(Topic ID: 290984)

Let’s Talk Pinball Pricing!

By wolverinetuner

5 months ago


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  • Latest reply 1 day ago by wolverinetuner
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    #1 5 months ago

    This has been discussed, so let’s just do this. To avoid separate threads about prices in this hobby and the fireworks that often ensue in each one, this is a dedicated Pinside thread for pricing. I hope this will be active enough to allow people who have just begun thinking about market trends in this hobby to see that it has really been a long-standing subject of discussion. Hopefully, it will also provide a sort of one-stop timeline to look back on how the pricing discussion has changed over time starting at this point. Also, I hope it will provide a way to maintain one “Crazy” pinsider’s sanity. I ask that we keep this civil and realize that there are different opinions on the subject.

    Let the pricing discussion commence (actually continue)!

    #2 5 months ago

    There are 2 ways of looking at this. NIB from the manufacturers and after-market second-hand sales. There's a lot of consternation about NIB pricing but Pinsider to Pinsider sales are through the roof as well. Re: JPPOTC second hand pricing and Stern toppers. Not really fair to rip the manufacturers on this and yet gouge the second-hand buyers. That said, things are definitely frothy all-around.

    #3 5 months ago

    One thing can't be denied - we all love talking about pinball pricing.

    Wouldn't it be nice if, like the NFL Raiders, this forever wandering topic could find a forever home?

    Let this be it!

    #4 5 months ago

    March 30 2021. At this time (imo) prices on used SS machines are ridiculous, to the point of scaring off long-time Buyers and inhibiting new Collectors from purchases.
    Have heard several people say "I'm out until sanity returns".
    There will always be the well-heeled who buy NIB no questions asked.
    Quality concerns are cutting in to the not so rich Collector purchases, along with rapidly rising prices.
    There is a Younger Buyer showing up who will pay inflated prices on used machines, many attribute this to "Lack of education in the Pinball Market"

    #5 5 months ago
    Quoted from phil-lee:

    March 30 2021. At this time (imo) prices on used SS machines are ridiculous, to the point of scaring off long-time Buyers and inhibiting new Collectors from purchases.
    Have heard several people say "I'm out until sanity returns".
    There will always be the well-heeled who buy NIB no questions asked.
    Quality concerns are cutting in to the not so rich Collector purchases, along with rapidly rising prices.
    There is a Younger Buyer showing up who will pay inflated prices on used machines, many attribute this to "Lack of education in the Pinball Market"

    There's till decent-priced old projects to be had.

    All the new people flooding the hobby don't want broken pinball machines.

    If ever a thread deserved a sticky it's this one.

    #6 5 months ago
    Quoted from phil-lee:

    There is a Younger Buyer showing up who will pay inflated prices on used machines, many attribute this to "Lack of education in the Pinball Market"

    But how many of us have wondered if we overpaid for a used pin, only to sell it for more years later? Today’s inflated price seems to eventually become a bargain.

    #7 5 months ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    There's till decent-priced old projects to be had.
    All the new people flooding the hobby don't want broken pinball machines.

    That is a pricing advantage the veterans (we who tend to complain about today’s prices compared to “the good old days”) still have over newbies.

    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    If ever a thread deserved a sticky it's this one.

    I don’t know who makes that determination, the mods or Robin, but I’m all for it.

    #8 5 months ago
    Quoted from wolverinetuner:

    That is a pricing advantage the veterans (we who tend to complain about today’s prices compared to “the good old days”) still have over newbies.

    There are certainly still some good deals out there that can be found by practically anyone that can use a computer or phone. I think there are plenty of us who understand where prices are at and the "good ol days" mean a different thing to different people. Today, someone somewhere is picking up a sweet deal and it sure as hell is a good day.

    I still come across great games at decent prices. Win some, lose some. This is my hobby, not my career, so I have nothing to complain about, other than maybe not liking how a game plays or something.

    Also, finding deal can take time, effort, patience, and eventually a certain amount of money. While the average consumer wants the latest and greatest and they want it NOW, or really really soon...with a tracking number.

    It's up to the new folks how far they want to get into this hobby. Sure it isnt always pretty. I just dont see it as an "advantage" when it is something that everyone is free to work at if they want to explore this hobby outside of distributed games with warranties.

