(Topic ID: 168276)

Will this be the death of mechanical pinball?

By Davidus56

3 years ago

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  • 244 posts
  • 118 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 2 years ago by klr650
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    #144 3 years ago

    Since I don't feel like being moderated.

    3 months later
    #177 2 years ago

    A simpler analogy for comparison for the masses:

    Virtual pinball like a comparison with person who prefers a "real doll" over a proper girlfriend. It is not the same, not fulfilling, and does not work right.

    #192 2 years ago
    Quoted from kmoore88:

    As the current generation of pinball owners ages the younger digital generation will have significantly less interest in owning 300 pound toys.

    Something to ponder:

    Why are there 750+ real pinball machines in the greater Portland area (less than 25 square miles)?
    Why are there 1000s of younger generation people (less than the age of 25) who play the games with the extreme desire to own one?

    They constantly dream of having one for their home.
    The interest does not seem to be fading.
    Prices here for used machines is higher than many parts of the country.
    They may not be able to afford them now, but they are aspiring.
    The thing that sets some part is the inability to repair anything in a "throw away" digital world.
    Generally, once they make disposable income, they actual join the hobby, even if they own only one machine.

    I do understand that the PNW is a "hotspot" for pinball, but it is not entirely a fluke.
    There are also a huge heavy number of collectors here, but not anywhere near as high as certain parts of CA and IL.

    #210 2 years ago
    Quoted from Hazoff:

    I hope ur right but its tough for pinheads to not be optimistic, I mean pinball all but died in the late 90's just due to home consoles and arcade games

    The same thing was said in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s regarding computers and technology. This is four generations of the same explanation for many that were not around to see developments. The 1950s and 60s were a bit different due to limitations.

    Pinball has lived on, and continues to return.
    For those that remain collectors, they will see it again.

    "Pinball is not everlasting, but eternal. It is something that is physical and visceral, and has never been successfully replicated by other amusement devices in nearly 90 years since it's modern creation."

    - TBK

    #220 2 years ago
    Quoted from Medisinyl:

    Now we have a greater sense of comfort with active forums and accessible videos to protect our investment (often times cheap/DIY).

    Do we?
    There is a pinball "trap" in your belief, no offense.
    Websites and videos are not the means to teach repair skill sets.
    You cannot learn how to properly solder via a video, it takes practice.

    There are more guides, no doubt.
    There are people here (some that post, most that don't), if you know them that wrote the guides themselves or significantly contributed.
    It just supports my standpoint that pinball will to continue to survive.
    But who really did it?
    The manufacturers?
    No, it was those collectors that came long before those on this forum.
    What happens if some of these sites are "removed" (as they have been in the past and people did not know existed).

    However, anyone should be cautioned that not all online video guides are "good", either in video quality or material.
    I have equally seen some seriously $#@!ed up repairs of people doing things they should not do to games out of ignorance.
    Some people should never have touched a soldering iron, let alone a paint brush.

    Improperly demonstrating "mylar freeze method removal" on a Cactus Canyon that ruined the playfield?
    Use of saran wrap and Krylon Triple Thick on a marginally damaged backglass?
    Repairing backglasses with masking tape?
    Using shrink wrap as a primary means to seal high voltage lines?
    Using varathane applications or clear coats in your garage without proper ventilation?
    Working on EM pinball machines in high voltage areas with the the game plugged in (it is not "on" right?).
    Lowering playfields with the game power on, and watching the short circuit light shows?
    Installing alligator clips on capacitors for power connections?

    Guess where those "expert" tips originated?

    As the even the Pinball Ninja will tell you, watching a repair guide does not qualify a person to conduct either board repair, rebuild a score reel, or even conduct simple game repair on a pinball machine, as it gives a sense of false experience.
    "Pinball Mods" are not a technical skill.

    However, I challenge budding enthusiasts to find manufacturer repair guides for Jeutel, Game Plan, AMI, WICO, Mr Game, and even Atari.
    They simply do not exist, and not all boards were copycats or created equal.
    I am studying Bromley documents right now to get a feel for how they designed the MPU signal processing because I have looking at picking up two "Little Pros", one that is working, one that is parts, out of roughly 250 made.
    I don't see anybody coming to the rescue for me here, if the game fails.

    Zaccaria was saved and is a GREAT EXAMPLE of potential "lost knowledge", one person of which I will mention below.

    I started to document AGC games, as there are only a handful that really understand the PCB design circuitry.
    Literally we are talking about less than 100 people.
    EM repair has been in decline for over 10 years, however small groups of people keep the knowledge around.
    The old techs are retiring and passing on.
    Dealers do not care anymore.

