(Topic ID: 252879)

Value of machines with HARDTOP installed?


By too-many-pins

44 days ago



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  • Latest reply 33 days ago by Startek2
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    Topic poll

    “Value of machines with HARDTOP installed?”

    • Machine with a hardtop is worth about the same as a machine with a nice used playfield 47 votes
      20%
    • Machine with a hardtop is worth less than a nice used playfield. 52 votes
      22%
    • Machine with a hardtop is worth $200 more than a machine with a nice used playfield (basically just the cost of the hardtop) 34 votes
      15%
    • Machine with a hardtop is worth $500 more than a machine with a nice used playfield (cost + labor to install)) 30 votes
      13%
    • I wouldn't want a machine with a hardtop 47 votes
      20%
    • I love hardtops and wish all my machines had them 10 votes
      4%
    • You ask too many stupid questions 13 votes
      6%

    (233 votes)

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    There are 159 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 4.
    #1 44 days ago

    I have a trade deal in the works for a machine that has a hardtop on it. I am happy with the tentative deal we have made but it got me thinking about how to value machines with a hardtop? Technically it shouldn't add near the value to a machine that a replacement playfield does but it should technically add some value beyond that same title with just a decent used playfield I would think

    So I thought I would start a post about this topic since I don't ever recall it being talked about so far. What do you guys think a hardtop does to the value of a machine that has been hardtoped?

    #2 44 days ago

    As long as the original playfield is intact and the hardtop can be easily removed without any signs it was ever there, I don't think it would be worth much less than if it never had one.

    #3 44 days ago

    Hardtops require sanding down the playfield where any inserts are, which typically means a total sanddown for a lot of pins. So, no real going back

    That said, installing a Hardtop on my High Speed transformed it. It played pretty well before, but it plays like a dream now. Sooooo smooth.

    15
    #4 44 days ago

    Hardtops are a last-ditch choice, IMO. I'd pass on one and wait until a nice or restorable used playfield shows up.

    #5 43 days ago

    Bought a beautiful hardtopped
    BlacknKnight and it looks so
    cherry! Easy to clean and ball
    rolls great. Big fan here.

    #6 43 days ago

    I think that since it’s “different” and not original, but saves a lot of games without having to get a new playfield, it’s sorta like a game with all replacement boards. I’d say it’s really only the normal cost of a machine plus part of the cost of the hardtop (or replacement equipment) if someone sells me a game with new boards, I’m not gonna pay straight up the cost of the board extra, but you pay a bit more, kinda pro-rated if you will.

    #7 43 days ago

    I reckon a majority of the peoples have never tried a machine with a hard-top. If it plays the same as original, I dont see why the value would drop, unless the yellowed chipped plastics were not upgraded as well.

    #8 43 days ago

    hardtops are great "alternative" to a new repro playfield or nicely retouched/restored one. But please, don't let anyone kid you....A game with the latter should have more value than one with a hardtop.

    I have installed hardtops and a great many of reproduction and retouched playfields in the past. Hardtops are nice for games that have no reproductions ones available. Most quality restorers would prefer to have an original restored playfield or a nice reproduction one over a laminate that goes across old playfield. Inserts will always look finer and cleaner with reproduction playfields compared to sanded down/cleared inserts with a laminate over it.

    There is room for both products on the market and each one has their advantages over the other and obviously the cost/time factor is better with hardtops but do your research and know what you are getting.

    #9 43 days ago

    I cant get past the weird sound the ball makes when rolling over a hardtop. That causes me to think the game plays different, even if it doesnt.
    But I think it really does.....

    #10 43 days ago

    About what I had expected as far as poll results so far. I think like everything else in life some people will love them and others hate them. I have zero experience and thought it might be a fun time to see what the pinball community in general thinks of them so far.

    In my eyes even though they cost money and are a lot of work to install I still think I would prefer a decent used playfield over a hardtop. But I have never played a machine with one installed so I don't know that 100% for sure.

    #11 43 days ago

    Definitely depends on your priorities. If rarity factors in heavily into the price, the order of value is NOS, new repro, and so on.

    For me, gameplay is key. I’m flexible so long as it plays well.

