Many people use the 1 – 10 scale when valuing pinball machines and video games. However, what is a 10, a 6 or even a 2 pinball machine? Most people describe their machines in the 7-10 range, but where are the 1-5 rated machines? The fact is, they are there, but people usually don’t notice flaws that would devalue their machine and details that collectors look for are overlooked. Everyone’s definition of condition may vary. Some people use the term “Mint Condition” when describing machines. I would say that less than .5% of games out in circulation are “Mint Condition.” The term “Mint” comes from coin collecting and refers to coins that are in the same uncirculated condition they were when they were minted. Applying this to pinball machines is difficult as very few machines are unused as they when they were delivered from the factory.

I have seen examples of pinball machines from the late 1970’s or early 1980’s that have been found new in the box and unplayed. Those machines, I would describe as in “mint” condition. Other than those few exceptions, I would say that most machines found on auction sites which are near perfect could be described as “near perfect,” “excellent” or “very good condition.” Even a machine which as been restored with all new old stock (NOS) parts is not mint, although it may be perfect in every way and its value may exceed that of an identical machine in mint condition.



Condition of the machine’s cabinet body, head, coin door and legs.


The condition of the machine’s playfield, artwork, playing surface and playfield components including bumpers, drop targets and playfield plastics. Playfield wear occurs when the playfield is dirty and the ball wears down the finish and paint. Contrary to popular belief, there is seldom “normal wear and tear” on pinball playfields. There are few exceptions where there were flaws in the design or poor materials used, but generally speaking, a playfield show have no wear or missing paint. This is typically a sign of it being neglected and not kept clean. The palyfield condition can be one of the biggest factors in determining value.


The condition of the backglass. Not just for cracks and chips in the glass, but lifting of the silk screening on the back side, faded colors, peeling paint and scratches. You’ll need to remove the glass to inspect the back side to find fine imperfections. This can affect value greatly. Be careful when handling backglasses as they can be hard to replace and sometimes costly.


Overall condition of the machine including the circuit boards as well as its playability. Burned out light bulbs and broken rubber rings don’t necessarily affect value as they can be replaced for minimal cost, but they are an indication of how well the machine has been taken care of. Many electronic machines have batteries, which hold the high scores and preferences. These batteries were only designed to last a few years. When these batteries reach the end of their lifecycle, they often leak corrosive acid onto the circuit boards causing damage that can cost several hundred dollars to fix. Check and replace batteries before they corrode.