(Topic ID: 300230)

Rare Pinball Machines?

By Scottflips

4 months ago


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  • 31 posts
  • 18 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 4 months ago by jasonspoint28
  • Topic is favorited by 2 Pinsiders

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#1 4 months ago

The California pinball auctioneer has been calling a lot of fairly common games “rare.” But rare doesn’t mean valuable, and to collectors, rare has been a tricky word to define.

For example, I own a Mystic Marvel game. There are 8 Pinsiders who list the game in their collections, and two public places where you can play this game. I know of two other Mystic Marvel games in collections not accounted for on Pinside. There were 1,050 games manufactured back in 1954.

By my math, that means roughly 1% of these games can be accounted for, and that doesn’t take into consideration their condition. That kind of scarcity makes this game seem pretty rare to me.

I know some games are even harder to come by, but that seems to be the best example in my possession.

How do you evaluate scarcity, and is there a good rule of thumb for gauging the number of a title likely to be still in existence?

#2 4 months ago

I posed this question about a year ago in regards to my Rocky. I’d been hearing for years that there were less than 100 fully operational Rockys out there, but there’s no way of quantifying that. Someone posted a good equation about how to determine the probability of scarcity based on the age of the game, production run, etc. but I can’t recall it exactly. You can easily find it on my thread “Question about the rarity of Rocky”. There have been recent comments on it so it should be fairly easy to find.

#4 4 months ago

The way everyone is pricing machines right now would make you think they are all 'rare'.

#5 4 months ago

Rare, NIB, HUO, all words that are now meaningless in this hobby

#6 4 months ago

It's just like eBay, you can put rare in front of everything but that doesn't mean it's worth anything

#7 4 months ago

What I've found with many of the general public when they hear I have pins, is...

"They still make those?
"You can actually buy them?"
"There's places to play them in public?"

And my favorite.... "Cool!"

So with that auction and its massive advertising, those prices are crazy and alot of people not in this hobby would think that they are rare, because to them, they seem rare.

#8 4 months ago
Quoted from Isochronic_Frost:

Rare, NIB, HUO, all words that are now meaningless in this hobby

NIB and HUO aren't straightforward? People are messing around when using these to describe? (Sorry, I'm legitimately asking, wasn't aware(!)...)

#9 4 months ago

At an auction everything is rare and just needs 1 fuse and 1 switch blade adjustment to get it working 100%

#10 4 months ago

RARE AND VERY SOUGHT AFTER, HURRY!!! DON’T LET THIS ONE GET AWAY!

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#11 4 months ago
Quoted from jonnyqtrek:

NIB and HUO aren't straightforward? People are messing around when using these to describe? (Sorry, I'm legitimately asking, wasn't aware(!)...)

Yes. Tons. You need to look at more FS ads. You see it constantly. Heavily routed games or games out of the box are unbelievably advertised as HUO NIB

#12 4 months ago

Charlemagne1987 Thanks for commenting. It’s weird how a rare, desirable pinball game doesn’t seem to get the same love as a rare Austin-Healey or Corvette. If there were only 1% or 10% of one of those car models remaining, it would drive up prices. That doesn’t seem to happen in pinball. I wonder why?

I understand there’s no way to firmly calculate a number of games still in existence. Value is also tricky. I have no great interest in Rocky, so I’d be unlikely to pay big bucks. On the other hand, I’d probably pay anyone’s asking price for games on my wishlist. For some reason, a lot of collectors disagree — they’ll bargain just to knock $50 off the seller’s asking price, as though that amount makes all the difference.

I’ll take a bargain when I can get it, but there’s never been a time I’ve added a game and worried about spending a few bucks more for a good example.

Some of the California prices are shocking, for sure. After all, most of the titles are available elsewhere. None of the Banning games are extra-special, just well-marketed. But what makes some of us scratch our heads at high prices makes others happy to own a desired game.

#13 4 months ago

The only word that gets me anymore is "scarce"
I was recently asking two old timers about a game and they both said scarce!
I did find the game tho, took some serious doing, but I found it, so who knows?
B

#14 4 months ago
Quoted from Scottflips:

Charlemagne1987 Thanks for commenting. It’s weird how a rare, desirable pinball game doesn’t seem to get the same love as a rare Austin-Healey or Corvette. If there were only 1% or 10% of one of those car models remaining, it would drive up prices. That doesn’t seem to happen in pinball. I wonder why?
I understand there’s no way to firmly calculate a number of games still in existence. Value is also tricky. I have no great interest in Rocky, so I’d be unlikely to pay big bucks. On the other hand, I’d probably pay anyone’s asking price for games on my wishlist. For some reason, a lot of collectors disagree — they’ll bargain just to knock $50 off the seller’s asking price, as though that amount makes all the difference.
I’ll take a bargain when I can get it, but there’s never been a time I’ve added a game and worried about spending a few bucks more for a good example.
Some of the California prices are shocking, for sure. After all, most of the titles are available elsewhere. None of the Banning games are extra-special, just well-marketed. But what makes some of us scratch our heads at high prices makes others happy to own a desired game.

