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The 10 Best Pinball Machines: Reviews and Buying Guide!
Last updated 31st July, 2021

While pinball may be an icon of the arcades of yesteryear, modern pinball machines are still very much alive and well. What’s more is that since the game’s first iteration 80 years ago, pinball machines have continued to evolve offering more variety and challenge without needing to break the bank.

Here we’ll discuss the three different types of pinball machines: new pinball machines, reconditioned pinball machines and virtual pinball machines, to give you some insight into the best machines out there on the market today. Not only that but we’ll also supplement our top ten picks with a buying guide to equip you with the key questions you should ask before purchasing any machine.

Why Buy a Pinball Machine?

Endless Hours of Fun

With modern machines offering a variety of modes and features, either within the box or via some cheeky tinkering, pinball machines offer near limitless fun which is only supplemented by the fact that you will always be able to achieve a higher score!

Great for Entertaining

While you can enjoy the machine alone for countless hours, pinball machines are also great for entertaining guests, family and friends. This is because pinball is an increasingly rare pastime in the 21st century, making it a more niche and memorable experience.

Relive Your Childhood

For many, pinball machines are an icon of the long-lost arcade. Getting your hands on a pinball machine can offer a glorious wave of nostalgia, both for you and others.

An Investment for the Future

As many pinball machines are produced in limited quantities while sporting unique designs, if you are savvy when purchasing your machine, you could even be making a sound investment. It’s worth noting that this certainly won’t be the case for every machine, and in order for the machine to accrue value it will need to stay in very good condition.

Top 10 Pinball Machines

1. Pro Pinball Machine (Various Themes)

Created by the longstanding masters of machines Stern Pinball, this Pro Pinball Machine offers everything you would expect from a masterfully crafted physical pinball machine. The machine comes decked-out with a choice of themes including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Avengers Infinity Quest, The Mandalorian, Led Zeppelin, Stranger Things, Star Wars, The Munsters, Jurassic Park and more.

Featuring a magnetic spinner, this table is full of surprises even for legacy pinball players. This table even offers a pinball first allowing four players to play together co-operatively to progress through the game.

Being the cheapest in the Stern Pinball range it’s a great option for all. Plus, its optional coin mechanism will also make it a great choice for arcades.

  • Machine type: New Pinball Machine
  • Number of games: 1
  • Dimensions: 192cm x 68cm x 140cm
  • Coin mechanism: Optional Upgrade
  • Price: £££
  • Brand: Stern Pinball
  • Retailer: Home Leisure Direct

2. Premium Pinball Machine (Various Themes)

Inhabiting the middle of Stern Pinball’s incredibly well-built range of machines, their Premium Pinball Machine is chock full of action-packed fun.

Featuring three flippers, three pop bumpers, 6 balls and an optional coin mechanism, this table will not disappoint. What’s more is that it comes in a variety of themes including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Avengers Infinity Quest, The Mandalorian, Led Zeppelin, Stranger Things, Star Wars, The Munsters, Jurassic Park and more.

  • Machine type: New Pinball Machine
  • Number of games: 1
  • Dimensions: 192cm x 68cm x 140cm
  • Coin mechanism: Optional Upgrade
  • Price: ££££
  • Brand: Stern Pinball
  • Retailer: Home Leisure Direct

3. LE Pinball Machine (Various Themes)

The most premium offering from the Stern Pinball range, the LE Pinball Machine offers a variety of game modes and a whole variety of madness on the table. With magnets, scoops, targets, bumpers, ramps and four flippers this table is not short of excitement.

The table also offers a motorised “encounter” mini playfield where you can take advantage of the two extra flippers for some extra hectic fun.

The game modes on offer include: single player, co-operative (up to four), the “impossible” mode and four “wizard” modes.

This is certainly one of the most accomplished physical tables you can get your hands on.

  • Machine type: New Pinball Machine
  • Number of games: 4+
  • Dimensions: 192cm x 68cm x 140cm
  • Coin mechanism: Optional Upgrade
  • Price: ££££
  • Brand: Stern Pinball
  • Retailer: Home Leisure Direct

4. Star Wars Pin Pinball Machine

Offering a more economic entry point into Star Wars pinball, this machine amalgamates the past 40 years of Star Wars glory and revisits the classic trilogy through the table design, the sounds and the LCD display.

Stern Pinball’s offerings provide an excellent bang for your buck and this machine is no different. What’s more is that given the longevity of the Star Wars franchise, this machine will age like a fine wine.