    #9 5 months ago

    Thanks for starting this thread, I wonder if there is a time of year when the prices of pins falls a bit, thinking summer may be the best buying time and winter may be the best selling time. Thought and experience you have had?

    #10 5 months ago
    Quoted from JohnTTwo:

    Thanks for starting this thread, I wonder if there is a time of year when the prices of pins falls a bit, thinking summer may be the best buying time and winter may be the best selling time. Thought and experience you have had?

    Edit: I misread this. It really boils down to what you want and how much you want to pay for it.

    I've noticed games get listed when the newest title is announced but there are always deals somewhere year round.

    #11 5 months ago

    Since there are different categories (for lack of a better word) of collectors there are always different paradigms on this subject. This subject is also directly related to the value of a machine and a collection. My situation is I have a few machines that have been with me for a long time. I paid a fraction of what those are worth today. While I am glad that I could get three times what I paid for them if I were to sell, I know that If I dont keep the money I get for them in pinball, I would not be able to afford to replace them. Are Pinball machine an investment? Absolutely. Have I made money on pinball sales? Yep, Everytime. This is a good thing. Am I concerned about being priced out of the pinball hobby in future? Truthfully, yes, but not so much if I hold onto my collection.

    #12 5 months ago

    Too high
    Bubble burst
    Free pins???

    #13 5 months ago
    Quoted from phil-lee:March 30 2021. At this time (imo) prices on used SS machines are ridiculous, to the point of scaring off long-time Buyers and inhibiting new Collectors from purchases.
    Have heard several people say "I'm out until sanity returns".
    There will always be the well-heeled who buy NIB no questions asked.
    Quality concerns are cutting in to the not so rich Collector purchases, along with rapidly rising prices.
    There is a Younger Buyer showing up who will pay inflated prices on used machines, many attribute this to "Lack of education in the Pinball Market"

    I hear you on this phil-lee.

    Although I can understand selling into the strength of a hot market, I see plenty of overpriced, poorly rated, worn out pins being shoved onto the market lately along with the ever increasing 'pins wanted' ads. Bargains seem ever more rarely sandwiched between these two.

    [I am also in agreement about what seems to be the only undervalued sector out there...gold.]

    #14 5 months ago

    What I think is crazy is most of the new people joining this hobby are looking for "shinny new" as opposed to "players" machines and seem ready to pay for the privilege, wether the machine is a brand new title or a title from the past haydays of the big three. There is a lot of history these people do not know about, and all they know is if you pay enough, you can get what you want, which is no different than any other hobby. That they have the finacial resources to back those desires up is what is really skyrocketing prices, wether NIB or restored Route Queens. I never thought I would ever own a MB due to rarity, but here I am $8300 bucks later, and I have a brand new LE remake in my collection. I would have never bought an original MB for that price, but NIB, that was harder to pass up. But let me tell you, that was the limit of my spending on a new machine, these prices of LE's and CE's and top of the line machines going into the collectors market topping $12k plus is not a market I am interested in, even Premium Sterns are going into stupidity ranges and so I think unless there is some turning of prices due to <name an impending disaster here>, I am not buying any more NIB machines. Even used decent machines are overpriced due to the halo affect. Seems everyone with a machine in good shape is out to score some of this price-escalated, buy-a-thon cash orgy that these newbies are throwing in pinball's direction. Just my $0.02 on prices right now.

    #15 5 months ago
    Quoted from Bublehead:

    But let me tell you, that was the limit of my spending on a new machine

    I’ve prided myself in not spending more than a certain amount on EMs, but now I generally stay within that limit by buying projects. With the projects lining up, I’ve realized that my price limit is outdated for many nice working EMs if I want to add a pin immediately to the lineup.

    #16 5 months ago

    When will the JJP POTC super price increase acceleration end (or at least slow down)?

    1 week later
    #18 5 months ago

    popcorn (resized).jpg

    #19 5 months ago

    For the guys not happy with the current pinflation what percent would you like to see prices fall?

    #20 5 months ago
    Quoted from JohnTTwo:

    For the guys not happy with the current pinflation what percent would you like to see prices fall?

    I don’t think I have any percentage decrease in mind, I’m just not sure how to price a pin to sell or how high a price is reasonable to pay right now. It seems that some sellers are trying to find out what the new limit is.

    #21 5 months ago
    Quoted from wolverinetuner:

    I’m just not sure how to price a pin to sell or how high a price is reasonable to pay right now.

