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Why Atari 2600 boxes are so important. Collect them all!

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#1 ManCaveArcade OFFLINE  


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Posted Sun Mar 4, 2012 10:15 AM

Do you collect carts without boxes? If so, I hope this small article that I put together might change your mind:

The video games of today’s generation have very realistic graphics and on screen instructions. Atari games have very poor graphics and you have to be able to use your imagination to "see" what the game creator wants you to see, imagine or visualize. This is why Atari came up with these very colorful works of art, game descriptions and comic books. When you look at an Atari game box and read the story board it prepares your imagination to convert that "duck" in adventure into a fire breathing dragon ready to eat you alive. That little square is turned into an adventurer.

Most kids today think that these games are “stupid” because of this lack of graphics but that is what makes them so unique and special to people like us who can look beyond the poor graphics and actually use our imagination (something diminishing in our youth these days) This also made programmers focus on the most important aspect of the game, fun game play. I have seen many modern games with outstanding graphics have terrible game play which kills it instantly. Another great aspect of the games is their simplicity; one joystick, one button. You pop in the game and are able to play it within seconds. It took me over an hour to figure out how to get an X-BOX 360 game started and learn the controls. Sorry, a bit off topic but to continue:

Have you ever popped in a loose game without viewing a box or manual and say "what is that supposed to be?" I have many of times, and then curiosity grasps my mind and I find a manual or box scan on line and go "Ahhh, I get it now" These boxes, manuals, comics, posters etc. are just as much a part of the game as the binary code the chip inside holds. IT MUST BE COMPLETE! Every serious collector wants a game CIB. They may not verbalize these feelings I just shared with you but deep inside they make sense.

Another thing to take into account is the value of any (L) loose cart is 1/2-1/16th of the value of a game with the box and manual. In some cases (more than not) the box itself would be more valuable than the cart. This is a simple supply and demand concept. There are a lot of collectors out there and most of them want their games complete with boxes and there are not that many boxes available. Most kids at the time were so excited to play their new game that they just ripped the box open, pulled out the game and threw away the box. Out of the small percentage of people that did keep the boxes, how many were kept properly in good condition? Look at the Alien game by Xante on the first page of rarityguide.com. The loose cart is worth $860; add the box and manual and now magically it is worth $1,353. Does this mean that the box and manual is worth $493?

As you dig into this world of Atari collecting and study the concepts/trends in the current market, you start to realize how important boxes are. This is why I believe that EVERY homebrew game sold should at least have a "box option" and should ALWAYS come with a manual. Bare bones carts only appeal to cart collectors and I truly believe that the majority of the market is CIB collectors.

If you are a homebrew programmer and are thinking about releasing a game without a box, please contact me via pm and we can work something out for at least a “box option” that could be sold separately from the cart or together. I have A LOT of respect for you guys for the hard work and dedication you put into your games and they deserve a professional looking box.

Edited by ManCaveArcade, Sun Mar 4, 2012 10:17 AM.

#2 atarinut76 OFFLINE  



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Posted Sun Mar 4, 2012 10:39 AM

I agree with ya!!

I think alot of the problem is that the boxes just take up so much more room then just cart only.. My collection takes up 6 times the room since I collect the boxes. My room is almost blown out and maybe looking into a 2nd room to start putting the collection into :-o

that's my 2 cents!! ;-) :grin:

#3 AtariLeaf OFFLINE  



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Posted Sun Mar 4, 2012 10:53 AM

that's my 2 cents!! ;-) :grin:

Here's mine :D

Posted Image

But yes, I love the boxes and have a few. I like to get the boxes for my absolute favorite games for the system for display purposes but don't go out of my way for them. I do like the idea of a homebrew box option for all games although that does really add to the price, sometimes it seems to double the cost of a cart/manual only copy.

#4 bfstats OFFLINE  



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Posted Sun Mar 4, 2012 12:39 PM

This comes from a diehard box collector (since The Beginning), so my objectivity may come into question, but I heartily endorse ManCaveArcade's sentiments, which are VERY well-stated AND accurate. There are plenty of other examples where a $30 loose cart will fetch $300 at auction if it's CIB. Any collector of ANYTHING will tell you original packaging lends authenticity to ownership. Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars, baseball cards in unopened boxes of wax packs, figurines like Precious Moments, Swarovski crystal, Hallmark ornaments, even G.I. Joes and Barbies - the list goes on and on. Why not video games?

#5 save2600 ONLINE  



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Posted Sun Mar 4, 2012 1:16 PM

Agreed. And if my eyesight were really bad, I'd find ManCaveArcade's findings even more pertinent! :lol:

#6 high voltage OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 4, 2012 1:32 PM

Why Atari 2600 boxes are so important. Collect them all!


