(Topic ID: 227802)

Why have EMs stayed so cheap over the years?


By HandsOfStone

1 year ago



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  • 64 posts
  • 43 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 1 year ago by mbaumle
  • Topic is favorited by 2 Pinsiders

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    There are 64 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
    #1 1 year ago

    I'm talking about collectible classic EMs like most Gottlieb Wedgeheads, and a few Bally classics like Fireball, Wizard, etc.

    It doesn't seem like they cost much more than they did 15 years ago...

    12
    #2 1 year ago

    Because people are idiots and newbies love spending money.

    Joke is on them really. Their friends/neighbors/families/guests would be just as impressed with Toledo as they will be by that $9,000 LE they bought.

    #3 1 year ago

    I'm not complaining. I just wish I had room for more.

    #4 1 year ago

    A few reasons to consider: the lack of features,
    the quaint themes, three step rules and overall antiquated gameplay.
    Today's Pinsters demand much more.

    11
    #5 1 year ago

    Have you ever seen the inside of an EM? The thought of having to trouble shoot and repair one of those scares the crap out of me to the point I don't want to own one.

    #6 1 year ago
    Quoted from HandsOfStone:

    I'm talking about collectible classic EMs like most Gottlieb Wedgeheads, and a few Bally classics like Fireball, Wizard, etc.
    It doesn't seem like they cost much more than they did 15 years ago...

    #7 1 year ago

    While much cheaper still, I would in no way say prices havent gone up....and they CERTAINLY aren't seen for sale constantly like they used to be (at least not in some areas for sure).

    #8 1 year ago

    There's definitely been price inflation. Working wedgeheads usually in the $700-$1,000 range when they used to be $50.

    #9 1 year ago

    I agree with the price inflation notion. The first em that I purchased cost me $600 and there was nothing wrong with it. Fully working game. Now I am seeing around me games that need work selling for more. They are certainly not going up like the dmd’s have but they are still going up in my opinion as I have been on the hunt for a couple titles

    23
    #10 1 year ago
    Quoted from PDX_Pinball:

    Have you ever seen the inside of an EM? The thought of having to trouble shoot and repair one of those scares the crap out of me to the point I don't want to own one.

    They're pretty easy to work on. A switch is either open or closed. That's it. No battery acid issues, blown chips, switch row or column problems, flaky transistors, faulty node boards, booting problems, etc.

    #11 1 year ago
    Quoted from schudel5:

    They're pretty easy to work on. A switch is either open or closed. That's it. No battery acid issues, blown chips, switch row or column problems, flaky transistors, faulty node boards, booting problems, etc.

    It’s true but there’s a bit of a learning curve. It takes a while to really understand how an EM game works.

    Can be daunting for people who are used to just replacing boards.

    #12 1 year ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    Because people are idiots and newbies love spending money.
    Joke is on them really. Their friends/neighbors/families/guests would be just as impressed with Toledo as they will be by that $9,000 LE they bought.

    LOL this is absolutely spot on. Always wanted a Toledo too

    #13 1 year ago

    A generation that communicates with thumbs on keyboards, a dying aging population of old technology collectors, and alternatives/competition for your mind space. Wait until the Greatest Generation drops dead and their collections of stuff comes to market. Its coming now, and that is why shows like Pickers, Storage Wars is so popular. Broke people looking for a quick buck, and finding it cheap. EMs are simple games, loads of them, and few interest in their 'boring' play to that which is being sold for 9-10K. Its also about the Jones.

    #14 1 year ago

    For me personally it all boils down to high score save with initials. Integrate that into an older machine and I’m interested

    #15 1 year ago

    The simple fact is that those who have an emotional connection with them (i.e. grew up playing them), and thereby typically appreciate them more, are decreasing in number. The average currently active Pinsider probably can't name more than one collectible wedgehead and most certainly has very little fondness for any classic woodrails either.

    Less demand = less value.

    #16 1 year ago
    Quoted from rollitover:

    overall antiquated gameplay.

    Blasphemy! EMs have boatloads of strategy and modern gameplay mechanics. Royal Flush is one I like to use as an example. First, you gotta be a good shooter, to make the hands in poker to increase your end of ball bonus, but the value of the drops and kickout are increased by collecting jokers. Do you A: Maximize in-ball scoring by shooting for the jokers first then go for poker hands (tough 'n risky business), or do you maximize end-of-ball bonus by shooting the drops straightaway, easier, but less lucrative.

