Beatles pinball machine - $10,000

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condition: excellent
make / manufacturer: Stern
model name / number: Gold
I never thought I'd have to say goodbye to my all-time favorite pinball machine because I'm moving and I have to downsize. First of all I'm a huge fan of the Beatles. This pinball machine encompasses the best of two worlds: old-school speed matched with new technology. Essentially, this means you don't have to wait for the ball to essentially disappear as seen in the new games, but rather, there's no waiting for the ball to return. Everything listed here is part of a package, so I won't separate any items from the sale. This machine has not been played much since I am protecting it as a collectible. My price is firm so no offers taken.

First some history: In “Pinball Wizard,” one of the show-stopping numbers in the Broadway revival of “The Who’s Tommy,” Ali Louis Bourzgui belts out, “Ever since I was a young boy, I’ve played the silver ball.” The line resonates among a growing number of devotees, as the vintage game with flashing lights and push-button flippers undergoes its own revival, making pinball, by some measures, more popular than ever.
The Covid pandemic had an unexpected impact on pinball. Arcades and restaurants that closed or were financially squeezed sold off their machines to private individuals, spawning new interest in having them as home entertainment. Now commercial venues have returned and flourished, most notably breweries and drink-and-play establishments known as “barcades.” The result is a robust market for pinball manufacturers, led by Stern Pinball, which has opened a new factory outside Chicago to keep up with demand.

Back in 2006 when the International Flipper Pinball Association began tracking professional players, there were 52 sanctioned events worldwide. Within 10 years the total reached 2,000, and today it exceeds 10,000. While participants, both professional and recreational, hope the ascent is long lasting, pinball has endured decades of ups and downs.
Loosely traceable to a game played by French aristocracy in the 1700s known as bagatelle, in which a cue stick was used to shoot balls into holes to score points, it caught on among Americans in 1871 with the addition of a spring-loaded plunger that propelled the ball into play. Improved pinball games grew in popularity through the Depression, a time when a penny bought precious moments of amusement and distraction.

In 1933 the Pacific Amusement Company introduced the first electric pinball game, known as “Contact,” whose battery-powered gates and kick-out devices added new levels of complexity. Pinball’s surge in popularity ended in the ’40s as the games were linked to gambling and organized crime, resulting in bans in major cities. In New York, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia famously smashed machines with a sledgehammer for the benefit of press photographers.

The ban remained in effect until 1976, when New York’s City Council debated the matter. “On the surface it appears to be an innocent sort of device, but it will bring rampant vice and gambling back to the city,” said Brooklyn Democrat Leon A. Katz, sounding very much like Prof. Harold Hill railing against pool tables in “The Music Man.” But the vote turned against Katz when a magazine writer and pinball aficionado, Roger Sharpe, conducted a live demonstration to prove the game required skill.

Legalization in New York and other major cities led to a pinball boom, with the emergence of mall arcades like Aladdin’s Castle, which grew to 450 locations by 1982. Then videogames came along and pinball again fell out of favor, hitting bottom in 1999 with the closing of a major pinball factory in Illinois owned by WMS Industries. That prompted the New York Times to write what amounted to an obituary for pinball, in which historian Russ Jensen lamented, “With only one company left, there’s the possibility that pinball may not live into the next millennium.”

But that remaining company, Stern Pinball, flourished, along with an array of smaller pinball manufacturers. In 2013 under the headline “Pinball Bounces Back in New York City,” The Wall Street Journal covered the opening of Modern Pinball, a retail gaming establishment in Manhattan, aimed at “turning New York City into a Mecca for the game it once banned.” When Covid hit in 2020, the venue closed and many of its machines were sold to loyal customers for as much as $10,000 a unit.

Today, pinball is again at a crossroads, riding what might be just another wave of nostalgia—or perhaps entering a new era that combines professional competition, live online coverage of major events and widespread recreational play.
Two pinball-loving families, the Sharpes and the Zahlers, are working to steer the industry to greater prominence. Roger Sharpe, the journalist who dazzled New York lawmakers nearly 50 years ago, is profiled in a current film, “Pinball: The Man Who Saved the Game,” available on streaming platforms. One of his sons, Josh, is president of the International Flipper Pinball Association (IFPA); the other, Zach, is head of marketing for Stern Pinball. All three are accomplished players and collectors.

Steven Zahler, the former owner of Modern Pinball, is developing a television project to promote the game. His son, Jason, 19, is currently the world’s highest-ranked pinball player. Surrounded by 40 machines at the family home in New Jersey, Jason spoke recently about his love for the game, which he began playing at age 2 by standing on a wooden crate to reach the controls. “Pinball is like a videogame plus physicality,” he explains. “You’re standing up, and there’s a physical ball, and you get to hit stuff. That definitely has a lot of draw for the younger generation.”

