Either someone put a flux capacitor into my Honda Accord, or a group of collectors in Southern California just gathered for some serious retro gaming. My wife Amber and I just attend our first SC3 meeting. For those of you who are new to the Southern California Classic Collectors group like me, let me fill you in. A bunch of private collectors bring together a fantastic, and I mean freak’n fantastic, assortment of their retro arcade machines and home consoles. For $10 each, Amber and I had unlimited playtime on machines like Zoo Keeper, Cosmic Chasm, Jungle King, Paperboy, Tron, Satan’s Hollow, Gorf, Burger Time…and the list goes on!
Our favorites were easily Warlords and Turkey Shoot! I’d love to meet the guy who invented Turkey Shoot. If you’re unfamiliar with it, here’s the deal. Turkeys are robbing banks, and you have to shoot them before they get sacks of money off the screen. Naturally, you get hand grenades and, yes, a “gobble” button. If that wasn’t great enough, after you die, a fan blows real feathers in front of the screen. Yup, awesome.
Warlords was pretty great too. I’m a big fan of Rampart and would simply describe Warlords and a fast-paced mix of Rampart and 4-player Pong. This seemed to be one of the most popular and socially interactive machines on the floor! Great machine!
We had a little sale table at the event. It was great to sell some video game repair tools and to chat with other collectors. However, I was happy to know that people at SC3 function on an honor system with buying and trading. That meant we didn’t have to camp out at our table and spent a majority of our time out on the arcade floor!
Mike Kennedy of GameGavel.com did a pretty great raffel in which every ticket holder got a prize. Well done Mike!
SC3 was a hit, and we’re already looking forward to the next one!
Game Cleaning Secrets Compared: Get Those Old Video Game Cartridges Working!
Perhaps you’re a retro video game hunter and collector. You find super rare game and get home only to find that game contains 20 years of dirt and corrosion on the contacts. Or maybe you’ve just realized that blowing in your NES carts doesn’t help but only makes you feel better…
While treasure hunting at one of my favorite pawn shops, I was talking with the owner who explained to me that for the past twenty years he’s been trading kids their dirty games for his cleaned ones. This guide covers some of the wisdom he shared with me and some other game cleaning tricks I’ve learned along the way. As always, proceed at your own risk and do your research and safe testing before trying to clean your rarer games.
First off, it’s handy to be able to open the games. This generally isn’t 100% necessary, but it’s insanely helpful for those stubborn games. Additionally, it’s quite useful if you ever want to change your video game’s battery in order to regain saved game functionality. There are two main bits that you’ll want to pick up if you’re a collector. Both of these bits fit into your standard screwdriver handle. Additionally, both game opening security bits can be purchased at our eBay store.
3.8mm Game Security Bit allows you to open your Original 8-bit NES, SNES, and N64 video game cartridges. If’ you’re an old school Nintendo game collector like me, this is a must have.
4.5mm Game Security Bit allows you to open your Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, and Game Cube consoles. Additionally, it’ll allow you to open your Sega console and Sega Genesis & Mega Drive game cartridges.
WET CLEANING METHODS
Whether or not you decide to open your games, you’re going to have two best friends. The first is a good brand of Q-tips. I personally will only use name brand Q-tips, because every cheap brand I’ve tried have too weak of necks. With any of these cleaners, I lightly moisten a Q-tip and, being careful to make sure the cleaner doesn’t run onto the circuit board, I give the game’s contacts a good scrubbing. Using the dry end of the Q-tip, I dry the contacts and repeat this process a couple times until I’m happy with the cleanliness of the contacts.
I’ve ranked mine cleaning solutions based on personal preference. (Remember to read the safety precautions on any cleaner before using it.)
My 1st Favorite: WD-40 Let’s face it, what can’t WD-40 do?! I love this stuff. I spray a little into the cap of the WD-40 can, lightly moisten a Q-tip, rub the contacts, and magic happens. Using this method, I’ve been able to clean all but a few of the most stubborn video game cartridges.
My 2nd Favorite: Electrical Contact Cleaner You’ve probably walked past it a hundred times without noticing it at your local Radio Shack or other electronic store. It turns out this is some pretty good stuff. Like WD-40 it’s quite effective at cleaning contacts. Unfortunately, I found the brand I bought to have stronger fumes, so my preference is for the WD-40.
My 3rd Favorite: Rubbing Alcohol If you didn’t know already, Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol is magic for taking marker off the plastic of video game cartridges. Be careful though, because it’ll take the ink off your label just as effectively. Just like the previous two cleaners, I’ve commonly used rubbing alcohol to clean the contacts of video games. I haven’t found it to be quite as effective as WD-40, but it does a pretty good job. Plus it’s cheap and probably already in your medicine cabinet.
My 4th Favorite: Copper/Brass Cleaner Now and then you’ll see people on eBay advertise their games as “polished.” Often, they say they have a “secret” method. Chances are it’s simply their favorite brand of brass or copper polish. The stuff does a fantastic job cleaning game contacts, but generally you’ll have to open the game to use this method. Thus, it’s quite a bit more labor intensive than other methods.
My 5th Favorite: Windex Some would argue that the Ammonia in Windex or other Window cleaners can damage your video games, so I’d stick with the other cleaners first. However, I believe Windex is magic for cleaning the outside of video games. Again, be careful around the label as it can remove ink. It seems to do an ok job of cleaning contacts.
DRY CLEANING METHODS
Naturally, using a dry cleaning method is a bit safer. Overall, I find it less effective though, unless I’m opening a game to manually scrape corrosion off of the game’s contacts.
