Last modified: February 2015
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Rec.Games.Pinball
< last update by Daina Pettit - firstname.lastname@example.org >
The latest edition of this FAQ can always be retrieved from:
http://www.MrPinball.com/ (Daina Pettit)
Added new vendor, Home Leisure Direct.
Subject: 1. Introduction, Intent, and Disclaimer
This is the FAQ for the rec.games.pinball Usenet newsgroup. It
attempts to answer many of the Frequently Asked Questions. It also
provides pointers (both on-line and on paper) for more information
about the world of pinball, and explaining how to buy your own
pinball machine, as well as helpful techniques and parts suppliers
for keeping home pinball machines up and running.
The format of this file has been changed to meet the
recommendations of the "FAQs: A Suggested Minimal Digest Format"
file, as posted to the news.answers Usenet group.
Some newsreader or browser programs may have difficulty with
Internet addresses. Therefore, all e-mail and web addresses (URL)
are shown on a separate line, without periods at the end.
Subject: 2. Table of Contents
1. Introduction, Intent and Disclaimer
2. Table of Contents
3. What is rgp ?
4. How do I buy a pinball machine ?
5. Buying pins at auctions
6. Shipping pins
7. On-line resources
10. Abbreviations / Acronyms
11. Other Frequently Asked Questions
12. Internet Pinball Podcasts
13. Placing a Machine on Location
Subject: 3. What is rgp ?
Tom Yager created the rec.games.pinball USENET newsgroup on 20
November 1990 for the discussion of pinball machines. Discussions
can include history, ownership, maintenance, playing techniques,
plans for new releases, places to play, announcements of events,
related paper items and generally anything having to with pinball
machines (or pins for short).
The topics generally cover "real" machines, but there are
occasional postings on computer simulations. All games with a ball
(usually steel) rolling or falling down a surface with obstacles
and objectives are covered here, including pitch-and-bat (baseball)
machines and pachinko (vertical) pinball games. The majority of
machines considered are coin-operated commercial games, but
discussion of non-coin varieties is accepted. The group is
generally recognized for being fairly civil, and newcomers are
Each post to the newsgroup should contain a sufficiently descriptive
subject line with one of the following suggested prefixes if appropriate:
"ANNOUNCE: " - For announcements
"FA: " - For auction
"FS: " - For sale
"TECH: " - For repair issues
"WTB: " - Want-to-buy
"WTT: " - For want to trade
If your post is about a particular game, put the name in the subject
line! And do NOT use stars in the name if the post is really about that
game. Putting the manufacturer or year might be important since some
games share the same name.
Subject: Want help with my machine
This is BAD. Is is a SS or EM? Which system? Why should I help?
Subject: Want help with Gottlieb EM
This is NOT QUITE AS BAD.
Subject: Why does my GAUCHO do this?
This is A LITTLE BETTER, but there were several GAUCHO machines.
Subject: TECH: Reset problem with Gottlieb GAUCHO
This is MUCH BETTER.
With hundreds of postings every day, you need to get the point across in
the subject line. Help the readers choose to read your posting and skip
the others. Teaser subject lines not only aren't helpful, they can elicit
anger and frustration resulting in you or your subject being killfiled!
That also means that when the time comes to sell your game, the posting
should give the NAME and CURRENT LOCATION (state/province or more local)
of the game in the subject line.
Before posting for the first time to this (or any) newsgroup you
should read some important tips on how to ask questions. Ignoring
this advice may get you branded as a moron and no one will listen
to you, ever.
Questions on other coin operated amusement equipment are usually
acceptable, if there are no other groups already in existence, such
as those noted below. The names are self-explanatory.
I don't think there a coke machine / soda newsgroup.
Postings on shuffle alleys (bowling games), and electro-mechanical gun games
also come up from time to time.
Subject: 4. How do I buy my own pinball machine ?
Frequently Asked Question number one: "How do I buy a machine?"
Buying a pinball for home use has a lot in common with buying a
car: It can be a big investment, the item requires proper care, and
the business is filled both with honest, decent people and sleaze
balls whom will rip you off.
The first thing to do is to decide what sort of machine you want.
(Actually, step 1 is to read this FAQ !)
Games available for home purchase fall into three categories: Used
electro-mechanical (EM), used solid-state, and new (all new games
are solid-state). Which is right for you depends on what you want,
how much you're willing to spend, and whether you ever intend to
sell or trade the game.
Think a bit about why you want a game. If you want it to play, you
may want a solid-state game. They play faster, and the software
has features that could take you some time to uncover. However,
there are many that prefer EMs to solid state.
