I’m sure we can all agree that there’s nothing like a good game on a Tornado Foosball Table on a Friday night with friends. I spent quite a bit of time when I was a kid and in college playing Foosball with my brother and then with my college friends. We were terrible, but it didn’t matter because of how much fun it was. That was back when the guys wore white shirts with red or blue shorts and one goalie was the standard and the best shot was the one that would slowly roll into the goal from the corner ramp. Those were the best foosball tables in those days.
Due to that experience, I actually have bought two different Tornado Foosball tables in the past 15 years, and can use that experience to try and help you select the best one for your game room. There are bunch of different models to choose from since Tornado is the industry standard. Luckily I owned both the entry level and one of the top models so I can give you recommendations based upon my own experience with those. I’ll start off with used vs new tables, then go the lowest new model and gradually work myself up to the top model. Here’s my guide to getting one of the best Tornado foosball tables.
New vs Used Tornado Foosball Table
If you’re in the market for a Foosball Table (especially if you’re budget constrained) is whether you should buy a new or used table. The used tables offer some decent advantages, mainly:
- Foosball table setup and already assembled. Assembling a Foosball table can take a few hours the first time
- cheaper. You can expect to save several hundred off a new table by buying one from 10 years ago.
- The playing surface is largely the same with the same thick cabinet, a hallmark of quality foosball tables.
There are also some disadvantages as well:
- Very difficult to move. An assembled Foosball table is a huge pain to move. This is due to the rods sliding, the weight, and the width (around 50″ minimum with the rods in)
- Somewhat questionable aesthetics. Some of the older tables look nice, some look a little outdated though, not as good as a modern Foosball table.
- A competitive player is going to want the latest version that’s used in tournaments rather than an older model.
My personal experience new vs used
My first table I bought brand new, my second one I bought used so I’ve been through it both ways. Assembling is definitely a pain, but moving one is way worse. I recommend shrink wrapping the table so the rods don’t slide around too much. My first one actually looked a little better, my second one has kind of the outdated golden oak on it which hasn’t been in style for 10+ years. I’m glad I saved the money on the second one, but I also wish that it looked a little better considering I’m going to have it in my basement for the next 10+ years. If I ever get some additional money, I’d probably upgrade it to the T-3000 model so I could have the best looks and play.
Where can you find used Tornado Foosball Tables? The best place is still probably Craigslist, although Facebook Markets have been on the rise the past year. Most of the time it’s pretty hard to sort through all the junk ones listed on there to get to a quality one. It’s very rare for any of the newer models to be listed on there. Almost all of them are from the Whirlwind, Cyclone, and Storm table era of the 90’s till 2010.
Tornado Sport Foosball Table
The Tornado Sport Foosball Table is the entry level Foosball Table in the Tornado lineup. Just because it’s the lowest model though, doesn’t mean that it isn’t good quality. Probably the biggest difference between this model and the three upper models is that this table doesn’t have counter balanced men, meaning that if you let go of the men when they’re in the up position they’ll swing back down and block shots on the playfield. I’ve had a model like these in the past, and in my opinion the counter balanced men are a must. An Amazon affiliate link are below.
What happens without the counter balanced men is that your shots from the back line get blocked by your own men in the front. In four player games it’s not a big issue, but in two player it happens all the time. Due to that, I would recommend buying the upgraded table that has the weighted men. Four player games reduce the need for the counter balanced men since the rods are never free.
The other disadvantage to this model is that the balls don’t route back to the middle of the table, they just fall down to the bottom on either end of the dual ball return. This means that every time a goal is scored, you have to walk around to the end to get the ball. It doesn’t seem like a big deal at first, but it gets kind of annoying after a while.
One other small thing that the sport has is plastic handles instead of wooden handles that are featured on the higher end models. This isn’t a big deal, just something to note.
The table I had was an older model called the Whirlwind. It’s basically what the Tornado Sport table is now. I actually really liked that table at the time other than the two things I mentioned above.
One option that you might consider if the Classic is absolutely too much money but you want the counter balanced men is to buy the men through Amazon affliate here:
The cost is a little over $100 and you’d get a pretty significant upgrade. All you’d have to do is swap the men when assembling your table. Frankly, if you’ve got an older table lacking these players then replacing them would be a pretty good move.
I made a video that shows the differences between some of the tables here:
Tornado Classic Foosball Table
The Tornado Classic Foosball Table basically takes the drawbacks from the sport table and fixes them. The classic features the counter balanced men plus all goals scored are routed back to the middle for easy serving and the same great playing field with laminate finish. It also has wooden handles instead of the plastic ones. An affiliate Amazon link are below:
It’s also the first model to come with built in adjustable leg levelers. They are very important depending on where you set your table up at. My personal basement isn’t particularly level and I have to use leg levelers on almost every piece of equipment I bring down there.