    Along that line, I really like having the Mr. Pinball guide as a price reference, but the most recent, 2018, is about two and a half years old now. Is that publication done, and, if so, is there anything close to as good a reference?

    #22 5 months ago
    Quoted from wolverinetuner:

    I’m just not sure how to price a pin to sell or how high a price is reasonable to pay right now. It seems that some sellers are trying to find out what the new limit is.

    When I saw this Joker Poker EM originally listed for $7,500 firm, I thought maybe pricing in today’s market has gone up even higher, but then I looked at the responses in the thread for the ad, I see that even today there is still a limit:

    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/for-sale-joker-poker-em-5

    #23 5 months ago

    I’ve been in this hobby for five years, I don’t have decades of experience on this, so I’ll ask what others think. Has there ever been a time of such volatile prices for pins due to what seems to be an almost instant pricing increase across-the-board?

    The first post in a currently hot for sale thread includes the following familiar thought:

    “The price is OBO since I really do not know where to price this game at.”

    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/for-sale-funhouse-94

    #24 5 months ago
    Quoted from wolverinetuner:

    Has there ever been a time of such volatile prices for pins due to what seems to be an almost instant pricing increase across-the-board?

    The closest thing I can think of was an incredibly high demand for parts in the late 90's early 2000's due to closure of BLY. Game specific parts were going for top dollar and it was sometimes more cost effective to part games out.

    But not for games themselves, not like this.

    2 weeks later
    #25 4 months ago

    No posts in 17 days?

    Good thing all the pricing talk got consolidated here!

    #26 4 months ago
    Quoted from DanQverymuch:

    No posts in 17 days?
    Good thing all the pricing talk got consolidated here!

    Yes, the discussion has been overwhelming! This thread is still here, so I’m hoping someone will eventually take it for a spin and that it catches on.

    #27 4 months ago

    As of 5/10/2021, a currently hot thread in which the OP makes a case for the reasonableness of Stern’s price increases:

    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/stern-pricing-criticism-isnt-justified-based-on-the-msrp-history#post-6272026

    #28 4 months ago
    Quoted from wolverinetuner:

    As of 5/10/2021, a currently hot thread in which the OP makes a case for the reasonableness of Stern’s price increases:
    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/stern-pricing-criticism-isnt-justified-based-on-the-msrp-history#post-6272026

    I’m that OP, and wanted a Stern-specific address of the topic in that section (to avoid discussion about the latest JJPs and CGCs, partially). I contend that Stern cleaning up their distributor and dealer lineup by standardizing pricing and establishing a MAP (minimum advertised price) is not only a common industry practice, but a good policy overall for both sellers and buyers for many reasons. The only ones upset with this are those who became accustomed to “good ol’ days, good ol’ boy” deep discounts that have now gone away.

    And most of the criticism I’ve seen is those whining about the manufacturers and hating the current record growth pattern in the hobby, also ignoring supply and demand realities, etc. Stern has held the line on MSRP while raising minimums and lowering margins that have been too-often given away to consumers for competition between dealers and regions. The changes are nothing new to business practices, and actually help resale values, etc.

    #29 4 months ago

    That's all well and good, but I'm saving up for the forthcoming cratering of pinball popularity, and the resultant price decreases on used games, which will be brought on, however gradually, by the demographically obvious aging (and subsequent dying) of the population, and in the shorter term by the resumption of things to do outside one's own residence as Covid subsides.

    If nothing else, they certainly can't expect the recent growth in the hobby and in sales to continue unabated. All along, there were only so many people attracted to pinball for actually playing it in the first place.

    You young whippersnappers no doubt think pinball is becoming more popular than ever. Ha! When I was young, pinballs were everywhere. Convenience stores, five and dimes, mom and pops, every single bar... You couldn't swing a dead cat without tilting one.

    Yes, I'm being somewhat facetious, but does anyone care to explain how what I said is wrong in any way? And as soon as all those rich collectors who can't even play well realize what's happening, future posts will be all "whoa, a bubble actually popped for once."

    There, if that doesn't get this thread rolling, nothing will.

