Micro Machines.. well... kinda.

With a few games leaving and after making some room in the game room, I started looking for the next titles to occupy the arcade for awhile. Going…. big on.. going.. small…

Finally ran across two Cabarets that I’ve been seeking for over a year. The first, is a project Ms. Pacman. It is “all there but not working”.

Ms Pac Cabaret (Project)

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From the photos, I’m expecting to have to do some cabinet work, new laminate and new control panel overlay. Depending on the condition of the PCBs I may end up using a Bitkit. We will see what happens as I get into it…

Centipede Cabaret

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One thing I haven’t actually owned in 5 years of arcading - is a trackball. Seriously. Kinda weird right? I’ve come super close to buying full-size Centipedes that come up nearby but the timing has always been off. This cabinet is working just needs to be cleaned up a little.

It is pretty cool that these cabarets use a 19” arcade monitor.

Excited to get to know this classic better.

RetroAdvance, Update

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Non-existent support but still a cool little device.

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As previously mentioned, my Retro Advance arrived with a pretty big flaw. Not being able to maintain power with the battery compartment door on the game was a pretty limiting.

I reached out to support via email, Facebook and a webform. Unfortunately, no one responded.

I worked out a fix ( in my case) by removing the back (just a couple small screws) and re-seating the battery pins on the PCB. I also added a dab of hot glue on the back of the connector pad to give it additional rigidity and keep it from moving under the pressure of the battery springs.

 

Conclusion

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At the end of the day, this $40 toy hit the nostalgia spot on design. Pretty cool “chill and play” size and a nice walk down memory lane. Even if it is a probably-not-properly licensed knock off from a what appears to be a fly by night company.

My general thoughts summarize as:

Pros:

  • Very good screen brightness

  • Pretty cool game list

  • Decent button-feel

  • Extra style points of the knock-off Gameboy design

Cons:

  • Slow shipping

  • Non existent support

  • ‘Meh’ off angle screen viewability

  • Dumb boot up menu language selector

  • Questionable Durability

Atari Star Wars Finds a New Home

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After about a year of ownership, I listed and sold my Atari Star Wars Arcade. It was part of what was my “Star Wars Shrine” in the back of the room, comprised of an arcade, a pin and my home-made battle pod.

To determine which games needed to go I just looked at their play frequency over the last year, took into account their size. etc. In SQL Developer terms:

SELECT TOP 2 NAME
FROM GAMES
ORDER BY ACTIVITY ASC

I listed it on Facebook Marketplace and a few Arcade groups with the following pictures, highlighting areas of the game that have been fixed or should be fixed in the future.

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Cabinet Sides

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Video Walkthrough of Condition

Video Walkthrough of Game Operation

A buyer in Birmingham reached out and bought if. We met in person, went over the game condition and arranged delivery through Bob Cunningham on his way through here, heading North.

Getting the game pretty for its short trip North.

Getting the game pretty for its short trip North.

It was really cool to meet the game’s new owner and hear his story regarding seeking this title out. He is someone entering the hobby after looking for this game for over 20 years. His first game! Honestly, being exposed to the enthusiasm and excitement of someone entering the hobby a-new was a nice shot in the arm for my own hobby morale. Always awesome to meet cool people in this hobby.

RetroAdvance, First Impressions

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Received my Translucent Black RetroAdvance, today. Took about a month to come from over the big bond. (Insert Great Wall of China / Border Wall joke here)

It has the potential to be very cool. It feels alot like the classic system the case is inspired by and the buttons feel good.

Unfortunately.. it kinda.. doesn’t work. (Video below). I’ll give them a chance to respond, I’m sure they will make it right :)

I’m sure I could rework the connectors, shave away some plastic, shake magic electrical chicken bones at it, etc… I’ll wait to hear back before I put on my MacGyver Hat.