  • Machine type: New Pinball Machine
  • Number of games: 1
  • Dimensions: 177cm x 71cm x 135cm
  • Coin mechanism: No
  • Price: £££
  • Brand: Stern Pinball
  • Retailer: Home Leisure Direct

5. Beatles Gold Pinball Machine

Beatlemania has most certainly passed its peak, but this pinball machine holds onto the iconic nostalgia for the Beatles. With only 1614 machines available, this machine is certainly a collector’s item.

It should come as no surprise that this machine feels as sturdy as they come, boasting the same top-of-the-line build quality offered by Stern Pinball.

  • Machine type: New Pinball Machine
  • Number of games: 1
  • Dimensions: 192cm x 68cm x 140cm
  • Coin mechanism: No
  • Price: ££££
  • Brand: Stern Pinball
  • Retailer: Home Leisure Direct

6. Demolition Man Vintage Pinball Machine

The 1993 Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes flick Demolition Man provides the inspiration for this vintage machine created by Williams.

The machine itself offers a wide-body cabinet allowing for a larger and more feature packed playfield than normal machines. It also features a number of unique playfield elements such as the motorise Cryo Claw, the Retina Scanner Captive Ball and the Car Chase Lane.

Those looking for an affordable, vintage machine should look no further.

  • Machine type: Reconditioned Pinball Machine
  • Number of games: 1
  • Dimensions: 193cm x 57cm x 132cm
  • Coin mechanism: Optional Upgrade
  • Price: £££
  • Brand: Williams
  • Retailer: Home Leisure Direct

7. Popeye Saves the Earth Vintage Pinball Machine

Popeye is as iconic as they come, making this machine an incredibly eye-catching vintage machine.

Beyond the classic-cartoonish branding, this machine offers a wide-body design to ensure that playfield offers the most action-packed experience. Not only that but it includes a delightful array of Popeye-themed challenges on the board which will get you that sweet high score.

Equipping this machine with the coin mechanism would make it a fantastic addition for any clubhouse, bar or public play space.

  • Machine type: Reconditioned Pinball Machine
  • Number of games: 1
  • Dimensions: 193cm x 73cm x 152cm
  • Coin mechanism: Additional Upgrade
  • Price: ££
  • Brand: Bally
  • Retailer: Home Leisure Direct

Best Virtual Pinball Machines

8. MultiPin Virtual Pinball Machine

With 70+ unique games all in one, the MultiPin virtual Pinball machine offers an incredible variety of game modes all in one package.

Thanks to its three full-colour LCD screens, accurate gameplay and easy to navigate menus, the table is a virtual no-brainer for those looking to get the most variety of play out of one single machine. While the MultiPin Plus will offer up 70 licensed games, the machine is also ready to be equipped with your own favourite games thanks to its full customisation.

While the play spaces are virtual, the machine still features an iconic start button and launch plunger designed to give you that nostalgic feeling, even on this high-tech machine!

  • Machine type: Virtual Pinball Machine
  • Number of games: 70+
  • Dimensions: 192cm x 56cm x 130cm
  • Coin mechanism: Present but Inactive
  • Price: ££
  • Brand: MultiPin
  • Retailer: Liberty Games

9. King-Pin Virtual Pinball Machine

With a whole host of customisation options, this machine should be on the radar of anyone hoping to tailor their machine to the max. With the option to add in a game pack, custom graphics, specific cabinet finishes, vibration kits, 4K screens, a plunger, RGB lightshows and realistic Nudge/Tilt the machine is fully customisable.

This makes the King-Pin Virtual machine one of the most versatile machines out there. And that’s not even mentioning the near-unlimited wealth of games you can add to the device in order to keep every play session feeling fresh.

And, well, it’s fair to say with an i3 Quad Core CPU, 8GB of Ram, 2TB of storage and a GT series graphics card this machine is not going to become obsolete any time soon!

  • Machine type: Virtual Pinball Machine
  • Number of games: 70+
  • Dimensions: 192cm x 63cm x 130cm
  • Coin mechanism: No
  • Price: £££ - ££££
  • Brand: King-Pin
  • Retailer: Liberty Games

King-Pin Ex Virtual Pinball Machine

Taking the King-Pin standard model and beefing it up to include a 4K playfield screen, RGB lighting, Bose audio, nudge/tilt control and a bulkier widebody frame, this machine offers a more premium take on the virtual pinball experience. While King-Pin have done a good portion of the upgrading for you, there are still a handful of options to push this machine even further including adding custom graphics, an authentic plunger and even 3D!

