Introducing the 3.8mm VGM Gold Security Screwdrive​​r Bit

After months of design, engineering and production, we’re happy to announce our new 3.8mm VGM Gold Security Screwdrive​​r Bit!

Get your 3.8mm VGM Gold Security Bit on Amazon or eBay

We’re demonstrating all the different types of cartridges a 3.8mm VGM Gold Security bit can open. This is perfect for opening your retro gaming collection for cleaning, battery replacement, and repairs.

3.8MM VERSION OPENS:

  • Original NES Nintendo game cartridges
  • Super Nintendo game cartridges
  • Nintendo 64 game cartridges
  • Original Game Boy game cartridges
  • Game Boy Color game cartridges
  • Virtual Boy game cartridges
  • Sega Game Gear game cartridges

QUALITY:

  • Durable strong hardened steel
  • Heat treated for maximum strength
  • Length is about 7.6 cm (~3 inches)
  • Gold colored for identification and corrosion resistance
  • Precision engineered teeth fit tightly
  • Pattern: 3.8mm Female 6 Node (6-Pointed Star)
  • Fit any 1/4″ hex hand tool receiver
  • Made in the USA

We’ve worked hard to offer the highest quality screwdriver security bits on the market. We’d rather offer a top quality item once rather than ask people to continuously replace low quality imitations.  We feel we’ve done just that and our proud that these are made 100% in the United States.  This gives us highest quality control, top quality, and supports American jobs.

Get your 3.8mm VGM Gold Security Bit on Amazon or eBay

Adding a Dreamcast Kiosk to the Collection

Dreamcast Kiosk (1)

Regret is a powerful motivator for collectors.

Back in 2007, I spotted an abandoned Dreamcast kiosk along the side of the road.  I seriously debated throwing it in my Honda Accord and taking it back to my tiny beach apartment.  Space for surfboards and a fear of scaring my new female roommate won out.  Unfortunately, I kept driving.  I’ve been kicking myself ever since.

Since then, with 200+ titles in my beloved Dreamcast collection, I’d been scouring eBay and Craigslist for just such a gem.  Unfortunately, these often pop up out of state, and shipping would cost as much or more than the kiosk is worth.

Several weeks ago, lady luck looked down on me.  Sure enough, a listing popped up on eBay, and it was here in San Diego!  I quickly messaged the seller about local pickup options and then realized that he might also be listing it on Craigslist.  Sure enough, it was on Craigslist too, and we were able to arrange the sale.  Best part about buying locally was that I was able to connect with another fellow collector.

Ok, let’s take a look at this fantastic store display unit!

If you’re a stickler for details, I believe these units originally had white controllers.  However, I think it looks great with the translucent ones.

Dreamcast Kiosk Dreamcast Kiosk (2)

The gaming unit sits on the top of a custom base that interlocks with the main unit by a series of metal tabs and a machine screw.  It’s no big deal that this screw was missing as I easily found an appropriate screw in our workshop.

Dreamcast Kiosk Base Stand (1) Dreamcast Kiosk Base Stand (9) Dreamcast Kiosk Base Stand (8) Dreamcast Kiosk Base Stand (7) Dreamcast Kiosk Base Stand (5) Dreamcast Kiosk Base Stand (4) Dreamcast Kiosk Base Stand (3) Dreamcast Kiosk Base Stand (2)

You can see how the metal tabs on the top of the stand slide into the base of the top unit.

Dreamcast Kiosk Base Stand Locking Connection (1) Dreamcast Kiosk Base Stand Locking Connection (2)

I removed the back of the kiosk to take a look inside and to clean it up.

Dreamcast Kiosk Back Shell (5) Dreamcast Kiosk Back Shell (4) Dreamcast Kiosk Back Shell (3) Dreamcast Kiosk Back Shell (2)

What’s surprising is that inside the unit is a standard Samsung TXH1370 CRT TV.  For a VGA-capable system, it seems like the kiosk should have been designed to included a computer monitor or a nicer TV to show off the insane graphic potential of this system.  The system plugs directly into the TV with just the standard composite video cable and mono sound.  The unit doesn’t seem to feature an external power switch.  Instead, you simply power on the kiosk by plugging in its 4-receptacle power strip / surge protector.  Each receptacle is used for the following: Dreamcast console, TV, left fan, right fan.

