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15 Best Williams Pinball Machines

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Top Williams Pinball Machines
Top Williams Pinball Machines

There’s no doubt about it, when it comes to collectible pinball machines, Williams is the gold standard to which all others are held to.  Throughout the 80’s and 90’s they made a ton of huge hits that are very sought after even today.  The question for some people is “What are the best Williams pinball machines ever made?”.  This post will go over the 15 best.

The Top Williams Pinball Machines List

#1)  Medieval Madness.  By all standards, it is the most sought after and collectible game Williams made.  In fact, it was so popular that they even remade it a couple years because prices for the originals had gone over $10k.  Why is it so popular?  It’s the combination of working castle combined with killer rules and voices from people like Tina Fey (before she was famous).  It’s a very challenging game that is also very popular with guests.  Who doesn’t like to destroy a castle?  Current cost is around $8k.

#2)  Attack From Mars.  The precursor to Medieval Madness, Attack From Mars is the game that made designer Brian Eddy famous.  Featuring a giant saucer and hilarious voice quotes, Attack From Mars is the perfect mix of challenge and fun.  Personally, it might be my favorite of all of their games (it’s close).  It was also so popular that they remade it as well.  It can be bought new right for as little as $6500 for the classic to $8000 for the LE.

#3)  The Addams Family.  As far as being recognizable by pinball players, there’s probably no bigger title than The Addams Family.  It was the biggest hit in pinball history, selling more than any other pinball machine in history.  Pat Lawlor became famous from the design, especially with the Thing hand that comes out and takes the ball.  With original quotes from the actors and a full mansion to tour to get to the wizard mode, The Addams Family set a new standard for pinball machines.

#4)  Twilight Zone.  The followup by Pat Lawlor to The Addams Family, Twilight Zone was initially not super successful on route due to the shear amount of things required to keep it running.  It was a little too complicated for new players, and when combined with the reliability issues, it suffered when compared to The Addams Family before it.  However, later on collectors began to figure out how great the game is, and prices skyrocketed on it.  It’s hard to name another pinball machine that has more stuff packed in, from the gumball machine to the powerball playfield.

#5)  Star Trek:  The Next Generation.  A masterpiece by Steve Ritchie, the king of flow.  Featuring 3 ramps, two rotating cannons, and callouts from the entire cast, Star Trek: The Next Generation set a new standard for immersion in a pinball machine.  Featuring 7 missions to get to the Final Frontier, it’s a challenging game that keeps you coming back for more.  I actually own this game in my collection, it’s a keeper for me.  It’s one of the few games that actually has feature that fights back against you, the Borg ship that launches balls at you.

Star Trek The Next Generation Pinball Machine
Star Trek The Next Generation Pinball Machine

#6)  Monster Bash.  Another game similar to Medieval Madness and Attack From Mars, it features the same programmer as those games, Lyman Sheets.  You’ll actually see his name on a lot of the top games, he’s probably the most popular pinball programmer of all time along with Keith Johnson.  Monster Bash has the same layout and humor that made the other two games I mentioned popular, only not quite as good in my opinion.  It’s a little easier than the other two and usually doesn’t last as long in collections.  They’re also remaking Monster Bash as well.

#7)   Funhouse.  The first game to feature a giant head on the playfield, Rudy has creeped people out for years.  It was an amazing innovation at the time, and honestly it’s better than most of the things out today as far as playfield toys go.  The fact that Rudy eats balls and talks make it a pretty cool experience, though he might scare younger children.  Funhouse is the game that really started the whole 90’s Williams craze with all of the innovative playfield inventions.

#8)  Indiana Jones:  The Pinball Adventure.  Another one of the early 90’s Supergames, Indiana Jones was big success.  Another very popular game to collect, mainly due to the theme (as Williams had a bad habit of picking dud movies as themes a lot).  It features a moving “Path of Adventure” in the back that is pretty cool, along with a rotating head on the side that works to release balls.  My favorite part of the game was definitely the modes, they were excellent.  Shooting wise, I don’t think it was as smooth as some of the other games of the era, mainly due to mode start bounce outs and drop target ricochets down the left outlane.