Eraser: Another fellow retro gamer suggested using a Staedtler Mars Plastic Erasers. He’s had great success cleaning games with these, and they post a fairly low risk of harming your games. Great suggestion Rudy!
Metal on Metal Scraping: After opening the game, (This is where that 3.8 mm or 4.5 mm bit comes in.) I gently scrape stubborn corrosion off of the game’s contacts. My favorite way to do this is with the edge of my 3.8mm bit itself as it’s already in my hand. Otherwise, I’ve used the edge of a key, a paperclip, etc. Just be careful not to damage the contact itself.
Dry Q-tip: Simply rubbing a dry Q-tip over the game’s contacts is a quick and easy want to get off a lot of the grit and grime. Often this can be done without even opening the game.
Emery Board: Yes guys, men and women can benefit from a manicurist’s emery board. As it’s essentially sandpaper on a stick, when used gently, it can be used to remove stubborn corrosion.
Fiberglass Pen: A fellow collector friend of mine swears by fiberglass pens. He opens the game and cleans it without ever needing to use a solvent. He swears by it since many people use them to clean circuit boards, but it’s a bit too time intensive for my taste.
I hope this guide will give you some ideas for cleaning your cartridge based video game collection. If you have any cleaning tips or suggestions for this guide, just send me a message or post a comment below, and I’ll be happy to add them.
Here are the February sales. I’ve also added a new Clearance category to my eBay store. I’ll going to keep repricing and adding older listings to that category, so keep an eye on it if you want a deal. Happy retro gaming & collecting! –Mark
Every time I use eBay to buy a Fixed Price item now, I use Bing.com. It’s simply nuts that they offer this deal. On top of my sales, you can take an additional 8% off using Bing.com (Yeah, that means 10% becomes 18%!). Check out my YouTube walkthrough if you haven’t done this before:
Here are some of my pre-holiday sales that should make some retro gamers happy! Time to do some Christmas shopping! (I’m excited to have pulled together two fully working Sega Genesis 32X systems, so definitely check those out if you’re a Sega fan!)
Every time I use eBay to buy a Fixed Price item now, I use Bing.com. It’s simply nuts that they offer this deal. On top of my sales, you can take an additional 8% off using Bing.com (Yeah, that means 30% becomes 38%!). Check out my YouTube walkthrough if you haven’t done this before:
Everyone knows about the sales offered on current generation video games, but maybe you’re an old-school gamer and are more interested in retro gaming & collecting. Here’s a list of the sales I’ve come across for vintage video games like the original 8-bit Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Atari, etc.:
Here’s a bunch of collectible video game stuff that I’m currently watching on eBay. People have a ton of great stuff listed right now…maybe because the holiday season is coming up or maybe people are just hard up. Either way, it looks like you can find rare video games surfacing for about any vintage system right now. Happy eBaying and collecting!
Video Game Collectibles:
1982 ticket DISNEYs TRON Video Game Tournament +paper
1989 Super Mario Bros 2 Nintendo of America Glass NR
Nintendo Power Lunch Box Super Mario & Zelda From 1989!
Vintage NINTENDO NES Store Display Lighted Sign
Vintage 1982 Tomy Pac-Man Water Game & Box Arcade Video
NINTENDO Nes BUTTON PIN Second Amendment -Custom Design
AVGN KO Boxing Video Game Cover
Dragon’s Lair Dirk Animation Cel Don Bluth video game
ATARI 2600 STAR RAIDERS MOBILE STORE DISPLAY 1982
ATARI 2600 TEMPEST MOBILE STORE DISPLAY 1982
Rare Retro Games, Prototypes, Demo Carts, etc.:
RED DEMONSTRATION Cartridge – Intellivision, VERY RARE!
4-TRIS Intellivision: Philly Classic Version! Complete Limited edition Intellivision homebrew game cart, which is obviously Tetris for the Intellivision!
INTELLIVISION II TEST CARTRIDGE: Service Manual, Sealed
NINTENDO IS DEVELOPMENT WIDEBOY 64 CGB CARTRIDGE DEV
*EXT RARE* ATARI 2600 JAWBREAKER PROTOTYPE??
Atari 2600 Promotional Use Only System ” LOOKS NEW ”
Mondu’s Fight Palace Sega Genesis RARE RELEASE PROTO
Tecmo Super Bowl Sega Genesis PROTOTYPE game proto RARE
Nintendo NES STADIUM EVENTS Game GREAT SHAPE Rare
Nintendo NES Flintstones Surprise At Dinosaur Peak CIB
Super Off Road Sega Genesis Game SAMPLE COPY rare proto
Warsong Sega Genesis Game PROTO RARE war song sample
The Music Machine (for Atari 2600) Insanely rare and sealed!
* RARE Nintendo Star Fox Super Weekend Jacket and Pen *
Nintendo World Championship VIP Guest Sticker 1990 Quite yellowed with age, but an interesting find.
The Simpsons Hit & Run Video Game Promotional Ball Cap Pretty cheap and cool looking. The seller is only asking about $14.00 USD including s/h.
110 in 1 for NES very rare and great games Good ole’ NES multi-carts
You’ve got to see this stuff: eBay seller thethingsifind has an incredible number of auctions up for Nintendo collectibles and promotional items that were given to NES reps. Definitely take a look at these if you’re a Nintendo collector. Here are a few examples:
Nintendo Prototype Transparency Package Sample Rare
Nintendo Employee Coffee Mug Pen Lot Rare Original MINT
Nintendo Store Sign Display LOT Pokemon Banjo Rare MINT