The Arcade Raid That Wasn’t

Been a while since I wrote about an arcade raid here on the blog. For the uninitiated, an “Arcade Raid” usually involves the discovery and subsequent removal of classic arcade cabinets. A typical raid will occur in an old warehouse, barn or storage area, usually owned by an ex arcade operator. These buildings house stashes of classic arcade cabinets dating from the 70s, 80s or 90s.

Coming across stored arcade cabinets has become more difficult in recent years, simply because these treasure troves have largely been discovered already over the years. But they do still turn up – someone buys a building, opens it up without any knowledge of what they are going to find. Maybe the operator passed away, his estate sells his assets and cabinets are subsequently discovered by the new owner.

And this is where we come in – collectors keep their ears to the ground, and let it be known that they buy old machines. And this was the case in this week’s post.

Earlier this month, collector and KLOV forum dweller Radford119, spotted an advertisement locally in Indiana for an investment property. Within the description, reference was made to the building being in a state of disrepair, but also that it was full of old arcade machines.

Radford reached out, and struck up a conversation with the seller. After some discussion, it was agreed that he could pull out as many machines as he liked for $1,000.

That’s all I needed to hear. I started making plans on renting a truck and storage and made arrangements for a friend to help me haul out games.

Two days later I met his contractor there who showed me the building and let me inside.

KLOV user Radford119

This was teeing up to be something of a score for our intrepid collector – a free run inside a previously undiscovered stash of arcade classics is not an opportunity to pass up.

However, once inside, things took a turn for the worse:

This is what Radford was faced with….

When I crossed the threshold into what I hoped was arcade Nirvana I was I instantly transported into hell. These pictures were from that trip.

KLOV user Radford119

As you can see, the level of damage, mould and damp was extraordinary:

Pac-Man, and a Nintendo cabinet there in the background too
Probably one of the most converted cabinets ever, a Williams Defender converted to Street Fighter 2. Operation Wolf in the background too
More late 80s/early 90s conversions here. Thundercade and Ninja Gaiden in a Williams cabinet
A closer look at that Operation Wolf
Another interesting looking conversion – SNK Guerrilla in a orange Donkey Kong Jnr Nintendo cabinet. Note the cool rotary controls
Ameri Darts here in a generic cabinet (I think?). Of greater interest is the green cabinet to the right. Someone took a paint brush to a Midway Gorf!

So at first glance looking at these pictures, my initial thoughts were there’s not a great deal here in terms of “classics”, and not much has survived intact. However, there is a potential goldmine of parts to be stripped.

Searching further, however, brings a different perspective:

This is what happens when water meets arcade cabinets
Not sure exactly what’s happened here, but it doesn’t look like a healthy place to spend a lot of time moving arcade cabinets around
Some cabinets were starting to bow with damp
You can just about make out what remains of a Galaxian upright there

Here’s what else turned up:

More Nintendo cabinets
Atari Pole Position and another Street Fighter 2 conversion on the right
More Midway stuff. A Galaga and a couple of Ms Pac-Man cabinets in the background there. Note the mould though. Yuk!
Ah man. A sorry sight. A Taito cabinet literally melting into the ground. Originally a Taito Stratovox, this was converted at some point to a Data East Ring King

Radford summed up his thoughts after witnessing what he found:

Needless to say, I told him I couldn’t take them because of the condition. Every cab was swollen, rusted or corroded. The level of mold was palpable.

KLOV user Radford119

Clearly after weighing up the work involved in trying to save something from this mess, he decided to pass on the opportunity. There’s a more serious side to this too – looking at the pictures, there was clearly a health risk here too. Anyone attempting to salvage parts from the building would need to think about masking up at the very least. A mast, goggles and gloves at the very least would be a pre-requisite of working in those conditions!

I went back and forth with this multiple times and it just wasn’t right for me. By the time you factor in breaking down for parts, testing, storing, shipping, etc, it just wasn’t worth it to me.

KLOV user Radford119

It was a strong “pass”. I can see some merit in clearing the area for parts – certainly here in the UK where cabinets, monitors and parts are hard to come by, I’m sure collectors over here would have made something out of the situation – but each raid opportunity is different depending on the collector and the state of the potential haul.

Everyone will have a different perspective and motivation, but I think there was probably enough here to pull out enough parts and cabinets to justify the effort and cost involved.

I think there’s certainly a deal here to be done. The property owner will probably need to pay someone to clear the building. Those rotary joysticks, monitors, brackets, marquees at least should cover any costs involved for a collector to go in and do his thing. So who knows? I’ll keep you updating if something comes to light.

But what do you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Discover more Arcade Raids in the blog archive here.

Thanks to Radford119 for allowing me to share these pictures.

And thank you as always for reading this week!


Tony

3 Comments Add yours

  1. TTFD says:

    oh my, that is tragic. What a disappointment that would have been…the hopeful excitement just ground to dust once you saw it, better to have never known about this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Chuck says:

    Oof. That is painful. I think that it is only worthwhile for someone who really can justify the cost of PPE, decontamination of the pieces they are pulling off (you would not want to bring moldy parts into your own home or workshop to avoid spreading mold spores around)… and then the disposal of all of that moldy bloated wood and parts that cannot be salvaged. That could be costly too… then the truck used to bring everything back (maybe a regular open-air flat-bed truck would be best… the wind could blow off some of the spores).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. DWH says:

    Wow, so horrible. If anyone writes a book about arcade raids, the picture of the Taito Ring King sinking into the floor would make a great eye-catching cover photo.

    Liked by 1 person

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