Bring The Fun Of Skee-Ball Home From The Arcade

What the first game that you have to play when you get to the arcade? If you’re anything like me, then you’re making a beeline back to that wall of skee-ball machines and staking out your place for the rest of the night. I am all about that skeeball life, so I got really bummed out when I moved to a town that didn’t have any arcades that offered this awesome ball rolling game of chance.

Luckily, there are a few companies out there making individual lane skeeball games that allow you to bring all that arcade fun directly into your home. And yes, these things are just as fun as the ones you play at the arcade, with the added benefit of no posers crowding around you as you try to get that toss just right for maximum points glory.

If you’re as into this game as I am, then you’ll be interested in the guide and reviews below. With the help of this article, we’ll have you ready to buy an awesome skeeball machine for your home game room in no time.

Best Skee-Ball Machines For The Money (2018 - 2019)

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Skee-Ball 2010 Alley - 10 Feet LongSkee-Ball 2010 Alley - 10 Feet Long#1 Pick - Best Value
Hathaway Boardwalk 8-ft Skeeball Table Electronic Scoring w Balls & NetHathaway Boardwalk 8-ft Skeeball Table Electronic Scoring w Balls & NetBest Cheap Skee ball Game
Skee-Ball Centennial Alley GameSkee-Ball Centennial Alley GameBest Vintage Skee ball Machine

What To Consider Before Buying

Ready to get your game room all setup as an awesome skee-balling oasis? Well, unfortunately, you can’t just walk into a local store and buy one of these. And even if you could, they are probably a bit more expensive that you realize.

So, to help you with your shopping I’ve got a few things that you should consider as you prepare to buy one of these awesome game machines.

What’s Your Budget?

You might see these machines and expect them to have price tags similar to a foosball table. You’d be wrong. Partly because most of these machines have some electronic score keeping components, partly because most of them are huge, and partly because this is just a specialty arcade game.

I suggest that at a minimum, you have between $800 and $1,200 set aside to buy one of these. That won’t get you a top of the line model, but it will get you a decent machine that meets your needs for some home skeeballing fun.

If you are a purist and want something like you play at Dave & Buster’s, then you’re gonna want to set aside between $5,000 and $10,000 to get the perfect game. I think the sweet spot here is somewhere around $7,000 – $8,000 if you want something like you play on at the arcades.

With that in mind, if you want more than one for simultaneous multi-player games, then you should have more than $10,000 at your disposal, probably closer to $15,000 to get yourself a real nice setup for multiple players.

How Much Space Do You Have?

You might not pay much attention to the size of these machines when you’re at your local arcade, but make no mistake, they are huge. So you need to be certain that you have enough room in your basement or rec room to accommodate how much space one of these things needs. And then, you’ll need plenty of space for you to get into position to toss that ball up the ramp and claim your skeeball champion glory.

Just how long are skee-ball machines? The professional quality ones, like you see at Dave & Buster’s, tend to clock it at around 10-feet to 13-feet in length. So, that’s a heck of a lot of space that you’re going to need at home. Make sure you have the right amount of space before you buy.

Hathaway Boardwalk 8-ft Skeeball Table Electronic Scoring w Balls & Net

pick: best cheap skee-ball game

Hathaway Boardwalk 8-ft Skeeball Table Electronic Scoring w Balls & Net
image: Wayfair

If you’re on a bit of a budget and don’t want to spend a lot of money on your skee-balling equipment, then I recommend this model from Hathaway. You might not be familiar with the brand, but Hathaway has built a reputation on building affordable home game room equipment that offers good quality at a decent price.

Sure, this model isn’t going to be as awesome as some of the models below that cost thousands of dollars, but this one is perfectly fine for families or just for people who don’t want to spend a ton of cash to fill out the games room in the basement.

I like that it has a two player electronic LED scoring system so you can have a tournament with friends and family. That’s almost as good as competing in side-by-side lanes!

