Field Trip: Pacific Pinball Museum
HOST: You don't have to be a pinball wizard to enjoy this classic arcade game. The goal: keep a plunger-launched ball on a playing surface rigged with obstacles and blinking lights, and score a lot of points. Simple, right? Maybe not as easy as it looks. The Pacific Pinball Museum has a fantastic collection of machines. After we tested our skills, I tested ROADSHOW appraiser James Supp on his pinball knowledge. (bells chiming) HOST: Aw! You know, even with the graphics of modern video games, nothing really compares to the fun of a pinball machine. This is so much fun. What's the history of pinball?
Well, pinball has its origins in the 1700s. It's based on a French game called bagatelle. Later on in the 1870s, Montague Redgrave developed a spring-powered plunger put into a little tabletop game that could be played in bars. It became very, very popular, and that led to modern pinball. In the 1930s, you had a lot of these bar games and saloon games, and there was a fear that that would lead to delinquency. Mayor LaGuardia of New York in about 1942 banned pinball, and the ban wasn't rescinded until the mid-'70s. Because it was illegal for so long and in so many different places, it became a symbol of youth and rebellion, which made it pretty cool. HOST: I can remember walking around, bumming quarters from my friends to try to get a shot at playing Fireball. Tell me about this game.
Well, Fireball is the iconic early '70s game. It was released by Bally in 1972. The back glass is absolutely brilliant. You've got a really exciting board, you've got flippers that slide in and out, and in the center here, you've got this spinning wheel that tosses a ball in random directions. HOST: This is a bone of contention for pinball players because you love it and you hate it.
Oh, yeah, it's a really lively board. It's really a fun game to play. When Bally's was originally selling Fireball, it sold for $895. And nowadays, you can get one in good playable condition for around $2,000 to $3,000 retail. There are very few vintage machines that haven't been altered, so one in good restored condition is almost as much as one in original condition. HOST: It's going to be hard to tear me away from the Fireball machine. It's bringing me back to my misspent youth, but I understand there's another machine we should take a look at.
Well, we'll look at a machine from my misspent youth, how's that sound? ( Addams Family theme playing ) HOST: All right, James, we move up about 20 years to the Addams Family pinball machine. This is a popular game.
Oh, yeah, absolutely. And the reason it was so popular, it was based on a very successful television/movie franchise, The Addams Family. Now, this is based off the 1991 movie. Bally's released Addams Family the game in 1992. Anjelica Huston, who played Morticia Addams in the movie, and Gomez was played by Ra˙l Juli·, and their voices were actually used in the game itself. It's got a bunch of elements from the movie built into the game. It has Fester Addams with the lightbulb in his mouth, a tremendously fun game. When it came out, it cost a few thousand dollars, and they sold over 20,000 units. Now, it was so successful, they actually did a second release called the gold edition with another 1,000 units on top of it. And the only real difference was it was a gold cabinet. It made it the best-selling flipper pinball game of all time. This game has become very popular all over again. HOST: Because the teenagers of the '90s now have jobs and they can buy them.
Exactly. HOST: So what would we spend if we were going to get an Addams Family pinball machine?
Well, a professionally restored pristine copy will run you about $12,000 to $15,000 retail. But most of the time, you can find a good, playable unit for around $4,000 to $6,000. HOST: Now, before we go, I think we should... we should play a little of The Addams Family.
Let's do some doubles. HOST: You got it. (theme music resumes)
Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.
Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."
Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.
Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.
Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.
Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.
Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.