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:

22788651_10102376613000696_6111349907306826853_n
The collection was spread across three floors of a warehouse
22885805_10157128081448849_5252029125056725012_n
Well over 3,000 arcade cabinets were stored here
22814459_10157128081128849_2039879292539450757_n
I spy a few Nintendo cabs amongst this lot
22853171_10157128081363849_4336149928626601500_n
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!

22780575_10157128081258849_4774773795812393020_n
Satan’s Hollow is always a rare find
22780676_10157128081123849_2389660677825604437_n
Several Atari titles along this row
22814171_10157128081133849_7383698122105538608_n
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:

22729126_10157128081468849_5921678344584669698_n
A row of Gremlin/Sega Carnival cabinets
22730248_10157128081263849_3162759734090423780_n
Finding a single Baby Pac-Man is a rare thing, finding four in a row is something else!
22728914_10157128081168849_217058081104499645_n
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:

22852001_10157128081658849_2762382951776328654_n
Bally Midway Wacko!
22814315_10157128081573849_7463332203482606274_n
Atari Missile Command cockpit
22780477_10157128081563849_5157042828278330528_n
Juno First – not many of these about today
22780389_10157128081673849_1004032011563314597_n
Couple of nice looking Atari cabs here: Tempest and Quantum
22780184_10157128081178849_1562928426162421497_n
More Atari Classics Crustal Castles, Missile Command & Asteroids
22729023_10157128081358849_6863097460855590278_n
Millipede, Xevious, Sinistar and a Centuri conversion
22729116_10157128081738849_1363091434271533548_n
A Williams Bubbles in “Duramold” format
22729003_10157128081173849_8841545287828922868_n
A Super Bug straddled by Tempests
22728843_10157128081643849_7526803010454533618_n
A Ms Pac-Man and an unmistakable Black Widow
22528184_10157128081353849_975355735851310286_n
A Bagman and an interesting Defender conversion I think we’ve seen before here on the blog….
22728810_10157128081253849_5601614119622633207_n
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.

22780495_10157128081433849_7351363050447598971_n
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.

Tony

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

Join 1,303 other followers

 

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.

    Like

  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.

    Like

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google+ photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s