(Topic ID: 294855)

What’s the deal with Re-imports?

By curban

9 days ago


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  • Latest reply 4 days ago by cp1610
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    There are 70 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
    #1 9 days ago

    So, I’ve bought two already-converted reimports over the years without realizing (or caring) that they were reimports. These were sub $3k WPC players machines, and the fact that they were reimports was irrelevant to me. When I listed them for sale, I found some potential buyers immediately lose interest when they asked and I answered that they were reimports (actually looked and found out after they asked).

    Now I have the opportunity to buy a >$6k machine in nice condition, that’s a reimport. Ignoring the fact that it’s a reimport, the asking price is already $500 higher than my personal valuation on the deal. However, I am motivated and still considering the deal, but questioning how big a deal the “reimport” fact is on valuation.

    Are reimports worth 5-10% less? Do they make a $6k game a $5k game? Or does it not affect valuation at all? It may not be relevant to owning and enjoying; but it seems in my limited experience to be relevant to reselling. Or is that BS and I’m just not experienced enough?

    #2 9 days ago

    No not necessarily. Condition is king. The only time a reimport should be worth, less is if it is in direct competition with a US machine in the same or better condition. I ignore buyers that have issue with reimports that are in nice condition. Just move on to the next buyer. In todays market with higher and higher prices and low availabilty, the reimport issue is falling on deaf ears.

    #3 9 days ago

    I've had super clean reimports and some that you could scrape tar and nicotine off them. Some operators took great care and others not so much.
    Some have hacks due to the unavailability of parts ( fuses wire soldered come to mind).

    #4 9 days ago
    Quoted from chad:

    Some have hacks due to the unavailability of parts ( fuses wire soldered come to mind).

    This right here is the issue imo. Stuff seems like MacGyver had is hands in there just to keep it running.
    -Mike

    #5 9 days ago

    2 identical games in the exact same condition, one being domestic and the other a reimport - should command the exact same price. There is no reason the reimport should be worth less; it’s the exact same game

    #6 9 days ago

    At one stage over the last few years Australia was the largest reimporter of games with numerous containers arriving every month. Value on games varied with condition obviously. Games from Japan were held in great esteem due to the way they were routed. Very strict guidelines for operators made sure the games were of the highest quality and had to be maintained like that on route.

    European games were hit and miss as you could get a gems but also ones that looked like it had been run over by a bus. Literally 20% of some containers from Italy and Greece were parted out they were so bad. If you want an A list title you had to buy 2xB list or 3xC list games and it got worse as the demand grew.

    Australian delivered games do hold a better price as here just as a US delivered game probably does there, condition is still king. BUT there are collectors that want what they want! Like guys that will only buy games with matching serial numbers. It’s a unique hobby with unique people in it. Happy flipping guys.

    #7 9 days ago

    More experienced buyers than I am have told me that a couple of factors to be on the lookout for with re-imports are (1) quality/correctness of power supply conversion when switching back to U.S. electrical specs, and (2) checking that overseas transport did not cause any corrosion or other damage. If neither, should be fine.

    #8 9 days ago

    I think maybe the fact that they've been in an ocean container on salt water for who knows how long, as well as the fact that they were handled a lot more during shipping in general.

    That being said, I've both bought and passed on re-imports, though the one or 2 I did buy was when I was newer in the hobby.

    #9 9 days ago

    They don’t bother me but a couple things need to be done . Jumper or dip switches need to be changed on the mpu and the service outlet needs to be added .

    #10 9 days ago

    My Williams IJ is a re-import that was my first pin back in '98. Had no clue that it was a re-import for years until I got further deeper into the hobby. But it was and still is beautiful. I guess some folks have their preferences. Condition is always king though.

    #11 9 days ago
    Quoted from curban:

    So, I’ve bought two already-converted reimports over the years without realizing (or caring) that they were reimports. These were sub $3k WPC players machines, and the fact that they were reimports was irrelevant to me. When I listed them for sale, I found some potential buyers immediately lose interest when they asked and I answered that they were reimports (actually looked and found out after they asked).

    I have purchased several DE pins that were re-imports. 75% of them had epic number of hacks and anyone presenting me with a re-import for sale I'd give it a total rectal exam before I would even think about dropping any cash on the glass.

