Our old bargain pinball machines article has gone out of date. In fact, some of the pinball machines on that list are now overpriced. So it is time to take another look at great bargain pinball machines.
When my luck in business or playing the slots of Vegas goes south, I search for bargains to fill up gaps in the game room.
The pinball marketplace has changed much in the past five years. With new pinball machines selling for $7000 or $8000 (or more) many pinballs from the 90’s are worth more.
You could still argue that something like a Shadow for under $4000 is still a great bargain (compared to a $5500 barren Stern Pro pinball machine) — and it is — but this post is focused on pinball machines that are to be had for under $2500 or so.
Today you need to dig deeper to find bargain pinball machines like that.
Here’s to the cheap pinball machines that still kick ass!
Everybody is looking for a Centaur…and for good reason. It’s a classic pinball machine with gameplay ahead of its time and features some ridiculously over-the-top art.
A nice Centaur will cost you big time, so enter Centaur II. Centaur II is the same game but built in a funky cabinet leftover from an experimental game.
Instead of dumping the cabinets in the garbage, Bally put out new versions of Centaur and Eight Ball Deluxe in these cabinets featuring tiny backglasses.
Sure this is not as cool looking at a normal Centaur because of the smaller backglass. But it plays exactly the same and this version is rarer. These should not be valued so much less, but don’t look a gift horse in the mouth bro!
Eight Ball Champ
This is the forgotten third game in the Eight Ball series. Eight Ball Champ was built during Bally/Midway’s cost-cutting period and thus is a no frills game.
But it still features drop targets spread all around the playfield making it more loaded than some Stern Pro pinball machines. Add in a classic and challenging pool ruleset and you have a winner.
Despite nice art and being a rare game you can find these for around $1000.
Elektra is a Bally game that has all of the elements people say they are looking for in older pinball machines. Elektra features speech, multiball, cool sounds, nice artwork, interesting rules, and unique features.
It was the first machine to feature three levels of gameplay. On top of that the game is rare!
These don’t sell anywhere near prices of Bally peer games such as Centaur, Fathom, Medusa or Viking will fetch.
When my pinball delivery dude dropped this one off he had to throw a dig at me…
“It’s not a good as the original.”
Ok whatever, dude.
Maybe he is right? I don’t think he is though. Consider that the original Fireball was fabulous and is one of the most famous pinball machines ever. So what are we even saying here?
Fireball II is still great in its own right.
Featuring chilling, mind-blowing artwork by a pinball legend, multiball, speech, multiple flippers, tons of drop targets, and that strange little demon flipper in between the flippers — Fireball II is a packed pinball.
This pinball machine has more going on than pinball games that sell for three times the price = a scary bargain.
Many of the harder to find classic Sterns are going for $2000 or more now. Games like Star Gazer, Iron Maiden, Viper, Quicksilver, or Dragonfist are going for crazy $5000 or more money now.
Classic Stern pinball machines are almost all great fun pinball machines, but many are ridiculously hard to find.
Thankfully not all of the very best of the Classic Stern era are rare. Like Flight 2000.
Flight 2000 is an unusual wide body design featuring multiball and speech. This pinball machine has a bizarre ball locking process, those tasty Stern drop targets, and nice retro artwork.
System 11 machines have mostly all caught on and even some of the crappier ones people try to pawn off for $2500 or $3000 to unsuspecting pinball newbs.
High Speed may be the best shooting and flowing game of that entire pinball generation yet is easily found on the cheap
It might still be hard to find one in great shape though. But they made a lot these. Happy hunting.
PS: The original blows away the more expensive sequel Getaway. No contest…trust me.
Those 90’s Williams and Bally games are still the high point of pinball design and build quality. The build quality, creativity, choreography, personality, feel, design, and artistry as a complete package are not bested by anything since.
Because of this, most of the better Williams/Bally pinballs from this time are in the $3000 – $8000 range now. I am happy we still have Johnny. Time to make a long distance phone call!
You should be able to find a nice Johnny pinball for under $3K.
The cheesy art (maybe even fugly?) is likely what holds back this machine from being priced fairly.
Jungle Lord has multiple playfields, multiball, bagatelle, drop targets, a good ruleset, great sound, challenging gameplay and player controlled magna saves on both sides of the playfield!
I found mind for under $1000 — and you can too.
In a recent trade to get some cash to help finish my crazy 1885 pinball house restoration, I traded a Walking Dead Premium for three classic Stern pinball machines (and a wad of cash).
Along with Ali and Nugent…Magic was kind of a throw in on the deal. I was not expecting much from it, but it was in great condition so why not?
Surprisingly this ended up being my favorite pinball machine of the bunch.
This pinball game to me is a Pinball Zen experience. The shots feel sweet, sweepable drop targets, two nice spinner shots, a bonus hole that you cannot shoot for (have to get lucky/nudge/bank into), and some cool old-school fantasy artwork.
And to boot this pinball is super rare. I never witnessed one in over 20 years of pinball collecting before owning mine.
I’m bolting mine to the old hardwood floors. This is pinball bargain gold. Get yours now before these go the way of Star Gazer.
Of all of the great classic Sterns I find Meteor the most fun and best shooting.
This is my favorite Classic Stern ever — yet it is one of the cheaper classic pinballs you can buy.
Meteor has classic retro spacey sounds, sweepable drop targets all over the place, and one of the most fun to rip spinners in all of pinball history.
Need I say more? Get yours already!
I wanted to feature another DMD game and struggled coming up with one.
Many feel overpriced. Freddy Nightmare on Elm Street for $3500?
Get the fuck out of here!
I still often see NBA Fastbreaks in the $2K – $2.5K range which feels like a bargain.
There are unique things going on in this pinball, unique mechs, animation and action in the backglass area, and this pinball machine has relatively low production numbers to boot.
Feels like a deal to me.
So there you have it bargain hunters!
If you want some great pinball machines, that are not over-priced and are likely to appreciate in value over the years — give one of these pinball machines a try.