#9)  Bram Stroker’s Dracula.  The first game on the list with an undesirable theme, it more than makes up for it with some killer gameplay.  The objective of the game is to start all three of the main multiballs together to get jackpots worth 30 million.  The coolest thing about the game is the mist multiball, where the ball magically moves across the playfield and you have to knock it off with another ball.  The theme can kind of drag down the ratings a little bit, but a lot of collectors have this game in their collection.

#10)  Creature From The Black Lagoon.  I used to own this game a while back, the theme isn’t what it appears at first glance.  It’s really about drive in movies from the 50’s and 60’s, and the things associated with them.  The objective of the game is to spell FILM to start mulitball and find the creature (which is actually a moving hologram under the playfield).  It’s a very cool game overall, one that a lot of people would like to have in their collection.

#11)  White Water.  The game with the worst intro music I’ve heard in pinball.  It actually gets pretty good in the rest of the game, but the beginning is so not motivating, lol.  There’s a lot of cool things going on in this game, the playfield is super unique and the ruleset is as well.  It’s basically about trying to get your raft down a stream to Wet Willie’s by shooting the lit shots.  It sounds easy in practice but it get pretty difficult towards the end.

 

#12)  Whirlwind.  The first game with three spinning discs, it took the concept from Fireball and tripled the fun.  The game actually has a fan on top that actually blows in your face at certain parts of the game, which is quite funny.  Whirlwind itself is very fun but also simpler compared to most of the games on this list.  The game is mainly about shooting the directional shots to lock balls for multiball.  It’s not a super hard task, but with the discs the balls get shot down the outlanes a lot, especially on the right side.

#13)  The Shadow.  Another game with an undesirable theme.  The movie was really hyped but was kind of a dud.  Luckily for us, the pinball machine is awesome.  It was actually be much higher on this list if the theme was a little better, it holds the game back some.  The game offers three pretty innovative features, mainly the battlefield, the movable ramps, and the disappearing ball lock.  The ball lock, for anyone who hasn’t seen it, it very cool to see.  However, it’s also the number one thing that goes wrong on the game, as it wears the wood pretty badly and is sometime inconsistent with its throws as a result.  Great game to have at home, as it’s very challenging.

#14)  Congo.  More bad themes!  Man, Williams just knew how to pick every dud of the 90’s, lol.  Congo the pinball machine is awesome though.  For a long time when I was collecting, Congo was a pretty undesirable machine, but about 5 years ago it started to become really popular because people finally figured out how well it played and forgot about the theme.  The main goal of the game is to collect 100 diamonds.  Some diamonds are easy to get, but others are difficult.

#15)  Theater of Magic.  One of the most beautiful games in pinball.  Everything about this game is aesthetically great.  It’s the gold standard (along with Tales of the Arabian Nights) for pinball art packages.  It doesn’t play quite as well as some of the other games on this list, mainly due to uninspired modes and callouts.  It’s one of those games that with a slightly tweaked software package it would probably be ranked a little higher.  Still, a game that’s definitely worth having.

Wrapup

Hopefully this 15 best Williams pinball machines list has been helpful in your search for great pinball machines.  There are a lot of other cool pinball machines that I didn’t mention for one reason or another, like World Cup Soccer, NBA Fastbreak, Corvette, Firepower, etc.  All of those games can be just as much fun for some people as the top games on this list, it’s all about what interests you have.  Like I like basketball a lot, so NBA Fastbreak is one of my favorite pinball machines.  Most collectors would scoff at that choice, but most collectors don’t like basketball either.  🙂

7 Top Pinball Machines Under 1000

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Pinball Machine Under 1000 Paragon
Paragon, one of the top 7 used pinball machines under 1000

Looking for bargains in pinball?  Look no further, you’ve found the definitive list for top pinball machines under 1000.  Now what this list won’t include is any EM games.  You might ask “why?”.  Well mainly because almost all EM games are under 1000 except for the very best games, meaning that you can pretty much afford any of them already.  The newer digital machines, finding quality used games under 1000 is a lot harder, which is why I wrote this list to help.

7 Top Pinball Machines Under 1000

These machines are in no particular order in this list.  The hardest thing will be finding them in general, as the production numbers means that there is a limited amount per city.  Note that these will all be used pinball machines under 1000, none of these are new.  In fact the newest game is like 25 years old, lol.  Now here’s the list!

