Total Cost to Date (Purchase and Repair/Upkeep) for All Games Currently In My Collection: $11,997.89

One of the questions I'm most frequently asked by people who are unfamiliar with collecting classic arcade machines is "how much do those things cost?" The answer I usually give is "not as much as you think." But recently, I started thinking that I really don't know exactly how much I've spent over the years. So, in the interest of personal accounting--and in the interest of providing information to those who are thinking of getting into this hobby--I've decided to break down exactly how much I've spent on each of my games.

Remember--when determining how much a game actually costs, you have to figure in all of the ancillary things like shipping/transportation, sales tax, auction fees, and restoration parts and materials. I've broken down all of these things in the sections below.

Addams Family
Bump N' Jump
Centaur
Centipede
Classic Arcade
Donkey Kong
Doodle Bug
Dragon's Lair
Family Guy
Food Fight
Joust
Marble Madness
Mario Bros.
NBA Jam
Pengo
Spy Hunter
Star Trek
Tag Team Wrestling
Time Pilot
Venture
The Virtual Pinball Machine
Wizard of Wor
Zip-A-Doo
 

Total Cost to Date: $3093.85

The Addams Family is my first foray into the world of pinball. I won't say it's my "one and only" foray into pinball, because I know how these things go. As you can see by comparing this price to the prices of the video games, newer pinballs (from the early 90s on) cost a great deal more than 80s video games. Of course, I was willing to pay more initially to ensure that the machine I got was in top-notch condition and would remain so. I also know firsthand that Donnie, the person I bought it from, is willing to bend over backward to make sure that the games he sells operate properly. The two additional expenses so far are the line conditioner, which I was forced to buy when I realized that my house has lousy power output, and a new left flipper assembly (the old one was sticking).

Cost Breakdown:
Item
Cost
Initial Game Purchase
$2895
Line Conditioner
$98.95
New Left Flipper Assembly (Complete)
$49.95
New Right Flipper Assembly (Complete)
$49.95

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Total Cost to Date: $525.95

Bump N' Jump has been a pretty good game price-wise up until recently. I bought it on eBay, but I dodged the shipping costs by picking it up myself. It operated without a hitch for a couple of years before things started getting flaky. I eventually bought a switching power supply and a brand spanking new monitor which will hopefully eliminate the problems I've had. Of course, as they say in the real estate market, it's now over improved. I could never get as much money in a sale as I've put into it. Ah, well...

Cost Breakdown:
Item
Cost
Initial Game Purchase
$199
Power supply board and spare main PCB set (12/2003)
$40
Power supply board (2/2004)
$20
Power supply board (2/2004)
$20
New switching power supply and adaptor (1/2005)
$45.95
New monitor (got sick of fixing the old one)
$200

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Total Cost to Date: $1277.28

Centaur was my favorite pinball of the 1980s and, as such, was a prime candidate for addition to my collection. I was lucky enough to find one nearby, so I avoided the shipping costs. That's a good thing, because it's going to need a bit of work to get it into prime condition--and that always means money.

Cost Breakdown:
Item
Cost
Initial Game Purchase
$1050
Replacement 7-digit Score Display
$29.50
Sound Board Repair (with shipping)
$68.50
New Balls (5); Springs and Sleeve for Ball Shooter
$9.35
Novus 1 Plastic Cleaner (Shipped with parts above)
$12.64
New Drop Targets (12)
$53.85
Flipper Coil and Solenoid Expander Board (Shipped)
$53.44

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Total Cost to Date: $194

I got what I feel was a great deal on my Centipede machine. I bought it at an amusement auction in Winston-Salem, NC. Amusement auctions are generally among the cheapest venues for purchasing games--but you have to keep in mind that you pay a buyer's premium and state sales tax on top of the bid price. For Auction Game Sales auctions in North Carolina, that amounts to a whopping 17%. Even so, my machine is a very nice one. The main PCB started flaking out after about a year, so I had to replace that (I also replaced the "big blue" capacitor and blew out the power supply board), but that's all up to this point. (I ended up selling the game to a friend for what I paid for it less the auction premium and sales tax. Had to make room for Family Guy.)

