After 10 years in the arcade business, I have seen many of these machines come and go.
Not to say I haven't found interest in them before now, but none were ever really in the
best shape- everything from water or rodent damage, to bugs, dry rot, vandalism, cigarette
burns and sun damage, farts & root beer- even one from Bell's Amusement Park that was so filthy,
that even after 100 applications of 'Fantastik', it still looked like a brown box with soot
rubbed on it. It was converted to 'Gal's Panic', and sold. The motherboards were always sold
on Egay, and such is the story. But this last weekend's events brought me to the flea market
at the Admiral Traffic Circle in Tulsa- it had been yeeears since I had set foot on those grounds,
and was pleasantly surprised with how much work they had done to restore this old building.
Anyway, a Craigslist advertisement had led me to a local operator, we'll call him 'Joe'. Joe told me of the machine and it's history, and why it was for sale. I happened to have the Senior Edlich with me as well, so we decided to yank the machine out and plug it in- just to see what it would do. Actually, it fired right up! Not bad for a machine that had been sitting for 8+ years with little attention. I wanted to hang around for a bit and see if the machine behaved well after warm-up. I walked a few of the indoor booths filled with keychains, truck grills, dragon sculptures, airbrushed 'my baby daddy' t-shirts and more, before returning to the back room where the games were stored. Everything looked pretty good, and I decided to negotiate a price. Let's just say that I paid less than the machine is worth. We backed up the truck, gave the owner the money, laid in the machine, and off we drove. Upon getting it home I had a closer inspection.
The machine was really in decent shape for its age. The monitor needed a little work, as I could see from the dimly-red tinted backgrounds the red cut-off needed to be adjusted. The horizontal size also needed improvement, and after adding a new pot to the monitor outerboard, this was accomplished. The contrast and brightness was also adjusted, giving the monitor a crisp, hot new look. Not to mention the removal of about 13 ounces of dirt/dust/etc from the monitor itself and the smoked glass. Things were looking up. The machine came with a 2-slot motherboard, which gives the owner the option of swapping out game cartridges for different ones, and little mini-marquees that change out in the marquee holder. This was appealing to me, because I like the whole 'multigame' idea, several games on one machine, taking up way less floor space. This machine came with 'Street Hoop' and '2020 Super Baseball' installed.
After changing a few buttons on the control panel, and a factory restore of the motherboard, we're all back up and running, and the machine looks great. Stop by and take it for a spin next time you're in, and set a few high scores if you're good enough!
Until next time, cheers, and dark beers!
Harwood, defender of Cybertron
Well, once again we've decided to get out of bed, take a shower, get dressed and grab the camera.
And for good reason. This JustinEdlich.com exclusive brings you yet another collection of retro cack
that would make Jeff Albertson set down his bucket of Kentucky Fried. And it has depth too. Completion.
A trait rarely found in this hobby, the collecting of retro items- toys, video games, vinyl, comics, baseball cards etc.
So what do you do as a full-time worker at the Olive Garden who is studying to pass the Oklahoma Bar exam?
You get your ass on the internet and complete your collection of Transformers! And that brings us to the
Tulsa home of Simon Harwood- who has done exactly that.
I've known Simon for over 5 years now, and many times our conversations have turned to retro collections, encompassing
all genres of collectibles- and often Simon would say "Someday when you are older, I'll get out my entire collection
and show you over a cold beer." And with the birth of the internet & JustinEdlich.com, I became a man.
In the moist month of April, Simon called & invited me over on a Sunday afternoon- and once I arrived, as I
entered the living room, I could see that this was going to take a while- and I needed a beer. There was more die-cast metal and
old plastic than I had seen in one place since the old 'free play' days at Toys 'R' Us (where children were allowed to
come to the store and 'test drive' opened toys that were in a giant trough). There was no surface in the living room or dining
room that was not occupied by a small robot.
Twisting the cap from my room-temperature Newcastle, and gazing on this multi-colored sea of toys, many questions came
to mind. The answers were simple- and frankly, somewhat appalling. I immediately became pissed that I had no idea
what happened to the Transformers I once owned as a child, or even worse, my near-complete collection of 80's Star Wars figures.
Simon had lots to say about the history of his collection, and I was amazed that for some of these- only a few existed worldwide.
J: 'So, what was the first Transformer you ever owned?'
S: 'Gotta be Jetfire, I've had him since I was about five. Really a cool toy for the time.'
J: 'Looks like you've spent some time getting all the weapons, accessories & stuff for all these. What's a ballpark figure
of what you have spent to complete the collection?'
S: 'Around five to six thousand dollars.'
J: 'And this is a complete collection of Transformers?'
S: 'This is a complete collection of series 1.'
J: 'How many Transformers am I looking at here?'
