One of the cornerstones of the arcade experience is the classic pinball machine. According to the Wikipedia, this fan-favorite can trace its roots back to the 1700’s French game called bagetelle. With a rich history spanning many decades and a new generation being introduced to these popular arcade machines, pinball owners will always have a captive market eager to buy.
As with any collectible, including comic books and hot rods, a value is only set when a voluntary transaction takes place between a seller and a buyer. Without a willing buyer for your pinball machine any value you place is only speculative. Thankfully we can compare a given pinball machine to others that have sold recently.
Key Factors in Pinball machine value
A few key factors to take in to consideration are:
- Rarity of the title
- Game Condition
If all three key factors are in your favor then chances are the pinball machine will sell at a premium. The game condition is the factor that will influence the final negotiated price.
Age Is nothing but a number
A few examples will help to illustrate how these key factors affect the value a used pinball machine in relation to it’s age.
The Antique Trader website reports that in Lancaster County, PA a 1988 Banzai Run by Williams was auctioned for $5,400. And they describe that this was the top pinball title at the auction:
The top pinball lot was a scarce 1988 Williams “Banzai Run” pinball machine with a motorcycle theme. Described in Morphy’s catalog as “an exciting game to play with fast action and great callouts,” the machine more than doubled its high estimate as it crossed the finish line at $5,400.
On the other hand, a recent online auction of a 1999 AC/DC: Let There Be Rock LIMITED EDITION pinball sold for $9,750. The final sale price is $1,250 above the original manufacture’s suggest rate of $8500 brand new.
The demand for an AC/DC branded pinball is more likely to garner a higher premium over the lesser recognized Banzai Run pinball machine.
Where to start?
Your quest to determine a fair value for any classic used pinball machine begins with the original manufacturer’s retail price, followed by recent auction activity or the same, or similar, pinball titles. The one key factor you have most control over is the condition of the game. Any damage or wear and tear will subtract from the original retail price. In the case of the AC/DC pinball, the value increased from the original retail price because of the favorable condition and warranties offered by the seller.
Avoid pinball pitfalls
When dealing with classic pinball machines be aware that some of those pinball manufacturers may be out of business or parts may have been discontinued. At PrimeTime Amusements we take pride in restoring our pinball games to excellent condition using new parts, glass and lights whenever they are needed. Before buying any classic game, pinball or arcade, be aware of the parts, the operation, and the ability to get replacements in the future.
You can rely on our pinball experts at PrimeTime Amusements and browse our listings of new and used pinball machines here.