The Arcade Glow

I often get asked how many classic arcade machines I actually own. My collection is pretty modest compared to some collectors, and tends to be split into two parts – one indoors and one outdoors! My ‘indoor’ collection is my pride and joy – those cabinets that I think I will never part with. These are housed in the arcade room in the loft of the house.

Here’s a quick video shot a couple of months back, to give you an idea of the space I have:

The outdoors part of my collection is fairly transient. Cabinets come and go. Essentially these are the machines that reside in my garage ready for restoration or repair. Once complete, they are either sold on to fund new purchases, or I’ll find space up in the loft – although as you can see that’s getting more difficult as time goes on!

My current outdoor inventory looks like this:

Williams Robotron Cabaret – restoration in progress. Requires paint and stencilling. I have the boards, monitor, loom and joysticks ready to drop in. I do need to order artwork for the bezel and control panel.

Atari Battlezone Cabaret – restoration in progress. Some cosmetic work required here still, but progress is good. I think this’ll be ready in a few weeks if I pull my finger out and crack on with what’s left to do. Plan is to bring this one up into the loft to sit next to my other Atari cabarets.

Universal Cosmic Guerilla Upright – PCB is currently in Scotland for repair. I think that’s all that’s wrong with it. Other than that, the plan is to strip the cab and give it a deep clean. The woodwork has a nice patina to it. Once complete, it’s going to have a nice aged look to it. I’m probably going to have to let this one go due to space.

Atari Gravitar Upright – this is a stunning looking cabinet. Currently in pieces. I’m waiting on the PCB from the seller. He’s in the process of converting it from a Black Widow rom set for me. The big issue is going to be the monitor. It needs a complete rebuild from the ground up. Going to take a lot of time this one, but I’m sure it’s going to be worth it. This one will be making its way up to the loft for sure. Er… if there’s still space for it by then.

So I’ll continue to tinker with those, and you can watch the progress here on the blog as I go. But I’m generally quite good about controlling myself when it comes to buying cabinets. It’s very easy to let things get out of hand, and many collectors end up with too many projects on the go, to a point where they are looking at a garage full of cabinets and spares – not good.

But the purpose of this post was to share some ‘night’ shots of my indoor collection. One of the joys of owning classic 80s arcade cabinets is the way the artwork really pops when dimly lit in a dark arcade environment. And that’s the vibe I’ve tried to recreate here.

So first up, here’s my Donkey Kong II cabinet. This was originally a generic light blue Nintendo cab. I restored and converted it from top to bottom. The obvious thing to do would be to restore it to a standard Donkey Kong, but I wanted to do something different, and I think this is the only complete DKII outside of the United States. The machine actually plays both versions of the game. Great cab this, gets a lot of play:

Donkey Kong 2

Centipede cabaret next. I picked this one up a few years back from Norfolk here in the UK. It was a long drive to collect it, but the restore required was very light touch. Mostly stripping parts down and cleaning them up. It’s worked flawlessly since then. I think the monitor could do with a recap at some point, as I have some curling up the left hand side. I sourced the artwork from America about two years ago:

Atari Centipede

Next to the Centipede is my Tempest cabaret. A lot of hours went into getting this one back to mint condition again. I bought it about 6 years ago from a guy fairly local to me. It had been stored in an outbuilding for several years and nothing worked. Everything needed a deep clean. I got the artwork custom designed and shaped into the correct size. A keeper for sure – I can’t ever imagine parting with this cabinet:


It shares the same industrial design as the Centipede – both house 19″ monitors, so they sit next to each other well:

Atari Centipede Atari Tempest

The glow of the CRT pixels and vectors is hypnotic:

Vector Glow

Asteroids! I love this game. I’ve done quite a bit to it since owning her. Aside from a full clean, new buttons, replacement t-molding and a few repairs to the monitor as time has gone by, it’s had new wood grain laminate sides applied. I’ve got major upgrade coming soon for this cab which I’ll detail here in the coming weeks:

Asteroids Cabaret

What’s great about the Asteroids cabaret design is the angle at the back there. It is perfectly matched to the angle of the eaves in the loft arcade, so it slots in perfectly without taking up a large footprint. If only all Atari cabarets used this design – I’d be able to squeeze more in:

Atari Cabarets

Here’s my Missile Command upright. You may have gathered I rather like this game, but that aside, I do think it is one of the best looking Atari cabinets of the Golden Age. It screams 80’s:

