No one ever wrote back to you. I bought one, new, in 1986. I got it primarily because I had eight children (Front loading probably saved my stylus and tonearm several times!), but it was also on sale. As I recall, I paid around eighty bucks for it. It eventually developed the usual "slow drawer" trouble, indicating that the drive belt for the slider mechanism was slipping. Replacing the belt was a major operation, requiring near-complete disassembly. Two of the cats had a fight on the workbench when I was having dinner, scattering my turntable and parts all over the floor. I played "Taps".
About two years ago, I bought a PL-88FS (the big brother) on eBay for a reasonable price. The stylus looked almost new, but this turntable, too, had the dreaded "slow drawer" syndrome. This time the cats didn't destroy my project, and it is working fine. The '88 sounds much better than the '44, and the '88 has the capability of programming tracks on the LP, much like a CD. The stylus for the '88 is still available, but they sell for a hundred and fifty bucks! The one for the '44 is quite a bit less.
They're not all THAT rare, but they aren't really common, either. The prices are all over the place, but the '44 usually sells for about a hundred bucks and the '88 for twice that, assuming that they are in good working order.
I saw a PL-88FS -- NEW IN BOX! -- sell for over eight hundred dollars a few months ago. Even though it has never been used, it will probably require a new belt and, possibly, some electrolytic capacitors, which tend to dry out when left unused for many years. It probably wasn't much of a bargain at eight hundred bucks.