    Some people it would not even be worth the effort and I could see them moving on after hearing it was a reimport if my experience is universal.

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    #12 9 days ago

    Welcome to the most heated pinball debate topic of 2003.

    I think at this point most people are past it. A game is a game and reimports have slowed to an insignificant trickle over the past 20 years.

    If you have a collection with any significant number of 90s games in it chances are you already own a re-import.

    #13 9 days ago

    I have had a few of them in the past and corrosion and hacks seemed to be a running theme. Also, many have different coin doors and coin slots, which can be difficult to replace if a collector wants to restore them. I wouldn't say it's a big deal, but I wouldn't say it makes no difference either.

    #14 9 days ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    Welcome to the most heated pinball debate topic of 2003.
    I think at this point most people are past it.

    My worst reimport purchase was 350 days ago so still very much topical.

    #15 9 days ago

    I’ve had a lot of re-imports over the years and some I found really interesting just knowing where they’ve been. I don’t care if a game is an import and when the time came to sell if anyone pointed out that it was an import, I told them that then this isn’t the game for you and move along.

    10
    #16 9 days ago
    Quoted from gdonovan:

    My worst reimport purchase was 350 days ago so still very much topical.

    Come on dude.

    There's shitty re-imports and there's nice ones. Just like there's shitty non-reimports and nice ones.

    If someone insists on paying me less for a game because of the sticker on the back they can fuck right off. We all know the only thing that matters is current condition of a game. There hasn't been a glut of "fresh off the boat" games in about 20 years. Most of those "import hack" games have long ago either been parted out or repaired/updated.

    Seriously, this is the "price bubble discussion" of the George W Bush era.

    #17 9 days ago

    I had a DE JP that was a re-import but looked like it just came out of the box. This was about 6-7 years ago and could not sell it on pinside. Everybody bitched because it was a re-import. Ended up selling it on Ebay for $4000. Pinside goes through waves of hypocrisy from year to year.

    #18 9 days ago

    The refreshing thing about Levi is he always tells us how he Really feels…

    #19 9 days ago

    Condition is condition to me. I've seen plenty on non reimports with hacks and reimports without hacks. Being a reimport doesn't effect the value for me, the condition does.

    #20 9 days ago

    Over the years I’ve bought many re-imports. Some were nice and some were projects. Never had any trouble selling at market value.

    #21 9 days ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    Come on dude.
    There's shitty re-imports and there's nice ones. Just like there's shitty non-reimports and nice ones.
    If someone insists on paying me less for a game because of the sticker on the back they can fuck right off. We all know the only thing that matters is current condition of a game. There hasn't been a glut of "fresh off the boat" games in about 20 years. Most of those "import hack" games have long ago either been parted out or repaired/updated.
    Seriously, this is the "price bubble discussion" of the George W Bush era.

    Did you even read what I posted?

    I never stated I would not purchase a reimport or even ask for a discount, just that if it was there would be a through inspection before purchase.

    Because if my experiance is any guide, there are plenty of reimport games floating about. I own at least six all purchased in the last three years and not one of them was anywhere near nice.

    #22 9 days ago
    Quoted from whthrs166:

    The refreshing thing about Levi is he always tells us how he Really feels…

    Straight from the Mouth of Levi , spokesman of Pinside!!

    #23 9 days ago

    Reimports got a bad reputation because a lot of the guys bringing in the containers were just reselling them quickly doing the minimum needed. Every time I got an opportunity to buy one I always asked "is it a reimport?" because I always expected them to need more work.

    Buying a game now is all about condition.

    #24 9 days ago

    Condition is king, although I'll usually try to swap out the foreign coin door to a US-style coin door. On Gottlieb system 3 games, I'll also swap out the power box so that there is a US-style service power outlet on the inside of the game (instead of a foreign outlet).

    Just a personal preferences for me, although some people don't really care. And of course I'll correct any hacks and whatnot. Otherwise, foreign/US games are pretty much identical and the amount of work needed for a project game is about the same.

    #25 9 days ago

    Worst thing is when batteries go flat. Then it resets to default and all of a sudden I had Italian language Who Dunnit and had to ask a mate how many presses on the service buttons to get to language settings so I could get it back to English. Rooky mistake but funny none the less.

