CHUCK RYAN, owner of the 37-year-old Money Makers, which buys, sells and repairs jukeboxes, pinball machines and almost anything coin-operated.
How did you get started? Well, I was in the market and nightclub business, and I bought some games and have had them ever since. At one time, we did marketing for some of the game originators out of Tokyo. It's taken me all over the world.
How collectible are the older pinball machines and jukeboxes? Very. Some of the most collectible older jukeboxes have long been forgotten, except for the folks who remember them from their youth. Boxes from the '30s and '40s beautifully restored can bring between $15,000 and $20,000. Also, a lot of the old mechanical pinballs are bringing outrageous prices.
How about the electronic games like PacMan or Galaga? Well, 15 years ago you couldn't give them away, and a large portion of them were destroyed. Now, they're bringing anywhere from $700 to $3,500 for the later models.
Do you do much restoration? We do a few. Today, a lot of our business comes from people who buy a game on eBay and pay several hundred dollars to get it here, only to realize that the game doesn't work properly.
What are some of the most valuable machines today? Star Wars and Kiss Machines are bringing a lot today. Any game is valuable and worth holding on to if it's original.
Advice for the aspiring collector? Treat the games as antiques and maintain them. If they're in good working order, any game will double or triple in value in a short time. Beware of previous poor repair jobs. Diagnosing the problems with these machines can be time-consuming and expensive, and some folks just aren't prepared for that.... We operate an auction at the fairgrounds several times a year, and the next one is Dec. 11. Come out and take a look.