RoadBlasters Hits the Road

I abandoned the idea of turning Roadblasters into an Indiana Jones after seeing the cost and rarity of the control panel and PCBs (and optional side art).
I figured I’d be about twice the asking price for a RoadBlasters into the conversion. Also, playing it in MAME - it seemed “Consoley” to me, so … Roadblasters went up for sale to make a hole..

It sold in about an hour on Facebook Marketplace.

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The buyer went with Fastenal 3PL, so I palleted it up and brought it to depot. I’d.. forgotten just how heavy Atari cabinets were. Loading it on the trailer by myself was… strenuous.

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Was really concerned the game might turn into a lawn dart if someone stopped in front of me. In addition to 1200lb tie straps, the pallet got screwed into the decking of my trailer.

Was really concerned the game might turn into a lawn dart if someone stopped in front of me. In addition to 1200lb tie straps, the pallet got screwed into the decking of my trailer.

It made it.. (woot!)

It made it.. (woot!)

Done, and.... done.

Midway 12 in 1

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I picked up a Midway 12 in 1 on Facebook Marketplace, recently.

What in the hell was I thinking?

Apparently, not “Impulse control.”


Well… in my defense, awhile back I picked up one of those retail Konami Vertical multis awhile back. These cabinets have super-bad reputations for being flimsy and.. bad. The thing is, the Vertical Konami variant has a pretty bitchin’ little cabaret-sized VGA monitor that supports a surprising range of resolutions and frequencies. Mine, pictured here in my upstairs closet, has an Pi-MAME config and is great for discovering and re-discovering classic vertical games.

So, I thought “Wouldn’t it be cool to have the horizontal cousin to this thing?”


(Maybe I was drinking?)

You know how like Picasso had a Blue Period?
Spoiler alert, maybe January 2019 was my Arson Period.

 

Well, KLOV is pretty clear on the Horizontal version of the cabinet but I didn’t listen. I figured - haters gonna hate, right?

https://forums.arcade-museum.com/showthread.php?t=409055

Well, the haters.. were right in this case. In my opinion..

The Problem:

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The machine wasn’t really maintainable and of course it is cheaply made compared to commercial arcade cabinets. The colors were washed out on the monitor (cough: TV) and there are OSD menus you can use to tweak the appearance. The issue is adjustments and the IR Receiver are on the front of the monitor behind the plastic surround. As I started trying to get the monitor out of the cabinet to make adjustments, I was greeted with the fact that the numb-nuts that built the game, glued support blocks over top of screws. Screws… that need to turn… to get the monitor out..

So, I sat back and thought to myself…

”Self? “
”Yo!”

”Are you going to keep this cabinet?”
”Nope.”

”Self, you have $200 in it. If you sell it on Facebook for $150, you are already loosing money. “
”Right…”

”To feel good about selling it.. you really are going to obsess over fixing the display issue, right?”
”Yeah, that’s kinda how I roll.”

”And… how many evenings are you going to sink into that?”
”A couple, at least, from all appearances.”

”And… when you do sell it, what are the chances the buyer is high maintenance about the sell?”
”Chances are pretty good they are going to come out and talk me down to $100 and hassle me for support.”

”Would you .. PAY, $100 to get your weekend back?”
”Hell yes, I would!”

Decision Made.

The Solution:

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Firepit. Meet P.O.S. P.O.S, meet Firepit.

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Aftermath

Typically, not a wasteful person. I did pull the doors, parts of the side art, the game board, overlay and controls, anything I deemed as “potential wall-hanger” and plastics and metals. If you read this and need parts for your cabinet, reach out to me via Private Message and they are yours.

I noticed the cabinet sides reminded me alot of an over-sized bartop kit. I could see a far-away project of using them to create a MAME system or something. The monitor (ahem: TV) I pulled and may end up using with my Atari 2600 or as a tube-swap candidate for a cabaret down the road.

Ultimately, though - this was a gigantic waste of time and $200 down the toilet. That’s really, my takeaway. The next time I feel the impulse to pop on something cheap on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, I'm going to think about this cabinet and my experience versus the value of my time and think long and hard on the question:

Just because it is cheap and convenient, should you really still buy it?

