When Pachinko Parlors decommissioned the machines after about a year of use, they were sold cheap to make room for newer models. Servicemen and businessmen started to bring them back in the late 1940’s. There were hundreds of thousands of pachinko machines imported in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and the newer ones are still imported today. When video games became popular, or in some cases when the balls were lost, the pachinko machines were put into storage and forgotten. On any given day there are about 300 to 400 for sale on craigslist/eBay in the US, so they typically aren’t rare. Generally, most are about $20 to $100, some of the really rare or very desirable ones can go for over a $1,000.00. The key words here are “Rare” and/or “Desirable”, many machines aren’t going to fetch those types of prices. The price all depends on many factors that can influence how much you can get if you want to sell your pachinko machine or how much you should pay if you are looking to purchase a pachinko machine.
Age of a Pachinko Machine
Dating them is not easy.
Machines manufactured in the 1940’s are rare and hard to find.
Machines manufactured in the 1950’s are not as rare, but still hard to find.
Machines manufactured in the 1960’s are common and can be found in a lot of places.
Machines manufactured in the Early to Mid-1970’s are the most common, can be found everywhere.
Machines manufactured in the late 1970’s are common and also can be found in a lot of places.
This means that you can put balls in it and start playing, not that it was working 25 years ago before it was put in the barn for storage. Workability is a key factor in the price of the machine, as most buyers don’t want to buy something to work on. Some nonworking machines can be fixed if you know what you are doing. Otherwise, you can make it worse, so some nonworking machines are considered “Parts Machines”. Buyers may buy these just for the parts to get another machine working. Parts Machines are only worth what can be salvaged off of them. A nonworking, high-end machine with a lot of usable parts can bring more than a low end, working machine.
Dirt and Rust
Is the machine clean or dirty? This has a lot to do with where it was stored. Machines stored in a closet are cleaner than the machines stored in an attic, shed or barn where insects and rodents made it their home. You may get less for a dirty machine because cleaning it takes a lot of time, and a dirty machine sometimes means the mechanical parts and levers may stick and not move properly, or balls may not flow smoothly through the machine. Is the chrome on the front nice and shiny, or rusty? Rust on the front of the machine isn’t attractive and rust or corrosion on the metal mechanical parts of the machine can cause the machine to not always function properly. Too much rust and it is a Parts Machine.
Will the glass (or Plexiglas) that is covering the playfield need to be replaced? What type of background art does it have? Are there water stains (dark cloud looking shapes) around some of the pins or pockets or other parts on the playfield? Is there fading of background artwork or yellowing? This is cosmetic only. Is the plastic laminate of the playfield peeling off? Is the wood of the playfield cracking, rotting, or warped? This could impact the playability of the machine. If the machine is, or will soon be unplayable, then it’s a Parts Machine.
Balls and Accessories
Does the machine come with balls? If so, how many balls come with it, and are they clean and not rusty? Does the machine come with an auto ball loader? Do you have the original Owners Manual? Is there a key to open the machine up? Does the machine have support boards or wires on the bottom so the machine won’t fall over? Is the machine mounted in a nice cabinet?
95% of pachinko machines work on gravity alone, however, there are a few machines that may have a motor or other electrical components. These models are the Power Flash, Circuit, UFO, Fish (or Piranha), Train, and Power Roulette. If those components are missing, don’t work or can’t be tested, that could impact your selling price. Are there broken or missing parts? A machine can work with security cover parts missing. These were parts to keep people from cheating but are not needed for home play. However, a collector will want them for restoration. Do the lights work? They are optional as you can play pachinko without the lights but most people want the lights to work. If there are too many broken or missing parts, it’s a Parts Machine.
Most machines have a main attraction and one or more tulips, as well as pay pockets. The different combinations of these can set the value of the machine: Does the main attraction move and/or light up? Also, how many tulips will open as a ball passes through it? The more the main attraction does, the more value. How many tulips and/or pay pockets are there? Some pay pockets will open tulips, but most will just give you a jackpot. Tulips, however, will open and close as balls enter them. The first time, the ball opens the tulip, making it easier for the second ball to enter and close them, like a double jackpot. They may also open other tulips. The more tulips there are, the more value. There are also unique machines: these are machines that are uncommon, such as two main attractions or no main attraction, some will have 9 or 10 tulips on the playing field, others may have 10 or more pay pockets on the playing field, also there are machines with a power shooter knob and a flipper, and there are electro-mechanical machines (see Mechanics). The more unique they are, the more valuable they are.
By theme, we mean a design on the playfield or the main attraction, such as animal themes. Some examples are lobsters, crabs, hippos, or butterflies; sports themes such as skiing, baseball, golf or sumo wrestlers and so on. If you can find a buyer who is interested in your theme, such as a butterfly collector, you may get a higher price than someone who doesn’t care about butterflies but just wants a pachinko machine. Typically, machines from the late 1970’s had themes.
Some people have a sentimental connection to their pachinko. If you have a sentimental attachment to yours, don’t sell it. You will never get what it is worth to you so display it, play it, just do something with it. People don’t pay for sentimental value, and sentimentally attached people don’t understand that they haven’t touched it in 20 years and won’t touch it again for another 20 and it will just keep rotting away in the barn because they think it is worth more then it is. 99% of the time people just want a Pachinko machine that looks good and plays well and if they don’t buy yours then they will buy somebody else’s.
There were several manufacturers of pachinko machines. Daiichi, Daiwa, Ginza, Heiwa, Kyoraku, Marudai, Maruhon, Maruto, Mizuho, Monako, Monami, New Gin, Nishijin, Okumurayuki, Sankyo, Sanyo, Takeya, Toyomaru, and others. The Nishijins and Sankyos are the most common in the USA, followed by Sanyo. Others are less common and this may affect the price, but because they are fewer doesn’t mean people will desire them more than other more common machines.
The 4 ‘C’s
In closing, I would like to say when pricing a pachinko machine to sell, or budgeting while planning to buy one, remember the 4 C’s: Condition, Completeness, Cleanliness, and Commonality. A machine is only worth what someone will pay for it, and sometimes it is best to just walk away.