Pinning his passion on retro gaming
When he was a teenager Clive Pedersen dreamed of owning his own gaming arcade some day.
His plans were thwarted but the Franklin man has managed the next best thing – 32 functioning pinball machines are crammed into his garage.
His collection started out innocently enough in the late 1990s when he and his wife Sarndra had a spare room and no kids.
She did not object to the purchase of one pinball machine for about $300.
‘‘I got one. It turned into two and then it turned into three and the search was on. I knew when it got to two that it wasn’t going to stop,’’ he says.
‘‘It’s turned obsession.’’
When video games came on the market in the 1980s, pinball sales plummeted so makers started adding special features like ramps, multiball options and animation to draw in the crowds.
Those games were more challenging but they also cost more and new games with all the bells and whistles now sell for up to $15,000.
It is the older versions Mr Pedersen loves the most, with their single balls, big flippers and pop culture artwork.
Ironically the collector says he has never been very good at pinball – but that adds to the appeal.
‘‘If I was to practise and become really good it would take a lot of the fun out of it,’’ he says.
His collection is now worth more than $80,000 but he avoids dipping into the family bank account to buy new games, instead selling parts and fixing machines with a likeminded friend to fund the hobby.
‘‘If we fell on hard times we’d have to start selling but I’d hate to do it,’’ he says.
‘‘Every time I’ve thought of thinning my collection I’ve spent an hour thinking about which ones will go – and then I’m depressed for two hours.’’
The couple’s three children are all proficient gamers and both of his daughters beat him when they were just three years old.
His long-suffering wife also plays occasionally but ‘‘she doesn’t have the passion for it’’, he says.
‘‘It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
‘‘Some people bored out of minds.’’
His theory is that most women lack the ‘‘man against machine’’ mentality.
‘‘But anyone can play,’’ he says.
of one guy that had one arm. He bought a machine and had the button moved to the other side.’’
A high proportion of pinball fans are men who work in IT and love classic cars, which he says is ‘‘really weird’’.
‘‘It’s like we gravitate to this stuff.
‘‘But it’s better than collecting stamps, right?’’
Mr Pedersen’s latest acquisition is a Guns ’ N Roses game which Slash, himself a pinball player, helped design.
Just three more machines would complete Mr Pedersen’s dream set but he is hesitant to name his wishlist because he might jinx it.
Fierce bidding wars can erupt over machines on Trade Me if it is known that a buyer is after a particular piece.
New Zealand has several big pinball collectors, including a Pukekohe man with more than 80 machines, but as retro has come back into fashion more buyers have appeared who want just one machine.
That has dried up the supply although Mr Pedersen reckons there are ‘‘still a few out there’’ hidden in garages.
He says he will buy machines wherever they are found, even if they are broken.