    #26 9 days ago
    Quoted from jokerpoker:

    Worst thing is when batteries go flat. Then it resets to default and all of a sudden I had Italian language Who Dunnit and had to ask a mate how many presses on the service buttons to get to language settings so I could get it back to English. Rooky mistake but funny none the less.

    This is how I learned French from my IJ.

    #27 9 days ago

    I think it somewhat depends on if it immigrated recently and has already learned the culture and language or if it's FOB and doesn't fit in too well yet.

    If it's lived here for a while, it's more than likely the usual import surprises have been sorted out, and you're back to condition is king. But if it's a recent import, you're much more likely to run into some surprises.

    It seems that the PNW is one of the few areas still doing regular imports. There's been hundreds of machines that have been imported here recently. When I go look at a machine to purchase these days, more often than not, it's an import. It definitely affects how I approach the purchase and what I might pay. Often it boils down to how knowledgeable and competent the seller seems. Recently it appears more naive buyers have been jumping on the import bandwagon around here.

    As someone else mentioned, where it's imported from also makes a difference, but you can usually see this from condition. I had a beautiful import from Finland. Italian imports seem the worst. The other factor with re-imports is most of the good stuff has been found and liquidated already. These days they're scraping the bottom of the barrel. So that's another factor with regard to recency.

    #28 9 days ago

    Condition was always king, reimport or not. Obviously today regardless of condition I think you'd take every $600-$800 Twilight Zone that came out of a container - there were reimporters that would buy container loads for $20k and get 40 machines and like someone said, do the absolute minimum and flip them. Games they paid $600 for they sold for $2000. Sounds like profiteering until you factor in they had to put the money up front, often (usually) didn't see what they were buying, didn't know which titles they were getting, and the condition was a major crapshoot. Huge risk.

    Next up on the cyclical complaint train: My game has all matching serial numbers on the boards. I want extra $$$.

    Followed by: Hey, look I can sell you serial number stickers with any serial number you want on it.

    Then: I put $200 worth of Leds in my game, now it's worth $800 more.

    #29 9 days ago
    Quoted from gdonovan:

    Did you even read what I posted?
    I never stated I would not purchase a reimport or even ask for a discount, just that if it was there would be a through inspection before purchase.

    Did you even read what I posted?

    I never stated that you would not purchase a reimport or even ask for a discount, just that you should make a thorough inspection before purchase.

    Condition is condition. No reason to be weary of buying a reimport.

    I thought we settled this 15 years ago!

    (in other words, we are on the same page!)

    #30 9 days ago

    I'd consider any game as long as it doesn't have a piece of gum stuck under the cab.

    #31 9 days ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    There's shitty re-imports and there's nice ones. Just like there's shitty non-reimports and nice ones.

    I've reimported games that have been well cared for and look better than some games that I've bought domestically. Some of the domestic games that I've bought were full of shortcuts, hacks, bad cabinets etc.

    #32 9 days ago

    Wow. Lots of replies. Thank you.

    I think the general theme of the replies is if I’m confident in the condition and the condition itself warrants the price...don’t worry about it being a reimport.

    And examining the condition a little closer can’t hurt. Problem for me is that some of you guys see everything right & wrong immediately, but, sadly, I’m not there quite yet.

    #33 9 days ago
    Quoted from curban:

    Wow. Lots of replies. Thank you.
    I think the general theme of the replies is if I’m confident in the condition and the condition itself warrants the price...don’t worry about it being a reimport.
    And examining the condition a little closer can’t hurt. Problem for me is that some of you guys see everything right & wrong immediately, but, sadly, I’m not there quite yet.

    Show me someone that sees everything right & wrong immediately, and I'll show you a poser. The caveat with the condition-is-all-that-matters and being confident in the condition is that establishing the condition isn't straight forward. There's so many subtle and hidden things that can be a problem that you just can't detect during a purchase inspection. You can say this is true for any pin, domestic or import. But I'd argue, in general and on average, an import has more hidden negative surprises. Do these get sorted out over time? Yes... mostly.

    #34 9 days ago

    I'm pretty partial to my DE GNR reimp with factory installed headphone jack and controls.

    I'd venture to say it commands a slight premium over a domestic game, as the headphone board/controls were supposedly only available for German market games. I've never actually seen another one with it in person, although there were something like 100 made.

