The top 10 classic pinball machines are:
- The Twilight Zone(Bally)
- The Addams Family (Bally)
- Medieval Madness (Williams
- Star Trek: The Next Generation (Williams)
- Theatre of Magic (Bally)
- The Getaway: High Speed (Williams)
- Tales of the Arabian Nights (Williams)
- Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure (Williams)
- Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Williams)
- Goldeneye (Sega)
What Makes A Pinball Machine A Classic?
Any pinball machine that has retained its popularity and demand in spite of the passage of decades since it was released definitely has a lot going for it. To be able to compete against newer machines with more advanced technology and come out ahead speaks volumes of its playability and overall appeal.
Without taking anything away from the playability factor, the other big factor that works in the game’s favor is that many of them are riding on the success of comic books, television series, or films that they are themed after.
The Top 10 Classic Pinball Machines
1. The Twilight Zone(Bally)
The Twilight Zone is based on the television series from Rod Serling, which was released by Bally in 1993 with 15,235 units produced. This is the second-highest production after The Addams Family’s record-breaking run of 20,720 units. This machine uses 4 flippers, 2 ramps, and a rocket kicker as well as features a Powerball mode that uses a lighter ceramic pinball compared to a standard steel pinball.
The cabinet art is rather mediocre, but the backglass artwork and playfield art are much better. The audio has a synthesized version of The Twilight Zone guitar solo from Golden Earring, with Tim Kitzrow as the voice of Rod Serling. This pinball adaptation of The Twilight Zone will have immense appeal for all the avid fans who grew up watching the television series.
The machine has quite a few toys: a gumball machine, an analog clock, and a Powerfield. The gumball machine holds 3 pinballs and can release or catch them while the game is on. The analog clock displays time with no other purpose. The mini-playfield at the upper end of the playfield has 2 concealed magnets used as flippers to aid the player in hitting a ball into the top hole within a time limit.
The average time for a game is well above 15 minutes making it fun for the entire family. Beginners and small children find that playing it is comparatively easier compared to other games. The current price for a used machine ranges from $9,500 to $13,500, however, the buyer will need to verify its working condition.
2. The Addams Family (Bally)
The Addams Family was released by Bally in 1992, with a record-breaking 20,720 units manufactured making it the best-selling pinball machine of all time. Subsequent to the 1992 release, Bally restarted production in 1994 to manufacture 1,000 units of a Gold Edition, also known as a “Special Collector’s Edition” to commemorate its record breaking sales.
The Gold Edition features metal ramps, with gold lettering, gold bumper caps, gold bolts, and gold legs, as well as a gold plate on the front of the machine. The Addams Family is based on its very popular television series, comic books, and film made in 1991. This machine has excellent cabinet art with an outstanding backglass as well as a brightly illuminated playfield.
The machine has 4 flippers, of which one can be controlled by the game. It also has 2 slingshots, 2 kick-out holes, as well as a large plastic hand that comes out from a box to magnetically pick up the pinball and take it under the playfield. This is one of the few machines that feature custom speech from the cast of the film.
This machine has a unique feature known as “The Power”, which is a spinning disc with magnets under the playfield to catch the ball and then throw it in a random direction. Lights flash to indicate when it is on. “The Power” can also stop the ball dead, make it jump left or right, or even move backward.
Fully refurbished machines are available for about $16,000 with a waiting period of 2 to 3 months, although machines are also selling at prices between $11,000 to $19,000 the condition not verified.
3. Medieval Madness (Williams)
Medieval Madness was released in 1997, with 4,016 units manufactured by Williams. The theme of the game is a castle in the Middle Ages, with a motorized drawbridge. exploding towers, and a princess tower, with the goal of the game to demolish 6 castles. The cabinet art and backglass artwork are exceptional, making this one of the best-looking games on this list.
Under license from Williams, in 2014 production was started by Planetary Pinball Supply using the name Medieval Madness Remake. The voices of the cockney princess and the Opera Singer are by Tina Fey, while the voices of the sexy princess and the Jewish princess are by Andrea Farrell. The callouts from the troll heads are the voice of Greg Freres.
This machine has quite a few unique features; a catapult that sends the ball flying into an elevator above the playfield, as well as, a couple of troll heads that emerge from below the playfield for the player to shoot at. Hit the ball into the castle entrance to trigger a light show on the playfield as well as an explosion effect on the display.