    #30 4 months ago
    Quoted from DanQverymuch:

    That's all well and good, but I'm saving up for the forthcoming cratering of pinball popularity, and the resultant price decreases on used games, which will be brought on, however gradually, by the demographically obvious aging (and subsequent dying) of the population, and in the shorter term by the resumption of things to do outside one's own residence as Covid subsides.
    If nothing else, they certainly can't expect the recent growth in the hobby and in sales to continue unabated. All along, there were only so many people attracted to pinball for actually playing it in the first place.
    You young whippersnappers no doubt think pinball is becoming more popular than ever. Ha! When I was young, pinballs were everywhere. Convenience stores, five and dimes, mom and pops, every single bar... You couldn't swing a dead cat without tilting one.
    Yes, I'm being somewhat facetious, but does anyone care to explain how what I said is wrong in any way? And as soon as all those rich collectors who can't even play well realize what's happening, future posts will be all "whoa, a bubble actually popped for once."
    There, if that doesn't get this thread rolling, nothing will.

    I admire you effort, but it really does seem like people want to discuss pinball pricing everywhere but here, all the time.

    #31 4 months ago

    This thread is kind of like COVID masks now. People get tired of others telling them what they can and cannot do, including forcing them to comment in a “special thread” because a few people don’t know how to use the drain a thread function.

    #32 4 months ago

    Lumber is up 3x

    Copper wiring is up 4x

    Homes are up 30%

    Just sold a 21 year old 4 wheeler for 95% of what I paid for it new.

    What are pins up?

    #33 4 months ago
    Quoted from DanQverymuch:

    There, if that doesn't get this thread rolling, nothing will.

    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    I admire you effort, but it really does seem like people want to discuss pinball pricing everywhere but here, all the time.

    This thread needs a more catchy title like "Stern raising prices 25%?!? Discuss Amongst Yourselves..." comes to mind...

    #34 4 months ago

    Yeah, when the thread title tries to order everyone to do something, this crowd takes it as a challenge to do the opposite.

    #35 4 months ago

    The prices of just about everything suck right now. It's not just pinball.

    #36 4 months ago
    Quoted from DanQverymuch:

    Yeah, when the thread title tries to order everyone to do something, this crowd takes it as a challenge to do the opposite.

    Not an order, just hopefully what will become a familiar repository on the subject. Not many Pinsiders start a thread entitled “Look at the Machine I Brought Home Today.” Instead, they add to the dedicated thread showing the pins that Colson, I mean Pinsiders, just brought home. Instead of people posting a new thread each time they have something to share about pricing, hopefully they’ll similarly make it part of the ongoing discussion here.

    #37 4 months ago
    Quoted from Bublehead:

    This thread needs a more catchy title like "Stern raising prices 25%?!? Discuss Amongst Yourselves..." comes to mind...

    Maybe I should have put a secret message in the first post.

    #38 4 months ago
    Quoted from Bublehead:

    This thread needs a more catchy title like "Stern raising prices 25%?!? Discuss Amongst Yourselves..." comes to mind...

    Title is now more catchy!

    #39 4 months ago
    Quoted from JohnTTwo:

    Lumber is up 3x
    Copper wiring is up 4x
    Homes are up 30%
    Just sold a 21 year old 4 wheeler for 95% of what I paid for it new.
    What are pins up?

    And that’s assuming things are in stock.

    Also the price of labor that’s something you don’t see go down either.

    #40 4 months ago
    Quoted from JohnTTwo:

    Lumber is up 3x
    Copper wiring is up 4x
    Homes are up 30%
    Just sold a 21 year old 4 wheeler for 95% of what I paid for it new.
    What are pins up?

    At least PBR still has low prices on stuff we need. If parts prices remain stable at PBR, Marco, etc., while pins prices soar, maybe this will lead to more scratch build pins?

    #41 4 months ago
    Quoted from wolverinetuner:

    At least PBR still has low prices on stuff we need.

    I appreciate PBR and their pricing. It makes me realize just how much the others guys are pocketing.

    #42 4 months ago
    Quoted from insight75:

    I appreciate PBR and their pricing. It makes me realize just how much the others guys are pocketing.

    I think a big part of PBR’s low prices is due to keeping their costs low. Small staff, no credit card fees. I’ve been a piano tuner for almost 19 years now, and that’s why I’ve never accepted credit cards for payment, always cash or check only. I’ve only lost a handful of potential piano tunings over that time because I don’t accept credit cards, which I imagine has been more than made up for by the fees I’ve saved.