Cost Breakdown:
Item
Cost
Initial Game Purchase
$400
Auction premium and NC state sales tax
$68
Florescent light tube and starter
$6
Speaker
$7
"Big blue" capacitor (with shipping)
$13
Power supply (ARII) board
$0
New main PCB
$125
Sale of old semi-working PCB
-$25
Sale of game (April 4, 2008)
-$400

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Total Cost to Date: $951

Classic Arcade was originally a dedicated, working Double Dragon. I added a board, marquee, and overlay to turn it into an NBA Jam. I eventually changed it to a 9-in-1 multigame, and then changed it again into a 60-in-1 multigame. It's a Frankenstein of a machine and it has cost a lot over the years for all of the modifications, but it's a great space-saver to have so many classic games in a single cabinet.

Cost Breakdown:
Item
Cost
Initial Game Purchase
$215
NBA Jam PCB and marquee underlay (with shipping)
$23
CPO materials
$10
New 9-in-1 PCB
$400
New marquee and other decorations for the 9-in-1
$40
New 60-in-1 PCB (Approximate)
$300
Sale of the 9-in-1 PCB (Approximate)
-$150
Joystick for the 60-in-1
$33
Trackball for the 60-in-1 (Approximate)
$80

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Total Cost to Date: $-520

Donkey Kong cost more in sweat equity than in dollars and cents. The cabinet itself started out as a fully-functional Donkey Kong 3. I got the cabinet and a working Donkey Kong PCB as part of a bulk buy from a collector in my area who was moving out of state. My friend and I sold most of the bulk buy items, and each of us kept a game in the deal--I kept DK3 with the intention of converting it to Donkey Kong. After buying all of the restoration materials and selling the leftover DK3 parts, I ended up with a real bargain. (And I sold it for a nice profit!)

Cost Breakdown:
Item
Cost
Initial Game Purchase
$0
Donkey Kong PCB
$0
Restoration kit (marquee, bezel, side art, instruction stickers)
$160
"Insert Coin" sticker
$5
Control Panel
$30
Light Fixture
$15
Paint
$30
Florescent Tube (with shipping)
$8
Starter (with shipping)
$7
Sale of Donkey Kong 3 parts (marquee, bezel, PCB, control panel)
-$100
Sale of game (February 14, 2005)
-$675

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Total Cost to Date: $250

Dragon's Lair isn't a game I would normally have bought--they're too expensive. But when my friend Mike wanted to get rid of his and was willing to take what he had in it money-wise as a purchase price, I couldn't resist.

Cost Breakdown:
Item
Cost
Initial Game Purchase
$250

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Total Cost to Date: -$445.50

Family Guy was a birthday present from Meghan--a pretty extravagant one to be sure. I had wanted the game for a while, but didn't want to pay the premium for a brand new one. My machine is almost brand new, though--less than 500 plays and home-use only (HUO). I bought it from Donnie Barnes, the guy who sold me my Addams Family machine. It's from his own private collection and he gave me a good deal. (A new one would have cost me about $4200.)

Cost Breakdown:
Item
Cost
Initial Game Purchase
$3450.50
Sale Price
$3900

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Total Cost to Date: $451

Although I always wanted an upright Food Fight, I'm never one to pass up a good deal. At any rate, the cocktail version fits perfectly in my all-too-limited space. Plus (knock wood), I only had to buy a few parts to get it back in almost full working order. (The monitor could still use a good capping, but other than that...(knock wood again) it's working fine so far.

Cost Breakdown:
Item
Cost
Initial Game Purchase
$340
Joystick Centering Bellows (2)
$11
Coin Door Parts
$30
New Monitor
$70

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Total Cost to Date: $651.25

Joust was another amusement auction purchase. I got caught up in the bidding (happens to the best of us), and paid a little more than I really wanted to pay (especially since I hadn't seen the thing working aside from an error message). The error message turned out to be a battery problem, and a $5 (plus shipping) battery kit fixed that. The machine cleaned up nice, and it has been good about not costing me extra money so far...