Even though this game does not have a comic book background or film theme to prop it up, its massive popularity is testimony to the fact that its playability is undeniably unrivaled. A commercial fully refurbished machine is currently available for $16,999, with a waiting period of 2 to 3 months, and no private sellers in the market.
4. Star Trek: The Next Generation (Williams)
In 1993 Williams launched this game with 11,728 units produced, the fifth-highest after the Addams Family’s record production of 20,720 units. Based on the Star Trek television series with its music and voices from the original Star Trek cast, as well as, the cabinet art and stunning backglass artwork are sure to bring back plenty of happy memories from Star Trek fans.
The goal of this game is to complete 7 missions before the Final Frontier 6 ball multiball. This machine feature 3 flippers, 3 ramps, 3 stand-up targets, and 1 spinning target. A couple of cannons are fitted on top of bumpers to shoot pinballs at the flippers before a multiball mode starts giving the player a choice of 2,3,4, or 6 balls.
This game is relatively easy to play, thus most players will get to the Final Frontier 6 multiball. Still, this one is going to provide plenty of entertainment for the entire family. A commercial fully refurbished machine with 1 Year Limited Warranty costs $9,999 with a waiting period of 2 to 3 months, but private sellers range from $6,000 upwards, however, the machine condition needs to be verified.
5. Theatre of Magic (Bally)
This game was released in 1995 by Bally when 6,600 units were produced. The game developer John Papadiuk went on record to state in the July 2000 issue of GameRoom Magazine that the game was originally to be titled, “The Magic of David Copperfield”, who was a distinguished magician of the 90s. As the license fell through the name was changed to Theatre of Magic.
The cabinet art is quite simplistic although the superb backglass artwork and brightly colored playfield make up for it. The upper portion of the playfield is slightly dark, however, the lower part is brightly lit up. Even though the ball moves very fast, this is one of the easier games to play and has widespread appeal to players of all skill levels.
This machine has the usual 2 flippers, 2 slingshots, and features a Tiger Saw multiball, as well as a Magic Trunk. Hitting the Magic Trunk 3 times makes it rotate, then hit a ball into the hole to trigger a multiball mode. The Magic Trunk creates an amazing must-see effect when the ball levitates in mid-air before it vanishes to start a multiball mode.
A commercial fully refurbished machine with 1 Year Limited Warranty costs $15,000, although private sellers are ranging between $10,000 to $14,000, however, the working condition of the machine needs to be verified. This is a hard-to-find collectible to be grabbed if a machine in good condition can be found.
6. The Getaway: High Speed (Williams)
The Getaway: High Speed (Williams) was launched in 1992 by Williams with 13,259 units produced, the third-highest after the Addams Family’s run of 20,720 units. The game has 2 goals: to run the red light and to hit the ball beyond the outer loops to drive the tachometer higher, as well as changing gears that scores extra points.
The cabinet art and backglass artwork are very ordinary although the playfield is beautifully lit up with an Oval Supercharger Loop. This machine has 3 flippers, 5 stand-up targets, and a diverter magnet that sends the ball either to the Supercharger Loop or a habitrail. The ball plunger has been replaced by a gearshift. Used machines can be purchased for about $5,000 to $6,000.
The lower and middle playfield are very open, as a result of this, the ball moves very fast after it enters these areas requiring very fast reactions from players. In keeping with the theme of the game, the backglass has a red police light on top of it. A traffic light located at the upper right of the playfield unlocks a multiball mode after it is hit thrice.
The theme music is La Grange by ZZ Top. All through the game, there are plenty of sound effects: police sirens, engine revving noises, and gears shifting. The Oval Supercharger Loop is a magnetic accelerator that captures the ball and whizzes it around the Loop at blinding speed effecting an astounding visual treat, as well as the most prominent feature of this game.
7. Tales of the Arabian Nights (Williams)
Williams launched Tales of the Arabian Nights in 1996 with 3,128 units produced. Based on fables from the Arabic book titled One Thousand and One Nights, this game is very highly regarded by players for its playability. This game has 2 flippers, 2 slingshots, a spiral ramp, a kick-out hole, and a multiball mode. Its most attractive features are 2 spinning posts with lamps on top of them.
