Finding your game at the Pinball Hall of Fame


>>Thompson: IN MAY OF THIS
YEAR, LAS VEGAS OFFICIALS
APPROVED CONSTRUCTION OF A NEW
BUILDING ON ITS FAMED STRIP.
AND LIKE ITS CASINO NEIGHBORS,
IT’S DEDICATED TO THE MACHINES
BUILT TO STRIP TOURISTS OF THEIR
MONEY IN THE NAME OF
ENTERTAINMENT.
BUT YOU WON’T FIND ANY SLOT
MACHINES OR ANY KIND OF GAMBLING
HERE.
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER HAS MORE.
>>Reporter: WHEN THE MACHINES
START UP INSIDE THE LAS VEGAS
PINBALL MUSEUM, THE SIGHTS AND
SOUNDS OF 20th CENTURY HISTORY
COME ALIVE.
(ELECTRONIC BEEPING)
FROM OLD-TIME PARLOR GAMES, TO
THE SPACE DREAMS OF THE 1960s,
TO “THE SIMSPSONS,” THEY ALL
WORKIFYOU HAVE A QUARTER TO
PLAY.
THIS ALL STARTED OVER 50 YEARS
AGO IN MICHIGAN WHEN TIM ARNOLD,
THEN ONLY IN HIGH SCHOOL,
STARTED PURCHASING PINBALL
MACHINES.
BUT THESE WEREN’T JUST TO PLAY.
ARNOLD INSTALLED HIS MACHINES IN
FRAT HOUSES AND IN THE BASEMENT
OF A LOCAL PIZZA PARLOR.
>>OH, IT WAS AN EASY WAY TO
MAKE MONEY.
ALL MY FRIENDS HAD PAPER ROUTES,
AND THEY HAD TO GET UP IN THE
MORNING AND SLOG THROUGH THE
SNOW.
AND I WOULD JUST GO, YOU KNOW,
TAKE MONEY OUT OF PINBALL
MACHINES.
IT’S A GREAT RACKET.
I WOULD BUY A GAME, PUT IT OUT,
RUN IT ‘TILL IT PAID FOR ITSELF,
AND THEN JUST STICK IT BACK IN
STORAGE AND GO BUY ANOTHER ONE.
IT’S LIKE BASEBALL CARDS, ONLY
BIGGER.
>>Reporter: IN 1976, ARNOLD,
ALONG WITH HIS BROTHER, OPENED A
PINBALL ARCADE IN EAST LANSING,
MICHIGAN.
THIS WAS THE FIRST OF WHAT WOULD
BE SEVEN SEPARATE PINBALL
ARCADES.
BUT IN 1990, ARNOLD SOLD HIS
INTERESTS IN THE ARCADES AND
DECIDED TO RETIRE AND MOVE TO
LAS VEGAS AT THE RIPE AGE OF 35.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE?
>>YOU KNOW, AS A CURATOR, I’M
NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE AN OPINION.
MY JOB IS TO PRESENT THE WORK AS
A WHOLE AND LET PEOPLE FIGURE
OUT WHAT THEY LIKE THEMSELVES.
AND TRUTHFULLY, I’VE HAD SO MUCH
OF THIS FOR SO MANY YEARS, I’M
KIND OF OVER IT.
>>Reporter: REALLY?
>>OH, YEAH.
DO YOU… DO YOU GO HOME AND…
AND INTERVIEW YOUR CAT?
>>Reporter: (LAUGHS)
>>WHEN YOU GET OFF WORK, YOU…
YOU DO SOMETHING ELSE FOR FUN.
>>Reporter: SINCE HIS FIRST
PURCHASE, ARNOLD’S COLLECTION
HAS GROWN FROM ONE MACHINE TO
OVER 2000– 250 OF WHICH ARE NOW
HERE IN A WAREHOUSE JUST OUTSIDE
THE LAS VEGAS AIRPORT FOR ANYONE
TO COME AND PLAY.
AND WORD OF THE MUSEUM HAS
SPREAD.
ARNOLD SAYS PEOPLE COME FROM ALL
OVER THE WORLD TO PLAY, OFTEN
FALLING VICTIM TO A STRANGE
PHENOMENON WHEN THEY WALK
THROUGH THE DOOR.
>>THEY COME IN HERE, AND
THEY’RE WALKING DOWN A ROW, AND
ALL OF A SUDDEN THEY STOP DEAD.
AND THEY SAY, “THERE… THE…
THERE’S THE GAME THAT I… THE
FIRST TIME I… I KISSED A GIRL,
I WAS PLAYING THAT GAME!”