    #12 43 days ago
    Quoted from cosmokramer:

    I cant get past the weird sound the ball makes when rolling over a hardtop. That causes me to think the game plays different, even if it doesnt.
    But I think it really does.....

    I played one title with a hardtop and noted right away the ball did odd spin/backspin at times which I attribute to the playing surface. On one hand nice to save a game when there might be no alternatives, on the other not interested in owning a pin with one.

    #13 43 days ago

    Hmm... so what if you clearcoated the hardtop? Would it then play the same?

    I wonder how a hardtop surface differs from a high-quality buffed and polished clearcoat like HEP does? Both are very smooth.

    #14 43 days ago

    Just as an FYI: Hardtop guys *highly* recommend not clear coating a Hardtop.

    But, I get your point.

    Honestly, I don’t perceive any difference in how my Hardtop’d High Speed feels versus my friends multiple NIB games (JP, Wonka, JJPPOTC). I *do* feel a difference over my original playfield, primarily because of the factory Mylar, raised inserts, etc.

    #15 43 days ago

    Hopefully the post & votes will keep coming so people can use this thread in the future for reference. As with anything in life there are "both sides to the story" or "pros & cons" with anything thing you do. So I think hardtops make sense on machines people don't want to spend time and money into by doing a playfield swap. And they have to be much better than worn to wood. But where does that put market value on them?

    So far we have had a lot of good post - keep them coming.

    #16 43 days ago

    Every hard top I’ve played feels smooth as butter. (Space Shuttle, Comet, Fire Power, Mata Hari) For the most part anyone who has played one is sold, anyone that doesn’t like them typically just doesn’t like “the idea of them” and hasn’t played a game with one installed. I honestly can’t see how you could play on one and think they’re a bad product. Then again, there are people that hate the way a clear coated playfield feels, so there’s always something I guess.

    11
    #17 43 days ago

    I love all the various opinions on the subject. One thing I will say though is that anyone who has not actually played a Hardtop, I would consider your opinions negated. I restore games both professionally for others and for my own personal collection. I route games at several locations. Also as many of you know I work very closely with Outside Edge in development and prototyping of Hardtops.

    For those of you with games in the one to two thousand dollar range we’ve noticed a shift, and people are really starting to want this product because it is a wonderful cost-efficient alternative to making your game better. Now if I decide I want to make a restoration piece I’m going to go directly to a playfield but I can tell you that I won’t put that out on a route. I am just finishing up the prototype HighSpeed and I am thrilled to place that out on route knowing my cost was down and the game will continue to play well with no wear. Oh and did I mention look amazing...! Do I feel that a game with the Hardtop has a better value? Absolutely. I know what goes into installing these and I also know that if I purchased a game from someone that installed a Hardtop, the game will look fantastic and play great. As far as what value you put on that installation, its subject to personal opinion. I can tell you that it does merit value. Keep flipping

    Oh, BTW, Why do people keep mentioning clearcoat over a Hardtop? Please stop.
    1. It will fail.
    2. Hardtop is a "tested" harder, more scratch resistant surface.
    3. Thats just silly,go buy a playfield.

    AF468332-3658-4C35-856B-A4C71F81023D (resized).jpeg
    #18 43 days ago
    Quoted from radium:

    Hmm... so what if you clearcoated the hardtop? Would it then play the same?

    Most games hardtops are for were not clearcoated at the factory, so no.

    #19 43 days ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    Most games hardtops are for were not clear coated at the factory, so no.

    This is completely incorrect, diamond plate was not the first clear. Games had been cleared for a long time, it just want a very hard clear. There was clear lacquer on EMs.

    #20 43 days ago
    Quoted from Beaverz:

    This is completely incorrect, diamond plate was not the first clear. Games had been cleared for a long time, it just want a very hard clear. There was clear lacquer on EMs.

    Not incorrect at all. Lacquer was referred to as topcoat. All pinball machines had some kind of topcoat, until clearcoat of the or close to the automotive variety arrived on the scene. Never was it called clearcoat prior to that that I know of.

    -2
    #21 43 days ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    Not incorrect at all. Lacquer was referred to as topcoat. All pinball machines had some kind of topcoat, until clearcoat of the or close to the automotive variety arrived on the scene. Never was it called clearcoat prior to that that I know of.

