Friday, 18 March 2022

Arcade Club Bury Tour

In this video tour we check out the awesome Arcade Club in Bury, Europe’s largest arcade and one of the best in the world.  The arcade has so many incredible machines and just keeps getting better, with even more games added since our last visit.  Join us as we check out each floor and play lots of old favourites as well as new favourites.

Monday, 14 March 2022

EAG International Expo 2022

In this video we take a trip to the EAG International Expo, held at the ExCeL London.  It’s an annual three day event for the amusement industry, showcasing the latest coin operated releases.  After a two year absence, it’s great to have the show back on.  We check out the latest video games, pinball tables and even find time to play some Splatterhouse. 

Monday, 31 January 2022

The Heart Of Gaming & Playnation Games Arcade Tour

In this video we take a trip down to The Heart Of Gaming in Croydon, South London. 

I last went to The Heart Of Gaming a few years ago at their old site in Acton, and it was great to finally check out the new venue.  The arcade has an awesome selection of machines, including some survivors from London’s Trocadero.  It was fantastic seeing Alien 3: The Gun and Prop Cycle, two great games from the nineties which I haven’t played in years and every bit as good as I remember.  The eight player Daytona USA set up was an incredible sight, and we had some great races.  My personal highlight was The Lost World: Jurassic Park DLX cabinet.  There is a bit of a story behind this one.  On a cold, bleak January day back in 2019, I went to have a look at this machine along with a couple of others at Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach. 


The machines were stored in an outbuilding probably less than twenty meters from the sea. 


Routing around in near darkness, I also saw Final Furlong 2, GTI Club, Star Wars Racer Arcade DLX and Time Crisis II.  I had no doubt dropped coins into these at some point in the past, and it was sad seeing them in this sorry, neglected state.   




They were all big machines and too much for me to take on, and I contacted The Heart Of Gaming to see if they would be interested.
  Fortunately they managed to save The Lost World, and it’s undergone a full restoration.  It was great seeing it again in an arcade, in all its glory for people to enjoy.  Best of all though it was Pizza Arcade Gamer Boy’s favourite game of the day, he loves dinosaurs and couldn’t stop playing it!

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

PLAY Expo Blackpool & an epic MVS pick up October 2021

In this video me and my trusty sidekicks go on a road trip to Blackpool for the awesome PLAY Expo event.  It was three years since our last visit to PLAY at the Norbreck Castle and was great to be back, enjoying some semblance of normality.   

Along the way we stop to see an old Arcade Operator and pick up an awesome MVS haul.  I hadn’t seen any pictures prior to this, and the haul massively exceeded my expectations, I was so happy.  I’m currently going for a full MVS set and this fills many gaps as well as giving me lots of upgrades. 


Hopefully there will be many more road trips and arcade visits next year.  Have a great Christmas and Happy New Year! 

Friday, 10 December 2021

A Great British Retro Hunt: On The Trail Of Banksy’s Spraycation

During the summer, artworks started appearing in towns on the east coast of England in Norfolk and Suffolk.  After much excitement and speculation, these were confirmed as the work of Banksy, the world’s most famous street artist and became known as his ‘Great British Spraycation.’  In this video we take a trip to see them.  We also check out a video game shop and a few arcades along the way, including an arcade with some of the oldest machines still in operation here in the UK.  Join me and my two trusty sidekicks on a Great British retro hunt! 


Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Four Quarters East Arcade Tour August 2021

We take a trip down to the Four Quarters East in Hackney Wick, East London to play some games, enjoy a few beers and chill by the canal.  Once again my two trusty sidekicks came along to hone their gaming skills and challenge me at Street Fighter II. 

The cab line-up has changed quite a bit since my last visit, with some new additions such as Joust, Point Blank, Sega Rally, Smash TV and an Indian Jones pinball table.  I believe OutRun DLX has been moved to the new venue at Elephant and Castle, which I’m really looking forward to checking out.  With cool games, a chilled, relaxed atmosphere, and a great selection of beers we had a fantastic time.  

Monday, 20 September 2021

New Arrival – Toobin’

 It’s totally tubular!

About The Cab

I remember seeing Toobin’ many years ago down Great Yarmouth seafront, but I don’t recall ever playing it until PLAY Expo Blackpool 2016.  The cab stood out from the crowd, with unique controls, colourful graphics, cool artwork and an awesome cascading waterfall marquee.  The idea of the game was so cool and original: paddle down the river and avoid the hazards, which include branches, hungry alligators, submarines, dinosaurs whipping their tails, and punks throwing cans at you!  The game was loads of fun, and I loved the cab design.

My next encounter with Toobin’ was during an Op visit.  I had some idea of what cabs he had, but this one was a complete surprise.  I couldn’t help but show my excitement when I saw it, breaking one of the Raid rules.  In fact I just wanted to hug it. 

The cab had been stored in a polytunnel for a few decades, presumably after it broke and was removed from his arcade.  It would have suffered from years of temperature cycles and clearly needed a lot of love.  It was pretty filthy, covered in grime and bird poo, but looked structurally sound.  The Op spoke fondly of the game.  He had a lot of nostalgia for his games, some of which he seemed very attached to and didn’t want to part with.  Fortunately for me he let this one go.  A price was agreed, and we set about moving it to the van.  The cab was surrounded by plastic balls from a children’s play area ball pit, which added to the fun of moving it.  At one point I was scooping up the balls and putting them in a black bag, only to find the bag was ripped with the balls coming straight out! 

Once I got the cab back I finally had that hug!

I had no idea these were produced in Ireland, suspecting the ones on these shores were American imports. 

