Posts Tagged ‘arcade game’

Weirs Beach New Hampshire

Neon sign in Weirs Beach, New Hampshire, home to Funspot, the world’s largest arcade. Photo © Tricia Vita

A recent trip to New Hampshire took us to Weirs Beach, a summer resort on Lake Winnepesaukee that is also home to Funspot, named “The World’s Largest Arcade” by Guinness World Records. The indoor fun mecca was founded more than 60 years ago by Bob Lawton, who at 84 years young still runs the place, which is open year-round.

While kids rode coin-op carousel horses and pint-sized bumper cars and families bowled and played the Famous Landmarks of New Hampshire-themed mini-golf in the 75,000 square-foot fun center, we trooped upstairs to meet Hercules, the World’s Largest Pinball Machine. Manufactured by Atari in 1970, the giant size machine uses a cue ball as a pinball and dwarfs its neighbor, a 1938 Genco Stop & Go.

Hercules, Largest Pinball in the World

Hercules, ‘Largest Pinball in the World,’ at Funspot. Manufactured by Atari in 1970. Photo © Tricia Vita

Hercules is stationed at the entrance to the American Classic Arcade Museum (ACAM), which museum curator Gary Vincent describes as “like stepping into the Wayback Machine.” ACAM has over 200 classic video games as well as a selection of pinball machines, any of which can be played for a few tokens. Four tokens cost $1.00; we splurged on 100 for $20.

“We use 1987 as a cutoff date for video games in the museum,” says Vincent. He notes that when Double Dragon came out, there was a shift in the industry from quirky puzzle-and-fantasy-based games to what he calls “the kick punch shoot games.”

Among the rare video games you can play are Computer Space (1971), the world’s first commercially available coin-operated video game. Developed by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, who would go on to found Atari, th mod looking machine has a fiberglass cabinet with sparkle gel coat. “It actually has a television set in it that has been modified to run with video game hardware, which is typical of video games until about 1974,” Vincent explains.

“Having worked at Funspot since 1981, and having watched the industry go way, way, way up and way, way, way down, I saw an opportunity to save a lot of the older games here by starting a museum,” Vincent says of the nonprofit which was founded in 2002. The fact that 60 video game enthusiasts showed up for the first classic arcade tournament in 1999 convinced him of the need to collect and preserve games and put them out where the public could learn about them and enjoy them again. “It’s really funny to see dad who is about 40 with his 15-year-old kid, saying look, come here, I played this when I was a kid.”

Although Funspot donates the space to the nonprofit museum, the games in the museum don’t make enough money to support themselves. “It’s sad but true, the only money to be made in classic games is selling them on eBay,” notes Vincent. “You don’t make money putting them out where people can play them, seven days a week, 12 hours a day. It’s kind of a labor of lovejust wanting to preserve games so people can come along 10, 15, 20 years from now and be able to play things that they just can’t play anywhere else.”

Sky Jump Grand Slam Pinball Games

Sky Jump and Grand Slam, pinball games from the early 1970s at Funspot’s American Classic Arcade Museum. Photo © Tricia Vita

Among the electro-mechanical pinball games that we got to play were Gottlieb’s 1972 Grand Slam, a baseball game of which only 3,600 were manufactured, Sky Jump (1974) and Devil’s Dare (1982), and Bally’s Mr. and Mrs. Pac Man Pinball (1982). Rare video games include Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator (Sega, 1983), Cloak & Dagger (Atari, 1983), and Death Race (Exidy, 1976). The museum’s 501-c3 status lets it to run weekly bingo games as fundraisers, allowing it to buy more classics, fix them up and put them on the floor. Luminaries from the video game community such as Curt Vendell of the Atari Museum, and Robert Mruczek, the former chief referee of Twin Galaxies, have donated a number of games from their personal collections.

As we were about to leave, it was a great pleasure to meet Funspot’s founder Mr. Lawton. We talked arcades and exchanged business cards. His card entitles the visitor to $20 worth of free tokens and is tucked away in the glove compartment in anticipation of our next trip to New Hampshire.

Classic Pinball

A row of electro-mechanical pinball machines at the American Classic Arcade Museum. Photo © Tricia Vita

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Punch A Bag Arcade Game

Early 20th century carnival midway arcade punch-a-bag game at Urban Country

How strong is your punch? Coney Island Arcade‘s Boxer, a popular punching bag arcade game, can be found throughout Coney Island during the season. The mechanical punching bag, in which players compete for the highest score, dates back to a strength tester introduced at penny arcades more than a century ago. Antique dealer Urban Country is offering this antique Punch-A-Bag arcade game manufactured in the early 1900s by the International Mutoscope Reel Company Inc. of Long Island City.

punch-a-bag game

Detail of early 20th century carnival midway arcade punch-a-bag game at Urban Country

Originally formed to produce Mutoscope machines, which contained “peep show” movies with a viewing time of about a minute, the company went on to produce a variety of coin-op amusement devices.