Dreamcast Kiosk Back TV (4) Dreamcast Kiosk Back TV (3) Dreamcast Kiosk Back TV (2) Dreamcast Kiosk Back TV (1) Dreamcast Kiosk Back Power Strip

The Dreamcast system is accessible through a removable plexiglass door on the front of the system (see below for more info).  The base of the compartment is recessed for controller cable routing and for the machine screw that interconnects the top unit to the stand.  The TV’s controls are hidden by a plastic flap.

Dreamcast Kiosk Compartment (2) Dreamcast Kiosk Compartment (3) Dreamcast Kiosk Compartment (4) Dreamcast Kiosk Compartment TV Controls

The system itself sits on a metal tray which raises the system up about a half an inch from the compartment floor.  This helps to nicely hide the cords and keeps the system firmly in place.  There is still plenty of room in the compartment for switching out games.

Dreamcast Kiosk Compartment Console Tray (1) Dreamcast Kiosk Compartment Console Tray (2) Dreamcast Kiosk Compartment Console Tray (4) Dreamcast Kiosk Compartment Console Tray (3) Dreamcast Kiosk Compartment Console Tray (5) Dreamcast Kiosk Compartment Console Tray (6) Dreamcast Kiosk Compartment Console Tray (7)

The Dreamcast kiosk is notorious for super loud exhaust fans.  I pulled out one of the fans to clean it, and due to age the plastic was brittle enough that it cracked.  It sounds like I have a great excuse to put in a quieter fan!  Just for reference, the original fan is a Comair Rotron Sprite Model SU2A5 and is 115 volts requiring AC power.

Dreamcast Kiosk Fans (2) Dreamcast Kiosk Fans (1) Dreamcast Kiosk Dreamcast Kiosk Fan Replacement (5)  Dreamcast Kiosk Fan Replacement (4) Dreamcast Kiosk Fan Replacement (3) Dreamcast Kiosk Fan Replacement (2)

Unfortunately, the kiosk didn’t come with the original plexiglass door.  Instead, mine came with a piece of hand-cut, flat acrylic.  I was curious what the original piece looked like, and the seller was able to show me one instantly.  Funny enough, he actually had two Dreamcast kiosks at the time!  Collectors are the best sort of nuts!  I photographed the original door in comparison to my replacement piece.  If you happen to have one of these for sale, please let me know.

Dreamcast Kiosk Plexiglass Door (5) Dreamcast Kiosk Plexiglass Door (4) Dreamcast Kiosk Plexiglass Door (3) Dreamcast Kiosk Plexiglass Door (1)

Regret is a powerful motivator for collectors.  After six years of kicking myself about “the one that got away,” my eyes have happy Dreamcast swirls as I gaze on my kiosk.

In case it isn’t already 100% clear, I love retro gaming advertising and display items!   If you or a friend have an old kiosk, promo sign, poster, etc, please let me know.  I’d love to take a look at it and to chat with you about it.

Happy retro gaming!

Gaming at the 2013 San Diego Fair

San Diego Fair Sign Custom (1)Game On Gaming Area (13)Star Trek Captain Kirk's Chair Tribble

If you live in the San Diego area and love gaming, today is the last day to Game On at the San Diego Fair!  Besides all the rides, great food, pig races, and other goofy fair stuff, this year’s theme was perfect for us electronically minded folks.

Our favorite part?

Collections!  Little did we know that the Fair allows people to display their collections.

Hand-made Items!  Created by adults and students, we were blown away by the talent and creativity of these gaming-inspired creations.

Retro Arcade!  Let’s be honest, shouldn’t every fair have a retro arcade?

 

Shrinking a Neo Geo MVS into the Omega Entertainment Machine

Every kid dreams…

Some kids dream about arcades…

Some kids named Quan dream about shrinking arcades and putting them in their backpacks!

Neo Geo Omega Entertainment Machine (27)While I may have been awestruck by the Neo Geo MVS as a kid, Quan at ArcadeWorks.net took his dream to an entirely different level. He’s one of those nutty, mad-scientist guys who loves to do things to old arcade machines that even their own creators couldn’t have imagined. Plenty of guys consolize arcade machines.  The Neo Geo MVS is a pretty popular consolization project.  However, Quan did something that no one else has been nuts enough to do.  While the one ring was being forged in the depths of Mount Doom by his elven buddies, Quan was using a bit of lava, magic, and that childhood dream to forge his own “precious.”

Creating a 100% custom casing, Quan painstakingly designed his dream casing.  Additionally, he invested a boatload of cash (we’re talking many thousands of dollars) into setting up a custom mold and into the first production run.  The creation was his Omega Entertainment Machine, and boy is she pretty!