    They could have called it anything it's still a clear that's protecting the underlaying art. It wasn't thick, it wasn't good, it was a clear coat.

    #22 43 days ago
    Quoted from Beaverz:

    They could have called it anything it's still a clear that's protecting the underlaying art. It wasn't thick, it wasn't good, it was a clear coat.

    As you wish. But I'm sure most here would agree when you say clearcoat , it refers to a certain variety of topcoat, but not all.

    #23 43 days ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    Not incorrect at all. Lacquer was referred to as topcoat. All pinball machines had some kind of topcoat, until clearcoat of the or close to the automotive variety arrived on the scene. Never was it called clearcoat prior to that that I know of.

    We are observing, but standing clear of the conversation.

    Interjecting here for this comment for historical accuracy. The clear was actually screen printed originally... as were the colors.

    Correct, very soft, and not originally intended/engineered coating for frictional wear.

    Diamond coat was a step in the right direction.

    Modern coats... still softer than the Hardtop product.
    #ATSMtabertests!

    Hardtops Will. Not. Dimple.

    More backspin than a traditional/modern clear coat?? ... We will compare that via real data sometime soon. We rebut that claim.

    Happy debating! Love this thread

    #24 43 days ago
    Quoted from Outsidedge:

    Happy debating! Love this thread

    When I looked I couldn't believe no one had posted this question yet. Hardtops have been out for a while and it is interesting to see what everyone has to say now. I think they are a great "last resort" and have helped a lot of people save machines that were otherwise pretty rough. However they are not the same as a playfield swap. Not saying they might not be as good - or if not better - they still are not as much work as going that direction.

    The results so far are likely as most people would have assumed. Not adding a great deal of value to a machine when compared to a decent original playfield. Likely not worth the time & money investment if you are doing it to "flip" a machine but if you are doing it to save something that was trashed it makes a lot of sense.

    #25 42 days ago
    Quoted from Outsidedge:

    We are observing, but standing clear of the conversation.
    Interjecting here for this comment for historical accuracy. The clear was actually screen printed originally... as were the colors.
    Correct, very soft, and not originally intended/engineered coating for frictional wear.
    Diamond coat was a step in the right direction.
    Modern coats... still softer than the Hardtop product.
    #ATSMtabertests!
    Hardtops Will. Not. Dimple.
    More backspin than a traditional/modern clear coat?? ... We will compare that via real data sometime soon. We rebut that claim.
    Happy debating! Love this thread

    You are more the expert than I am.

    Just trying to clarify what I have found on playfields of different games, from new to all the way back to the 40s. If my vocabulary is off or I use the wrong terminology, I don't mind being educated.

    #26 42 days ago
    Quoted from Skypilot:

    Oh, BTW, Why do people keep mentioning clearcoat over a Hardtop? Please stop.

    Chill bro. My point was clearcoat and a hardtop are both types of plastic, so what’s different that would cause one to add ball spin? I never suggested anyone should clearcoat a hardtop.

    10
    #27 42 days ago

    And I wonder what the reaction will be when the first pinball manufacturer announces they are producing white wood playfields with hardtops installed on all future titles.

    No more clearcoat issues. No more chipping playfields. Durable long lasting surface. Easier to replace & install than a full playfield swap. Easy to maintain. And probably cheaper to produce. IMO it’s the future of playfield production.

    Now if only a company would allow customers to design & print their own original hardtop designs for homebrew & rethemed games. That would be a game changer for hobbyists as well.

    #28 42 days ago
    Quoted from HoakyPoaky:

    And I wonder what the reaction will be when the first pinball manufacturer announces they are producing white wood playfields with hardtops installed on all future titles.
    No more clearcoat issues. No more chipping playfields. Durable long lasting surface. Easier to replace & install than a full playfield swap. Easy to maintain. And probably cheaper to produce. IMO it’s the future of playfield production.
    Now if only a company would allow customers to design & print their own original hardtop designs for homebrew & rethemed games. That would be a game changer for hobbyists as well.

    You don't have to wait. It already happened. Mafia did this last year. It was not well-received.

    #29 42 days ago
    Quoted from vireland:

    You don't have to wait. It already happened. Mafia did this last year. It was not well-received.

