(Topic ID: 59320)

Might be picking up a Captain Fantastic...need advice!


By PurpleTophat

7 years ago



Topic Stats

  • 38 posts
  • 20 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 7 years ago by Pafasa
  • No one calls this topic a favorite

You

#1 7 years ago

So I might be picking up a Captain Fantastic this weekend for seriously cheap. I don't know anything about it, except that I'm told that it's the arcade version and it used to work perfectly before it was put into a garage and stored for the past 15-20 years or so.

It's coming from a good friend's parents and they're sort of expecting me to give them a low but somewhat fair amount for it. They said "cheap or free depending on what you think it's worth to you". His dad is out of work right now so I want to give them at least something because they're good people, but I've never done any work on an EM before and I have no idea what I might be getting myself into.

Can't tell you what condition the cabinet is in, but I'm guessing it's got it's fair share of scuffs and scrapes. It hasn't been turned on since it's been stored.

All that being said:

1. Is there anything I need to do before I plug it in and turn it on? I certainly don't want to fry anything that isn't already!

2. Given the limited info above, what would you pay for it if it works? How about if it doesn't? What if it half works? Bear in mind that I want to give them something, but I also want to get a GREAT deal, or I wouldn't even bother with it.

3. Are parts for this machine readily available?

4. Does this have the potential to be a money pit, or is any problem easily fixable for a reasonable cost?

5. Any major red flags to look out for?

I literally know nothing about this machine. I don't want to end up spending more on fixing it than I would on buying a fully working one. Thanks for any help you might be able to offer!

#2 7 years ago

The appeal of Captain Fantastic is in the graphics more than the game play (IMHO). Bear in mind that's coming from a very biased single-player Gottlieb EM fan.
(But I have owned and restored Capt. Fantastic too.)

That said, the primary value of an EM is in the cosmetic condition, and specifically the backglass, playfield, and plastics. Repros are available, but expensive. If any of those elements are in poor condition, the value of the game will be very limited.

The backglass comes in two varieties: a later one that has some 'stars' strategically placed to cover some possibly offensive theme elements, and an earlier one without the stars (I'm sure you can find the differences on ipdb.org or such). Some folks place a premium on the 'non-stars' variety.

Decent to better cosmetics, shopped and working CFs generally sell in the $1000 range (800-1200). Project games needing attention and parts would be less than that (about half). They made a lot of them, and the supply generally meets the demand/interest fairly well. (They sold for around $1000 back in the 90's even, so haven't really kept pace with inflation.) Whether it works or not doesn't really matter so much, since the value is really in the cosmetic condition. From sitting in storage for so long, it will need a complete going through, rebuild, or at least a good shop job to ensure full and fresh operation. While it may function, it won't be in as good of operational shape as it can be. So anywhere from $100 to $750 could be 'fair', all depending on the cosmetics (and completeness; don't want any major parts missing). Look on pinpedia or bostonpinball.biz for example selling prices.

Before plugging in and turning on any EM, give it a thorough inspection, starting with the line cord, moving to the transformer, bottom board and so on. Check to make sure all the fuse are present and are the *correct* values (I've yet to find a game 'in the wild' that has the correct size fuses in it.) The correct fuses are there for protection, so may as well take advantage of them.

If the game has been sitting for several years, then the moving parts in things like stepper units are likely gummed up or seized up. Anything that is meant to move or turn should be examined and made to operate correctly mechanically. Also, all the contact points may have oxidized and will need burnishing for proper operation.

The decision to plug it in an turn it on really depends on the initial condition. If it's been sitting in a barn, shed, garage, and the inside is really dirty, corroded, etc., I wouldn't even consider plugging it in until after having done a complete tear down and rebuild of the game first. If the game's been in climate controlled storage, is generally clean, and just hasn't been used, then after giving it a review of the critical components, the fuses, wiring, and making sure stuff's not gummed up, then powering it up isn't such a big deal.

Parts are readily available, yes.

If you're not planning on doing all the refurbishing work yourself, then yes, it will be a money pit. If the game's generally pretty clean and just needs a good going through, clean, wax, new rings and bulbs, it's like $50-$75 in parts, and you do the labor. If you hire someone to do just that much, it will be more like $250+. If it need more extensive troubleshooting and repair, then figure a few hundred dollars. Hiring work done on EMs beyond simple one-time fixes is a money losing situation for most EMs (which is why it's a terrific hobby to collect and restore them on your own).

Major red flags would be things like repainted cabinets, touchups, clear coats, etc. - anything that would alter the originality of the game and excellent original cosmetics. There are too many CFs out there to bother with poor condition or modified ones.