If you're looking for something to tear apart, down to the bare
wood, and build back up again (only better), you'll probably want
an EM. Doing the fix-up on a solid-state game may not be as
fruitful. At some point, you'd be staring at an IC-laden circuit
board, and that's way beyond cleaning contacts and tightening
Aside from knowing why you want a game, you should zero in on which
game you want. The market is fat with choices, and there is a fair
chance that, if you look in the right places, you can eventually
find what you want. But you can't go into the market saying, "Oh,
just find me something you think I'll like." It goes deeper than
issues of color and whitewalls or no: You will fare best if you
have a wish list of games you are interested in.
How much will it cost? It depends on the popularity and rarity of
the game, the condition of this particular machine, and whether or
not you live in California. (Not a joke ... Prices run higher in
The Golden State!)
A semi-functional older solid-state machine can be had for as
little as $300, while a new game fresh from the factory can run more than
$4000. Typical price for a game that's seen a couple years of use would be
An EM game can run anywhere from $250 to $900 and up, with real
collectors items (like Humpty Dumpty) significantly more. Other
popular EMs that can run $1000 or more are Bally Capt. Fantastic
(with Elton John on the backglass), Wizard (Ann Margaret and Roger
Daltry on the backglass), and Fireball (with the classic backglass
designed by Dave Christensen).
If this is your first machine, it's highly recommended that you get
a working one! Picking up a cheap junker may be tempting, but
you'll never get it going without experience, specialized
equipment, and a stock of spare parts. Try to buy from someone
who'll deliver it in working condition, and stand behind it for a
while. Ask for references! Generally, you will be better off
buying from a collector or dealer that specializes in shopped
and/or restored games. You'll generally pay more than if you
bought the same title from an operator or a distributor, but the
machine is more likely to be "plug and play."
As a counterpoint: if you like to tinker, have the tools and
aptitude for taking things apart and putting them back together
again, and don't mind buying something that doesn't work solely for
the joy of fixing it, a non-working pin is a tinkerer's dream.
Just be sure you understand what you are getting into
Next, go looking for one !
The path a pinball machine travels typically looks like this:
Manufacturer--->Distributor--->Operator--->Collector (or junkyard)
Manufacturers only sell to authorized distributors. Unless you
have very deep pockets, you won't be buying your machine brand new
from the distributor. Current production machines are generally in
the $3000-$4000 range new. Some distributors will not sell
directly to home collectors, believing that most home users will
expect a higher level of service than most operators need.
Operators are the ones who put machines out in the field and
maintain them. They're usually willing to sell used machines once
they stop pulling in the quarters. Some operators want nothing to
do with the home market, for the same reason as mentioned above
Go to your favorite machine in the field, and ask who owns it. If
the location doesn't, there's probably a sticker on the machine
pointing you to the operator. Another way to find operators is to
hit the Yellow Pages, and call up the companies listed under
"Amusement Devices." First, ask them if they sell machines for
home use, then ask for the specific machines you're looking for.
Many operators see a lot of "tire-kickers", so your chances for
success are greater if you are ready to pay cash and take the
machine "as-is", "where-is".
You can also buy machines from collectors, at regional auctions, or
at on-line auction houses such as eBay, Yahoo or AuctionRover. In
fact, this is pretty much the only way to go to find an Electro
Mechanical machine. You probably aren't going to find an EM in the
field, or with an operator. Note that eBay has recently introduced
a Regional search option. This will help you find any pins that
may be in your area.
There are also a number of well-respected pinball dealers that
cater primarily to the collector. Many are regular participants on
the rec.games.pinball newsgroup. When looking for a new machine,
don't forget to check rgp!
For both EM's and solid-state machines, the little ads in
periodicals like PinGame Journal are an excellent
source of leads. (See list of periodicals below) Also, you can
try to find something locally. Buy every newspaper you can,
including the little "nickel ads" type, and check the classifieds
under Misc for Sale or Yard Sales. You should also see if your
local newspaper offers on-line searches of Classified Ads. Some
even have a notify feature that will send e-mail if an item matches
your search description. Keep doing this for months. It takes
time, but good deals occasionally pop up.
You can also find a "broker," a sort of super-collector in business
to buy up old used games, fix them up, and resell them. Again, you
can reach these people through the publications listed below.
Also, believe it or not, check with a dart supply store! One RGPer
in the Boston area knows one that sells used pins, and at least one
Norwegian store does.
Subject: 5. Buying pinball machines at auctions
Another source for machines is the gaming auctions. This may not
be the best place to buy your first machine, but with a little
knowledge it can be a good deal and a lot of fun! Note though
that, since the closing of Williams pinball, operators are holding
on to pins longer and true "deals" are harder to come by at
Auctions pop up all over the US. The collector's magazines, like
PinGame Journal, list upcoming auctions, and you can
also find listings at web sites such as:
You can download a list of recent auction results from
These auctions can include video games, change machines, slot
machines, juke boxes, crane machines, skee-ball, beer lights, pool
tables, etc., as well as the pinball machines...Just about
everything from the arcade or amusement arena!
