Pinball Redux

The last several times I have added new pinball machines, I’ve asked for advice, and it has been a good thing. I just had another bit of a windfall in the form of selling some stock that did really well last year, before it had a chance to crash, so we are adding what will probably be out last pinball machine, unless we move, due to space constraints.

To review, we have these:

Lost World
Star Trek
Black Knight

We are looking at these:

Bad Cats
This is the one I’m kinda leaning towards. It’s fun, and it’s unusual, so guests will not often have seen it.

Spirit of 76
This one has a real nostalgia factor for me, not just because I played it a lot as a kid, but because of the whole Bicentennial thing, and I would actually like to own a mechanical machine like this. It’s also a lot cheaper than the others.

Star Wars
This one is really expensive, and we will have to spend a little over our windfall for it, but I have always wanted one, and they are hard to find. However, it has a lots of “stuff” to break down on it.

Not my fave, but it is the “companion” machine to Lost World, which is my favorite, so I feel a little bit of an obligation toward it.

Very interesting machine to watch, but difficult to play. Kind of a good machine for guests, and to own, because you don’t waste quarters on short games; like Star Wars, lots of things to break down. However, it is being sold pretty cheaply for this game. Hard to pass up the deal. Even if it broke down for us, we might be able to resell at a profit.

Actually, I probably should have been more explicit on how expensive this one is. It is more than twice what the next most expensive machine is. With any other machine, we would have quite a bit of money left over. In fact, if we had space, we could buy the two cheapest machines.

I’m only considering this one because I have wanted one for years, and they are very hard to find. It will probably retain its value, and may even appreciate. Also, as of right now, it is working perfectly, and comes with the original manual, so in spite of having a lot of possibilities of things breaking down, I can read these sorts of manuals because of my military training, so I should be able to work on it. I work on the other machines when they have problems. I just worry about some component failing, and having to track down someone with a parts machine to replace what has failed.

I used to be a total pinball addict and seeing these machines really got me wishing to play them all! I remember Spirit of 76 and would be tempted by it, but I voted for Bad Cats because of course cats plus it looks like a lot of fun.

Funhouse then Bad Cats then Star Wars, in order of fun gameplay IMO.

Funhouse is an incredibly complicated machine with, as you say, lots of parts to maintain but it IS one of the all-time most fun pinball machines I’ve ever played. It’s one of just 2 or 3 that I return to on nearly every single trip to the Pinball Hall of Fame.

Bad Cats is another super-fun machine: great action and plenty of fun stuff happening with a decidedly older, classic flavor.

Star Wars is Star Wars, tho. Great machine; can’t go wrong with this one, really.

I voted Spirit of 76. Since this might be the last machine you buy it would make sense to have a mechanical one(i.e. a REAL pinball machine). :slight_smile:

I love Spirit of 76 but a friend has Funhouse and I’ve played it quite a bit. It is tough but I love the challenge so I voted for it.

I love the Star War game, but, you’re right, it’ll be expensive and something will go wrong. I voted Spirit of 76, I remember playing it as a kid and it just looks fun even today.

Spirit of 76 is really cheap, and if we had the space, we could probably afford it and one other, but we don’t, and I doubt we’ll be moving anytime soon. If we do move, it’ll probably be when my son moves out, so it would be to smaller, not larger.

FWIW, we have a three bedroom, and the master bedroom is a combination storage space, rec room, guest room. It’s a pretty big room with a walk-in closet, and all the holiday stuff is in the closet. It has my old bunk beds from my childhood, which my mother kept all these years. Only one is set up, and if we ever need to, the second can be set up either as bunks or twins. There’s also a table and chairs, and a dozen board games, because I still love playing them the old-fashioned way, but there’s also a TV, and several old video consoles. It’s practically a museum of video consoles. It’s a rectangular room, and has the pinball machines on the short wall with no windows. We measured, and if we scoot them over, we can squeeze in one more. But that’s it.

It’s a basement apartment, so the landlord doesn’t care what we bring in with regard to weight. There are bookcases, aquaria, and the pinball machines, and no one has blinked.

I’ve had a house. I owned a house for almost 20 years. I could have all the pets I wanted, but aside from that, I never want to own a house again. I love that if something breaks, I can just make a phone call and someone fixes it; I love not mowing a lawn, and I do not miss tending plants and pruning trees one bit.

I have a 3-day weekend in October. Am thinking of going to the Pinball HoF. Never been before.

It rocks, dude; you’ll love it. Of all the attractions here in town, the Pinball HoF is the one that consistently gets the highest marks from people on the SDMB who ask where to go in Las Vegas.