Why consolize an arcade machine?

Neo Geo Omega Entertainment Machine (19)Back in the day, if you were interested in the Neo Geo, you basically had two options.  If you were the average kid, you’d look for that cherry red Neo Geo MVS cabinet at your local arcade, and you’d pump quarters into it until your pockets were dry.  And, afterwards, we’d head home to our NES or Sega Genesis and dream of being rich.  Because, we knew if we were rich enough, we’d have enough money to buy the incredibly expensive Neo Geo AES home system.  It did something unheard of.  The Neo Geo AES played the exact same games as the MVS although it had a slightly different cartridge shape.  Even now, the Neo Geo AES is one of the most expensive gaming systems to collect.  AES cartridges are just terribly pricey.  Yet, with arcades closing down all over, the MVS cartridge counterpart always seems to be cheaper by a landslide.  Bummer is, most people can’t fit an entire Neo Geo MVS arcade machine in their apartment, condo, etc.  That’s why a consolized MVS is so brilliant.  It’s the size of the AES but plays the cheaper MVS games.  It’s the best of both worlds.

Geek or Artist?

People get pretty creative consolizing an MVS.  It’s where geeks get to shine.  It always starts the same.  There are some pretty minimalistic designs in which you basically have a franken-system that works but looks about as good as, well, Frankenstein.  Then, there are people who create gorgeous woodworking to fit around that ugliness to create a better presentation. Finally, there are people who modify existing plastic casings or make their own.  Quan seems to blow this third category out of the water with the Omega. If you haven’t already, check out my hands-on video taking a look at this Neo Geo marvel…

Neo Geo Omega Entertainment Machine (1)
AES and Omega Side By Side

Appearance:  Its shape, size, color, and even the texture of the plastic closely match that of the Neo Geo AES.  If you saw this hooked up to your buddy’s TV, you might do a double take before you realize it’s a consolized MVS.

Graphics:  As if the magic of putting a Neo Geo on your home’s TV isn’t enough, the Omega’s graphical output looks beautiful!  (See the video above for footage.)  The colors are rich, and the picture is clear and super clean.  I just hooked it up with the s-video cable, and I was amazed at how great everything looked.

Neo Geo Omega Entertainment Machine (9)
Simple Setup and Switch

Setup:  Setting up this system was as easy as plugging in any other home console I have.  It came with an AV cable and a standard power cable (the same type that you have on the back of your desktop computer).  The power switch is located on the back.  That’s about it: simple.

Sound:   I piped the sound through my TV and out my receiver, and was absolutely pleased.  Quan explained to me that he uses the MV-1C PCB, which doesn’t natively have stereo sound.  He mods it to make sure that the final product does.

Neo Geo Omega Entertainment Machine (23)
Compatible with AES Joysticks

Compatibility:  I tested it out with several of my MVS games, specifically Blazing Star, Metal Slug, and Metal Slug 2.  Each looked and worked great.  I used both my full sized AES joystick and my Neo Geo CD controller, and both worked perfectly.  Remember that this system doesn’t come with a controller, so make sure you have one of those two options.

Software:  The Omega came with the Unibios software installed.  If you haven’t already heard about this, check it out!  It has a ton of options including the ability to soft reset from your controller, switch regions, use built in cheat codes, and a ton of other stuff.  This is how the Omega is able to boot into freeplay mode to look like a home system rather than an arcade machine.

Price: It costs $499.00 USD.  Ok, at first glance, this is a big number.  Right now I’d price the AES or an MVS into the $350-500 range depending on what each comes with.  So really, they’re all in the same ballpark.  If you’re trying to decide between an AES and an Omega, I’d say that the cost savings of MVS carts solves that one.  And if you’ve though about throwing cash at the Neo Geo X that recently came on the market, here’s a way better use of that cash.

Weaknesses:  I’ve fallen so in love with the Omega that it almost feels wrong to raise any criticism, and in all honesty my suggestions for its improvement are little details.  Unfortunately, the MV-1C PCB doesn’t come with the option for a memory card, which is why there isn’t a slot for one on the system.  I’m guessing some fancy modding would make this possible, but it would also obviously drive up the price quite a bit.  Last, when I tried out the component cables, I couldn’t get it to work with my HD LCD TV. Quan explained that some modern TVs have trouble displaying 240p over component, the native resolution of cart systems in that era including SNES and Genesis. However, it looks amazing when hooked up to a CRT TV, which he was able to demonstrate for me.