    If it was not for a collection of people, most of the experience and knowledge that exists would never have happened.
    David Gersic for example saved Zaccaria, as there is no single source of information other than his website.
    None, and initially he was the only person who gave a $!@#.
    Steve Charland (and a handful of others) provided critical details for GTB Star System 80, grounding mods, new pop bumper boards, and connector failures, or many would have ended up in the trash.
    The same goes for GTB System 1 problems.
    Kerry Stair, Clay Harrell, Dave Johnson, and several other dozen I can quote provided most of the CATALOGED repairs that most of the GTB, BLY, WMS, DE, Stern, and Sega alone.

    The internet is a good reference tool, but not a replacement for actual hands on experience with a technician.
    Unfortunately, it contains equal amounts of VERY POOR OR DANGEROUS information exist regarding pinball repairs, which a new person does not know how to filter. This includes this website.

    #232 2 years ago

    Should I be convinced to sell all my games quickly to new collectors right now out of fear?
    Is everything lost?
    Have I been in a state of pinball denial for 3/4 of my life watching the various iterations of pinball history since the 1970s?

    There is no borrowed time, unless someone is referring to operators, which is true, again.
    This posting is an example of exactly why I need to provide commentary, education, and experience to new enthusiasts so people are properly informed on this website.
    Otherwise people are feeding an artificial frenzy.

    "Retro", "Classic", or "Vintage" continues to become more popular today, and is not slowing down in every reflective form imaginable.
    Now, dozens of TV shows to "feed the need" just due to interest, some good, some not so good.
    I am not particularly impressed when American Pickers or Pawn Stars shows a pinball machine on television, because I already know what happens.
    Go to an antique show and watch the people with "googly eyes" when they see any pinball machine.
    Watch the sellers ply their trade.
    Devices, signs, parts are being "remade" not just exclusive to pinball, but the originals are preferred and even coveted.
    The Nintendo Classic fiasco this Christmas was just insanely stupid due to artificial scarcity (AKA Stern BM66 analogy) but is an example of several factors.
    This aspect is not a fad due to being "hip".
    I have watched this growth for well over a quarter century.

    Pinball machines continue ride of this same mindset.

    They continue to be a "requirement" for things like hollywood and theatre films.
    Games are actually requested to be rented for stage sets continuously, especially if a game includes any type of bar scene.
    A good example would be my Joust game for Deadpool (2016).

    BTW, this was one of the highest sales of used pinball games for Christmas periods since the early 2000s.

    Long after many are gone, others are becoming the proteges carrying the the same understanding.
    I see it everyday.
    It is not just older people in their 40-60s buying games from their youth due to available disposable income.
    It is not like games from the 1950s and 60s are exclusively relegated to museums.
    They remain in people's possessions.
    One of several reasons there are lower numbers available is age relative to production, the "great pinball purge", and changes in technology.
    But, it never made them "obsolete" like 90% of other devices of equal age.
    1000s of machines from the 1970s and 80s are very safe in private collections and not being emptied into garbage dumpsters and landfills.
    More are being saved everyday by those here that call us "hoarders".

    I can say this as a fact for one primary reason.

    If the growth and interest was not sustaining, pinball would never have survived the four periods of "hard times" that have occurred alone in the past 30 years due to waning "pinball interest", economy, or culture.
    That is quite an accomplishment since technology has "moved on without it".
    Pinball as a nostalgic pop cultural icon saved its place in history as a "classic".
    Even more so than any video game.
    It will not even matter if every single pinball manufacturer stops producing games entirely.

    As an offset that I also can share one other fact.

    Pinball games made in the past 15 years are not on par in terms of durability than ANYTHING made before 2000.
    This is contrary to any manufacturer may try to tell buyers.
    That is a case of borrowed time.
    Games are less than 3/4 the quality of games made by BLY/WMS in the 1990s
    Games are less than 1/2 the quality of games made by GTB/BLY/WMS in the 1970s.
    The metal is thinner for legs and assemblies, plastic parts are thinner, and the parts are many times not fully industrial quality.
    Even the soldering quality is different, sometimes worse.
    There is incredible reliance on electronic boards which is some cases cannot easily be repaired.
    Stern and JJP policy on failed electronics is "swaptronics".