This brings back memories. While everybody else was playing video games, I stuck with pinball. Bally had the more elegant machines, while Williams produced the wacky ones with some new features. I remember feeding a lot of quarters to Playboy and Dolly Parton when I was a college freshman.

While watching those videos, my hands were jerking as the old instincts kicked in. I’d keep the flippers up whenever the ball would bounce from side to side so I could catch it. I finessed it to the point where I touched the controls so lightly, you couldn’t hear the flippers flip. I had such a subtle wrist.

I haven’t even seen an actual machine in decades.

One thing that the various old-school pinball places lack is mechanical drop targets, probably because I’d guess they’re hard to maintain. I’m not sure that the Pinball HoF or the Asheville Pinball Museum have any, and Lyons Classic Pinball in Colorado only has a couple (but I might be misremembering them for arrays of circular touch targets which have the same strategic effect.) Mechanical drop targets, bumpers, and multi-level play are my primary reasons to play pinball. Thankfully, all 3 places have Black Hole and/or Haunted House.

Funhouse is excellent but consider just how annoying you’re likely to find Rudy’s voice after multiple plays.

Hmm. Good point. I wonder if turning it off is an option?

My dad had a Spirit of '76 but with different art. Just had the three revolutionaries and some red-white and blue artwork. Played the hell out of it.

But my vote is for Funhouse. Played it in the student union at college and later at the laundromat near my apartment. Got good enough that it was usually a long game.

My dad is a pinball junkie, but I only a casual player/observer. Were he here, I guarantee he’d vote for Spirit of 76 because he has a great affinity for mechanical machines. However, only I am here and I voted as if money were no object because hey, not my money! If I were picking which of those machines I’d want if they were all free, I’d take Star Wars, no question.

The only problem I have with Spirit of '76 is, it gets to be repetitive - go for the drop targets, aim for the “C” rollover which appears only at the top, aim for the hole. Not much more than that.

OP, you should get the Star Wars machine, as long as you can afford it. I know it’s more expensive, but a couple times you mentioned you really wanted it and it’s hard to find. If you think this will be the last machine you ever buy then you should get the one you really want.

I don’t know that Star Wars is the one I “really” want. I have looked for it before, and not successfully located one for sale, but then I didn’t even know about Bad Cats until a few years ago, even though it has been around for years.

What I really, really wish, if I could have whatever I wanted, is that we could squeeze two machines in, then we could get Spirit of 76, and flip a coin, and get either Bad Cats, or Funhouse as well. And as long as I am wishing for things, I’d wish to locate a parts machine for Funhouse. It’s selling so cheaply, that even though I played it, and it worked great, I’m sure their must be jerry-rigs on it. (Oh, hell, if I’m wishing for stuff, I’d get them, all, and a Gilligan’s Island to boot.)

Or, it’s possible the guy selling it doesn’t know what the market will bear. Usually I buy a machine from a dealer, who fixes up old machines, and then sells them, usually with a 90-day warranty. Funhouse is a private, as-is sale, although I did fine the original manual for sale online.

I worked on 2000kw generators for the Army, so I know my way around electronics, and how to read manuals. I also worked on vehicles for my unit, so I can work on a pinball machine, and have been. I just fixed the flippers of Star Trek, which turned out to be a problem with the leaf switches under them. They still stick occasionally, so I think I really need to replace them.

Actually, I have considered selling Star Trek to make room for Spirit of 76, and then either Bad Cats or Funhouse. But even though it is the least played of the three, I know I would miss it.

Oh, and apparently there is a switch on Funhouse to turn off Rudy’s voice.

It would be sort of a coup to have a Star Wars, because it’s hard to find, but I don’t want to make that my guiding principle. I almost bought a Doctor Who for the same reason, and I’m glad I didn’t.

Well in that case…obviously the condition of the machine is paramount, but if it’s in acceptable condition I have to say that Funhouse has sufficient complexity in it that it will take longer to be ‘played out’ than other tables, and it sounds like the price is right. Of course, if it’s going to fall apart the minute you get it home and you can’t get the parts for it, that’s a consideration too.

As for me, I’m stuck playing the electronic versions. And, annoyingly, the otherwise excellent Pinball Arcadeapp has recently lost its Williams and Bally tables, more’s the pity. Were I able to buy some machines of my own, I’d probably go with No Good Gofers (a good mix physical ball handling tasks and electronic stuff going on) and maybe the Addams Family game (which I used to play a lot in my younger days).