How much is my pinball worth? Should I fix it?
Pinball values are based on rarity, condition and play appeal, and more recently, repair-ability. We have a book that purports to be a good starting base for prices. It is supposed to be for "collectors" so I assume the prices are what "collectors" would like to pay. We generally take the book price and add a shop-out charge plus a little profit (not a dirty word you know). The condition of the game adds more value to our price and the rest is pure speculation.
When a customer asks us, "Why fix it if my purchase price plus repair ends up costing more than it's worth?", we say it will be worth what you end up paying in total. If you want to own a pinball in good shape, and working, you will pay more than what a collector would pay. Most collectors repair their own machines. If you buy a pinball from a "dealer" you will pay two times or more because of overhead.
Here is the math on our typical used pinball sale: Cost $600 + repair $750 = $1350 + profit = $1650 or Cost $1200 + repair $750 = $1950 + profit = $2500. This is what we call the retail price. Opinions vary....
Pinball games are expensive toys that can last a lifetime. They are many times handed down from generation to generation. Pinball games are getting harder to find.
Some games are rising in price more that others. Currently "DMD" pinballs are rising at a fast pace. DMD stands for "Dot Matrix Display". A Dot Matrix Display is a gas discharge display screen introduced around 1989. If a pinball has a DMD screen it is part of a group of games with many similar attributes. This type of game is the target of many aftermarket parts suppliers. The printed circuit boards, playfield toys, plastic ramps, coils and most other parts in these games are being recreated and sold in relatively large numbers. This parts availability is creating a large following of "do it yourself-re's" who can simply buy a main CPU board for $500(example) and repair the game. These games are also the most complicated because they were the last of the genre.
Older electronic and electromechanical games are still valuable. They represent a slower time when pinballs had character that showed artistic style and workmanship. Older games are harder to repair in some ways and fewer technicians are available. These games can demand large prices if kept in good condition.