Machines available at auctions tend to be those that have stopped
generating enough revenue for an operator to keep them on location.
However, they can range from New-In-Box (NIB) to 30+ year old EMs.
The biggest thing to note is that all items are AS IS, and the only
guarantee you get with an auction machine is the guarantee that
SOMETHING will be WRONG with it!
If you find a machine that you are interested in, you should
examine and play it to determine if everything works. However,
don't let operational problems deter you. The cosmetic condition
is usually more important. It's far easier to buy parts to repair,
than it is to find new playfields or backglasses. Closely examine
the playfield (and the plastics), backglass, and cabinet to
determine if the amount is wear is excessive for the age of the
machine. Look for signs of neglect, such as mouse droppings, chewed
wiring and such, and any sign of termites.
Check to see if the manual/schematic is included. If not, these
are usually available for around $20. For a solid-state, try to
run the machine through the self diagnostic tests. Look inside the
machine and under the playfield for suspicious items such as
cut/spliced wires, burnt components, missing components, etc.
When you find one (or more) machines, determine what your maximum
price will be. It's easy to get caught up in the bidding and go
higher than you want. Realize that you may/will be bidding against
the owner of the machine, who's trying to drive up the price of the
machine. This is known as a buyback, and is apparently legal in
some states, and often condoned by the auction company.
There are several things that you should take to the auction.
1) 100 foot, heavy-duty, three prong extension cord. There will
probably be several outlets available, but all are not accessible
from every machine.
2) Tools - This should include sockets and/or wrenches (5/8" and
9/16") to use to remove the leg and head bolts for transport.
3) Blanket, towels, cardboard, rope/ratchet straps - Used for
transport, or to place the playfield glass on during inspection.
Do NOT set the playfield glass or backglass on a hard concrete
floor. While you will usually not a problem, it could result in a
4) Food and drinks - The auctions can be quite long. Snack bar
food is the other option, usually of last resort.
5) The afore-mentioned list of past auction results. This will
give you an idea of what the machines have sold for in the past.
Although each machine's unique, having a baseline like this will
help you be a more informed buyer.
Subject: 6. Shipping pins
The success of eBay, and other auction houses has made it easier to
find a specific pin that you may be interested in. However, it may
be located across the country from you. There are several
alternatives available for shipping.
The first option is a commercial shipping company, such as Forward
Air (FA). These companies provide city to city shipping. The
seller usually must crate and deliver the pin to the shipper. The
buyer must pick up at the shipper on the other end. FA is usually
mentioned on the newsgroup, as they are often the least expensive
(~$200 to $350 for cross country). Pinball games shipped through FA
must be crated and CODs are no longer accepted. Note that contrary
to their name, FA is actually a trucking company. The pins do not
travel by air. Other shippers, such as Pilot Air, Yellow Freight,
and Overnite are options, but are usually more expensive.
The second option is a 'door-to-door' shipper. There are several
people that specialize in the transportation of coin-op equipment.
They will pick up the game at the seller's house, and deliver to
the buyer's house. Prices usually run about $300 - $450.
Depending on where they are in the country, it could take several
months between pick-up and delivery. Currently North American Van Lines
(NAVL) is popular for door-to-door delivery and does not require crating
(although this is always a good idea).
Instead of trying to keep this document up-to-date with which shipper is
partnering with/split up from whom, I refer you to the:
Arcade shipping database
Subject: 7. On-Line information sources
The listings are divided into two sections. The first are sites
with general information or individual collectors. The second
includes vendors and repair sites.
Daina Pettit maintains the Mr. Pinball page including the largest
Buy/Sell pinball classifieds, photos, repair tips, a registry of
collectors, and the auction results mentioned below.
How much is that pinball machine worth? The "Auction Results"
file, indexes thousands of recent sales, with price, condition,
location, date of sale, and notes about the individual machines.
The Internet Pinball Database (IPD) provides details on almost
every pinball machine ever manufactured. There are thousands of
photos and it is updated often.
Clay's Website contains detailed information about pinball and other
Gottlieb Electromechanical Evolution
Williams Woodrail Evolution
Sports Games/Pitch and Bat
Bowler (Ball and Shuffle)
Electromechanical Penny Arcades (includes fortune tellers, arcade
games, gun games, driving games)
The rec.games.pinball faces page is hosted by Steve Kulpa. See what
r.g.p people actually look like, and you'll understand why it is a
The "Flipper Cowboy" pages contain a list of pinball historians and
a variety of historical essays about pinball machines. Maintained
by Terry Cumming (e-mail = email@example.com )
Scott Piehler maintains a web page containing the game rules for
Dan at Pinball Classics had a repository for scans of playfield
plastics, but the site seems to be non-existent as of 10/1/04.