    Wide open outlanes and tiny 2" flippers on the older offerings will chew up and spit out even the most seasoned players faster than BSD or IM could ever wish to do.

    I think people who dislike EMs (or devalue them) simply aren't approaching them correctly.

    #17 1 year ago
    Quoted from PDX_Pinball:

    Have you ever seen the inside of an EM? The thought of having to trouble shoot and repair one of those scares the crap out of me to the point I don't want to own one.

    There's really no reason to feel that way. I had to troubleshoot my first EM when I got it home, didn't take me long to understand how it all works, they're really very simple.

    #18 1 year ago

    I wish I could find EM's interesting. I really do! It would open up a whole new dimension of fascination. And more affordable. I'm not rich enough to care about the Jones and CrazyLevi is right about my neighbors not caring. I just love my ST pro so much more exactly because it's fast, deep rules, lots of great shots and 5 way combos, Color LCD great sounds and music etc... Sorry, but that's just the way it is for me. Maybe I should try restoring an old EM. I might get to love them. Just don't know shit about it.
    P.S. I was lucky enough to get one with Aurich art package!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    #19 1 year ago

    So in summary, old farts broken parts, less demand and an aging dying population, boring game play, and folks think EM diagnosis is dangerous or impossible. I'd agree with it all. Friend of mine has nearly 100 EMs, and another with nearly 5-6 times that. They will die one day, and all that 'product' will come to market and someone will buy it, or it will be donated, or it will be tossed to the land fill. All of us are not going to burden our loved ones with this habit.

    11
    #20 1 year ago
    Quoted from Tuna_Delight:

    The simple fact is that those who have an emotional connection with them (i.e. grew up playing them), and thereby typically appreciate them more, are decreasing in number. The average currently active Pinsider probably can't name more than one collectible wedgehead and most certainly has very little fondness for any classic woodrails either.

    Less demand = less value.

    I'd consider myself contrary to everything stated here. I'm in my 30's and didn't grow up with 'em. The longer I'm in the hobby, the further back my pinball tastes trend. I also wouldn't consider myself a tech, but I've become far more comfortable working on them than SS tech.

    Long live E.M.

    #21 1 year ago
    Quoted from SuperDaveOsbourn:

    So in summary, old farts broken parts, less demand and an aging dying population, boring game play, and folks think EM diagnosis is dangerous or impossible. I'd agree with it all. Friend of mine has nearly 100 EMs, and another with nearly 5-6 times that. They will die one day, and all that 'product' will come to market and someone will buy it, or it will be donated, or it will be tossed to the land fill. All of us are not going to burden our loved ones with this habit.

    Give them my contact info and I’ll glady accept that burden

    -7
    #22 1 year ago
    Quoted from HandsOfStone:

    I'm talking about collectible classic EMs like most Gottlieb Wedgeheads, and a few Bally classics like Fireball, Wizard, etc.
    It doesn't seem like they cost much more than they did 15 years ago...

    They're a pain to maintain and most people don't want the hassle. The ones that get an EM end up with a dead EM within a year, usually, and no understanding of how to fix it.

    #23 1 year ago
    Quoted from Spinape:

    For me personally it all boils down to high score save with initials. Integrate that into an older machine and I’m interested

    Pen and paper? A scoreboard?

    11
    #24 1 year ago
    Quoted from vireland:

    They're a pain to maintain and most people don't want the hassle. The ones that get an EM end up with a dead EM within a year, usually, and no understanding of how to fix it.

    Huh? Once you get one working they tend to stay working, so long as you play them every once in a while so the switches wipe. Honestly, EMs are really quite easy to own if you're interested in them. They're not fast and furious and sensory experiences, they're more chill, but still can be super challenging and fun.

    My EM phase has kinda passed, but then again I'm not really playing my solid state games either. I've enjoyed owning them though, it was definitely low stress.

    #25 1 year ago
    Quoted from Aurich:

    Huh? Once you get one working they tend to stay working, so long as you play them every once in a while so the switches wipe. Honestly, EMs are really quite easy to own if you're interested in them. They're not fast and furious and sensory experiences, they're more chill, but still can be super challenging and fun.
    My EM phase has kinda passed, but then again I'm not really playing my solid state games either. I've enjoyed owning them though, it was definitely low stress.

    But most people in a home environment don't play them regularly after the honeymoon phase, and even ones that do sometimes have 4 player pins and don't play 4 player games occasionally to keep the contacts clean and working on 2,3,4 so they end up with a machine that can't start, too. It's too much for most regular people to handle. I've seen it in the real world. It's not pretty.