Final Impression

There’s a Neo Geo MVS in my living room.  It’s called the Omega Entertainment Machine, and it’s beautiful.  Plus I didn’t even have to wrestle Gollum for it!  If you love the Neo Geo and have ever thought about buying a consolized system, this one knocks it out of the park.  I’m impressed by Quan’s dedication to the Neo Geo can’t wait to see what project he comes up with next!

(As a note, Quan’s presently having ArcadeWorks.net redesigned.  If the site looks like it’s presently under construction, that’s because it is.)

 

 

Replacing N64 Expansion Covers

wheelbarrow-gnome-400pxWe all know about the gnome who steals socks out of our laundry.  But have you heard about his pixel-hungry buddy who steals battery covers off of Game Boys?  How about his neighbor who snatches expansion covers off of old N64 systems?

pikachu-N64-system

Time to fight back!

We’ll be carrying several colors of replacement expansion covers for the Nintendo 64.  Yup, we’ll be keeping the retro gaming world dust free by carrying the original Gray, Jungle Green, Pikachu Blue, and Atomic Purple versions of these little missing lids.  If these do well, we’ll be happy to get more colors produced in time.

Nintendo-64-System-Jungle-Green

Ok, so here’s the funny part.  Nintendo made an Atomic Purple N64 set, right?  What color was it?  Wait….think about it…hmmm.

Hmmm…so it really wasn’t a purple system.  But it did come with a sweet Atomic Purple controller that kicked off the numerous “funtastic” variants that Nintendo released in controllers and systems.

Atomic Purple expansion covers, really?  Yup.  Why? Because yellow would have been silly.  Seriously though, we figure these will give people a great opportunity to continue the custom mix-and-match process of customizing their N64.  We all did it with controllers as a kid.  Why not the system?  Would the system in the box below look better with an Atomic Purple expansion lid?  Would that same lid also look sweet on a colored system?  If you answered yes to either of these questions, you understand.  If not, gray is definitely available too. Modders, here’s one more color to toy around with.

N64-Atomic-Purple-System

 

 

 

 

 

People were asking how closely the colors match the originals, so we figured we’d give you a better look.

Happy retro gaming!

 

MeatBun’s Love for the Neo Geo AES

Compared to the Neo Geo MVS arcade machine, my beloved childhood Nintendo seemed like an ant among giants. In the small Michigan town where I grew up, the only arcade in town was at the local roller rink. I was simply in awe of the MVS, and perhaps even more perplexed by the idea that some kid, in a galaxy quantum leaps away, could have a home version of the Neo Geo.

At the recent 2012 San Diego Comic-Con, I was delighted to meet Jason Rau! Not only does meatbun.us create fantastic retro gaming themed clothing, but Jason Rau is also one of the few people I’ve met who had a Neo Geo AES as a kid / young adult!

Check out this video if you also dreamed of owning Neo Geo’s home version and if you’d like to learn about the radness that is MeatBun.us. These guys make some pretty stink’n creative retro-gaming-inspired art…that conveniently takes the form of lovely t-shirts.

The Harper Star Wars Collection

Who doesn’t love a good Star Wars collection?!  I recently met Thomas Harper and was able to tour his private collection.  Best part is, unlike many collectors who squirrel their treasures away in closets and boxes, Thomas has dedicated the time and space within his home to display his entire collection.  Plus, he was kind enough to let me photograph it and to answer some questions.

 

VGM:  You have a ton of great Vader stuff!  Why Darth Vader?

Thomas:  I always liked the villains as a kid.  Seeing Vader just come into battle was awesome…seriously bad ass!  I’ve got a bunch of Boba Fett stuff for pretty much the same reason.

 

VGM:  I have to hand it to you for getting your collection displayed.  You must move a lot for the military.  That can’t be easy for a collector, is it?

Thomas:  Setting it all up is a ton of work, and the small stuff is absolutely maddening.  It’s so hard to find a place for everything.

 

VGM:  How’d you get into collecting Star Wars stuff?

Thomas:  My dad was a comic book art collector.  He definitely helped get me into it.

 

VGM: With most of your toys being from the 90s, have you ever thought about collecting the older ones as well?

Thomas:  I get asked all the time, why don’t you do the vintage stuff?  It’s a cost thing.  If I got into that, the cost would go way up.

 

VGM:  What are you collecting now?