Missile Command

Here’s my oddball cab. It was once a Sega Dinosaur King cabinet. Designed for kids, it sits at just 120cm tall. I’ve converted it using a Sega Astro City candy cabinet theme, with custom artwork printed up by a Arcade Artshop. I’ve replaced the control panel and added custom art too, along with a Sanwa joystick and buttons. Inside, it runs a version of GroovyMAME and houses over 1,000 arcade titles. Monitor is the original 15″ stock 15khz CRT. Good for a quick Pac-Man or Galaxian fix:

Sega Dino King

And finally, my only cocktail table – an original Nintendo Space Fever. I used to play this game at my local arcade way back when, so when one came up for sale locally, I just had to have it. I’ve fully restored it from top to bottom, and it is a joy to play using all orignal hardware. I must submit a score to Twin Galaxies at some point, as I’ve comfortably beaten the recorded world record several times:

Nintendo Space Fever

So there you have it. That’s my keeper inventory in the loft here at Arcade Blogger Towers. Do take a look at the restoration of these cabinets by rolling over the Restoration Archive menu link at the top of this page.

Thanks for visiting this week!


8 Comments Add yours

  1. Wolfsbora says:

    Tony, as always, you do stellar work and I’m just dying to pull an all night game-on session in your loft!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ringadingding says:

    wow, you have a LOT of machines! i guess that makes sense, running a blog about them and all, haha. i only have two, but one is a Tempest, and i’m super proud to have one. all yours are lit and displayed far better than mine… i just have them in an alcove that was once a closet, but is now open to the room. (when our contractor heard what we were going to be putting in the space he was finishing for us, he promptly started referring to it as the “Game Hole,” so that is what we call it, heh).

    i would LOVE to have more (your Gravitar makes me drool), but our house is too small for any more than the two we have, sadly. but it makes me happy to know people are out there, loving and caring for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Tony

    Great article, one small error though, you are going to sell the Battlezone to me!
    I get the thing about having a garage full of cabinets, I’ve gone on a buying spree recently and now don’t have the room to work on or play any of them. So I’m now having to offload some so I can focus on my projects.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. neil1637 says:

    You already know how much I love your cabinets Tony and this post cements that appreciation even further.
    What I find equally as impressive is the ambience that you have managed to create in such a small and in places awkward room.
    I think the limitations of the room have however, positively effected what cabs do go in there. Meaning that only the best, are privileged enough to enter the famed attic location.

    PS: Whenever it is that you are ready to haul that gigantic Gravitar up that attic stepladder, I’m not available to help! Sorry!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. KingKoopa says:

    Goddamn, these are gorgeous.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Love your loft-arcade! You were not wrong about the angle of the back of that Asteroids cab matching the ceiling – it’s almost as it it was designed that way. Gotta ask: those cabs are not light so lugging them up to a loft must have been a real challenge – how’d you do it?!

    I remember helping my friend in the States get a Spy Hunter downstairs to his basement – we ended up accidentally putting a hole in one of his walls from the handle of a door getting squashed back as we squeezed the cab through. That wasn’t appreciated by his wife 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Chuck Miller says:

    I have to admit… these are truly gorgeous cabinets. I carefully looked over each restoration and am simply in awe. It is only now that I am looking at this specific article on your blog… and I scroll down and see that you have a Mathmos Astro sitting on your cabaret. I almost fell over. I started collecting Lava a few years ago and quickly learned that the lamps available in the US (where I live) are complete garbage… I spent a princely sum bringing lamps in my luggage from London while on business trips and then rewiring them… buying old Crestworth lamps through eBay and paying crazy money for shipping to Boston.

    I only wish I knew someone with your arcade restoration skills and collection here! The volcano buttons on the early Atari games are a tactile memory trigger for me and I never got to spend nearly as much time in an arcade when I was a kid!
    Anyway… hats-off to you sir. Like someone else said… I cannot have these in my house… I am going to be lucky to have some scaled down bartop arcades.

    We are building a house on the Croatian coast, however, and I will have a place there for arcades of some sort. We have apartments there too on the island of Krk… if you ever want to trade one classic arcade cabarets for a two week stay in an apartment in Croatia with a spectacular view of the sea… just let me know… the only catch is probably that you would have to drive a cabaret from the UK to the Adriatic Sea!

    Never say never!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jim G. says:

    You are an inspiration. I am building my first arcade cabinet this winter and can only hope my cabinet comes out half as good as what you’ve shared here.

    Liked by 1 person

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