Another benefit of this model is that it doesn’t weigh as much as the more expensive models. In fact, this one clocks in at just over 100 pounds, which makes it much easier to move around the house, or down the stairs to the basement. And it really only takes one person to get this thing all assembled and ready for playing.

As a skee ball enthusiast, I do have one minor complaint about this model – the balls that come with it don’t have the same weight that you expect when you play it at the arcade. So, if you’re a purist, like me, then you’ll want to skip this model and go for one of the more expensive classic options below.

Here’s the answers to a few questions you might have before buying this one:

  • What is the ball material? It is MDF (don’t ask me how, it just is!)
  • What is the weight of each ball? The balls weigh around 12 pounds each.
  • How many boxes does the ball table ship in? It is delivered in just one box.
  • What is the length of the ballway? It measures in at 63″ in length.
  • What is the total length of the ball table? It measures in at 98″ in length.

Overall, I think that this model of the game is a good choice for someone who is shopping for a good skee-ball machine under $1,000, or right around the $1,000 price range. (Keep in mind that prices change all the time and I cannot guarantee that the price will be under or over $1,000 when you check it!).

Skee-Ball 2010 Alley – 10 Feet Long

pick: #1 best value skee-ball machine

If you’re really looking to re-live your childhood, then I suggest checking out this model from the Skee-Ball brand. It looks exactly like the games I used to play on when I was younger and visited the local arcade.

Skee-Ball 2010 Alley - 10 Feet Long
image: Walmart

I know that this is a 2010 table, but man, it sure does look like those 1980’s games that I played on. And since it’s made by the official Skee-Ball brand, you already know that this is one high quality game right here. I mean, this is basically a commercial skee-ball machine that you can put in your home.

One important thing that you need to know about this game is that it is super freaking heavy – it weighs in at over 500 pounds! Not only will you need a buddy to help you move it, but you’ll probably need a group of friends to help out.

A cool thing to note about this one is that you can choose what size you want – either the 10-foot model or the 13-foot model. Which one you choose really depends on how much space you have for one of these in your house.

As you can see in the image above, this is a coin-operated skee ball machine, but you can set it for free play so you don’t have to pop in quarters each time you want to get in a few games.

Some notable features:

  • Two 100 points pockets
  • Single 10ft Alley: 29W x 120D x 80.5H
  • Single 13ft Alley: 30 W x 157 L x 81 H
  • Front-mounted electronics panel for easy access

If you’ve played on this machine in an arcade before, then you already know that this is a single player model. Unlike the Hathaway table above, you this one does not keep the score for two players. So, if you want to go head to head with someone else, you’ll need to either buy two of these or just keep score on a piece of paper.

And be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get this game assembled before you play. It takes around two to three hours to get it out of the box and all set up before the fun can begin.

Skee-Ball Centennial Alley Game

pick: best vintage skee-ball machine

If you’re all about that retro, vintage look for your home games room, then you will love this model from the Skee-Ball brand. It definitely has that old school throwback design that takes you back in time.

Skee-Ball Centennial Alley Game
image: Walmart

In fact, this game has an old school flip-style score display and a full handle activation lever to evoke that retro 1930’s style look. It will certainly be a conversation starter when people see it in your home.

This one does tend to have a higher price since it is a bit of a collector’s edition – it marks 100 years of the the Skee-Ball brand, which is why it has this cool, vintage design.

Some notable features:

  • Does NOT have two 100 points pockets, like you might be used to
  • Has a premium cost

Honestly, for me, I would skip this model and get the 2010 model listed above. Not only do I find this model just a bit too expensive for my needs, but I really don’t love the retro design. Sure, it looks cool but it’s not something that I think I’d enjoy looking at for many years to come.

Final Thoughts

Right now, these are my favorite skee ball machines on the market. Sure, there are some other options out there, but they don’t have the quality that these models offer. I think if you go with a different model, then you’re really doing yourself a disservice. And if you’re considering it based solely on the cost of these machines, then I urge you to consider the Hathaway model above. It’s the cheap option I’ve found that still has decent quality.

top photo by Carl Raw on Unsplash