Arcade Cabinet Items of all Shapes and Sizes

For anyone above a certain age who is even remotely interested in electronic gaming of any sort, there has always been a certain allure to the idea of owning a real live arcade cabinet. Some were lucky enough to be able to obtain real cabinets for very little, if any, money from arcades that were changing out their gear in the 1990s, and the boom in internet access in the late 1990s and early 2000s also led to parts becoming easier to obtain and to people building their own customised cabinets based around computers and emulation software.

Ever since arcade games became popular many decades ago, numerous items have been released that capture their iconic looks - for example, some of the earliest electronic tabletop games were intended to resemble arcade cabinets, and lots of licensed and generic merchandise depicting arcade machines has been around since very early in the heyday of the arcades. Even though it's now often said that the arcades "are dead", such merchandise is still produced even today!

These are a few such items from my collection.

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This is an officially-licensed money box in the form of a 1:6 scale Space Invaders cocktail cabinet with a playable LED version of Space Invaders on it, which, just like the real thing, can be played when you put in a coin (the tiny joystick and button that you can see there are real, working controls!). It was released to the Japanese market to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the release of the game. It's very detailed, all the way down to the tiny instruction cards that have been reproduced in printed form on the top of the table!

As you can see, I left the illustrated/demonstrative screen-protector on it and have never actually used it as a money-box, as I think it looks absolutely fantastic as a display piece which looks as if it's in action by means of having something on the screen. (Given the size it is, it looks great with my Lemmings plushes, as it looks like it was downsized just for them to use! I dare say that they've taken quite a liking to it, along with the next item in this blog entry, which is similar in size...)

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This one is a Tetris money box, again with a playable game on it (no prizes for guessing which game, of course :p ). As with the 1:6 scale Space Invaders cabinet, it was officially licensed, but unlike the Space Invaders one, to the best of my knowledge it isn't based on any pre-existing cabinet design. Unfortunately, there was no screen-protector showing a game-in-progress on this one, so it just has a black screen if used purely as a display piece. As with the Space Invaders money box, this Tetris machine was made only for the Japanese market.

It has a general look somewhat resembling a "Candy" cabinet (the chunky, sit-down machines often seen in Japanese arcades), and therefore looks quite modern. When displayed with the Space Invaders mini-cabinet, it evokes the look of one of those arcades that you can sometimes stumble across at UK seaside resorts, where there remain an eclectic selection of proven money-making machines (which typically equates to good games) that originate from several different eras.

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These last two miniature arcade cabinets are smaller than the other two, and don't have playable games on-board.

At the left of this picture is a wooden scale-model of a Bubble Bobble cabinet (I also have the Donkey Kong and Pac-Man models made and sold by the same craftsman, but they're not pictured here), complete with tiny little joysticks made from pins! It's a fan-made item from the UK market, and it stands at just under six inches high. It's adorable, and is the sort of size that suits several different sizes and scales of action figure, so you can make it look like it's being used when it's on display.

At the right of the picture is an even smaller cabinet that is, in fact, an officially-licensed Pac-Man sweets tin! This was made for the North American market, and originally contained a bag of strawberry-flavoured, but (bucking the usual trend for strawberry-flavoured sweets) yellow-coloured Pac-Man shaped crunchy sweets. Unfortunately, the joystick depicted on the cabinet is actually flat, but even so, the detailing is very nice considering that this is a low-priced novelty gift item. Unusually, the tin opens from the bottom, and not the top! I've had it for a while, but I'm still not quite sure what to put in it, just yet.

Even though some say that the arcades are gone, items like these (along with novelty tablet/mobile phone controllers such as the iCade and iCade Jr.) prove that their influence most certainly isn't!

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