    Incorrect... indeed, it was a subsurface printed approach... but not our product. The devil is in the details.

    We even spoke to these folks, and they used our product name to define. I asked them not to. We had no hand in those.

    Actually, a Spanish (I think) Pinball company also experimented years ago with an approach that is similar. I believe Rob told me that he is bringing some to Expo. I have been told that these playfields still look new today. (Hearsay)
    I am guessing these may indeed have had odd ball play though, not sure.

    Remember.. Duesenburg tried front wheel drive cars in the 30s, then many said it didn’t work...That particular approach didn’t work. The theory was sound, as history now shows.

    #30 42 days ago
    Quoted from Isochronic_Frost:

    I’m not gonna pay straight up the cost of the board extra, but you pay a bit more, kinda pro-rated if you will.

    I sort of disagree with your assessment. If there are two games with similar characteristics but one has all of the bullet proofing mods done and or has new boards, I'd pay more for it. I'd pay significantly more obviously for a cleared playfield and slightly maybe $100 or two more for a hard top.

    #31 42 days ago
    Quoted from Outsidedge:

    Incorrect... indeed, it was a subsurface printed approach... but not our product. The devil is in the details.
    We even spoke to these folks, and they used our product name to define. I asked them not to. We had no hand in those.
    Actually, a Spanish (I think) Pinball company also experimented years ago with an approach that is similar. I believe Rob told me that he is bringing some to Expo. I have been told that these playfields still look new today. (Hearsay)
    I am guessing these may indeed have had odd ball play though, not sure.
    Remember.. Duesenburg tried front wheel drive cars in the 30s, then many said it didn’t work...That particular approach didn’t work. The theory was sound, as history now shows.

    I think as with any change there will always be people who resist it but this product does make a lot of sense. Art is protected forever, you don't have the issue they are having with new playfields, production cost would likely be less, etc.

    Time will tell but it sure would be nice to have a crystal ball.

    #32 42 days ago
    Quoted from vireland:

    You don't have to wait. It already happened. Mafia did this last year. It was not well-received.

    Thunderbirds used it before Mafia.

    #33 42 days ago
    Quoted from vireland:

    You don't have to wait. It already happened. Mafia did this last year. It was not well-received.

    If I’m being honest, on a new machine I would be furious if they stopped using screened playfields. I have absolutely no rational reason for it though- it just seems like a big break from a long tradition I guess? There’s many things I have the same reaction to... I want a working coin door on my home game, I prefer real plasma displays in my classic Ballys, etc. yet I buy lots of reproduction parts... ramps, aprons, boards, hardtops, etc.

    #34 42 days ago

    I've only gotten to play 3 games on one (Space Shuttle) and to me it did seem to play faster but, aside from that it played and look fantastic.

    #35 42 days ago
    Quoted from too-many-pins:

    I think as with any change there will always be people who resist it but this product does make a lot of sense. Art is protected forever, you don't have the issue they are having with new playfields, production cost would likely be less, etc.

    If the game play was unchanged I'd agree and have no qualms. Just as I have no qualms replacing new junk incandescent bulbs with LED and doing ground mods and other changes to pins to make them more reliable.

    However the example that I played and I played it several times, I noted the ball action was notably different. I play games with automotive clearcoated playfields all the time, I have three in my collection. The only difference I can tell is the clearcoated ones might be a touch faster.

    This was different as the ball exhibited odd behavior, most notably off the slingshots. I found it not to my taste, and would pass on a pin with one installed. It is nice that it is available to save a pin with a beat playfield and no other options and the ball behavior I noted might not be objectionable to the casual player. Your mileage may vary.