Cost Breakdown:
Item
Cost
Initial Game Purchase
$525
Auction fee and NC state sales tax
$89.25
Florescent light tube and starter
$6
Battery kit (with shipping)
$11
New controller board
$20

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Total Cost to Date: $612

The absolute best way to purchase a classic arcade game is to buy it from another hobbyist's collection--the price is usually right, and you can be fairly certain that the game has been lovingly cared for. And, if the collector is local, shipping is free! Marble Madness is such a game. It was in great condition and, although I have had a couple of chips blow out (more than once) the maintenence has been pretty cheap so far.

Cost Breakdown:
Item
Cost
Initial Game Purchase
$600
Florescent light tube and starter
$6
LETA chip (custom Atari chip--I traded some parts for this)
$0
Additional chips (available commercially today)
$6

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Total Cost to Date: $273.88

This is another restoration project. A working Mario Bros. in decent condition runs about $300 to $400, so it looks as if I'll end up paying as much to build this game as I would to buy one--but what the heck, it's fun. I got the cabinet (a shopworn Super Mario Bros.) from a friend for next to nothing, and got the parts I needed to convert it to Mario Bros. from various sources. The conversion kit I bought has a PCB, marquee, bezel, control panel, and board cage as well as a harness. I'll sell back what I don't need, so this price isn't semi-final yet--not until the game is up and running. (And of course, no game price is ever final, as you can see on this page!)

Cost Breakdown:
Item
Cost
Initial Game Purchase
$25
Main PCB set (with free play/high score kit)
$85
Marquee and Bezel (with shipping)
$60
Side Art (with shipping)
$68
Control Panel (with shipping)
$20
T-Molding (with shipping)
$11
Paint
$8
Cap kit for monitor (with shipping)
$12
Parts for harness conversion (with shipping)
$27
Conversion Kit (lots of parts I already had plus a harness, including shipping)
$162
Florescent Tube (with shipping)
$8
Starter (with shipping)
$7
Loose change found in the cabinet
-$18.80
Sale of extra PCB and card cage
-$75
Sale of Super Mario Bros. PCB
-$38.33
Sale of Super Mario Bros. control panel
-$17
Sale of extra Mario Bros. control panel
-$9.99
Sale of extra bezel and marquee
-$60

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Total Cost to Date: $83.11

NBA Jam could is my cheapest game to date. With a super-low, bargain-basement purchase price and (from initial estimates) a very low parts cost to get it working, this game was an enviable bargain. (Knock wood.) Let's hope it's not just a money pit waiting to happen.

Cost Breakdown:
Item
Cost
Initial Game Purchase
$35
Change-in-the-bottom-of-the-machine "Rebate"
-$2.54
15-Amp Switching Power Supply
$25
Orange Micro-Switch Push Button
$2
Cap Kit (Shipped)
$15
Filter Capacitor (Shipped)
$8.65

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Total Cost to Date: $529

Pengo was one of the two games I purchased on eBay and had shipped to me. (The other game was Space Wars, which I no longer own.) Shipping arcade games across the country is no treat price-wise, and I try to avoid it whenever possible. However, since I love Pengo, I made an exception in this case. So far, all I've had to do to this game is the usual marquee work (bulb and starter), replace the joystick, and replace a blown fuse. (Hopefully my luck will continue--I'd hate for Pengo to hit the disabled list.)

Cost Breakdown:
Item
Cost
Initial Game Purchase
$325
Shipping (to the local airport using Forward Air)
$185
Fluorescent light tube and starter
$6
Joystick
$12
Fuse
$1

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Total Cost to Date: $903.75

Here's a great example of how a bargain can turn into a money pit. Now, don't get me wrong--I love my Spy Hunter! But, wow! I've spent so much keeping this game up and running. With auction fees and tax (which was only 6.5% at the time) and my half of the truck rental that day, the initial grand total was a mere $224.75--a bargain for such a great game, especially since it was working almost all the way (no music and the typical dead marquee light problems). But look at the list of repairs! Granted, I didn't need the side art or the new marquee (the original had a rip in it). Even so, I've put far more into this game that I could ever get back if I were to decide to sell it some day.