    How much less would NIB pins be if the distributors didn’t have to pay for credit card transactions? Any distributors out there have info on the magnitude of their credit card transaction fees?

    #43 4 months ago

    Wait, this is the all in one price thread someone always chimes in about? Not working.

    #44 4 months ago

    Pinball: It's kinda like baseball cards!

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/05/13/target-pokemon-baseball-cards/

    ‘Collectibles versus commodities’: As Target halts sales of trading cards, collectors reckon with fast-changing hobby
    The retailer is pulling cards ‘out of an abundance of caution’ after a parking lot dispute in Wisconsin turned violent

    The pandemic has caused a surge of interest in trading cards, and Target announced Thursday it will no longer sell the cards in its stores.

    Target says it’s done with trading cards — at least for the time being — after a dispute outside one of its Milwaukee-area stores escalated into violence and multiple arrests.

    A spokesman for the retail giant said in a statement that it will stop selling MLB, NFL, NBA and Pokémon cards in stores on Friday “out of an abundance of caution,” but that they’ll still be available online.

    The company declined further comment.

    The baseball card industry — a blanket term for all trading cards, including popular game and collection brands Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh — has exploded during the pandemic, according to aficionados, as people reengage with old habits, and many face financial pressures. “Grading” companies, or firms that appraise a card’s value, have been inundated with submissions from new and existing collectors resulting in backlogs of millions of items.

    Demand at retail establishments, especially big-box stores, has swelled, collectors say, as enterprising card “flippers” descend on stores, purchase their inventories and resell them at sometimes four or five times their retail price online, where “The Hobby,” as collectors affectionately call it, has been sequestered during the coronavirus crisis.

    But collectors say it was getting harder to come by new cards at big-box stores even before the pandemic because flippers are notorious for scouting out stores’ restocking schedules and parking themselves in front of store entrances early in the morning to buy up inventories.

    Baseball card collectors suspected rampant fraud in their hobby. Now the FBI is investigating.

    It has led to a surge in valuations for cards of all types, with some Pokémon cards quadrupling in value in the past year. One collector told The Washington Post he has sold baseball cards in recent months once worth $50 each for upward of $500. It’s also ignited fierce competition between flippers angling for “hits,” or the most valuable cards.

    The new entrants have divided the hobby squarely into two camps: Traditionalists who buy and sell cards as a pastime; and new-school collectors who trade cards as they would investments, looking to short the market and take advantage of the space’s volatility. The trend has repeated itself in other collectible markets through the pandemic, including comic books, coins and stamps.

    “It’s collectibles versus commodities. That’s what we’re facing right now,” said one collector, who goes by the name Kyle and runs the “Wax Museum” basketball card podcast. Like many collectors, he prefers to shield his identity to avoid online harassment from other collectors. “That’s been the new wave during the pandemic. There’s a lot of nostalgia with cards, but people see the sales. They think they like the cards — maybe they have a past connection to them — but they really see the money. It’s more interesting than the stock market,” he said.

    “It’s probably easier to project a player that’s going to get better than analyze tech start-ups.”

    Even sports cards from the 1980s through early 1990s — called the “junk wax era” of cards because manufacturers oversaturated the market, leaving the items virtually worthless — have found a new audience.

    The rise in demand, and values, have fed vicious growth in the industry. Serial New York investor Nat Turner and New York Mets owner Steve Cohen purchased Collectors Universe, which runs the industry’s largest grading company, for $700 million in November and took the company private. In March, the company PSA doubled its prices for grading submissions.

    SGC, another major grading firm, tripled its prices in April to keep from being overwhelmed with submissions, the company’s president, Peter Steinberg, said in an interview. The company lowered its prices again on Sunday.

    “In traditional industries, the hard part is getting customers to want to try your service,” Steinberg said. “This is a very unique time in this industry because it’s actually more difficult to hold the cards back than it is to take them in.”

    The surge in interest has renewed connoisseurs’ concerns about fraud, which is rampant in the hobby. New collectors make for easy marks for so-called doctors, who illicitly alter cards to improve their appearance and resubmit them to grading companies in hopes of higher appraisals. Rising prices have only increased incentives for such activity, and doctoring scandals within the hobby have led to high-profile prosecutions and federal criminal investigations.

