For fifteen years, Pinball Life has been selling a wide selection of pinball parts from their base northwest of Chicago.

In addition, they manufacture a number of unique and hard-to-find parts, and are known for their down-to-earth approach to retailing, providing open days for their customers each October during Pinball Expo.

Interview by John Greatwich

Terry Dezwarte

Name: Terry Dezwarte

Owner of Pinball Life, the parts manufacturer and retailer based in Huntley, Illinois.

Age: 50

When did you first play pinball?
My mom used to give my brother and I a dime to play pinball at the 5 & dime while she was at the checkout. Back in those days pinball cost $0.10 for 2 games of 5 balls. Regardless, both games were over in about 5 minutes.

Where are your favorite places to play pinball?
Unfortunately, in my basement.

What types of pinball machines do you own (EM, solid-state, DMD)?
I run the gamut, but I tend towards modern Stern and early solid-state.

How many do you own now, and what are some of your favorites?
I currently own twenty-two pinball machines. My long time favorite is RBION (believe it or not!).

Do you still have any local commercial locations to play pinball?
Well, sort of. We have about twenty games at our warehouse that are available for free play.

Are there any restrictions on operating or playing pinball in your area?
Not that I know of.

Which shows do you attend?
Pinball Expo, Midwest Gaming Classic, and Pinball at the 'Zoo.

We are seeing more pinball machines being developed by small companies other than Stern Pinball. What is your opinion on this new interest in the game?
Its all good. I think the future lies in this as long as the economy can sustain it.

Where would you like to see the pinball machine technology go in the future?
Yes, towards new technology :-)

Do you like mods for pinball machines?
Yes, when tastefully done.

How do you like new lighting technology?
I like it when it is tastefully done.

What do you think the cost per play of new pins should be?
Free in my home, $1.00 on location.

What annoys you the most about pinball on location?
The lack thereof.

How can we get more new people interested in playing pinball?
Not sure there is a simple answer here. I think pinball has to keep with the times while at the same time offering a mechanical renaissance.

Do you think we need to return to simpler and easier to understand pinballs?
No. I like the older games, but still “no”. As things mature they naturally get more complicated. The smart phone is miles above the rotary phone; its called progression. Not that rotary phones aren’t cool, but relevant they shall never be again.

How do you think pinball manufacturers can make a more playable and friendly game?
I wasn’t aware that they were doing a bad job of this.

How annoyed do you get with missing balls or hang-ups on games?
Avengers sucks. No offense to George, I LOVE Lord of the Rings, Playboy, Sopranos, & Transformers.

Do you think pinball manufacturers should get smart and kick out another ball quickly if there is a ball missing or not scoring?
I believe modern pinball already does this. What am I missing?

How do you rank yourself as a player, and do you play in tournaments?
I’m average for an active player. I play in the CPM tournament league.

The cost of new pinball ownership has increased greatly over the last few years. Does this stop you from buying new machines?
No, but it has stopped me from buying other things.

With the introduction of new technology, do you think pinball machines have become easier to service and more reliable?
No, but it’s the price you pay.

Pinballs machines are heavy objects to move around. Do you think they need to be lighter?
Weird question. I do not have an answer here.

How do you like the warranty offered for new pinball machines and parts?
Seems adequate.

Does traditional mechanical pinball need more radical changes?
At first blush I would say no. I’m all for a natural progression, but radical is a strong word. Williams Pinball 2000 was radical and it didn’t do much for me.

Any other thoughts?
Pinball is fun first and everything else second.

If readers would like more information?
Our website is

Thanks for your time Terry.

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