Work in progress.................................................................................................
About Big Daddy: This site is the result of a hobby gone wild and filling a niche of supplying pre-packaged pinball repair kits as opposed to sourcing and ordering from many suppliers (with added shipping and handling). I have no minimum order, and charge reasonable shipping so you can get your Bally, Stern, Williams or Gottlieb machine up and running for a reasonable cost. It was originally started by Steve Kulpa and was taken over by me in 2005 when Steve was moving, taking a new job, and could no longer run the site. Literally overnight the site was taken down, FedExed to me and I jumped in with both feet. Since then I've tried to expand and improve on it by adding more product, more kits, and better discounts.
Big Daddy is mail order only, and has no retail space or showroom.
Big Daddy is an authorized Novus distributor.
About Me: I have owned pinball machines and video games for about 20 years. My first pinball was a non working EM game that I can't even remember, but I also had Asteroids Deluxe (cocktail), Space Intruders and Mario Brothers videos. I was in a teeny house and sold all these before I moved to a larger house in 1996. That's when I bought my first "real" pinball, a Williams Police Force from Paul Frazee, which to date remains one of my favorite games. A few years later a friend of mine called me telling about five video games that were shoved against the wall at a local skating rink marked "Out of Order". He had talked to the manager and we were able to buy all five for $400. Being the tinkerer that I am, I was able to get all of them working within a few months, to date Dave still has the Gyruss. This was the start of buying and fixing games.
The first pinball machine I bought to fix was a Bally Bobby Orr Power Play in the summer of 2000. I had seen it at a garage sale, but it was marked 'Sold'. It so happened I was driving through this neighborhood months later and saw it still in the garage. I rang the doorbell and the lady told me the guy backed out. "Would you give me fifty dollars for it?" she says. YOU BET! Brian J was the guy that taught me the trick of reseating chips. Have I really known him 10 years?
As time went on, I always had my eyes out for games and have picked games up at the curb, at garage and estate sales, from operators, eBay and everywhere in between. It's amazing what's out there.
In December of 2000, I met Mike O when I was on the hunt for a Theatre of Magic for my lovely wife T. She had played one at her bachelorette party a few months earlier, and when I kept coming home with junk, she'd make the comment "when are you going to find me a Theatre of Magic?". Mike had one, but didn't want to sell, steering us towards a Cirqus Voltaire instead. I had seen the ToM in the background of an eBay auction Mike had won from Gary in Lawrence, and contacted him and found Mike had bought them all. We went over to see CV, and while in hindsight probably a better investment, T wanted a Theatre, and we passed. About a month later Mike changed his mind, set the terms and I sneaked (snuck?) out to buy the game for Christmas. I picked up a fridge box, wrapped it and teased the snot out of Tracy by having Santa deliver it early...
..... but do NOT open .....
I'll always chuckle at this, she thought it was a rocking chair. Here's the after picture. This was my first WPC game, still have it, it's nice.
Mike and I did a few trades and sales back and forth (I keep track Mike, 17 games between us over the years, can ya believe it?) and in August of 2001 he got me in touch with a guy in Arkansas that bought a truck load of games, and was unloading cheap. I struck a deal with the guy and bought eight games for $375 each, including Dr. Dude and Eight Ball Deluxe. The EBD was a game I had been hankering for, remembering playing it at 39th and State Line at pizza place called "Some Other Place", it's now gone, both the game and pizza joint. It was a long trip, but the first time I had bought a load of pinballs and very memorable. Here's another picture of the garage getting full.
Sometime around summer 2001, I met Mitch, he was a video game guy that found me out via the Internet or vice versa, and we started yapping. We went to the KC Auction together (on a really cold and crappy November day) and helped each other get our games home. I bought an Indianapolis 500 and still have it today, one of my favs. It was your unusual auction buy, with lots of bulbs out, dirty, and every little thing broken still in the bottom of the cabinet. One sling hanging, car spoiler gone, ends of the light target switch broken, all were still there. Mitch bought a few vids and had the steepest damn stairs I've ever seen. Pretty sure who got the better end of THAT bargain. Anyway, that was the start, and proud to say Mitch is a pinball guy now (19 games between us buddy!). He now owns 15 pinball machines (and just one video game).
