Time Capsule For Six
If you are passionate about collecting arcade games,
constantly a thought in the back of your mind of being the first
to find an abandoned warehouse stuffed with classic arcade games
or that HUO game that has been left untouched for all these years with
your name on it. After reading about unbelievable 'warehouse
raids' and Computer Space games being stuffed in the second floor of a
rickety old barn you almost think these stories are too good to be
true. The minute you see pictures of undeniable proof you
then want to be part of the event in the worst way. However,
you quickly realize how rare
a scenario like this is to
occur to an actual collector and as we move into 2009 the number of
these occurrences has to be diminishing quite quickly.
While I don't have anything to share exactly along the lines of a
warehouse raid I do have a pretty amazing experience in purchasing
some arcade games this past year. I had a mini bulk buy of near
perfect games I was lucky enough to stumble across.
Six arcade games were purchased directly from the
manufacturers in 1982 for a small restaurant in Michigan. The
owners thought they needed to be a part of the recent arcade boom and
figured it would be a great way to draw a younger crowd into their new
restaurant. They purchased the following games: Pac-Man,
Berzerk, Defender, Asteroids Deluxe, Rally-X and Gorf. While the
owners did not know anything in great detail about the games except the
expensive purchase price they applied the same pride of ownership to
the games as they did the operation of their restaurant. The
restaurant was non-smoking (amazing when you consider it was 1982), the
games were dusted down each night, window shades were drawn when
sunlight came in to protect them from fading and customers who
mistreated the games were quickly reprimanded. The games
numbered 1 through 6 to track their earnings and the original keys were
kept behind the store counter.
Unfortunately, the story of the games takes a quick
1983 when the restaurant was closed and other business opportunities
were pursued. The games were left, where they stood for nearly 15
years, as the restaurant remained locked up tight. In 1998 the
games were moved to a climate controlled storage area in the back of
another facility the restaurant owners had and there they sat
until 2008 when I stumbled upon them.
The most interesting part of the story is the original
restaurant manager, the owner's daughter, now owned them and put
complete story in writing for me of how the games came to be.
Interesting enough the backs of the games were only opened "The
day they were plugged in and the day the were
unplugged'. There was no maintenance performed on them in
their short service careers and when asked if they had paperwork and
keys I was met with the answer "Everything that came with the games has
never been removed from the inside and the only thing ever taken out
was the coin box to empty the quarters." She is still
trying to find the actual purchase receipts which would be an
incredible artifact to keep attached to these games.
Fast forward to today. I waited the better part of
year after purchasing the games to teach myself arcade game repair
which has been about a two year journey for me. As I honed my
skills I figured I owed these games a knowledgeable hand before diving
into getting them running to their former glory. Being a
collector you quickly realize the state of a game that has been on
route or has seen years of game play. Scratches on the back from
a game being laid down, the ground plug being snipped, the coin boxes
and original keys missing, replacement light bulbs, replaced
components, on and on.
was the fourth game I attempted to restore. Although the
years of storage preserved the game in excellent physical condition the
board was dead. After an extensive board repair I was able to get
game running. The game has the original manual, warranty
inspection tags are all still in place and an original set
of keys was found in the coin box. The inside of the game is
immaculate. The original power cord still has the ground
A tag applied by the original owner, which is still in place,
this was game #2 of the original six games that were purchased. Another interesting feature is the game has
a piece of masking tape still on it from a high score that was set all
years ago! I guess I can go on and on about this game but I will
pictures speak for themselves.
Most of the games have around 3,000 to 5,000 plays with
Rally-X having just over 5,000
plays. While these games are not true HUO games or by any
means one of a kind models, I still feel very privileged to have been
part of such a great adventure and look forward to bringing each and
every one back to life.
If anyone needs any details on some very original games
all the factory components still in place....don't hesitate to drop me
a line and I would be happy to provide detailed pictures. If in
some way more accurate restorations can be portrayed out there in the
arcade world that would bring a smile to my face.
Stay tuned for more details on each of the games as they
readied for action at Tranquility Base Arcade!