Before we get into this weeks article, a bit of housekeeping if I may. My arcade room has been shortlisted for “Gamesroom of the year 2016” over here in the UK. If I could trouble you all for a vote, it would be much appreciated!
So this week’s post is rather timely, as I’m in Florida at the moment to do a talk at the Freeplay Florida Arcade Event about Arcade “Raids”, as well as playing some exhibition games on Missile Command – please come say hello if you’re there this weekend!
Anyway, this is a quick tale of searching for one thing and discovering something else. Or in this case LOTS of something else. I’ve written before about arcade “raids” here on the blog. These usually result in a collector acquiring a haul of abandoned arcade cabinets. This one was a little different.
Collector Steve Moritz, from over the Pond in Florida, was working on a Defender restoration in 2009. Hitting a brick wall with trying to source a boardset to put in the cab, he spoke to a fellow collector who said he had a hunch on where he could find one, and invited him to check out a local warehouse, owned by an ex-operator. He also mentioned that he might be able to find a marquee and bezel for his Defender in decent shape if he had a good look round.
Always up for a raid, Steve figured he’d go along and agreed to meet his friend the following evening.
Speaking briefly with Steve earlier this week, he said that he realised when he got there that this was a warehouse he had actually visited before. He and his friend had purchased some full-sized cabinets from the same operator previously, but from his recollection all that was left were scraps and a few parts. He wasn’t convinced at first that he’d strike lucky and pick up the boards he needed.
Arriving at the warehouse after work, the guys got to work and started hunting through what was left. Steve picks up the story:
After poking around with flashlights for about 30 minutes, I decided I did not want to dig through a pile of marquees and bezels in search of Defender parts. So … I did what any maniacal video game collector would do and I offered him a price for all of them. Much to my surprise, he accepted my offer and I spent the next 90 minutes loading my truck!
Steve hit the jackpot. As he piled the gear into the back of his pickup, he realised that the remaining artwork spread all over the warehouse was a treasure trove of classic arcade artwork – bezels, marquees, CPO artwork, kits, sideart and other assorted arcade goodies.
Here’s what the haul looked like once loaded up:
Now THAT is a haul.
Back home Steve was able to sort through things and make sense of what he had.
I didn’t have a good opportunity to take mental inventory of anything while at the warehouse — it was dark and I was working fast. When I got back home, I moved everything from the truck bed into the garage and tried to take in whether or not I had grabbed anything good.
There was a good pile of marquees:
Including not one, but several Defender marquees, in mint condition:
Literally hundreds of unused vinyl control panel overlays:
Here are the monitor surround bezels:
He as also able to grab a pile of Nintendo VS kits. Some were complete, others were missing PCBs, but all had original instruction cards and marquee toppers:
A great find in itself. Looking at some of the marquees and bezels in more detail, here’s some of the more interesting pieces found:
“New Old Stock” Pac-Man marquee and bezel:
Never used Pole Position marquee and bezel:
Super rare Atari kangaroo bezel:
Much of the haul appeared to have been never used (New Old Stock). What had been used appeared to be in incredible condition. There were multiples of most pieces!
But the best part? Steve still managed to pick up what he was looking for; an original Defender boardset!
If there’s a moral to this tale, it has to be that you should follow up EVERY lead. You never know what you might find.
Steve quickly realised that he was never going to be able to use even a small percentage of what he had picked up, and quickly offered most of it up for sale inviting offers for individual pieces.
So the good news is that much of this collection of arcade artwork went to a multitude of other collectors in the USA, who are now using most of this art on original cabinets that really needed it.
I’d like to thank Steve for allowing me to share his pictures and story here on the blog, and of course for saving this huge pile of arcade history, and getting it back out into the hands of the community.
Thanks for reading this week!