    #35 9 days ago
    Quoted from FatPanda:

    I've reimported gems and have dealt with many shitty domestic games with hacks, corrosion, cabinets falling apart, etc.

    As others have said re-imports got their reputation over 20 years ago when people were literally bringing them back by the boatload. We've all heard the stories...containers filled with 90s games at $400 a pop or so when all was said and done.

    I bought a re-import from France Shadow in 2002 off ebay for 900 bucks from one of these guys. It pretty much worked but was absolutely filthy, hacky, etc. etc. Of course it was 900 bucks so what did I care...I got my hands dirty and nursed it back to health, leaving the "finishing work" to future owners with more skills and inclination than I did; I just wanted to play it.

    I just don't think you are gonna find too many games like that any more. The reimport rush is LONG over with and most of these games have been fixed up by now. I'm sure my old Shadow is out there somewhere and I'm sure it's doing fine.

    #36 9 days ago
    Quoted from HighVoltage:

    There's so many subtle and hidden things that can be a problem that you just can't detect during a purchase inspection. You can say this is true for any pin, domestic or import. But I'd argue, in general and on average, an import has more hidden negative surprises.

    Yup.

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    #37 9 days ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    As others have said re-imports got their reputation over 20 years ago when people were literally bringing them back by the boatload. We've all heard the stories...containers filled with 90s games at $400 a pop or so when all was said and done.
    I bought a re-import from France Shadow in 2002 off ebay for 900 bucks from one of these guys. It pretty much worked but was absolutely filthy, hacky, etc. etc. Of course it was 900 bucks so what did I care...I got my hands dirty and nursed it back to health, leaving the "finishing work" to future owners with more skills and inclination than I did; I just wanted to play it.
    I just don't think you are gonna find too many games like that any more. The reimport rush is LONG over with and most of these games have been fixed up by now. I'm sure my old Shadow is out there somewhere and I'm sure it's doing fine.

    Just to clarify my post above. The games that I've bought domestically have been the hacky, corroded, split cabinet games. The reimports have been great games, clean, good condition. The "reimport" label is meaningless these days, other than to fully disclose the "origins." Re-reading my initial post now, it doesn't sound very clear. In other words, I AGREE!

    #38 9 days ago

    Man! that is one burned up board!

    #39 9 days ago
    Quoted from whthrs166:

    Man! that is one burned up board!

    I replaced it but was able to nurse it back to full function and keep it around for a test spare.

    #40 9 days ago

    Most of my reimports have been in rotten condition, unless another pinsider fixed it first.

    #41 9 days ago

    If for some reason you are concerned about corrosion on a machine from being in close contact to salty air in the container, consider this:

    The U.S. has over 10,000 miles of coastline with hundreds of tourist attractions that have thousands of pinballs. Example: Marty's Playland in Ocean City, MD is right on the boardwalk and storms have been known to send the Atlantic swirling around the pins' legs.

    Which has more corrosion, the pin that spent three weeks in a container or one that has spent it's whole life next to the ocean?

    Today, condition is King.

    #42 9 days ago

    Most "re-imports" have made it through collectors'/players' hands by now. They got a bad name 15-20 years ago when shady retailers would get them (barely) working and sell them to unsuspecting first-pinball-machine buyers. There were usually all kinds of hacks/wrong or missing parts/etc. I learned through first-hand experience long ago.

    #43 9 days ago
    Quoted from DrJoe:

    Most "re-imports" have made it through collectors'/players' hands by now. They got a bad name 15-20 years ago when shady retailers would get them (barely) working and sell them to unsuspecting first-pinball-machine buyers. There were usually all kinds of hacks/wrong or missing parts/etc. I learned through first-hand experience long ago.

    My first Solid State game was one of these...a High Speed I got on eBay for $600 bucks I think. Let's just say I learned a lot about working on games with that thing!!!

    I saw the guy bragging online somewhere later...he'd paid like $250 for it as part of a container load.

    DIfferent days!

    #44 9 days ago

    I’ll happily take a Mephisto or Nosferatu off somebody’s hands...if anybody is importing or reimporting one of those.