    Combining this with lower production numbers made directly cause many modern games to have questionable longevity for survival.
    This is highly evident from many of the games Stern for example made before 2004.
    Every pinball manufacturer prior to 1999 provided support for there games for decades after being produced, unless they closed their doors.
    You could still buy parts for games bought 25 years before.
    Stern supports their games for 5 years, and a maximum of 10 years for parts dependent exclusively on production numbers.
    The rest of the current manufacturers are unknown at the time, as none have operated for 5 years and all have less than 3 titles.
    It is not particularly hard to stock parts for three games in comparison to dozens, but you do still need the space and overhead cost for purchase.

    What makes the situation rather silly when you really deep down thing about things is this:
    Stern, JJP, and all the rest of the manufacturers say they are moving as a "boutique" supplier of pinball machines to private ownership.
    This is absolutely wonderful.
    So where is the long term support for replacement parts are the title production has ceased?
    Private collection ownership means aftermarket parts, not exclusively mods.
    In that respect owners are being extremely shortsighted, and the manufacturers simply don't care, because the mindset of a pinball machine being "expendable toy" remains from the operator days.
    Quite an ironic point to consider?
    A $15K expendable and consumable toy?
    Not even motorcycle collectors think in this manner, and neither does Harley Davidson.
    That is the "cash grab" of today, and what is often overlooked, minimized, or not mentioned by manufacturers.


    #235 2 years ago
    Quoted from toyotaboy:

    how do you expect them to take over the reins of keeping pinballs working?

    When Tim Arnold dies, what do you suppose will happen to the pinball hall of fame?

    I teach them, just like others do now.
    There is major Pinball Outreach Project (POP) operated in Portland already now.

    Plans are already being made (finally) for other collectors to assist in disposition of the games at the PHoF, so they do not get "sold off" and broken up. Tim still owns over 800 games not on display. My bigger concern are other collectors like Sam Harvey and others with substantial historical documents with no plan.

    I already started dealing with the comments in the past from new generations of "hey when did start making real pinball machines for real". It was education that carries the day, built memories, and started their electromechanical and solid state journey.
    The first time I heard this was 1998, nearly 20 years ago.

    If anyone wants to see a "pinball prop" in action, watch Dazed and Confused. Fireball is not just for a pretty backdrop.

    #237 2 years ago
    Quoted from toyotaboy:

    you mean the file cabinets filled with part numbers that nobody seems to have? Or the serial number database?

    No, the 500+ NOS backglasses he owns in his back room.
    This does not consider blackline artwork, lithographs, or drawings that are contained in his archives.
    He is is one of several people who have stocked shelves like Steve Engel in the old days.
    Duncan Brown is another person who I am unsure what the disposition is of some of his more rare items, just like Mike Pacak.

    There are more objects of historical documentation importance than just paper.

    #239 2 years ago
    Quoted from bingopodcast:

    That paper is very important, though.

    I concur, hence the my direct reference notes regarding additional blacklines, lithographs, and drawings.
    This also considers blueprints, original backglass artwork, design shot maps, and other aspects of the industry.
    There was more information lost in the 1990s than every single pinball period in history.
    Multiple manufacturers emptied files into the trash including GTB, WMS, AGC, and DE/Sega.
    Because people did not care, or it was a quick "get out".
    I still remember enthusiasts dumpster diving in the back of the WMS factory before they put locks on the trash receptacles.
    Some even tried to follow the trail to the landfills to negotiate "sifting time" (unsuccessfully).

    Many of the older schematics are "copies of copies, of copies, of copies...", incomplete, missing pages, and have no source notes from the original designers or technicians.

    People need to ask themselves where do the originals come from now when writing is so blurry and unlegible from photocopies?
    The repositories are copies, the IPDB are copies in many cases.
    PPS made it extremely hard to permanently access files with their online system to try and "protect paper" copyrights.
    The Steve Kordek library that is held by several others only a fraction of documents has been scanned.
    The internet does not solve everyone's problems anyway.
    Only a few owners and historians have the originals.
    New enthusiasts in the past 10 years may not understand yet, but they will in 25 years, they will, if they are still collectors.
    Those that restore older games already do.
    The notes contained in manuals provide information well beyond what was initially provided at the factory.
    Even technical bulletins have been lost.

    Here is example of something in photo form below of why there is relevance in cataloging history, with this set of specific technical notes, but you have to understand what game they are for and why they are important. You are not going to find this guide information in any book. It is a hand written technical bulletin.

    "All pinball is mechanical, not just EMs. This is a misnomer of modern technology understanding based on how the games actually work."

    - TBK

    Keep flipping.

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