One of the things my Father and I discussed in the planning stages is how we handle conveying to non-pinheads the historic impact of classic tables. We’re going to be covering them a lot, since Zen Studios has plans for more golden age conversions for Pinball FX3. Plus, we’ll be reviewing some high ticket items, like the $599.99 1up Arcade Attack from Mars and Star Wars pins by them. But, the thing is, it’s hard to give people the context of why, say, Firepower is such a big deal. In theory, the easiest way to do that is to say how many units it sold to arcades.
But, that comes with a problem: the numbers don’t sound impressive if you don’t know what the numbers mean. When I told someone the best selling solid-state table was Addams Family at 20,070, they responded with a stunned “wait, that’s it?” It’s hard to explain how astonishing an accomplishment that is. It’s one of only two solid-states to break the 20,000 unit mark. Only four tables cleared the 18,000 threshold. Remember, pinball tables are made for arcades. Yes, there was the occasional enthusiast or over-zealous father who bought a brand new table for the family rec room. But, for the most part, pinball machines were designed to be routed. Having 20,000 of one machine on route is remarkable.
So, where is the threshold for true majesty? After careful consideration, we’ve decided on 12,000 units. While my Father and I agree that 10,000 units is a nice, visually pleasing number and a wonderful achievement, 12,000 is the elite class. It means the table was competing directly with the top video games of its time. It’s a number only two electro-mechanical tables ever achieved: Capt. Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy by Greg Kmiec and Royal Flush by the legendary Ed Krynski.
And so, for your consideration, here are the twenty-three solid-state members of the 12K Club. And for giggles, we’ve included all the remaining solid states that have sold 10,000 units. If we’re missing information, please leave a reply with a link and we’ll correct. Thanks to the Internet Pinball Database for helping with this.
#1: The Addams Family (20,270 Units, 1992, Pat Lawlor & Larry DeMar for Midway)
#2: Eight Ball (20,230 Units, 1977, George Christian for Bally)
#3: Flash (19,505 Units, 1979, Steve Ritchie for Williams)
#4: Playboy (18,250 Units, 1978, Jim Patla for Bally)
#5: Firepower (17,410 Units, 1979, Steve Ritchie for Williams)
#6: High Speed (17,080 Units, 1986, Steve Ritchie for Williams)
#7: KISS (17,000 Units, 1979, Jim Patla for Bally)
#8: Star Trek (16,842 Units, 1979, Gary Gayton for Bally)
#9: Mata Hari (16,260 Units, 1978, Jim Patla for Bally)
#10: Twilight Zone (15,235 Units, 1993, Pat Lawlor for Midway)
#11: Terminator 2: Judgement Day (15,202 Units, 1991, Steve Ritchie for Midway)
#12: Harlem Globetrotters On Tour (14,550 Units, 1979, Greg Kmiec for Bally)
#13: F-14 Tomcat (14,502 Units, 1987, Steve Ritchie for Williams)
#14 Tie: Gorgar (14,000 Units, 1979, Barry Oursler for Williams)
#14 Tie: Evel Knievel (14,000 Units, 1977, Gary Gayton for Bally)
#16: Power Play (13,750 Units, 1978, Greg Kmiec for Bally)
#17: Fish Tales (13,640 Units, 1992, Mark Ritchie for Midway)
#18: The Getaway: High Speed II (13,259 Units, 1992, Steve Ritchie for Midway)
#19: Black Knight (13,075 Units, 1979, Steve Ritchie for Williams)
#20: Strikes and Spares (12,820 Units, 1978, Gary Gayton for Bally)
#21: Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure (12,716, 1993, Mark Ritchie & Doug Watson for Midway)
#22: Pin•Bot (12,001 Units, 1986, Barry Oursler & Python Anghelo for Williams)
#23: Sinbad (12,000 Units, 1978, Ed Krynski for Gottlieb)
That, my friends, is the list. Those are the twenty-three pins that are among the greatest selling coin-operated games of all-time. Unless arcades make a serious comeback or pinball has an inexplicable boom, no new table will ever join their ranks. A sobering, sad reminder that we’ll never see the marvelous new tables of the 21st century ever get the recognition they deserve.
Here are the remaining tables that sold 10,000 units.
#24: Star Trek: The Next Generation (11,728 Units, 1993, Steve Ritchie for Midway)
#25: Space Invaders (11,400 Units, 1980, Jim Patla for Bally)
#26: Xenon (11,000 Units, 1980, Greg Kmiec for Bally)
#27: Funhouse (Approximately 10,750 Units, 1990, Pat Lawlor for Midway)
#28: Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man Pinball (10,600, 1982, George Christian for Bally)
#29: Star Wars (10,400 Units, 1992, John Borg for Data East)
#30 Tie: Silverball Mania (10,350 Units, 1980, Jim Patla for Bally)
#30 Tie: Lethal Weapon 3 (10,350 Units, 1992, Joe Kaminkow & Ed Cebula for Data East)
#32: Supersonic (10,340 Units, 1979, Greg Kmiec for Bally)
#33: Lost World (10,330 Units, 1978, Gary Gayton for Bally)
#34: The Six Million Dollar Man (10,320 Units, 1978, Greg Kmiec for Bally)
#35: Flash Gordon (10,000 Units, 1981, Claude Fernandez for Bally)
That’s it. Unless you count the home version of Fireball (another Greg Kmeic design that hit 10,000 units), those are the only thirty-five solid state pinball machines to sell 10,000 units.
What do YOU think should be the cutoff for legendary status? Should it be higher than 12,000? Lower? Should the club be instead the 8K Club? The Pinball Chick belongs to the entire pinball community, and we want to hear from YOU! So leave a reply in the comments saying what you think the “Club” should be!
Wow… no idea the units sold were so low. Maybe It could make a comeback if like the PS5, the entire process of making them could be automated on a production line. The cost is too high compared to making video games. Thanks for your pinball writings, it helps keep it alive!
Well, keep in mind pinball machines cost a lot more than a game console and have mark-ups of thousands of dollars.
[…] Addams Family released and set sales records that stand to this day, and Williams had two other 12K Clubbers release (Fish Tales and Getaway: High Speed II). Data East released its only two 10,000 […]
[…] how much fun you have, it was a doom harbinger for the sport itself. The final table to join the 12K Club, and the second-to-last table to clear 10,000 units sold (Star Trek: The Next Generation was the […]