I feel like I have seen it all now. Like a lot of you old school collectors, I think the pinball biz is out of control. The mention of new collectors that have all new machines (Stern, JJP, etc) is interesting. They probably have no idea how to maintain them and are scared to death to pull the glass off and do any wrenching. It is something to ponder - the money that they can spend right now. I didn't suddenly enter into a massive amount of expendable income. And others probably haven't either. Perhaps they are just shifting money from one luxury item to another. Instead of a Porsche, its a Vette and 2 pinball machines. Instead of an inground pool, it's 2 JJP's, a new Stern, and an above ground pool. Regardless, I'm glad to still have over 40 machines and the selling prices have me ready to thin the herd and buy a couple of new games. I am glad more people are into the game these days. But the supply / demand issues and profiteering sucks for us that have been used to already high prices.
Side note - While writing for GameRoom Magazine and running my podcast The Silverball, I seen Gary Stern at Expo 2002 and had a quick interview - asking him if the home buyer was ever in his mind as a customer for his product. He laughed at me and told me there was no way the home market could ever mean anything. And therefore would never influence the direction of his company. You can hear more if you go back in the Expo archives on YouTube and listen to him demean home buyers as not important. It took a very long time for him to come around. It took JJP and the boutique pinball companies to get his attention IMO. From the titles that have been coming out over the last few years and the quality of the product, it appears he has really changed direction. Still, I struggle with the price tags. I haven't seen an increase in my salary to match the increases in pinball. Have you?