Its cabinet art is nothing special, but the artwork on the illuminated backglass as well as a brightly colored, beautiflully lit playfield are spectacular. The game starts with a delightful animation though the sound package features music and callouts from Dave Zabriskie. This is one of the few games that attacks the player by using a magnet to grab the ball and then throw it back at the flippers.
The game is easy to play with the result that it gains favor from small children as well as adults. A fully refurbished machine with a 1 Year Limited warranty is currently ready for delivery at the price of $39,000. The machine is available from private sellers ranging in price from $12,000 to $14,000 although the working condition is unverified. Despite the prices, it is in demand by collectors.
8. Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure (Williams)
Williams released Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure in 1993 with 12,716 units produced. This is the fourth highest production after The Addams Family’s record-breaking run of 20,720 units. Themed on the Indiana Jones series of films, some of the key scenes from the films are depicted on the playfield. The cabinet art is rather plain, but the backglass artwork is 2 steps ahead.
The playfield art is exceptional with a rotating idol head to let out balls, as well as 2 airplanes. This standard machine has 2 flippers, 2 slingshots, 7 standup targets, as well as 2 kick-out holes. There are 4 multiball modes to provide even the weakest player with a very enjoyable experience of playing with 6 balls simultaneously.
After Williams introduced their DCS sound system, this game was the first to use it to provide sound clips from the films as well as the voice of actor John Rhys-Davies for speech. Any game that requires minimal skill to play it is ideal for the entire family.
A fully refurbished machine with a 1 Year Limited Warranty costs $14,999 and a waiting period of 2 to 3 months. Private sellers range from $10,850 all the way to $20,000, working condition needs to be confirmed.
9. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Williams)
Based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula film in 1992, the pinball version of this classic movie was released in 1993 with 6,801 units produced. The cabinet art is very ordinary but the backglass artwork is outstanding with the typical blood-red color scheme dominating it. This is a standard 2 flipper game with 3 multiball modes that can run simultaneously.
The game has a fascinating visual effect where the ball moves from one side of the playfield across to the other, seemingly of its own volition, however, this effect is powered by a magnet under the playfield. If the player shoots this ball off its path, a multiball mode is activated. This can be repeated 3 more times so that 4 multiball modes are running at the same time.
The playfield art is excellent and well lit, although the lower half of the playfield is empty. Consequently, the ball moves very fast when it reaches this area making it unsuitable for beginners who cannot cope with the high ball speed. The spooky audio fits in with the Dracula theme. Currently, there are no machines for sale, however, there are plenty of parts available.
Of course, a lot of the hype is due to the Dracula theme, although this game does have high demand from all the Dracula movie fans. The biggest draw for most players is the distinctive feature of triple stacking the 3 multiball modes.
10. Goldeneye (Sega)
This list would not be complete without mentioning the world’s favorite spy, James Bond. The Goldeneye film was launched in 1995, and close on its heels Goldeneye from Sega was released in 1996 with 2,200 units produced. Themed on the James Bond series of films, this pinball adaptation of Goldeneye delivers on the promise of high quality inherent in the Bond license.
The cabinet art is outstanding, as well as an exquisitely illuminated backglass of Pierce Brosnan as James Bond with the Bond villains and girls. The playfield is beautifully lit featuring 2 long gold wire habitrails on either side of the machine. This standard machine has 2 flippers, 2 slingshots, and 14 standup targets. The 3 toys are a Tank, a helicopter, and a satellite radar dish.
The sound effects and speech are straight from the film with some great callouts from M and Q. The machine has a unique feature in that a magnet under the playfield, between the flippers grabs the ball before it can drain, and throws it back into the playfield. This is probably the best game ever developed by Sega sure to appeal to all the James Bond fans.
The difficulty level is quite low so players of all skill levels are going to enjoy playing this game for hours. Currently, there are no machines for sale but the last registered sale took place in 2017 at the price of $3,363. There is no mention of whether the machine was in working condition or not, however, collectors will be searching for this one.
The most recognizable games will always be the ones based on a popular film or television series, even though the playability factor has made an impact going by the number of non-film or television-themed games in the top 10. Nevertheless, pinball manufacturers are determined to stick to their tried and tested working formula as most of the top games today are based on blockbuster films.