Please let me know if it resurfaces.
Steven Craig maintains an up-to-date list of pinball machines and
their owners (the PAPS list), so that other netters can find people
who have a specific game.
Jess Askey resurrected the old IPP Serial Database as the Internet
Pinball Serial Numbers Database. If you want to study serial
numbers, survival rates, production possibilites, or submit your
machines' serial numbers go to the IPSND at
Federico "Wiz" Croci maintains a "FlipperPage" in Italy, at:
Riccardo Pizzi runs an Italian website that has photos, Italian
classified ads, and some useful links.
The late Russ Jensen had wonderful articles online, mainly on the
history of pinball, including topics such as the evolution of the
thumper-bumper and The Year That Could Have Ended Pinball! His
web pages have moved to ipdb.org and should continue to be available.
His articles written for various coin-op magazines are available at
The Pinball Owners Association in Cambridge, England.
Randy Fromm's Amusement International Magazine is a web-based
magazine for the coin-op industry. Reviews of the latest machines,
tons of technical tips, and "Yellow Pages" and "Classified"
listings. Heavy on the graphics, but very worthwhile!
Nick Bennett, Pinballers Anonymous in the UK keeps a pinball blog with
interviews of pinball designers and other leading industry personnel in a
feature called Pinball Heroes at
Vendors and Repair Sites
For those looking to do their own restoration and repair of pins, a
great place to start is the pinball wiki site. This is a community effort,
free, and likely to be around forever.
The following commercial sites are listed in alphabetical order,
with no recommendation of one vendor or another. Except where
noted, the descriptive information has been provided by the vendor,
as to the type(s) of services offered.
Action Pinball & Amusement, Ray Johnson [Salt Lake City, Utah]
- Specializing in pinball machine restorations, sales,
repair, parts, and circuit board repair.
- Can supply game specific EPROM chips.
Bay Area Amusements, Rick Bartlett [San Jose, California]
- Specializing in on-line ordering pinball parts, books, etc.
- Focus is mostly on newer games, but has some older stuff from time to
Phone: (408) 868-9918
For Amusement Only, Dave Mercer [Ft. Collins, Colorado]
- Specializing in pinball parts, books, schematics, flyers
- New game room sales - pinball, foosball, air hockey, pool
- Frequent specials
- Bally, Williams, Stern game specific parts.
Phone: (970) 282-8282
Home Leisure Direct [Bristol, South Gloucestershire, United Kingdom]
- specialising in the sale of new pinball machines by Stern and Jersey Jack
- specialising in the sale of vintage pinballs from the 80s and 90s
- Offering worldwide shipping by specialist courier. Award winning customer service.
Phone: +44 1454 413636
Illinois Pinball Co., Gene Cunningham [Bloomington, Illinois]
- Manufacture and sale of licensed reproduction Williams, Bally,
and Capcom parts.
Phone: (309) 828-6993
John's Jukes, John Robertson [Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada]
- Offers pins for sale and a collection of technical tips.
- Services most pinball boards including: Allied Leisure, Atari,
Bally, Game Plan, Gottlieb, Stern, Williams.
- Can supply game specific EPROM and PROM chips.
- Specialize in battery acid/leakage board repair.
- Can fabricate replacement circuits to replace obsolete parts.
- Please contact for special shipping info if not in Canada.
(604) 872-5757 [voice] (604) 872-2010 [fax]
Marco Specialties, Marc Mandeltort [Lexington, South Carolina]
- parts only, including supplies.
- provides an auction calendar and a section for "for sale" and
"wanted" ads, as well as selling parts, books, and supplies.
- authorized distributors of Ni-Wumpf (Gottlieb System 1)
replacement CPU boards, Pinball Lizard Williams High Voltage
boards, Pinball Lizard Gottlieb System 80 pop bumpers.
- free catalog available.
(803) 957-5500 [M-F 10-7 EST] (803) 957-6974 [fax]
Mayfair Amusements, Steve Engel [Ridgewood, New York]
- parts only, including supplies.
- vintage pinball parts, including hundreds of backglasses.
The Pinball Heaven, [Southport, Merseyside, United Kingdom]
- specializes in selling restored 1990 and later Bally and Williams
machines, in the United Kingdom. Can also ship to the US.
+44 0870 746 5704 [voice] +44 0870 746 5705 [fax]
Pinball Life, [Chicago, Illinois]
- parts and supplies.
- sometimes has machines for sale.
Pinball Pro, [Seminole, Florida]
- parts, mostly add-on kits--subwoofer kits, plastics protectors,
polish, and cooling fans.