AND THEY DO WHAT WE CALL THE
NOSTALGIA LOCK-UP BECAUSE THINGS
LIKE MOVIES AND MUSIC, YOU CAN
RELIVE ALL THAT STUFF ON THE
INTERNET, BUT YOU HAVEN’T SEEN
THIS PINBALL SINCE YOU WERE A
KID.
IT’S STILL UP IN YOUR BRAIN
SOMEWHERE.
AND THEN, YOU SEE IT AGAIN, AND
YOU JUST LOCK UP.
SO, WE KIND OF, LIKE, POKE THEM
WITH A STICK AND SAY, “COME ON,
COME ON, COME ON.
GO, GO, GO, GO, GO.”
THIS IS AN ACTUAL TOY FACTORY
THAT WAS AT DISNEYLAND, AND IT
DELIVERS AN ACTUAL PLASTIC TOY
THAT YOU SAW MADE IN FRONT OF
YOUR EYES.
THERE’S LESS THAN 100 OF THESE
LEFT IN THE WORLD.
AND I’VE HAD PEOPLE THAT COME IN
HERE AND AGAIN JUST DO THE
NOSTALGIA LOCK-UP: “I WAS AT
DISNEYLAND, AND I BOUGHT ONE OF
THOSE DONALD DUCKS!”
>>Reporter: BUT THE PINBALL
MUSEUM IS NOT JUST ABOUT GETTING
PEOPLE TO JOURNEY INTO THEIR
PAST.
IT FUNCTIONS AS A SOCIAL CLUB,
WITH ALL OF THE QUARTERS AFTER
OPERATING COSTS BEING DONATED TO
LOCAL CHARITIES.
>>WE’RE LIKE A KIWANIS CLUB OR
A LION’S CLUB.
WE GET TOGETHER AFTER WORK, HANG
OUT, AND DO FUNDRAISERS THAT
HELP PEOPLE THAT HELP PEOPLE.
>>Reporter: DO YOU THINK PEOPLE
WHO COME THROUGH THE DOOR,
WHO’VE HEARD ABOUT THE PINBALL
HALL OF FAME, ARE UNDERSTANDING
THAT THIS IS PART OF A… A
SOCIAL CAUSE?
>>NO, BECAUSE WE DON’T REALLY
PUSH THAT.
I DON’T REALLY WANT TO WASTE
THEIR TIME GIVING THEM THE
BACKSTORY.
I JUST WANT TO TURN THEM
UPSIDE-DOWN AND SHAKE ALL THEIR
TOURIST MONEY OUT OF THEIR
POCKETS.
>>Reporter: ARNOLD HAS SHAKEN
ENOUGH POCKETS THAT HE RECENTLY
PURCHASED A PLOT OF LAND IN THE
MOST VALUABLE PART OF LAS
VEGAS– THE FAMED STRIP– WHERE
HE PLANS TO BUILD A BIGGER
MUSEUM TO HOUSE 700 OF HIS
MACHINES.
IT’S SLATED TO OPEN SOMETIME
NEXT YEAR.
>>IT’S STILL AMAZES ME THAT
THIS STUPID, BACKWARDS, AMATEUR
PINBALL CLUB COULD SOMEHOW END
UP OWNING SPACE RIGHT ACROSS
FROM MANDALAY BAY, SOME OF THE
MOST EXPENSIVE REAL ESTATE ON
EARTH.
SOMEHOW, WE’RE THERE.
(ELECTRONIC BEEPING)
>>Reporter: IS THERE A PINBALL
MACHINE THAT YOU’VE BEEN LOOKING
FOR, FOR YEARS BUT CAN’T FIND?
OR THAT’S REALLY RARE?
>>I… I WAS GOING AROUND WHEN
THESE THINGS WERE UNWANTED, WHEN
I COULD LITERALLY GO TO A
WAREHOUSE AND BUY ALL I WANTED
FOR $50 TO $100.
AND SOMETIMES IT COSTS ME MORE
TO RENT THE TRUCK TO BRING THEM
HOME THAN IT DID TO BUY THE
MACHINES.
AND I… I’VE HAD OLD COOTS DOWN
IN THE SOUTH, JUST AS I’M
GETTING READY TO PULL AWAY,
SAYS, “I WASN’T GOING TO SAY
ANYTHING, BUT YOU GUYS ARE A
BUNCH OF DOPES.
YOU JUST GAVE ME $100 APIECE FOR
STUFF I WAS GOING TO TAKE TO THE
DUMP.”
>>Reporter: ONE PERSON’S TRASH
IS ANOTHER MAN’S TREASURE.
>>RIGHT.
RIGHT.

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