There are two threads on Pinside.com where members post links to pinball machines that are for sale in various parts of the US. One is for Craigslist and the other is for eBay.
Desireable machines do appear on midwest Craiglists, but it's first come, first buy. I can't just drop everything and make a road trip to Kansas City or Minneapolis on a Tuesday morning. So, I've yet to score a game on Craigslist.
I also check eBay every once in awhile, but most of the games for sale are out of state, and shipping them (if that's even offered) to Des Moines would cost as much or more than the price of the machine.
Then I spotted this post two weeks ago on Pinside:
This was interesting. The machine in the auction was in Mason City - less than two hours from our home. Better yet, the machine in question, Teacher's Pet, has very good reviews on the ipdb.org.
I decided to place a bid since more than one Pinsider commented that the seller was a nice guy who did good work. I waited six days, 23 hours, 59 minutes, and 37 seconds to place my bid. You can probably guess I won the auction because I'm writing about it. I was excited to get another machine, but I was a bit nervous about buying a game I hadn't seen nor played. Sometimes you just can't play it safe.
I had to wait another six days to get my Teacher's Pet into the Sad Club's lineup. Last Saturday was the best time to drive to Mason City. I was okay with the wait. That gave me time to rearrange the basement so it wouldn't look cramped. All I had to do was move a bookshelf.
I'm happy to report the rumors about the seller were true. He was a very nice guy, and we spent 20 minutes in his basement talking about pin repair and collecting. He gave me some good advice, and he walked me through the machine I had bought from him. The guy swore so much he made me want to swear. I had a good time.
Here's what I bought.
No, the bulbs behind the backglass aren't burned out. You have to spell T-E-A-C-H-E-R-S-P-E-T by hitting the correct targets to get all the bulbs to light (and get a free game). I haven't done it yet.
I sit at my desk in this same saintly pose when I'm teaching.
At 51 years old, this is the oldest pinball machine in the arcade, and I'd argue that it might be the most fun to play, but that's probably just the newness of the machine talking.
I like the artwork's sense of humor.
Public School Number 72 apparently has a pretty rough group of gossipy first graders.
Teacher's Pet, welcome to the Club!