Delaware Pinball Collective debuts this month

by Matt Morrissette

For those still reeling from the closure of the beloved Wilmington arcade bar, 1984, during the early days of the pandemic, the new year brings hope, flippers, and bumpers. 

Delaware Pinball Collective debuts this month and brings nearly 50 classic pinball machines (including Attack from Mars, Jurassic Park, Monster Bash, Iron Maiden, and Twilight Zone) to their 3,000-square-foot space located at 1100 First State Boulevard in Wilmington.

The business model for the venture is like that of a VFW or Moose Lodge, in which one must be a member to gain access to the private club. Memberships can be purchased monthly or yearly at a discount. Membership grants you access to the establishment during normal operating hours and unlimited play of the machines — all are set to free play. Leave your quarters at home.

There will be snacks, beverages, and alcohol available for purchase and to help expand the membership base, members can bring guests up to three times a year. For the more competitive, weekly leagues will let you test your mettle against other local pinball wizards. 

The idea for the collective has been around since 2018, with the venue almost becoming a reality in March of 2020 at a different location. The Collective’s board of directors (Chad Hastings, Joe Fox, Paul Pratzner, Mike Keith, and Rodney Comegys) chose to hit the pause button at that time, then found the current spot after a long search for a location that met their needs in terms of location, square footage and parking. 

Ninety percent of the club’s pinball machines come from the personal collections of members of the board, all obsessive veterans of the pinball machine subculture. Collectively, the board members own nearly 100 machines, so members can expect the game rotation at the club to stay fresh and funky. The remaining 10% of the machines come from people who are already members of the Collective. 

Together with the opening of Wilma’s (a duckpin bowling alley with an arcade) on Wilmington’s Market Street, the arrival of Delaware Pinball Collective marks the return of adult arcade fun to the city. 

— For more information on membership, open houses, tournaments and a complete listing of pinball machines, visit DelawarePinballCollective.com