(Topic ID: 220777)

Lifespan for NIB machines?


By Flamingo43

1 year ago



Topic Stats

  • 35 posts
  • 17 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 1 year ago by o-din
  • Topic is favorited by 1 Pinsider

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    #1 1 year ago

    I am fairly new to the hobby and have a formerly routed but slowly-getting-cleaned-up Ripley's at home which I love. I have looked at that machine as something that will need care and repairs from time to time but would likely be around longer than I would. I was starting to get excited about purchasing a second, and was looking at Star Wars.

    This weekend I started diving into the Spike system threads where people were throwing around the idea that pinball is becoming disposable - if I purchase a Star Wars Pro, I should expect to have problems 5-10 years down the road, and possibly not have available parts to repair it. Time to throw it out in other words.

    I don't want to turn this specifically into a thread about Spike, but rather, would anyone care to share some thoughts or advice as to buying a machine that will last a while. Are the newer JJPs and remakes also in danger or a short lifespan? Are there machines where you might say something like, I'd buy a new Houdini but not a new Iron Maiden or something like that? Is it actually better to stick to something like Fish Tales which has done fairly well for its age instead of buying new?

    Thank you for any thoughts.

    #2 1 year ago

    No one knows.

    Stern is the only company that has a long track record.Stern parts are hit or miss for older machines. Generic parts are easy to get aside from cpu boards due to them using a sound chip that is NLA. Game specific is another story and there are plenty of parts that are nla or ridiculously expensive.

    We have had a number of manufacturers pop up only to shutdown after a few years so there is no telling how long jjp will be around. No one knows what their support will be if they stick around. If they fail you end up with a situation like Alvin G collectors or Capcom collectors. Alvin G you cannot get any number of parts, flipper parts don't exist and are unique to them. Game specific parts are either nla or incredibly rare and people charge exorbitant prices. The boards are through hole and easier to repair. Capcom has more parts available, but the boards are surface mount like the newer jjp and sterns. Fewer people can repair them. There are chips that are nla and if they fail your board is dead.

    Older machines are not immune either. Parts continue to get remade, but there are limitations. The technology in these machines are ancient. Many of the parts on the boards are no longer produced and stockpiles eventually run out. This is why WPC 95 A/V boards cost a fortune, you can't make them.

    It is not all doom and gloom. So long as the hobby stays popular people will step up and reproduce parts. It is not a sure thing, but the more commonly used a part is the more likely someone will reproduce it when it becomes unavailable. Thing is you just have to really accept that these things are not built with the intention of you using it in 10 years. They are built for operators to put on route for a few years and make enough money to justify buying the next one.

    #3 1 year ago

    If you have access to node boards then you can keep a Spike game running for a long time. The problem is they are very expensive (multiple $100s per board) and you generally need to replace the entire board even if a $1 component on it fails.

    #4 1 year ago

    Games like houdini and alice cooper are probably safer than you'd think, as they're all using P-ROC boards. More manufacturers using the boards means a better chance of replacement if any of the manufacturers dies out.

    It's impossible to really speak to how reliable a board itself will be this soon. Early Bally boards are still quite reliable today, but early williams less so. Stern is probably safer than JJP as they're a bigger company. If any manufacturer's boards are going to be produced after they're gone, it'd be Stern.

    Honestly, I don't think it's worth worrying about, at least for Stern. They're a large company with a lot of games out, and they're using the same boards in multiple games. Other manufacturers are still figuring out their board sets and keep changing them, or use lots of custom boards for each game, and might be a bit more dangerous down the road. Exception for games that use P-ROC like Houdini, TNA, etc. Even 40 years later most boards from the original wave of SS games when they were still figuring stuff out with sub-par electronics are still working fine; most boards now are going to be the same.

    #5 1 year ago
    Quoted from Flamingo43:

    would anyone care to share some thoughts or advice as to buying a machine that will last a while. Are the newer JJPs and remakes also in danger or a short lifespan? Are there machines where you might say something like, I'd buy a new Houdini but not a new Iron Maiden or something like that? Is it actually better to stick to something like Fish Tales which has done fairly well for its age instead of buying new?

    If you buy one that has already lasted a while, odds are good it will continue to do so IF parts are available and repairs are possible. Most electromechanical tables are a safe option if you want a game you're sure will work in twenty years with proper care.

    For many years there were few reproduction parts and the used pinball machine market prices were very low. People were buying games by the shipping container load, bringing them back from overseas, and making a nice collection. There were many games that needed parts. The market filled that void eventually, by reproducing parts, making new boards, making upgrades possible in some cases.

    I believe Spike repairs and replacement boards will be available, but I wouldn't bet my rent money on it. If you're counting on your tables to hold their value and it will cause you hardship if they don't I suggest you stay away from tables that don't have a long track record of parts and repairs being available.