  • Space Shuttle  
  • Firepower
  • Paragon
  • Comet
  • Meteor
  • Harlem Globetrotters on Tour
  • Street Fighter II

Now I’m going to do a short overview of each game.  Hopefully that will help give you a little more information on each game.

Space Shuttle Pinball Machine

Space Shuttle is a game that came out in the mid 80’s based around the super popular US Space Shuttle from NASA.  It features a three ball multiball and some pretty fun gameplay.  Space Shuttle, along with High Speed, are credited with turning around the pinball industry in the mid 80’s which was about to go under (as the whole arcade industry was in a slump at that time).  It doesn’t have the best art package, but it is fun to play, and is especially good for new players.

Pinball Machine Under 1000 Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle Backglass

Firepower Pinball Machine

Another game with multiball, Firepower was a huge hit in the early 80’s.  Not the prettiest game, it makes up for that with a challenging playfield that makes you work for multiball.  It’s also one of the first games to have speech, so it’s sound package is a little more advanced than some of the earlier games of that era.  I owned this game for quite a while, I really liked the challenge.

Paragon Pinball Machine

Paragon is a classic Bally game from 1979.  It’s famous for it’s killer art package and punishing gameplay.  Paragon is definitely one of the harder games of that era, being slightly inaccurate will put you down the middle or over in the Beast Lair, a pop bumper over on the left hand side that can either save or drain your ball while you watch helplessly.  I bought this game this year after wanting one for years, I always had a blast playing it at other people’s houses.

Comet Pinball Machine

Comet is a classic Williams machine that came out after Space Shuttle’s success.  It was the first game to feature a million point shot, which continued the pinball trend of point inflation.  It was made by designer Python Angelo, who would later come out with more amusement park games like Cyclone and Hurricane.  It’s a very straight forward game, good for new players.  The one bad thing is that it did tend to get played a lot.  There are a lot of really worn games out there for sale.

Meteor Pinball Machine

The most produced classic Stern, Meteor is regarded as one of the best games of that era.  Luckily, its high production means that it also stays under the 1000 mark most of the time, unlike a lot of the other classic Sterns which are pretty rare for the most part.  The biggest problem you’ll have when you find this game is that a lot of the time they’re not working.  For some reason, this is a popular game to have sitting around not working.  I don’t know how many of them I’ve seen over the years in various states of disarray.

Harlem Globetrotters on Tour Pinball Machine

One of the under appreciated games of the era, I think the fact that the Globetrotters aren’t as popular today has led to this game sneaking under the radar for so long.  Even though it isn’t a multiball game, it’s a challenging game with a big bonus opportunity and three spinners to rip.  I wouldn’t mind owning one of these someday.  I own NBA Fastbreak, another basketball game, and this would look pretty good beside it.  Like most Bally games of the era, getting a big bonus is the key to scoring high.

Street Fighter II Pinball Machine

A DMD game under 1000?  Yep, there’s really only one, Street Fighter II can sometimes be had for that price.  It’s a combination of the fact that the art is awful, it’s a Gottlieb, and it’ not a great pinball theme.  I honestly don’t think the game is that bad at all, but most people turn their nose up at it.  The goal of the game is progress through beating all of the fighters.  I think part of the problem is the game is a little linear in nature, but hey, a DMD for 1000 can’t be all bad, right?

Wrapup

Hopefully this has helped give you some ideas of some good used cheaper machines that you could pick up for your home.  If you like this article, I also wrote “Best Pinball Machines for Home Use” that you might want to check out.

New pinball machines coming out

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I will try and keep this post current as things go along.  As of now (July 22, 2018), here are the titles currently in production (or about to go into production) along with some rumored titles.

New pinball machines coming out from Stern

From Stern current title in production:

  • Iron Maiden is the latest game
  • Guardians of the Galaxy was the previous game still in production
  • Aerosmith is still in production
  • Star Wars is still in production

The rumored upcoming games from Stern are:

  • Deadpool is rumored to be next
  • Munsters is thought to be the next special edition game like Batman 66
  • The Beatles is rumored to be after that

Jersey Jack

From Jersey Jack pinball, current titles in production are:

  • Pirates of the Caribbean is the latest game, about to enter production.
  • The Hobbit is still in production
  • Dialed In is still in production
  • Wizard of Oz is still in production

The rumored upcoming games from Jersey Jack are:

  • Willy Wonka is rumored to be next
  • Toy Story is rumored to be after that

Chicago Gaming

From Chicago Gaming pinball, current titles in production are:

  • Attack from Mars Remake is still in production
  • Medieval Madness Remake is still in production

The rumored upcoming games from Chicago Gaming are:

  • Monster Bash Remake is rumored to be next.