(727) 517-7246 in Florida
(888) 750-1948 out of state
The Pinball Resource, Steve Young [Poughkeepsie, New York]
- parts only, including supplies
- game documentation (schematics, manuals)
- vintage/old stock, reproduction parts
- Williams/Bally-Midway and Stern (Data East/Sega) parts
- Gottlieb manufacturer/distributor..repository of the parts
inventory that was at the plant when it closed, exclusive
mfr. of Gottlieb parts
(845) 473-7114 [voice] (845) 473-7114 [fax]
Silver Ball Amusement, Tony Page [Novato, California]
- specializes in Bally, Williams, and Stern board repairs,
including battery acid damaged MPUs.
(415) 893-9600 [fax & message]
Two Bit Score Amusements, Bob Sokol [Austin, Texas]
- A pinball repair shop. Accepts Bally, Stern, Williams and
Data East circuit boards. Sells brand new Bally 2518-35 MPU
boards. Gives free estimates on boards sent for repair. Stocks
every GAMEROOM and manual from 1977 on. Sells diagnostic
fixtures to repair your own pinballs.
(512)447-8888 [voice] (512) 447-8895 [fax]
Subject: 8. Publications
There are many periodicals good for getting background information
on the pinball world and for contacting other collectors.
The PinGame Journal is probably the best one for home pinball
collecting. Written by pinball collectors. Has info about new
games in development, as well as articles on finding,
reconditioning, and playing older games.
31937 Olde Franklin Drive Farmington Hills, MI 48334
Phone: (248) 626-5203 message/fax
10 issues--$34 (add $20 for First Class). Canada $38, Europe Air:
$67, Pacific Rim $77, $40.00 (all overseas surface--very slow and
unreliable.) Sample issue: $5.00, Information: Free.
Pinhead Classified has gone out of business (Jan 1999), but the
100-page final issue (No. 29), and other back issues may still be
available for purchase.
Contact: Atomic Groove, Attn: PC Back Issues, 1945 "N" Street, Hole
111, Newman, CA 95360
Other magazines (Replay, etc.) are largely "for the trade"; i.e.,
arcade operators and their ilk, though it's fun to have a look from
the other side of the backglass!
Play Meter Thick, slick trade journal, mostly aimed at arcade
owners and operators. Provides uniformly glowing reviews of the
latest games. Covers crane games, kiddie rides, etc., as well as
video and pinball.
PO Box 24970, New Orleans, LA 70184
$60/year US & Canada, $150/year overseas. Sample issue $5 USA, $10
Distributors Research Associates (DRA) Price Guide. 8 issues
(quarterly with mid-quarter updates], USA check/MC/VISA. Price
listings for conversions, pins, bowlers-shuffles-misc., video
games, jukes, pool tables, other vending equipment currently in
active trading, although phonographs [jukeboxes] and vending go
back as far as 197
11522 State Road 84, Suite 223, Davie FL, 33325
Voice: (954) 423-4000 FAX: (954)423-4005
RePlay Another monthly trade magazine with the same content as Play
P.O. Box 2550, Woodland Hills, CA 91365
$65/year US, $85/year Canada & Mexico, Foreign $220 (air) $80
(boat) sample issue $6.
Coin Drop International. A large-format newsprint magazine (11x17)
covering electromechanical coin-op amusements. The most likely
place to see old horse race machines, strength testers, etc.
Pinball articles are just as likely to cover bingos or pre-flipper
machines as they are the more conventional EMs with flippers. They
published their last edition in 1999. The editors used to write for
the now defunct GameRoom Magazine.
Pinball Magazine, a new in-depth pinball glossy based in the UK. Launched
in August 2012 as a high quality, glossy, magazine, which would largely
focus on one specific topic. This is more like a book than a magazine, with
over 100 full color pages printed on high quality paper. Issue 1 was
published in August 2012. Issue 2 is expected in April 2013. Issue 1 sold
for $15 (plus postal costs). Issue 2 is likely to have more pages, and may
have a higher sale price and postal costs.
Magazines No Longer
The following magazines are no longer being published.
Pinball Trader -- Late 1980s to early 1990s, Started by Dennis Dodel.
Pinhead Classified -- Late 1990s
Classic Amusements (a.k.a. Slot-Box Collector)
Pinball & Video News
Coin Drop International
GameRoom Magazine -- Started in the 1980s and ceased publication
Nov. 17, 2010. One of the longest running and consistently one-time
Some of the more popular books are noted below. Those currently in
print are available from many of the pinball vendors listed
elsewhere in this document.
"The Complete Pinball Book" by Marco Rossignoli was published in
January 2000, and has over 300 pages of color pictures and text.
The reviews in the newsgroup have been very positive.
