Qualifying; Bally's/Paris, Las Vegas

A few years ago I came across the now famous EVO 2004 Daigo/Wong upset and it got me hyped to attend an EVO event in real life. This year the schedule worked out so Nat and I went for the first time.


  • It was hype as advertised.
  • The crepe shop in Paris. We ate breakfast there every day. No, really... every day.
  • Got disgusted at a group of cosplayers standing in front of us blocking our view, but later found out it was Jamie Lee Curtis and her family in disguise so I gave 'em a pass.
  • Walked within feet of Katsuhiro Harada (Tekken Director) late at night on our way back to our room. He is my Jesus. And quite tiny.
  • Undamned's CPS2 consoles running Super Turbo (J).

All in all, it was awesome and we hope to make it a yearly thing. Saw a couple dudes on our flight back to Miami.

Also - Pawn Stars is one of our favorite shows so we went out to see that, too. It was fun but super touristy and commercialized. Naturally none of the cast were present.

Neo Geo / Dynamo HS-5

Our small home in Miami

First off, I didn't realize there were dedicated Neo Geo cabs when I was searching Craigslist one night. But that doesn't hurt the story much.

A new barber shop owner posted this after he bought the place and this came with it. When I went to see it, I was disappointed to find no Neo Geo hardware inside. Just some shitty multicade. But the monitor was solid. He had it listed for $450. I said I would do $250 if he delivered it and got the lock off. He agreed, not without some whining first.

I was disappointed a second time when I learned this was a conversion, on top of no original Neo Geo parts (besides the screenprinted marquee). I had no choice but to restore a conversion, but I'm happy with the results and almost like it better than the Big Reds.


  • Rotated monitor back to horizontal orientation
  • Removed the jail bars over the coin box; filled the bolt holes; repainted the front
  • Trashed all the control panel hardware including plexi
  • Sandblasted the control panel
  • Added holes for Next/Previous game select buttons
  • New control panel artwork
  • New Seimitsu joysticks and flat buttons; required widening the holes 1mm; almost broke my wrist doing it with a drill
  • New white t-molding
  • New side artwork
  • Metal Slug mini marquee
  • Genuine Metal Slug X instructional sticker
  • Neo Geo 4-slot motherboard

Operation Wolf

This was another full teardown restoration. I usually remember where my games come from, but this one eludes me. Illinois? Indiana?

It arrived with a strong moldy smell, visible mold, and infested with spiders. Miraculously, it was 100% functional. It quickly started smelling up the house so I moved it out to the garage where it sat most of the summer. The 100-degree heat baked the mold out of it, and the new paint inside and out, sealed it.

My quest for reproduction art is a story best served over beers and time to spare. It took about a year.

Odd Moment: Finding a cig butt inside the gun.


  • New repro art - sides, control panel
  • Rebuilt monitor chassis
  • Fresh paint
  • Freshly powder coated coin door

Ikari Warriors

My game room in Boise, Idaho

Another eBay purchase.

Every arcade game has its unique smell. Sometimes it's harmless and sometimes it's offensive. This one had a very offensive, hard-to-describe smell. The cabinet was wrapped in vinyl, not painted, and I determined that the origin of the smell was from the vinyl's adhesive. So I stripped it, sanded it, and repainted it. The PCB had issues so I bought a replacement, which also had issues.

Regardless, I overestimated my enjoyment of Ikari Warriors and it has now been sold at a loss :(


  • Like-new VisionPro monitor (I regret installing such a nice monitor into a game I sold at a loss)
  • It came with rotary joystick knockoffs made by Data East, so I replaced one with a genuine SNK LS-30 I had on hand
  • New repro side art -- all other art was original and in decent shape
  • New green t-molding
  • Freshly powder coated coin door

Weche OK Baby

This one came from Vegas or Reno, I don't remember which. Other than the scuff marks, it arrived in OK shape. Mr. Clean Magic Erasers took care of the scuffs in short order. More info on this candy model.


  • I custom designed the marquee and control panel overlay with a DoDonPachi theme
  • New Seimitsu sticks and buttons
  • Painted the front door to match color

Namco Cyber Lead

Another eBay pickup, this time from Utah.

This Cyber Lead is one of my most prized units. It's in great shape and the monitor is excellent. It came with a single-player control panel, so I imported a 2-player panel, along with a JAMMA-to-JVS converter, since it's JVS spec. Not much to say other than it's awesome -- and it's 1/4" too wide to fit through a standard interior doorway -- so it has spent its life in our living and dining area.

The Simpsons

My game room in Boise, Idaho.

This one also came from Maine at the same time with Pac-Man. It was similarly a full restoration, but easier than Pac-Man because it didn't require an extensive paint job.


  • New art - sides, marquee, control panel
  • New sticks and buttons
  • New yellow t-molding
  • Sanded and painted the black bits
  • Rebuilt monitor chassis
  • Freshly powder coated coin doors


Ma-li inspecting my work; Boise, Idaho

This was my first full restoration from bare wood up.

This one came from Maine. When I bought it, I thought I was buying a Heavy Barrel. At the time, I didn't know much about conversions. A conversion is a cabinet that started life as one game, then somewhere along the road got converted to a different game. Operators often did this when the original game became old, to save money.

Once I learned of the conversion revelation, I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it. I'm a purist and couldn't accept the idea of owning a conversion. Besides, it was in pretty bad shape; bad paint, bad controls, bad monitor. Ultimately, I decided to de-convert it back to Pac-Man, despite the fact I don't really like Pac-Man. Due to the paint requirements, this was the most time-consuming restoration -- for a game I don't even like!


  • Full strip and repaint with blue speckles
  • Stenciled art (painted)
  • Like-new VisionPro monitor (trashed the original G07 after failed repair)
  • New marquee and bezel from Phoenix Arcade
  • Freshly powder coated coin door
  • New repro control panel (multigame)
  • New Seimitsu lighted stick

Street Fighter II Champion Edition

My game room in Boise, Idaho.

There's a running gag in the arcade collector community about starting in the hobby: "One is enough. OK, maybe two. Certainly not three... but I can rearrange some furniture..."

When I was growing up, the notion of owning an arcade game in my house was an impossible fantasy. And until a few years ago, I didn't know arcade game collecting was such a serious "thing".

In 2013 after I received my tax refund, I decided to pull the trigger on a dream I've had for 20 years: owning a real Street Fighter II arcade machine. I bought it on eBay and shipped it from Philadelphia to Boise, where we lived at the time. I knew nothing about the arcade market and significantly overpaid. But it was "just one and only one" and in good condition, so I wasn't concerned with price.

It arrived a little banged up, but nothing touch-up paint couldn't fix. But there was one big problem -- the monitor kept cutting off/on with this alarming electrical "pop" noise. I was disappointed and panicked. I had no idea how to fix it or who I could find to fix it. I spent several days on the Internet searching for a solution before stumbling upon the world's largest arcade collecting forum. I signed up with the sole intention of fixing my monitor, but quickly became immersed in the intricacies of arcade collecting, restoration, and modification. Opening an arcade became the new impossible fantasy.


  • Cabinet Type: Dynamo HS-9
  • New Seimitsu sticks
  • New bright red t-molding
  • Rebuilt monitor chassis
  • Freshly powder coated coin door
  • Upgraded stereo speakers (but never got the PCB to output stereo quite right)
  • Casters