American Pinball

From American Pinball, only Houdini is in production.  Octoberfest is rumored to be next.

Spooky Pinball

From Spooky Pinball, in production are:

  • Total Nuclear Annihilation
  • Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle

There are no rumored games for Spooky.  It was supposed to be a Ben Heck game but he has left the company.

Wrapup

There are some other manufacturers and games coming out but they’re in such small numbers currently that it isn’t worth mentioning.  When production gets higher on them, I’ll include them.  The other manufacturers are Multimorphic and Deeproot.

Gator Skin Dodgeball Review

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gator skin dodgeballs
gator skin dodgeballs

If you’ve got an indoor shed or gym, one great thing to add is dodgeball.  When I put Versacourt in my shed, the first thing I ordered after it was a set of 6 gator skin dodgeballs.  When I was a kid, we didn’t even have official dodgeballs, we just used old volleyballs in our gym.  Nowadays, they have much better options, I’ll go over the ones I bought below.

Gator Skin Dodgeball Review

When I first got the balls, I couldn’t believe how light they felt compared to the volleyballs I’d used in the past.  They promised that they were safe to use as well and I agree, they were very soft when you got hit and didn’t leave marks or hurt either.

Can you throw them hard?  Absolutely.  I really couldn’t believe you could throw them so hard without them hurting, but they’ve accomplished that goal really well.  My kids really liked them as well, they ask to play dodgeball all the time.  It’s really a hit when when their friends come over, most kids aren’t used to playing dodgeball outside of school.

I put a picture below to show their relative size to a women’s basketball.  As you can see, they’re quite a bit smaller, easy for young kids to grab.  Kids of all ages can have fun with them.

gator skin dodgeball size comparison
gator skin dodgeball size comparison

Originally when I bought them they were kind of expensive, but I see now that the price has gotten very affordable.  I think it’s due to increased competition.  The ones I bought were from S&S Worldwide.  You can buy the through my Amazon affiliate link below:

S&S Worldwide Gator Skin Dodgeballs (set of 6)

There are other brands you can buy but some of their reviews aren’t the best or they may not be as soft.  The #1 thing with younger kids is you want something that isn’t going to hurt.

 

Shuffleboard on the ground

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When most people think shuffleboard, they think of those long shuffleboard tables that are often in bars or basements.  The other kind of shuffleboard though has been around forever is the kind you play on a shuffleboard court.  Shuffleboard on the ground has been around for a long time, being noted in England in 1532.

How to play Shuffleboard on the Ground

Floor shuffleboard (or deck shuffleboard) is another name for playing shuffleboard on the ground.  I think the deck comes from cruise ships where it’s a mainstay.  On floor shuffleboard, players use cues and discs rather than their hands and a table.  Instead of trying to get past point lines of 1, 2, and 3, floor shuffleboard involves a triangle with values of 10, 10-off, 8, 8, 7, and 7.

What is similar is that you use 4 discs in alternating fashion where you try and knock off, block, and score till you get to the desired final score (usually 50, 75, or 100).  I remember my brother and I playing it at a hotel when we were kids, it was a blast.  Of course back then we really didn’t know what we were doing, just that we needed to get on the triangle values.

Which set to get?

There are few options, the best low priced option appears to be from Champion Sports.  Although there are some complaints about the quality of the pucks (and not being the right shape completely) it’s still the best rated of the lower cost options.  It’s available through my Amazon affiliate link here:

Champion Sports Classic Group Games Shuffleboard Set Indoor Outdoor

I’m actually looking to buy a set for my outdoor shed, probably going to go with this set.  Mine won’t be sliding on concrete though, it will be on Versacourt flooring (which probably will work better than concrete).  I’ll probably have to use some colored tape to make the scoring zone correctly.