‘Slick Chick’ and ‘Cow Poke’ Part of Pinball Machine Collection

Collector's Call episode with Lisa Welchel on pinball machines

It is difficult to imagine a time where kids who were old enough to read and write weren’t obsessing over Fortnite or Roblox, but at one point in time Pinball was a game from the future. Born out of the Great Depression, pinball machines (devoid of those silver-ball saving flippers) provided a cheap form of entertainment for people desperately seeking some fun. The machines, however, took time awhile to gain popularity and saw their Golden Age of sorts in the late 1940s when the flippers actually came into play. Eventually machines could be found all over town with bright flashy lights, loud bells and whistles, at restaurants and theaters and where ever people could gather and drop in a quarter for some quick play.

MeTV’s newest episode of Collector’s Call (Sunday, April 23 at 6:30pm ET/PT), finds host and gamer, Lisa Whelchel stepping inside the suburban home of John Pedersen, who has amassed an amazing collection of pinball machines.

“People didn’t know this about me, but I’m a gamer,” she shares. “He had an amazing pinball machine collector, so that was really fun, because during my lunch break, I just got to play all the pinball machines for free.”

John is a retired electrician who from an early age found out his real passion was in both playing pinball and restoring pinball machines that have either seen wear and tear or simply don’t work at all.

These two are joined by legendary pinball player and author Roger Sharpe, who offers up some details on how he “saved” the game of pinball. Not many people know this, but at one time pinball was viewed as a game of chance and classified as gambling, which made it illegal in many American cities in its early days. In 1976 Roger was the star witness on behalf of the Music & Amusement Association and explained how pinball was more of a game of thought and skill versus a game of chance. The Manhattan city council voted 6-0 in favor of lifting the ban on pinball.

John is certainly thankful for Roger’s efforts. John’s love for the game dates back to his grade school days. He delivered newspapers for an entire year in order to save up enough to buy his first pinball machine.

He purchased “Slick Chick” which includes a Playboy-influenced theme for a whopping $275 in 1976, and has been obsessed ever since. His collection now includes “Air Aces,” which is John’s favorite, and the first Bally-manufactured machine to use drop targets. He also has “Cow Poke” with an animated back glass (a collector’s dream), plus he’s got a Star Trek-themed machine which Roger values at around $10,000.

Cow Poke pinball machine

In total, John has 92 pinball machines that he has purchased and restored that he keeps in his basement, and at an airplane hangar.

You can find out how much his entire 92 machine collection is worth, and if John is willing to trade Roger one of his all-time favorite machines on Collector’s Call Sunday, April 23 at 6:30pm ET/PT on MeTV.

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The Collectibles Issue

August 2019

Take a tour of the collectible world, from celebrities with unusual acquisitions to regular folks who have turned playthings into a profitable passion.

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