    #6 1 year ago

    Seems silly to worry about this in a world where people manage to keep 40-year old Atari and Zaccaria pins working.

    #7 1 year ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    Seems silly to worry about this in a world where people manage to keep 40-year old Atari and Zaccaria pins working.

    A few people do. Most probably can't. Then again that's mostly true of EMs too

    #8 1 year ago
    Quoted from Flamingo43:

    would anyone care to share some thoughts or advice as to buying a machine that will last a while. Are the newer JJPs and remakes also in danger or a short lifespan? Are there machines where you might say something like, I'd buy a new Houdini but not a new Iron Maiden or something like that? Is it actually better to stick to something like Fish Tales which has done fairly well for its age instead of buying new?

    Pinball machines are a commercial product, so everything you're buying is built to last. Pinball is NOT becoming disposable, despite what you're reading. It's just a theory and it's a bad one at that. Machines get rotated & replaced because people get tired of playing them, NOT because they break. Stern doesn't need to purposely make a machine that'll break in order to get people to buy new ones, they just need to keep churning out machines that are innovative, and sales will continue as a result.

    Pinball machines are built to last. I've played on plenty made in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Solid machines, and not going away any time soon. GAP, JJP, Spooky, Chicago... all good places to buy from. Buy with confidence.

    What's the lifespan? If it's a home use game, then I'd say well after you're dead and gone.

    #9 1 year ago
    Quoted from MEuRaH:

    Stern doesn't need to purposely make a machine that'll break in order to get people to buy new ones, they just need to keep churning out machines that are innovative, and sales will continue as a result.

    Pinball machines are built to last. I've played on plenty made in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Solid machines, and not going away any time soon.

    Survivorship bias. Lots of them weren't solid machines, and now they're gone. There's no way to say for sure that the new distributed, surface mount design approach being used now will survive, since it hasn't yet. Stern can't know either, whether or not they're designing them to last. We've already seen multiple issues pop up that they hadn't foreseen.

    #10 1 year ago
    Quoted from zacaj:

    We've already seen multiple issues pop up that they hadn't foreseen.

    Every single pinball machine ever built ended up with multiple issues that "they" hadn't foreseen, or didn't care about when they were rolling off the line, and yet here we are.

    You can easily repair your System 1 or System 80 gottlieb, or fix your WPC GI or reset issue. It's not difficult to get any single pinball machine ever produced by a major manufacturer working again even if it's on the scrap heap.

    What's with the tales of foreboding, and the vague intimations of impending obsolescence for Stern games. Have you been clicking on youtube links?!?!

    #11 1 year ago

    It is well known that I'm not a fan of SPIKE games. I feel SAM games were the pinnacle of Stern design and building of games. They took what they learned with Whitestar boards, and brought it forward. That is a great way to do design. Newer iterations utilize the hard won knowledge you've gained and you do it better the next time. But for some reason, they didn't do that with SPIKE. It was almost like a young upstart engineer ignored all that knowledge and built something that works, but has a major lack in its maturity level. Almost like the person (or persons) doing it didn't have knowledge of the environment and the issues that come up in pinball machines.

    Now, that prevents me from buying SPIKE games. However, except for Vault games, SPIKE is the only boardset that Stern is putting out. So it is in every single game. If Stern goes tits up, there will be a period of time without node boards. However, that won't be forever. Somehow, and somewhere, they will be made. Someone will buy the IP and put out parts. There are just too many games out there with SPIKE in them to not have that happen. So realistically, it isn't that big a worry in the long term. More of a pain in the tushie than a catastrophic problem. Personally, I just don't like the risk, and there hasn't been another SPIKE game since GOT that made me say "ooooooh, I have to have that". So I'll stick to the Vaults and HUO until I feel better about SPIKE. But that is just my situation. I have enough SAM games that really, I don't have to buy every game. If I didn't have them, I'd probably have a different attitude.

    #12 1 year ago
    Quoted from MEuRaH:

    Pinball machines are a commercial product, so everything you're buying is built to last.

    Arcade machines are a commercial product too. Capcom, Sega, and others built them to disable the game when the battery died or was removed. http://www.arcadecollecting.com/dead/

    It's called planned obsolescence. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160612-heres-the-truth-about-the-planned-obsolescence-of-tech

    #13 1 year ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    You can easily repair your System 1 or System 80 gottlieb, or fix your WPC GI or reset issue. It's not difficult to get any single pinball machine ever produced by a major manufacturer working again even if it's on the scrap heap.

    Yeah, and they all use easy to replace through hole components. Which hopefully you can find, but sometimes you're still out of luck because they're just not made anymore.