S: 'About 325 if you're counting packages, but over 600 units.'
J: 'If you were to sell this entire collection today, what would it sell for?'
S: 'Anywhere from twelve to fifteen thousand dollars.'
J: 'What's that camera one called?'
J: 'Can I pick him up?'
That's when I knew this shit was real. We're talking about 15,000 dollars worth of toys. It's just a tough pill to swallow.
Simon explained which were his favorites, and which were the most rare; among the rarest were 'Ratbat', 'Reflector', 'Skylinx', 'Monstructor',
'Gnaw', 'Roadbuster' (one that I had personally tried to transform, and had so many pieces I couldn't even figure it out),
Darkwing/Dreadwind, and of course, the grail of all Transformers collectors, the 'Fortress Maximus'- that stands about 2 feet tall!
Simon's personal favorites consisted of 'Jetfire', 'Sandstorm', 'Piranhacon', 'Defensor', 'Grimlock', 'Shockwave', and 'Predaking'.
I noted a few of my childhood favorites in his collection as well; 'Megatron', 'Soundwave', 'Omega Supreme', and 'Scorponok'.
Everything was in pristine condition and had every accessory- even down to the tiny little ears on 'Ratbat' that are doomed to be lost.
After taking notes and photos for a bit, I sat down and grabbed a few to play with. Megatron was my first, and no matter how hard
I tried, I couldn't remember what to do with him (though I had owned one as a kid). After several failed attempts at each one, Simon
would reach over and transform it for me. I felt like a ballbag having to be shown how these toys worked. But these were really
some elaborate toys for their time. I could only imagine what it was like to be an adult in the 80's, with children
constantly interrupting the ballgame to ask Dad to 'transform this!' every five minutes. Impressive designs, these toys.
The video below gives a quick overview of the collection, with a narrative from Simon. He has stated the collection is not for sale,
but check with him a decade from now.
Simon Harwood receives the 'Bourbon Doughnut Award' for 2009 for his accurate and complete collection of Transformers.
Until next time, cheers & dark beers.
What's left for the consoles?
To some, it's a gigantic pile of shit. To some, it is a utopia beyond comparison. Classic gamerooms and classic console collections.
OK- so far we have built up a really good console collection for play over in the High Voltage Gameroom. Nothing to scoff at- but we need a few more to make the collection complete. Here's a list of what is currently in our inventory (you can click on the names to see a stock photo, 'case you dont remember the system) and I'll follow that with the list of what I'm needing to be finished up. Currently, we have a Magnavox Odyssey 500, an Atari 2600, Atari 7800, an Intellivision, a ColecoVision, NES, Sega Genesis 1, SegaCD, Saturn, RetroDuo, Gamecube, Super Nintendo, PlayStation, Nintendo64, Dreamcast, Gen-X, 3DO, Jaguar, Commodore64, and a fully-loaded XBOX. Now, as you can probably tell, that requires a lot of shelf (or in our case, floor) space. But with the addition of new shelves this summer things are going to shape up really nice.- well, maybe not this nice....
Though I have to admit I like the idea!
OK- so good collection so far, but a few 'musts' remain, and they have been the toughest for me to find, without emptying my wallet. And those consoles are the SNK Neo-Geo, the Sega CDX, the Fairchild, the NEC Turbo-Duo, and the highly elusive Neo-Geo CD. So far, I have spent the entire year of 2009 looking for the last few systems, either to no avail, or some asshole has the price hiked so high I would need fishing rubbers to even reach the counter. And retail dicks don't even have em- and if they do, you better be ready to just get back in the car- because they will be way overpriced, and you guessed it- no warranty. So what to do now? Sit back and wait for these consoles to become even more 'classic' (which in video game terms translates directly to 'expensive') or just bite the bullet next time I am out and see one. I hit flea markets, garage sales, Craigslist, and even Ebay, as much as I hate Ebay. Hey- anyone got any of these for sale? Shoot me a message! Lets talk some biz! Cheers y'all- and dark beers.
Well, it seems some machines just can't stay away, and this is a perfect example.
Gondomania, a well- traveled machine, has returned to my collection after many sales, trades, conversions etc. It's an old-school "rotary" shooter from 1987 that combines 360-degree movement for firing with your normal movement. So in essence, not only are you moving the joysticks in whatever direction, you are turning the top of the joystick in every direction to destroy enemies, intercept enemy fire, etc. Makes for a pretty wild game. Check out the rotarys.