    #45 9 days ago
    Quoted from DrJoe:

    Most "re-imports" have made it through collectors'/players' hands by now. They got a bad name 15-20 years ago when shady retailers would get them (barely) working and sell them to unsuspecting first-pinball-machine buyers. There were usually all kinds of hacks/wrong or missing parts/etc. I learned through first-hand experience long ago.

    I just cleaned a Whitewater reimport. The story I got was this guy's dad bought it 20ish years ago. I get into this thing and the first thing I notice is that the head was duct taped for transport. The guy who sold it him just cut the tape and left it on the head. I couldn't believe the things holding this game together. So after new ramps, plastics, boulders, color dmd, topper cover(lucky waterfall it was still attached) and many hours of my time, it came out looking really nice. He passed on new side art but i am sure anyone would be happy to buy this game if he ever sells it.

    #46 9 days ago
    Quoted from jokerpoker:

    Worst thing is when batteries go flat. Then it resets to default and all of a sudden I had Italian language Who Dunnit and had to ask a mate how many presses on the service buttons to get to language settings so I could get it back to English. Rooky mistake but funny none the less.

    Quoted from FalconDriver:

    This is how I learned French from my IJ.

    You can change that with the appropriate jumpers on WPC-89 MPUs and dip switches on WPC-S & WPC-95 MPUs

    https://pinwiki.com/wiki/index.php?title=Williams_WPC#Jumpers.2C_RAM_and_ROM_size

    #47 9 days ago
    Quoted from HighVoltage:

    Show me someone that sees everything right & wrong immediately, and I'll show you a poser. The caveat with the condition-is-all-that-matters and being confident in the condition is that establishing the condition isn't straight forward. There's so many subtle and hidden things that can be a problem that you just can't detect during a purchase inspection. You can say this is true for any pin, domestic or import. But I'd argue, in general and on average, an import has more hidden negative surprises. Do these get sorted out over time? Yes... mostly.

    Personally, I value intact artwork, plastics, and ramps more than mechs and electronics. I can fix mechs and electronics either by repairing or replacing them without spending a whole lot. For me, artwork is much more difficult and expensive to repair or replace.

    I would much rather repair a board than do a playfield swap or re-do a cab.

    But, some people have minimal ability to troubleshoot or repair mechs and electronics, so they value any game that boots over a nicer looking game that doesn't. To each their own.

    #48 9 days ago

    One thing for sure. That re-import got 2 ocean cruises. More than most people here get.

    LTG : )

    #49 9 days ago

    I bought several of my B/W games back in the '90s when they were traded in by operators for the first time. Allen at Atlas Distributing would phone me when one of the titles I was looking for came in. He knew I wanted them in good shape and only a couple years old (so I could go through the manuals and order game-specific spare parts (center ramp for W?D and OEM hologram for CFTBL, for instance). He would do this because my word was good: I always purchased the games that were on my list.

    He called one time and asked if I wanted to come over the day a container of pins was due from Europe and see if there was anything not on my list that I might like. A lot of the pins were pretty rough, and Kurt Hill from Hemispheres had gotten there before me and cherry picked all the decent ones. I remember one Whitewater that had lots of parts broken or missing from the playfield and lots of swastikas carved into the cabinet sides. So no imports for me. I stuck with pins briefly routed in the USA.

    #50 9 days ago
    Quoted from littlecammi:

    I bought several of my B/W games back in the '90s when they were traded in by operators for the first time. Allen at Atlas Distributing would phone me when one of the titles I was looking for came in. He knew I wanted them in good shape and only a couple years old (so I could go through the manuals and order game-specific spare parts (center ramp for W?D and OEM hologram for CFTBL, for instance). He would do this because my word was good: I always purchased the games that were on my list.
    He called one time and asked if I wanted to come over the day a container of pins was due from Europe and see if there was anything not on my list that I might like. A lot of the pins were pretty rough, and Kurt Hill from Hemispheres had gotten there before me and cherry picked all the decent ones. I remember one Whitewater that had numerous parts broken or missing from the playfield and lots of swastikas carved into the sides of the cabinet. So no imports for me.

    Like Noobs around here wish they'd got into the hobby in 2008, I wish I could have seen some of those containers like you did.

    Some were better than others. And some people would actually fly to Europe and check out the games before shipping them so they knew they weren't junk.

    The games were THAT cheap, you could factor in a weekend in Europe and still come out way ahead.

    There are 70 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.

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