So you’re looking for that one thing. One large item to set off your room. Something that your friends will be talking about. How about something you and your friends can actually play. Something your whole family can play, Pinball. I’m talking about vintage electro-mechanical (EM) machines. The kind where the physical numbers spin to show your score with bells and mechanical sounds. The first wood rail pinball machines were made in the 1930’s. These early machines were often used for gambling and didn’t have flippers. While I admire these early machines, I’ve never had a desire to own one because for me, the beauty of the flipper machines is the game play. This weeks Friday Find is a real gem, it is a 1976 Target Alpha machine by Gottlieb.
The search began when my wife Lena and I decided to turn one of our basement rooms into a game room for our three boys. Here in the north east there are many vendors that sell pinball machines and most will warrantee their machines as well as back them up with service contracts. This is great but when you are on a budget these prices can get out of hand. I turned to eBay and Craigslist to see what was out there locally. A word of caution: never buy one of these machines without seeing and playing it. Many of the older machines have seen arcade service and are worst for the wear. Some have sat in basements all their lives with little play; this can be just as bad. These machines are exceedingly complex and if you have no inclination for fixing them yourself then buy one in good working order.
I was excited about this machine having the drop targets and the fact that it is a fairly easy game to play but difficult to complete all the specials. I also liked the graphics, although I’m not crazy about the color scheme. After a three hour drive and some good conversation with two pinball aficionados I purchased it for $480.00. Vintage EM machines are typically found on eBay or Craigslist ranging from $150 to $1200 depending on the machine and condition. Naturally $150 machines are either not working, beat up or both. If you are diligent a well working machine can range from $250 to $500. This image is from The Pacific Pinball Museum in CA. Check out their site for more history and events.
Now, my sister Cathy will probably want to hit me over the head for this but there are almost no rooms that these machines won’t work in. All right, the dining room is probably stretching it and definitely not in the bathroom. The moisture can be damaging to the contacts. Read more here on where to; find them, play them and service them but most of all enjoy them!