If you're not into EMs, don't want to work on them and stuff, even 'free' isn't always a good deal. But picking up a CF for 300-400 bucks, spending a few weeks refurbishing it, and then playing it a while, maybe selling it down the road for 800-1000 is fun.

Good questions to ask though. Good luck!

#3 7 years ago

WOWZA!!! There needs to be a button to bestow like 1,000 karma points! Thanks so much for the awesome help, DirtFlipper!!! This is why Pinside rules. I went from going in totally out of my element, to feeling like I know exactly how to approach it. So, thanks so much!

I think this sounds like a fun project as long as it's not totally beat. Plus, my wife loves both Elton John AND pinball, so she'll be upset if I don't at least give it my best effort. I've never really gotten into EMs as much, but I think your idea about fixing it up, then playing and enjoying it for a while, then eventually selling it off is a pretty good idea!

It's not like I don't already have a fun DMD title, so this would just add some diversity. No matter what if I don't end up being a huge fan of it, then I can always just sell it and put the cash towards our next DMD. Seems like a win/win as long as I pick it up on the cheap.

#4 7 years ago

Yup, what he said. Though one more thing, he's talking about the arcade version (with the coin door) I know you said you were looking at the arcade version but you linked to the Home version. The value of the home version is exponentially less than the coin version.
GOOD FIND, by the way! It took us a year to find a decent one.

#5 7 years ago

Awesome, thanks! For some reason that was the only one that showed up when I put the word "Captain" in to link the game. I will definitely take that into consideration!

#6 7 years ago

Get it Get it Get it!!! As Dirt said, cooler to look at than to play but not bad. Still fun in its own right. Welcome to the world of EM pinball. Tons of patient help here in the EM hangout and no ego driven pissing matches that I have noticed so far. There are no WOZ or METLE EM games that I am aware of!

#7 7 years ago

I swear everything DirtFlipper writes when it comes to EM recommendations is dead on. This post is no exception.
Alex

#8 7 years ago

Yeah, now I'm getting excited! I just want to give them something but not overpay either. It's great to know that there's so much help and advice available, otherwise it gets kind of scary taking on potentially big projects!

It looks like I'll be going to check it out and hopefully bring it home on Sunday! I'll definitely update the thread once I've got it in my possession!

#9 7 years ago

As the Flipper says its all about the backglass and about the Playfield.
if the BG is nice then 400 is a decent price for both them and you.

I've seen crappy ones around here go for more. Sometimes much more.

Good luck and I wish it was my friends parents.

#10 7 years ago

Somebody in my area just put a Captain Fantastic up on Craigslist for $2500!!!!!

cnj.craigslist.org link

Cool graphics, but as everyone says only a so so playing game.

But $2500?

I don't know if a "Like New" would go for that.

Not sure what he's smokin.

But good luck to him.

#11 7 years ago

^^^

wonder if it comes with the big crayon?

#12 7 years ago
Quoted from Pafasa:

no ego driven pissing matches that I have noticed so far. There are no WOZ or METLE EM games that I am aware of!

What ,no Led flame war?

#13 7 years ago

WHAT??? YOU WOULD EVEN CONSIDER LED'S IN AN EM GAME! WHY NOT JUST CHANGE YOUR NAME TO "LED-IT"????? I AM THOROUGHLY DISGUSTED!!!!

#14 7 years ago
Quoted from Pafasa:

YOU WOULD EVEN CONSIDER LED'S IN AN EM GAME!

Just under the pop bumper caps I assure you.

Quoted from Pafasa:WHY NOT JUST CHANGE YOUR NAME TO "LED-IT"?????

That would start a war on pinside!

Quoted from Pafasa:I AM THOROUGHLY DISGUSTED!!!!

#15 7 years ago

Is this Captain Fantastic coming from a B & B in N. Illinois? The gentlemen had one when I went to pick-up a CFTBL from him in May. Just wondering.

#16 7 years ago
Quoted from tmac:

Is this Captain Fantastic coming from a B & B in N. Illinois? The gentlemen had one when I went to pick-up a CFTBL from him in May. Just wondering.

It's a actually just from a really good friend of mine's parents. His dad bought it and a Fireball a long time ago and had them set up in their last house. Then when they moved to this house somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-20 years ago, they set it out in the garage and never moved it inside. It's been there every since. I don't know if they still have the Fireball or not. If they do I'm definitely going to try to snag the 2 pin special!!! My buddy thinks they might have gotten rid of Fireball awhile ago though.

They ended up not being able to meet on Sunday, so we're trying to set up a time to get together this week. Can't wait!!!

#17 7 years ago

Good luck. Get both. Keep Captain Fantastic! It is a marvelous game. Sell the turd of a game Fireball to me. I'll come and pick it up throw in another set of drop decals for your RCT to sweeten the deal!

