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 totally 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’!

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Arcade Warehouse Lincoln Tour June 2021

It’s great to be out and about visiting arcades again, and we recently went to a brand new one, Arcade Warehouse in Lincoln.  Join me and my two trusty sidekicks, Cookie Gamer and Pizza Arcade Gamer Boy as we check it out. 

The arcade has a nice selection of machines, including a lot of relatively modern dedicated cabs.  Highlights include Dariusburst, H2Overdrive, Star Wars Battle Pod and Behind Enemy Lines.  My boy looked particularly at home wielding the gun turret, mowing down enemies on Behind Enemy Lines, Sega’s uncommon on-rails shooter. 

 

We had a two hour session.  Pizza Arcade Gamer Boy was excited to play Luigi’s Mansion Arcade, but unfortunately someone hogged it for the duration.  This is the only thing which slightly tarnished the experience, but that’s down to inconsiderate people, not the fault of the venue.  Apart from that we all had a fantastic time.  The venue is very family orientated, and it was great seeing people of all ages enjoying the machines. 

Monday, 9 August 2021

Awesome New Pick Ups

It’s that time again to show my pick ups from the last few months.  First we have an awesome delivery from Japan. 

The King of Fighters games for the PS4 were purchased from the SNK Online Shop and included some very nice extras.  KOF 2002 Unlimited Match Complete Set came with a mini version of a Neo Geo stand which would have been displayed at Japanese game centers.  The stand lights up, once I find a suitable button battery that is. 

 

KOF XIV Ultimate Edition Complete Set came with a mini Neo SC-19 cab.  The lower section has a door, and the internal space is designed to hold ten PS4 sized games.  The stickers were a bit of a nightmare to apply, especially the screen, but it’s super cool and looks great in the games room.  Also it’s roughly the same scale as the sign which is nice. 


Street Fighter III 3rd Strike: Fight for the Future Limited Edition for the PS2 has been a title I’ve been meaning to pick up for years.  It comes with the game, Gamest Mook game guide, a special DVD featuring replays and bouts and a 300 piece jigsaw.  It’s in great condition, and I really love the Chun Li box art. 



I was also pleased to get hold of a couple more coasters from a Cave event held at Tokyo Video Gamers Bar in Akihabara.  To get these coasters you had to buy a drink, and they came in a sealed bag meaning the design you got was random. 

 

Now from the far east to the south east!  Here are some more pick ups from my awesome local game shop in Norwich, Last Level Games.  They’ve been getting some very cool items in recently, and their prices are always very reasonable. 

 

First up is a great little selection of Megadrive titles.  I was especially pleased to find Castlevania: The New Generation, it was a real surprise to see one locally.  Oddly enough I visited an old arcade Op the very same week and found a Haunted Castle board.  It was a pretty awesome week for pick ups! 


Next we have a nice little selection of survival horror, spanning across three console generations.  My PlayStation collection is primarily Japanese, but I’ve been on the lookout for Pal horror titles recently as these are games I’d really like to play, but would prove very difficult for me in their native language. 


Clock Tower is a pretty uncommon title.  I also have the third instalment on the PS2, which got me thinking about the second game, as I couldn’t recall ever seeing it.  It turns out the international release is actually the Japanese sequel.  The first instalment was released on the Super Famicom in 1995 and later re-released for the Japanese PS1 in 1997 as Clock Tower: The First Fear and has never had an official release outside Japan. 


Sunday, 4 July 2021

Arcade Club Leeds Tour June 2021

A visit to the awesome Arcade Club in Leeds was top of the agenda following the easing of government restrictions, I couldn’t wait!  Joining me were my two trusty sidekicks, Cookie Gamer and Pizza Arcade Gamer Boy.  We’ve put together a little tour of the arcade.

The arcade has so many incredible machines.  Whilst playing the games, it’s easy to forget the incredible amount of effort it must take to maintain them.  We were totally blown away.  Highlights for this visit include Namco’s Star Blade, a fantastic new addition.  I ramble on at the end of the video about not playing it for decades, but actually the last time I played it was in Mikado arcade in Japan about ten years ago.  So good, so atmospheric, absolutely love it.   

 

Virtual On: Cyber Troopers is another new game.  I remember this awesome 3D mech combat game having a brief spell down the seafront back in the day.  The game proved to be a massive hit in Japan, but it never really seemed to take off over here.  I wonder if the theme, and the unusual twin-stick controls just didn’t appeal to most arcade goers.  I suspect the hardware was sacrificed to keep other, more profitable Sega Model 2B games running at the time.  It was fantastic seeing it again, and I really enjoyed giving it a blast.   

