• Cassie

Collecting Arcade Games, A Year in Review

Updated: Sep 29

With my Fall college semester finally beginning, the time I will have to invest in my arcade hobby will be minimal at best. If any positive thing can be said of the current Covid situation for me personally however, is over the last 8 months I have had an enormous amount of free time to purse my arcade game collecting ambitions. And it is because of this free time, I have added more new games to my collection this year than any of the previous 25 plus years I have been collecting. So let us take a look at the changes in my collection for 2020, what I have learned, what I still hope to do, and some other projects that we took part of that are related.



THE COLLECTING MARKET IN 2020


Overall prices in the hobby seem to be stable with rare and high in demand games continuing to command decent prices. Home use arcade game recreations such as the 1Up Arcade series seem to be commanding the multi cade modification market despite their lack of quality when compared to legitimate commercial arcade machines. With the 1Up market in full swing, we may be seeing fewer classic cabinets hacked up into multigames. With the Covid crisis in the USA, retro arcade locations such as "Barcades" have obviously been hit very hard economically. If this effects the collecting market with these arcades forced to sell inventories of classic games is yet to be seen.


I have noticed a slight upswinging in prices for...

Color Vector Games

Konami 4 Player Games in Dedicated Cabinets

Rarer Candy Cabinets from Japan

1980's Nintendo Arcade Games Cabaret Cabinets


I have also noticed a downturn in demand for...

Laserdisc games

Pre 1980 arcade games

Cocktail Cabinets

Gauntlet

90's Driving games


Games that have traditionally commanded the highest prices (Discs of Tron, Major Havoc, Quantum) seem to continue to do so. As reproduction techniques from builders of repro classic games continue to improve (using CNC machines and the like), this might send prices of original games up a bit more. The pinball market which has been exceptionally strong in recent years thanks to a pinball revival might be due for a downturn and possible crash due to a saturated market and a poor economy.

NEW ARRIVALS FOR 2020


7 new arcade games made it into the collection in some fashion or another this year. Lets check out the status of each of these new games...

Donkey Kong - We picked up this literal barn find very close to the HQ of Nintendo up here in the Seattle area. It had been converted to a Super Mario Bros at some point in its life, and has been going through a rather slow restoration back into a proper TKG-3 Donkey Kong. Red cabinet machines are priced by collectors, unfortunately this one had a large amount of damage to the laminate forcing me to carefully repaint it. So far the repaint is going well and allowed me to finally construct a reusable paint booth (which I will touch on in the future). Once the game cabinet is fully restored it should be a breeze to finish, since all the other components have been acquired. This game has been a trial by fire in the skill sets of paint sprayers, paint booths, and advanced Bondo.

Current location - In the Workshop going through restoration



Ms.Pac-Man and Stargate games - I bought these from an estate sale, both in decent but odd condition. The Ms. Pac had been converted to home use but had a non-working board and some cabinet issues. The original artwork had mostly been painted over. The Stargate although missing its original artwork was in stellar condition, although someone had converted it to a Moon Patrol. The Moon Patrol CPU was fully working so I gutted the cabinet and it now sits waiting for its future. It will probably become a replacement cabinet (I will re stencil it) for our Stargate cabinet in the arcade currently which is suffering from some massive issues.



The Ms. Pac-Man was stripped and covered to the Arkanoid currently in the arcade. I was able to repair the broken PCB and it now plays just normal Pac-Man. I was able to get my hands dirty with PCB repair in this one with more success than I have had in the past with such attempts.


Current Location - Ms.Pac-Man/Arkanoid In the Arcade, Fully Working

- Empty Stargate cabinet, in the Workshop covered in a blanket

Phoenix Bootleg - The odd Thomas Automatics countertop bootleg I bought off of Ebay worked with zero issues since I acquired it this Spring. I attempted to install a BitKit CPU into it but the installed Wells Gardner 4700 monitor has a hard time syncing with the BitKit for some reason. It doesn't get a lot of play in the arcade but I think it's a neat piece. It might be one of the last ones of its kind in existence.


Current Location - In the Arcade, Fully Working

Space Harrier Sit-down - Another game from one of my previous collections, I originally owned this from 1995-2006. To add more allure to it, it is the exact game I once spent my childhood playing at the Playland Arcade in Ocean City, MD. The game has been sitting for a long time, and needs a good bit of TLC. It is however fully working with the original 20 inch Sega monitor still looking and performing well. So far I have rebuilt the monitor, rebuilt the control panel, and have started to restore the seat. It still needs a bit of cabinet repair to fix a broken bottom "foot". Luckily I have the original foot from the game, but it will have to wait until warmer weather returns to Seattle.


Current Location - In the Workshop, Fully Working but Semi Disassembled

Liberator Cabaret - Technically we didn't acquire this as much as we built it from scratch. It's been trouble free since it has joined the arcade, and I am happy to report the second Liberator CPU has been repaired just incase we ever need it (or decide to build another one). I play this game A LOT, and have a pretty deep affection for it currently.