"Pinball Memories, Forty Years of Fun 1958-1998" by Marco
Rossignoli was published in 2003, focuses on 50 pinball machines
from the given period. Each machine has its own chapter with many
photos and other details.
"Pinball Snapshots, Air Aces to Xenon" by Marco Rossignoli,
published in 2004, covers machines from 1930s to 2000. Contains
detailed descriptions of 50 machines with hundreds of color photos.
"The Pinball Compendium, 1930s-1960s", Michael Shalhoub. Published
in 2002, with lots of color photos and stories of industry greats
and collectors. 240 pages.
"The Pinball Compendium, 1970-1981", Michael Shalhoub. Published
in 2004, with lots of color photos, including many rare games.
"The Pinball Compendium, 1982-Present", Michael Shalhoub. Published
in 2005, with lots of color photos, with stories of collectors and other
notable figures in pinball.
Pinball Troubleshooting Guide, Russ Jensen. For upkeep of electro-
mechanicals is out of print. You may be able to find an old copy somewhere.
Someone may be reprinting these. If you know who is reproducing this please
let us know and we'll update this section.
The "ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PINBALL" is a planned six-volume work covering
the game's history and development from its earliest antecedents
through the present.
- Volume I, WHIFFLE to ROCKET 1930-1933 was published in 1996.
- Volume II, CONTACT TO BUMPER 1934-1936 was published in 1997.
Each volume contains 252 pages and includes hundreds of photos -
many in color. The "Dean" of Coin Machine historians, the late
Richard M. Bueschel, wrote volumes I and II. Just prior to his
death, Dick asked Gordon A. Hasse, Jr., a well known pinball
collector and Bueschel's former editor and publisher, to assume the
responsibility for writing the remaining four volumes in the
series. Volume III SKIPPER to NUDGY 1937-1947 is planned for
release next year with Volumes IV, V & VI to follow.
"Pinball machines" by Herbert Eiden & Jurgen Lucas
A chronology from EMs to solid state pinball machines. Lots of
color pictures. 168 pages
"Pinball, Lure of the Silver Ball" by Flower & Kurtz. Lots of
color pictures. 130 pages.
"Mr. Pinball Pinball List & Price Guide" by Daina Pettit. Handy
reference guide listing flipper game names, dates, features,
production runs, and values; sorted by machine name and
chronological. Includes separate sections for bingos, baseball
pitch & bat games, bowlers, and gun games. Published annually
since 1990. 230 pages.
Larry Bieza used to publish a Price Guide in October of
even-numbered years for odd-numbered years. Last update is 2005 Price
Guide printed in October 2004. 120 pages. Resurrected in Fall 2010
as "The Pinball Price Guide" by Eric Kantor.
"This Old Pinball" DVDs. Wonderful (and inexpensive at $8.00 each) DVDs
show how to care for your game.
See the website for details.
"Pinball Memories" by Marco Rossignoli, released January 2003, has
272 pages, and over 700 color photos. Marco features 50 machines
from 1958 to 1998, each with its own chapter.
Ken's Custom Pinball Machine Score and Instruction Cards website.
Ken has a large selection of creative and attractive custom S/I
cards available for free download at:
Most 1990s DMD games are represented, including many classics.
Subject: 9. Manufacturers
Alive and flipping:
Formerly Sega Pinball Inc. and Data East
2020 Janice Avenue
Melrose Park, IL 60160
toll free: 1-800-KICKERS (number valid only in US and Canada).
Illinois Pinball Co., Gene Cunningham [Bloomington, Illinois]
- Reproduction of Capcom machine(s)--Big Bang Bar and perhaps
others at some point.
Phone: (309) 828-6993
The Pinball Factory, Wayne Gillard [Murrumbeena, Victoria, Australia]
- Reproduction of Williams/Bally games. Talked of Medieval Madness
reproduction for years, but in October 2010 sold rights to Planetary
Pinball Supply who has specifically said they will be focusing on
parts reproduction and not on machine manufacturing.
Planetary Pinball Supply [San Jose, California]
Purchased rights for Williams/Bally pinball parts and machine
reproduction from The Pinball Factory in October 2010. Focusing on
parts for the time being.
Now sadly out of the pinball business:
Williams Electronic Games Inc. (Includes Bally and Midway)
(In late 1999, Williams announced they would no longer manufacture
pinball machines. The other parts of the company, including
Williams's slots and Midway and Atari videos are still being
produced. Independent companies make other products bearing the
Bally brand. Williams was only making Bally-branded pinballs.)
[Property rights (reproduction) of parts are held by Illinois Pinball
Co. and The Pinball Factory. Property rights (new and reproduction) for
games held by The Pinball Factory. Yeah, it's messy.]
Premier Technology (Includes Gottlieb and Mylstar)
[The property rights are now owned by Gottlieb Development LLC,
apparently a holding company for intellectual property rights.