I pretty much bought the cab blind, hoping it was complete inside.  Fortunately it was all there and everything was in nice, unhacked original condition.  It even had some minty manuals stashed away in a grubby bag at the bottom.

The aim of this restore was to clean the cab up as best I could and get it back in good working condition.  I’m not adverse to a few battle scars, and I wanted to retain originality as far as possible.

Here is a list of the work I’ve done on the cab.

Marquee

The waterfall marquee is so cool!  The waterfall effect is achieved by three rollers, driven via gears by a single motor.  I’ve read that these motors are commonly used in juke boxes.

 

The fluorescent T15 tube retainers were brittle and had disintegrated, probably due to the heat from the tube.  I managed to find some very similar ones in B&Q.

The first attempt was unsuccessful, with the tube breaking.  I cut the top part very slightly to allow the tube to go in easier.

I gave the marquee compartment a good clean inside, cleaned the old grease off the gears and applied high performance silicone lubricant.  I replaced the tubes and starters.

I was really surprised to find the motor still works after all these years, which is a great result!

Monitor

This was the most worrying aspect of the restore.  It transpired that in a Gauntlet cab I’d bought off the Op, the monitor tube had been damaged beyond repair.  Inside Toobin’ there should be a 19” medium res monitor, which would prove very difficult to replace.  I was relieved when I removed the back door and everything looked as it should be.  My monitor is a Wells Gardner 19K7635, utilizing a factory modified KV7000 chassis.  I sent the chassis off to Grant / Gunblade for servicing, and he was able to work his magic and bring it back to life. 

 

I gave the cardboard bezel and glass front a good clean before refitting them.  The bezel is slightly distorted at the bottom, but overall is in nice condition for its age.

Control panel

The control panel was in a really bad state.  It was extremely rusty, and the overlay was too far gone unfortunately. 

I ended up putting a wanted post on Klov and managed to get hold of a complete one in very nice condition.

Power supply

I cleaned up the power block and wires, and replaced the original switcher power supply with a good quality modern one.

 

PCB and sound board

I removed the PCB and gave it a light clean with an anti-static brush, brushing off a few cobwebs and dead spiders.

It looked in remarkable condition, especially considering its age and how it had been stored for all these years.  The sound board didn’t look as good however, with obvious signs of corrosion.

After replacing the power supply, I switched on the cab with the monitor and PCB disconnected.  I was a bit startled to hear a whirring noise, but fortunately it was just the marquee rollers operating, which I‘d forgotten to disconnect!  I checked the voltages and tweaked the 5V.  I then switched it off, connected everything back up and fired it up.  The monitor needed some adjustment, but I wasn’t expecting the board to work at all and was so pleased to see Jet and Bif paddling down the Colorado!  It was also a massive relief to see the monitor working.

I tweaked the 5V.  After quite a bit of monitor adjustment the picture looks great, and we were able to have our first couple of credits.  I can see why Atari opted for medium res.  The bright, vibrant graphics really suite the tone of the game and must have helped it stand out.

 

The game played well, but there was just one issue – no sound.  Toobin' uses an Atari A043713-24 sound board.  A friend very kindly had a look at it for me and managed to repair it.  This sound board type is also used with Blasteriods and Xybots.

Cab shell and artwork

The cab has been given a good clean.  Under years of filth it was in pretty nice condition.  The grime was pretty dry and it cleaned up well.


The side artwork is in really nice condition overall, I’m leaving that totally original.  The art strip which sits below the front of the control panel was missing.  I sourced a replacement from ‘This Old Game.’

There were the remains of an old plastic ashtray which had been screwed on to the gator.  I removed the screws and broken bits.  It’s left a couple of screw holes, but I can live with this.

The T-moulding had popped out one side of the control panel.  I refitted it with a few blobs of hot glue.  I did consider replacing it, but I’m always a bit weary of putting new parts on an old cab, sometimes I think it looks out of place.

Metal work

The paint was peeling off the coin door.  I took it to a local powder coater I’d used before with good results.  There was a waiting time of around four weeks, which was fine as I was in no rush.  After four weeks I called them, and they asked me to call back next week.  This went on for a while and despite assuring me it was all in hand, it transpired they had mislaid the items!  They were happy to pay for a replacement, but of course this isn’t all that straight forward.  I found some similar Atari over / under coin doors for sale in the US, but they all had double coin entry slots, and the Irish Toobin’ model has one.  It was the closest match I could find, but I still felt pretty down about it all.  Just before I placed an order, the powder coaters called to say they had found the items!  They had been placed with another order and had been painted gold.  They re-done them in matt black with a textured finish, similar to the original and look great.  I had to have them stock, but I do think they would have looked pretty cool on the cab in gold!

There are a lot of parts secured with black flange head bolts.  I was unable to find a good match, so I ended up cleaning them up with a wire brush and respraying them.  I screwed them into a wooden board and resprayed.  Once they were dry, I turned them over, secured them with Blu Tack and resprayed.

The fan vent was extremely corroded.  I treated IT with Hammerite rust remover gel and reprayed with chrome paint.

The grilles on the back door vent were slightly out of shape, where it looks like they’ve been attacked with a screwdriver at some point.  I straightened them as best I could and resprayed it.

The monitor frame work had quite a bit of corrosion / rust patches. 

I used stainless steel cleaner and a pad to clean it up, and with a bit of elbow grease most of the rust rubbed straight off.

The cab cleaned and hoovered inside, with the monitor and power supply re-fitted.

Here is the cab in the games room.  I’m really pleased with how it turned out.  Finally I can play some Toobin’!