February 17


The Gameroom Blog has posted an interesting article about why the writer of the article is bailing on Stern Pinball going forward.  I have to say, I agree with the writer 100% on many of the topics written in the post.

Article from the Gameroom Blog : 

In the past few years I have sold all of my Stern Pinball machines from my game room collection. I sold a Stern AC/DC Premium, Aerosmith Pro, and Walking Dead Premium leaving nothing but games from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s in the collection.

In this article I will explain why.

I purchase pinball machines that I enjoy (our course), but for a pinball machine to last long-term it has to be great and somewhat “collectable.”

In fact most pinball machines never make it through to my game room. Often, I restore a pinball game, play it a ton in the garage and learn it is not good enough.

When your game room is up three hefty sets of stairs like mine, you choose carefully. I don’t haul up any pinball without expecting to keep it for several years at least — and some of the pinballs in my game room I have had for over twenty years.

What Makes a Collectable Pinball Machine?

The word collectable means different things to different people…

To me a collectable pinball machine has to check off these boxes:

  1. Has to a be a great pinball machine from a gameplay standpoint.
  2. Has to be a theme I like (or at least don’t dislike). I think of fun pinball machines like Indianapolis 500 or No Good Gofers that did not last long for me with race cars & golf not being my thing.
  3. Pinballs with nice art are much more likely to last in my collection. Who wants to be stuck looking at something ugly every day? If it is ugly, the gameplay better be awesome.
  4. A collectable game should be getting rarer as time goes by. With no more being made — you have to wonder how hard it will be getting back if you sell. Or will you even be able to afford it later? I should have kept that damn Safe Cracker!
  5. Also much like real estate, I want to own in a neighborhood where the values are steadily rising. The same goes in pinball. If your machines are appreciating more than inflation, they are better than cash and obviously more fun. Even if you are lucky with the state lotteries, why not be smart about your money? Pinball machines are not exactly cheap, especially when you own ten or more of them.

Appreciating Pinball Machines vs Depreciating

When you can find pinball machines that are appreciating, why buy depreciating ones?

While there are Stern Pinball machines like Tron that have appreciated over the years (thanks to Stern not re-releasing the game), most new pinball machines from Stern or Jersey Jack will lose value after purchasing new.

What has been the appreciation of 80’s and 90’s pinball machines in the past ten years?

Some rough estimates below of games I own or are pursuing:

  • Twilight Zone = 3x increase
  • White Water = 2x increase
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon = 3x increase
  • Fathom = 3x increase
  • Centaur = 3x increase
  • Quicksilver = 4x increase

Let’s look at the values of the Stern games I decided to get rid of recently:

  • AC/DC Premium = cost new $6500, current market for used stock game = $5500
  • The Walking Dead Premium = cost new $6600, current market for used stock game = $5600
  • Aerosmith Pro = cost new $5300, current market for used stock game = $4000

This may look like what you expected, but not long ago buying popular new Stern pinball machines was closer to money in the bank.


The Birth & Death of Collectable Stern Pinball Machines

Ten years ago I came close to buying an Iron Man. I was looking for a new pinball machine and Stern put out a game that played fast and challenging (somewhat of a rarity at the time.)

The art on Iron Man was decent and really nice in contrast to other Stern pinballs of that time period (24, CSI, and Wheel of Fortune are all so ugly).

But I still passed on buying a new Iron Man and figured I would get one used for around $3,000 in a few years.

Well that $3000 Iron Man day never came. They stopped making Iron Man machines by the time the game caught on. Before you knew it, Iron Man was selling for $1000 or more above its price when new.

That stoked heavy FOMO in me (fear of missing out) and woke me up to the fact that newly released Stern pinball machines can be collectable if the game becomes popular. Supply and demand rules after all.

The next year Tron Legacy came out and Stern produced only 400 units a special Limited Edition. The Limited version had unique lighting features and even a special multiball mode not found on the regular Tron version.

Once again, these games shot up in value. Something had changed in the pinball market and we realized that newer games could also become hot collectables.

Once Stern put out a pinball based one of my favorite old rock bands, I jumped off the fence. So I bought a new AC/DC Premium.

I felt like a genius as within a few years my AC/DC was worth a good bit more than what I paid for it.

You can buy a new game, play the hell out of it and still sell it for a profit? Sign me up for that every day of the week!

Then I pursued another killer game with a theme I liked — The Walking Dead Premium. And another rock band themed one with amazing art and fun game play in Aerosmith.

I was fully on the Stern bandwagon after years of feeling kind of meh about Stern’s overall quality of pinball machines.

Read the entire article linked below :