    #26 1 year ago
    Quoted from vireland:

    They're a pain to maintain and most people don't want the hassle. The ones that get an EM end up with a dead EM within a year, usually, and no understanding of how to fix it.

    What???

    Quoted from Aurich:

    Huh? Once you get one working they tend to stay working, so long as you play them every once in a while so the switches wipe. Honestly, EMs are really quite easy to own if you're interested in them. They're not fast and furious and sensory experiences, they're more chill, but still can be super challenging and fun.
    My EM phase has kinda passed, but then again I'm not really playing my solid state games either. I've enjoyed owning them though, it was definitely low stress.

    I agree with this... I own 2 EMs and the first one, Drop-A-Card is really fun but kinda spooked me and I didn’t touch much anything. It sat for at least 2 decades and still worked fine when we set it up.
    Mars Trek is my 2nd and in abysmal condition. It took about 3 weeks when I had a free hour or 2 to poke around and understand. Thanks to helpful pinsiders like drsfmd I was able to fix my reset issue and truth be told, the rest is really easy. I’m probably gonna pick up the next local EM that looks decently fun. They are just so damn simple to fix just watch the “Theory of Operation” videos. Once you understand what needs to happen for a game to start, you can find and fix issues FAST. Yet my first DMD project, has been nothing but a pain in the ass and basically everything can go wrong. Very dangerous.

    #27 1 year ago
    Quoted from Tomahawkjim:

    Pen and paper? A scoreboard?

    Pen and paper? That’s crazy talk! Haha

    I guess, to me anyway, there’s something special about that electronic display of high score getting sequenced into the attract mode.

    #28 1 year ago
    Quoted from RyanClaytor:

    I'd consider myself contrary to everything stated here. I'm in my 30's and didn't grow up with 'em. The longer I'm in the hobby, the further back my pinball tastes trend. I also wouldn't consider myself a tech, but I've become far more comfortable working on them than SS tech.
    Long live E.M.

    Good on you Ryan - EM's have a charm as well as provide a gameplay challenge all of their own! I wish more in the hobby your age shared your appreciation of them. Unfortunately, you're the exception rather than the rule.

    #29 1 year ago

    I find here in the Pacific Northwest that all games are a lil expensive-supply and demand I guess. I really enjoy the em games..maybe it’s the art, the sound of the chimes, or the simple enjoyment of not needing multi ball and all the bright lights..don’t get me wrong, I like some ss games too, but like cars, I still salivate towards the older 1’s..

    #30 1 year ago

    I'm glad I found this thread. I'm surprised to hear EM's aren't so difficult to repair after all! I may seriously look into this now. What about parts availability though?

    #31 1 year ago

    Here in Sweden even EM's are gaining abit in prices, although not much compared to the SS's, but still its been a slight increase over the last 2-3 years.
    But usually they switch owners alot faster then the SS's, i guess people get bored faster of them since they dont have ramps or levels, clanks alot and is abit slower in play.

    Quoted from PDX_Pinball:

    Have you ever seen the inside of an EM? The thought of having to trouble shoot and repair one of those scares the crap out of me to the point I don't want to own one.

    Huh, i knew absolutely nothing about repairing pinballs when i started, (i couldnt even get the glass out), not to mention EM's, but i took the challenge anyway when i got my first Em, opened it up, took a long look, and then started fiddling with stuff.

    Now just 2 days ago i got my Big Injun EM (that i got for free since the previous owner had taken it down into pieces and couldnt get it together again) fully assembled and fully working again (although some of the scorewheels needs cleaning)and i even repainted the playfield since it looked like someone used it as toilet paper.

    Its not that hard.

    #32 1 year ago

    I would love to buy EM,s from the States and bring them into my collection. Own 18 EM,s ( 2 are woodrails ) at the moment and looking for a lot more woodrails to be honest. I do like the art used and to restore them.

    If i can find a way to store them somewere on with somebody in the states so i get the time to buy machines and fill up a container then i will not wait .

