“This is a great hobby,” said Weimer, 55, of Fruitland Park, who is one of four people in the U.S. trained to repair and restore old pinball machines.He also sells hard to find parts to pinball owners and collectors all over the world, and Weimer is a pinball distributor through his Little Shop of Games, where he does launching parties for collectors and travels to pinball expositions around the country.
Over the weekend, he hosted a pinball show in Chicago. His next big event will be Southern Pinball Festival Nov. 22-24 at the Crowne Plaza at Orlando Universal. Arcade businesses and collectors are among his top customers.
“I just sold and shipped a pinball machine to Karl Urban, who starred as Dr. McCoy on Star Trek, in the last two movies,” said Weimer, who noted one of the latest and most popular pinball machines is a limited edition Star Trek (priced $4,995), which is generating a lot of buzz. Only 799 of these were manufactured.
“Half of those go overseas and only 400 are in the U.S.,” Weimer said while showing the Star Trek pinball machine to one of his regular customers, Dario Compain of Tampa, who was impressed by the new game.
“I want this Star Trek. I really like it, I love the flow of it,” Compain said. “The ramps are very smooth, the shots are relatively easy, and as you get into it, it’s a little more challenging.”
Compain noted the new Star Trek is the first with LED lights. It will mark his 10th pinball machine to buy for his home.
Some customers prefer to invest in a new playfield for around $550, where Weimer will take an existing cabinet and install a new game.
“You can keep an eye on your kids, and for older people like myself, it provides great hand-and-eye coordination. It just keeps you going,” he said.
Weimer also noted pinball can be a monetary investment.
“This game here, The Family Guy, came out maybe four or five years ago, and that sold new for $3,695. Right now as a used machine it’s worth about $5,200,” Weimer said. “Pinball machines are better than the stock market right now. They go up in value and I attribute that to more people getting into the hobby.”
Whenever pinball repairs or restoration work is needed, Weimer picks up pinball machines from businesses or owners’ homes and does the work at his shop.
“ I don’t do house calls because you can’t carry all the parts that they need for them,” he said, recalling he began collecting pinball machines in 1992 and was spurred by encouragement from his son.
Weimer retired from construction when the housing market was at its peak.
“I got lucky,” he said. “I saw the verge of a bubble bursting; I saw it coming.”
He now keeps busy with doing restoration and repairs for pinball operators and private owners.
“We’ll do all new artwork on the sides and the front for the older machines. We’ll strip the cabinet down to the wood and put new artwork and everything on it. I make them look new again, and we’ll even change out and put brand new playfields,” he said.
Customers find him from all over the globe, via the Internet and for being a supplier of needed parts to work on Williams/Bally pinball machines.
“As far as parts that have sent to different countries, I think the only country I haven’t shipped to was China,” he said. “Right have I have packages going to Brazil, and I’ve shipped to Argentina, Austria, Germany, Belgium.”
Many new pinball games Weimer can supply are still in their original boxes.
Weimer shows his Dale Earnhardt Jr. pinball machines from back in the day when the NASCAR driver was known as No. 8.
“He’s now No. 88 when he changed teams and it sort of killed this machine,” he said.