My interest in arcades was sparked after watching a BBC documentary on collectibles. On one of the episodes was a guy names Andy Palmer who had a collection of arcades that he’d amassed over a number of years. The programme focused on Andy opening up his collection for others to enjoy. He’d spent years lovingly rescuing and repairing these unwanted behemoths and believed it was time to let others enjoy them as well.
Luckily for me, Andy’s collection was originally based in a small unit just outside of Bury, Lancashire. He’d created and opened ArcadeClub to the public and I visited it a number of times in the last year or so. The collection was amazing and a great place to visit.
I knew after my first visit, I wanted an arcade of my own and a Nintendo arcade made sense considering my life long obsession for all things Nintendo. I’ve played every Super Mario game ever released, so knew my first arcade had to tie in with Mario somehow. It only made sense that my first arcade should be a dedicated Donkey Kong!
Unfortunately, Nintendo arcades are not easy to come by in the U.K. so have to be imported from the good old US of A. Luckily for me, an online forum that I’m a member of (UKVac) has some great people and two individuals have gone out of their way to sort and arrange an import service. Between Ken and James, they are sourcing arcades in the US and shipping them to the UK to satisfy the need on our side of the pond.
I bought two Nintendo vs. Unisystems from Ken last year, with a view to converting them back to their original games (the vs. Unisystems were conversion kits sold by Nintendo to extend the life of previously purchased arcades). The idea being using both of these arcades as the basis for my preferred Nintendo arcades. Whilst the vs. Unisystem kits did introduce lots of new games, I personally preferred the later released Red Tent arcades for these games (small, double sided, red metal tent shaped sit down cabinets)
I’d been collecting all of the parts I’d need for building a reproduction Donkey Kong (just the cabinet being reproduction), so had all of the parts to convert one of them back. I’d also started buying all of the parts from the Donkey Kong 3 conversion kit (it was never released as a standalone arcade), and happened across a pretty much complete (no artwork) NOS (new old stock) kit. By the time the two arcades landed in the U.K., I had all the necessary parts to build both Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong 3. Now all I needed was time…