According to the International Arcade Museum, other machines made by International Mutoscope Corp. during the time period Punch-A-Bag was produced include Uncle Sam, Grandmother’s Predictions, Mystic Mirror fortuneteller, Mutoscope Puncher, and Voice-O-Graph aka Record Your Voice.

punch-a-bag arcade game

Detail of early 20th century carnival midway arcade punch-a-bag game at Urban Country

While the cast iron and wood machine with original paint pictured in these photos is said by Urban Country to be “on hold,” similar models are being offered here and here and here on eBay for $4,800-$5,900 or best offer. All appear to be in need of restoration before you can drop a nickel in the slot and play the game.

arcade punch-a-bag game

Early 20th century carnival midway arcade punch-a-bag game at Urban Country

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Coin-Op Sputnik Game

Coin-Op “Sputnik” Space-Themed Skill Game. Victorian Casino Antique Auction, Oct 13, 2013

Vintage arcade games and coin-op fortunetelling machines are among the collectibles on the auction block this weekend at Victorian Casino Antiques in Las Vegas. Online bidding is already underway for the October 12-13 sale. A number of the items like this very rare Sputnik Journey into Space-themed machine have strong graphic appeal. The arcade game was inspired by Sputnik 1, the first artificial Earth satellite. Launched by the Soviet Union in 1957, the Earth orbiting satellite began the Space Age and triggered the Space Race with the U.S. The countertop game (Lot #1151) was manufactured in the UK in the 1950s by Parker’s Automatic Supplies. It works with a large British penny and approximately 30 coins are included in the lot.

According to a post on the Penny Machines Forum, “Parker’s Automatic Supplies Ltd. were established in Rhyl in 1947 by Solomon Parker in order to supply new machines for the Parker-owned Black Cat Arcade on the promenade. They copied and improved upon existing designs and started to supply machines to other operators on a small scale. Their machines had a good reputation for reliability, had colourful, expressive backflashes and attractive veneered cases.”

The coin-op “Esmeralda” type fortune teller machine (Lot #688) is equipped with an Edison Cylinder Player and in working condition with keys. The manufacturer of this very old, rare machine is unknown. The starting bid is $10,000.


Coin-Op “Esmeralda” Type Fortune Teller Machine. Victorian Casino Antique Auction, Oct 12, 2013


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March 9, 2011: Inexhaustible Cows & Bottomless Cups of Chocolate Milk

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Sand Dunes

Temporary Sand Dunes on Coney Island Beach. February 17, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

In February, we photographed Coney Island’s shifting sand dunes, ruined arcade machines, newly painted ride cars and freshly dipped candy apples. With 28 days till the amusement area’s traditional Palm Sunday opener on March 24th, everyone is busier than usual getting ready as post-Sandy recovery continues in the People’s Playground.

Sand Dunes

Coney Island Beach: Sand Dunes, 21st Street. February 22, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The temporary sand dunes of West 15th Street have been sifted and trucked back to the beach. During SuperStorm Sandy, Coney Island’s beach lost two to three feet of sand. Windblown sand covered the boardwalk and adjacent streets, burying the kiddie rides and parking meters. Back in November, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and contracted crews closed West 15th Street and created temporary sand dunes from the Boardwalk to Wonder Wheel Way.

Willie the Whale Ride

Willie the Whale Cars at Deno’s Kiddie Park, Coney Island. February 22, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

At Deno’s Kiddie Park on the Boardwalk, freshly painted cars from the whimsical Willie the Whale ride are here and there, waiting to return to their circle.

Mangels Pony Carts

Wm F Mangels Pony Carts Being Painted at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. February 22, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The Ponies and Carts from the classic ride manufactured in Coney Island by William F. Mangels are in the workshop getting a fresh coat of paint.

Arcade Machines

Arcade Machines Ruined by Sandy, Coney Island Arcade
Bowery and 12th Street, February 22, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

One of the saddest sights in the amusement area is this graveyard of brand-new arcade machines ruined by water damage from Sandy. With the exception of Skeeball, the electronics of Coney Island’s machines were damaged beyond repair. Coney’s arcades will reopen with new games this season.

Arcade Machines

Arcade Machines Lined up Outdoors at Luna Park. February 17, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Marshmallow-on-a-stick and four kinds of candy apples are available at Williams Candy on Surf Avenue. The candy shop is under renovation but is still open daily year-round.