    #36 42 days ago

    I've been working on a Slugfest recently and realized it's playfield is a 1/4" piece of acrylic reverse screened and screwed to the wood portion. This thing has held up for 27 years and still looks great, so I'm looking forward to giving a hard top a try if they do a game I own that needs it. Harlem and Bally Star Trek pretty please

    #37 42 days ago

    dang double post

    #38 42 days ago

    I kinda feel like this is a great time for this thread because it fees like we are at a splitting point. I voted that the value of a hard top game was a bit less than a nice original- apples to apples, because I value the history and even the slight wear of a nice used game. However, I put my games in a climate controlled space and they are the centerpiece of a room with lighting etc designed around them. If I was putting them on route and had a choice between no maintenance and basicaly bomb proof vs wearing out or possibly wearing through an old crappy top coat I believe I would probably value the hard top and probably pay extra to get it. So as usual, I find that a home collector is not the same as an operator in terms of what they value and this what a game is worth. But the market currently is dominated by home collectors so I suppose thats where we should look for value assessment. Either way- I would play them both!!

    #39 42 days ago
    Quoted from rufessor:

    I kinda feel like this is a great time for this thread because it fees like we are at a splitting point. I voted that the value of a hard top game was a bit less than a nice original- apples to apples, because I value the history and even the slight wear of a nice used game. However, I put my games in a climate controlled space and they are the centerpiece of a room with lighting etc designed around them. If I was putting them on route and had a choice between no maintenance and basicaly bomb proof vs wearing out or possibly wearing through an old crappy top coat I believe I would probably value the hard top and probably pay extra to get it. So as usual, I find that a home collector is not the same as an operator in terms of what they value and this what a game is worth. But the market currently is dominated by home collectors so I suppose thats where we should look for value assessment. Either way- I would play them both!!

    Great points man, my first encounter with a Hardtop was before I even knew they existed, played a space shuttle at the brewery that I now run the league for, i was blown away by how good the PF looked and played. Played like 3 weeks in our league before having a discussion with fattdirk about it. He explained the hardtop to me and my mind was blown. I guess for me, I find pinball to be art however I need to remind myself that they are vending machines too. So if you have a product that is "basically bomb proof"
    for the wild but looks AMAZING then hell yeah!

    #40 42 days ago

    Love my Hardtopped Comet! Price wise, decent Comets don't seem to sell super quick when priced $1000-$1500. This Hardtopped one went in 1 day with an asking price of $2200...

    https://pinside.com/pinball/market/classifieds/archive/85758

    I paid $1000 for mine before putting on the Hardtop. I'd say it looks to be in similar condition other than Freeplay40's corkscrew (which I now also have). If that really sold for $2200 and I could sell mine for a similar amount. That would mean the Hardtop added about $1000 to the value.

    Here is another, but even more fixed up, this one was $2500...

    https://pinside.com/pinball/market/classifieds/archive/85131

    Sounds very much like mine, minus the cab repaint (maybe some day).

    #41 42 days ago
    Quoted from Outsidedge:

    Incorrect... indeed, it was a subsurface printed approach... but not our product. The devil is in the details.
    We even spoke to these folks, and they used our product name to define. I asked them not to. We had no hand in those.

    Sorry to have implied it was yours. The point I meant to make was it was essentially the same approach - printed plastic sheet over playfield.

    #42 42 days ago

    I think OP's question is wrong when he asks about comparing a hardtop to a "nice used playfield". If I have a game with a nice playfield, there's no way I'm going to hardtop it. OTOH, I've seen a lot of games on CL that have atrocious playfields that would be great candidates for a hardtop. If the question was hardtop or atrocious but original playfield, how many would prefer the hardtop?

    Hardtops seem perfect for those games that are lower priced. While a reproduction or high end restore makes sense on games like TAF or CV, it would be hard to get your money out of a Comet or Space Shuttle.

    #43 42 days ago
    Quoted from SimpleSam:

    I think OP's question is wrong when he asks about comparing a hardtop to a "nice used playfield". If I have a game with a nice playfield, there's no way I'm going to hardtop it. OTOH, I've seen a lot of games on CL that have atrocious playfields that would be great candidates for a hardtop. If the question was hardtop or atrocious but original playfield, how many would prefer the hardtop?
    Hardtops seem perfect for those games that are lower priced. While a reproduction or high end restore makes sense on games like TAF or CV, it would be hard to get your money out of a Comet or Space Shuttle.

    I am not saying to hardtop any machine. My question is about value comparing a hard topped machine to a machine with a nice used playfield. I would never consider hardtop on anything that wasn't totally trashed & the worse the better for a hardtop. In my eyes even a playfield with some minor wear should not be hard topped but each person needs to decide that.