Cost Breakdown:
Item
Cost
Initial Game Purchase
$150
Auction fees and NC state sales tax
$24.75
Truck rental and gas (amortized with Time Pilot)
$50
Marquee
$30
Side art
$100
Monitor (used, with shipping)
$120
Cheap Squeak Deluxe (music) board
$40
Main PCB set (with shipping)
$100
Switching Power Supply Kit (with shipping)
$81
Spring for steering wheel
$2
Fluorescent tube and starter
$6
Brand spanking new monitor (like Bump 'N Jump, I got sick of dealing with used ones)
$200

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Total Cost to Date: $540

Star Trek has been an on-again, off-again game from day one. (Actually, day 3). After buying it from a friend for $500, the monitor died. He refunded half my money, and the game sat for a while. The monitor came back intermittently, but definitely had problems. I got another untested monitor on eBay, but it ended up being dead on arrival. Finally, after years of this, I found someone online that was willing to repair a monitor for me in exchange for the dead monitor from eBay. I jumped at the chance, spent the money to ship the monitors, and today the game is mostly working. (The sound is out at the moment...I don't know what's up with that.)

Cost Breakdown:
Item
Cost
Initial Game Purchase
$500
Refund when the monitor died
-$250
Used monitor from eBay (non-working, with shipping)
$120
Shipping of two monitors for repair, plus return shipping of one
$170

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Total Cost to Date: $128

This is another "buy from eBay, pick up to save shipping" game. The person I bought Tag Team Wrestling from was kind enough to deliver it free of charge to the Winston Salem auction, and I brought it home along with my Joust machine. All I've done to it so far is replace the main PCB (which was dirt cheap--this isn't a very collectible game), replace the joystick, and fix the marquee light. It needs some sort of monitor work (there's no red in the monitor), but it's fine otherwise at the moment (again, knock wood). This was my least expensive game until I bought NBA Jam.

Cost Breakdown:
Item
Cost
Initial Game Purchase
$75
New main PCB (with shipping)
$15
Joystick
$12
Fluorescent light tube and starter
$6
Another new main PCB (with shipping)
$20

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Total Cost to Date: $187.85

I picked up Time Pilot at the same auction where I purchased Spy Hunter. Overall, this game has been very good to me--only the normal light fixture woes, plus a joystick and a marquee (the original marquee was peeling badly and looked awful after I got the marquee light working). This game has always had intermittent problems with losing red on the monitor, but otherwise it has been quite solid (knock wood yet again).

Cost Breakdown:
Item
Cost
Initial Game Purchase
$90
Auction fees and NC state sales tax
$14.85
Truck rental and gas (amortized with Spy Hunter)
$50
New marquee (with shipping)
$15
Joystick
$12
Fluorescent light tube and starter
$6

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Total Cost to Date: $178.25

I picked up Venture at a restaurant equipment auction. I never could keep the thing working...probably a power supply problem. I eventually sold it to a local collector for a good deal less than I had put into it.

Cost Breakdown:
Item
Cost
Initial Game Purchase
$225
Auction fees and NC state sales tax
$38.25
Joystick
$15
Replacement Boards (Approximate)
$50
Sale of Game (2005)
-$150

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The Virtual Pinball Machine

Total Cost to Date: $1614.23

This was, by far, the most audacious arcade project I've ever undertaken. I wanted to keep the price at around $1000, but it didn't work out. Still, the virtual pinball machine turned out to be a lot cheaper than most real pinball machines.

Cost Breakdown:
Item
Cost
Cabinet
$24.13
Monitors
$438.63
PC
$702.48
Controls
$170.40
Wiring/Electrical
$52.60
Cabinet Hardware (Wood, Paint, etc.)
$225.99

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Total Cost to Date: $330

I purchased Wizard of Wor from a collector in Virginia who saw my wanted list here on the site. It's a project machine that is in an ongoing state of restoration. Pretty cheap so far, but we'll see how long that lasts...

Cost Breakdown:
Item
Cost
Initial Game Purchase
$75
Bezel (shipped)
$40
Marquee (shipped)
$25
Monitor
$110
RGB Interface Board (shipped)
$40
Power Supply (shipped)
$40

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Total Cost to Date: $0

Zip-a-Doo was part of a two-game purchase (along with Doodle Bug). So far, the exceedingly low purchase price is the only money I've put into it! Sold on March 17, 2013.

Cost Breakdown:
Item
Cost
Initial Game Purchase
$275
Sale Price
$275

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