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 â€” 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 â€“ more commonly known as a Neo Mini or Cabaret â€“ was one of my personal picks from the warehouse raid a few weeks back, and my first project from the lot.
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 Neo-Geo.com 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.
Another unique piece is the smaller-sized control panel. After pulling and cleaning the overlay, I scanned it and passed the file along to Neo-Geo.com member electricgrave, who will eventually be adding it to his already-extensive Neo-Geo CPO lineup.
The vinyl came off without a problem, although the surface underneath was very rough and unfinished.
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.
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.
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).
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.
More deviation. Beer-holders, Happ Super joysticks, and Happ Competition buttons. Hey, it’s an American candy cab now!
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.