Posted Image

Edited by high voltage, Sun Mar 4, 2012 1:34 PM.

#7 Gaztee OFFLINE  



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Posted Sun Mar 4, 2012 1:34 PM

Well said squire! That's why I do box sets for jag games that came as cart only! I recently catalogued my complete 2600 & 5200 collection & I'd say 2/3rd are CIB. I just love the old box artwork. Today's modern boxes just don't do it I'm afraid!

Ps I also hate the bloody awful clamshell boxes a few jag home brews have used. If you're gonna do it, do it properly & put it in a proper box :)

#8 SoulBlazer OFFLINE  


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Posted Sun Mar 4, 2012 2:06 PM

Wonder how he feels about CD cases for modern games.

#9 Zwackery OFFLINE  


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Posted Sun Mar 4, 2012 3:30 PM

Big love for the box! (And manual, too.) They are part of the historical record of video games.

#10 Atari_Bill ONLINE  



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Posted Sun Mar 4, 2012 4:57 PM

I totally agree with the content of this article, but at the same time would say that some folks just aren't able to do so. Either because of storage space issues or lack of money (CIB prices seem to have gone through the roof as of late!), I would hope that it wouldn't discourage new collectors that truely love to play the old games. I personally will buy items CIB if possible, but I won't turn away loose carts that I'm looking for either.

#11 Ranthulfr OFFLINE  



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Posted Sun Mar 4, 2012 7:21 PM

I agree that the supporting materials are a big part of the Atari experience. I don't really blame folks who aren't into boxes though, because of the space they consume. I think having the manuals is a reasonable compromise.

#12 NE146 OFFLINE  


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Posted Sun Mar 4, 2012 8:12 PM

Yeah I guess it'd be nice.. but I've already tore up and thrown away all the boxes for every game I've cared about in my life, throughout my life.. just seems like a waste to "rebuy" :lol:

#13 ntavio OFFLINE  



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Posted Sun Mar 4, 2012 10:15 PM

Bravo ManCaveArcade!!! Bravo :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

#14 Matthew OFFLINE  



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Posted Sun Mar 4, 2012 11:10 PM

1)Don't have the space
2)Not paying $30+ dollars for a common boxed cart.

My collection is for playing, not for looking pretty on bookshelf.

#15 Necron99 OFFLINE  



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Posted Mon Mar 5, 2012 8:03 AM

I have to disagree

1) I think my imagination is fine without needing a little help. I don't watch music videos for the same reason, it's ruins my interpretation of what I think the music is about.
2) buying complete is far more expensive
3) boxes take up valuable real-estate in my room of doom.
4) hassle of opening those boxes every time i want to play a game and putting them back will damage them, at least carts are durable.

I'm not saying boxes are horrible or that I'd never buy them, but they just don't always make sense to some of us with limited space and money.

Edited by Necron99, Mon Mar 5, 2012 8:56 AM.

#16 Skylark68 OFFLINE  



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Posted Mon Mar 5, 2012 8:32 AM

It's funny, but the games I enjoy playing the most are the ones that I bought when they were first released (and I was a young kid with a huge imagination). I think a large part of that has to do with the fact that I did see the original artwork with the cart. The instruction manuals lent a great deal to the total gameplay experience as well. I doubt that Adventure would be the immersive experience it is without the background story. Likewise, Haunted House would have lost a little something without the story behind it.

As far as the box artwork, I always thought that Air Sea Battle was awesome because you were using anti aircraft cannons (or submarines) to blow up some third rate air force that was using B17 Flying Fortresses in addition to first line jet fighters and B52 bombers.

Likewise, in Canyon Bomber you're using some old B25 Mitchells to blow away some poor helpless submarine that is angled out.

Edited by Skylark68, Mon Mar 5, 2012 8:35 AM.

#17 Zwackery OFFLINE  


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Posted Mon Mar 5, 2012 10:07 AM

I totally agree with the content of this article, but at the same time would say that some folks just aren't able to do so. Either because of storage space issues or lack of money (CIB prices seem to have gone through the roof as of late!),

Honestly, CIB prices - what actually sells, not what sellers are attempting to get - have gone considerably down over the last several years, especially for R1-R4 titles, and even into some of the 5s-7s, especially when buying in bulk.

