Editors note: We published a newer list of bargain pinballs as many featured in this article have finally caught on.
Pinball Machines are amazing fun, but they can also do some serious damage to your wallet.
With new games selling for $5000 to $7500 and with many used pinball machines selling for that high or even higher — a little bit of bargain shopping can go a long way. Some even say that prices of some used pinball machines are starting to resemble the Internet stock boom or tulip mania.
Being that a well stocked gameroom is the ultimate goal, for many of us we either need get lucky with the scratch cards or have to occasionally buy games on the cheap.
So let’s find you some truly great games that you can get for much less than a new pinball machine from Stern or Jersey Jack Pinball.
11) Any Classic Stern pinball machine: For the extreme bargain hunter you can select from any number of Classic Stern pinball machines. For some reason these games are just crazy cheap. Heck I just sold a Galaxy that plays great, in decent shape, and with a new MPU installed for $400. I couldn’t nearly give that game away. We talked about these games before. They play fast, have nice art, and for the money are hard to beat.
10) Johnny Mnemonic
Is a $5000 Tron Legacy a bit rich for your blood? How about a something in the $1500 range and with a similarly geeky theme? Johnny is a lightning fast game, with very satisfying shots, great sound, and a robotic glove to lock the balls into a matrix. The game even has a video mode that is fun and challenging and one of the cooler wizard modes in Powerdown.
9) Demolition Man
With ramps out the ying yang, a wide body design, DCS sound, a magnetic ball moving claw, metal habitrails all over the place, three flippers, and two giant metal controller handles — I am not sure a pinball machine like this could even get built today.
I just purchased a fully shopped-out one with re-chromed handles for $1400. Why aren’t there more deals like this in pinball?
With no less than three new versions of the game being worked on by collectors (Demolition Man 2K, James Cardona’s FreeWPC ROM, and the a new PROC ruleset) this is a rare old game that is getting new life.
This is another one of the rare mid 90’s Williams/Bally games that sell for the cheap. You can get one for $1500 still. When you consider how much fun this game is, that is a great bargain.
JackBot has the classic Pin*Bot layout, but with a vastly enhanced rules package. This is a much better pinball machine than games that sell for twice its price.
7) Fish Tales
White Water finally has caught on and it now routinely sells for over $3000. But its sister machine, Fish Tales is still had for around $2000. While not quite the game that White Water is, Fish Tales is a great game. Fast, challenging…and who can resist the flopping fish topper? Leave a message now, I have gone fishin’.
6) Tales from the Crypt
You could argue that this is the best machine ever produced by Data East. This game has no flaws. The playfield is fun, artwork is decent, a great classic theme, with balanced scoring, and deep rules and software.
With metal ramps, a custom topper, customer door handle ball launcher, a moving tombstone target, and a shaker motor the game has some impressive extras. And all for the going rate of about $1800.
So who is going to sell me one?
5) Judge Dredd
And old game with a still relevant theme (with the recent movie release). A wide body pinball machine with a ton of shots, so many flippers I cannot recall exactly how many (is it 4?), a spinning globe to lock balls into (with a great mod available from PinBits), fantastic artwork, a topper, and more.
This is a truly loaded game and if something like this came out today would be a $7000 game. Can be had in the $1500 range.
4) Revenge from Mars
This may sound like a very strange machine to make this list. But you have to recognize how amazing and special the Pinball 2000 games are.
Technology-wise the only game that even can maybe compare or deserve to live in the same sentence is the upcoming Wizard of Oz pinball machine. And how much would one of those cost you? Yes that would be $7500 big ones.
You can get a very nice RFM for under $3000 and it has the most advanced technology of any pinball machine. Seems like a deal to me.
3) Road Show
Road Show is a complete kitchen sink game. It is like Pat Lawlor tried to include a cool feature from every game he ever created. I am amazed this game was created as is — there just is so much in it. Not one, but two talking dummy heads. Heck you can stop there and it has more in it than just about every machine ever made…but then you add a moving bulldozer target, an extra ball shooter, ramps all over the place, diverters, four flippers, and then just to top it off — a shaker motor. Just crazyness.
If Stern made something like this today, at this build quality it would probably cost over $15,000. That is no joke.
That you can get one for $2500 or so is kind of nuts when you look at it that way.
2) Bram Stoker’s Dracula
BSD does not have a lot of gizmos like Road Show. But this is just such a fabulous pinball machine. I never get tired of it. The intense speed of the game, ultra creepy theme, and challenge are all quite classic.
Mist multiball is one of the neatest tricks ever in a pinball, the ramps are silky smooth, and driving that stake into Dracula’s heart is such a rush.
I would take this over a Tron Legacy, Avengers, or AC/DC any day. Yours for the low low price of only about $2000 or so.
Kind of like Johnny Mnemonic, this game appears to be kept down by a movie that was a terrible bomb.
Call me nuts, but I have owned Brian Eddy’s more famous games (Medieval Madness and Attack from Mars). I have sold both of those and do not miss them, but Shadow is not going anywhere.
The game is just a complete classic. Great art, cool theme (even if movie did bomb), great playfield, deep and thoughtful rules, unique toys. It absolutely has no weakness.
When a game like this goes for $2400 or so and Tales of the Arabian Nights goes for $5500 — well I have to question the entire balance of the universe. Something smells in Denmark I tell ya!