explain why they find it funny. I had a small two bedroom condo and had 6 games, one of which was partially in the kitchen.... it happens man especially when you get that deal you cant pass up

    #44 40 days ago

    My advice would be learn all you can, even before you buy.

    First pin, buy local so you can see it. Look it over. Hard to clean areas clean ? if so it's been maintained. Board repairs, looks like they had the right tools and parts or burns, damaged traces, and blobs of flux and solder all over ?

    You have a ball rolling around in there hitting stuff. Sooner or later you'll need to fix it or clean it. Find local collectors to give you hands on help, or the name of a reliable repair you can trust - don't get in their way but try and watch and ask a few questions to help you learn.

    Pinside has lots of good help. Pinballnews.com in the old section has how to learn articles, Pinwiki is a good resource. And Youtube for short how to videos on how to solder, use a meter, etc.etc.

    Welcome my friend to the wonderful world of pinball !

    LTG : )

    #45 40 days ago

    If you're not afraid to lift the glass and solve a few puzzles, you should be fine whether a game is new or used. Just know that new is ZERO guarantee that a game will have less issues. I had the "hood up" on my new games far more than any of my "classics" (once they'd been shopped out and repaired).

    Pinball collecting is a different world than it was just a few years ago. I cut my teeth on cheap broken craigslist games, learned how to tear them apart, fix them, put them back together. Once you do that a few times, you can pretty much fix anything. Today though, project games are very rare to come by...and a lot of buyers don't even want to learn that side of the hobby. But again, if you're not afraid to look yourself, learn, and attempt the fix - you should be all right. I'm a total electrical/computer IDIOT...but there's so much information online about how to fix ANYTHING that can go wrong with a pin...as long as you can follow instructions, anyone get the hang of minor repairs and tweaks.

    Don't get sucked into the NIB hype of the current scene and podcasts, if you can help it. The cheaper/older games are fundamentally better in so many ways than almost any of the newer games. Better built, better features, better design, better gameplay, better rules, etc. New games are unfinished and untested when released...don't fall for the hype. Play first if you can. Buy what you truly love.

    #46 40 days ago

    I told my wife I wanted a machine. Now I have 14 in 2 years. But I could stop anytime I swear.

    #47 40 days ago

    My advice: play all of the games you’re interested in- the more time you put into them, you’ll determine what you’ll enjoy at home. I’ve totally switched in the hobby, as I route pins at a local brewery. Have fun!

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