 

The OutRun2SP SDX was amazing, with some very close races with the wife.  This and fighters are about the only games I stand a chance at beating her at. 

 

The Sega row really is a Sega fan’s dream.  It’s fantastic being able to experience the Sega Taikan cabs once again and great to see them get a new generation of fans.  There are also some nice new additions to the area, including Scud Race and Sega Rally 3. 

 

The Electrocoin Xenon row was a sight to behold, taking me right back to the halcyon arcade days of the eighties / nineties.  They were loaded with classics, including Aliens, Golden Axe, RoboCop, Splatterhouse and Sunset Riders to name a few.  I think it’s super cool how Arcade Club Leeds has the Xenon row and Bury has the Goliaths. 

 

There is an awesome selection of dedicated cabs, all the classics, plus some more obscure titles.  I enjoyed watching my daughter try her hand at Pac-Land, Pole Position and Tron. 

 

The second floor has an awesome row of Astro’s, complete with top tier shooters.  I could have easily spent a lot longer here. 

 

To summarise then, Arcade Club Leeds – it’s incredible, go check it out! 

Sunday, 23 May 2021

New Arrival – Namco Noir Blue V2 ‘Fated Retribution’

About The Cab 

It’s been a while since I’ve had a new arrival in the games room.  A couple of months ago it was my 40th birthday, and I thought I’d treat myself to something a bit different!  I’ve been tempted with a HD cab for a long time, with the Lindbergh, Noir and Vewlix C being the most appealing.  However there just didn’t seem enough to interest me gaming wise, and I couldn’t justify it.  This all changed with exA-Arcadia, whose mission statement is to revitalize the arcade industry and bring videogames back to the arcade.  The system has some very exciting games already released and in development. 

 

In the end I decided on a Namco Noir.  The cab was delivered by Martin.  Excited! 


I love the aesthetics.  It’s extremely sleek, and the blue speaker grills and led strip lights really set it off and look fantastic in the games room. 



There have been a few models of this cabinet.  This is a blue version 2 model, featuring a 1080p screen and led strip lights, which are interactive to the game and flash.  By comparison the red version 1 has a 720p screen, and the version 3 features a dual led topper, with the marquee permanently illuminated. 



Control panel buttons have seemingly failed at the hands of overzealous Japanese arcade goers and replaced with random colours.  I intend to put them back to stock. 


The blue Noirs were heavily used for Gundam Extreme games as seen in this pic I took in Playland Las Vegas, Ikebukuro. 


The stickers on the coin door indicate that it’s from the Adores Japanese arcade chain. 


Manufacturer’s stickers on the back. 


The rough plan for my games room set up from the start was to have Japanese candy cabs along one side of the room, Western cabs along the other, and the Aero Table somewhere between them.  As I’ve become more into Western cabs, the room has lost some of its Japanese arcade feel.  I think the Noir not only addresses this, but brings with it a whole new modern Japanese arcade dynamic. 


As mentioned above, I’m planning on picking up an exA-Arcadia system at some point.  The lineup looks awesome, with a very strong selection of shooters.  DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou and Vritra Hexa are at the top of my list.  More info about the games and upcoming releases can be found here. 

 

https://exa.ac/en/?v=0f177369a3b7 

 

In the meantime I’m really enjoying Tekken 7: Fated Retribution. 


The game runs on Namco System ES3 hardware. 


Here is a short video of the game in action. 


The Good 

-The cab looks stunning, extremely solid and well built. 

-It’s in great condition with only a few minor marks.  It just required a light clean and a hoover inside for it to be games room ready, despite spending its life in a Japanese arcade. 

-The 32” screen is Full HD 1080p and looks and sounds incredible. 


-I like that the control panel is the same height as my other candy cabs. 


-The marquee and interactive led strip lights look fantastic. 


-Although the cab is very heavy, it has a good set of castor wheels and good ground clearance, so it can be moved around relatively easily. 

-I miss my old Cyber Lead, and it’s great to have another Namco cab back in the candy lineup. 

 

The Not So Good 

-Some of the locks and keys are missing. 

-The led light panels under the control panel instruction strip space aren’t currently working.  Edit – For some reason it was unplugged.  I plugged it back in, and it’s working fine. 

 

A massive thanks to John / Japanarama for this awesome cab.