Steve Young at The Pinball Resource purchased the remaining
[Property rights currently held by Illinois Pinball Co.]
Chicago Coin / Stern Electronics
Stern Electronics purchased Chicago Coin. Stern Electronics is not
the same company as Stern Pinball, but Gary Stern is/was involved
Other US-based Companies that produced pins
Alvin G. & Co.
Subject: 10. Abbreviations, Acronyms and Definitions
Here are some terms that may be unique to the industry/hobby. A
file that defines many of the abbreviations that you will see in
rpg can be found at:
Shopped - a vague term that implies that the owner has performed
work to restore the machine to top condition. This can mean
anything from just putting new rubber rings on, to refurbishing
with new parts. Some buyers have claimed that a seller's shop job
consisted of swiping the dust off the playfield with a dirty rag.
NOS - "New Old Stock". This is material that was manufactured at
the same time as the machine, but never used.
EM - Electro-mechanical. A game consisting mainly of relays,
switches and motors. They contain no solid state electronics, such
as circuit boards or dot-matrix displays.
HUO - Home Use Only. This refers to a game that was purchased new
in the box by an individual and was used only in the home. This is
intended to indicate a low use game in near mint condition, but
a HUO game can be more worn out than arcade games, and is not a
reliable indication of condition.
Woodrail - The first EMs (up through 1960) had wooden legs, and
wooden siderails. Most of the single-player games had "bulb
scoring," in which a large portion of the backglass area has
numbers and lightbulbs behind those numbers are turned on by
stepper units. Woodrail games had a few gadgets for the playfield,
such as pop bumpers and moving targets, and the designers would
have a new layout of those gadgets for a new title every two months
or so. Home use of older games was prevalent in that era, but not
an organized activity as it is today. Survival rate of woodrail
games to the present era is estimated to be from 0.5 to 5%,
depending on whom you ask. All of the above factors combine to form
a rosy glow of nostalgia around woodrails, so many say it was the
Golden Age of Pinball.
PB2K - Pinball 2000. The next-generation pinball released by
Williams. The game consisted of a video monitor mounted in the
head. The image reflected off of the playfield glass, and provided
changing views, depending on game condition. Revenge From Mars,
and Star Wars - Episode 1 were released before Williams shut down
WPC - Williams Pinball Controller (?). The version of pinball
processor/architecture used from 1991 (Funhouse) through 1999
(Cactus Canyon). Succeeded by PB2K.
Gtb - Gottlieb
Wms - Williams
AFM - Attack from Mars
AFV - Addams Family Values
BK - Black Knight
BK2K - Black Knight 2000
BoP - Bride of Pinbot (The Machine)
BR - Black Rose
CC - Cactus Canyon
DH - Dirty Harry
DM - Demolition Man
DW - Doctor Who
FB - NBA Fastbreak
FG - Family Guy
FH - Funhouse
FS - Flintstones
FT - Fish Tales
GI - Gilligan's Island
HD - Harley Davidson (2 versions - Sega & Stern)
HSII - High Speed II : The Getaway
IJ - Indiana Jones
JD - Judge Dredd
JM - Johnny Mnemonic
LoTR - Lord of The Rings
MB - Monster Bash
MM - Medieval Madness
NGG - No Good Gofers
PZ - Party Zone
POTC - Pirates of The Caribbean
RBION - Ripley's Believe It or Not!
RFM - Revenge From Mars
RS - Road Show
SC - Safe Cracker
SS - Scared Stiff
SM - Spider-man
SMB - Spider-man Black
STTNG - Star Trek: The Next Generation
SWE1 - Star Wars Episode 1
T2 - Terminator 2: Judgement Day
T3 - Terminator 3: Rise of The Machines
TAF - The Addams Family
ToM - Theatre of Magic
TOTAN - Tales of The Arabian Nights
TSPP - The Simpsons Pinball Party
TRS - The Rolling Stones
TZ - Twilight Zone
WCS - World Cup Soccer
WH2O - White Water
WOZ - Wizard of Oz
WPT - World Poker Tour
WW - Whirlwind
Subject: 11. Other Frequently Asked Questions
What does CARGPB mean?
This abbreviation stands for Cheap *ss Rec.Games.Pinball B*st*rd. This is
a designation within the rec.games.pinball community for those that are
extremely cheap. They would rather spend $0.05 and 100 hours, than spend
$100.00 and 5 minutes for the right pinball part. Becoming a member of this
exclusive group is by nomination of the group's members only. This
designation is really only for fun and has no real meaning.
Why all the asterisks in words like Bl*ck Kn*ght?
For many years on the Internet people have been putting asterisks in profane
words in place of the vowels to soften the impact and to prevent the text
from being banned on certain servers. Sometimes "starring" a machine name
is seen as a way to curse the machine--as if its name is a swear word.