In the summer of 2002, Mitch and I drove to Springfield with a 25' Penske truck and filled it to the brim with four pinballs, twenty plus video games, test equipment and parts galore. Quite an adventure there, the guy literally didn't lift a finger to help us, getting stuck in the mud, trying to ignore the dude's new business of leather whips and choke collars and the most disgusting house I have ever been in. Ew. Mitch cut his hand and no kidding, felt safer washing it in a mud puddle. It was a FULL dusk to dark day, and we didn't unload until the next day. I don't think my garages have been empty since. Mitch got a Track and Field out of the deal, and eventually the Black Hole and Ms. Pacman. Within 2 months I had gotten rid of 90% of it and made my money back two fold. I still have two video game testers but nothing else.
2003 and 2004 seemed to be the stock up years, buying 183 games literally 2 at a time. I had originally had this thought of owning one machine from each era, 1930s to 2000, and I succeeded, but I found out I didn't like the older games, playing or working on them. These were also the years I had a lot of pinball drama in my life by getting involved with a small time local KC operator who ended up being less than honest. Most of you know who I mean. I do not miss that drama.
Kinda a side subject, when I brought Indiana Jones home to the garage sometime in 2004, Keystone showed off his skills. He literally gave me this look, then hopped up on the game. WTF? If you've not seen it, he "plays pinball". It's pretty amusing to watch. Pictures here and here.
Another fun deal happened in 2005 when I bought a trailer load of 11 pinball machines that were mostly Gottlieb parts machines, but also scored myself an NOS clearcoated Black Knight and Jungle Lord playfield sets. Sadly, I can find no pictures. I bought the Jungle Lord PF site unseen in the box, and when I opened it and saw how nice it was, I took a picture and sent it off to Mitch. His reply was "what's that underneath?" Ended up being a Black Knight playfield, NOS and clearcoated. BK was the game I played in high school. SCORE! One of the parts games was a Close Encounters, and having this is how I met my buddy Brett, he needed a playfield for his own game, and the rest is history, Brett now owns 15 games. Silly Brett. Brett has the amazing knack of being able to fix anything, and make a turd shine, he's done some amazing work on my games. 10 games between us buddy at LEAST!
In 2006, I rented a small place in Mission Kansas, (Warning: Large 16 meg video) with the intentions of having it as a showroom and of course more storage. It was a great little place (emphasis on little), but it was nice. Mike O. (that's Don B in the black jacket) came there quite often on his lunch breaks to fix up machines, and I was there all the time just putzing. Sadly, because of my move to NV, I closed shop the next year without it ever really getting off the ground. I'm glad Mike got to do my MM and CC before I left, Mike, you do nice work!
Also in 2006, another friend of mine Brad called me and asked if I was interested in going to look at some "games in storage". Turns out storage was an 1800s era church, and this place was packed with pinballs, videos and more. For the mere price of paying the back taxes (about $750), we could haul out all we wanted, and did!! All told, we hauled out 44 pieces from that place, including eight pinball machines. One video game, a Williams Blaster in a Duramold cabinet, sold on eBay for $1600. That was the cream, much of it was parted out, given away, or sold for very little (34 pieces), but it sure was fun! Brad kept one game, and I still have one of the jukeboxes.
In late 2006 we shook up our life and decided to move to Sparks NV. It was a super tough decision not only because we were leaving friends, but we had never considered moving West, let alone to the desert. It literally took me 7 months of working on the house and scaling down the number of games to get here. Most of that time was seeing the wife once or twice a month. In the end I drove here twice, sent two PODS full of stuff, and had two moving trucks. Game wise I brought about 78 pieces with me, mostly pinball machines. Leaving KC was the first time I had parked my truck in the garage in years. Here's a good picture.
2007 was literally all about the move, and was the first year to date I sold more games than I bought. Having fun with games wasn't very high on my list.