    But my point isn't that we can't fix issues that may come up, it's that just because Stern doesn't intend to make bad products doesn't mean they won't

    #14 1 year ago
    Quoted from zacaj:

    Yeah, and they all use easy to replace through hole components. Which hopefully you can find, but sometimes you're still out of luck because they're just not made anymore.
    But my point isn't that we can't fix issues that may come up, it's that just because Stern doesn't intend to make bad products doesn't mean they won't

    Absolutely true.

    Why this possibility (which is present on any single electronic product you can buy) would prevent someone from buying a NIB Stern game in 2018 is a bit of a mystery to me.

    #15 1 year ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    Why this possibility (which is present on any single electronic product you can buy) would prevent someone from buying a NIB Stern game in 2018 is a bit of a mystery to me.

    Most electronic products don't cost $6k. And aren't filled with high power machinery.

    As I said in my original post, I don't think it's worth worrying about, but some of the reasonings given don't hold up, and I'll point that out too. As much as they'll *probably* be okay, and if they're not the pinball community will *hopefully* be able to come up with fixes or replacements, it's just not something you can say with certainty, and it is a completely new+untested design paradigm

    I've got two SPIKE games currently. Hell, I'd have bought an Alien if they were cheaper, and those boards were not confidence inducing. But then again I'm crazy

    #16 1 year ago
    Quoted from YeOldPinPlayer:

    Arcade machines are a commercial product too. Capcom, Sega, and others built them to disable the game when the battery died or was removed. http://www.arcadecollecting.com/dead/
    It's called planned obsolescence. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160612-heres-the-truth-about-the-planned-obsolescence-of-tech

    I'm a math & financial education/economics teacher, so I actually know all about planned & perceived obsolescence. What you said is correct, but I was talking about today's Pinball machines specifically. There's no incentive to have them break in 5-10 years since people just repair the hell out of them anyway. I could have worded it better...

    I did not know this about arcade games. That's an excellent resource to show my kids, thanks!

    #17 1 year ago
    Quoted from MEuRaH:

    Pinball is NOT becoming disposable, despite what you're reading. It's just a theory and it's a bad one at that.

    Quoted from MEuRaH:

    There's no incentive to have them break in 5-10 years since people just repair the hell out of them anyway

    When people talk about them being disposable, I don't think they're talking about the whole machine. They're talking about how the parts are designed without repairability in mind. If a node board breaks, you get an entire new board, and either throw away the old one or send it to stern, who probably throws it away too (hopefully after studying what went wrong).

    #18 1 year ago
    Quoted from zacaj:

    When people talk about them being disposable, I don't think they're talking about the whole machine. They're talking about how the parts are designed without repairability in mind. If a node board breaks, you get an entire new board, and either throw away the old one or send it to stern, who probably throws it away too (hopefully after studying what went wrong).

    oic, thanks. I hadn't seen the thread. Makes sense.

    #19 1 year ago
    Quoted from zacaj:

    When people talk about them being disposable, I don't think they're talking about the whole machine.

    Yes, they are. They are seeing a future where node boards are both unrepairable AND unavailable, therefore one bad node board and the whole game is a giant paperweight.

    I don’t believe it for a second, but that’s clearly what some people are saying.

    #20 1 year ago
    Quoted from andre060:

    They are seeing a future where node boards are both unrepairable AND unavailable

    MEuRaH was specifically talking about games not being designed with planned obsolescence. Eg, Stern still exists and is making new games. Designing the boards to not be repairable isn't the same as designing them to purposely break after a certain amount of time. The rest of the game is designed the same way games have been for years (not disposably), it's just the non-repairablity of the boards that are an issue in that sense. People are also worried about being able to repair their games if stern goes under, but that's a separate concern.

    #21 1 year ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    Seems silly to worry about this in a world where people manage to keep 40-year old Atari and Zaccaria pins working.

    Local guy has an Alvin G Soccer, took 4 very well versed collectors over a year to get it going again. I know of a Zaccaria Soccer Kings that has passed through 4 hands and has yet to get running again. I have two radicals that are sitting because I can't just buy the ramps and making the mold is slow progress.

    Just because there are examples of old machines running does not tell you how many were scrapped because people could not find the parts or had the knowledge to fix. How many of those scrapped games have in turned fixed or kept others going? For a multi thousand toy it is a valid question.

    #22 1 year ago

    Well I have Sam pirates of the Caribbean pinball
    Machine was in route couple of years now is in my home,never ever this machine broken or need something,just rubbers in 12 years

    #23 1 year ago
    Quoted from robertg130:

    Well I have Sam pirates of the Caribbean pinball
    Machine was in route couple of years now is in my home,never ever this machine broken or need something,just rubbers in 12 years

    Sounds like OP should buy a Stern POTC.