#18 7 years ago

I'm doing 2 Capt Fantastics right now, no game screams pinball like CF!!

I would definitely pick it up as long as it isn't a basket case cosmetically, or has had the wiring cut or components ripped out. Bally 4 players are pretty tough for a first time EM attempt, but if you take it slow and steady, get the manual and schematics, and just do it for fun, you will be very happy with what you end up with.

#19 7 years ago

Just finished a CF - my first EM that I did a playfield swap on. I agree its a much better looker than player, but the feeling of having completed the game and developing an understanding of how an EM works is priceless! Dirtflipper's post is excellent and full of good advice - if you need any info, please feel free to contact me!

#20 7 years ago
Quoted from PurpleTophat:

His dad bought it and a Fireball a long time ago and had them set up in their last house.

I'm really hoping you aren't going to be disappointed with the home versions. Fireball was also a home version, so if they bought them together, you may have a couple of the non-arcade style.

Good Luck!!

1 week later
#21 7 years ago

So..............went to pick up the Captain Fantastic today. It is an arcade version, but it isn't pretty. Holy smokes. I don't know how many mice were living in there, but the whole inside is screwed. It wreaks like poop on the inside and it's all covered in what looks like a mix of rust and mouse doo-doo. There are at least 2 abandoned mouse nests and the mousey bedding is all stuck up in all the wiring and contacts. From the looks and smell of the inside, I'd call it unrestorable, at least to the extent that any sane person wouldn't attempt to reuse any of the insides.

The Playfield is in rough shape too. There are a few spots where it's worn down to the bare wood, and one of them is rather large. However, none of the plastics are broken, so that's a plus I guess. The one and only shining star is that the backglass is in really nice shape. For that reason and that reason alone, I decided to haul the game out of their basement. They didn't charge me anything. They just wanted me to haul it out.

So now the game is sitting in my parent's garage. I didn't have a camera with me unfortunately. I will be back up there tomorrow and I'll take some shots then to post here. I'm not sure what to do with it. My wife really likes the backglass, and she wants to frame it and hang it in our (coming soon) arcade room. I like that idea, because it's super cool looking and wicked retro. I guess if I did that, I'd probably part out what I can and scrap the rest. I was up for a project, but it's really beat, and WAY beyond anything I'd be up for. That's at least the thought for now. Pics tomorrow night.

#22 7 years ago

Clean out all the mouse crap, nesting, etc, then see if the wires have become mouse food, if so, then you are probably right, the amount of work required is not worth it. You might be surprised though, it might be in more workable condition than you think. Not saying that it's going to reset and run, and it won't be pretty, it could still be a player.

#23 7 years ago
Quoted from dgpinball:

Clean out all the mouse crap, nesting, etc, then see if the wires have become mouse food, if so, then you are probably right, the amount of work required is not worth it. You might be surprised though, it might be in more workable condition than you think. Not saying that it's going to reset and run, and it won't be pretty, it could still be a player.

I agree. If the wires are all chewed up (they probably are) don't bother. Way too much work even for a very experienced EM guy. It's not junk though! There are a lot of steppers and motors and score reels and relays etc... They all could be cleaned and be of some use to someone.

Personally, I would be very careful of what diseases you could be putting yourself in contact with. Be careful.

Dane

#24 7 years ago

A Free Cp Fantastic is a good deal whenever.

Post some pics!

--Jeff

#25 7 years ago
Quoted from way2wyrd:

A Free Cp Fantastic is a good deal whenever.

I Agree with Jeff.

With the Backglass in good shape you could list the whole machine on Epay for a start bid of $300.00 and I'm sure you would get even get some bidders pushing that price up.

Could be a win-win situation if you do not feel like doing a full restoration but the buyer might and you would make some good money as well for little effort.

Parting out a whole machine is a PITA anyway and you could be saving another Pin from the dumpster.

Just my 2 cents.

Ken

#26 7 years ago

You Guys Are Wimps....Contact Singlebanana On Here...He Had A Fantastic That Was Completely Gutted By Fire And He Rewired The Thing And The Game Looked And Played Great.

1 week later
#27 7 years ago

Hey now - calling anyone a wimp is unnecessary! If the wiring is chewed, the project is huge - especially if its your first EM. Would just part it out if wires chewed......

#28 7 years ago

Are you sure it wasn't a gerbil?

#29 7 years ago
Quoted from eyeguypec:

. Would just part it out if wires chewed......

If the wires were just chewed in a specific spot it would be no big deal to repair. However if they are chewed in multiple areas then parting out may be the answer.

To repair, I simply get the two ends of the wires, slide a heat shrink tube on to a wire away from the heat source of my solder gun when I solder the wires together, then slide the heat shrink tube over the repair, get a flame on it to shrink it and that wire now has a permanent repair, then go onto the next wire.