Probably not.

now.. off to go make S’mores…

Munsters @ CES

Yesterday, Stern showed us Munsters Pro, Premium and LE at CES in Las Vegas.

Dead Flip streamed gameplay footage with Jack Danger dressed as Herman Munster, Gary Stern as Grandpa and Zach as Eddie Munster. Too funny. :)

My Hot Take

Now run, you fools and go buy these up so that you have to sell your golden-era Pinball titles to me.

Now run, you fools and go buy these up so that you have to sell your golden-era Pinball titles to me.

I’m not a NIB Stern buyer, right now and every new pinball showed tends to get more “Best Pinball Ever” buzz than is generally warranted. That said, I think the game looks really cool. The sub / lower playfield is packed like nothing I’ve seen. (There’s even a multiball down there!) All three cabinets look pretty awesome but I was drawn to the Premium because I like the selective color with B&W, especially given the theme. The premium appears to have a greyscale treatment on both the playfield and the cabinet, which was a pretty bold choice, I think.

It was ballsy (but probably brilliant) for Stern to go head-to-head with Monster Bash Remake w/ this specific title. I predict the LE will sell out, partly in thanks to the sub-playfield and partly because of the polarizing choice to make the Premium playfield B&W. Pinball people are largely playfield fanatics and I expect once the pitchforks and fire leave the town square we will be left with the general opinion that: Greyscale Side art is thematic and artsy but I doubt the greyscale playfield will be considered a feature but more of a bug in the Premium options load-out.

I think Monster Bash Remake will do fine against this title (though will feel some loss from it) but I believe this was a critical hit towards Spooky Pinball and Nightmare Castle. Hopefully Spooky weathers the storm, they are good people and an interesting force in the pinball landscape.

I love to see new Pinball, though. Can’t wait to play it.



Release coverage & buying options:

More info from Stern on the table options: https://sternpinball.com/game/the-munsters/

IGN has the High Res Photos in an easier-to-view format that Sternpinball.com:
https://www.ign.com/articles/2019/01/08/munsters-pinball-from-stern-first-hi-res-images-and-details

Better coverage always available at This Week in Pinball: https://www.thisweekinpinball.com/6757-2/

Interested in buying one? Check with Jarrett over at Gulf Coast Pinball: https://gulfcoastpinball.net/

Chris / Kaneda praised the release specifics and I mostly agree with his initial thoughts on the game:
https://soundcloud.com/kanedapinball/late-night-special-munsters-thoughts

Read people on Pinside, bitching about it or praising it: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/munsters-is-coming/page/80

"We have too much stuff!"

The hobbyist / collector’s quandary. Doesn’t really matter what your hobby or collection, whether RC Planes, Collectible Toys, Alabama Football Memorabilia or full-sized arcade and pinball machines, there is never enough space. It also doesn’t matter what part of the storage spectrum you are on. Your collection can be limited to a curio case in the corner of your living room. Like me you could feel fortunate to have a full room-sized converted storage area to work with or even have full warehouses at their disposal. Space always fills up and seems to be the limiting factor for most people I’ve met in this hobby and others.

Last year, I set my arcade & pinball hobby sights on the theme of out with the old, in with the new.
This year, I’m starting the year looking at the concept of Quality over Quantity. I’d like to spend more of the time playing rather than repairing games that I don’t end up keeping for more than 6 months.

After taking down Christmas decorations, I felt the need to work off some of the night’s alcohol. I spent a portion of New Years Day moving things around in our game room and taking a mental inventory of what will stay and what will go.

RIP, The Dome 2015-2019

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The Dome is out.

I built the Dome in 2015. Since that time the primary game I had in mind for it (a single player star wars arcade-style space battle game) was never released. A few games that were epic experiences in the Dome have been removed by their respective software publishers. Still, we found some titles that played well on the curved surface over the years.