    Advertisement
    The card-collecting community is generally self-policing and reliant on retail establishments, grading companies, cards shows and e-commerce to all run efficiently to keep supply and demand stable, and out suspected doctors. But with so many new hobbyists and new industry entrants intent on flipping cards for quick profits, many of the industry’s traditional gatekeepers have been sidelined.

    The incident at Target — though what specifically set off the altercation or what type of cards were involved are unclear — raises new concerns, collectors say, that parts of the hobby could spin out of control.

    According to a report on May 7 in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a disagreement over trading cards led to a parking lot scuffle. The 35-year-old victim, who had a permit to carry a concealed firearm, brandished his weapon but did not fire, the report said. Four men were later arrested on battery and other charges, police said.

    Advertisement
    The case was referred to the Waukesha County district attorney’s office, which did not respond Thursday to a request for comment.

    “I think it’s gone past the point where some of the collectors and more experienced people can police it,” Kyle, from the “Wax Museum” podcast, said.

    PSA announced in April that it would not accept new grading submissions until it sorted through its backlog, which president Steve Sloan said it expected to complete by the end of May. Earlier this month, it also purchased software company Genamint, which uses artificial intelligence to grade cards and assign each a “card fingerprint,” which hobbyists hope will be a deterrent to illicit alterations.

    “The sheer volume of orders that PSA received in early March has fundamentally changed our ability to service the hobby,” Sloan wrote to customers in April. “The reality is that we recently received more cards in three days than we did during the previous three months. Even after the surge, submissions continue at never-before-seen levels.”

    #45 4 months ago
    Quoted from RyanStl:

    Wait, this is the all in one price thread someone always chimes in about? Not working.

    Just trying to let folks know this thread is here to give it the chance to catch on.