    #24 1 year ago
    Quoted from MEuRaH:

    Pinball machines are a commercial product, so everything you're buying is built to last. Pinball is NOT becoming disposable, despite what you're reading. It's just a theory and it's a bad one at that. Machines get rotated & replaced because people get tired of playing them, NOT because they break. Stern doesn't need to purposely make a machine that'll break in order to get people to buy new ones, they just need to keep churning out machines that are innovative, and sales will continue as a result.
    Pinball machines are built to last. I've played on plenty made in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Solid machines, and not going away any time soon. GAP, JJP, Spooky, Chicago... all good places to buy from. Buy with confidence.
    What's the lifespan? If it's a home use game, then I'd say well after you're dead and gone.

    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    Every single pinball machine ever built ended up with multiple issues that "they" hadn't foreseen, or didn't care about when they were rolling off the line, and yet here we are.
    You can easily repair your System 1 or System 80 gottlieb, or fix your WPC GI or reset issue. It's not difficult to get any single pinball machine ever produced by a major manufacturer working again even if it's on the scrap heap.
    What's with the tales of foreboding, and the vague intimations of impending obsolescence for Stern games. Have you been clicking on youtube links?!?!

    Quoted from zacaj:

    A few people do. Most probably can't. Then again that's mostly true of EMs too

    There was a recent thread where someone was considering parting out a Sharkey's Shootout because the cord was cut and the backbox had a little bit of corner damage.

    People have different thresholds for what's repairable and what isn't. Some people are completely unskilled and will throw out a game just because some bulbs burn out or a fuse blows. Other people can fix just about anything and bring completely dead games back to life.

    Will someone be able to repair those node boards in the future? I don't see why not. Enough failures, and someone will eventually tinker with them and document the repair.

    I read somewhere that supposedly, Stern mentioned they were planning to release schematics soon, so that would be a big help too.

    #25 1 year ago
    Quoted from ForceFlow:

    I read somewhere that supposedly, Stern mentioned they were planning to release schematics soon, so that would be a big help too.

    George Gomez was asked at Pintastic about this & said they'd be putting this information out soon. I was trying to find his seminar but it hasn't been posted yet.

    #26 1 year ago

    I understand the concern, but you can earn back the entire cost of a NIB without doing anything beyond regular cleaning. Then you can sell it for nearly what you paid.

    It was 12,000 plays on my GOT pro before anything went wrong: a broken E clip.

    #27 1 year ago

    Like others said, people are still running pins from many decades ago. It seems like when there is a demand for a part/fix, someone creates a solution. An example is the AV board in wpc95 games. Pretty much impossible to find a direct replacement but there is a solution using a pinsound board. With all the spike games out there, I seriously doubt they will all become garbage anytime in the near future. Mostly guys complain about cost of repairs and not that repairs are impossible.

    #28 1 year ago

    Designed to last 5 years, then get parted out and hit the dumpster.

    #29 1 year ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    Designed to last 5 years, then get parted out and hit the dumpster.

    When operators were the primary buyers of pins, that was certainly the life cycle of a game.

    Now, home collectors are the primary buyers of NIB games, and pins tend to stay with collectors for much longer than that.

    #30 1 year ago
    Quoted from ForceFlow:

    When operators were the primary buyers of pins, that was certainly the life cycle of a game.
    Now, home collectors are the primary buyers of NIB games, and pins tend to stay in collectors for much longer than that.

    True. Now they don't have to get built with quite the quality and durability they used to.

    #31 1 year ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    True. Now they don't have to get built with quite the quality and durability they used to.

    That's just Stern cheaping out for the most part, and not necessarily the industry trend for all manufacturers.

    #32 1 year ago
    Quoted from ForceFlow:

    That's just Stern cheaping out for the most part, and not necessarily the industry trend for all manufacturers.

    True again.

    The playfield in that Batman66 I had looked like the surface of the moon when I had it and from what I am told after months on location, it's not looking any better. While my Spooky TNA playfield still looks like glass.

    #33 1 year ago
    Quoted from ryanwanger:

    It was 12,000 plays on my GOT pro before anything went wrong: a broken E clip.

    Cheap Chinese E-clip breaking after just 12k plays. They just don't make them like they used to.

    #34 1 year ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    True again.
    The playfield in that Batman66 I had looked like the surface of the moon when I had it and from what I am told after months on location, it's not looking any better. While my Spooky TNA playfield still looks like glass.

    I finally got to play a TNA at the Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown this summer. Fun game!

    But I must admit that I was shocked - shocked - to observe a bit of minor dimpling on the playfield. Thought about snapping a pic but that felt like a dick move after someone brought their sweet new machine out to share, so I just put a few more games on it, enjoyment unimpeded by signs that someone had been batting a steel ball around on the playfield.

    #35 1 year ago
    Quoted from fosaisu:

    a bit of minor dimpling on the playfield.

    Yeah, they are there on mine but tiny, uniform, and hardly noticeable. You really have to look hard for them.

    Big difference from that moon cratered BM66.

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