The Tron I bought was less than a year old, and side of the scoop hole is thrashed, along with some minor damage to the top. It was lightly routed, so got more plays than a home use machine, but eventually a home use machine will get up there in plays. If a Cliffy would've been there from the start, the scoop would still be pristine. I get it, I have seen some older machines with no scoop damage. However I think you get one bad hit, it starts splintering, and it can go from bad to worse real fast.
I look at it as insurance. You buy it, hope you never need it, but are sure glad it is there if crap happens. My thoughts are get a Cliffy, or, if you really don't like the look of them or are worried about change to game play, get a protector from Mantis if available for your machine. But get something at least. Doing something about it after it is damaged is closing the barn door after the horse gets out.