Newcomers to pinball might be surprised to discover the game’s commonalities with golf. Top players plan several shots ahead and put spin on the ball to direct it. While the basic game is uniform, each “course” is different. Even the act of pushing the machine—known as “nudging”—requires considerable skill to affect the ball’s path while not exceeding the machine’s limits, resulting in a “tilt.”

Three years ago Stern added a new wrinkle with an app called Insider Connected. “You scan in on the bottom margin of the machine,” Zach Sharpe explains, “and the game knows you. You can get in-game achievements. There’s a global leaderboard, so you can compete with your peers in a fun kind of bragging rights way.” The technology also allows Stern to update and repair machines remotely, without an on-site visit.

A privately held company that does not release financial data, Stern says it has seen its business increase 20% or more annually over the last 12 years, with machines selling for between $6,000 and $12,000. During Covid, “The consumer side really exploded,” Zach told me, “because a lot of people were investing in their homes, not going on vacations, building their casual rec rooms, and it really helped get more people involved in pinball than ever before. Now that we’re through the pandemic, commercial sales are picking right back up.”

Steven Zahler notes that pinball is heading in two directions. New games are increasingly complex because “manufacturers want to appease the tournament players. They want to keep things interesting.” But a large segment of the recreational market must be able to enjoy the machines, he says, “even if they don’t know what the heck they’re doing.”
Roger Sharpe, arguably the nation’s foremost pinball expert, what he sees in the future. He mentioned live TV coverage of pinball competition, which already exists to a limited extent. “Who ever thought that watching people play poker on TV would be attractive?” he mused, before surprising me with an even bolder prediction. “Did I ever think skateboarding would be in the Olympics? Or flag football? I’m assuming pinball will be there somewhere down the road.”
Based on the current wave of popularity, all that’s needed, according to Sharpe and pinball’s many enthusiasts, is a little nudge.

As the most influential band in music history, The Beatles is a property that people old and young can instantly recognize. To celebrate such an incredible legacy, Stern Pinball has created the first and only Beatles-themed pinball machine: The Beatles – Beatlemania. Rated 8 out of 10 on Pinside.

Based upon a classic 1980 Stern pinball table called Seawitch, that older table has been completely re-themed to focus on The Beatles when they began their international “British Invasion” in 1964. The likenesses of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr (the “Fab Four”) from this era are found on the cabinet, sporting their iconic blue suits. As the game layout is essentially the same as a classic game, this title feels like it came from the 1960’s, playing as a simple game that people of any skillset can enjoy.

The Beatles does more than just re-themes an old game with new artwork however. All of the electronics are modern, with Stern’s SPIKE-2 system managing the components; lights replaced with long-lasting LEDs; a sharp HD display built into the back box for vibrant animations and remastered clips and more. Custom speech has been provided for the game by the legendary disc jockey Cousin Brucie, who introduced The Beatles at New York’s Shea Stadium in 1964. The playfield has two new feature additions that elevate the game beyond Seawitch – first, a magnet at the top of the playfield; second, a spinning disc in the center of the playfield that looks like a vinyl record.

• The first and only licensed pinball table based upon The Beatles
• Limited production! Only 1,614 Gold Edition models were made. Out of stock.
• Retro style gameplay that fits with the 1960’s aesthetic
• Features nine Beatles hits: A Hard Day’s Night, Can’t Buy Me Love, Ticket to Ride, All My Loving, Help, Drive My Car, It Won’t Be Long, I Should Have Known Better, & Taxman
• Four flippers, 11 drop targets, two opto-spinners, 8 stand up targets, multiball modes
• Bright & balanced LED lighting
• Special features: Magnet and disc spinner, the latter designed to look like a vinyl record
• Supports 1-4 players (taking turns)
• HD display shows vibrant animations, clips of the band and Ed Sullivan, scoring and more
• All music & sounds are pumped through a hi-fidelty 3-channel sound amp
• Separate treble & bass adjustment controls
• Includes a standard two-slot coin door; DBA ready or Free Play available

Installed Dimensions: H: 75.5″ W: 27″ D: 55″ Weight: 250lbs.
Shipping Dimensions: H: 56″ W: 31″ D: 31″ Weight: 280lbs.
Electrical: 110V

Extras (includes what I paid for these items):
The Beatles: Beatlemania Pinball Topper – Officially Licensed Stern Pinball Machine Product $600 Sold out.
Stern The Beatles Original Pinball Machine Collectible Vinyl Display Banner 62”x24” $235
Pictures, Posters, & Books: $350
7 books
3 framed pictures
1 framed poster
1 clock

post id: 7750950606



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