Before video games conquered the world, pinball ruled. Whether it was the old Harlem Globetrotters machine at the pizzeria or the “Twilight Zone” pin at the local dive bar, everyone had their go-to game. And for pinball wizards who came of age playing the silver ball, the nostalgic desire to have an old favorite in their home drives a healthy collectors' market for vintage machines.
Unlike most other collectible genres, older artifacts aren't necessarily the priciest. In fact, many pinball fanatics (aka "pinheads") show little interest in tables from the 1950s and '60s. Far more popular are pins dating to the '70s and '80s, and particularly the '90s — widely considered modern pinball's "golden age." To compete with video games, the era saw pinball machines become more imaginative and complex while offering all sorts of gimmicky, sensory stimuli.
Going back to the birth of coin-op pinball in the 1930s, we careened down arcade memory lane and flipped the flippers on 15 machines — from classics to curios — for a round-up of collectible tables you'll need more than a pocketful of quarters to afford.