Neo-Geo MVS-2-13 restoration

The lack of free space in the garage aside, I’m really enjoying the whole arcade restoration thing. This hobby strikes so many of the right nerves for me: the strong nostalgia kick, the tinkering, the collectibility, and the research and skill acquisition required to go from start to completion.

If you were a gamer in the 80s and if you’ve got the room, I recommend taking on your own project — thanks to the current state of our economy, cabinets are selling for cheap, and with a bit of exploration and patience you could easily wind up with your own personal gaming holy grail sitting in your workspace. There are plenty of small shops out there selling parts and reproduction artwork, and many active online communities to help with the hunt for specific pieces and technical questions.

Anyway, on to the latest.

A Neo-Geo MVS-2-13 – more commonly known as a Neo Mini or Cabaret – was one of my personal picks from the warehouse raid a few weeks back, and my first project from the lot.

Neo mini

This one wasn’t in too bad of shape, with the vinyl taking the brunt of the damage over the years, but some of the hardware was shot and the original two-slot board was long gone.

First step before peeling the vinyl was to photograph and measure the artwork. While the standard Neo-Geo side art has been reproduced by member eccs19, the MVS-2-13 is the oddball of the lineup, with smaller logos and unique player arrow designs on the front of the cabinet. Using the measurements, I was able to recreate vector versions of the left-right player graphics, and sent the files off to eccs19 for reproduction.

measuring the Neo mini

Another unique piece is the smaller-sized control panel. After pulling and cleaning the overlay, I scanned it and passed the file along to member electricgrave, who will eventually be adding it to his already-extensive Neo-Geo CPO lineup.

Neo MVS-2-13 control panel

The vinyl came off without a problem, although the surface underneath was very rough and unfinished.

stripping the vinyl


The 13″ monitor is tiny, and the spare Sanyo EZ 19″ I have was just too big to fit in the cabinet. Oh well, at least it’s light.

13 inch Neo mini monitor

As an experiment, I used latex paint for this project. While latex dries faster and is a lot easier to work with and clean, I’ll be sticking with oil-based paint for cabinet restoration from here on out. In my limited experience, oil paints on with a smoother finish, and the end results are much more durable and resistant to dings and blemishes.

Color coding the Neo-Geo orangish-red was a pain, and the first quart didn’t come out anywhere near right. Worked perfectly well as a base coat, however.

finding the right paint

The internal shelf, remounted to fit the larger style four and six slot motherboards, and angled towards the back of the cabinet to facilitate cartridge swapping. I also swapped out the old (and rusted) power supply with a replacement from Happ (having a local office for pickup is nice).

mobo shelf

A much closer paint color. Not exactly spot on, but it matches the lightly-weathered control panel and marquee perfectly.

I built a new lower rear door and lifting grip (the black piece mounted on the top), and appropriated an Atari cabinet vent for the monitor enclosure. Additionally, I deviated from the original scheme by painting the entire cabinet orangish-red, using black only as a highlight color.

painted cabinet

More deviation. Beer-holders, Happ Super joysticks, and Happ Competition buttons. Hey, it’s an American candy cab now!

Gotta have somewhere to put your beer

Here’s the finished MVS-2-13 (well, I guess it’s now an MVS-4-13). The vinyl reproductions by eccs19 turned out great, including the SNK The Future Is Now decals on the $15 Target stools. Increased intimacy from such close-quarters gaming aside, the cabinet is a blast to play on, and I expect it to be the go-to machine whenever beer and gaming come together.

Neo Geo mini

Neo Geo mini, rear

22 thoughts on “Neo-Geo MVS-2-13 restoration

  1. Jangofatt

    Nice job. what brand of paint did you use??? I’ve always used water based paint from Lowe’s but I’m looking for better paint since I’m going to be restoring a MVS-4-25 real soon.

  2. Chris

    I forget the brand, one of the Big Box Home Store latex paints, but as I mention above, after using both, I highly recommend oil for a cabinet restoration. More of a pain in the ass to deal with, but you’ll like the final results a lot more.

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  4. Eli Garcia

    Sorry if im asking too much, but im from Venezuela and finding one of these puppies is almost imposible. can you do us a favor? take the measures of the cabinet (if you can do it with photos youll earn your piece of heaven)and make a post with them, we want to build a mvs with a MAME PC. Thanks man!

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  6. Maisob

    Hi there, Please could you tell me where did you get this kind of corner cabinet protector? Thanks.

  7. Mailson

    Thanks for the answer Chris A but this one from twisted Quarter has 2 or 3 holes and it covers all the corner, i mean the width of the front part of the wood, as in the picture? I ask you that because i have one but it doesnt cover this part. Thanks and sorry for the persistence.

  8. Maison

    Thanks Chris A. I believe they sell the same one from twisted quarter and others. I dont know if the width of the lateral part of the brazilian neogeo cabinet is different from the american, but i will have to manage that. Thanks and great 2011 for you.

  9. Chad N

    Hey Chris!

    Great job on this restoration you did a few years ago. How is it holding up today?

    Anyway, I just have a quick question and was hoping you could help me out. I just recently saved a Neo Geo MVS 4-25 from a dirty barn a few months ago, and have slowly been fixing it up where needed. Over all its in great shape considering and all original, but the power supply on this thing definitely needs a swap out soon. It’s pretty old and dusty and the fan is loose and rattles.

    I noticed you left a link to where you bought your replacement power supply, and was wondering if this would also work for the MVS 4-25. And if so, is it just a simple swap out or is there a little more to it than that? Hoping to find myself a reliable power supply that I can just easily swap out with no issues.

    Hope to hear back from you! Thanks!

  10. Chris A Post author

    Yep, I’ve actually got a four slot board in mine, so as far as guts go our cabinets are very similar. I’d check the connections on your existing supply just to make sure everything matches up (who knows how it’s been modified over the years), but you should be good to go with that unit.

    Good luck with your restoration!

  11. Chad N

    Well looking at the picture, it seems I have the same A-Matic power supply you replaced in yours. The only thing I’m not sure of is the connections.

    In the picture for the replacement in your link, it shows two connections coming out of the right side of the power supply (a square shaped connection and a smaller connection) and one coming out of the left (another small connection).

    As where the A-Matic seems to only have one connection on the right (the square shapped connection), and two on the left (two smaller connectors). I’m assuming the connections on the replacement are the same but routed differently?

  12. Chad N

    Yup, everything is still stock. And thanks a bunch for that second link. These guys actually ship to Canada so that’s perfect. Definitely picking one of these up asap.

    Thanks for all your help. Much appreciated! :)

  13. Steven Zeuner

    Hello, the NEO mini looks amazing. Do you have any idea if the art is repro’ed? I’m starting a mini project of my own and the cab is trashed. Gonna need a full repaint.


  14. Ryan Mininger

    Awesome restoration work! What kind of black paint did you use for the trim work? I just got a Neo cabinet (1-slot) and the black needs more touch up than anything else.


  15. Hellfromabove

    Hey Chris,

    Great work on the restore! I will need to redo my side art and my player indicator art near the side doors. Do you happen to have the vector files for these? I tried the link you posted, but unfortunately it seems that eccs19 has not visited the n-g site for around 4 years. Thanks in advance.

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