Arcade Raid! The Czech Republic Encounter

A short and sweet Arcade Raid to report this week.

Eastern Europe is not a place you’d associate with classic arcade gaming. But the area was sporadically served by arcade distributors back in the day. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned from these arcade raid tales, Golden Age arcade cabinets can turn up in the most unlikely of places….

Like Pribram which sits 60km southwest of Prague in the Czech Republic. This quaint small town is known for its silver mines dating back to the 1500s. Hardly a hot bed of arcade activity you would think. So when Prague native and owner of the Arcade Museum Europe website, Jan Orna, got a call from someone with a lead on a stash of old cabinets supposedly sitting idle in the town, he was rather sceptical.

Pribam, southwest of Prague, Europe

Jan was contacted by someone who had bought an old property in Pribram, that was once owned by an arcade operator who had stored cabinets in the building many years ago. The lead came with a warning: the site had been plundered by vandals and thieves, looking for precious metals. But there were arcade cabs still there.

The new owner of the property realised there was some value in classic arcade cabinets, but once he saw the state the machines were in, he wanted them to go to someone who could make use of what he had. Jan was that man. So a date was set, and Jan, along with a team of four people, arrived at the property to take everything away. Here’s what they found:

Plenty of goodies to spot here. That’s an Atari cabaret of some sort with the wood grain sides. And an original Nintendo cabinet. Crystal Castles at the back there.
L-R Dig Dug, Ms Pac-Man, Frogger and Donkey Kong
A couple of interesting looking cocktail tables too

These were all found in an out-building away from the main property. What I find interesting about these pictures is that most of the cabinets appear to be original mainstream titles. Given the location, one would expect a flurry of bootleg titles?

Possibly a Robotron conversion, glimpse of a Gyruss there back left, Donkey Kong 3 and Dig Dug
This should clean up nicely – a rare Zaxxon cocktail table
Unusual looking table this. Note the rotary joysticks and cool protruding control panel. I like it!

Even more amazing was just how many Nintendo cabinets there appeared to be:

Super Mario Bros marquee. Why do these always fade?
Donkey Kong control panel
it might be dirty, but there’s no mistaking an all original DK marquee

Sure enough, dragging everything out into the open revealed the extent of the Nintendo haul:

An amazing find in anyone’s book. But these five Nintendo cabinets turning up in the Czech Republic? What are the chances?

You’ve got to wonder how those dedicated Nintendos got there. Very unusual. But Jan wasn’t complaining! But this was just the start of the haul:

Some conversions here. Not sure on the left one. The cab says Dragon’s Lair, the marquee says Duros I think. Toki, Rush N Attack and Heavy Barrel in an old Gottlieb cab
The thick layer of dust covering everything shows just how long these things were sat in the building.
Ms Pac-Man and Frogger look to be in better shape than the conversions
The Gyruss cabinet turned out to be a conversion to Mega Zone. On the right is Dig Dug
WonderBoy and Galaga 3!

So time to load everything up.

A DK3 is a great find on any raid
Everything was moved in one truck
Sack trucks to the ready. Great artwork on the Dig Dug

So a solid haul – most of the cabinets were missing PCBs, but as shells, they were a great starting point and definitely worth saving.

Jan tells me that many of these cabinets were passed onto other collectors in Europe which is great news. A handful have been kept by Jan for restoration and display at his museum, Arcadehry, the largest retro arcade game room and museum in Central Europe. It looks to be a great place, and Jan and his team are doing some excellent work:

Lots of familiar classics here. The DK3 on the left is from the raid. Now restored and working
The building is new, and Jan has done a great job with the lighting to create a fun environment
Still plenty of space for further growth!

Check out the website here (you can view in English from the menu button – top right of the page. It looks excellent, and I’ll be visiting if I ever get to the Prague area for sure. Watch out for a review sometime here on the blog.

So the moral of the story is, keep your ear to the ground – these cabinets are still turning up!

Thanks for reading as always. See you next week.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. _Spr_Drnk says:

    What was the cocktail with the rotary sticks? Reminds me of Ikari Warriors but unlikely, period doesn’t fit with other finds for a start..

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Tony says:

    @_Spr_Drnk It was marked “FRONT LINE” but had a different board in it I’m told.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. _Spr_Drnk says:

    Ah, a quick search (Wikipedia) shows Front Line to be a sort of spiritual successor to Ikari Warriors but from Taito, so I wasn’t miles off.. Interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. _Spr_Drnk says:

    Really bad grammar – I meant predecessor too… :/

    Liked by 1 person

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