Game Room Tour: The Les Potts Collection

I’ve got to know many UK-based arcade collectors over the years. It’s fair to say that each approaches the hobby in a different way. Some take a technical approach to arcade games – delving deep into the repair side of things in a quest to understand how cabinets work and figuring out ways to maintain and preserve the old electronic components. Others literally hoard parts and machines, (with or without an end game), and there are a group of us who will manage a collection of machines and develop a gamesroom or mancave to reproduce the arcade environment at home. I guess I fall into the latter camp.

So it’s always interesting to visit other cabinet owners to see what they’ve got and how they display their collection. Some time ago I got talking to fellow collector Les Potts, who gave me an open invite to visit his place and take a look around. Life of course got in the way, and I had to be reminded several times by Les that the invitation still stood! Well last month I finally got round to making time to jump in the car and take the four-hour drive up north to pay him a visit, along with my buddy Alex, who was going to shoot some video.

Like most of us, Les was a keen arcade goer from back in the day – he remembers well the transition from electromechanical machines to video games in the late 70s, citing Space Invaders as the game that got him hooked. He started his collection in the late 90s with a pinball machine and things grew from there.

Les is fortunate enough to have a basement in his house and figured early on that it would be an ideal environment to house a collection of classic arcade and pinball machines.

He wasn’t wrong either. After arriving at Les’ place, he led Alex and myself to a door under his staircase:

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See, this is how you do an arcade room. Nicely hidden away from the rest of the house. Domestic harmony with your wife and kids is maintained….

We wandered down the stairs:

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Already, I was getting a sense that this was going to be a special room. Lots of memorabilia adorned the walls

And this is the initial view from the foot of the staircase:

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A full-blown home arcade

As you can see, Les has a great collection. These machines have been acquired over the years, and have been curated into a gaggle of machines that provide a great variety of styles and game types. Here’s a full panoramic view of everything:

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Les has made the most of the space in the room with machines placed in the centre as well as along the walls

The first thing you’ll notice is how well maintained everything is. Every machine is close to mint condition and everything is in perfect working order. No mean feat this – keeping well over 20 machines fully operational requires dedication and deep pockets. Here’s the highlights from Les’ collection:

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Defender, Q*Bert and Missile Command. Alex was taken by Les’ Q*Bert machine which is in pristine condition
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Over in the corner were these two beautiful Atari vector machines. Star Wars (complete with Empire Strikes Back multi-kit) and Lunar Lander
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Seeing an original Lunar Lander is always a treat. What makes the game so unique is the bespoke thruster controller designed by Atari specifically for this game.
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I’ve not really studied an Asteroids Deluxe upright closely before. The mirror inside the cabinet and construction of the bezel artwork creates an amazing effect for the player. The graphics seem to float inside the cabinet. Next to it is an original Taito Space Invaders which uses a similar monitor setup
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These three got plenty of play during our visit. An upright Battlezone with periscope set up was excellent fun. Next to it a rare Italian Namco Galaxian – glorious artwork on that. And an upright Asteroids on the right
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I’ve written about this cabinet before. It was great to finally see it in the flesh – a very rare Robotron cocktail stored away in a warehouse for many years
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I wasn’t surprised to see a Tron in Les’ collection. Arguably the most impressive artwork on any classic arcade cabinet, it cuts an impressive footprint in the basement
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This Donkey Kong Junior was in mint condition
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Dominating the centre of the room was this upright Tempest. The side art is original and almost unmarked. It’s placed back to back with a Williams Joust which you can make out behind

As well as video games, the room played host to a nice selection of 90s pinball machines. All classics:

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Indiana jones, Funhouse, Adams Family, White Water & Twighlight Zone
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All played well, having been fully restored from the ground up by Les
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The Indiana Jones playfield
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Here’s a sleeping Rudy from Williams’ iconic Funhouse pinball machine

Great to have a change of pace from the video games. Each pinball provides a suitably different play experience ensuring they all get played.

Always popular in Les’ room are the driving games. He has three in total:

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Sega Outrun 2 SP on the left, and Sega Rally on the right
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And this. Probably the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in a personal collection. A triple screen Sega Ferrari F355 Challenge. It’s absolutely huge and must weigh close to a tonne! The entire front window had to be removed to get it in, and even then the thing had to be chopped down to get it through. I don’t think it’s ever coming out again. Les picked this up for a song – no one wants them due to their size and weight

Getting the huge F355 Challenge cabinet into the basement was a challenge in itself. Here’s the steps Les had to go through to get it inside. One part even had to be sawed in half to get it through the window!

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The details are what makes this games room – every available wall space is filled with framed arcade flyers:

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These flyers are all original
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More flyers – everything is framed and mounted

Here’s a few more shots taken on the day:

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Alex and I playing Q*Bert & Missile Command. Check out the great side art on Tron
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Here’s the view from the entrance to the room.
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Here’s the view back from the stairs
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Of course there’s a fully stocked bar….
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Alex still going. We had to peel him off that Q*Bert
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Alex getting some Robotron games under his belt

And here is Alex’s video tour of our afternoon with Les:

Many thanks to Les for the tour of his very impressive games room – probably the nicest I’ve seen on these shores. Les has more cabinets on the way – can’t wait to see his new additions next time round!

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Les was the perfect host to his perfectly curated collection of classics

So there you have it. I’m really looking forward to my second visit already!

See you next week.

Tony

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Many thanks to Les for being the perfect host, and Alex for making it a memorable afternoon. The better pictures in this article were provided by Les himself!

9 Comments Add yours

  1. A beautiful collection of perfectly-maintained machines in an outstanding set-up. Many thanks to Les, and to yourself, Tony, for sharing this with us. And count me equally stunned regarding that F355 – truly a thing of wonder.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Darren Adams says:

    Stunning games room and collection.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Omaha Arcade Lover says:

    One of the nicest collections that I have seen. The attention to detail in the additional decorations really put this over the top. That Joust flyer, if that is what that is, looks incredible.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Faust says:

    Dare I say … walking down… “the stairway to Heaven!”.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Andrew says:

    I like the frames for the flyer collection. I’ve got a few choice Atari flyers on my own wall. Some flyers, like Tron, fold out quite nicely and I’ve thought of framing them that way. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Chris says:

    Great article! It’s unusual to find a house in the UK with a good size basement though right? I live in NYC so there’s no chance for me 😦 Must be a great feeling to be able to replicate that childhood arcade environment. A place to chill out and have fun with friends and family. Maybe one day… Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Maksim says:

    Amazing! I was wondering how the heck he got that huge machine downstairs and *boom* picture collection. Glorious collection and amazing write up, Tony!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. TomTom says:

    Everything looks so mint! That’s just amazing!

    Like

  9. Excellent Games, I really want to try these.

    Like

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