The Pinball Blog. The Machines. The People. The Events. The Addiction! Pinball Heroes: Industry Interviews.

Sunday 18 January 2009

Pinball Heroes: Tim Arnold

When we speak to some of our Pinball Heroes there's one place that keeps coming up as a 'must see'. You probably don't need to be a rocket surgeon (or brain scientist for that matter) to work out where that is.

The Las Vegas Pinball Hall of Fame.The Pinball Blog jumped on a plane and popped over to Vegas to catch up with the man behind the madness (actually, we sent him an email).

The Pinball Blog. So you're Tim Arnold from the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas. Do you still get the same kick out of pinball that you did when you first opened the doors to the PHOF?

Tim Arnold.
I don't really play pinball anymore. I spend all day every day around the machines. If I get time away, the last thing I want is more bells buzzers and brats. I go play with my dogs.
TPB. If you had to do something else, what would it be?

Don't know anything else, this is all I have done my whole life. Perhaps I could open a soft drink stand on the Merrick road.....

TPB. You're a keen supporter of the Salvation Army, do you ever see how the money is being used and what difference it's making?

TA. Our charitable acts are the most important thing we do. We support the Army because they are a lot like us, low rent, very efficient, and totally dedicated to one thing. The hippy and I just went to the latest graduation ceremony and saw first hand crack heads, dopers, and low lifes that had finished the program, and were placed in a job after training and were ready to rejoin normal life. It was done with our money. I am very proud.
TPB. What happens one day if you're too old to run the Pinball Hall of Fame?

I figure I have 10 more years at least. After that, I will close the museum, take all the machines out in the parking lot and burn them so nobody will ever play pinball again. Or I could find somebody to take over.

You must have had some interesting visitors to the Pinball Hall of Fame. Are there any that stand out? Maybe one from pinball-circles and one from the 'real' world!

Only non pinball famous guy we ever had was Lenord Maltin, Teevee critic. He came in a limo, stayed about an hour, then left. Nice guy.
Steve Ritchie refused to autograph his brothers games, so he is no longer famous.
Eugene Jarvis really liked the picture on our Asteroids.

So you let people play pinball and give the money to charity. You sound pretty-darn perfect. There must be a dark side to Tim Arnold. Drink? Drugs? Ladies? All of the ab
ove? Come on, you can tell us.

We have had several e-mails from people who came to the museum and expected a personal tour and a lot of time with the Hippy or me, and we spent very little time with them. Every second we are there, we are fixing games. Many people take this as rudeness, when it is just attention to detail. If we have offended anyone, we are sorry.

TPB. If the PHOF had to be somewhere else on the planet, where would it be?

Las Vegas is the only place on earth this can work. You need tourists AND locals to make the numbers work 52 weeks out of the year. Many other places have shows once or twice a year, which is SUPER WAY COOL, but keeping it open year round is a whole nother Magilla.....

All those change machines and pinballs. How many quarters are in circulation at any one time at the PHOF?

Games are scooped all the time, and we leave very little change in the place over night. No use tempting people. Under 500 dollars.

TPB. Although everyone should try and get to the PHOF, it clearly won't be possible. Is there anything we can do from afar other than marvel at your collection?

In the coming months, we will be moving to 1610 E. Tropicana, a building we will OWN, out of the cramped and dingy rental we are now in. We paid 1.2 million for the new place. We had 700K. in the building fund. We are now 500 thousand in debt. As soon as we get the move over with and up and running, we will be passing the hat among the pinball world in a GIVE ONCE fundraiser. We will have basic memberships, gold, Silver (Not Herb), platinum and diamond memberships, along with sponsorship of a machine, restroom, vending machine, etc. Sorry, toilets are already named for Shaggy and Normm.
When the time comes, PLEASE SEND MONEY!. The sooner we are out of debt, the sooner we can get back to giving to charity.

TPB. Finally, can you sum up pinball in one word or sentence?

TA. Needs more salt!

Many thanks to Tim Arnold who I'm sure has much better things to do than answer questions from us! Thankfully, he found the time.

If you'd like to send a paypal donation to the PHOF then you can use this address ( to send payment. Or check out the PHOF Support Page to find out other ways you can help the guys.

Hopefully, you're starting to see how Pinball Heroes works! 10 questions, some for fun, some out of curiosity and some to try and start a bun-fight. These guys will have answered thousands of questions over the years, so we're trying to make it a little different!

More Pinball Heroes coming soon!


The Pinball Blog

Pictures used with permission from The Pinball Hall of Fame.


Anonymous said...

Great interview. Refreshingly frank!

The PHoF is one institution I'd give money to in a heartbeat, not least because the guy has put him cash and his heart on the line for pinball for xx years.

Please make sure the UK pinballers know all about it when the hat goes round.

Anonymous said...

Was at the PHoF last week (8/01) what a fantastic place - played for 2 hours solid - never had so much fun - keep up the excellent work Tim !!

djesno said...

i know (knew) "shaggy" (tim) from the pinball pete's days in the 80's. he's a total class act and self-agrandization is not his milieu. let me appologize for the poor spelling and mixed languages in the last sentence, i am a bit drunk!

shaggy used to host a public access tv show in east lansing as "sloucho" during which he played the BEST CARTOONS EVER MADE (mostly old looney toons (actually wb 'toons) and tex avery's...)

he gave me a thick ass printout (xerox copy) of the total warner toon catalog like 25 years ago and i kept it until my wife threw it away a couple of years ago.

it was that important to me.

we used to call him "shaggy" because of his slouchy posture (mayhap that's why he chose "sloucho" when he donned groucho marx costumage for his public access show) but he was a celebrity, maybe even an icon to me during those formative years ('80-'88 or so). my friends in college didn't get it.

shaggy, if you read this, i don't know of your religious affiliation, or if you even have one, but i am an atheist and even though the SA is a christian organisation they are pretty much the best organization in the U.S. to give your money to to avoid administrative bloat, so, well done. they do nothing but positive things in the communities in which they work, i'm sure vegas is no different.

also, sorry for calling you "shaggy" all those years ago. it seemed like it got to you, but, to me, it was a term of endearment.

also, i remember stealing a cue ball from pete's 20 or so years ago and throwing it through a window. it had "pinball pete's" etched into it, so you may have gotten a call about it back then. my appologies.

Unknown said...

As I understand it Tim Arnold is *not* Shaggy. Shaggy is the nickname given to someone that acted in "This Old Pinball" (TOP) videos which cover the basics and no-so-basics of pinball and entertainment game restoration (bowlers, pitchers, pinball, so forth).

I think your story is still valid, and wonderful. Thank you for sharing some pre Vegas and pre PHoF history. Tim and his brother owned and operated Pinball Petes which is all part of history on the net about Tim and his affiliation with pinball.

I would like to second and triple the notion that the Salvation Army is second to none when it comes to the quality of work they do and low overhead. Its no thrills or advertising BS, gets the job done, and folks like Tim.