Designer: Pat Lawlor
Art: John Youssi
Added to my collection: April 2, 2008
Sold: September 5, 2013
Total Lifetime Investment : $3450.50
Sale Price: $3900
Current Condition : Sold (decided I'd rather have the money than the pin...)
Okay...I have to admit it publicly. It's happening. I'm starting to move (slowly) from video games to pinball.
My original plan for pinball number three was a 1970s electromechanical machine. I figured that it would make a nice compliment to the two machines I already had (Addams Family and Centaur)--one from each era of pinball (at least the eras I've lived through personally). However, I really haven't had much luck finding an EM machine that I really like at the auctions. So I've just bided my time.
A couple of years back, I discovered that a local amusement center (Frankie's Fun Park) tended to pick up the new Stern pinball machines as they came out. Stern is now the only pinball manufacturer around, and I had played some of their earlier games--and not liked them much. Then Lord of the Rings came out. I played it at Frankie's and really enjoyed it. I also liked Simpsons Pinball Party quite a bit. The only way to get a Stern machine for the most part is to get it new...a lot of them are being sold to home users directly, and the ones on location haven't been sold off yet for the most part. And, much as I liked the games, the idea of paying over $4000 for a pinball machine was not very attractive to say the least.
Then, last year, Stern released a machine based on one of my favorite shows: Family Guy.
I first got to play the machine at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, shortly after the game was released. I immediately loved it. Not only was the theme awesome--this is by far the funniest pinball machine ever made, with hundreds of sound clips from the show (as irreverent as the show itself, especially with the machine set to Adult mode)--but the game play was incredible. I guess this shouldn't be a surprise, really, considering that it was designed by Pat Lawlor, who also designed Addams Family, one of my favorite pinballs of all time. The most unique feature of the game is the Stewie Pinball table--a miniature pinball machine within a pinball machine, with tiny flippers, a tiny ball, and a bunch of ramps. Pretty cool stuff.
I knew I had to have one eventually...but that price. Ouch.
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As I said earlier, used Stern machines are pretty rare. As time went on, though, I was becoming more and more antsy about picking up a Family Guy machine. It wasn't just that I really, really wanted one--it was the fact that I heard that Stern was changing the art on at least 500 Family Guy machines and turning them into Shrek machines. I guess I can see their reasoning--Shrek is a lot more family-friendly than Family Guy. But my fear was that they'd stop making Family Guy altogether at some point, making it difficult to obtain one. (This hasn't happened yet, but you never know.)
As it turns out, it was the Shrek thing that ultimately led to me getting my machine. Donnie Barnes, the pinball afficionado who sold my my Addams Family a few years back, posted a message on the local newsgroup that he was selling his home use only Family Guy machine for a price that was nearly 25% below the going retail rate. He loves the game, but he's not a huge Family Guy fan and he has kids, so Shrek is the perfect game for him. He has ordered the new machine, and he wanted to get rid of this one. Meghan wanted to give me one as a belated birthday gift, so I consulted her and jumped at the opportunity.
The machine isn't brand new, obviously. I have heard from collectors online that uncrating a brand new pinball machine is a cool experience, and I have yet to partake of that. However, the game that Donnie sold me was home use only--and it was in his home. There's no one I know personally who takes care of his games better than Donnie, so a game from his collection with fewer than 500 plays on it is pretty much new. And at a better price.
Long story short (too late), I picked up the game the day after Donnie posted the for sale message. It's now a proud part of my collection.
Yeah, yeah....it's not classic. It's new. Who cares? It's Family Guy. And it's freakin' sweet!
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The beauty of buying a machine so new is that (knock wood) it's in pretty much perfect condition. The manual was still sealed in plastic, as were the spare stickers and bulbs. I've have high hopes that I won't have to post anything in the technical section of this page for a very, very long time (knock wood again).
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