It may not be possible for everyone, but I would recommend that if you have the money to upgrade to the Classic over the Sport just to get the upgrades. Foosball tables aren’t something you buy or sell very often, so if you’re going to spend the money you might as well get something that doesn’t have some key gameplay drawbacks. The Classic was formerly known as the Storm II prior to 2010.
Tornado Elite Foosball Table
In between the T-3000 and the Classic model is the Elite table. It features some upgrades over the classic but doesn’t have some of the high end features of the T-3000. Like the T-3000 and the classic, it’s 56″ x 30″ but weighs a lot less at 255 pounds. I think the fact that it doesn’t split in half cuts a lot of the weight off. It does have leg levelers and a 3 man goalie like the other upper end models. I have an affiliate link below:
It’s basically very close to the classic table. Most of the descriptions on between the two are almost identical except for the slightly higher grade materials on the Elite. It also has dual side ball returns, which is something none of the other tables have.
From my standpoint, I don’t see a lot of compelling features on the Elite that would make me want to upgrade to it from the classic. I would rather spend the extra money and go all the way to the T-3000 than go with the Elite.
Tornado Tournament 3000 Foosball Table
The Tornado Tournament 3000 Foosball table (T-3000) is the top of the line Foosball table from Valley-Dynamo. It’s the official table of several Foosball tours and leagues, including the Tornado National Tour and Tornado National Foosball League. Like some of the lower models, it features counter balanced men, hollow chrome steel rods, 3 goalies, and leg levelers. Unlike the lower models though, it can fold open for maintenance and weighs almost 355 pounds, 100 pounds more than some of the cheaper models. For true competitive play, it’s the table you want, no question. I attached an Amazon affiliate link below.
It comes in three different colors, black, red, and silver. I personally like the black better than the other two, but that’s just my personal preference. The red is pretty sweet as well, I’m not a fan of the silver though. When fully assembled, it’s 56″ x 30″ for the main table with the rods taking up to 70″. With the weight being so high, you’re going to need 3 people at a minimum to move it. Professional players love this model due to the precise ball control and hollow steel rods.
One other thing that separates the T-3000 from the other is that it’s the only one in the Tornado lineup that can be outfitted with a coin mechanism for operating it in a bar or other location (it has to be ordered that way, FYI). That’s the other reason that it’s so much heavier and sturdier than the others. It’s designed to be played on location for years without breaking. It also has special handles that none of the other models have. The handles have extra grip for better tournament play, it’s a very durable table.
The last thing that the T-3000 has is special split ball bearings for better rod play. Most people wouldn’t know the difference though on this aspect I don’t think. I think in general, you have to reach a certain level of play to be able to appreciate a lot of what the T-3000 offers. Advanced players would appreciate the better ball control and smooth play.
Worthington Foosball Table
If you’re looking for a more upscale option in the Tornado lineup, there’s only one option, the Worthington. It’s supposed to be a more upscale version of their Classic/Elite tables but to me it doesn’t look that great compared to upscale models from other manufacturers. I think they intended on the wood inserts making it look upscale but I don’t think it looks as good as they wanted it to. I included a link below so you can see for yourself but I honestly wouldn’t recommend it over any of the other models (unless for some reason you think it looks good, beauty is in the eye of the beholder sometimes).
There’s currently about a thousand dollar difference between the Tornado Sport Foosball Table and the Tornado Tournament 3000 Table. This is significant considering you could buy almost two Sports for the cost of one T-3000. What it comes down to is how serious of a player you are. Based upon that, I’ve made my recommendations below.
Best Tornado Foosball Table for budget
There’s about a $500 difference between the Sport and Classic models currently, which isn’t chump change. After buying the Whirlwind (which is what they renamed into the Sport) and now owning a Cyclone II (which would be equivalent to the Elite now) I can say without question that the extra $500 is worth it if you’re playing any 1 v 1. The falling players from the non balanced players are really annoying from the back row. So much so that sometimes you’ll actually go twist your men upside down on the first two rows just so you can get a shot through.
If you’re not expecting this to get used much or only with 4 players mainly, the Sport could probably work. Part of it is you won’t know what you’re missing as long as you don’t play an upgraded model. The first time I played a game with the counter balanced players I knew I could never go back.
Best Tornado Foosball Table for the more serious player
In my opinion, the two best options for this category are:
- Tornado Classic Foosball Table
- Tornado Tournament 3000 Foosball Table
The reason I left off the Tornado Elite Foosball Table is that I just don’t feel it offers that much value over the Classic. If you’re going to spend the extra money for the Elite, you might as well spend a little more and get the T-3000.