    #46 4 months ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    Pinball: It's kinda like baseball cards!
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/05/13/target-pokemon-baseball-cards/
    ‘Collectibles versus commodities’: As Target halts sales of trading cards, collectors reckon with fast-changing hobby
    The retailer is pulling cards ‘out of an abundance of caution’ after a parking lot dispute in Wisconsin turned violent
    Image without a caption
    The pandemic has caused a surge of interest in trading cards, and Target announced Thursday it will no longer sell the cards in its stores. (Jay Paul/Bloomberg News)
    By
    Jacob Bogage
    May 13, 2021 at 6:52 p.m. EDT
    Add to list
    Target says it’s done with trading cards — at least for the time being — after a dispute outside one of its Milwaukee-area stores escalated into violence and multiple arrests.
    A spokesman for the retail giant said in a statement that it will stop selling MLB, NFL, NBA and Pokémon cards in stores on Friday “out of an abundance of caution,” but that they’ll still be available online.
    The company declined further comment.
    The baseball card industry — a blanket term for all trading cards, including popular game and collection brands Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh — has exploded during the pandemic, according to aficionados, as people reengage with old habits, and many face financial pressures. “Grading” companies, or firms that appraise a card’s value, have been inundated with submissions from new and existing collectors resulting in backlogs of millions of items.
    Demand at retail establishments, especially big-box stores, has swelled, collectors say, as enterprising card “flippers” descend on stores, purchase their inventories and resell them at sometimes four or five times their retail price online, where “The Hobby,” as collectors affectionately call it, has been sequestered during the coronavirus crisis.
    But collectors say it was getting harder to come by new cards at big-box stores even before the pandemic because flippers are notorious for scouting out stores’ restocking schedules and parking themselves in front of store entrances early in the morning to buy up inventories.
    Baseball card collectors suspected rampant fraud in their hobby. Now the FBI is investigating.
    It has led to a surge in valuations for cards of all types, with some Pokémon cards quadrupling in value in the past year. One collector told The Washington Post he has sold baseball cards in recent months once worth $50 each for upward of $500. It’s also ignited fierce competition between flippers angling for “hits,” or the most valuable cards.
    The new entrants have divided the hobby squarely into two camps: Traditionalists who buy and sell cards as a pastime; and new-school collectors who trade cards as they would investments, looking to short the market and take advantage of the space’s volatility. The trend has repeated itself in other collectible markets through the pandemic, including comic books, coins and stamps.
    “It’s collectibles versus commodities. That’s what we’re facing right now,” said one collector, who goes by the name Kyle and runs the “Wax Museum” basketball card podcast. Like many collectors, he prefers to shield his identity to avoid online harassment from other collectors. “That’s been the new wave during the pandemic. There’s a lot of nostalgia with cards, but people see the sales. They think they like the cards — maybe they have a past connection to them — but they really see the money. It’s more interesting than the stock market,” he said.
    “It’s probably easier to project a player that’s going to get better than analyze tech start-ups.”
    Even sports cards from the 1980s through early 1990s — called the “junk wax era” of cards because manufacturers oversaturated the market, leaving the items virtually worthless — have found a new audience.
    The rise in demand, and values, have fed vicious growth in the industry. Serial New York investor Nat Turner and New York Mets owner Steve Cohen purchased Collectors Universe, which runs the industry’s largest grading company, for $700 million in November and took the company private. In March, the company PSA doubled its prices for grading submissions.
    SGC, another major grading firm, tripled its prices in April to keep from being overwhelmed with submissions, the company’s president, Peter Steinberg, said in an interview. The company lowered its prices again on Sunday.
    “In traditional industries, the hard part is getting customers to want to try your service,” Steinberg said. “This is a very unique time in this industry because it’s actually more difficult to hold the cards back than it is to take them in.”
    The surge in interest has renewed connoisseurs’ concerns about fraud, which is rampant in the hobby. New collectors make for easy marks for so-called doctors, who illicitly alter cards to improve their appearance and resubmit them to grading companies in hopes of higher appraisals. Rising prices have only increased incentives for such activity, and doctoring scandals within the hobby have led to high-profile prosecutions and federal criminal investigations.
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    The card-collecting community is generally self-policing and reliant on retail establishments, grading companies, cards shows and e-commerce to all run efficiently to keep supply and demand stable, and out suspected doctors. But with so many new hobbyists and new industry entrants intent on flipping cards for quick profits, many of the industry’s traditional gatekeepers have been sidelined.
    The incident at Target — though what specifically set off the altercation or what type of cards were involved are unclear — raises new concerns, collectors say, that parts of the hobby could spin out of control.
    According to a report on May 7 in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a disagreement over trading cards led to a parking lot scuffle. The 35-year-old victim, who had a permit to carry a concealed firearm, brandished his weapon but did not fire, the report said. Four men were later arrested on battery and other charges, police said.
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    The case was referred to the Waukesha County district attorney’s office, which did not respond Thursday to a request for comment.
    “I think it’s gone past the point where some of the collectors and more experienced people can police it,” Kyle, from the “Wax Museum” podcast, said.
    PSA announced in April that it would not accept new grading submissions until it sorted through its backlog, which president Steve Sloan said it expected to complete by the end of May. Earlier this month, it also purchased software company Genamint, which uses artificial intelligence to grade cards and assign each a “card fingerprint,” which hobbyists hope will be a deterrent to illicit alterations.
    “The sheer volume of orders that PSA received in early March has fundamentally changed our ability to service the hobby,” Sloan wrote to customers in April. “The reality is that we recently received more cards in three days than we did during the previous three months. Even after the surge, submissions continue at never-before-seen levels.”

    Now we have it, the cardgument! That was heavy, Levi (rhyme completely intended). That post wins the “longest post in this thread” award, hopefully never to be topped. At least there were paragraph breaks.

    #47 4 months ago
    Quoted from wolverinetuner:

    Now we have it, the cardgument! That was heavy, Levi (rhyme completely intended). That post wins the “longest post in this thread” award, hopefully never to be topped. At least there were paragraph breaks.

    Washington Post has a paywall...just trying to help out!

    The comments section is hilarious...replace "cards" with "pinball" and you'd think it was a pinside thread.

    1 week later
    #48 3 months ago

    The topic of pricing came up in an unrelated thread, and I thought this post there summed up how many feel about prices these days:

    “Yep, a few years ago, game prices were fairly predictable. Now, people are basically just making up wild numbers at this point. And games are selling.”

    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/mr-pinball-done#post-6304333

    1 week later
    #49 3 months ago

    Has the recent astronomical growth in pinball pricing leveled off? It seems to me like it has at least in the EM market. I feel like the ceiling has been reached, for now.

    #50 3 months ago
    Quoted from wolverinetuner:

    Has the recent astronomical growth in pinball pricing leveled off? It seems to me like it has at least in the EM market. I feel like the ceiling has been reached, for now.

    I hope so -- I hope to be able to own a WMS Indiana Jones someday but that'll never happen if things keep going up lol

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