Arcade Raid! The West Virginia Time Capsule

First published 26 January 2018

Another arcade Raid tale to share with you this week. This time, we go to West Virgina – the city of Charleston to be exact. We’ve met collector Jon Jamshid before in a previous Arcade Raid story which I told a few months back. Jon you’ll recall has been party to some amazing raids over the years, and this one is no exception.

Jon makes a point of putting himself out there and follows up leads, makes phone calls and researches where potential stashes of classic arcade cabinets might be.

By the early 2000s, Jon had already bought out several warehouses full of games, and as a result, had built up a very useful “black book” of other coin operated vendors and operators. He told me how he’d use this information:

Well, when we would travel, we would stop by towns and cities where we knew these guys were located, and hit up operators along the way, on the off-chance they might have cabinets they’d be willing to sell. The West Virginia warehouse was pure luck. By that I mean, we happened to be in the town and managed to get into the warehouse. That particular day we weren’t able to get any games, but I went back and managed to secure the deal.

This particular warehouse was not easy to organise. It was 12 hours away from where Jon lived, and the operator initially had no interest in selling the games. It was all about being persistent. Jon’s stubbornness paid off and the op agreed to sell some of the machines, not so much because he needed the money, but more as a favour to Jon.

And what an incredible place it was. Jon took pictures, but bear in mind these are 17 years old, so they aren’t the best resolution:

The collection was spread across three floors of a warehouse
Well over 3,000 arcade cabinets were stored here
I spy a few Nintendo cabs amongst this lot
Row upon row of cabinets as far as the eye can see

The story behind the warehouse was interesting. According to the owner of the building, his father gave him the business in the 70s and it was heading for bankruptcy.  But in the late 70s things started to change. He started making boat loads of money due to the appearance of video arcade games, which fundamentally changed the coin-op business overnight. His first instinct was to buy out every other operator in the state, load up the games, and store them in the building.  He said he wanted them out of circulation. So the games had been there for 20 years untouched.

I guess buying out your competition is one way of developing your own market!

Satan’s Hollow is always a rare find
Several Atari titles along this row
Atari’s Red Baron, Centipede, Tempest and Battlezone

With over 3,000 games to choose from, Jon and his friends had no interest in securing everything – they were collectors not resellers – so being given a full day to go through everything and essentially cherry pick the games they really wanted was a rare opportunity, and one they weren’t going to pass up!

With such a huge volume of inventory, several cabinets were stored by type, which created good photo opportunities:

A row of Gremlin/Sega Carnival cabinets
Finding a single Baby Pac-Man is a rare thing, finding four in a row is something else!
What do we have here? Ten Atari Star Wars cabinets? Incredible.

Here’s some of the more interesting cabinets secured by Jon on the day:

Bally Midway Wacko!
Atari Missile Command cockpit
Juno First – not many of these about today
Couple of nice looking Atari cabs here: Tempest and Quantum
More Atari Classics Crustal Castles, Missile Command & Asteroids
Millipede, Xevious, Sinistar and a Centuri conversion
A Williams Bubbles in “Duramold” format
A Super Bug straddled by Tempests
A Ms Pac-Man and an unmistakable Black Widow
A Bagman and an interesting Defender conversion I think we’ve seen before here on the blog….
That Terra Cresta in the middle looks to be a Gorf conversion

Jon tells me that he ultimately purchased a large number of Star Wars upright video games (surprise surprise!), the Missile Command cockpit, Blaster and Bubbles duramolds, several Black Widows, a Warlords upright, and a lot of pinball tables. The list was too long to recall everything, but he estimates that they took around 100 games.

Where would you start choosing?

But fortunately for us, Jon had the good sense to make a video when he arrived at the warehouse. Check out this amazing footage and start drooling:

Jon has good memories of this early raid:

The warehouse was a mega find! I’m just glad I was forward thinking enough to take the pictures and grab some video of the place. It is all good historical documentation. The place was a time capsule and capturing the images is ultimately more important than the actual games themselves.

I couldn’t agree more. Many thanks again to Jon again for his support. I really appreciate the opportunity to be able to document this incredible find here on Arcade Blogger.

If you like what you see here, do check out the other Arcade Raid stories in the archives.

Thank you for reading this week. Plenty more Arcade Raid stories to come!

See you next time.


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Mindblowing doesn’t even begin to describe it…absolutely incredible. Given the space and money (and whatever resources to shift them), I’d have had the lot. Thanks for another fantastic article! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ringadingding says:

    TEN. TEN upright star wars games? omfg.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Maksim says:

    Any word on a follow-up? Is the warehouse still there with all the other games?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tony says:

    Yeah the warehouse was cleared out some years later. Everything gone – much of the inventory was sold back to collectors, so good news in the end.


  5. Maybe you could do a story about the Duramold cabinets and how bloody dangerous they were..? 🙂
    BTW, Image 15; CrUstal Castles..?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Tony says:

    @KASEO. Yes sir, Crystal Castles indeed.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s