I think the reason rarity doesn’t necessarily mean higher prices in pinball is because it’s a niche hobby.

#15 4 months ago
Quoted from Charlemagne1987:

I posed this question about a year ago in regards to my Rocky. I’d been hearing for years that there were less than 100 fully operational Rockys out there, but there’s no way of quantifying that. Someone posted a good equation about how to determine the probability of scarcity based on the age of the game, production run, etc. but I can’t recall it exactly. You can easily find it on my thread “Question about the rarity of Rocky”. There have been recent comments on it so it should be fairly easy to find.

Quoted from Scottflips:

Charlemagne1987 Thanks for commenting. It’s weird how a rare, desirable pinball game doesn’t seem to get the same love as a rare Austin-Healey or Corvette. If there were only 1% or 10% of one of those car models remaining, it would drive up prices. That doesn’t seem to happen in pinball. I wonder why?
I understand there’s no way to firmly calculate a number of games still in existence. Value is also tricky. I have no great interest in Rocky, so I’d be unlikely to pay big bucks. On the other hand, I’d probably pay anyone’s asking price for games on my wishlist. For some reason, a lot of collectors disagree — they’ll bargain just to knock $50 off the seller’s asking price, as though that amount makes all the difference.
I’ll take a bargain when I can get it, but there’s never been a time I’ve added a game and worried about spending a few bucks more for a good example.
Some of the California prices are shocking, for sure. After all, most of the titles are available elsewhere. None of the Banning games are extra-special, just well-marketed. But what makes some of us scratch our heads at high prices makes others happy to own a desired game.

I penned a very detailed explanation of rarity as it applies to pinball in that thread. It is definitely worth a read.

Ultimately, an item is worth what someone will pay. I own a business in which this has never been truer. I see it all the time: trash can sometimes get sold easily at a high price, and desirable items occasionally fall by the wayside. Marketing, knowledge, usefulness of the product, re-selling, and hype all contribute.

#16 4 months ago
Quoted from Daditude:

I penned a very detailed explanation of rarity as it applies to pinball in that thread. It is definitely worth a read.
Ultimately, an item is worth what someone will pay. I own a business in which this has never been truer. I see it all the time: trash can sometimes get sold easily at a high price, and desirable items occasionally fall by the wayside. Marketing, knowledge, usefulness of the product, re-selling, and hype all contribute.

Yes, your explanation was the one I was referring to. It was very informative and helpful

#17 4 months ago

And I think there’s a reason why a smaller number of some pins were made: they weren’t selling well enough because they weren’t very good pins.

#18 4 months ago

You can thank Disney for ingenious marketing. Every edition of whatever they are selling is labeled with key words: Limited, Special, One Time, Commemorative, and so on. It's like a band and a final tour...there are multiple final tours by them. It drives up ticket sales.

People use the keywords in their Ebay, FB Marketplace and Craigslist listings. Let me tell you, 10,000 of each early SS machine is not rare or special. Rarity is in the eye of the SELLER.

#19 4 months ago
Quoted from wolverinetuner:

And I think there’s a reason why a smaller number of some pins were made: they weren’t selling well enough because they weren’t very good pins.

Same with video games, outside of a few real rare promotional items or employees gifts most of the rare vintage games sold now were commercial failures and actually terrible games.
When the trend of collecting full sets started, these rare games suddenly saw their value sky rocket.

#20 4 months ago

I have a simple way of judging a pin on rarity.

I go by production numbers only, year it was made does not matter, nor the theoretical percentage of whats left after so many years.

1500 made and above is "Common". Under 1500 made is "Uncommon". Under 1000 is "Rare" and under 500 is "Super Rare".

Just my 2 cents.

#21 4 months ago
Quoted from EM-PINMAN:

I have a simple way of judging a pin on rarity.
I go by production numbers only, year it was made does not matter, nor the theoretical percentage of whats left after so many years.
1500 made and above is "Common". Under 1500 made is "Uncommon". Under 1000 is "Rare" and under 500 is "Super Rare".
Just my 2 cents.

Over 3100 of these were made, seems rare to me. Toughest game I ever located.