Thomas: I’ve hit the end of most of my figure collection. Now I’m going for autographs. They’re all personalized to me, so I know that they’re not worth much.  It’s great to go to a convention and get autographs. It feels like a good accomplishment, and it’s easy to take back.  At one convention I forgot that I had to mail out a big item, took a taxi and got to UPS a second before it closed. I spent $40 shipping the figure, and that’s about what I paid for it.  I think it was a Micro Machines Death Star in Fort Wayne. It was nuts, I had to take a cab, mail the package, and catch a flight in less 2 hours.

 

VGM:  While getting autographs, who was your favorite person to meet?

Thomas:  I was just about to deploy to Iraq, and I got to talk to Mark Hammel. I mentioned that I was going to Iraq, and he said something like, “I’m glad you’re not going to Afghanistan–where the empire goes to die.”  When I mentioned the Iraq deployment to a tipsy Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian), Lando replied in a slurred but concerned tone, “That’s terrible man. That’s terrible.”

 

VGM:  How does collecting Star Wars work out for you in dating?  Has that ever worked in your favor?

Thomas:  At this point, I’ve realized that I just need to put it out there. If she’s not going to be ok with it, then it’s not going to work out anyway.

VGM:  From one collector to another, I’m with you on that one.

 

VGM:  Lots of collectors collect all sorts of items.  Do you collect anything besides Star Wars?

Thomas:  I’ve been thinking about collecting NES stuff.

VGM:  Good man…  Incredible Star Wars collection!  Thanks so much for the tour!  Oh yeah, and if your rancor goes missing, I swear it wasn’t me.

Have any followup questions or comments for Thomas Harper?  Feel free to leave one below in the comments section.  In the meantime, feast your eyes on these pretties…

The Glory of the Neo Geo MVS Arcade!

Growing up in small-town America, the local roller rink was a kid’s dream. Not only could we roller skate to Ghost Busters and fall dead to a weird “Dead Bug” song, but it was the only place in town with an arcade.

The Neo Geo Romance Begins

In an era dominated by the beloved NES, arcade machines stood tall and maintained command of our curiosity and our quarters. Within the dazzling array of arcade machines, the Neo Geo created a lasting impression on me as a 10 year-old. Not only could this machine produce deeply rich visuals, but it provided fantastic, engaging game play!  Just as incredible as the Neo Geo was, we kids were equally intrigued by the idea that some rich kid could own a home version. Yet with a price tag of around $650.00, we kids simply placed the Neo Geo into the ethereal category of unattainable gaming systems.  Naturally, that made us all the more attracted to it. It was the holy grail, and the closest we’d ever come to owning a Neo Geo would be to plunk in our quarters and to buy a few minutes of time in front of our local Neo Geo MVS arcade machine.

Some twenty years later, with that same childhood dream still smoldering in the subconscious, I decided to start looking for a Neo Geo. After doing a bit of research, I realized that the Neo Geo MVS was a bit more reasonable to purchase than the home AES version.  Sure it’s a full sized arcade machine, but price and game selection won out! Armed with my trusty Craigslist app, I checked for Neo Geo items every day for about a six months before pulling the trigger…and I couldn’t be happier!

Apparently this particular MVS had a tough life in east county San Diego.  However, the previous owner Lou took incredible pride in restoring this machine:  painted, new decals, new joystick, buttons, plexiglass, locks, etc.  Heck, he’d even added high-end cup holders to the sides (‘atta boy!). The price was right, and Lou was even cool enough to help set it up once a buddy and I trucked it over.

Moving the Service Panel

One mod that Lou hadn’t finished was the service panel mod.  He had cut a 6″x6″ hole, moved the service panel to the side, and horizontally mounted it. The hole was cut quite well actually, so the door he recommended I order worked quite nicely.

Due to the depth of the door, I had to flip the panel’s mounting bracket inside out and mount it vertically so that it wouldn’t hit the door.  Aside from my questionable paint job, it came out quite nicely…so pretty.

Lessons Learned

1) I seriously need to work on my painting skills.

2) Having purchased and collected countless retro gaming items and having experienced the onset of buyer’s remorse more than a few times, I have to say that my MVS has become a favorite purchase and a solid continued sense of entertainment!

3)  If you buy an MVS, introduce your wife or significant other to Puzzle Bobble.  It turns out my wife both loves this game and is able to consistently destroy me in it.  As they say, happy wife…happy life…and happy collecting! 🙂