    Yes this is a little hint.

    game room (resized).jpeg
    #33 1 year ago

    I love working on EM's and the wife loves to play them. She just loves the simplicity of the game play doesnt want to learn a book of rules to have fun. I have been buying broken EM's for the past 6 years and fixing them and selling them for a small profit. So far out of over 50 EM's the only ones that i wouldnt want to work on are chicago coins because of those dam score reeels anything else is fair game. We currently have 5 EM's in the line up and if it was up to my wife it would be way more. Buying and selling them has helped offset the higher priced games in my collection. First time buyers also dont mind shelling out 450 to 750 for a their first pinball machine vs. 700+ for an decent SS game.

    #34 1 year ago
    Quoted from Spinape:

    Pen and paper? That’s crazy talk! Haha
    I guess, to me anyway, there’s something special about that electronic display of high score getting sequenced into the attract mode.

    You can always carve your score and initials in the head. Prob should put the date too.

    #35 1 year ago

    I used to know zero about maintaining games.

    Right now it is my modern games that give me a constant headache trying to fix..... dodgy connectors on my KISS LE, etc etc.

    My 50's woodrails now work 100% and hardly ever go wrong and are always pretty easy to fix ( once you have got them to 100% ).

    Yeah, I don't play them as much as Iron Maiden, but the fun factor is pretty similar once you get an awesome game going.

    Also, if I have 5 minutes I know I can play a game or two, whereas I can't do that on the modern games, as some games can go 20 - 30 minutes.

    A beautiful, original condition, 100% playing woodrail is a beautiful thing and they really are rare.

    None of this artificial rarity like 1250 MBR LE's!!!

    #36 1 year ago

    It depends on your definition of 'cheap'. Cheap to me is $200-$400 bucks for an EM. I think inflation along with pinflation has caused these games to double, triple and sometimes sell for 5-7x times original value from just years ago. Most people make good money nowadays and $1000 or less is not a lot of dough, so I guess that is considered 'cheap'. Why are they cheap compared to modern machines? They made a shit ton of them and they have less features. I think EM's are boring but I appreciate them and I think they help balance our hobby of collectors. Everyone has different taste and opinions which is what makes this hobby great.

    #37 1 year ago
    Quoted from RyanClaytor:

    I'd consider myself contrary to everything stated here. I'm in my 30's and didn't grow up with 'em. The longer I'm in the hobby, the further back my pinball tastes trend.

    I agree with this....when I first got on Pinside 5 years ago...I was only looking at the Bally/Williams games of the 90's. Then after a year I had interest in all the new Sterns. About 2 1/2 years in...after playing a Paragon, my horizons widened and I started going backwards. Now I have more early 80's pins then anything else....and I recently picked up my first EM. I am hoping to have 3-4 in my collection over the next few years.

    I have seen the light

    #38 1 year ago

    Just brought a nonworking grand prix back to life. It was my first em project. It wasn't rocket science and I'm very happy with the game. It fits in nice with my collection. I do enjoy variety. I have a little bit of everything in my gameroom.

    #39 1 year ago

    I think EMs are cheap compared to modern games but they certainly have all gone up in price. I used to be able to find good EM projects all the time in the $200-$400 range. Now Craigslist has tons of C & D titles in the $600-$1000 range. Plenty of EMs available but kind of slim pickings if your looking for something interesting at a fair price.

    I have dabbled in some later stuff but have always liked EMs the best. The history, the art, gameplay and being able to fix them myself make them the best choice for me.

    #40 1 year ago
    Quoted from Captive_Ball:

    and I recently picked up my first EM. I am hoping to have 3-4 in my collection over the next few years.

    I have seen the light

    You go, guy!

    #41 1 year ago
    Quoted from Spinape:

    For me personally it all boils down to high score save with initials. Integrate that into an older machine and I’m interested

    I put up a little board with the games I own and the high scores on each -- 'guest' (others besides me) and 'home' (me), so people can try to beat the scores on each game.

    #42 1 year ago

    Because no one wants them.

    Lets say you set ANY EM next to ANY solid state game. BOTH are for sale at 20% off the going price for those 2 specific titles... Let's say in both cases it's a 1K game listed for 800.

    95% of the time, the solid state game sells before the EM game sells.

    Pinside has always catered much more to the solid state player/collector/enthusiast because there are simply more of them here than there are EM enthusiasts.

    I've owned some EM's over the years and currently have 3 or 4 of them. They are a simple, a great challenge and generally MUCH more difficult than your average solid state machine. That is why I like them and I suspect those same reasons are why others dislike them.

    #43 1 year ago

    Yes! They are HORRIBLE....don't EVER buy one....and if you have one, sell it for 50 dollars...do it now!

