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  • JL (contributor)

I often get asked, "Why are the prices higher from so and so amusement company or ebay? Why are you offering me less money?" Well, first things first, let's go back to some basic economics. Market price doesn't mean value. Just because someone is asking $8000.00 for a Star Trek Next Generation Pinball Machine doesn't mean it's worth $8000.00. I can ask for a 40% premium on the home or car but that doesn't mean it will sell. A seller has to remember many retailers spend a considerable amount of time, resources and expense getting a machine ready for sale.

Most machines bought from a private home have not been serviced or cleaned in years. A retailer, before reselling, has to clean and service the game. The retailer doesn't want a call in 2 weeks from the buyer complaining the machine broke therefore the retailer spends time and resources making the machine reliable. A friend of mine in the retail business once told me when he takes overhead, employees, and parts into consideration, it adds up to about $2000 per machine. Plus, the retailer want/needs to make a profit. So, when you see an amusement company charging $8,000 for a machine, remember, he has costs in there and needs to make a profit. His costs and profit do not increase the value of the machine. Remember, the retailer bought it at a lower price otherwise he would lose money. Retailers also offer warranties and support which inst free.

Our collectors generally offer collector value on the machines. This is the cost the machine would go for on the collector market. This assumes a clean machine that is playable. Now, the reality is (like I said above) many machines found in private homes have had little in any maintenance. The playfields get dirty from flipper dust as well as plastics, ramps etc. The games need a good cleaning. On the collector market, a dirty game in need of maintenance would be worth a little less. To properly clean a machine takes about 10-20 hours of work depending on the machine. If you were to pay someone to do this work, it would be around $1000-$1500 bucks. Most collectors don't ask for that much discount but a couple hundred dollars is normal. For example, if you have a game that has not been serviced in years and is very dirty, a buyer may ask for a discount of $200-$300, which, would be fair.

If the buyer asked for anything more, that would be too much.

Again, everything with pinball is condition. Nicer the game, the better the price. If someone has to tear it all apart to find the hidden beauty of a machine, be prepared to discount the game a bit if you want the sale. Finally, just because a retailer lists a game for a price, doesn't mean that its the value of the machine.

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This is always a good question. The ultimate decision depends on your budget and your love affair with the game. Sometimes, its an economic decision. Generally, repair technicians will charge anywhere from $65 to $100 just to ring your doorbell.

Once there, they charge by the hour and rates can be anywhere from $50 per hour up to $100 depending on your location. Plus, there is also the parts cost involved. Depending on the nature of the problem, the repair can be $150 on up to over $1,000 depend on the parts. Now, if you own an older electronic machine, the value of the machine is probably around $100 to $400 bucks and frankly, may not be worth the cost.

Now, if you own a $8,000 Monster Bash, thats different!

The bottom line - before you contemplate a repair, do some pricing research first and find out what it's worth before sinking money into a game. In pinball, you never get repair costs back when you sell.

If you have a question about price, please email us as!

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This is a question I frequently get when I buy pinball machines. Typically, the games have been sitting for years and are covered in dust. The playfields are dirty and there is a black firm on the playfield. This black film is flipper coil dust or carbon. The problem with this dust is that when the balls roll across the playfield, the dust gets ground into the playfield and causes scratches and damage. This eventually leads to the clear coat wearing away, then the paint wearing away.

How do you prevent this? Wipe with windex? NO. The proper way is to take the entire playfield apart. Meaning, take all the components, ramps, plastics - basically any piece on the playing surface off. These pieces are all then cleaned. The playfield is cleaned with a special cleaning agent safe for pinball machines. Then the playfield is waxed, the pieces put back on and bingo - you have a clean game. Now, how long does this take? Anywhere from 2 hours to 10 hours depending on the complexity of the machine.

So - when a buyer says to a seller..."This game needs a tear down and cleaning" - he means approximately 2-10 hours worth of work. Its simply not just windex and paper towels. Amusements retailers generally charge $40 - $75 per hour for labor and it can cost anywhere from $100 - $1000 to properly clean a machine. Most hobbyists, and buyers here on pinballvalue, do not attempt to knock this amount off the price. However, consideration should be made by the seller as to how dirty the game is and how much work is needed.

My rule of thumb - if a game is dirty, knock off a couple hundred for the buyer.

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