Arcade Raid! Jacksonville Flea Market Rescue

It’s high time we featured another arcade raid tale here on the blog. My buddy Steve is a collector we’ve featured previously – he was responsible for the NOS artwork raid I featured some time back.

This particular haul was discovered earlier this year, but not by Steve initially. He received a call from a collector friend who told him that he’d been made aware of some classic arcade cabinets holed up in a back room at a flea market. Steve was rather surprised as he’d been visiting the Ramona Blvd Flea Market in Jacksonville since he was a kid and didn’t recall ever seeing any sort of arcade on the property.

The other guy had already been to check the place out, but he didn’t have very good news for Steve. Everything he saw was in pretty bad shape. So bad in fact, that the only thing he thought worth taking was a rare Nichibutsu Crazy Climber – everything else was trashed. Badly.

Not one to miss out on an opportunity, and as a big fan of the game, Steve immediately made an offer for the Crazy Climber and bought it on the spot.

The saved Crazy Climber!
A nice looking cabinet and pretty much complete
At first glance the only thing missing is the left hand joystick

Hoping there might be an opportunity to pull more rare games, Steve got the contact details of the property owner, arranged access and wound up making a total of two trips out to the flea market. As he puts it, when it comes to arcade raids, “you have to beat the bushes to see what flies out!” – sound advice!

The outside of the property was pretty overgrown – an indication of how long things had been sitting inside

The first trip was an eye opener – the plan was to grab any cabinets remaining:

It was clear that water had creeped into the buildings over time, and there was a great deal of mold and water damage on most of the cabinets. But worse, some vandals had broken into the property at some point and smashed almost every marquee, almost every tube, and almost every bezel on the machines. Whoever these vandals were, they were a very angry group of people.

Here’s the sight that greeted Steve and his friends on walking in
First signs not good. That’s a trashed Galaga on the right

But somehow, whoever these people were, they had left the Crazy Climber unmolested. As Steve put it, he wasn’t sure if they had a soft spot for the game, or if it was hidden away in a closet somewhere. But whatever – somehow the Crazy Climber had survived the destruction, and was now safe and part of Steve’s collection.

Not much to be rescued here. That Frogger on the left looks like roadkill. The sad sight of a smashed Atari DigDug on the right
Oh man. One less Ms Pac-Man

So the first trip resulted in a rescued Tempest cabinet (with boards, which was a bonus), a Galaxian cabinet, a Kickman cabinet, and a Bimbo the Clown game (missing almost everything, but the cabinet was in good enough condition to make it worth grabbing).

Several carcasses were left behind, because what was left was simply too far gone to justify further outlay:

Not good. That Space Invaders Deluxe looks OK
A scene of destruction!
A destroyed Asteroids – some worthwhile parts to be had though

But a few days later Steve received a call from the seller suggesting that he could come back and take anything else he wanted for 100 bucks. Steve discussed it with a friend and they decided it was worth it to make one more trip.

So second time around, they grabbed the Space Invaders Deluxe cabinet and a bunch of spare parts from the trashed remaining games. This resulted in a great haul of control panels. Being metal, they didn’t succumb to the vandals or elements over the years:

Frogger control panel
DigDug control panel
Astro Blaster control panel

The seller was kind enough to throw in a Galaga control panel, a Ms Pac-Man control panel, and a Ms Pac-Man PCB that he had previously pulled from machines thinking they might sell in his flea market booth. I guess no one was interested in them, but Steve was happy to take them with away. but Again, Most of the stuff was just too far gone – for example, they found a GPI Kaos dedicated cabinet that would have been great to save, but it simply wasn’t in the cards. It was beyond trashed:

This is rare one. Game plan Inc (GPI) hailed from Illinois – their games are rare finds today. This one had been stripped beyond any worth
Centipede control panel
Kickman control panel
Here’s a Galaga control panel
The Ms Pac-Man control panel
And here’s the Space Invaders Deluxe saved from the Flea Market. Pretty nice shape!

And while not directly arcade related, Steve discovered a couple of other cool items. The seller had some old Pepsi-branded menu boards rotting in the mold. The seller said that he had a bunch more in another building – Steve bought nine from him, including two that were still new in the original boxes:

Steve plan is to use these as high score boards in his arcade!

And, finally, as Steve was driving away with his second haul, he spotted an Icee sign on the side of one of the old snack bar buildings. The seller told him if he could get it down, he could take it. Suffice to say, that is now also hanging in Steve’s arcade!

80s Icee sign!

So there you have it. Not a huge haul of arcade goodies, but a great condition Crazy Climber isn’t something to turn your nose up at. Whilst the rest of the cabinets were trashed, Steve was able to rescue some handy parts and signs from the Flea Market.

Many thanks to Steve for sharing pics and allowing me to tell the story here on the blog. You can follow his arcade adventures on his Facebook page here.

if you want to read up on previous raids featured here on the blog, check out the archive here.

See you next time!


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7 Comments Add yours

  1. Matt says:

    Aww man, I live 5 minutes from there! I had no idea that building was even there.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Steven Moritz says:

    What timing! I am on another raid right now as I’m reading this!!!

    I’ll fill you in later!!!


    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tony says:

    Steve you are my roving reporter in Florida! Awesome!


  4. wow, great scores — and that ICEE sign is fantastic, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Patrick says:

    You never know where some of this stuff is still hiding. Their is nothing like the rush of an arcade raid. I’ve been lucky enough to have this opportunity a few time now. You try and take as much as you can and if you leave anything behind you can’t stop thinking about it. Great to see a few cabs were saved and some parts.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ben Robinson says:

    Great write up, always nice to read about any arcade goodness found out in the wild. Good grab with the pepsi and ice cream stuff too.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. neil1637 says:

    You just never know what you will find, until you go looking….

    Liked by 1 person

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