Current Location - In the Arcade, Fully Working



Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters - as the latest addition to the collection there isn't too much to say about this amazing and rare dedicated cabinet. We have rebuilt the broken marquee, and fixed some minor issues with the cabinet. I have acquired a beautiful replacement control panel overlay from This Old Game but have yet to install it.


Current Location - In the Arcade, Fully Working




OTHER RESTORATION PROJECT FOR 2020


There were more that a few dramatic makeovers in the collection for 2020...


Ms.Pac-Man cabinet changed to Arkanoid - As stated above we took the broken and oddly modified Ms. Pac cabinet and turned it into this gorgeous Arkanoid machine using the artwork kit designed by Szabo's Arcade. The game gets a ton of attention in the arcade, and my wife plays it almost everyday without fail. It still needs a coin bucket, and the spinner can be a little sticky but otherwise it has been trouble free.



Current location - In the Arcade, Fully Working


The Simpsons - The restoration project that taught me more about woodworking than any other project I have undertaken until we built the Liberator cabaret. This full strip down and rebuild turned out amazing, unfortunately we are out of room in the upstairs arcade and this big boy will have to stay down in the workshop for now. I still have plans to acquire other Konami PCB's and create a multi-Konami set up without modifying the appearance of the cabinet.


Current location - In the Workshop Covered in Blankets, Fully Working

Jungle King Cocktail - Another long festering project (mostly due to my own indecision about it) was finally completed with some custom top glass. I was able to finally obtain an original top glass piece for the game (which is fairly hard to find) but decided I liked my design better for now. Taito cocktails are someone shunned by collectors but I kind of dig them, despite how unnecessarily large they are.


Current location - In the Arcade, Fully Working

Moon Patrol - One of the two games I was able to reclaim from collectors that were part of my original collection. I owned this game from 2006-2008 when I lived in Memphis and bought it back this year fully working but a little worse for wear. Honestly it needs a full restoration but it's hard to say when that would take place.


Current location - In the Arcade, Fully Working

ISSUES, BREAKDOWNS, ETC.



Tempest - Of course the Tempest has issues, oh color vector monitors why do you hate me. After being fairly reliable for most of the year the WG6100 monitor suffered a catastrophic failure this month which I have yet to completely fix. I have pinpointed the issue as one with the deflector board, but my deflector board has been hacked and fixed so many times (mostly before my ownership) it might be beyond repair this time. I have ordered two blank reproduction deflector boards and will build up two new ones in the coming months. Color vector games are not for collectors without time or money to burn.



Current location - In the Arcade, Not Working Like a Jerk


Elevator Action - I took a few steps to make this game a bit more reliable this year. First up I finally broke down and replaced the woefully unreliable original Taito power supply with a modern switching one. Next up I re-soldered the somewhat fussy filter board connectors and some other connections in the machine. Finally I replaced the monitor chassis with one I had rebuild after being unable to figure out why the older chassis would lose the red color from time to time despite several attempts at repair.


Current location - In the Arcade, Fully Working



Neo Geo - The Neo blew its monitor chassis up somehow and I just couldn't seem to fix it to a stable functionality. The chassis was a version made by a company called Sharp Image, and many of the parts needed to repair it are no longer manufactured. I replaced it with a rebuild WG7000 chassis which looks great now and seems to be pretty stable. The Neo also received much needed new joysticks this year and a new power supply. I still want to find a copy of League Bowling for the Neo Geo, which is strangely missing from the 161 in 1 game cartridge currently installed.



Current location - In the Arcade, Fully Working



Mikie - The Mikie received some new PCB's for it's 6 way switcher including a rare Loco-Motion PCB, and the excellent Bit Kit. I can't recommend the Bit Kit enough with its cool selection of oddball games and ease of set up. I am particularly fond of the SNK/Rock-Ola game Pioneer Balloon. The Mikie also received a new old stock Monroe Joystick which Centuri would have originally used for Mikie conversion kits, and a new custom bezel designed by yours truly.


Current location - In the Arcade, Fully Working games in 6 way Switcher - Mikie, Bit Kit, Circus Charlie, Tutankham, and Loco-Motion

Other minor changes or fixes in the arcade for 2020 included a new control panel overlay for the Centipede cabaret, the addition of a Game Elf multi game PCB in the multi game Donkey Kong Junior set up, rebuilding of a power supply for Battlezone, and some minor PCB repair of the Asteroids Deluxe cocktail.


OTHER PROJECTS


The biggest project outside of the arcade was the Atari Liberator documentary which is currently on You Tube. I am deeply grateful to everyone who helped me with the project, watched it, supported it, or mentioned it. I feel I learned a great deal not just with editing video for this project, but researching information than was previously unseen my most people. I desperately want to do more of these deep dive style documentaries in the future, but school is the priority right now.


The Arcade Workshop Chronicle videos on You Tube have been a slow evolution hampered by audio issues which turned out to be a bad microphone. I plan on continuing these although again due to school, updates will be not nearly as often as they have been.


Some other minor slightly relevant projects also took place during 2020 including repairing an Atari ST Computer monitor, adding to my Atari 2600 collection, and fixing a few games for some fellow local collectors. Overall 2020 was a great year for my collection but not such a great year for most tother things. Here is hoping 2021 is a bit better.


- Cassie



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