Could take some time depending if you need to put wire extensions on the chewed wires if they are too short to repair, but the cost is next to nothing. Finding the exact wire colors most likely won't happen unless you keep spare wiring harnesses around which I don't have but I do have on hand a variety of new wire colors I can use to at least separate the colors.

Repairs should be fun and challenging anyway. If they are not, then those folks who do not feel that way should not be looking at project machines and buy 100% restored Pins to begin with.

It may never be a collectors Pin but could be a nice Players Pin that was saved from a dumpster.

Just my 2 cents.

Ken

#30 7 years ago

I'm changing my tune a little here. For someone brand new to EM, I think Repairing a chewed wire harness may be too much to handle. I personally think it might be a fun challenge. I guess it depends on how bad it is.

Quoted from EM-PINMAN:

Repairs should be fun and challenging anyway. If they are not, then those folks who do not feel that way should not be looking at project machines and buy 100% restored Pins to begin with.

^^^^^ I agree with this 100% ^^^^^

#31 7 years ago

please please please, before you part out the game at least offer it to people that have time and very limited funds the chance to purchase it. there are far to many people that would like to have have a game they normally could never afford, the chance to own and repair it.. way to many games are being destroyed every year for parts that sit on a shelf for years. While I live 5 + hours away from you I would be happy to drive the 10 hours it would take to pick it up and save it from the the wire cutters... I would even consider adding a few dollars to deal. stop the carnage!!!!!!!!!

#32 7 years ago
Quoted from CVSPINS:

please please please, before you part out the game at least offer it to people that have time and very limited funds the chance to purchase it. there are far to many people that would like to have have a game they normally could never afford, the chance to own and repair it.. way to many games are being destroyed every year for parts that sit on a shelf for years. While I live 5 + hours away from you I would be happy to drive the 10 hours it would take to pick it up and save it from the the wire cutters... I would even consider adding a few dollars to deal. stop the carnage!!!!!!!!!

I agree 100%. I would gladly take the time to re-wire the game. Please don't part out such a classic pin.

#33 7 years ago

Pictures of the damage/condition???

Mice damage isn't the end of the world. Clean it out, take a look and give it a go.

1 week later
#34 7 years ago

I'm new here, but not that far away from you (in Lindenhurst).

I have a well working Captain Fantastic and am fairly schooled in EM repair. If you need a hand, or want to compare wiring in real life vs schematic let me know!

#35 7 years ago
Quoted from Sandals:

I'm new here, but not that far away from you (in Lindenhurst).
I have a well working Captain Fantastic and am fairly schooled in EM repair. If you need a hand, or want to compare wiring in real life vs schematic let me know!

Welcome to pinside! What a great way to start things off. That's what this site is about. Pinheads helping pinheads! Great offer man, I hope things work out and we rescue another EM from the dead.

1 month later
#36 7 years ago

Hello guys! Just wanted to say that I purchased the mousey Captain Fantastic from PurpleTopHat and I will be de-funkingit and getting it back to being playworthy-

There will be no parting out. There will be no junking it-

There will however be need for dust masks, elbow grease and oodles of meangreen. Not to mention hours and hours of rewiring/ adjusting and replacing rusted components. Just my cup of tea!

Lots of rusted componenets on the main board- I'm thinking mouse urin-

Playfiled shows quite a bit of wear but I'll get it cleaned and buffed and play it as it is-

Backglass is very descent-

I'll post pics soon- as well as photodocument the process. I have six other pinball machines to be repaired but I think this ones makes it to the front of the line....

#37 7 years ago

Hey Jim! So glad to see you updating this thread and so glad to know that this machine will live and breathe again!!! I'm very happy that it went to good guy, a fellow Pinsider, and a fellow VW guy! Can't wait to see picks as you get going on it!

#38 7 years ago
Quoted from slawnski:

Hello guys! Just wanted to say that I purchased the mousey Captain Fantastic from PurpleTopHat and I will be de-funkingit and getting it back to being playworthy-
There will be no parting out. There will be no junking it-
There will however be need for dust masks, elbow grease and oodles of meangreen. Not to mention hours and hours of rewiring/ adjusting and replacing rusted components. Just my cup of tea!
Lots of rusted componenets on the main board- I'm thinking mouse urin-
Playfiled shows quite a bit of wear but I'll get it cleaned and buffed and play it as it is-
Backglass is very descent-
I'll post pics soon- as well as photodocument the process. I have six other pinball machines to be repaired but I think this ones makes it to the front of the line....

I just picked up a CF a couple weeks ago. Had schematics inside. I will be scanning them and can forward them to you if you need. PM me with your email if this helps you out.

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