As with the other virtual machines on this list, the gaming options are near-limitless providing you the option to upload your own games or simply purchase the licenced game pack to preinstall 70 games.

It’s fair to say that if you’re looking for one of the most extensive pinball experiences out there, the King-pin Ex is certainly up there.

  • Machine type: Virtual Pinball Machine
  • Number of games: 70+
  • Dimensions: 192cm x 63cm x 130cm
  • Coin mechanism: No
  • Price: ££££
  • Brand: King-Pin
  • Retailer: Liberty Games

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Buying Guide

With our top ten picks on the table, a couple of machines are likely to have taken your fancy. In order to help you differentiate between these, and any other machines, it’s valuable to ask four key questions:

New, Reconditioned or Virtual?

The difference between new, reconditioned and virtual pinball machines are vast, and will suit varying use cases. Let’s take a look at the key features of each:

  • New Pinball Machines: These are often the most innovative while often featuring contemporary pop culture references. New machines can feature the highest quality build and latest technology due to technological progression over the years. But as a result, they can often come with the largest price tag.
  • Reconditioned Pinball Machines: Vintage and used pinball machines are often restored by experts. These machines commonly feature classic art, pop culture references and game styles injecting them with an extra air of nostalgia. These tend to be about 2/3 the price of a new machine.
  • Virtual Pinball Machines: Built with a digital interface, these machines give you access to hundreds of games packed into one device. Of course, this can be a no-brainer for those looking for variety, but it’s hard to deny that vintage and physical machines certainly do hold a more retro, old-school feel which is sure to bring back the nostalgia.

Single or Multi-game?

Choosing a pinball machine comes hand in hand with choosing which game you are going to play. With physical machines (both new and reconditioned) this means that you will dedicate yourself to one board layout to master. This board will often feature a strong theme, so it’s worth ensuring that you are a fan of the design—especially if it references popular culture.

Virtual pinball machines, on the other hand, provide a player with may different games all packed into the same console with one caveat—you’re not playing physical pinball anymore, you’re playing a virtual simulation. This can be a make-or-break factor for many, so if you’re on the fence it’s certainly worth trying out both styles of machine before committing to one.

Do You Have Space?

It’s no secret that pinball machines are bulky. Thus, you must carefully consider where you’ll place the machine. It’s also worth noting that you will need to place the machine next to a plug socket to provide power, so it’s time to get the measuring tape out and scout out the perfect spot for the machine.

What’s Your Budget?

Whether you’re buying for yourself or for a workspace, you most certainly have some kind of price in mind. While pinball machines certainly aren’t cheap, it’s worth staying strict with your budget to ensure you don’t get sucked into going far over budget for a particular design or set of features.

That said, if you choose your machine carefully you may well be investing into an object which will retain much of its value.

FAQs

What are the dimensions of a pinball machine?

Pinball machine dimensions can vary, but you can expect most machines to measure approximately 192cm x 63cm x 130cm.

Do pinball machines go up in value?

Unless kept in mint condition, pinball machines are unlikely to increase in value. That said, particularly rare machines featuring limited-edition designs of well-known brands can occasionally be sought after.

How do you clean a pinball machine?

Most often your machine will only need cleaning externally, which can be achieved by spraying Windex into a towel and wiping down all the surfaces. If your machine needs cleaning internally ensure you are using an adequately soft towel and polish the elements with plastic polish such as that offered by Novus.

Conclusion

In the 21st century pinball machines combine nostalgia with technology, allowing players to experience the classic mania of pinball without all the age-old quirks.

With the market teaming with new, vintage and virtual pinball machines, it’s fair to say that you are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing your perfect machine.

Our top pick is Stern Pinball’s Pro Pinball Machine given that it offers a perfect balance between build quality, functionality and affordability. However, depending on your use preferences you may prefer to opt for a vintage or a virtual pinball machine. Fortunately, now you are equipped with our buying guide and top picks you’re in a great position to pick the right machine for you!

Affiliate disclaimer: on some or all of the products above, we receive a small commission if you make a purchase via our site. This does not impact the price you pay, but it allows us to keep helping people by writing these reviews, so thank you!


Tom
Co-founder at Mancaves HQ

A true man cave enthusiast. When he isn't trawling through Instagram looking for new ideas, you can find him navigating through the streets of London.