#18 Atari_Bill ONLINE  



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Posted Mon Mar 5, 2012 10:52 AM

I totally agree with the content of this article, but at the same time would say that some folks just aren't able to do so. Either because of storage space issues or lack of money (CIB prices seem to have gone through the roof as of late!),

Honestly, CIB prices - what actually sells, not what sellers are attempting to get - have gone considerably down over the last several years, especially for R1-R4 titles, and even into some of the 5s-7s, especially when buying in bulk.

That hasn't been my experience as of late. In the last 3-4 months I've had bids on at least 10 box game lots on ebay. Most of them are probably R4 or less. I've lost on all but one. By a wide margin on most. I suppose that might say something about what I'm willing to spend, but in my perception, CIB prices are getting out of reach.

#19 Torr OFFLINE  



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Posted Mon Mar 5, 2012 2:15 PM

I find the boxes do look nice for display reasons, but really, the only necessity to me is the manual. As stated above due to it usually having a nice engrossing way of describing the game to you. I miss the old days of PC Gaming when you'd get a big ol' box with a few 3.5" floppies and (usually) I nice big book or two as instructions/aides that were just awesome to read. Plus often extras like a map or pamphlet, some kind of physical representation of something/things you would do in the game to give it an added bit of immersion.

Edited by Torr, Mon Mar 5, 2012 2:15 PM.

#20 maiki OFFLINE  



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Posted Mon Mar 5, 2012 2:44 PM

Someone should scan all those artworks and instructions and convert them into digital vector format. So that they could be reproduced for all of us, who do not intend to spend huge amount of money just to get the artwork for the games.

#21 toiletunes OFFLINE  


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Posted Mon Mar 5, 2012 2:52 PM

I don't find many boxes, but I've never seen one in good enough shape to keep. Sealed games get crushed by the shrinking shrinkwrap, and the opened boxes I've seen are bent up or smell like basement. Cardboard doesn't hold up well over time.

Some people like the boxes for various reasons, and I can respect that, but I'm not one of them.

Sometimes I do wind up with boxes. I won't destroy them, I give them away in the marketplace.

#22 jhd OFFLINE  



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Posted Mon Mar 5, 2012 5:04 PM

I have a handful of boxes -- I was fortunate to be able to find a handful of new titles still available inretail stores when I began collecting ca. 1990. Other boxes were acquired with bulk lots of used games -- so the condition varies widely.

My Atari 2600 collection has been in storage for more than ten years, and it probably will remain there for another few years.

Since space is obviously an issue, all of my boxes have been gently flattened so that they all fit into a standard-size file box. If I someday have the desire/ability to display them, they can be "reconstituted" back into shape.

#23 Miss 2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 5, 2012 6:47 PM

I never specifically sought out boxes. Most of the ones I have are from the ones I got new when I was a kid. They are flattened and stored in the Telegames console box in my parents' garage. My reasons for not collecting boxes have all been mentioned here already. Plus, thanks to AtariAge, we can see the box artwork and manual online. We don't need the real mccoys to bring the graphics to life if that is the main purpose of the box art.

#24 ledzep OFFLINE  



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Posted Mon Mar 5, 2012 8:37 PM

I'm a big supporter of boxes and manuals (and overlays) for games but I stop at games (and systems) I really like. If I'm not in the mood to track down boxes then that must mean I don't care for the game or the system it is for. I especially like Atari 2600 games in their Sears Tele-games incarnation because of the uniform black boxes, alternate box art (some of them) and the alternate font. But I like all the various 2600 game boxes from the different companies like Activision and Imagic, I like the various fonts and the artistic styling. Same goes for the Atari 5200 games. I wish there had been a robust Vectrex 3rd party market back in the '80s so that we could see what Activision Vectrex game packaging might have looked like.

#25 ManCaveArcade OFFLINE  


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Posted Mon Mar 5, 2012 8:43 PM

I did not mean to imply that EVERYONE should collect boxes. I just wanted to share my philosophy on why I think boxes are an important part of the game. Maybe I should have reworded the title but I was just thinking that if someone was debating on whether they should or should not collect boxes that my article MAY influence them a bit. I understand that space and cost is a huge factor and not everyone collects for the same reason. I hope I didn’t offend anyone who does not collect boxes because that was not my intent.

When I made the statement that “THEY MUST BE COMPLETE” I was referring to how I feel about my personal collection.

A quick response to the post from MAIKA about scans: I think this is the intent of RomHunter’s enormous database and constant updates from all the wonderful people here who contribute to this, not to mention AA’s large database of box art as well. I send out MY personal thanks to RomHunter, Everyone that is involved in this AA website and everyone who contributes to this.

Edited by ManCaveArcade, Mon Mar 5, 2012 8:43 PM.

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