It has made people go “Whoa!!”

It gave some folks motion-sickness

It gave some kids (and grown ups) hours of play in a sitting

I even flew a drone from inside it once.. Illegally, I suppose. (shhh…)

One thing was static. It took up a ton of space and it was only played 4 times in 2018. 2 of them by me.

I never was fully satisfied with the “finish” of the cabinet surround that I came up with. Maybe I’ll endeavor a v2 at some point.. VR being cheap and awesome probably challenges the likelihood but you never know..

The home-made cabinet enclosure (that I was never fully satisfied with) cut into pieces and committed to fire..

The home-made cabinet enclosure (that I was never fully satisfied with) cut into pieces and committed to fire..

The formed acryllic dome remains available for free pick up for anyone that might have the need for such a thing.

The formed acryllic dome remains available for free pick up for anyone that might have the need for such a thing.

RIP Dome Cabinet. You gave us 560 hours of playtime while occupying roughly six Donkey Kong’s of real estate. We commit your remains to R'hllor

On a brighter note - Results!

Now this is what I’m left with. The back corner housed four full-sized cabinets in the same space occupied by the Dome and a Pinball. Still have some cleaning to do and a few more games will be leaving (or trading out).

This is what I ended up with after the Dome came out.

This is what I ended up with after the Dome came out.

Drawing Lots

Looking at the first part of 2018, I already know a few games that won’t make the cut this year.

The Midway Horizontal (Home Use Cabinet)

I know that this game will be listed for sale very soon. I need to adjust the monitor a little and may bullet-proof the cabinet a little but all in all the cabinet is in good condition. I bought it with intention of harvesting the monitor for a cabaret project but I’ve decided to do something else. It’s all there and works.

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Roadblasters

Atari RoadBlasters

Atari RoadBlasters

I’ve only had for a few months but I had bought it considering an Indiana Jones Temple of Doom conversion. After playing IJ on MAME for a bit I don’t think that will be worth the many-dead-bothans necessary to pull off. I’ll play my fill of Roadblasters and it will be for sale within a month for less than what I paid for it.

Hyperspin, Super Mario Donkey Kong Frankenstein

Hyperspin Multi-Console living in a Nintendo Cabinet

Hyperspin Multi-Console living in a Nintendo Cabinet

When I first picked up this cabinet everything had already been removed and it was headed for a trash heap. The cabinet is in pretty good condition but has a few nicks and gashes in the laminate - especially around the speaker grill slits.

With this Windows 7 / Hyperspin setup, I’ve been running NES, SNES and Sega Genesis emulators. At the time that I put this together RetroPi and Emulation Station weren’t really a thing.

I really like Nintendo Cabinets and this looks to be of a DK Variety. I’m leaning towards putting this back to some sort of JAMMA-based Donkey Kong. More-than-likely running an ArcadeSD PCB and one of my non-Nintendo spare 19” CRT’s. I would also consider selling or trading it for other classic-era arcades.

Any Arcade Purchases on the Horizon?

Moving The Dome out of the room does free up some space but I’m not in a big hurry to fill it up. I’d still like to find a MsPac Cabaret and I’m always a sucker for a nice condition Nintendo-anything. (DK, Popeye, etc)

Any Pinballs on the Chopping Block?

I’m still very happy with Medieval Madness, Attack from Mars and of course, Indiana Jones. I’ve toyed with the idea of trading or selling STTNG or TOTAN but not definitely. I don’t play either of them as much as I’d like but when I do - I still enjoy both pins. I’ve historically not wanted to own any more than 6 pins at a given time. Still, I have a wandering eye so anything is possible, I suppose.

My short list of “interesting” pinballs is:

Lord of the Rings
Simpsons Pinball Party
Tron
Star Trek (LE Stern)
Metallica
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Monster Bash (Original)
Cactus Canyon

I’m not feeling compelled to action towards any of these, at the moment but we’ll see how the year goes, more to come!