    #44 42 days ago
    Quoted from too-many-pins:

    I am not saying to hardtop any machine. My question is about value comparing a hard topped machine to a machine with a nice used playfield. I would never consider hardtop on anything that wasn't totally trashed & the worse the better for a hardtop. In my eyes even a playfield with some minor wear should not be hard topped but each person needs to decide that.

    In that comparison, nice used playfield always wins.

    Why does this even matter? Are these even being sold anymore? They stopped selling them in summer.

    #45 42 days ago
    Quoted from vireland:

    In that comparison, nice used playfield always wins.
    Why does this even matter? Are these even being sold anymore? They stopped selling them in summer.

    They are suppose to start selling them this Fall from what I have seen posted. The reason I put this post up is I have a trade deal in the works and I'll be getting a hard topped machine as part of that deal. The deal is already made so comments here will not change that deal. I was just curious how to value a hardtopped machine since there really isn't a long track record of them being sold so far.

    The machine I am getting will likely be for sale at the York Show this coming weekend for a higher than realistic price since I really don't care if it sells. I want to bring it home and play it just to get a good feel for hardtops. Also it is a machine I have had in the past and miss owning so I am really just hoping to bring it home at the end of the show anyway.

    So this post is just a post because I was curious what others thought of value & hardtops.

    #46 42 days ago
    Quoted from too-many-pins:

    They are suppose to start selling them this Fall from what I have seen posted. The reason I put this post up is I have a trade deal in the works and I'll be getting a hard topped machine as part of that deal. The deal is already made so comments here will not change that deal. I was just curious how to value a hardtopped machine since there really isn't a long track record of them being sold so far.
    The machine I am getting will likely be for sale at the York Show this coming weekend for a higher than realistic price since I really don't care if it sells. I want to bring it home and play it just to get a good feel for hardtops. Also it is a machine I have had in the past and miss owning so I am really just hoping to bring it home at the end of the show anyway.
    So this post is just a post because I was curious what others thought of value & hardtops.

    I would think the hardtop adds the value of the hardtop. If the whole game was restored plus hardtop, you're talking more, of course.

    #47 42 days ago

    Depends on what “nice” means. Nice, for being 30+ years old? Or *really* like-new nice?

    I think a lot of people are willing to overlook the playability aspects for the sake of keeping it original. and I was there. I had real hesitations on installing the Hardtop. My playfield wasn’t horrible, sort of nice even for its age. It wasn’t trashed.

    But, I knew it could play better. And, with the Hardtop, it does.

    It comes at the expense of not being as-shipped, but I am happy I took the leap. I think it plays smoother than it ever could have brand new. Just one guy’s opinion

    #48 42 days ago

    IMO....

    Mint Unrestored Original PF -> Restored Original PF -> CPR Or Similar Repro PF -> Unrestored But Nice Original PF -> Hardtopped PF -> Trashed Beyond Help Original PF

    Hardtops have zero collectability but high playability.

    #49 42 days ago
    Quoted from cjchand:

    I think it plays smoother than it ever could have brand new. Just one guy’s opinion

    So your saying a hardtop does play noticeably different then a regular playfeild.

    #50 42 days ago
    Quoted from Mitch:

    So your saying a hardtop does play noticeably different then a regular playfeild.

    Some people say they play a lot different - other people say it really isn't all that different than a freshly cleared new playfield. I have never played a machine with one on it so I don't have a clue.

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    $ 86.95
    Cabinet - Shooter Rods
    Super Skill Shot Shop
    From: $ 99.00
    Lighting - Under Cabinet
    Rock Custom Pinball
    $ 7,599.00
    Pinball Machine
    Great American Pinball
    $ 79.99
    From: $ 129.95
    Lighting - Interactive
    Hookedonpinball.com
    $ 12.95
    $ 7,499.00
    Pinball Machine
    Gulf Coast Pinball, LLC
    $ 39.50
    $ 66.95
    Cabinet - Shooter Rods
    Super Skill Shot Shop
    $ 39.95
    Playfield - Protection
    Little Shop Of Games
    $ 76.95
    Cabinet - Shooter Rods
    Super Skill Shot Shop
    € 8.40
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