2008 was a much more interesting time in the Reno area (pictures coming). There are a lot less people (about 20% of the KC Metro area) and a lot less towns in close proximity. What I found out quickly is there aren't a lot of people like me that look for and find games as a matter of practice, and a lot less collectors. I've met about 30 people, but I can only think of a few that have more than 10 games. This is a gaming town, and when I find things, they often include slot machines or poker games, something rare to my collection before. Much more than in KC, I seem to find people that have a lot of 'junk', and just want to get rid of it all. In February I met a guy that had eight pinballs (and junk), and in March I bought another eight games from a guy (half vids, half pinball). Since then it's been the monthly game on Craigslist and slowly but surely, word of mouth. The nice thing about this desert climate is that games are often in incredible shape. I have very nice 9+ condition games such as Royal Flush, Bow & Arrow (since sold), Top Score, Haunted House, Evel Knievel, Medusa, Capt Card, Flash, Twin Win, and more. Sadly, the heat also can cause playfield separation and flaking, but overall I've been pleased.
2009 has also proven interesting. A local slot business unfortunately is closing shop due to the death of the owner. He was a Bally employee and in the business for 40 years. That means he had 40 years of accumulation. I went down there in March to look at the two sole pinball machines they had, but was amazed at the 2000 slot machines, dozens of video poker games, and 1000 Bingo, flipperless, flasher and one-ball horse race games. To date they have moved probably half of the machines out, and yours truly has bought or bartered for a whopping 75 games. Don't get excited, most of these have been non-payout video poker games which have mostly been parted out, and 20 or so flasher games, of which I still have about 3. Some neat gems in there that I've kept in the hopes of some day opening a museum include a Keeney Multi Free Races, Daval Gems, Buckley Diamond Mine, and a Stoner Turf Champs, all from the 1930s. It's also been interesting to stumble across old signs and memorabilia.
The current collection in the house includes 17 games, mostly WPC though a few System 11s and a slot. Though it's a big house, there's no basement so games are scattered in two main areas, the front entryway living and dining room holds nine, (who needs those with a family of two?) and a back gameroom holding six, two others out and about. The end goal is to have a line up of Bally and Williams games in the garage, but with my pack rat tendency, that's a long way out.
To date I've just cleared owning over 500 machines, and currently have 140 in the inventory, over 100 are pins.
Plenty more stories to be shared and friends to mention. Todd 8/14/2009
2010-2011 wasn't really worth remarking much about. Frankly, it sucked. In a nutshell, we woke up July 4th, 2010 weekend to my wife being one of the 100+ people laid off. No warning, and the crappy way they did it will always be something I'll hate about her old company. She had the day off so we could go camping, they changed the password on her cell phone and cut off her computer access. We figured out what was going on, by making a lot of calls, we confirmed it. Nice. After making 'finding a job' her NEW job, she got in with a good company, taking a considerable cut in pay, but she was over qualified and bored. That down time took 4-5 months and financially it was killing us. Unemployment was crap, severance pay was crap, and because she never took much vacation, none of that started until her vacation pay ran out.
In what now seems like a very long time ago, in January of 2011 she started talking with a company in St. Joseph, MO. It wasn't until May before they had a face to face meeting. It went very well. In June they made an offer, and nearly a year from the lay-off, she started her new job, flying here ahead of me and staying in an apartment. Now my job was getting us there. THAT alone didn't take nearly as long as the Mission to Reno move, but it was nearly as stressful. In only two months the entire household including half my game collection went from there to here. I still have storage units there filled with parts and games.
The best part of those years are when we left.
Fast forward to 2012. We're here, and still unpacking. We love being back in the Midwest, being close to friends, family and the climate. Certainly the economy is much better. I can't wait to have a real garden again. We're still trying to get rid of the house in Sparks but the mortgage companies could care less. It's an attractive house and has a lot of interest. Three buyers have walked cause the banks won't respond. One would think they'd want to have a new owner by now, but they could care less and show it. The last offer they had 45 days to respond and they did nothing. Nothing. Not a damn thing. We had a closing date that went and gone. Only after my buyers walked weeks later did they acknowledge anything, and get this, they sent us a letter saying the sale was cancelled due to the buyers walking. Other way around idiots. They harass us by calling 4 times a day, and leave long voicemails via a computerized automated service asking us to call. That part of my life I will be glad when it's behind me.
2012 will be better, it has to be. So far it is. Todd 01/20/2012
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