My recommendation would basically go as follows. If you just want to play a good game of Foosball at home and don’t have any aspirations for playing in tournaments ever, I think the classic would be fine. If you ever see yourself wanting to become more and more competitive in the sport or if you really like the upgraded aesthetics then I would go with the Tournament 3000. There’s no doubt that the T-3000 is definitely the best looking of the four tables and the best player. It’s just a matter whether those things are worth the extra $500 it will cost.
Three Goalie vs One Goalie
If you’re an old style player, you probably remember when there were only single goalies and three goalies didn’t exist. Even today, playing the three goalie doesn’t feel completely right to me, but I’m sure for the younger people they’ve never known anything different. If you’re like me, part of you yearns for the single goalie model.
Tornado doesn’t offer a solution unfortunately, but Shelti does (and it’s compatible with Tornado tables). Basically, it’s a kit that goes in all four corners of the table. It then adds stoppers where the 4 extra men would be. This allows you to convert your table into an older one man goalie with the corner ramps.
This kit is available a couple places but I ordered mine off eBay for convenience. The other places that have it either had order system issues or you had to call in order to actually order it. After I get it installed I’ll try and do a video on it. This will be showing how it plays (and how it installs).
As far as the cheaper tables go, the best bet is probably the Warrior Pro Foosball Table. Although they haven’t been around as long as Tornado, people generally feel like they’re a pretty good table for the money. I personally haven’t played one unfortunately but have read a lot of the articles on the Foosball Forums about them. The general vibe is that if you don’t have enough money for a Tornado, the Warrior is the next best thing. It actually looks very similar to the Tornado overall, you can see the table through my Amazon affiliate link.
One thing to note that’s different about this table from the Tornado ones is that there is only one goalie per side instead of three. Those of us who are older remember when all Foosball tables only had one goalie. The three goalie back line is more of a recent thing. I think I actually prefer the one man goalie overall just because of the randomness it provides.
One cool thing that Warrior does provide that appears to work on Tornado Foosball tables as well is an overhead light that can also be used as a black light. Black light Foosball just sounds like a good time, even though I’ve never gotten a chance to play it.
Outdoor Foosball options
One thing that’s become kind of a new product recently is the outdoor Foosball table. Being from the midwest, I had never seen or even heard about one until recently. Most resorts will have an outdoor ping pong table or possibly a pool table but Foosball was something I hadn’t seen yet until I played on one in Florida, I believe this exact same model mentioned below.
The Garlando G500 is probably the best option for outdoor use currently. There are some other options that are more expensive, but the Garlando has good play, has the rods that don’t extend past the edge (safe for kids), and has a lot of good reviews. I’d like to get one someday if I ever get my patio finished outside. I put an Amazon affiliate link below to it:
It appears like they may be having some men come that are mis-weighted according to one of the Amazon reviews. They mentioned that only some of the rods would hold the men appropriately when at rest. Some of the others would just swing down. When playing it I didn’t notice any problems with the players swinging down. I did notice the rods not extending out the other side to poke people, that’s a pretty awesome feature. I had to get rid of my original Tornado Whirlwind Foosball table due to injury possibility with younger kids playing on it. They always wanted to poke each other or put their hand on the table when the rods were spinning. You can buy the rods to retrofit to Tornado Foosball Tables I believe now, though I haven’t looked into it much.
Tornado doesn’t currently make an outdoor option unfortunately. I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t add it to their lineup in the coming years if it keeps on gaining in popularity.
Other Foosball Articles
I’ve written some other articles on my website concerning my Foosball table that you might be interested in. The first one I basically took some Arduino components and made a sound system. Sounds play when you’re playing and when you score goals, similar to bubble hockey.
The second article which is pretty related to this one concerns how much room you need for a Foosball table. That’s generally a big problem when trying to buy one. Most websites don’t do a good job of giving you dimensions and when they do it’s without the rod information. There’s a big difference in size when the rods are extended on both sides versus when they’re both pushed in.
I’ve been looking into what it would take to either add black lighting or led lighting to my Foosball table. I thought having LED lighting on the sides might be kind of cool. It also might be too bright in some situations. Black lighting seems like the better path but that might lead to having to replace a ton of men in order to have them glow properly.
The rules to Foosball are pretty easy. I think everyone pretty much understands the basics of scoring on the other goal with your players and such. I think the only rule people really get conflicted on is the ‘spinning’ rule. Basically, in competitive Foosball you’re not allowed to spin the rods in order to hit a shot really hard or block a shot. That’s really tough for new players and kids, who have a hard time getting any speed on the ball without spinning. As a result, I usually recommend that ‘anything goes’ as long as everyone is having fun, because that is what is important.
I do remember one specific incident when I was new. Some local really good player asked to play my friend and I. The first goal we scored was by spinning, and he told us and I quote “That’s bad foos”, lol. I’ll never forget that he was grouchy at us for spinning but when he would get it he’d just sit there for 15 to 30 seconds before hitting it.