    Just let me know first

    I get they aren't for everybody....and, while they will run a LONG time after being cleaned and adjusted properly, if someone's skill set is limited to being able to remove a couple of screws to swap a board...then no, EMs may not be for that person.

    I fall in love with the mechanics, the real wood, the beautiful non digital art, etc. As well as think they are a blast. Some are nicer to look at/better art than play, some are total dogs, etc. just like some from any era of course.

    #44 1 year ago

    I think there's probably an EM game out there I would like to own, but I've never played one that made me feel that way. They are nice for a few games, but none give me that 'wow' factor. I was never truly into pinball until the first time I played Funhouse, and then T2. Toys and interaction are what sold me on pinball. EM's for what they were were still designed like 'gambling machines'. Don't get me wrong, I'll play just about any pin I see, but it doesn't mean I want to buy one. The change to SS made them more like entertainment/toys, but even the very early ones don't hold my attention for that long as there just isn't that much to do on them.

    #45 1 year ago
    Quoted from AlexF:

    I think EMs are cheap compared to modern games but they certainly have all gone up in price. I used to be able to find good EM projects all the time in the $200-$400 range. Now Craigslist has tons of C & D titles in the $600-$1000 range. Plenty of EMs available but kind of slim pickings if your looking for something interesting at a fair price.

    One of the things that originally drove up solid state prices was parts availability. When you can get new ramps or whatever suddenly the game is worth more, because you can restore it. White Water being a good example of before/after parts prices. I think you're seeing that happen with EMs a little bit too.

    I need to sell my Abra Ca Dabra, just haven't bothered to take the time. I'm not listing it for cheap though because it has a brand new beautifully silk screened backglass, and I put a brand new plastic set on it. One of the attractions of that game is the backglass, and they're often flaked out or trashed. I'd have to check my receipts, I think that's like $400 worth of parts right there though. Might be wasted money on some games, but for an in-demand wedgehead I don't think so.

    12
    #46 1 year ago

    I am going with the EMs are cheap because some folks can't understand them. They lift the playfield and are immediately intimidated by the relays and all the wiring. It's not to say that modern games are simple, it's just that the overwhelming mechanical side of the EMs looks daunting. Once you learn what all the parts are and how they interact, it gets easier to fix them.

    I have learned from my good mentors at the Pacific Pinball Museum (Mike, Larry, Dan, Dave and others – Thank you!) that once you get them up and running, they are like cockroaches and will run forever.

    Anyway, my two cents. Getting ready for Halloween in my neighborhood, so I put up my EM's in the garage for Trick-or-Treaters. The kids play while the adults sit in chairs in my driveway. I do not wish to bring my DMD games outside, so having the EMs is perfect for such an occasion!

    IMG_2667 (resized).JPG
    #47 1 year ago
    Quoted from jbovenzi:

    I am going with the EMs are cheap because some folks can't understand them. They lift the playfield and are immediately intimidated by the relays and all the wiring. It's not to say that modern games are simple, it's just that the overwhelming mechanical side of the EMs looks daunting. Once you learn what all the parts are and how they interact, it gets easier to fix them.
    I have learned from my good mentors at the Pacific Pinball Museum (Mike, Larry, Dan, Dave and others – Thank you!) that once you get them up and running, they are like cockroaches and will run forever.
    Anyway, my two cents. Getting ready for Halloween in my neighborhood, so I put up my EM's in the garage for Trick-or-Treaters. The kids play while the adults sit in chairs in my driveway. I do not wish to bring my DMD games outside, so having the EMs is perfect for such an occasion![quoted image]

    That is REALLY neat that you do that!!

    I mean who does that!

    On the cockroaches comment...Your right....they can multiply like them too...even in small spaces

    #48 1 year ago

    Guess I should be glad I sold a couple choice EMs when I could still get $5000 to $10,000 for them.

    Market must really be taking a shit over the last couple years.

    #49 1 year ago
    Quoted from jbovenzi:

    Getting ready for Halloween in my neighborhood, so I put up my EM's in the garage for Trick-or-Treaters. The kids play while the adults sit in chairs in my driveway. I do not wish to bring my DMD games outside, so having the EMs is perfect for such an occasion![quoted image]

    WOW!
    Why can't I have neighbors like you!

    #50 1 year ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    Guess I should be glad I sold a couple choice EMs when I could still get $5000 to $10,000 for them.
    Market must really be taking a shit over the last couple years.

    I think it is for everyone! Too many new games and market is getting saturated.

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