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#22 4 months ago

I strongly dislike using the word "rare". Yes, there are instances where the word applies, but in most cases, I prefer the word "scarce". A Gottlieb "Glamor" is rare. A Bally "Sheba" is scarce.

#23 4 months ago
Quoted from Electrocute:

Over 3100 of these were made, seems rare to me. Toughest game I ever located.

A lot of pin people are not on Pinside, so that is why I do not use their numbers, just the amount the factory made.

Like I said, just how I rationalize the term "Rare". Everyone is going to be different on this subject because it is very subjective, so not a big deal.

When I am selling a pin I base my price on what the market will bare anyways, not what people tell me my price should be because the pin is deemed, common, uncommon, rare, or other in their opinion.

Bottom-line, do what suits you.

As a teacher once told me, "Pay attention to what your doing, never mind what the other kid is doing". If I listened to her earlier I might not have got in trouble so often. LOL!

#24 4 months ago
Quoted from Electrocute:

Over 3100 of these were made, seems rare to me. Toughest game I ever located. [quoted image]

Which game?

Quoted from EM-PINMAN:

I have a simple way of judging a pin on rarity.
I go by production numbers only, year it was made does not matter, nor the theoretical percentage of whats left after so many years.
1500 made and above is "Common". Under 1500 made is "Uncommon". Under 1000 is "Rare" and under 500 is "Super Rare".
Just my 2 cents.
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Under 500 is rare, under 1000 is uncommon!
Super rare is like “10 made” prototypes.

Most my collection is “rare” games. Finding them is my favorite part. Digging deep and cold-calling is a ton of fun. The hunt is the best part of the hobby!

#25 4 months ago
Quoted from Isochronic_Frost:

Which game?

Under 500 is rare, under 1000 is uncommon!
Super rare is like “10 made” prototypes.
Most my collection is “rare” games. Finding them is my favorite part. Digging deep and cold-calling is a ton of fun. The hunt is the best part of the hobby!

Numbers alone don't equal rarity.
There were supposedly only 235 copies of Gottlieb's " Pleasure Isle" produced, but I've come across three of them myself, and know several collectors who own one. Some games produced in the thousands just don't ever appear. Some of the sixties Bally titles, for example . I realize much of this has to do with distribution, as many of these Bally titles were shipped off to.Europe.

#26 4 months ago
Quoted from jrpinball:

Numbers alone don't equal rarity.
There were supposedly only 235 copies of Gottlieb's " Pleasure Isle" produced, but I've come across three of them myself, and know several collectors who own one. Some games produced in the thousands just don't ever appear. Some of the sixties Bally titles, for example . I realize much of this has to do with distribution, as many of these Bally titles were shipped off to.Europe.

EMs tend to be totally different than SS. Back in the EM days trashing stuff after a year or two was common! They used to make 5k+ regularly for many of our classics! The rates which Williams, Bally, Gottlieb churned out EM games dwarfs modern production!

#27 4 months ago
Quoted from Isochronic_Frost:

EMs tend to be totally different than SS. Back in the EM days trashing stuff after a year or two was common! They used to make 5k+ regularly for many of our classics! The rates which Williams, Bally, Gottlieb churned out EM games dwarfs modern production!

For sure there are rare games based on extremely low production numbers. A non-EM example would be "King Kong".

#28 4 months ago
Quoted from jrpinball:

Numbers alone don't equal rarity.
There were supposedly only 235 copies of Gottlieb's " Pleasure Isle" produced, but I've come across three of them myself, and know several collectors who own one. Some games produced in the thousands just don't ever appear. Some of the sixties Bally titles, for example . I realize much of this has to do with distribution, as many of these Bally titles were shipped off to.Europe.

I own a 'rare' Pleasure isle that is being restored. It's a UK import too. Its cabinet was painted in blue gloss paint so I had to sand it all off before returning it to original artwork, here is a picture of its serial number:
20210109_180412 (resized).jpg

#29 4 months ago
Quoted from Classicpinballs:

I own a 'rare' Pleasure isle that is being restored. It's certainly an import because it has the Mondial information on the coin plate and is stamped for UK coins. Unfortunately, Its cabinet was painted in blue gloss paint so I had to sand it all off before returning it to original artwork, here is a picture of its serial number: [quoted image]

#31 4 months ago

WARNING! Carguement alert!

I had a 66 Studebaker Cruiser for a few years. It was the last year that Studebaker made cars, so only about 2,000 were produced. Quite rare compared to the 66 Mustang with a production number around 600,000 but only a fraction of the value (and for many good reasons).

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