How many Arcade Machines can you fit in a storage unit?
For this week’s edition of Behind Blue Walls, where we get an opportunity to get to know more about our customers and how they use our facility in Dunstable, we’ll be highlighting Paul, who has had a lifelong love of Arcade Machines.
Paul started collecting arcade machines in the 1980’s over 30 years ago now. He bought his first machine as a teenager, a game called Splatter House, he went halves with a friend. It never worked though and try as they might, they never managed to fix it.
His next machine was some years later, a Space Invaders cocktail machine. The kind you used to find in bars where the monitor is under a glass “tabletop” and faces upwards. This time it was fully working, and in no time at all he’d been truly bitten by the bug.
His collection grew slowly at first to 3, then 4 and eventually up to 8 machines. It was harder to source games back then, in 2001, he used to scour free ad papers and gradually people were turning to eBay to get rid of machines they didn’t want but very infrequently. Then he and friend found a contact in Europe, and a whole new avenue opened up!
His collection exploded! He was living in a first floor two bedroom flat on the outskirts of London but he’d filled it with 43 arcade machines! There were some in the kitchen, two in the bathroom, the flat had a really long hallway and he’d fitted nearly 20 side-by-side the whole way down it - you had to squeeze past them as the hallway wasn’t very wide, the rest were in one of the bedrooms and in the lounge.
Sadly, Paul’s career at the time dried up and he didn’t have any transferrable skills; he had to sell more and more of them to keep afloat. He kept only four of them for many, many years. Just a few that he couldn’t bear to lose… He retrained and started his own business and nearly 8 years later he now has over 80 machines again. Paul has been storing his collection in two of our self storage units since Aug 2015 whilst he builds a games room in his house to accommodate all of them.
It might seem crazy to some people, having such a large cabinet to play only one game, but they’re more than simply a game. As a child, he used to save up his pocket/paper round money and get on the train with a friend to Southend, they would spend hours there, ploughing all their money into the machines both new and old.
‘It’s hard to describe quite how different it was back then, arcades exist now but back then things were new and far more exciting, so many firsts, such amazing new thinking and technology. Games themselves are beautiful things, newer cabinets are made so that you can swap the game board inside when the public get bored, and then they can just play something else. But the older games, they’re fully dedicated, complete works of art. Full colour side art, beautifully drawn graphics on the control panels and monitor glass. They’re quite the immersive experience!’
Some of the cabinets he’s managed to collect are quite the museum pieces; early prototype cabinets of games before they went on general release, cabinets of games with very small manufacturing runs, and some which are very rare in this country, for some he’s the only person in the UK who owns one.
Paul is going to be very popular amongst his friends once his games room is complete. Many thanks Paul for sharing your story with us.
If you have any interesting stories regarding why you had to use storage, or why you’re currently using storage, leave a comment below.