However, on rec.games.pinball, sometimes someone will mention a pinball
machine by name (as in a signature listing the poster's collection of
machines), but not want the article to show up on a search about that
machine, because the article is not about that machine. "Starring" your
machine names solves this problem.
Subject: 12. Internet Pinball Podcasts
Are there any pinball podcasts I can download and listen to?
In 2007 the Internet pinball podcasting hype began with four
different groups attempting shows. Three of the groups' shows
are still available for download and only one is no longer
producing shows. Some shows are just a bunch of guys sitting
around and talking about pinball, some are about repair info,
and some are interviews with key figures in the pinball
All podcasts are free and most can be downloaded from their
website or from iTunes.
The Silverball Podcast
Seven shows were produced, beginning in June 2007. These
shows also included video games in their discussions. Their
shows can be downloaded for free from
Seven shows were produced from February and April 2007.
These are available to be downloaded for free from
TOPcast Pinball Talk
One of the most prolific podcasts is TOPcast with over 60 shows
produced starting in February 2007. A few shows include a
video feed as well. Most shows focus on interviewing a
notable figure in the industry, usually a designer, artist,
collector, or industry insider. A few shows focus on
technical aspects of pinball repair and take calls. Shows
can be downloaded for free, or listened to live from
A recent couple of podcasts in April 2011.
This is the most regularly produced podcast. Starting in April 2010, shows
are released around the first of each month. Show includes a lot of goofing
off with family and friends and very unusual interviews with pinball
people. Sometimes the show will feature an artist, a celebrity, a designer,
a parts supplier, an operator, or an ordinary person.
Covers the broader topic of gamerooms with some pinball. Started in October
The Pinball Podcast
A couple of guys talking about pinball. Started in October 2011.
Subject: 13. Placing a Machine on Location
How do I place a machine on location and become an operator?
Placing your machine on location is not as easy as setting up the game and
collecting the money. Risk is involved, laws need to be obeyed and taxes need
to be paid. Your machine may be destroyed or stolen. You may end up liable
for damages due to fire or a patron's injury. Placing your well-loved machine
in a public environment crosses over into the dark world of cash-only
businesses and 24/7 service calls. But this may be what you enjoy!
1. Approach the owner of a location that you consider safe enough for your
machine(s). You do not want an unattended location in a high crime
neighborhood. Preferable is a location where the machine is in view of the
front desk or attendant. DO NOT attempt to place a machine in a location
currently serviced by another operator unless you and the operator agree to
this. Operating machines is a rough business and you can stir up some bad
things (your machine mysteriously has the cord cut off on a regular basis, or
it just vanishes!) if you are not careful.
2. Check with government licensing, zoning, and tax requirements (either
county, city, or state). Many require an annual license per machine and/or
location. Some allow a floating license that just covers a certain number of
machines at specified location and others require that the licenses stay with
each machine. Watch out for zoning problems that restrict the number of arcade
machines (pinballs are arcade machines) within a neighborhood or within a
certain distance of a school. Taxes may be based on total receipts (a tax on
gross sales) or on some other measure. Violating licensing, zoning, or taxes
may get your machine confiscated and/or fines levied.
3. Purchase liability insurance so if your machine catches fire and burns down
the location, or a patron injures themselves on your machine you will be
protected and won't lose everything you own. Don't bother with insurance to
cover the machine itself. If your machine gets stolen, burns in a fire, or
someone cuts it in half to get the money out, you'll just have to take the loss
and be happy they didn't cut you in half. Insurance to cover your machine
itself is too expensive. Don't count on the location's insurance for anything,
even if the owner tells you so.
4. Use a contract for you and the location owner (not the manager). Normal
split is 50/50. If you have a high end/new game you might be able to get 60/40
with the 60% going to you. Or you may want to set up that you get the first X
amount per week (for maintenance overhead) and then you split 50/50 after that.
This is one area where you can be creative and make it worth your bother. Or,
you may find out the revenue isn't worth the bother and pull out. Keep in mind
the contract may cover how often you rotate games, how soon after a reported
failure you must service the game or replace it. You can find boilerplate
contracts for this sort of thing or pay a lawyer (who will use a boilerplate
contract anyway!) to do it for you. If you are a member of AMOA they have a
standard contract template.
5. Secure your machine--Put a hasp on the coin door...or not. The hasp tells
bad guys something is inside. No hasp and the game is less likely to be
seriously damaged. Being in an attended and visible location is best. Detach
yourself from the game. It will get damaged. Get used to it.
Operating machines on location is a tough business. You may find it easier to
put your game into your own business instead of dealing with all the nonsense
of other locations.
Now you know why pinball machines are now hard to find on location.