Reviews and Advice to Help You Find The Best Pinball Machine

Pinball Machine

If you are interested in purchasing a pinball machine, it’s helpful to have some guidelines to follow before you make such a large investment. You may not be as informed as you believe you are when it comes to pinball facts including the different types of machines that are available, the pricing, how to care for the machine, and what owning this unit is going to entail.

Pinball Machine

To get you started, you’ll find a review of the different varieties of pinball machines by visiting different websites like

Types of Pinball Machines

Essentially, there are two different kinds of pinball machines, there is the EM and the SS.

  • EM or Electrical Mechanical offers relays along with spinning mechanical reels. These were manufactured up through approximately the late 1970s. If you purchase one of these, they are somewhat complex meaning you would need to have some mechanical skills for any type of repairs to the unit.
  • SS or Solid State is a computer-controlled machine. The displays are generally plasma with no moving parts. These offer many of the same types of components as an EM with slingshots, pop bumps, and mechanical flippers.
  • DMD or Dot Matrix Display is an advanced version of the SS and is generally classified together with the SS. It was used in the machines from beginning in the early 1990s offering a rectangular box within the cabinet that has a plasma display. The most recent offerings most likely provide a display using TV LCD.

To learn how these pinball machines function goes to

Considerations When Buying A Pinball Machine

Before you take the step to purchase the machine, research the specifics of the unit to make sure that you stay within the parameters of your particular needs. It’s better to have your preferences written down to refer to when you set out so that there are no mistakes made when you decide to buy the unit.

  • Everyone has a budget when they invest in something of this nature. It’s critical to understand the market, the value, and what you’ll be getting for your money. An EM that is not as desirable in poor condition can be bought beginning at $400 or below. An SS is going to be much more valuable beginning at several hundred dollars going up into the thousands. The DMD market is significantly greater ranging well into the high thousands depending on the piece, for special collectibles.
  • Go prepared with the knowledge of what the fair price is. Prices can vary greatly for the same machine with variances for the condition or perhaps the buyer/seller paid the wrong amount. The prices within the past 20 years have gone up drastically as the supply has greatly decreased while the demand is rising significantly.
  • You should have an exact location picked out inside your home where it will be placed. Pinball machines are extremely heavy up to 400 lbs. and very awkward. The older versions can break into two pieces. The most current ones can be folded down, but the weight is still great. Having to use stairs would prove very challenging. Wherever you decide to put it, know that the fun is going to wane after a while, but the noise will last. If it’s an area of the house where quiet is important, don’t put it there.
  • These machines range in age from 20 years up to possibly 60 years and will need constant attention. They will have to be adjusted and oftentimes may break down rendering them unusable. If you aren’t mechanically inclined, who will you have to take care of it for you?

Even if you decide to buy a new pinball machine, they need to be maintained just as you would serve any type of equipment that operates inside your home. They tend to work fine for the most part, but they do so because you are performing regular servicing. Read more here about repairing pinball machines.

What To Look For When Buying A Pinball Machine

After you have done all of your homework and narrowed your search down to a game, you will want to do a thorough inspection of the entire unit noting the condition before the final purchase.

  • The playfield on the older games was typically lacquer coated and tend to show signs of wear while the newer models are fitted with Diamond Plate allowing them to remain looking like new. A few wear spots on an older model are expected which will give it an average value for the age. But broad sections worn to the wood decreases the value drastically. If you get a collectible that offers a significant return on your investment, it may be worth putting money into a new playfield if it’s available. It wouldn’t be wise if the piece has little worth.
  • The cabinets for pinball machines fade by the sun and get beat up. The more damage, the less its value.
  • The flippers are the part of the machine that wears out the most as well as their switches. Find out before purchase when the last time was they were rebuilt. If the seller is unable to answer this question, it is generally a sign that the flippers will need to be replaced.
  • If you are uncertain of the mechanics or electronics and how they should function, bring someone with you knowledgeable in these areas. These need to be visually inspected as well as demonstrated and tested thoroughly. Anything that is at all amiss in either of these areas will be a rather expensive repair and possibly a good reason to walk away from the purchase altogether.

Don’t buy a game simply because it’s rare and there were only a few made. Typically, if there were only a few hundred made, it wasn’t fun initially, these may be nice as a collectible piece that you never play. But these are not machines that you want to invest in if you truly want to have any enjoyment from the game.

There are games for which there were thousands upon thousands made that are sought after by collectors provided, they’re in good condition. Buy what you like, what you’ll enjoy, and what meets the quality standards for collecting.

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