What are the best ways to find old arcade games and pinball machines?
February 14, 2005 10:14 AM   Subscribe

Arcade filter: I collect and restore arcade games and pinball machines. I'm always looking for more games, and the main way I find them is by watching the classified ads. What are the best classified ad search engines for both online ads and newspaper ads? Can anyone suggest a better way to find games?
posted by cosmicbandito to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Buy them at auction. Most of the gamed I've acquired have been through this auction company. If you know what you want and what you're willing to pay up front, you can usually do pretty well.
posted by plinth at 10:24 AM on February 14, 2005

I don't know how good the prices are, but there's a place near me called TNT that has a small warehouse filled with hundreds of them. I'm not sure if you would consider them a competitor, or a supplier. They also have a small section that they rent out to host kid parties, allowing you unlimited play time on their games for the length of the party. I remember years ago getting my first exposure to Mortal Kombat there, and being completely appalled by the four or five droplets of blood. Hee.
posted by iconomy at 10:31 AM on February 14, 2005

i've heard people suggesting that you actually *place* an ad in the newspaper, offering to buy whatever it is you want (in this case, arcade games/pins) in any condition.

If someone comes to you with something you're not particularly interested in, you can just lowball them to the point where if they *were* willing to sell, it'd be so cheap you'd be interested.

with this sort of dead tree advertising, you also stand to catch the fabled "OLD WIDOW" demographic, who you know, in addition to having several classic pins in her garage, also owns her son's mint Vespa and her husband's cherried out dodge charger.

And wants like, you know, $40 for the lot.
posted by fishfucker at 11:24 AM on February 14, 2005

If you restore, try getting in good with a local arcade owner and asking about his distributor. It's a crapshoot whether those guys will give you time or not, but if you're gonna spend a few hundred bucks or more minimal, they've likely got a number of machines that don't quite work right, or boards without cabinets, cabinets without boards, or even loose parts.

Personal advice, you can't go wrong with obtaining an SNK cabinet, especially in good condition. You can get 1, 2, or 4 game slots in them for easy swapping without opening the system up, and the hardware has aged very gracefully. They're also common enough that you can get one in decent condition, possibly with a common game board or two, for only $250-300.

You also might do well with perusing MAME sites. While MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) itself is dubious in legality, most enthusiasts are very interested in the actual hardware itself and could advise you on where to go for very specific items.

Also, look around for arcades or bars that are closing or changing ownership. Often, you'll find someone wanting to get rid of an arcade machine fast, which means you can get it for a really good price.
posted by Saydur at 11:29 AM on February 14, 2005

I'll second (third? fourth?) auctions. That's where the operators get their games, and it's where you should, too-- especially if you don't want to pay collector prices.

My family had some look buying our pins from distributors, but that can be hit or miss. Lots of times they don't want to deal with the public, if they do, they often jack up the prices, and they've been going out of business left and right, so they're getting harder and harder to find.
posted by cosmonaught at 3:41 PM on February 14, 2005

« Older Tips about travel to Japan?   |   What soldering gun Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.