The gameplay is reminiscent of Xevious, with a regular weapon and a secondary weapon- the catch is your secondary (skiff) weapon is finite. It makes the game really challenging when you're up against a boss or mini-boss, and you've already used up your secondary weapon. Yes, the frustration is less when you have unlimited credits, but I can see why this game wasn't a huge hit in the arcades and went under many gamers' radar- it's a quarter muncher! I'm sure many a kid walked away with his head down from this machine. And it doesn't stop there. The bosses are so tough that even the most experienced player wouldn't finish one off with a single credit. And before you know it, you've got a lump on your hand the size of Alaska from moving & twisting that joystick like a madman non-stop. To it's credit though, Gondomania doesn't get boring. It's pretty much non-stop mayhem from quarter-drop to finish. But for this machine, it gets better. Gondomania is a Data East game, with a proprietary wire harness. But with the aid of a DECO to JAMMA connector, you can put just about any other JAMMA rotary shoot-em-up in there. This includes games like 'CAL.50', and my personal favorite, 'Time Soldiers' . And it's a bitch.
Time Soldiers combines everything Gondomania has to offer with another challenge- most enemies take several shots to kill (at least on the DIP setting my board is on.) So anything in your path is gonna take a few blasts to get through. And the bosses are nothing to scoff at either. Especially the 'guardians'. Spewing more firepower than an alcoholic with gonorrhea, it's tough to get close enough to the target point to take them down without getting hosed. (from KLOV.com) "Travel throughout various time periods to save your fellow comrades. Collect power-ups to help you defeat a variety of enemies and end-bosses. Uses rotary joysticks to allow player to fire in a variety of directions. There are five different time periods that you must travel through in order to find your comrades. Each time era has a different assortment of enemies. The first three comrades are found in the first three eras: The Primitive Age, where the enemies are cavemen and dinosaurs, The Age Of Rome, where the enemies are Roman soldiers and legionaries, and The World Wars, that contains modern army soldiers, weapons and vehicles.
Once the first three comrades have been rescued, you will proceed on to the next two time eras to find the remaining two comrades. These later levels are the Age Of War, where the enemies are ninjas and samurais, Future World, where the enemies are robots and high-tech machines. If you get past these levels, you will advance to the final level where you will try to find and defeat the main enemy. The game offers unlimited continues on all levels except for the final, and I lost my ass on it last night. It was so difficult I can't believe anyone ever saw the end.
Give it a spin next time you're in, and as always, cheers & dark beers.
Yes, It's official- snowmen were recently seen in hell. After years of looking, scraping, climbing control panels from warehouse to dusty dank warehouse, a VS 4- player Cyberball has finally found its home.
We've had a 2-player Cyberball for a few years now but nothing can be better than having the full-size, 4-player, 2-screen, giant hulking machine that is the original Cyberball- as this game was originally manufactured in a behemoth of a cabinet, weighing in at a hefty 486 lbs (shipping weight). It was a lot easier to move the 2 player standup, but with a new home on the horizon, I figured moving the 'hoss' (as a local collector has dubbed it) into the new house would be fine- and I'd never have to move it again.
As it is, I don't have any losses to anyone other than Kenny, although this is my Father's favorite game, and he has yet to play me head to head. Anyway- the game is actually really interesting. The basic premise is, it's the year 2022, & robot football is the most popular sport- where each team attempts to score before the ball temperature reaches critical and explodes, possibly taking a star machine with it. The ball is defused by selecting running/passing plays and getting the ball past the 50-yard line or the goal. Players may buy upgraded robots with team funds earned by performing well in the game. So basically, you have 4 downs (or 'temperatures') to get to the 50 yard line- the de-fuse line. Once the ball has been de-fused, you have another 4 to get to the end zone before one of your million dollar droids blows the hell up. Which can be a bummer, especially when he's replaced by a plastic one. Meh.
The four-player cabinet has two monitors at about 45-degree angles with a dividing vertical strip in between. The marquee is fluorescent back-lit with two teams of comic book robots hurtling towards each other. More robotic art is on the sides. The cabinet is spacious and uses black as its base color. You have to keep your head in the game if you're going to come out the winner- because the game can be tricky at times. Interceptions are easy if you move your defensive player in a standard pattern, fooling your opponent into passing to the man you're guarding. You can also bounce the ball sometimes on a pass and catch it with one of your other players. Also, keep targeting your opponent's strong players to weaken and damage them, forcing him to either waste money or get inferior replacements when they explode. Save your player's turbo and use it when it really counts, & learn each position's strengths and weaknesses. The action in the game is not always predictable. Sometimes the ball will seem to get stuck on a lateral track and move slowly in a straight horizontal line until intercepted or rescued. Pass completions and interceptions are sometimes arbitrary. But once you've played this as much as I have- you use this to your advantage.
So- thanks to Arcadefan85 & OUSoonerFan2006 there will be a nice Tournament Cyberball machine in my gameroom- drop by sometime and give me a challenge- if you think you've got the goods!
Til next time, cheers, & dark beers!