Candy Apples

Candy Apples and Marshmallow Treats at Williams Candy, Coney Island. February 17, 2013 Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr


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CIA Cobra

Say Hello to the Coney Island Arcade's Cobra! April 2, 2011. 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

You’ve heard of the Bronx Zoo’s Cobra aka Missing In Action, the twitter sensation and New York’s most celebrated snake. Say hello to the Coney Island Arcade Cobra! Though it’s gone unreported till now, Brooklyn has a cobra too and you can safely interact with her because she’s an arcade game. The cobra-themed “Boxer” is the newest model manufactured and distributed under the Coney Island Boxer brand by Coney arcade owner Manny Cohen and his partner Stanley Fox.

Cohen and Fox have already introduced the 300-pound machine to the amusement industry at trade shows from Vegas to China, but last week the game made its debut on Coney Island’s Bowery. You’ll find the Cobra in front of a tiny stand with a handful of other games.

As you can see in the above photo, the sign for the Coney Island Arcade was resurrected. Unfortunately the arcade on 12th Street will not be rising from the ashes of the fire that destroyed it last May. ATZ has learned that the burned ruins of the building, which are a blight on the Bowery, may finally be demolished in the next few months weeks.

The Coney Island Arcade Cobra and Pretty the Cat Hang Out . April 2, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Coney Island Arcade is the name of the arcade that Cohen has operated for more than three decades at 12th Street and the Bowery in the heart of Brooklyn’s world-famous amusement area. Since the fire, he has continued to operate games on the Bowery, but there’s space for only a handful of arcade machines. Alas, the Coney Island Rumor Mill is saying the owner of the building has no plans to rebuild.

What’s more, penalties for “Class 1 – Immediately Hazardous” and “Class 2 – Major” ECB (Environmental Control Board) violations relating to fencing and failure to maintain the building are pending and must be resolved before a demolition permit can proceed. The Coney Island Arcade fire was our number one story of “Amusing the Zillion’s Top 10 Coney Island News Stories of 2010,” ATZ, January 1, 2011.

We’re sad to report that if Cohen is unable to find another location, his 12th Street arcade will join the ranks of Coney’s lost arcades. Among the arcades that have closed due to the redevelopment of the past few years are Astroland’s three arcades and the Fascination arcade in the now-demolished Henderson Building. Coney Island’s last remaining arcades are located in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and the Eldorado on the Bowery.

Cobra Art

Cobra Art. April 2, 2011. 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Nobody was around to feed money to the cobra when we took these photos. She’s hungry! Stop by and play on Coney Island’s opening weekend. The boxer game is a 21st century version of the classic bag-punching machine. The concept is a classic—many manufacturers such as Sega (1960) and Zamperla (1980) have produced similar machines since the heyday of the penny and nickel bag punchers.

“This is a new and better form. We knew it would make money,” Fox told me when I wrote a story about their then-new business for IAAPA’s Funworld Magazine in 2005. “If you get a good score you’ll hear cheering. But if you do poorly, it’ll say something like ‘that was a chicken blow.'”

The Coney Island Arcade Boxer is available in eight languages and features three types of games play, speed measurement, power measurement, tournament mode and high score display. The game is popular at amusement parks, bowling alleys, pool halls, sports bars and nightclubs. Hey, you can even buy one of these babies for your home rec room.

Coney Island Arcade and Games, 30-19 West 12th Street, Coney Island, 718-372-8811

Cat and Cobra


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May 21, 2009: Astroland Closed But Your Kid Can Still Ride the USS Astroland This Summer!

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Target the Coney Island Arcade Cat on Patrol. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Target the Coney Island Arcade Cat on Patrol. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Don’t worry, Manny Cohen and Target the Cat, who operate the world-famous Coney Island Arcade at Bowery and 12th Street in the heart of Coney Island, aren’t going anywhere. They’ll be open for business in 2010. On Saturday, November 28, Coney Island Arcade is making way for new equipment by auctioning old coin-op arcade games, pinball machines and more. The list of items includes Ms Pac Man, Carnevil, Addams Family and Austin Powers Pinball Machines, and Kiddie Ride Horses similar to the one pictured above. You can’t buy this one because Target likes to lounge on the saddle!

Last summer, Cohen operated a second arcade on Surf Avenue near Jones Walk. The auction and preview will be held at that location. The auction is on Saturday, November 28 at 10 am. Preview on Black Friday, the first day of the traditional Christmas shopping season (hint, hint) 1-6 pm, and on Saturday 8-10 am prior to the auction. For more info visit the auction site.

If you go to Saturday’s auction, you’ll find the Coney Island Museum, the New York Aquarium, Coney Island Beach Shop, Nathan’s Famous, and other shops and restaurants open for business. You can also download the Coney Island History Project’s free audio/video walking tour to your iPod or listen to it live on your iPhone and go for a stroll on the Boardwalk.


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